The Midsters Podcast - Friendship & Midlife

8. Should I Stay or Should I Go..... Gray?

June 30, 2022 Season 1 Episode 8
The Midsters Podcast - Friendship & Midlife
8. Should I Stay or Should I Go..... Gray?
Show Notes Transcript

When is the right time to go gray?  It's a very personal decision and one that so many women are thinking about in midlife.   

Like many Midsters,  Ellen has been coloring her hair since her 20s and now colors it every three to four weeks to keep the gray covered.  She shares why she's kept up this schedule and discusses with Tish if there is a way to gracefully go gray or do you need to go all in or go at all?
 
Ellen tries out a few options and gets lots of opinions from her friends and family - but you'll have to listen to find out if she stays with her dark hair or if she goes gray...or maybe something in between! 

This week's obsessions:
Tish: Madison Reed is now on Amazon!  Tish recommends the touchup and brow filler too.
Ellen:  K-18 leave in hair conditioner

Grab a  Misdters tee shirt, beanie, or hoodie at  The Midsters Store

Tish Woods:

So today we're here to talk about something that a lot of women our age are grappling with. And that is, when do we go gray? And, or, or should we even grow gray at all? So, Ellen, tell me, why do you think this going gray, this big question that looms for us ministers is such a big crazy deal?

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, you know, Tish this is a loaded topic. And I think amongst our friends, and actually all of my friends, it's, it's a really big deal. I think, because our generation doesn't see us like our grandmothers, you know, with our hair washed and set once a week, I think we see yourself as kind of more younger and vibrant, don't you?

Tish Woods:

Absolutely. I was just having a conversation with my cousin, when I was visiting in Buffalo. And we were talking about my grandmother. And she was mentioning something and I said, Do you realize that she my grandmother, Helen was my age, the same age I am now. And it blew her mind. Because I think we just have a different approach to how we look and in our image and staying young and physical and healthy. So yeah, but the gray keeps coming. Whether we want it there or not. So decisions need to happen. decisions need to be made.

Ellen Gustafson:

That they do. But before we get into this loaded topic that I know you and I could talk about for hours. Let's get to our obsessions this week, Tish. What is your obsession?

Tish Woods:

Okay, so my obsession now. I'm blonde. I love being blonde. I'm going to tell you right now, Alan, I'm going to be staying blonde for a while. I'm not ready to enter this question yet. But you know, I can spend a fortune going to hairdresser because I have long hair. And I've tried, you know, the box stuff in the grocery stores. And sometimes it works. And sometimes it doesn't. But there was always one company that I saw that you would have to send away for a subscription called Madison Reed. Well, I was in Alta that one day and realized that not only can I get it there, but I can actually even order it off Amazon, I could have it the next day. So with the subscription stuff, I think by the time I thought to order it, I was ready to do my hair. So I was never willing to wait. But man, if I can go jump on Amazon, and go ahead and order, you know, and I'll provide the links because I have to say, you know, I asked myself Is it really going to be worth the extra money? I gotta tell you, it was the coloring that I got for my blonde. It was just beautiful the way my hair felt. It didn't feel as processed and dry. I gotta say my obsession right now is this Madison read? It seemed to give me a lot of definition to the blonde. What about yours?

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, I have used Madison Reed just so that you know, and we have a Madison Reed salon out by new that you can actually go to - so I also love Madison Reed. So I'm glad that's your obsession this week. But my obsession just to keep it in the hair theme is a product called que tiene and it's a leave in conditioner. That is so good. And I heard of it from a hairstylist, Jack Martin, who is in Southern California, I follow him on Instagram. And he is one of the leading experts on helping women go gray. So it kind of came at me and from these two different two different sides, right? But K 18 a four minute super conditioner. Ladies, once you use it, you will never go back to not using it. So that is my obsession for this week.

Tish Woods:

So that's k the letter K and the number 18. Right. Okay, we'll have links for this one. We got to try this one out. I got to try this one out. Yeah.

