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SOURCE: The Grio

Author “Kunbi Tinuoye”

Darlene Evans vividly remembers the day she noticed her first gray hair. She was in her 20s, juggling life as a single mom while trying to hold down a job, when she looked in the mirror and there it was: a shiny white hair.

Initially she decided to mask this new coming of age with regular visits to the salon. Then one day, six years ago, she ditched the dye and embraced her authentic salt-and-pepper locks.

“Women have been misled to believe that to be youthful looking they need to have a solid hair color, which doesn’t include gray,” says the 58-year-old, who lives in Houston. “Since I’ve gone gray I get many compliments from guys who love my hair.”

Evans is one of a small, but increasingly vocal, group of “gray-and-proud” African-American women who are tired of pricey visits to the salon. Instead of hiding their roots they opt to maintain their head full of gray hair.

Diana Lewis Jewell, author of Going Gray, Looking Great, runs a website which allows women to share their fears and successes about the issue. Women are increasingly choosing to transition from hair dye to natural hair because of two reasons: “authenticity and freedom,” she says.

Jo-Ani Johnson started going gray in her 20s, while working in the fashion industry. An unsettling comment from her then employer was the impetus to try to “fix her hair.”

For years the stylish New Yorker bleached her hair blond because her mane didn’t take to dye. “My hair was breaking and in terrible condition” says Johnson. “It looked more like a field of wheat than a head of hair.”

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