Margaret Jennings.


Dye-deniers love the freedom of going grey

Lorraine Massey, a ‘recovering blonde addict’, tired of the bottle — and wants others to become silver surfers too, writes Margaret Jennings.

Dye-deniers love the freedom of going grey

Lorraine Massey, a ‘recovering blonde addict’, tired of the bottle — and wants others to become silver surfers too, writes Margaret Jennings.

Are you one of the estimated 75% of women hiding behind your hair colour? And if so, what are the stories you tell yourself to prevent those silvery strands being seen by the world?

High-profile New York hairstylist and pioneer of the curly hair movement Lorraine Massey, who describes herself as “a recovering blonde addict” — and who has now gone natural — says there are several reasons we give ourselves for hitting the bottle, so to speak.

“Many people have an excuse as to why they won’t uncolour — my husband, my kids, I work with young people, my boss, a special event — the list goes on. But at the end of the day it’s your life, it is your hair,” she tells Feelgood.

“There is also the fear that others may think that you are “letting yourself go”. We are the only species on the planet that care about what other creatures think. It’s not about letting yourself go, it’s about letting go of the exhausting and artificial routine.”

Massey finally let go of that routine herself, in recent years, when writing her new book, now out, called Silver Hair: A handbook, which is not just full of practical tips regarding ditching the colour and managing the transition, but is also a manifesto of sorts, encouraging women to take back their power and embrace their authenticity.

Part of her own wake-up call was facing the reality that she was just another member of a bleached blonde brigade: “The blonde/yellow colour application is a worldwide fauxnomenon. In fact there is more bleached-blonde hair on this planet than any other hue. Natural blonde is so rare it’s like spotting a snow leopard,” she declares.

“I was embracing the status quo of dying my hair blonde even though I was tired of it. I was not moving ahead and I was dying to be free. I was also relying on another person — my colourist — to take me out of my root misery every four weeks. I was so tired of it.

“I realised that being ‘comfortable’ — with my dyed hair and my way of being in the world — was overrated. Once you acknowledge your suffering, frustrations, challenges, all your mental road blocks — and face them, you can really surprise yourself with what you’re capable of,” she says.

“I found it so liberating to let go of my belief that blonde hair was the only way for me, and that silver hair would make me look old. It has been the exact opposite and I now feel so much more myself.”

While grey hair has been a style statement for younger celebrities like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Pink, and Kelly Osbourne, it’s not as easy, however, for we ordinary older mortals to drop our “faux” identity.

“It’s a state of default, after years of covering up and years of watching our mothers, grandmothers, sisters cover up their natural colour, some women don’t think there is another option,” says Massey. “But once you decide to give it a try, I liken it to an excavation site; you are finding buried natural treasure right under the surface.

“Not one of the many, many women who went silver for my book turned back to colour or regretted going silver. In fact, what most said was their only regret was that they hadn’t done it sooner.”

And if you need a little nudge to experiment with what lies beneath, here are some reasons Massey gives in her book to do so:

You’ll save cash: She calls it “silvernomics” and says the savings can be staggering, as many women are at the salon every six weeks, or 8.6 times a year.

You get back your time: You save the time and effort it takes to go to salon appointments, which she estimates can clock up to 17-26 hours a year, not including travel.

It’s healthier for your hair and body: You are applying chemicals to your hair and scalp on a regular basis which many studies say seep into your skin as well as being very close to your eyes, ears, and nose.

Look at you: The compliments will come pouring in. She says women get more compliments from women and men than they did when they were “overbleached blondes or brunettes or redheads”. But ultimately it’s what you think about yourself which is most important, she points out, and many women say they feel sexier, more open, and beautiful.

You’ll feel liberated: It’s not just about freeing you hair from chemicals and dye — the release goes deeper. Women feel more present in their lives when they discover their hair’s natural colour.

“It all comes down to having the confidence to be yourself. When you begin to love yourself as you are, amazing things happen,” says Massey of her own journey. “You have to stay strong and focused to truly be yourself. And there are so many ways to uncolour your hair and remain as fabulous as you already are.”

- Silver Hair: A Handbook, by Lorraine Massey with Michele Bender, price €10.73.

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