Ladies, how do we feel about colouring and grey hair? (And some natural options for it)

About two years ago when I discovered my first grey, it was like my moment to assert feminist denial of artificial standards of beauty had arrived. I told myself I would never colour my hair, I would go all natural and wear my grey hair proudly.


Easier said than done, eh? Four more greys and two years later, I look at all the funky hair that my friends who have been colouring for a while have and I think, hmm maybe colouring isn’t so bad. My mother colours her hair; she’s been colouring for a long while now because she started very early, thanks to premature greying. Today, while she looks amazing when she does colour her hair, she looks perfectly normal the days she doesn’t. But she doesn’t think so. She won’t step out of the house if her roots are showing. If she has an evening out planned, her afternoon is a rush because she has to get her hair done. No space for spontaneity or a hassle-evening if her hair isn’t coloured and roots aren’t touched up.


When I was younger, I used to tell my mother to stop colouring, and ask her why she does it. She always got sweetly defensive and I thought it was my right to tell her there was no need for her to colour now that both her children were grown up, married and even had kids. I grew up a little more and then realised if my mother chose to colour her hair, then it was her prerogative even when she was 90 years old. If that was her choice.


And this choice is the problem. This situation made me think about how we make our beauty choices. Singer Alicia Keys went to the Video Music Awards show last weekend without makeup, polarising people badly. Some are shaming her and others are calling her a hero. That women have to colour their, do their nails, put on makeup, dress a certain way in order to please the world is something that costs women a lot in time and money. Hair colouring is expensive (and not to mention damaging for your skin and hair in the long run), and time consuming. BUT if that’s the choice you want to make, you should be allowed to make it without fear of judgement. Without husbands or kids questioning your decision to do so. Or questioning your decisions not to do so. (I know many men who urge their women to cover their greys so that they look younger. *Rolls eyes*)


When I was younger, I thought I wouldn’t colour my hair. Now that I am older, I want to be able to change my mind. I don’t want to hear, “But I thought you wouldn’t colour your hair?” from friends and family. I am hoping by the time I am riotously grey, there will be safe and healthy options for hair colour. And I certainly hope that if I choose to colour, my friends who have opted not to will keep their opinions to themselves and accompany me to the salon so we can do a girly date.

But meanwhile, if you’ve chosen to colour, we did a little research and here are some natural options in case you don’t want to worry about the chemicals:


  1. Kama’s Organic Hair Colour kit: It includes henna powder and -- surprise surprise -- indigo powder. All natural, it comes recommended highly from those who use it. It won’t work if you haven’t planned in advance as it needs overnight prep. But results, apparently, are fantastic.

  2. Light Mountain Color the Grey!: Works like regular colour but is cruelty-free, natural, and chemical-free. The only drawback with this one is that it doesn’t last as long as chemical colour.

  3. Khadi Hair Colour: Just like Kama, this is a combination of cooling herbals, indigo and henna. With no preservatives, you can go safe and natural with this one. Remember to use conditioner regularly, though. Both henna and indigo dehydrate your hair.

  4. Other all-natural, organic brands are Radico, Sunab, and Vegetal. All of them use henna and other herbs and come in a small variety of hair colour shades, so you don’t have to get stuck with black!


Things you should know about chemically colouring your hair:  

  1. Consider patronizing salons that use organic hair colour or purchase organic brands for at-home dyeing. These are less damaging to your tresses, not to mention they provide longer lasting colour.

  2. Choose a colour within three shades of your natural hue and, if possible, consider going darker rather than lighter. Semi-permanent dye does not wreak as much havoc on the strands as permanent colour.

  3. However, should permanent colour be necessary, request that your stylist only do a root touch-up rather than coloring the entire length of the hair.

  4. Short of no longer dyeing your hair, increase the length of time between colourings as much as possible. There is no need to have your hair coloured more than every six to eight weeks at most.

  5. In addition to using shampoo and conditioner that are specifically for colour-treated hair, apply a deep-conditioning treatment once a week. Leave the treatment in the hair for five to 10 minutes before rinsing, or keep it in overnight to wash out in the morning.