Is “No Hair Color” the New “No Makeup?”

Haley Nahman | June 8, 2016

Has minimalism infiltrated our hair follicles?

I last colored my hair on February 1, 2015, which means that, in the months since, around eight inches of protein strands have emerged from my scalp in an unencumbered shade of murky-ass puddle water. Or mousy beige. Or, more generously, cookie dough.

My initial avoidance of the hairdresser was less noble than Shrek’s — that beloved and heroic sheep in New Zealand who avoided the shearers for six years thus amassing enough wool to make 20 suits — but just as reasonable: it’s stupid expensive. Like lunch-times-15 expensive.

But after a while my motivations began to shape-shift into something else: my weirdo in-between color was growing on me (wink wink). Inch by inch, amidst the bleach and rainbow balayage happening all around my person, my dull mop started to feel a little more like a contrarian statement.

Like most adult-onset dishwater blondes, I ran around the playground with a vibrant yellow flash atop my head under the naive assumption that my color was set in sunny stone. When I got older and it began to darken into the color of wet sand (old oatmeal? Fig Newton? paper bag?), I was indoctrinated by capital-S Society (a privileged one, to be fair) with the idea that the natural next step was highlights or dye or anything other than the mousy situation that would otherwise occur. And so that’s what I did. When I could afford it. And when I couldn’t, I thought my hair looked, well, “blah as fuck.”

This time, I feel different. I’ll admit sometimes just looking at my hair color makes me fall asleep, and I haven’t not eyed the rose-colored conditioner I’ve never used but toted around to four different apartments because I just might maybe use it soon. Ultimately, though, I’ve stayed true to my private little quest to keep it real.

But have I tapped into a trend or am I just lazy? I asked Lindsay Mannering,  a deputy Editor at Bustle who recently decided to go back to her natural brown, why she gave up on her highlights. She said something that might get to the heart of it: the color felt like an accessory she couldn’t take off.

“Being blonde made me feel dressed up in a way, akin to red lipstick and heels. Which is great for when I was in the mood! But not for everyday.”

It makes sense, doesn’t it? For those drawn to the unassuming ease of minimal makeup and messy hair — and, in particular, how they take a humble backseat to the wardrobe below — it’s not so surprising those same people would start to find uncolored hair kind of intoxicatingly whatever.

Roxie Darling is the head colorist at Hairstory, and I asked her if she’d noticed a shift in her clients. “I think the same generation of girls who were playing around with their hair five years ago are growing up and wanting to take their hair in a more natural direction,” she said. “The cool girls that made ombre popular, are now rocking more natural, subtler colors.”

As for whether she’d call it a trend? Not really. More like color-fatigue. “I don’t think it’s a trend, I think it’s a certain group of people who’ve played out all of their options.”

So maybe we’re drawn to subdued hair colors because they offer a rebalancing of the scales, yes, but is it a reach to also theorize that as fashion shifts away from minimalism — a neutral playing field that welcomes or even calls for a statement up top — our reliance on our hair to say something novel is relieved? That in the hands of the maximalist movement we can just go buy 15 lunches instead?

What do you think? Is no hair color is the new no makeup? Is dull hair kind of cool or blah as fuck?

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.

no-hair-color

  • Well, I decided a few years ago natural color would be my … stone set feature. Semiprecious silver streaks and all.
    I don’t crave any color changes and though I could have all of my old natural dark brown back the chemical way, I won’t do it, because I don’t particularly appreciate how my hair feels or looks when dyed.
    I also happen to like silver.

    It would also seem I have a strange taste because I like your hair color as seen above so much. Not helpful, is it? 🙂

    • Haley Nahman

      Love when women embrace the silver!

      And thank you my self-esteem certainly found it helpful.

  • Elisabeth

    “I was indoctrinated by capital-S Society (a first world one, to be fair)”

    I am so surprised you use terminology like “First World” here, haven’t come across it in a while.

    (Here’s an article about it: https://mic.com/articles/107686/why-you-shouldn-t-call-poor-nations-third-world-countries#.LorG9rDf1 )

    Maybe you can make up a better word for saying that you live in a privileged society?

    Just a thought, at least i am struck by reading it, especially on a progressive website like manrepeller.

    I like the article otherwise, i can really relate and have been doing the same with my hair for a while!

    • Christina Ospina

      I’m going to second this and support the use of “developed/developing countries” (or privileged society, like Elisabeth suggested) as opposed to the “worlds” terminologies.

