Can Transitioning to Natural Gray Hair Help Finances?
Money for travel is hidden in all sorts of strange places. It turns out, there’s even travel loot sitting on top of your head!
Did you know that our recent Puerto Rico trip was funded by my decision to stop dyeing my hair? Calculate it like this: Hair coloring can cost between $80 and $200 per salon visit, and needs to be done at least eight times a year. Therefore, by cutting dyeing out of your life, you suddenly gain hundreds of free dollars a year! What would YOU do with an extra $1,000 a year?
Why Transition to Natural Gray Hair?
I come from a family of early gray-ers: fine folks who were silver foxes by college (as shown from this photo of my little brother). When I began to notice white lines peeking amid my brown tresses, I resisted coloration for a few years before succumbing to dyeing pressure.
For a while, coloring my hair made me happy. I felt fancy sitting in the salon chair, and sleek upon emerging with newly darkened locks. As the years of dyeing continued, however, I began to see the ugly facts.
First, it takes HOURS to get your hair dyed. I would go into the salon at 3pm and emerge at 6pm. Think of what else one could do during that time instead! Then there are the chemicals. Hair dye smells! You sit there with the goop on your head, inhaling and exhaling chemical compounds that dizzy the mind. It doesn’t feel especially healthy.
Finally, there was the money. After a bad episode with home-dyeing kits, and two nasty encounters with a low budget salons, I had started to shell out big bucks on a high-end salon. The color work was impeccable (see my wedding photos for proof), but my budget was burning!
Saving Money and Time by a Salon Choice Switch
Given these three elements, when I got pregnant in February of 2013, I used the pregnancy as my excuse to stop dyeing my hair. Sure, having the chemicals near the fetus freaked me out, but mostly I was just sick of the whole coloration process.
That money and time were needed elsewhere! Happily, although my hair was ridiculously two-toned for the next year and a half (see the photo above!), I was able to use the excuse that I was pregnant, then that I was a harried new mother, to justify why I wasn’t “taking care of myself” to the full extent of society’s expectations.
It’s now been 21 months since I stopped dyeing, and, thanks to a drastic and kind of awkward new haircut, I now only have a tiny tip left of the orange-brown that remains from my coloring craze. The rest of my hair has become what it truly is: 20% silver.
Effects of Having Gray Hair
Now, while I’m glad of my decision to stop coloring my hair, and especially thankful for the extra time and money the choice has produced, having naturally graying hair brings up some funny things.
First, my hair now acts and looks really different. It’s unrulier, and the silver streaks show my frizzies more, making my head look more unkempt than it did before. See this funny photo for proof:
Seeming Older from Gray Hair
Second, I now “read” as older to the casual observer. I’m catcalled less, because catcalling and silver hair don’t seem to mix, which is nice. However, sometimes I also feel a little less youthful and zingy, simply because I see myself at times the way I think others might see me due to the salt-and-pepper hair.
I mean, I wouldn’t say my current mane looks amazing, but the silver is worth it for me because I can focus more on living my life! And when I’m really living, I forget what my hair looks like. At some angles, I even think the white streaks look cool-ly unique!
Should I Start Dyeing My Hair Again?
This makes me wonder, however: Will there come a point when it WILL be worth the time, money, and smell for me to dye my hair again? When my hair is 90% silver but my heart is still that of a young pup, will I begin to yearn to have the outside match what’s inside again? And will my passionate refusal to wear makeup change over time for the same reasons?
In a way, it’s neat that humans have these magic tricks (hair paint and face paint) to seem more youthful than nature intends, but on the other hand, I hate the idea that what people are meeting is a mask.
I get this image of them becoming used to me with dyed hair and makeup, then one day seeing the “real me” and shrieking. I’d rather just put the face (and head) forward that I actually have! And if I can save time and money in the process, even better.
Color Your Hair to Match YOUR Heart
I share this story not to command all folks to stop dyeing their hair, but rather to point out that we have more money for travel than we think. Each of us makes choices on how we spend our moolah, and a key in finding bonus moolah is identifying something in your life that you’re spending money on which is not actually bringing you happiness or real value.
If dyeing your hair brings you happiness, please continue! (Whether that dye is brown or gives you bright purple and orange hair.) But if it’s just a pain and you’re doing it because you think you “should,” why not try to allocate that money towards something more adventurous for a year to see what happens?
What Are YOUR Thoughts on Coloring Your Hair?
So now I’m aching to hear your thoughts and experiences. What choices have YOU made about beauty treatments versus putting money towards travel? What’s your take on hair dyeing? Do tell!
2019 Update: I’ve started coloring my hair again! I want my outside to match my inner zest, and get annoyed when people “read” me as older than I feel. We’ll see when I transition to gray again. My budget definitely looks forward to it.
2021 Update: I’ve stopped dyeing my hair again and am loving the silver streaks — and all the money and time I’m saving!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 4.2 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!