Hello, it's UFF Mom! Let me preface this post by saying that I have been coloring my hair since the tender age of recently-turned-14. This was the dark and techno early 80s, and one box of black hair dye later, I felt quite the goth. I think it may actually have turned greenish. Which only increased my 14 year old angst, as I languished in my room listening to The Smiths and New Order.
The next foray into color involved a box of platinum hair dye that ended up an odd butterscotch yellow and permanently stained some bath towels dark brown. This particular color did not please me, leading to my first (and so far only) buzz cut at a local beauty school to remove it.
As that slowly grew out, I somehow discovered the boxes, and then bulk jars, of henna at a natural food store, leading to some much more hair-healthy fun: RED, COPPER, STRAWBERRY, SHERRY, BURGUNDY….and interesting mixes and combinations thereof (on meeting my future stepmother for the first time, she whispered to my father, "You didn't mention that she had purple hair!")
Fast forward thirty some years. Incredible as it seems, I have been applying henna to my hair periodically for almost that entire time, still enjoying playing around with blending the colors (leaning more toward the conservative browns or subtle auburns in the last few years). Henna is a natural hair conditioner, leaving it thicker and shinier than before.
It's also a messy process, which involves mixing a green plant-based powder into a paste by combining it with hot water (or coffee or tea) and a little vinegar, and plastering this thick goo all over one's head. Next, it's covered with a plastic bag, then a hat (I gave away my hair dryer a few years ago while minimizing) and left on for several hours until the entire muddy mess is washed off and down the drain. And the bathroom is thoroughly cleaned.
I have grown tired of this ritual, especially the cleaning part. And the price of henna continues to go up--around $15 or more now per application. I realize that this is quite inexpensive compared to commercial color options, plus it's good for the hair rather than damaging it. Also, UFF Dad professes to miss the earthy smell that lingers for at least a week post-hennaeing ("You smell like dirt!"he says happily). But it's a lot of money to spend every few months for…what?
Slowly, I have let the time between hennas become spaced further and further apart. I find myself admiring women with silver streaks in their hair, a grey halo at their temples, and long manes of white. And yet….I'm not quite ready to make the call that I am done with coloring my hair, forever. Maybe I should color for a few more years, then get another buzz cut to unveil the silver?
If I had a daughter, somehow, I think it would be easier to do--wanting her to see what her mom looks like aging naturally. Though I believe that everyone should look however they like to express themselves ( like in that internet hashtag #dresslikeawoman--1) be a woman 2) wear whatever you damn well please. There you go!)
If I stop hennaeing completely, I will save somewhere between $50-100 per year, plus saving myself from hours spent mopping up muddy green splatters. On the other hand, will I suddenly look…much older? Not sure if I'm ready for that. But why not? In my quest to optimize an uber-frugal life, every dollar saved and invested brings me closer to financial independence. But then again, it's not all about the money, is it?
If there is anyone reading who has decided to go grey, for frugal or other reasons, I would love to hear from you about this decision.