How to prevent silver hair from yellowing

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I've decided to try and grow my silver hair out -- long. I kind of want it to look like this:

from Pinterest

Of course, it's possible that I will end up looking like granny from The Beverly Hillbillies. Reality is often different from our dreams, haha.

But I don't have any big events coming up, like a family wedding, so I'm going to bite the bullet and embrace the long, painstaking process of growing it out. I don't plan on wearing it down; once it gets long enough I will wear it up, maybe like this:

from Pinterest

What's the point, you say? Well, I just want to. I've always loved long hair, but because shorter looks better on me, the solution is an updo. And if I end up with a tight little gray bun like granny instead of this gorgeous upswept look, I can always cut it again.

So, now the question is, how do I keep my hair, hair that could end up being two or three years old by the time it's long enough to put up, from turning yellow? Right now, it's so short that I probably get a new head of hair every six to eight months, with regular trims, so I don't worry too much about it. But if I want to keep it looking nice for up to three years, what to do?

If you're wondering the same about your beautiful silver hair, I've done the research for us.


Gray or white hair contains very little pigment and will sometimes yellow from pigments picked up from the environment. Factors include:

  • chlorinated water from pools or showers
  • cigarette smoke and environmental pollution
  • heat styling tools such as hair dryers and curling and flat irons
  • hair products like gels or mousses that contain silicones or sulfates
  • the sun
  • water with a high iron content
  • some medications, such as those for malaria and chemotherapy drugs. The ingredients in sunless tanners and dandruff shampoos can also yellow hair.

Sometimes, genetics plays a role, but since there's nothing we can do about that, we'll focus on what we can do.

Install a shower filter. I'm looking at one on Amazon right now, but I'm going to do a little more research. I'll let you know. Unless anyone has some advice here? I don't swim in pools, but I guess you need to keep your hair dry or make sure you wash it well after swimming.

Don't smoke. Wash your hair if you've been around smokers or in a polluted or dusty environment.

Avoid using heat styling tools. Or turn them down to the lowest heat setting. Or use a heat protective spray. Be aware that the spray itself could cause yellowing (see below).

Avoid hair products with silicones or sulfates. I'm hoping longer hair will mean no more mousse or styling gels for me. In the meantime, I guess I'll have to figure out how to style my hair without them. Also, don't use a shampoo with a yellow-ish color to it. Try to use clear or white-colored shampoos.

Avoid mid-day sun and wear a hat if you'll be outside for an extended time.

I don't have any experience with high iron content in water or water softeners, so you'd have to check on this. And obviously, you need to take certain medications if needed. I was surprised about the sunless tanner. I put that on my legs after I get out of the shower. I guess I could still have it on my hands while drying my hair, so I need to either give that up or make sure I thoroughly wash my hands before touching my hair.

If you do notice some yellowing, use a blue shampoo. I am going to try and work it so I don't need to do this. A blue shampoo is only going to cover the yellow with a blue tint. I'd like to avoid the yellow in the first place or tinting my hair in the second place. But I'll definitely use one if I end up with any yellow. Just don't use it too often; I've ended up with a steely blue color. Once a week at most.

I've read conflicting reports about how often to shampoo your hair if you're trying to avoid yellowing. Some articles said wash it more often, even daily, to remove dust and environmental pollution. Others say less, to avoid chlorine in water and dulling shampoos and products. I think if you have a shower filter and use good products and avoid heat you could wash more often.


I'd love to hear any tips you might have here. Also, do any of you lovelies with silver or gray or white hair wear it long?

Edited to add: I forgot to mention the strangest thing I read. Too much beta-carotene, as in carrots, can yellow your hair. So that daily carrot juice may be the culprit!

Decluttering so we can use only our best

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Roses from my niece's wedding in July.
I took a break from decluttering in June and July, but now I'm back in gear, with a pile of about 20 more boxes/bags on my front porch waiting for a donation pickup. This is probably the sixth such pickup this year, and one of the smaller ones. How in the world did we accumulate so much stuff?

I made a goal at the beginning of the year to declutter our house as if we were moving by the end of the year. We're not, but I have watched too many people completely overwhelmed and exhausted by the task of downsizing and moving that I thought I'd do a little preemptive strike here.

