Walk into a room full of aunties and you’re most likely to see a bunch of coloured-hair. Even though they’ve all gone grey, they’re constantly keeping up with their roots. But New York’s Deepti Sadhwani didn’t want to follow that pattern. A few years ago she decided to toss out the hair dye and fully embrace going grey. So if you’re tired of the regular root upkeep, read on.
How long were you dyeing your hair for before you embraced the grey? Since I was a teenager. Experimenting with different colors and looks. So that’s about 21 years.
When did you go grey? I actively started growing out my greys in January 2019 and was fully grey by August 2020.
What do you love about being grey? I love that I can treat it like an accessory, amplifying every look I’m in even when I’m not trying. I love that it literally sparkles because some of my greys are so bright and silver. My hair has its own unique dimension. I feel more comfortable in my own skin because I’m wearing my natural hair. And caring for it keeps me mindful of how I treat myself and my body.
What’s the downside of grey hair? There isn’t anything specific I don’t like about being grey. For me, it’s more about disliking mainstream society’s perception of someone who goes grey. I wish I had done it sooner! People perceive grey hair to be such an extraordinary concept when it’s a very ordinary part of life. It’s just hair growing out of your head. The embarrassment attached to it should not exist.
Why do you think so many South Asian women try to cover their grey hair even as they get older? It’s simply about the perception of aging in our society. Men are allowed to age while women are told not to. Men are called “silver foxes,” but women are given a hundred different products to cover their greys. We’re bombarded by the media with images of youth and force-fed ways to stay young. There’s barely any representation of South Asian women of a certain of age, of any age really, who have embraced their greys. So we don’t really know that grey hair can look well maintained, styled and worn on a daily basis.
What kind of comments did you receive when you went grey? At first there were some people who said things like “Why would you do that to yourself?” and “Why age yourself?” Now that its grown out and I’ve been styling it as I would hair of any color, I’ve gotten a lot of compliments and women saying how they wish they could do the same.
What kind of maintenance is involved in going grey? I had to first understand how hair becomes grey as a result of a loss of pigment in your follicles. It also tends to be more dry or coarse than regular hair so leave-in conditioner is your best friend. Like my skincare, I layer hydration with my haircare. I always condition root to ends after shampooing. Leave-in conditioner is really important (again root to ends) to keep hair as smooth and elastic as possible. I use a purple shampoo to brighten my greys since they are prone to discoloration from the sun, pollution and heat styling. Weekly oil treatments keep my hair moisturized and nourished.
How does the grey hair make you feel?
I feel powerful. My body made this and it’s pretty phenomenal. I created what I didn’t see represented in media and in the communities around me.
What do you want to tell other women who are considering revealing their grey hair? Do it! It’s so much fun because your grey hair is unique to you. There is no carbon copying and endless maintenance of the latest color trends. You’re creating your own unique design. Join online communities of women on their grey hair journeys. There are several of us who share what the process is like and support each other through it.