Back to my roots: Four women who've decided to embrace their natural hair colour

Ciara McDonnell chats with four women who’ve decided to embrace their natural hair colour after time away from the salon
Back to my roots: Four women who've decided to embrace their natural hair colour
Niamh Boyce

Deirdre Cremin owner of the The Cutting Room, Main Street Main St, Midleton, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Deirdre Cremin owner of the The Cutting Room, Main Street Main St, Midleton, Co Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

AS hairdressers across the country opened their doors this week to reveal a new way of salon life, social media was alight with indignation aimed at salons intending to charge customers extra to deal with their lockdown hair growth and DIY dye jobs.

Peter Mark, in particular, came under fire with an announcement from head office that customers could expect to pay between €45 and €60 more to deal with extended roots and ‘colour detox’ to undo your bad supermarket colour job.

Covid-19 has changed the way we attend our hairdressers forever — no more pampering with an extra hot flat white while perusing salon copies of the latest glossy magazines. Social distance requirements will mean fewer cosy chats and more sweating under face masks and PPE. After going back to our roots during lockdown are many of us choosing to forgo hours in the chair for the sake of a life highlight free?


Editor of The Opinion Line on Cork’s 96FM and a regular panellist on RTÉ’s Today with Maura and Dáithí, Deirdre O’Shaughnessy says she used lockdown to reassess her relationship with her hair.

Deirdre O'Shaughnessy is going back to her original hair colour.  Picture:  Larry Cummins
Deirdre O'Shaughnessy is going back to her original hair colour.  Picture:  Larry Cummins

“During lockdown as everybody started getting roots, I realised that I don’t have a lot of grey and my hair colour is now darker than the mousy colour it was when I first started dyeing it,” she says.

The pandemic has given me a really good chance to see this process through. I’m loving the dark roots and I think it might actually suit me. I’ll go back to a short bob, but the blonde is going for the time being.

O’Shaughnessy’s reasons for putting down the dye are twofold.

I have been colouring my hair for more of my life than not at this stage so it’s probably time to revaluate this. Also, I’m a little nervous about going into a hair salon, purely because of the amount of time my hair normally takes. The idea of sitting there for up to six hours does not feel safe for me right now.

The media personality attends Chair Artistry of Hair on Georges Quay in Cork and says the main thing she will miss about getting her hair coloured regularly is the community. “Chair is the closest thing I have to a local pub. I go in there, I meet the same people every time, we have a chat, sometimes we have a drink, we talk about the books we are reading — someone is always knitting.

“It’s a really lovely atmosphere, so I’ll be sad to see that kind of atmosphere going from a lot of places.”


When author Niamh Boyce decided to let her hair start growing out in January, she had no idea that a worldwide pandemic would enable her to do so in isolation.

Niamh Boyce
Niamh Boyce

“I’m 49 years old and I’m a brunette. I’ve dyed it red or plum for fun for years,” she says. “What I realised was that I had started to dye it to cover up the grey. My hair grows really fast so I was doing it every three weeks. It went from being something that was an expression of creativity to being something that was actually a cover-up job.”

The process of embracing her grey roots has been an important one for the bestselling author. “I feel like if I go along with this dyeing and colouring I am colluding with the invisibility of older women.

“In cultural terms, you often see that it’s the younger people who are thrust in the limelight while older women are quite invisible.”


Deirdre Cremin is owner of The Cutting Room in Midleton and has started the process of allowing her hair to go grey. “I’m going to be 50 this summer and I thought I would take a look and see what it would look like, so 12 months ago I started to only dye the top of my hair and leave the sides natural. I don’t feel that I have enough to go completely grey just yet, it is just in little clusters of grey.”

Cremin says that for anyone considering embracing their grey, there are a few pieces of advice that she recommends they adhere to. “If you’re getting rid of the colour, I recommend always good eyebrow shaping and definition and a bright lipstick and maybe a bit of bronzing powder. Those little things really lift. Eyebrows are key. If your hair is grey, then so are your eyebrows, so have those tinted, always.”

Over the last number of years she has noticed the percentage of girls and women with extensive grey has gone up dramatically. “I think it is down to a stressful lifestyle.”


Architect Suzanne Keane started going grey in her 20s. Mum to a three-year-old son and an eight-month-old daughter, she decided to use her recent maternity leave as an opportunity to embrace her true hair colour.

Suzanne Keane
Suzanne Keane

The experience, says the 37 year old, has been a positive one. “I last had my highlights done in July 2019 and had a brown root touch up in December but haven’t been near a hairdresser since. I actually can’t think of a good reason why I was trying to cover the grey – I guess when you’re in a routine of getting it done it’s easier to keep it up rather than change but the lockdown will give people an opportunity to re-evaluate what they actually want.”

Since going au naturel, Keane has become more committed to home hair maintenance than ever before. “I’ve started using hair masks and oil to protect the condition, prevent split ends and I’ll have to look up a few YouTube tutorials on backcombing and ponytails for the years when it’s all growing out. In general, I think I’ve actually become more high maintenance during the pandemic – maybe it’s that I have more time at home.”

No matter your decision when it comes to how you will deal with your greys, time is on your side, says Deirdre Cremin of The Cutting Room. “It can take a number of years, depending on the amount of grey that comes through. I would advise any woman who is considering growing her hair out to speak to their hairstylist and make a plan.

“The most important thing is that it doesn’t happen overnight, it happens over time.”

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