      I thought that was fairly widely known until I corrected a friend on his word choice recently.

      Opportunities for growth! Great piece btw 🙂

      • Haley Nahman

        THANK YOU FOR TEACHING ME THIS!!! I am going to adjust my language above.

      • This is my anthropology degree jumping in, but who decides which countries are developed or developing? Those terms are just as problematic as “first world” and “third world.”

        “Developing” and “developed” indicates that there is a hierarchy. “Developed” Western countries are on top, something “developing” countries should strive for.

        • And my natural born sarcasm tells me using “first world” isn’t always done out of smugness but can be real denigration (sarcasm, joke) too, without meaning it as a comparison. Though, maybe it’s just me: these days even I don’t know for sure all the time whether I am feeling sarcastic or not.

        • Christina Ospina

          Eh hey’re vague terms (even the UN says it’s pretty relative) and I think it’s based on a country’s economy, though it’s just one way to categorize groups. That’s why “privileged” is probably the better word choice in this piece – and yeah, there probably should be new terms to describe different regions in a non-Western focused perspective!

        • crazyloverblue

          If we really want to go there, we should just use Global North or Global South. The majority of ‘developed’ countries lie north of the equator.

        • I live in Argentina. Yeah, you know… my anthropology degree is also jumping in and yelling “well, your country is sort of reeeeally fucked up, but let’s not talk about development, ok?” And, by the way, all countries are developing, developed and involutioning in some way, right? Also, I was just thinking in going out to the drugstore and buy a dye box to cancel my mousy no-color color (ᗒᗣᗕ)

          • I’m originally from Poland. I think having a foreign background (particularly from a country that was or is considered developing) offers a more nuanced perspective

    • Junglesiren

      Yes, the rest of the world is “third world”. WTF does that mean? Where is the 2nd world? I do hate this terminology. Thanks for your suggestion and I’m glad to see that Haley took it in the right spirit.

      • Eva Skewes

        First, Second, and Third World are all Cold War era terms: The US and other Western European/NATO nations were the 1st World, the Soviet Union and its satellites were 2nd World, and everything else was the 3rd World.

        I also believe the terminology harkens back even further to the Enlightenment, particularly France (1st estate: nobility, 2nd estate: clergy, 3rd estate: everyone else). Journalists are often labelled part of the fourth estate for this reason.

        YAYYYY HISTORY

      • belladonna_16

        Just because I found it interesting at the time…

        when I went to study abroad in Italy in the late 90s, I heard it referred to as a “second world” country (“developed” but with iffy infrastructure” is how I interpreted).

        Anyway.

    • Beatrice

      Reason I love MR is that we can have a productive conversation about this sort of thing and no one gets mean. Haley, really cool of you to be receptive to constructive criticism, and MR commenters, you’re smart cookies!

      With relation to the article’s content, I don’t dye my hair ’cause I’m averse to spending on hair instead of shoes. And when I did dye it, once, senior year of college, my hair went from Kardashian glossy to tangled straw. ALL THAT $ FOR ORANGE STRAW.

  • Yes! The grind of having to visit my hairdresser every few weeks got the best of me. Now it’s half colored and half natural which is…..neat…but I’m committed to the “blah as f—” approach. 🙂

    http://www.kristajacobs.blogspot.com

  • Jill

    I think this is absolutely a trend and one that I am completely on board with. I, too, have an aubern-ish brown paper bag natural hair color and, while I still get occasional subtle highlights, it is a huge break from the inside-of-a-banana-peel blonde I used to aspire to for the last decade or so. While normcore may be on the outs, I, for one, am so happy to have had this break — and escape — from the VS fashion show long wavy hair, highlights, spray tans, nail art, arm party, contour, etc. etc. standards of the early aughts. Whew. Even if all of that comes back in style, I think I’ll continue to embrace the comfort/cool/effortless style of 2012-2016ish for as long as possible, natural(ish) hair color included.

  • Junglesiren

    I never died my hair until the grays showed up. I loved my natural color, golden brown. Never again.

    • Haley Nahman

      We are doing a story later this month on embracing the gray! Maybe you’ll be inspired?

      • Am I the only one who is looking forward to getting grays? I love that Stacy London embraced her gray streak.

        (PS you know the saying that you always feel like you’re 19 and then you wake up and see a 35 year old in the mirror? I always felt 35 and much to my horror, saw a 19 year old in the mirror.)

