Why is it so hard to go natural? (and some tips to help you go for it)
Written for Downshifting by: Theodore P Schraff III
Note from Downshifting Editor:
I asked Theo to write an article about something many women have asked me: how to go grey. In his own fabulous style and wit, he’s here to tell you how to uncover and embrace your silver strands — and he’ll hold your hand along the way.
Theodore is a certified colorist, stylist and advice dispenser (often about hair…@ Gods and Heros in Costa Mesa, CA)
(Cue the song Fade to Grey by Visage…and we are off!)
Just why is it so hard to be so natural? Societal norms? Fighting the (biological) clock? That cute barista with the shiny, stunning auburn locks…and beard? Or is it that we’ve dyed and dipped our grey hair for so long we can’t let it go?
“Going grey” used to mean you’ve given up, called the game, walked off the field. Now days it’s more about empowerment, taking control, relishing the natural progression of ourselves…plus all those other youngsters are paying BIG BUCKS to have white and grey hair which some of us have NATURALLY! They are now looking to us for inspiration! Let’s discuss how to be inspirational, naturally.
The good, the bad, the ugly: The good is that once you’ve gone natural you won’t pay $$$$ for hair color, you’ll spend less time in a salon chair or in your bathroom applying color and cleaning up messes on the sink and floor! The bad is that it may take a while, a few processes and adjustments (hirsute and mentally) to be safe in your new skin. And the ugly? Waiting, wanting, more waiting and wondering if natural is for you…. but to me NATURAL is never ugly!
As a 30-year veteran of hairdressing, a certified colorist, a former community college cosmetology educator and a LOVER of nature I am here to coach you along the process.
And it will be a process. But also know most likely you will have the shiniest, healthiest, most complimentary color to call your own! And no more sitting with coal-tar extracts, artificial pigments and ammonia on your scalp every 30 days….
The easy but LONG route would be to start going lighter and lighter in color formulation…this could take months if not a year to get you to natural. As well if you are currently dark chocolate brown are you willing to progress up the color chart to medium mocha brown and then on to dark white chocolate? Hmmm…hungry yet?
Another choice may be to highlight (heavily, as white as possible) and/or lowlight (the darkest of strands for contrast and “natural”) your current colored hair, or decolorized hair, and get some silver streaks.
There are other approaches, but regardless of which process you and your colorist choose you will STILL need to be decolorized with an artificial pigment remover to get you on the road to recovery as a “natural” color person.
Search out someone who uses an artificial pigment remover: NOT LIGHTENER OR BLEACH (!!!) to remove the color pigment. Artificial pigment removers are a specific use product that will disintegrate and diminish the artificial color molecules that have been jammed into your cortex (the area of your hair anatomy where color and curl are determined). You will be left with the natural lift and lightened hair strands-yes, even if you have been dying your hair dark with a permanent(peroxide)based product all strands have been lifted before the color is placed. This FIRST step may take a few applications to remove the YEARS of artificial pigmentation, especially if you or your stylist have been overlapping. Artificial pigment removers will NOT damage the hair if done correctly…but bleach and lighteners can and WILL decimate the hair if used to remove the color. Don’t get an unintended chemical haircut on the way to being natural. See why you want a color specialist as well as someone up to the challenge of co-dancing your twelve-step program to back to natural?
These are the choices other than growing-it-out-until-you-are-ready-to-scream and then lop it off into a provocative pixie (one of my personal favorites to do!).
Still in for the big change?
After the level of lightness has become apparent, it will be time to use lighteners (bleach: such a horrible term to use concerning hair…use the term lightener) to lighten the strands as near to white as possible.
Insert an option here to “reverse weave” or lowlight the darkest of strands to produce the white/grey combo effect.
And then toners should be used to brighten and shift the new “natural” strands: blue white, grey white, slate white, taupe white…? A colorist will guide to the right destination of tone. Ever have the wrong shade of lipstick applied in a makeover? That will be the effect if the wrong tone concerning your skin is placed on your strands. Don’t let that happen to you while achieving the natural…everyone will think you have jaundice and you wanted was natural hair!
Of course, there will be moments of hesitation, remorse, sorrow, indignation and tears…but let’s work together to be tears of joy! There may be adjustments, toners, trimming of ends, low lighting on the way to natural too. Just don’t pull a Britney and grab the clippers!!!!
When you have changed your hair routine, moved away from artificial coloring and are showing your true colors, it’ll be time to assess the wardrobe: some of those colors you’ve harbored may not work with your newfound natural grey. The bright side is that some awesome reds, blues, silvers, blacks and other freedom colors await.
Do it! It’s just hair!