A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Grey matter

Posted by Pepper on October 23, 2013

I have 3 strands of grey hair that seem to emerge from adjoining roots. As a result, if I part my hair, I can see a small cluster of grey. Instead of worrying about it, I feel thankful that I have only about 3 grey strands so far. Because my genetic constitution is exactly like my mother’s. And my mother started greying at the age of 16. By the time she was in her early 20’s, her grey streaks were very prominent. She introduced herself to the world of hair colour at a very young age.

I always ask her, why did she choose to colour her hair? She says she doesn’t know. That the possibility of not colouring her hair never occurred to her then. You go grey – you conceal it with dyes. That was the mantra. The social conditioning ran very deep and she says she was not intelligent enough to question the norms. Also, she isn’t bold enough to sport the grey confidently. She wasn’t then, she isn’t now. So she continues to colour her hair till date. Mehndi has not worked for her. It makes her hair too brittle. And I absolutely abhor the red haze it leaves. So that is ruled out.

All my life, I lived in anticipation of the greys. Since I take after my mum in every way, a part of me was almost sure I would start sprouting grey hair by the time I entered my late teens. Surprisingly, I did not inherit this trait. No grey hair made an appearance on me until the age of 25. Then I spotted 3 strands. I see the same 3 strands today, at the age of 27.5. Or perhaps I have more grey hair than I am aware of. I don’t know. But not much that is visible from the surface.

I keep expecting to see more grey as I grow. And they say stress and worry accelerates the process of greying. Hah! If that is true, I expect myself to have a fully grey head very soon. I am a chronic worrier. At any given point, I will be hyperventilating about my parents health, about our erratic financial management, our lack of planning and organising, Oregano’s kidney problem, our unborn kids, the piling laundry and everything else under the sun.

I give myself another year or two, before the grey is very visible. And then I wonder, what after that? Will I really be bold enough to carry the striking grey? Or will I succumb to the pressure and get my hair coloured? Mint is extremely clear. He says I should never colour my hair. Ever. The dyes that are used are cancerous. Why do people want to subject themselves to years of such harmful treatment? For what good? Mehndi is a no no for me.

At one point, I agreed with him. I was sure I would never get my hair coloured. But now, I find my resolve shaking. I happened to be getting a hair cut at a salon, and the guy working on my hair shrieked when he noticed the 3 grey strands. He told me I should colour my hair immediately. Instead of getting mad, I chose to remain calm.I told him I did not intend getting my hair coloured. Not any time soon atleast. And those few grey strands were acceptable to me. Β But in all honesty, that shriek of his disturbed me more than I let on. Beneath the composed exterior lay my insecure and unsure self. I then reminded myself, if at all I do decide to go natural and never colour my hair, I will have to brace myself for many such shrieks. Am I prepared?

I consider myself to be young. Young people are not meant to have grey hair. Grey hair is a sign of age, a sign of wisdom and maturity. That is what I am led to believe. And that is definitely not me now. The point is – Will I ever think that description fits me? Or will I, like the rest, forever crave to look and feel ‘young’. I suppose we crave to look young because young equals fun, and old equals boring. I want to contribute towards changing this mindset and challenging this belief. And confidently sporting grey hair while I continue to lead a normal, ‘fun’ life will help. I just don’t know how strong I am. I will have to wait and watch.

Do you colour or plan to colour your hair? If so, I am curious to know why.


55 Responses to “Grey matter”

  1. MR said

    nope no plans, I’m terrified of cancer. so no thanks.

    But I’m also 40+ and have barely 10 grey hairs ( i think) , so i dont give a damn.
    I’d rather be perceived as old and ugly rather than be cancerous and dead.
    i also have curly hair, of course I’m vain enough to get a pretty cut suited for me, but i cant deal with the straightening, blow drying etc., trend.. au natural is best for me and I try to look nice without altering the inherent structure of anything.. hair , face skin….

    too much trouble and too much unknowns with cosmetics and dye .

    • Pepper said

      I guess, if you are 40 + with barely 10 grey hair, you have no right to talk.. Hmph!
      I just straightened my hair because it had gotten terrible in the recent past. I do not intend to continue doing it.. but the fact that I did it makes me wonder if I will truly be able to withstand all the grey once it appears.