        • Kelly

          I have several friends in their early twenties with substantial grays and they are all embracing it! Especially the ones with asian and middle eastern, dark and thick hair. Their grays look beautiful.

          • My boyfriend (age 27) has jet black hair with a sprinkle of grays, I love them!

      • elise

        oh this is very exciting- I’m looking forward to the grey story!

      • belladonna_16

        I am trying to “embrace” my grey – I have a pretty awesome white/silver streak above my right temple – but I cover the rest of the grey. Makes the streak pop, and…I’m only 40. Some days even the fabulous streak makes me feel ancient.

      • lady

        Yes!!!! I can’t wait for the story about embracing the gray! I have a history with my grays starting with my first “freak out” my senior year of college. I am now 35 and it’s taken me a LONG time to get where I am with being confident in my gray (or silver highlights as I like to call them). After spending many years covering my gray I finally found the confidence to let it grow out. I found a GREAT stylist who has helped me ease into it. I still get subtle highlights/baylayage which has helped my natural hair and silvers grow out. Doing this has given me so much more confidence. I love hearing that girls are embracing their grays in their 20’s. I wish this movement was happening when I started to get mine, but I’m glad it’s here now. I’m not sure if anyone else can agree but I watched my grandma and my mom go to the salon for their touchups every month – And I just couldn’t do it anymore. Something just changed and I knew I just didn’t want to be controlled by my hair for “fear of looking” old. I think there is something very exciting about embracing gray. There is something powerful in it for women. I’ve had many women say they love my hair and it’s really helped me to continue to embrace my hair and that this is who I am – and I LIKE it. 😉

  • Natalie

    Oh I´m totally with you! Always had that weird german, dirty blond, with which I never felt comofortable so I dyed it blond or darker, depending on my mood and what I had before… Since last October I´m so over dying my hair and actually learnt to really appreciate my haircolour. Thanks to adult acne I never go bare-faced but I think the fact that I´m now into my natural haircolour is more related to me leraning to except and love myself! During the last years I´ve grown more confident about the way I look (minus adult acne…) and embracing my personal style which totally includes my “natural hair” (colour + structure as it´s extremly curly and I had a hard time figuring out how to style it)! So today I can sit at work, totally comfortable and happy with my undyed curly Bob, a green vintage maxi-dress with white dots and a floral print (which I pretend is at least slightly Gucci-esque) and my slides – not giving a shit what other people think about the way I look!

    • Haley Nahman

      PREACH.

      I also am having a serious adult acne issue right now. I need to write a story about it!

      • ^^ Yes, please! My acne is worse now than it was in high school! It’s so backwards 🙁

        • Jessica Amento

          Finacea gel from dermatologist changed my adult acne life!! I tried everything before it.

      • Natalie

        It’s so annoying! Since I skipped taking birth control 2.5 years ago it was first getting worth untill last christmas (I gave my skin my heart, but the very next day…it was even worse!) now it’s getting slowly better but I’m still struggleing with it! It’s a big confident downer…

  • I think I’m slowly getting to that point. I was never good with styling my hair so I loved dyeing it because I thought if I can’t give myself a cool hairdo, at least I can have a cool colour. I have gone back to my natural colour a few times but it hasn’t stuck around for long as I tend to get bored of it (it’s just a really dark brown), but I did enjoy having it.

    • Haley Nahman

      I definitely felt bored with it and still sometimes do, but when I wait it out I find an unexpected peace behind the boredom!

  • Zulema

    I totally get this! I always go through this transition of loving/hating/dyeing/hating/loving/etc… And I always end up feeling the best when it’s half grown in. The only problem is that now my hair is definitely turning grayer and I don’t know how to transition into it without having to dye my whole head of hair again!

    • Haley Nahman

      Go grayyyyy!!

  • Babyslice

    Love dishwater blonde. Kind of impossible to obtain unless you’re… Dishwater blonde. Surprising it’s not a bigger trend actually since Tswift is sorta low key d.w. Anyway I went the bleach and peach route and love it but only have about 212 strands left To show for it ?

    • Haley Nahman

      Love peach hair!!! And yes totally thought of T Swift re: dw blonde. But she went bleach recently and foiled my theory!

  • I’m somebody who’s never worn make up, but I’ve dyed my hair since age 15 up until March 2015. Everyone thought that it was my natural hair color. (My true natural hair color does look red in sunlight.) 2015 was an interesting year for me. I developed a satisfying career and new hobbies. Previous anxieties about style and looks fell away. That included dying my hair.

