Silver Locks Project: Styling Silver

I didn’t grow out my silver locks to be on trend, but there I am, at the hair color cutting edge. I say this in jest. The last thing I am is cutting edge.curls front

I’m fascinated by responses to silver hair–that of models and actresses, as well as my own. Among my friends (including most of you, dear readers), I hear admiration for silver locks. C’mon, tell me Emmylou’s hair isn’t amazing. Yet, as I’ve mentioned in other Silver Locks Project posts, I’ve had people question my transition to silver (only a few, and it bothers me not one whit). “Don’t you feel old?” “Why would you do that?” This idea is reasonable. Most silver-locked folks are older. But the reason silver and age are often equated, I suspect, lies elsewhere.

Here’s the thing. As a girl, I knew not one woman who had longer silver hair. For decades, the trend, at least in my world, seemed to be to short, permed hair once the color changed. And a lot of times, those styles looked less like styles, and more like giving up.

My stylist and I figured out some goals when I started the transition to silver:  to keep my hair healthy and to cut as little as necessary. I refused to take the easier route of cutting it all off. I’d spent years growing out my last pixie, and I didn’t want to do that again. I didn’t want to risk resembling the old silver haired ladies I remembered. But cutting to a short bob was necessary.

Now that all the hair is silver, my focus has been on growing it out. I like to braid my hair, and at last I can manage two little pig-tail braids.

Despite my intentions, though, on most days, I’ve been just like the silver-locked women of my youth, taking the easy route as I scramble to hike dogs and leave for work on time. Most days, my styling is limited to running a comb through it and pulling it into a pony tail. Not the height of style. Not cutting edge at all. More like the edge of giving up.

This week I came back from the edge, at least a wee bit. My stylist coiffed me for a fancy gala evening on Friday. I asked for beehive height. She persuaded me to curls and a side sweep, a style that looked elegant and fun. And she assured me that I could learn to curl my hair in a snap.

I realized it isn’t so much about the style of my silver. There are loads of women rocking silver pixies. This entire musing over edges and giving up is a reminder to myself to stay curious, to keep playing.

Guess what I picked up today? Curlers.

Tell me: what do you do to keep yourself from giving up?

Thinking of going all cutting edge and silver yourself? Check out my Silver Locks Project posts.

Silver Locks Project: 11 Month Update

photo 2Here I am, fresh from my stylist’s chair. You know what she did today?

She cut and carved out the last bits of yellow.

Eleven months in, another 1.75″ cut, and I’ve pretty much reached my natural color. There is a tiny bit left in my fringe because I wasn’t willing to cut them any more. Originally I estimated I’d get to this point October 2014, but my willingness to wear my hair a bit shorter in the interest of speeding things along cut (get it? cut?) seven months off the project.

Growing out the silver was far less painful than I imagined. In fact, it was only in the last two months or so that the yellow ends began to bother me. Most days, I rolled my hair into a twist so I wouldn’t have to look at them.

My hair is shorter than it has been since we bleached it last April, but I’m pleased to have my real color shining through. To keep my hair shiny, I follow Em’s basic guidelines: consume healthy foods, don’t over wash (I usually wash every third day), use sulfate-free shampoo. Today she recommended that I use a violet shampoo every now and again, to counteract any deposits from water/pollution that my turn my hair dull.

Here’s another view:

photo 3


You can read all about the Silver Locks Project. If you’re thinking of quitting the dye (and I am the last person to judge you if you are not interested in quitting the dye, trust me!), and you want more details about my journey, just leave a note in the comments. I’m glad to answer any questions!


Silver Locks Project Update: Cut and Grow

silver locksJust before Thanksgiving I visited my stylist, Em. We talked about the Silver Locks Project and how to proceed. At this point, it’s getting routine: cut, grow, cut, grow until the blonde is gone.

Em cut a bit more than two inches, making my hair shorter than it has been in a long time. Even five weeks after that cut, it is still too short to twist in back the way I like. Still, we got a lot of blonde off my head with that cut. In fact, Em thinks the next cut (probably in February or March) might be the one that removes all of the blonde. My original math said October 2014, but I guess if I go short enough, I can have all silver sooner!

Every now and then I get what I perceive to be an underhanded criticism about growing out the silver, but I just smile and think of the hair coloring money in my bank account and my love of this new color. Neal and my mom–the two people who would be most brutally honest with me–are both pleased with it, and most importantly, I’m pleased.

I like this picture because it shows how much of my dark hair is left. Before I started this project, I had forgotten just how raven black my hair was pre-coloring. I’ve fallen in love with the color!

Want to read more about my journey (8 1/2 months so far) to silver hair? Check out all of the Silver Locks Project posts.