Ellen Gustafson:

I know. Well, back to the gray. I have started calling this kind of exploration and dipping my toe and then kind of going gray. Should I Stay or Should I Go gray because that's a little bit of a Clash reference for all of us. But I also think that we grapple with this we really so many women our age, you know we have a lot of pressure on us either in the workplace to look a certain way in our relationships to look a certain way and it so this is near and dear to My heart. And I think you know that my kind of, you know, little claim has always been I have dark hair and I have blue eyes and I'm tall, right? This is my identity, I think you would agree.

Tish Woods:

Absolutely. Yeah. If I was going to describe you and I have, you know, Ellen's a really tall one with the bright, beautiful blue eyes and the dark hair, and everyone be like, oh, yeah, I know who she is.

Ellen Gustafson:

Exactly. So no, it's like, can I not be that person here in my 50s. You know, so it's, it's really been a little bit more encompassing about my, my identity as well. But I've been thinking about this going gray for a while, because my hair turned gray in my late 20s. And as I've gotten older, I've had to color it more and more frequently. But I'm going to tell you a little story. About eight or nine months ago, during the pandemic, I was at CVS buying a few boxes of root touch up, and I was throwing them on, you know, get the checkout. And I thought, This is what I want. This isn't even my color. This is my three week route touchup, that I have to have several boxes at home. So whenever the grades pop out, and they were popping out, you know, at the three week mark, so that was really kind of like an aha moment for me. You know, what, this really what I needed to be doing for the next 20 years? This is what I want, right?

Tish Woods:

You know, it's so interesting that the hair coloring thing during the pandemic. So women were realizing for the first time, nobody's seeing me, and I'm still coloring my hair. So it really has made a lot of women really think deep about this question. But yeah, so you're in the store, you're grabbing for your, you know, typical boxes of color. And it's all of a sudden you have this moment of is this really the path I want to be on?

Ellen Gustafson:

So, like many women, I started doing research, and I don't know, it's like, you're right. During the pandemic, all these groups were on Facebook and women were like, I'm not coloring my hair anymore. And it just sounded so good. I kind of got hooked up into this wave too. And I think the other thing is, you know, we have more time to be online, I started following these dynamic women. Jack Martin, as I said, this, this style was to just makes women look fabulous with their gray hair. And I started thinking is this just something I've been fed, but I need to continue to have dark brown black hair until I'm what 80 To find me, right, wasn't going to be at and doing this. And all of us, we spent so much money on skin creams and retinol and you know, hair dye and all sorts of things to stay young and beautiful and relevant. And so these were a lot of things that I was thinking about during this time.

Tish Woods:

So basically, it comes down to, like the greys are coming, we're not stopping them, we can hide them. I like to call them my ultra ultra blondes, but it comes down to when is the right time? And what are these things that are preventing us from just kind of making this leap?

Ellen Gustafson:

Yeah, I mean, I think you know, there there are a lot of those and part of it being a working and working woman being in the workplace. A lot of it is you know, things that we're hearing in the media and then a lot of things and I know we'll get to this my friends had some really surprising things to say to me as I you know with in this journey of what I should do and I know that you know this but our listeners may not but I'm a cancer survivor and from that my hair is you know brittle and it doesn't hold up as well to this now monthly processing I was going I was going through and I know I switched to a much less toxic brand but you know, it really had something a played a part in this I would have to say

Tish Woods:

I think that goes with that cancer because you know again, so, so amazing what you have gone through and so many of our close friends have gone through that are breast cancer survivors and other cancer survivors. As you start to really pay attention to what chemicals are you exposing your body to on the outside and What you're ingesting, so it becomes a big question. So I would think that that was playing a lot in your mind as well.

Ellen Gustafson:

Absolutely. And as it was becoming every three weeks, I just thought, is this really right for me? And in the other parts of my life, I made huge changes around what kind of cleaning products I was using, what I was eating all of that after being diagnosed and going through cancer treatment. So I was like, Why was this kind of one of the last holdouts for me? And so I think having having some time to think about that, really, was one of one of the things that pushed me to it.