    I haven’t seen my natural hair color in 12 years and I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s more multi-dimensional than my chemically altered hair. At first I thought I had some grays, but realized that i had blonde strands. My hair feels more “alive” with movement. I have “baby” hairs for the first time in over a decade.

    • Haley Nahman

      This is like a hair love story <3

  • Eva Skewes

    I have strawberry blonde hair, so I’ve never considered dyeing it, but I have always struggled with styling, particularly as I don’t like using heat (bad childhood experience with a blow dryer, plus I find it looks less red). When untouched my hair is curly/wavy and thus has certain uncontrollable moods. For a long time I wanted it to be something it wasn’t (straight), and only in the past few years have I figured out and come to appreciate my hair in it’s natural state. Some of this is a case of the knowledge being available – most hair stylists default to straight hair – but I also think it’s a wider cultural change and a deeply important one, particularly for people of color.

    • Haley Nahman

      Completely agree. I considered this being linked to a self-acceptance movement. I’d love that!

    • MT

      You’re basically me exactly, except take out the word “strawberry”: at 34 I have much blonder hair than most adults have, naturally.

      But the aversion to heat, the slow embrace of emerging wavy/curly hair, the inability (until recent years) to find someone willing to cut it in a way that doesn’t assume I’ll straighten it every day (or ever, even), that’s all me.

      I will say, I do have a hankering for some mermaid hair, but coupled with loving my hair a lot and not wanting to mess with it, I’ve never done anything about said hankering. I have some potential summer plans, maybe, though. We’ll see.

      • Eva Skewes

        My hair gets mermaidy in the fall and winter, but I inevitably have to cut it in the winter. There’s only so much humidity and sweaty-neck I can take.

        I have also mastered a number of braids that take well to my hair because it has natural texture. I can’t get a fishtail to work because I have too much hair that has some light layers to it, but I can do dutch and french braids within minutes. They look fabulous and I don’t have to worry about them!

        • MT

          Oh I was referring to mermaid colors, not so much style. I’m lobbed to between my soulders and chin, which has really made my natural texture POP, but does not lend itself to braids… although, my longer hair didn’t really like them either, I guess because it’s on the fine side? There’s a lot of it, but no two strands ever want to do the same thing at the same time. I did manage to get a reasonable french braid going when it was longer, but I only really like wearing it that way for running, since that and an elastic headband was the only way to keep my hair battened down.

    • Ironically I had the opposite problem – the last professional who cut my hair wouldn’t embrace my naturally straight, fine hair. I insisted that I don’t style it, but she gave me a cut that was meant to be styled with those “beach curls.” Unaltered, my hair looked like she hacked it to pieces.

      PS I’m not denying that women feel pressured to have straight hair to look put together or “professional”

      • Eva Skewes

        Oh no! I hate when stylists impose their style on you. A good hair cut should look good no matter what you plan on doing it (be that heat styling or leaving it alone).

        Once a stylist diffuse-dried my hair and it gave me orphan Annie style curls. I immediately took a shower when I got home, in part because it dried crunchy.

  • I never liked my hair growing up, even though it’s a definite gold-toned blonde, and had been dying it nearly black for years and years until it got to be too much effort. I had a white-blonde streak that I would dye rainbow colours, and hair care became a fun hobby for me. When I went on a study abroad year I brought nothing with me except scissors and came back feeling like the monthly ritual was too much effort for the amount I cared about it, so I phased out the black dye into a weird ombre and eventually had it all cut off.

    I’ve mentioned before about having short hair, but going back to blonde for nearly a year made me so much more self-conscious and uncomfortable with myself than I could have imagined?! I thought returning to my natural colour would be liberating, but it just felt off. I’m now back to black minus the blonde streak and feeeeeeel like myself again. So I guess there’s a fine balance between working with what you’ve been given and changing it to how you see yourself. Aside from dyeing, I just let my hair do its thing and I’m super happy with it.

    • Haley Nahman

      Wow this is so interesting. Blonde to black is such an intense change!! But I agree — I think whatever hair color makes you feel most like yourself can, in a sense, be your natural one.

