People warned me but I wasn’t convinced that embracing my gray would be so emotional. It seems like it should be trivial, but it’s deeply personal. I’m being victimized by my own beliefs and am stuck in conflict.


     Hey there, it’s Elaine Gardner, I’m the founder of Today I wanted to make a short video to share something very personal that’s been going in regards to my appearance. It may seem trivial in some ways, but the way that we present ourselves to the world and the way that we feel about our appearance when we look in the mirror, really makes a huge impact on our self-esteem and how we show up in the world. We have a lot of cultural pressure to show up and look a certain way.

     Now you may be aware that I turned 52 in January. I haven’t talked a lot about coloring my hair, but you’re probably aware that I’m always looking for non-toxic options and try to keep chemicals out of my life as much as possible. I’ve been coloring my hair for many years now, and choosing the most non-toxic option that I can find. My hairdresser uses Goldwell and they actually have a product line with a more natural, cleaner formula with less chemicals called Nectaya.

     I’ve been very, very happy with the results. It covers my gray very well, it doesn’t get brassy, I can go out in the sun and, and while it will become faded, it doesn’t look funny. And my stylist only needs to color my roots, whereas colors that I’ve used in the past would need to be applied throughout my whole head because they would fade or start to look funny. But the Nectaya dye doesn’t damage my hair or dry it out, so I’ve been really, really happy with the results. I’m so glad that I met Ashley Johnson at Salon Exquisite on Chandler Street here in Worcester, Mass. where I live. It’s really convenient for me because it’s just down the street.

     I’ve been aware that I have a lot of gray hair and have been thinking for quite some time about when I might be ready to embrace the gray, and when I’m ready, how to go about doing that. As my birthday came around in January, I started thinking a lot more about that and started doing some more research. I started talking to people on the internet and looking at pictures of people with gray hair. And when I went in for my hair appointment in January, I had a long talk with my stylist, Ashley, and decided to give growing out my gray a try.

     My hair is very white in the front and really rather gray on top as it comes in. It still has a long way to go before all of my hair is its natural color and it’s been an interesting process for me. What my stylist, Ashley, has been doing for me, is trying to just blend the rest of my hair by putting a glaze on it to tone my natural color in order to make it more blended as the gray is coming in. This makes it blend more nicely with the rest of the hair color as it’s growing out. We’re letting the white in the front kind of shine through and just be its own natural color. It’s quite different than what the rest of my hair looks like right now.

     I have really mixed feelings about it that change from day to day. I’ve had really positive feedback from other people as I’ve showed my family members, and have talked to my private clients about what I’m doing and what I’m experiencing. A lot of people like the white streaks in the front of my hair and say that it’s kind of a new style, that it looks really fantastic, or that it really highlights the color of my eyes. And some days when I look in the mirror I think, “Okay, I think I can do this. It’s blending nicely and I’m not shocked by the way the gray color looks.” Some of the gray is really pretty, it has white highlights in it and is kind of shiny and sparkly and kind of fun.

     Then there are other days I look in the mirror and think, “Oh my goodness, I look old! I look shocking. I don’t like the way I look.” A lot of people told me it was going to be very emotional. And as much as I try not to have biased opinions because I certainly don’t want to look at somebody else on the street and immediately when I see their gray or silvery hair think that they look old. That’s just a horrible preconception, but I admit I do have those thoughts, and even more strongly toward myself than anybody else. I’ve had the belief for a long time that men actually look very distinguished with their gray or white or silver hair. I think I’ve just inherited or bought into or absorbed that societal belief that women just look old when they go gray, and that’s really made this process fairly traumatic for me at times, which really has surprised me.

     I am not ready to go back and cover it again, but I really don’t know how this process is going to progress, or if I’ll be able to stay the course and let it be natural. I think one of the main reasons why I want to let the gray out is just to be me, rather than trying to be something I’m not. But I also want to feel good about the way I look and be happy with my appearance when I look in the mirror, without a lot of manipulation.

     So this is something that I’ve been thinking about sharing because I know that I’m not the only one having this struggle. I’m an introvert and tend to be a very private person, but this has really been a struggle for me so I challenged myself to make this video to share with you today, just to let this out and maybe help others who might be in the same situation. If you’re having your own personal struggles with going gray or embracing other changes, I would love to hear from you. I welcome your feedback on this topic!