Teri Vance: Lessons I learned from my hair

I read recently where the latest item to be hoarded is hair dye. It’s interesting to see what becomes essential when people are locked away from the world.

In light of this, I made a social media post highlighting another option – going natural. As I’ve discussed here before, I stopped dying my hair more than two years ago.

With the before and after photos sitting side by side, people were very gracious in their comments. Others expressed interest in doing the same, but were nervous to start. Some had even started, but were feeling frustrated with the process.

I realized that the before and after photos don’t tell the story of the in between. And the in between is where the change/growth/magic/struggle happens.

It got me thinking about the process, and here are some of the things I learned (and they may actually apply to surviving a pandemic).

1. Trust the experts. And “experts” doesn’t mean Google. I made that mistake. As is my way, I set about researching ways to strip hair of old color.
I saw where people used vitamin C with mixed results. I only paid attention to the positive results, thereby convincing myself it was a good idea.
So I crushed a generous handful of vitamin C tablets and mixed them in with my shampoo.
My husband vehemently opposed, very vocally. He even tried calling my sisters and friends to try to get them to stop me.
None of them answered, so I was left shampooing with what my husband kept yelling, “That’s ascorbic acid!”
I realized what he meant when clumps of hair were falling out in the shower. I didn’t really mind at first – I have plenty of hair to spare – but once it dried, I saw it left a pinkish-orange hue.
That’s when I understood: Trust the experts.

2. Know your “why.” For some reason, my gray hair was always an insecurity for me. Maybe it was because I started graying in high school, and it represented growing old before my time.

In order to embrace my silvers, I had to change my relationship with aging and society’s expectations of beauty.

It was about more than the hair.

3. Be patient. There’s only one way to get your hair to grow out. It’s the same way any change happens — by waiting. Impatience will lead to some pretty bad decisions.

4. Find a support system. It didn’t take long for the people closest to me to get sick of hearing about my hair. My husband dubbed it the six-headed dragon that lived with us.

My sisters outright banned the subject. (I didn’t always respect that ban …)

But I found people, mostly online, who were going through the same thing or had already transitioned. On the days I felt the most unkempt and dowdy, it was nice to know I wasn’t alone.

5. My journey is not your journey. I am more than happy to share my experiences and give someone a boost who wants to explore the idea of going natural.

But I am not a lobbyist.

It was the right decision for me, and I respect you to make the right decision for you.

And that goes beyond hair.


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