  • This. This is me. Fellow dishwasher blonde here! Thankfully, I would get pretty, natural highlights in the summer from years of lifeguarding. But I started lightly highlighting my hair a couple of years ago because the lifeguarding-induced highlights would grow out to look like a bad dye job! *cringe*

    • Haley Nahman

      I need to see the sun more…oof

  • Babyslice

    Actually dwb on her was never my cuppa tswift. Eternal side bang AND dishwater blonde? It’s like idk why you’re wearing that sparkly dress to do a power point presentation on flower anatomy for all these fellow seventh graders. Omg this is a concert and you’re a rockst*r? It’s just confusing

    • Haley Nahman

      Okay I agree but thennnnnnn it grew on me! Perhaps selfishly. Because that’s my color.

      • Babyslice

        Me too me too ?

  • Wow I didn’t realise I was such a trendsetter! I have been slowly ridding myself of my (many) artificial colour mistakes with a process of patiently grow, chop off 6 inches, patiently grow, chop off 6 inches for over a year now and I like my natural colour (light brown with some natural highlights) more every day. It would take *a lot* to make me go back to spending hours in a salon and handing over £100+ every 4 months now.

    • Haley Nahman

      It’s more the money for me because isn’t it kind of great to spend hours in a salon? I kind of love it….

      • I’m a weird person who hates beauty treatments. I’m British. I find it all very awkward. And I hate having my hair blow dried.

  • Lauren

    For the first time in my life I feel like I’m ahead of the curve on a trend! I’m on the darker blonde spectrum naturally, and have been dying my hair lighter blonde basically my entire life since high school (to the point where I didn’t actually know what my natural hair color was anymore). I jumped on the ombre bandwagon after becoming tired of constantly dying my hair every month, and just let it grow out. After about a year or so, my natural hair color is back, and I’m keeping it indefinitely. I’ve learned to love myself for who I really am, plus #minimalism ~*~

    • Haley Nahman

      Grown out highlights really do look great on DWBs

  • I’m in the exact same boat as you — I had light blonde hair as a kid, and when I turned 16 it became the color of oatmeal, basically. So I got highlights twice then I started bleaching it to platinum shades for 6 months, and now I have NO money, so I had to somehow put a darker color in that bleached hair so my root growth wouldn’t destroy my look. And now I’m letting my natural color grow out and I do miss my platinum days but I feel more natural (and richer…).

    • Haley Nahman

      Keyword richer

  • Lucie Evans

    In my 23 years of life i have never dyed my hair! I’m pretty content with my natural brunette colour but i have spent many hours trailing through pinterest pictures of ombre and balyage whenever i do feel bored of my bland barnet! However, i have yet to take the plunge and go for it! There is a part of me that cherishes the fact my hair is untouched my chemical dyes. And the cost side and maintenance does put me off.

    • Daria

      The maintenance is crazy! I’m jet black and didn’t dye my hair till I was 24 when’d I balayaged it. It looked great for 3 weeks then turned orange and brassy so I had to go in for more toner. I ended up going to to get it fixed every 3-4 weeks just to keep my ends in the “caramel” territory rather then “orange frizz” and sleeping in coconut oil every other night to save my fried ends! I felt enslaved by my hair! Decided to keep my natural color till I’m grey))

  • Samantha s

    Loved this. Glad to know I’m not alone on this “journey” of sorts. I am a natural dishwater/mouse/shelter dog blonde. I dyed it for years alternating between highlights/platinum, but haven’t dyed it in about a year. I also made this decision in an attempt to save a few hundred bucks a year. I just couldn’t keep spending the money, it really is SO EXPENSIVE, and I’d rather travel more or feel more financially secure with more blah hair than not do those things but be uber sexy blonde. The equation just stopped making sense to me. Simple as that.

    • Haley Nahman

      lol @ shelter dog (THE PHRASE NOT THE CONCEPT)

  • Georgia Takacs

    Great article! Respect.

  • Danni Surgnier

    I started greying (silvering) at the temples a few years ago and LOVE my Bride of Frankenstein look. I don’t think I can ever go back to dying, even when it goes all grey.

    • Haley Nahman

      We should really start calling it silvering

  • I haven’t dyed my hair in months either! I thought it was just me, but I guess I’m not alone in wanting to try out my real hair color for a while!

    At least, I’m going to enjoy it for as long as I can before it turns grey. If I take after my mother, it’s already grey and I’m in serious denial about it. If I take after my dad, it’ll be grey in another 20-30 years. Guess I’ll have to keep waiting to find out!

