When my friend and banking executive Trish told me she was going gray, I immediately imagined a very wide stripe reminiscent of a skunk’s coat. Staring at her lovely, thick, shoulder-length dark hair, I tried to imagine the transition as I shifted in my chair.
“Wow. Why are you doing that?” I asked quietly. Her response was characteristic of many baby boomer women: They’re tired of the charade, trouble and expense and want to return to “their roots.” It’s a pain to get the salon with crazy-busy lives, and besides, aren’t we all weary of smelling ammonia-like hair-color fumes as our scalp burns? Still, we’re drawn magnetically back for more when gray begins its recurrent intrusion on our scalps, reminding us we’re not kids anymore.
Gray to stay
The Environmental Working Group says “you should not put products on your skin or breathe the fumes of products that you are not willing to eat.” I have never wanted to eat inhale my hair color or much less eat it, even though it does resemble a luscious vanilla/chocolate pudding.
Further, says EWG, “hair dye, like other cosmetics and personal care products, is not regulated for safety. The government is not looking out for your welfare so it is up to you to research the products that you wish to use to determine if they are safe to use or not. Roughly 400 out of the 456 hair colors ranked at the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database of the Environmental Working Group are considered high hazard, which means they contain toxic ingredients linked to cancer, developmentive and reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity, organ toxicity, not to mention allergies and irritation of the eyes, skin or lungs.”
A heady trend?
According to a new Associated Press story, in 1950, 7 percent of women dyed their hair while today, it’s closer to 95 percent or more, depending on geographic location and career category. With a job market in which young workers are battling older, more experienced workers for precious paychecks, the pressure’s really on for baby boomer gals to look good as well as be good. Ageism? Yes, it lives—on our heads. A university professor will feel more relaxed about going natural than a Los Angeles-based television anchorwoman.
“We only fool ourselves about how young we look with our dyed hair.” That’s what author Anne Kreamer told AP. She’s a former Nickelodeon executive and magazine founder who wrote “Going Gray” in 2007.
Maybe that’s why we do it—to fool ourselves, I mean. And if it fools good, do it.
Oh, and Trish looks great with four inches of gray now—but then, she always did look great!
(Photo courtesy: morgueFile)