While in my 30s and even into my 40s, I always had this notion of aging gracefully, maybe because I did not fully realise then what actually happens when one ages or the toll age takes on one mentally and especially physically, even for hair, like turning grey.
I remember very well noticing strands of grey in my very black head of hair. My thick black shiny hair was my crowning glory and I kept it looking good all the time, that is while I could.
Entering my 50s, the abundance of grey hair put an end to all my good intentions like letting age show and not dyeing my hair. All flew out of the window. It was just too much to ask of me.
I started colouring my hair regularly and was happy again with my appearance. For me, it was all about looking good. People can be cruel, maybe unintentionally, about things that matter to others, for instance pointing out that my once lustrous black hair did not look as good as before and so on. This rankled, hence the colouring. In the process of keeping up with appearance, I did considerable damage to my hair and scalp.
It came to a point that colouring caused me to suffer from acute allergic reactions, like itching. Not just my scalp but my entire body would be itchy, with me scratching away. Why, it came to a point that I even had to seek medical attention. The doctor’s steroid injections sometimes helped and then did not. That is when I had to make the painful decision not to colour my hair anymore and just be grey. It was not easy as I felt less confident and even depressed looking at myself. I felt old. I started looking for alternatives like chemical-free hair colours. I did find some that did not contain ammonia or paraben and my problem was solved. For a while, my scalp was okay with this less toxic colourants but my itching problem flared up again as I entered my late 50s.
Out of desperation and I must say vanity, I continued using the less harmful products but the itching scalp and entire body was too much to bear. I still have marks on my body left behind by all that scratching after every time I dyed my hair. The steroids and anti-allergy pills stopped working for me. For the past one year, I have not coloured my hair, until recently. I started obsessing about my very prominent grey strands and again started looking for alternatives. This time I tried a herbal option, the Indigo plant native to India and offered as a thick smelly paste in some traditional treatment beauty salons in the Klang Valley.
I tried it out with a lot of hope and while I was spared the itchy scalp and skin, the outcome was not at all what I had expected. For one, the result of using the Indigo hair colour resulted in my hair turning an inky blue. Not a pretty sight at all and I felt so let down and desolate. Did this mean I had to live with my grey hair. I know I should not feel so much over this and while I acknowledge that many women look good with their heads of grey, it was not a look for me. I want that black shiny head of hair that I sported for so long.
Oh, why is growing older such a painful process. Not only hair but eyesight and other physical changes all take place, leaving us vulnerable. I am desolate but not beaten and will continue looking for alternative hair dyes that are suitable for me. Sigh!!!