  2. My mom turned grey very early – genetic constitution (she took after my grandfather) She’s greyer than my grandmother now! I fully expect myself to turn grey early too. At 25, I already have about 6-7 strands of grey. I don’t think I’d colour them though – my mom never used hair colour and she looks gorgeous, aging so gracefully. I think I’d like to follow that example πŸ™‚ Plus, the cancer-causing side effects freak me out a little!

  3. Titaxy said

    i started seeing grey strands a couple of years ago. they appear only when i part certain way, but i know they are there. i am not for coloring, for the same reasons that mint mentions + i am too lazy to go through that process every once in a while. so for me, if the grey starts showing, so be it. (more than grey hair, my worry is losing all hair and going bald. that process has started and i am hopelessly praying that it’ll go downhill very very slowly.)

    the partner started showing grey hair since before he hit 10, i am told. he carries his salt and pepper look with not much fuss. πŸ™‚

    • Pepper said

      I agree, my worry is going bald too. A lot more than the grey hair! The same goes with Mint. He will be bald before he will turn grey, I think. πŸ™‚

  4. aarya said

    th’x to my mom’s genes, I got my first few grey strands in std. 10th. Then some of them were quite visible by the time I started college. So, mummy would apply henna to my hair every 20 days or so. Since not many hair were grey, it didn’t give that orange tint to my hair (I hate it), instead it looked pretty with dark red streaks. And it drastically changed the texture of my hair. It was smooth and straight and shiny. When I started working and had to stay away from family, applying henna was too cumbersome so I switched to hair color. For almost 4 years I used hair color and though it didn’t seem to damage my hair in anyway, one fine day I decided to go organic again and ordered organic henna online which is available in lots of colors by mixing henna and indigo in various proportions. It’s been almost 2 years since I switched and I am content with results.
    Now after all this gibberish, to answer your question, I am not sure why I do it. If somebody points out grey strands to me, I just shrug and blame it to my genes. But I color them regularly because it makes me feel ‘not-pretty’ when my grey hair are a little too visible. My concern is only with the grey strands in my hairline, just above my right eyebrow. In fact, I am planning to get a haircut with bangs to hide those stupid grey strands.
    Ok, I am done now 😐

    • Pepper said

      Organic henna? That sounds good. I should look it up.
      And the ‘not-pretty’ feeling when the grey hair is visible, I get it. Though I wish that weren’t the case.

  5. I used to colour my hair in college like every six months.. not because of grey hair but just for fun.. now its been 4 years I haven’t coloured my hair..

  6. R's Mom said

    Ah well, I do have loads of grey hair and greying early is a part of my genetic make up…Amma colours her hair, promised to stop when her grandkids were born, but still does it. Appa is STILL against it…one thing they agree to disagree I guess.

    I use mehendi in my hair once in three months when RD has time to apply it πŸ™‚ otherwise I just let the grey be.

    Will I colour my hair? I really doubt. Like Mint and my dad, I firmly believe they are just too harmful!

    So grey and red it is I guess :):)

    • Pepper said

      I have been so against mehendi you know. Because I am certain it would not suit my dry, frizzy and brittle hair. But perhaps I should try it once. Sometime in the future when the grey is visible maybe..

  7. ashreyamom said

    i want to colour my hair, not the greys, just few streaks to make me look trendy.. but i like greys.. i mean not the in between stage.. i like it when i look at ppl who have complete grey hair, wear a nice white base dress, and platinum or pear accessories.. :).. dont ask me why..

  8. DI said

    I personally cannot afford to color my hair because it is more chemical treatment than my already straightened hair can take. I have several strands now and none show, but I know they are there!
    I have never liked the color of dye because it is usually stark, but lately I have seen more natural shades, of hair color, which look realistic. I think, unless I grey considerably before I turn 40, I won’t resort to coloring. Too much work. As it is this straightening is a pain.

    • Pepper said

      I’ve straightened my hair too, but I did it more as a temporary solution. A couple of past hair cuts had ruined my hair texture, and I was hoping the new hair that grows from the roots is not as terrible. So far, this seems to be working, and I hope it ends my ‘forced to straighten’ state.

      You’re right. very few people use the start black dyes today. Most of them are more natural looking.

      If you do grey considerably before you turn 40, will you still not colour? Curious.

  9. Smita said

    You know my Ma In Law is behind my life to apply mehndi on my hair? Logic being, the hair which is black will remain black. And she might be right she might not be I am clear I do not want to apply mehndi and if I have silver hair then be it…kaun sa I can see them πŸ˜€

    I had twice colored my hair at a parlor (burgundy streaks) and ended up spoiling the hair quality…so no coloring for me!

