They tell us gray hair is embarrassing.
“Does she or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.” I grew up with commercials like this one from Clairol that enticed women to cover their gray. In the early ads, the assumption was you didn’t want anyone to know your color was fading, that you were already graying.
Dying our hair is fun.
The next ad said,“If I’ve only one life, let me live it as a blonde!” We didn’t need to be gray to dye our locks—we could color them no matter how young we were and choose any shade we wanted. Purple or blue or orange hair—why not?
We can find a color that imitates our own.
Today’s ad says, “So natural looking, they’ll never know your real color.” What will Clairol’s slogan be next year? Anything that sells the product.
Too expensive, we say? Not to worry.
L’Oreal gave us the perfect rebuttal for spending so much on hair coloring. “Because I’m worth it.” The slogan was updated during the last decade to say, “Because you’re worth it.” We love hearing this phrase because it makes us feel significant, important, valued, and special. The covert message says our ageing appearance is worth whatever it takes to improve it, i.e., to make us look younger and, therefore, prettier. Who could argue with that?
Peers pressure us, too.
Still, I resisted coloring. When my hair sprouted wiry clumps of white here and there, hairdressers sympathetically said, “We can do something about that bit of gray, you know.” A friend advised me to color it for the experience. “Why not have a little fun while you’re still young? You could put a rinse on it and see what you think.”
So I did and liked it. Only later did I learn that any kind of color—permanent or not—actually puts a layer on the hair follicle that never washes out. You have to cut it off to get rid of it. (For hair coloring gone wrong, see http://givingupdieting.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/stress-and-eating/ )
Anyone who’s willing to spend the money, time, and effort can have young-looking hair color, no doubt about it. But have you ever seen a woman from the back with long, lustrous hair and assumed she was young only to have her turn around with a mature face that didn’t match her youthful hair?
Bucking the tide, sort of.
For the present, I’m taking the middle road—a little color, a little gray. What’s your hair coloring philosophy?