Lorraine Massey is redefining what it means to go gray. Rather than letting yourself go, it’s about letting go. It’s about taking control over when and how you do it, and seeing your new hair color as a wonderful opportunity rather than an inevitable curse.
“The journey getting to silver — we are rebranding the word gray — is the biggest challenge,” says Lorraine. “Often, making the decision to go on this journey can be one of the hardest parts. It’s not easy, and there will be many uncomfortable moments. But hey, being too comfortable is overrated, especially as we mature.”
Earlier this year, the 55-year-old British-born stylist, entrepreneur and author published Silver Hair: A Handbook (Say Goodbye to the Dye and Let Your Natural Light Shine) blending empowering stories with quip-filled practical advice for those who want to toss their hair color and embrace their silver strands.
Lorraine says her own journey to going silver required a lot of mental preparation. “Sometimes we have to manifest things for years before we actually do them,” she says.
A Handbook for Going Silver
For the curly girls of the world, Lorraine has taken on a god-like status, playing a key role in a curl revolution empowering women with curls, coils and waves. Her book Curly Girl: The Handbook is like a bible for curly girls and boys worldwide. She also cofounded the DevaChan salons in 1994 and the DevaCurl product line for curly hair in 2002 — the creator of the groundbreaking DevaCurl No-Poo sulfate-free shampoo.
Lorraine — who began styling hair at the age of 13 — founded the salon DevaChan with Denis DaSilva in 1994. At one point, there were four DevaChan salons, including a location in Los Angeles. The brand DevaCurl launched in 2002 with No-Poo Cleanser, a product epitomizing Massey’s haircare philosophy that harsh shampoos aren’t suitable for curls. Private equity firm Tengram Capital Partners acquired DevaCurl in 2013 and sold it to publicly-traded asset management firm Ares Management last year.
She left DevaCurl in 2013 ready to try something new, and spent the past five years training curl stylists around the world. In addition to publishing her book this year, she launched CurlyWorld in August, a new line of curly products.
Her decision to write Silver Hair grew out of her own “uncoloring journey,” which began when she was waiting to meet a friend at an upscale New York salon.
“I kept seeing women emerge from the salon,” she writes. “It was like a conveyer belt of women who all seemed to be around the same age, leaving with the same bleached-blonde highlights and blow-fried, straight hairstyle. ‘Why do they all want to look alike in both texture and color?’ ”
She says she personally was tired of spending time, money and effort to color her hair blonde, “And it didn’t even look that good.” She also was curious what her real color looked like: ” ‘What had I been hiding all these years?’ ”
As a stylist, she says she often thought some of her clients looked more beautiful before they had their hair colored than afterward. “I had this inner dialogue with myself saying, ‘Wow, if she left her natural color like that it would be so stunning. She looks so much better to me!’ ”
Because of society’s one-size-fits-all approach to cosmetology training, the expectation has always been that everybody should color their hair at the earliest signs of gray. “For me, when I decided to go silver, it was an opportunity to walk the talk,” says Lorraine. “Plus it was time! This is especially hard as a hairstylist so I had to mentally prepare myself.”
$70,000 Over a Lifetime
A staggering 75 percent of women admit to dyeing their hair. Over four decades, a woman may shell out an estimated $70,000 on hair color in Los Angeles – the equivalent of a down payment on a home.
She says going silver can be an adjustment. And “silver sirens” may have a lot of excuses for why they want to put off going silver as long as possible: “My hubby won’t let me. My kids don’t want me to look old. My profession will not allow it. My mother doesn’t like it,” she says. “But the truth is that your husband, kids, boss, mother and anyone else will get over it, especially if you wear your silver with pride. If they don’t like it and comment as you are in the transition period, tell them: ‘I value the opinion you keep to yourself.’ You are doing this for HUE and nobody else!”
To make the process easier, she suggests highlighting your hair so that the silver blends in better with your dyed color. Or use a toner to mimic your roots, cutting off the color over a period of time. You can also go silver all at once, cutting it short like Jamie Lee Curtis. “Another option is to have a streak,” says Lorraine.
Silver Hair includes stories from real women who have taken the leap, and their own unique journeys, including Jen, a 53-year-old personal trainer and yoga instructor. “It’s such a relief to not be going to the salon, because the second I left, I felt like the clock was ticking until I’d be back again.”
Why Did I Wait So Long?
“The comment I hear most often is: ‘Why did I wait so long to do this?’ Lorraine says. “We had dozens of women go silver for the book and not one of them turned back. Most wished they had embraced their natural color earlier and said the compliments pour in.”
6 Benefits of going gray:
- You get precious time back. “It is also extremely liberating to truly embrace who you really are.”
- You gain peace of mind knowing that you are not on the color conveyer belt.
- You will save a lot of money! We call this “silvernomics” in the book. “The women who I call “quick silvers” need to get their roots covered every 2 to 3 weeks, so this can be really expensive.”
- You reap the health benefits for both yourself and your hair. You’ll be healthier without all those color chemicals.
- Our environment will be much healthier because you’re not sending all those chemicals down the drain and into our waterways.
- Surprisingly, all tones of silver hair look great on almost everyone.
For those in search of support while going silver, join the Curly Silvers Facebook page.