Beauty IRL: Greying Gracefully

There is a grey hair that lives in the region of my bangs. It stands at attention, straight and reaching for the sky, and sprouts back with determination every time I pluck it. I have another that lives somewhere on the back of my head; I believe in its existence only because my hairdresser mentioned it in passing, and refused to pull it out when I asked. The other day, I saw a flash of silver in the cheap seats, lurking in the way back near my neck. I tried to get it, but gave up after realizing I’d be late for work. I catalogue these things so I can monitor them, like freckles  that might be moles, or that tricky pimple that shows up every month like clockwork. I am 32, it is high time that the greys started rearing their silvery heads, but I still resent them every time.

My youngest sister has had a grey hair in her bangs since she was 18. Its name, she tells me, is Allen “Friend” Travis, and she bats my hand away every time I come for her, tweezers in hand. My mom has grey hair which she masks with a strange rainbow of shades, from “Asian Mom At Marshalls Burgundy” to “Bleached Asian Hair After Six Months Orange.” For a while, she decided to forgo highlights, probably just because she forgot, and let the grey flood her part. She looks young for having four adult children, but her grey hair transformed her. It scared me. I like getting older, but going grey is something I can’t quite get behind.

If you’re lucky enough to grey with grace, it really works. Stacy London has had a streak of grey hair since she was 11 years old. Emmylou Harris has a shiny, gorgeous head of ice-grey hair, a look that’s most likely pinned to mood boards across this great country. Helen Mirren’s hair is a glossy chimera, the perfect mix between baby blonde and silvery grey, and it looks amazing. It works for these women because they have the money to spend on conditioner and hair masks, and the clout to call their hairdresser when the mess on their head starts to look like steel wool. In real life, it’s not that easy.

Every time I see my grey hairs, I try to live with them for a little while. They’re not grey so much as they are stark, pure white, clear in the sun and wiry as hell. When my hair eventually succumbs to the ravages of time, I’m hoping for snow-white strands, something that goes well with a slash of red lipstick and dragon lady nails. But, in the meantime, as they show up more and more frequently, each hair is a little pang of anxiety, springing out of my scalp as a result of an unpaid bill, or the looming specter of my taxes. I know it’s just getting older. It’s life! I don’t mind life, but a visual reminder of my steady, inevitable stroll towards death is something I don’t exactly welcome with open arms.


Intentionally grey hair is a thing now, and it looks amazing on so many people who try it. My nail and lip inspiration, Kylie Jenner, went grey a little while ago. If you scroll through Tumblr, legions of witchy-haired beauties gaze back at you, swirls of storm cloud locks tumbling around their shoulders. It flouts conventional beauty by embracing the one sign of aging that is the hardest to suppress, and as a fashion statement and an overall look, it really works.

At the current length my hair is now, in some lights, if you squint and tilt your head a little, I look an awful lot like my mother. I strongly believe that we are all going to end up morphing into our mothers, in one way or another, but to see it happening before your own eyes, to be actually cognizant of it, is startling. Going grey on purpose feels like hitting fast forward on the slow march to that end, and I’m not quite ready.

I want to just pony up and do it one day, bite the bullet and get the silvery, lavender, icy blue grey that will elevate the plain tees and scuffed sneakers I wear every day to an actual look instead of just some clothes I found that were clean. One day, I will. But not just yet.

[Image via Shutterstock]