Silver Locks Project: Six Months In

Time for a Silver Locks Project update, no?

As a recap, the last time I colored my hair was April 13, just shy of six months ago.

On September 13, my stylist cut just under 2″ off, removing a lot of the dead ends along with the orange-ish ends. Ends, it seems, soak up more color, so when we bleached and colored it blonde in April, the ends were saturated. If I continued to color, this wouldn’t have been noticeable because the whole head of hair would have been re-touched every five weeks.

Today I measured the silver at about 2.25″. I am so pleased with the shades that are growing in. Want to see?

hair 10-7-13


Em, my stylist, gave me some tips for babying my hair. She’s great about not trying to sell me product (although sometimes she uses a product on me that smells sooo good that I ask for it!). She said any conditioner I want to use is fine, but the shampoo I use is more important. Of greatest import: no sulfates. You might have read about this in other places (the Curly Girl method is a big proponent of no sulfates, no silicone. Even though I’m no curly girl, I am going to take up their methods). Other tips that have helped keep my hair healthier:

  • Healthy diet. This goes without saying, but my vitamin-rich diet seems to work. My hair grows fast and has good integrity.
  • Minimal washing. I wash every third day or so.
  • Avoid blow drying as much as possible. Over the summer I only used the blow dryer twice. Now that I’m back in the classroom, I blow it out most days, but when I’m not working, I let it air dry.
  • Use a wide-tooth comb when hair is still wet. Even if I’m not washing, I usually rinse my hair. I don’t know what I do in my sleep, but I wake up with wild hair! The wide-tooth comb helps prevent breakage.

Want to read more about my Silver Locks Project? Check out these posts.

Anything new with your hair?

Silver Locks Project Update

It has been 14 weeks since I last colored my hair. This week, I measured 1.25″ of silver growth at my part line. The silver and gold (ok, blonde, but humor me) blend surprisingly well. In fact, my most honest critic (hi, mom) has had nothing but compliments about the color. Now I’m impatient to lose the gold and sport only silver. If my math skills are up to par, and the growth continues this way, I should be all-silver by October 2014. Even though that seems far away, this is far less painless than I expected!

Want to see a picture? Of course you do!

silver locks 7-13You can read more about my Silver Locks Project here and here. If you’re on Ravelry and considering going silver, the Gray is Okay group is a good resource for encouragement and advice.

On My Way to White: Autumn Wheat*

Because I want other women considering this shift to see my process, I’ll share even the ugly pictures.

Here’s my hair a few days prior to the appointment.

bleach cap


Phase 1: bleach cap. My fabulous stylist Emily made a concoction of bleach with shampoo and water to dilute the bleach. I see my future as a lunch lady at this point of the day.

R1 color doneRound 1 washed out. The color came down quite a bit. I love how white my character streak is now!

highlightsRound 2: I have never had so many foils in my hair! Emily put in loads of highlights, which will help blend the white as my natural color grows out.

Dark endsRound 2 washed out. My hair sucked up the toner, and the ends are once again nearly as dark as when we began. Naughty, naughty ends. Emily cut a bit off the bottom to see if that would help. It did not.

Round 3

Round 3: Emily put on another round of highlights. She hadn’t wanted to, but it really did make a difference. She cut at least two inches off.

DoneFinished: Here I am, hair shorter than it has been in a long time, lighter than it has been in about 15 years. I’m not quite used to it. To be honest, I’m mourning the inches off–no more braids or up-dos for a while. I know it will grow back, and it will grow back silver.

Next salon visit will include more highlights, and then it really comes down to patience from that point. I’ll keep you posted!

Thanks for checking out the pictures and for all the encouragement. I cannot wait to see what my hair looks like a year from now!


*I asked Neal what he would call the color, and Autumn Wheat was his reply. Some day he’ll tell me “ice queen white”. 






My Hot Hair Mess

Two weeks ago I was supposed to be in my stylist’s chair, entering the next phase of my Silver Locks Project.

Alas, my car would not start.

I had to cancel. Em’s busy, and we finally chatted yesterday to reschedule.

“Are the hair gods against this?” she asked. Trust me, I’ve wondered the same thing.

“If so, we’ll defy them,” I said.

I asked Em for advice on how I handle this awkward time, with my locks still brunette and my roots white as, well, snow?

Two options:

1. I can touch up the roots just at my part with this fabu product.


2. I can grin and bear the dreaded skunk stripe.

For now, I’m going with option 2.  My next appointment is still three weeks away, so that may change.

Want to see how the silver grows? Of course you do:

hairI spread the character streak out a little to make the contrast easier to see; yellow hair is bleached. White is my future.