Tish Woods:

So you did end up going and making some changes? So what were some of the things that made you want to do it? Like really? What what finally pushed that trigger? What was the final things that you said, That's it? I'm gonna take this leap?

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, I mean, I thought about three things that I wanted to except my age and age, gracefully, whatever I thought that was before I went into the process. And that, can I be beautiful and energetic and relevant and, and young with gray hair, I thought I could, many women are right, you see them everywhere. And I thought this would feel more authentic. For me. As we said, the second thing was around my health as a cancer survivor, you know, it felt unhealthy to be coloring my hair that often. And also just my hair couldn't couldn't really take it. And then finally, you know, I felt like it's a statement, kind of a feminist statement, you know, whether women can move their hair however they want it, whether it's natural, colored, straightened, highlighted, it doesn't matter if it's long, it's the way you want it. And we should all feel good to have choice in how to do it. And I felt like that was my choice to to go gray.

Tish Woods:

You know, it's there. You put months of time, research and energy that tells you what a big what a big thing this is for women. You know, women don't go into this lightly, or a lot of women don't, you know, I think maybe there's some that just yeah, whatever happens happens. But for a lot of us, it's almost like you're making a birthing plan. Before you, like you, you have this whole plan going into it. So I you know, I find that, you know, kind of funny, but So, did you jump all the way in the pool? Or did you stick your pinky toe in?

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, you know what I did, and you and I disagreed on this topic. I did not jump right in, I stuck my pinky toe in. And what I did was I lightened my hair from a very dark brown plaque to kind of like a caramel colored. And I put some big streaks up front and then just let the gray come in that way. And we had a college reunion...

Tish Woods:

Well, wait, wait, stop right there. You didn't tell any of us that you had done this? That's right. Yes. sprung it on us as we drove by you at the airport, because we were looking for the tall six foot black hair blue eyed friend and we drove right past year Carmel color.

Ellen Gustafson:

That's right. That was my first AHA moment, this may be very different for people, so yes, you and Felicia drove right by me. And so I think there were maybe 12 of us together for the weekend. And of course, I didn't tell I think I told Kathy but she hadn't seen it. No one had seen it. And I have to say as the first person in the group to go gray or trying go gray. There was some haters. There was some feedback that I was not prepared for. Oh, they weren't embracing it okay.

Tish Woods:

They were not. And you know, my stylist who was helping me go through this was like, you know, it's really hard to be the first person in a friend group that goes gray because it's scary, you know, and it's a shock. Did your stylist think you should do this?

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, no, she did not. She was not behind this. She As you know, she definitely wanted me to have my hair the way I want it. And, but was not pushing this on me at all. She felt like it was a little early to go there, right? So. But, you know, when you get a idea in your head and kind of this commitment, you move forward with it.

Tish Woods:

And the reason I asked that is because she said she's on the front line of seeing women go back and forth with how they feel about this, what they're going to do about this. So that's why I kind of asked you on that. So you you lightened to Carmel, you, you let some of the Grays come in, you highlight it a little bit. Did you Did you like it?

Ellen Gustafson:

You know, I didn't love it. And I didn't even like it. And I think though seeing all of our friends and their reactions, one said, Well, you know, you aren't single and you're hoping to find a partner and I really don't think this is going to help you with dating. Okay, Ouch. Oh, you know, she was like, how how? You know, another one of our friends said, Well, if you need to go back to corporate work, you'll just have to start coloring your hair again. Because there's ageism in the workplace ln, and this isn't gonna play well for you.

Tish Woods:

Wow, watch out. Yeah. But these are all real. These are all real things. I'm going to tell you from my perspective, I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. I just think and I know I've shared this with you before. If you're going to do it, I think you should have gone all in, like all and not caramel. Not like I think you should have just embraced it. A good friend of mine that moved down to Charleston. Stacia. She recently posted a picture where she was blonde. She'd always been blonde. When I knew her. She had actually gone this beautiful white silver gate, but it was all over. It was it was statement. She looks absolutely stunning. And I like I applauded her. I reached out, like right away gave her that positive feedback, because I know she's probably hearing some of the same things. And but I think the difference was, she went all in and it looked like an impact. Yeah,

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, you know, you and I chatted about that. And kudos to your friend for doing it. You've shown me a picture and she looks absolutely stunning. After you and I chatted one day, I ordered a wig, a gray silver gray wig was kind of like a wig. And I was really excited to get it. And I put it on. And my three boys thought I was just off my rocker. Because I was walking around the house cooking dinner, and I kept flipping the hair was a little longer, you know? And what do you think? Oh, my gray hair. I love this gray hair. You just need to take it off. So do you remember the pictures? It's great.