I have never been able to function with too much stuff around me, too much clutter clouding my vision and complicating my life, and after 37 years of marriage, 20 years in this house, three children, including all the extra books and paperwork from homeschooling them, things had reached a breaking point. We have the physical space. I just don't have the mental space anymore. 

The whole thing is emotional. Are we done with cross country skiing? Does letting go of the skiis mean letting go of the memories?  Can I let go of this handwriting sample from my youngest when he was five years old? Is that letting go of him? Am I getting to the point where four-inch stilettos are a thing of the past? Does that mean I'm getting old?

But the more I let go of, the easier I am breathing. The weight is lifting. It feels freeing. I can't drag around a lifetime's worth of stuff. And I can't drag around all that guilt. Yes, guilt. Because you have to fight the guilt about parting with things you spent good money on, or that somebody gave you. Or that evoke good memories.

(Now I'm not suggesting you cut all ties with your past. I'm certainly keeping some special letters and journals and pictures, some special heirlooms that I love. But the point is, we don't have to keep all of it, or even most of it.)

Anyway, to the title of this post.

One of the benefits of decluttering is that when we clear away the unnecessary, the unessential, the no-longer used or never used, we have space for, and breathing room for, the really beautiful things that are left. (Presumably, you are keeping the most beautiful, most loved items you have.)

For example, let's take dishes. I had 13 !!! sets of dishes at one point (I was saving three of them for my daughter and niece, but still . . . ). I'm now down to six (that doesn't count a couple of dessert sets, haha). I have plans to get rid of two more. One will be my set of Target Christmas dishes. Yes, it makes me feel kind of sad. We've eaten Christmas dinner on these plates for 20 years. But now that I've made up my mind, it feels right.  I have 16 Christmas dinner plates, dessert plates, bowls, and mugs. That takes up a lot of room. Whenever I want to use them, or my other dishes, I have to shift a whole bunch of stacks of plates and bowls to get to anything.

We use our Fitz and Floyd everyday white set every day and nothing else because it's too much work to shift everything around to get at it. I can't use my beautiful china because it's just too much work to  bring it out.

So if we want to live out the philosophy that every day is special and that we should use our special things every day, how do we do that if we can't access them?

These plates were stacked together, six of the large green dinner plates, four plates with fruit (one shown in blue), and six green dessert plates. They were all together in a pile on the top shelf of my china hutch and I never used them because it was too much work to get to them. What's the point?

So I'm giving the six green dessert plates to my niece because they belonged to her great-grandmother and because she said she'd like them, and moving the rest where I can use them. Why shouldn't I eat my lunch on a fancy plate?  If they fade (yes, I will put them in the dishwasher on my china setting) or break, oh well. Hopefully I will get years of pleasure out of using them rather than having them sitting there for 20 or 30 more years and then getting tossed.

Millennials, in case you haven't heard, don't want our stuff. So don't hold onto things thinking your kids will want them. (Having said that, I do double check with my children before parting with anything I think they may want. So far, no takers.)

Actually, this cute little teapot with sugar and creamer is going to a millennial who loves elephants. There's always exceptions to the rule.

I had a dozen Christmas glasses from Arby's taking up space in my cupboard. Gold band around top, pine trees and snow etched in the glass. Sentimental because I remember going to Arby's with my children and getting them, and then using them every year during the holiday season.

But now? They look kind of tacky and dated when I look at them with clear eyes. I don't like them all that much. And I certainly won't lose my special Christmas memories if I get rid of them. And they're certainly not as nice as the heirloom crystal glasses that I have that never see the light of day. They're going where the Arby's glasses sat, and I can easily reach for one when I want a glass of water. Why not? I don't like drinking my daily allotment of water, so why not try and make it special by using a pretty crystal goblet?

The point is, if you have so much stuff accumulated that you can't even get to it, you'll never be able to use and appreciate it. Once a year isn't good enough, in my book. Harden your heart, get rid of the things that you don't really love, and start using the good stuff. Every day is important and special. I have some beautiful china and glassware and I want to be able to use all of it, every day.

This theory applies to clothing and accessories and decor as well. Simple and elegant and beautiful is best.
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