  • LalaN

    Yep. Growing out platinum blonde, and finally concentrating on the health of my hair instead of the color. My best friend called it “whiskey brown” when we were young. I’m embracing it, and the white hairs coming in at my part.

  • Fake red till I’m dead (even if I only get it touched up 4-5 times a year)

  • chouette

    My hair was gloriously ashy blonde after I gave up on platinum but before I went all the way back to brown.

  • Alice C.A.

    YES! I dyed my hair in college with cheap shit until it looked like dry yellow straw swimmers’ hair, and then worked for two years to grow it out. Now I get compliments that my hair looks healthy but have had to come to terms with the fact that my once “golden blonde” (aka dark/dirty blonde) has slowly but surely moved into the brown category… and i’m okay with it. I’d rather not waste the money starting to dye it now. Same reason I don’t wear face makeup for anything other than dress-up occasions – my skin is healthier without it and it’s nice to not waste money on items targeted at women!

  • Lindsey

    I actually stopped dying my hair a little while ago for the same reason- it’s so dang expensive. I, too, have that “dishwater” hair color which I always thought was so boring. But when I looked at a lot of models, even just for brands like Madewell, everyone had my hair color. It kind of gives off this cool, effortless vibe- very French (if I’m allowed to go there [whatever, i’m going there. i like that vibe, and i’m stickin’ to it.]) that just says, this is what I look like and I think I look great. It’s definitely saved me a lot of money!

  • Shopgirl11

    I haven’t dyed/highlighted my hair since January 2015 so I was fortunate to ride the trendy ombré train for quite some time. Money was a large part of that decision. Recently I got a short summer cut and lost all my sunkissed ends. I felt fine about it until a friend posted pictures. I looked so mousey and unkempt (especially considering I always let my hair air dry). Dishwater blonde coupled with my naturally pale skin made me look sickly! Suffice it to say I’m get partial highlights on Friday… and will be eating paper bag PB&Js for the next month. Worth every penny.

    • Haley Nahman

      Do it grrrrrl

  • tunie

    Ha…I’m right on ‘trend’ too then, I just cut off the remaining 8 colored inches into a long bob of natural hair. And my sister took the same frustrations with maintenance and expense in another direction – she had her colorist expertly match her oatmeal roots to sidestep the grow out. I’ve got to say, it looks strikingly novel, in a good way!

    • Haley Nahman

      now I want to see!!

  • bwebb

    I am also dark blonde and I ran away from it for years by bleaching it platinum because it seemed like blonde or brunette are both acceptable but not…nothing. Platinum was fun but hard to maintain, even if I touched it up myself. I finally grew out the bleach and I was saving for a fancy balayage to spice up the ambiguous ‘no color’ color when I realized I should probably just embrace it. F it. It’s boring but it’s how my hair grows. I have also been embracing my natural equally as boring texture, ‘not quite wavy’. Thanks for making me feel better about the decision.

    • Haley Nahman

      YOU ARE SO WELCOME

  • Cara

    I think your hair color is gorgeous! In fact, I heavily considered dying my hair this exact shade of blonde (heavily influenced by a love for Mia Wasikowska.) I ultimately decided against it, at least for now; my natural hair color is jet black hair–oy vey, the upkeep!

  • Aninstantcrush

    After fifteen years of going blonder and blonder with each salon appointment (three to four times a year, $200 each time) I decided to grow out hair just to see what it naturally looked like (ash blonde). It’s been two years since I last dyed it and I’ve embraced it. But in the winter months there were definitely times when I was itching to lighten it just a bit because without the sun, it looked much darker than it does in the summer months. The upside is my hair has never looked healthier or shinier and I like all the tones in it. It’s very fine so highlights, swimming and sun take a toll on it. I’ve also grown to like being the only ash blonde in the room. I have a few stress-induced greys around my hairline but they aren’t noticeable yet (my mother still hasn’t gone grey either so I’ve got genes to thank). I think I’ll resist the urge to dye it a little while longer, perhaps just adding some partial highlights around the face come winter when the SADs kick in. But imo I definitely noticed a trend amongst my friends these past few years — they were either dyeing it lavender or not at all.

  • Sea

    !!! Loved this and very reassuring– only yesterday I was seriously considering going a lighter, honey blonde (Olsen twin inspired?) or the strawberry-orange that I have been telling myself to do for almost 5 years now (one day!). Alas, I can’t imagine the maintenance of hair-colouring nor do I think my hair could handle it. I haven’t dyed my hair since I saw a picture of Ashlee Simpson’s ombre hair in 2010 (!!) and hoped to achieve that look naturally. I started in high school as a blonde dying my hair brown, now my fine, butt-length hair is a dark d.w. brown, the result of a few consecutive winters between hemispheres (poor planning!) and I find myself craving blonde?!