Tish Woods:

That's awesome. But when when you were when you were talking about this too, I had gone to I think it was Sally Hansen's website, where you can put a picture of yourself and then put different hair colors on so you can see what you would look like with the overall gray or silver. Or I was putting on pink hair.

Ellen Gustafson:

I do remember that? I'm kidding to you. I said it to I think you know, only one of my friends like this hair, that gray hair coming through. And I do agree with you that you've got to go all in this half and half. You know, it just was like, it didn't really work. And I think for me too. I thought the hair that was coming in was gonna be this beautiful white hair. Kind of the type you see in magazines. When someone has gray hair. I have to say when I look at those models, they look like they're 30 or 35 and not 25 Okay. Yes, yes. So you kind of get lulled into this and I thought my hair would just be this beautiful you Why are Silva kind of like Diane Keaton? And it wasn't, I think that was another big wake up for me is that what I got wasn't really what I thought I was gonna get here. So.

Tish Woods:

So yeah. What are you today?

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, I have to say that I went back to covering the gray in a way that might, you know, my hair is just so much lighter. I'm having kind of more blonde up in the front. And so it lightened to my look, I think the very dark I think a lot of women, we dye our hair and it looks so fake and artificial as we age. And I kept going darker and darker and darker. And so now I feel like it looks a little more natural. I think you would agree Tish, wouldn't you?

Tish Woods:

Yeah, most definitely. Yeah.

Ellen Gustafson:

So part of it was that, you know, I had really made this statement that there were all these reasons I wanted to go gray, and that it was the right time. And I was asked for it. And I joined all these groups on Facebook, still for sisters and going gray gracefully. And I was all in. And I really had to take a big compliment myself and just say, I have to do this. It didn't work. And I'm not going to move forward with it. I'm actually going to go back a few little, you know, a few little steps. So I think it was about seven or eight months. I just went back to this new book. Okay.

Tish Woods:

I think I think that's fair to everyone has to make their own choice, and be ready for that type of change. You know, when they're ready for it, like I said, my friend down in Charleston area. Great move for her. Absolutely. looks fantastic. I think if I were to give one piece of advice to anybody would be, don't stick your little toe in, if you're going to try it jump all the way in, you know, go for that impact statement of all over. But at the end of the day, you need to do what works for you.

Ellen Gustafson:

Absolutely, I think the one thing I would say, also is if you go down that road, like you said, Go 100% If you don't like it, it's your prerogative to change your mind and have your hair however you want it. So I think we're both saying the same thing coming from two different sides. I wish I had just gone gray, and seen what it was, and been there and been able to make the decision. But I think for right now I'm going to stick with what I got for a little while longer. But to all our listeners out there, we'd love to hear from you on some of your thoughts around going gray and when when is the right time?

Tish Woods:

Yes, I would love to see where people are falling on this. And when you see somebody who is, you know, brave enough to do this, because there's so many as we said social implications. And it looks good, let them know, because I'm going to tell you, they're probably not hearing that all over the place. And for whatever anyone decides we need to be supportive of each other as women to let people have their choices and feel good about those choices. wherever they are. You know, we need to be each other's supporters and an Ellen gray or not gray, you're gonna be getting dates.

Ellen Gustafson:

Well, after listening to our dating episode, I think I have a few new tips and tricks that I'll be taking with me. Here moving forward. All right, great conversation today. Really enjoyed it.

Tish Woods:

Look forward to it.

Ellen Gustafson:

All right till next week. moodsters