  10. Deeps said

    Oh I colour I colour, Pepper! But you know what, I would advice you against colouring..not just because of the mindset change or anything, but also because I have observed that the more you colour the more you grey. I started using hair colour when I noticed a strand or two of grey hair around the time I touched 30. I didn’t like the thought of sporting grey hair and getting bracketed under the ‘old and aged’. Yep, social conditioning, unfortunately. But over the years I have observed that the texture of hair has worsened because of regular colouring and that has made greying faster as well. I do wish to stop coloring my hair..now though it has reached such a stage where I feel awkward every time the hair colour wanes out and patches of grey start to show up in a not so orderly way πŸ˜€

    Someday I hope to come to terms with my grey hair and start sporting them with pride!

  11. Ashwathy said

    Three strands is not enough time to panic but a year or two down the line you might have to take a call.
    I am fortunately blessed to NOT have the grey hair problem early on, but hubby’s hair is already greying (only side burns). Yes he uses hair colour. Why? Simply because the grey does not suit him (his opinion). Did not bother to go as far to think about the social conditioning bit though. But then some years down the line when I get grey hair, this will definitely become food for thought.

    There!! I commented!! πŸ˜› Happy?

  12. D said

    :)..:)…I guess if i notice grey hair and they are visible enough….i would opt for coloring (though i would hate the hassle involved). I feel that looking good (that is my age or younger) increases my confidence (and i need that). I am not a very confidant female overall (in some areas i am, but still there is a lot of scope for improvement); and how i feel about my looks also has some contribution in it. So if there is something which i feel, if fixed, will make me look good and is doable, i would go for it. Now you may ask- who says grey hair look bad…it all depends on the person…if one is confident enough of carrying it and is unperturbed by what people think or say- great!!…nothing like it….but to someone like me…right now, yes its important…:)
    I like your posts. You make me think. I will do a post on how i use to feel about one of my facial feature and how it affected my confidence…soon..:) cheers…
    Btw, i understand that its very natural to feel not so good when people react negatively to your choice- like choosing not to color one’s hair and leave them grey. We chose a name for K; everybody has been giving negative reactions to it. Though i feel that it is not a very big deal..because eventually the name starts suiting one’s personality no matter what…but still…every time someone says…ΓΏe naam kyu rakha?”etc…i do not like it…it just doesn’t feel good for a moment….

    • D said

      oh and the cancer thing..if its true..then may be i would think twice..better to be alive looking not so great than disappear completely…lol…

    • Pepper said

      Looking good increases confidence. Agree. I just hope to see an era where grey hair is considered a part of ‘good and trendy’ looks. Imagine if everybody started sporting grey hair instead of colouring it, it would slowly lead to mindset change. People would feel more comfortable and confident sporting their true colours, literally and figuratively.

      And yes, totally agree. There have been some names I hate! But I would never ever indicate my dislike. I tend to go to the other extent. When people ask me if I like the name, I lie and say yes. Because I believe that is what people want to and expect to hear. Not the truth.

  13. It’s lovely for ur mom to age gracefully. Last time, spotted some grey streaks and freaked out..I keep coloring my hair and m shit scared..dunno y. I just freak out perhaps coz m scared of growing old. I do color to hide the grey hair coz I am scared.

  14. Stu said

    Never. I was like you – when I turned 29
    I spotted my first white strand and pulled it out immediately. Now, 4 years later, I have maybe 10-20 and I couldn’t care less. Never liked colored hair anyway. The haircut I keep and the personality I sport, I know I will rock salt and pepper.

    Unless it bothers you a lot, try to not colour. Once you start, it’s hard to stop. Also, if you’re lazy like me, it’s very tiring and boring to spend so much time at the salon every now and then. Anyway, you have a few years to decide what to do with them – 3 is pretty manageable and not very visible I suppose.

  15. Kalyani said

    I’ve had grey hair for a long time now. I’ve been coloring my hair and I make sure to use proper products. I like coloring! it has nothing to camouflaging or hiding or low-confidence or not wanting to grow old. It is just part of everything I do to look to look good, makeup, pedi, mani, haircut. I had the questions you have now, about makeup, that being my first foray into being beautiful. But I started doing it because I like it, I love myself, and do it to celebrate me πŸ™‚ For me this holds true for anything that is related to looks or looking good. I however don’t do anything that hurts me. I’m so against waxing and feel its not worth the pain.