  • pamb

    Because I am Old, I couldn’t help but notice something you don’t talk about: wanting to cover the grey. I’m lucky to only have unwelcome grey highlights, but there are a few of my friends who started going solidly grey in their 30s. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

    I usually box dye it with demi permanent color (Clairol Natural Instincts is the only one left in that category, I believe) every other month or so (the dye stays in my hair a long time, and my grey isn’t too bad). I use to go auburn-ish brown, but I’m embracing a medium cool brown these days. Nothing fancy, and you might not even know I color my hair. But I still do it.

    • Haley Nahman

      I’m doing a story later this month on going gray!!

  • Jennifer

    I’m a natural brunette and went through a 2-year phase of dying my hair drugstore-red. Aye caramba. I was getting over a break up/turned 26 and things felt bleak. Since then, I stopped dying my hair and the red has grown out. I don’t even think about my hair color any more. It’s funny how we go through phases of life when we’re obsessed with certain aspects of our lewk but then we’re over it. Last month it was winged-eyeliner, this month its like NAHHH.

    P.S. I love your top Haley- where from? Wish I could see your whole outfit for this post!

  • Vanessa

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot. In my beauty routine, I try to only do things that make me feel good or happy or pampered. Dying my hair felt like such a chore and sometimes putting in effort still left me with results I was unhappy with. The same goes for mascara- I dreaded taking it off every night so I just stopped wearing it-and I was surprised by how easy it was to give up. Doing what makes me happy is a way of finding my own style, and a unique look is the goal I’m ultimately seeking to achieve (when it comes to beauty and fashion).

  • I stopped wearing makeup over 10 years ago, stopped dying my hair almost as long ago, at least with chemicals. I found plants easier to use and conditioning is terrific, tho I must confess it has been over a year now, time to get back into the muck. 🙂 No toxins in my life, only plants.

  • My 0.02

    Is Shrek the most fashionable thing to come out of NZ?

  • DJ

    First of all, I think your natural color is beautiful! Your hair looks healthy and has dimension.

    But I am scared to step away from the hair color. I know I’m an old, but so many women chiming in with love for grey hair are younger women who have young-looking skin and will still look youthful no matter what their hair color. I am just north of 50, with a very dark brown natural hair color and wavy, slightly coarse texture, and I’m reluctant to stop coloring my grey away. I imagine I’ll just have a frizzy, greyish-brownish mop, and it does not go at all with my self-image or my style. My face is already starting to betray my age (thanks, menopause!), and I worry that allowing my greys (maybe 30% or so of my head at this point?) to show will just make me look older. I don’t have a cool silver streak or patch — it’s just sort of interspersed through my hair in dribs and drabs. I know, many will argue, what’s wrong with looking older? Well, I just don’t want to! Am I alone in this?

    • Fran

      I’m 59 and have never colored my medium brownish hair, which is now 20-30% grey (it’s actually really hard to tell), mostly interspersed, but with a couple of grey spots above the temples. I’m fortunate that the greys are mostly silver and not especially frizzy/kinky. I wear it long (waist-to-hip length, depending on how I feel), and mostly styled in braids, side ponytails, or with hair forks/sticks. I get a ton of compliments on it, and it’s kind of become my signature.

      So I say, you’ll never know what it will look like unless you try it. I save a ton of time, money, and trouble by not having the upkeep of hair color. Even if I spend money on high-end shampoo, conditioner, and styling products (mostly Living Proof, the products are really good at tamping the frizz down), I only need a trim about three times a year at the salon, so I save money (that I love to spend on clothes and colorful makeup, my personal passion).

      If you try it and hate it, you can always go back to coloring it. But I think it’s kind of a shame to not even know what one’s own hair actually looks like.

      Most of my friends quit coloring sometime in their 50s or 60s. It just gets so tiresome after years and years!

      • DJ

        I hear you about the PITA factor of upkeep. It’s hard to make the switch when you have medium length, dark hair and no desire to cut it off short to ease the transition. I’ll probably start opening up the discussion of an eventual transition plan with my hairstylist in the next year or so. I don’t know if I’m still going to want to keep this up when I’m 55 or 60.

