So, I’m Transitioning To Gray Hair With Skunk Stripe Hair. This is Not a Drill.
We see people all over the world that appear youthful but have taken an oath of transitioning to gray. In fact, one of my favorite silver foxes is Max Joseph from the MTV Show Catfish. He told the story of one day aggressively going gray at the young age of 15! He accepted it and moved on. I always admired that about him. Little did I know I would be in the same boat years later. Keep reading to learn how I went from going gray to a funky signature skunk stripe hair and owning it.
The Hardest Thing About Going Gray
How Old Do I Look?
This is a scary question to ask this day and age. Whew. At first glance when you see me, I appear to be youthful. Most give me the age of 29. I’ve even heard 26. Sheesh.
However, if you ever were to have a conversation with me, you immediately know I’m a way more refined than I appear. Another indicator of my age is the vivid pops of naturally gray hairs flowing throughout my luscious thick mane of hair. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard. “wait, is that gray hair?” I would have a healthy savings.
Get Real, Self.
Truthfully, a head of gray hair is a glorious crown that the women in my family sport. My mother started graying as early as 19 near the end of her 40s she was fully gray. My younger sister is experiencing the same at 33. My grandmother was a full on silver vixen by 60. However, she insisted on dying hers nearly until the time of her death. She wasn’t with it lol.
So when I started to see sparks I knew what time it was. At a certain point the topic of me going gray needed to be addressed. With myself of course. “Self.” “Self” “What are we going to do with this hair?”
From there, visions of me doing harsh gray highlights throughout emerged… but that was just too much gray.
I thought about going fully gray underneath the black…. nah, not my style. And what about the front roots. Ugh.
And then I thought about one of my favorite movie villains, Cruella De Vil. Her hair was everything to me. Especially Glen Close’s adaptation.
Anyway, in a nutshell she was my inspiration. Except my version would be black hair, light grey chunk slap dead in the front.
Turns out this is called “Skunk Stripe Hair”. Google says, “It’s characterized by a dark foundational color, usually black or dark brown, and a contrasting white or grey stripe that frames the face.” I genuinely didn’t know this term until recently (last week) when my stylist tagged me in a post declaring this as the name of my newly renovated locks
I had my vision set and that was that.
” Why Are You Doing This!?”
People will always have something to say. It’s no different when you’ve decide to embrace who you are or where you are in life. It actually can be a little more critical in these cases. I remember briefly having conversations about the plans for my gray hairs.
“You need to just keep dying it”
“Whew that’s gonna make you look old”
But then I had some positive reactions
“Yasss, go for it”
“That is so you”
In the end. I stopped telling people because I had made up in my mind what I was going to do. I’m one of those people, when I decide on something I don’t give a damn who thinks what. I’m confident in my choices and stand behind them. I was dying my hair gray in the front and that was final. People say why? I say Why Not!?
The Decision To Let Go and Let Gray
I’m doing this because it’s where life has taken me. I’m embracing that things change, and its okay. God wants me gray.. we are just gonna go gray. Unfortunately the natural way is sporadic AF, so I took charge and made it fashion. Skunk stripe hair resonates with my soul and style so here we are.
The Skunk Stripe Hair Society
My thing is, if Max can accept it and just move on, so can I. I’m transitioning to gray hair intentionally at the tender age of 37. In turn I’ve officially decided to become a part of the skunk stripe hair society. Until I feel intrigued to do something else, this is here to stay.
Life said “Ashley, you’re going grey”. Instead of being dramatic and continuing to painstakingly cover it (keep reading for that disaster), I decided to embrace it and make it work for me. I replied “F**k that, I’m going to do this my way.” I’m GOING with gray.
Embracing where life is taking me from a physical aspect feels powerful. It’s liberating to own who I am. I fully plan have fun with it. Life gave me gray… I’m making a way.
Transitioning to Gray: The Story
When This Began
The truth is the graying process has been a part of my life for nearly 8 years. I remember when I was 28/29 and getting my natural hair blown out. Diane my stylist at the time, was my first true love of doing cold rod sets and blow outs with my natural hair.
She made me embrace natural hair from a more unconventional standpoint. Lord knows I did my share of twist outs, bantu knots, and failed wash n gos. I would go to hear for a “break” and for maintenance. With time, she began to notice a spurt of grays in my hair at random. She would simply dye it with a permanent black and an occasional Demi and keep it moving.
Over time the hairs got more aggressive.. so much so it became a joking topic each time I sat in her chair. One day I said you know what… I’m done worrying about covering it, i’m just going to let it be. I was almost 32 the day I made that decision. She agreed… and from that day on I stopped trying to cover up the fact that I was transitioning to gray. Sort of. 🙃
Eventually Diane retired and a high school friend Antrell “Trell” Palmer took over my tresses, she too appreciated and loved my grays.
A Day In The Life...
I didn’t think about it when this journey first started. However, my gray hair effected life way more than I want to give it credit for. A typical month for me went like.
- “Damn! How old are you!?”