    • Pepper said

      Oh. That is interesting. You don’t wax or do your eyebrows, but you colour your hair? For me, I am too embarrassed to walk with undone eyebrows and unwaxed arms. It is not even about ‘looking good’,, it almost seems like not threading my eyebrows or waxing my hands is unacceptable (unless you are naturally hairfree, or have very fine, invisible hair). Been trying to change the way I think. However, if I had to pick my ‘looking good regime’, I’d continue to thread my eyebrows and wax, I find that far less harmful than the dyes in a hair colour πŸ™‚

      • Kalyani said

        I’ve been reading about hair color and side effects after going through the comments, quite a lot. I must admit, I’m considering giving up coloring and start looking at Ayurvedic products. They might take time but they seem to be the best way to go. I would suggest you to check with your doctor and know if you have iron deficiency. I have it and the first side effect of it is grey hair, I haven’t taken my medication seriously though. Also I can never be embarrassed about the way I look until I have reasons(nope, laziness doesn’t count πŸ™‚ ) for not doing few things. By the way, who said anything about undone eyebrows and arms?

  16. Anusha said

    I turned 30 this year and I have a lot of visible grey hairs already (I too take after my mom who always chose to sport her grey gracefully). I went with the henna approach initially (I used to do it even before I spotted grey hairs, cos it is said to be good for the hair). The henna leaves and not the ready-made powdered henna. Then as with everything else, my laziness took over. I just let it be. Yes I freaked out when a lot of grey hairs started showing and I went for the hair color. I have colored my hair twice so far but i don’t like either the smell of the chemicals or the fact that I am donning myself with more harm then there already is. Also the hair becomes frizzy and coarse after a while. So I am no longer gonna use any color in my hair and as of now have decided to sport the grey as gracefully as possible. But there are natural remedies for this. I have been haranguing my mom to make those powders (natural dried flowers and roots) for me so that I can try them and if I benefit out of those I will definitely share them here.

    I too like everyone else am more worried about turning bald than grey hairs. I guess its a girl thing more than anything else and also the mindset. Hope we all get over it soon πŸ™‚

    • Pepper said

      My already frizzy hair becoming frizzier after hair colour is also a big part of my list of concerns.
      Oh please, do share more information about the natural powders you are talking about. If they work ofcourse.

  17. pixie said

    I colour my hair.. Used to love experimenting with different shades of brown back home.Even had gold highlights put in once!!

    Here, I stick to black.

    I enjoy it. I coloured my hair for the first time even before I had grey hair! πŸ˜€
    It hasnt made my hair frizzy, although it did increase the greys! πŸ˜‰

  18. I started getting grey hair when i was 15- 16 years,blame my genes. I used to do henna back then but now i have so much of grey hair that cannot be covered with henna and so i color! my mil in her late 50’s doesn’t have a single grey hair! i feel so bad when people compare my grey hair with her. so i touch up the roots. i refrained from coloring when i was pregnant and when i was BF ing my baby. Recently i relocated abroad and now i have stopped coloring for the time being. Here no one bothers color of hair and grey is treated like any other color!

  19. My grey hairs are coming, it was one or two but all of a sudden I spot little too many. I wonder if it is the stress. I didn’t think about coloring yet.

  20. […] of my hair with so many options available. So much to maintain the natural auburn hair! Like Pepper, I am not really concerned about the grey hair and the societal pressures about coloring your hair, […]

  21. Persian Pardis said

    i love to color my hair… I guess its bcoz of where im living… im living in IRAN where women spend so much money n time in beauty parlours… I ve started coloring n bleaching my hair since I was 17… im 25 now n NO grey hair! so I don’t think grey hair has something to do with hair color!!!

    • Pepper said

      Hey, nice to have a reader from Iran.
      Are you sure grey hair has ntohing to do with hair colour?
      Because the way I see it, a lot of people feel compelled to cover the grey with artifical colours and dyes.

      • Persian Pardis said

        i can say im sure that hair color doesn’t cause grey hair… if u use hair color many times in a short period maybe it cause some damages to ur hair n ur hair become unsilky but it wont change ur original hair color…im a beautician n Ive studied abt hair n haircolors…

  22. Persian Pardis said


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