        I think other women look wonderful with their natural grey — i just find it hard to believe I won’t just look like an old woman. I feel so much younger than I am — if I look in the mirror and see grey, will that get to me? Just things I ponder…

  • sarah

    I must be completely opposite the trends, because I’ve actually been considering coloring my hair for the first time in my 30 years of having a head!

    I think it’s a combination of two things–I finally have a salon that a trust with my life, and planning a wedding has made me way more interested in being pretty than usual. Thanks, pinterest.

  • Anne

    I have grey hair. Have had it since age 25. I am lucky– it’s a great grey, the pattern is good, and its not frizzy…if I give it some help. Saves me enough for a great weekend trip every year (at least), strangers compliment it, and I can swim without fear (my swimming buddy had to stop because she colors). To be fair, I am also now old enough to not give a #$%@.

  • Alice Pawley

    I have never died my hair before but always wanted to go blonde. One day! I love your hair though Haley. There is definitely a shift for people going for the effortlessly cool look and you nail it!

  • Shirley Harm

    Compelling until the last word … No thanks.

  • i am kind of so glad that my skin tone doesn’t suit anything other than BLACK hair bc i just know i’d be all over that £100 per session to get my hair dyed, i’d be rubbish with the home kits anyway… i’ve always been envious of people being able to change colour to colour, it’s sort of like emerging as a brand new person but hairdressers have always advised me against it. in short i’m saving myself a lot of dollah

  • Lila

    My natural.hair color is dark brown and my dyed hair is light blonde. I haven’ t colored it in two months. I decided to go natural and to get through it without dying my hair again. I hate the contrast of th roots and the blonde hair but I need to do this. I will have to cut it short

  • Sarune

    I’ve always been for no hair color even though my hair is a stray/ ash color. I think your natural hair color looks always the best on you. The super blonde or black with perfect fringe and straight hair will always look too perfect for me. Some people say it’s blah and I sometimes think my hair looks just grey, but here I am 25 years old never dyed my hair (oh, just sprayed it a couple of times red when it was in fashion in 2005 hahaha) so, yay from me to the No Hair Color! 😉

    http://inblacklabel.blogspot.com.es

  • Zoë

    Haley, your natural color is actually awesome btw.

    This article is funny timing because in light of my 2-too-long-inch roots right now, I have recently been weighing the pros and cons of growing out my bleached locks in favor of my natural, poop-brown virgin hair.

    The dilemma is that I’m going to look kind of ridiculous while this grows out. I’m considering asking my hairstylist to do some Vitamix blend-y kind of magic to my roots so they grow out nicely.

    *Flashback to when I begged her to bleach my whole head and she kindly reminded me the grow-out would not be pretty if I ever stopped bleaching, and I said DO IT ANYWAY (please)*…. oops

    I think natural hair with very subtle highlights to add some dimension is the goal. We’ll see how long it takes to get there!

  • Megan Allen

    Best opening paragraph- I’m still laughing.

  • Cynthia Schoonover

    I gave up color because I decided I liked my gray streaks and didn’t want permanent color because I don’t like roots growing out. Every few months I will get a few low lights which brighten up my hair and subtly fade away.

  • Danielle.

    I gave up hair cuts about 7 years ago and bought some hair-cutting scissors of my own. Completely freeing. I found that bad haircuts were worse than no haircuts and still costing me $, but I just couldn’t keep going to hair dresser after hair dresser and paying more and more $ as I got older for great haircuts/hair color. I get it- hair dressers are professionals and need to pay rent. And I think paying $100-200 for a cut and color every few months is still the best way for me to get a kick-ass blonde lob on my otherwise frizzy, dull-brown hair. But I now happily pay nothing and treat myself to a month of unlimited yoga, bottles of wine over the course of a few months if I’m in the mood (I tend to just drink at home seasonally), a great sweater…basically, I love that I have options. I’ve had 2 professional cuts and colors in 7 years and I’m happy I made those decision because I had gorgeous hair for a few months each time. But I’m also more than thrilled that I had a few months of yoga, or those few months of investing $ into my knitting hobby, or those few nice dinners I took with my husband. Just feeling like I don’t HAVE to pay $$$ to have model-esqe hair in order to reach some sort of ‘equlibrium’ or be my ‘best self’ is totally the life to live. My frizzy, limp, brown hair is good enough for me on a regular basis.

    Having financial freedom is cool as fuck, dull hair in tow.