- “Giiiiiirl, is that a grey in your head!? | Why yes, yes it is. *Rolls Eyes*
- My braids would start off black at the root… but grew out gray. Ugh
- Paying my stylist’s up charge for a “rinse or” Demi coloring.
- In My Head: How can I transition to gray without looking old??
Going gray is very similar to the stages of grief. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. My order of processing was a little different. Nonetheless, it was a process to get to my current destination.
Denial: Pretend It’s Not Happening
Okay, one strand … whatever *Pluck*..
Rumor has it, for every one you pluck 3 grow back. So, I began cutting them 🥴… *snip* *snip* *snip*
Turns out that doesn’t make a difference. The grays just grew and grew. For a while I would snip or pluck and act as if nothing was happening. Within a few years it couldn’t be ignored.
Bargaining: We Can Cover It? Right?
I bargained with Diane.. just cover it. I didn’t care how. As mentioned earlier, I’ve tried black semi rinses, black Demi rinses, I even did a splash of red with red rinses. The grays would just come back until one day I said forget it. And just to be sure I tried an electric blue rinse as late as 2022… lol. The grey just wouldn’t stop.
Anger (Sort of): Whatever
After being a little frustrated with the violence of the grays.. I went into a “whatever” mode. Just let the gray do what it does. It was to the point when I would get braids they would start off black and neat and by 2 weeks full of gray at the roots. Something had to be done. The strand were getting thicker and denser. I needed to come up with something.
Acceptance: On My Terms
I’m an Aries. I am all about change and trying new things. But i’m also a bit of a control freak. Once I’d accepted that I was going gray I had to do it gracefully and stylish.
Depression: I Had To Be Patient With My Hairdresser
After I’d decided to go with skunk stripe hair and told my stylist about it, she was exhilarated to go on this journey with me. Based on her clientele, I knew that she was capable of getting the color right. Another factor I needed to consider was the overall health of my hair. Antrell has does an exceptional job of doing this anyway so I was able to carry on per usual.
We did the first lifting of my black/ more recently dyed blue hair. Aaaand nothing. It barely looked like it had been lifted. It was giving a brown, purple look. She told me was going to be a process and she would get me where I wanted to be.
Once I washed it, it turned a funky blonde color. It looked splotchy and I wasn’t happy. At all. I decided to give it a break and got some braids and bought blonde extension hair to mix with my now honey blonde hair.
No one had any idea of what was going on and had assumed I was trying out blonde highlights. I made it work… but this isn’t what I was wanting.
I even reached out to another stylist that only does color 😂😂😂 (Sorry Trell). But my gut told me to be patient and go with who has been maintaining my hair for years. Trell told my hardheaded self, again it’s an Aries thing.
Needless to say after a few visits she got it together and we are back to the Acceptance Stage. I am completely in love.
How To Go Gray Without Looking Old
I personally think skunk stripe hair works because it’s very much trendy. Most people think I am doing this for vanity, which partially is the case. First, I have braces which makes me look even more youthful, but then the gray hair causes confusion. Overall, it works because, my hair is seriously going gray. The front patch blends well with all the strands that are slowly taking over.
Gray hair? Problem solved. I get to look chic, young, and embrace life’s changes all in one.
People’s Initial Reaction
On my IG reels people would DM me, Is your hair gray??
I even had a homeboy in Houston call to say is that MF gray in your hair.. *nervously reply* Yeah… “oh my gaaaaaawd, you look soo MF good!!!” LOL!
“OMG, its giving Storm”
Yes, its giving all of that! Needless to say the responses have been totally positive. Either way I love it and that’s what matters at the end of the day.
Keep Em’ Guessing
Now that I’ve taken the leap to dye my hair… it’s given me a new perspective on hair altogether. It’s just hair. Growing up I’ve always had long hair, and it’s been coveted. For some reason the black society has the notion that it’s hard to grow hair. Cutting hair is a sin. I feel different now.
I’ve already talked to my stylist about different ways we can play around with my new colored mane. I’m talking asymmetrical bobs and bangs. You will just have to stick around to see 😉.
Transitioning to Gray, Final Thoughts
When it comes to going gray, some say it’s stress, some say wisdom, other believe its malnutrition or simply hereditary. For me, it’s probably all of the above lol.
Whatever the reason, I’m just going with it. Just because one is going gray, it doesn’t mean you have to look old or feel down about it. Graying is a part of life. Some of us just get to experience it earlier than others.
If you’re reading this because you’re in the same situation. Wether you choose to go with skunk stripe hair, highlights, or whatever.. own it, and make it fun. Make it YOU.
As for me, this is not a drill. Get used to it, because it’s here to stay.
My Hairstylist (You’re welcome)
If you’re in the Jacksonville. Florida Area and are looking for a bomb stylist my girl, Antrell Palmer is taking customers all the time. She specializes in natural and relaxed hair. Extremely versatile, there aren’t many styles she can’t do.
Find her on Booksy.com. She’s really that deal and not only does hair, she grows hair. I’m always complimented on the health of my hair, I owe it all to her.
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Absolutely love it! I’m 29 and I have grey’s coming in, and that’s ok!!!
Ashley Tamarra says
Thank you! Embrace it!