In Search of Simple Hair


Growing up, my hair was simple. All I had to do was wash it and brush it, with an occasional haircut from my mom.


1973 after using Sun In

In high school, a product called Sun In, came onto the market. It was mostly peroxide with some lemon juice, so it lightened your hair just by spraying it on while in the sun!


1974 using #78 medium golden brown hair color

A year later I used Clairol #78 medium golden brown to try out a slightly new color at age 16. Yes, I’m enough of a nerd, that I actually remember the name of that color!


1978 natural


1982 perm & color



1984 natural


1985 highlights



1986 when my sister pulled all my hair through the frosting cap on accident


1991 perm & highlights




2001 darker color, no highlights



2007 growing out my gray, but then chickened out

For my 50th birthday I wanted to grow out my natural color, even against pressure from my boss who urged me repeatedly to keep coloring it. (Yeah, he was a strange dude on many levels and I lived in San Diego at that time with more cultural pressure to conform). I got to about 3 inch roots and chickened out, then went back to coloring it.


2012 when I began to alternate base only appointments to reduce cost & damage to my hair

When I retired four years ago I found ways to cut costs by alternating highlights every other time, and later every third time. We’d always do base color at the roots and we’d work in cuts intermittently.

Okay, so all that stuff above is not so simple!

In 2014 I tried no poo and shampoo in a bar. I liked how my hair felt, but my waves got frizzy without conditioner and product. So, over time, I returned to Aveda Be Curly shampoo, conditioner, prep and curl products. I’ll be curious to try no poo again after I’ve transitioned to my natural color.


2016 growing out my natural color at 6 weeks

Fast forward to today and I’m once again seeking simplicity in my hair care. Some of my motive is cost. I also want less chemicals in my life and I am curious to see my natural hair color before I have none. One final motive is “owning my age” and not resisting the process of mother nature, but rather, embracing it!


I estimate I’ve spent $25,000 in my lifetime on my hair. That would be a rather nice vacation, car or splurge if I’d saved it up!


October 2016 more gray with side part (left) vs middle part (right)

Growing out my natural color is not an easy task on two levels:

  • Our society really encourages people in general, and women in particular, to hide their age.
  • There are no quick ways to get from colored hair to natural gray…so you will be seeing my roots as they inch their way out.

One of the supports I’ve found is a Facebook group called Going Gray & Loving It. This group has approximately 6,000 women who have made or who are in the process of making the transition from colored hair to natural hair. The leader, Sharon Danley, is a make-up artist with lots of experience supporting women with “transitioning.” It’s very reaffirming to see women who have made the change and love what they’ve done. I appreciate seeing how others look during the slow grow out phase as well. Some get short cuts to speed things along, others take years to grow out their long gray hair. Danley encourages women to make choices that support their own inner beauty at each step of the way.

Another support is that I have two friends who are currently making the transition to their natural color too. We each made our decision on our own, but we are at somewhat similar phases. Living in Portland this time around I am certainly not alone. There are lots of women with natural color, and those who are transitioning. It also is a trend in 2016 for many young women to color their hair gray. And, that darn boss isn’t around to bug me about it.

So please know I am not lazy, when you see my roots. And wish me luck, as this is a work in progress. I do not know how this experiment will turn out. I’ll report back once I have some significant information to share.

Kathy cropped face

Kathy Peterman – June 2017



October 2017 – 14 months dye-free

Need support with making your own changes to a more simple, intentional or soulful life? Join the Simple Up Club, we’ve got your back!

Have any of you made the transition to your natural color? How was that process for you? What lessons did you learn?  Please post your comments below. 


  1. MaryLu says:

    When I retired wanted to live below my monthly income. Started getting $13 haircuts & tried lower cost hi-lights. Got into extra expense from a rushed hilight job that fried my hair & turned it orange. Risk was no longer worth the expense so no longer hilighting my hair. Enjoy the natural gray–salt & pepper look. Found a goat milk based shampoo bar soap online that eliminates need for any other hair care products. Changed to a different $13 haircut salon with a +20 year experienced stylist. Enjoying the simplicity I’ve found.


  2. I have never colored my hair, except once when I was 16. My hair just transitioned to a white-silver shade in my 40s, and I like it. My hair dressers have always complimented me on the texture (and color) of my hair because it never got stressed and frizzy from using chemicals. Now that I know how much money woman, and I am sure men too, spend on this toxic and time consuming procedure I am even happier. I just get a haircut every so often and use a high quality shampoo and conditioner.
    The funny part about going natural is that store clerks ask if I am eligible for the senior discount. I always smile and ask how old I have to be. The only place I qualify is Goodwill. But I also tell them that just because I don’t color my hair, doesn’t mean I’m old! 😉


  3. breidengale says:

    I am completely gray now. Not by choice. I had chemo and lost all my hair. I knew I had a lot of gray hair, I have been dying it for years, YEARS. Losing your hair is hard, having it grow back weird and gray is hard but the upkeep is easy. I have been told by many young women to NOT color my hair. They love the color. I love the fact that I am not having to cover my ‘groots’ every three weeks. Hope it goes by faster than you think.


  4. Lynn says:

    Fun to see your photo hair history! I went through the “Sun In” phase too – funny memory. Except for my college years when my hair was long I have always worn it short and kept care simple. I started going grey when I was about 54 and started coloring it – primarily for work pressures. I was never happy with the color whether I did it myself or went to a salon. When I was about 62 I decided to see what my natural color looked like since it appeared I was nearly all grey. A stylist helped me take out some of the coloring so the transition was easier. I love my grey hair now and have never regretted letting it go natural. Have a simple wash and go style. I get a lot of compliments too – for the first time in years. Thanks for a fun article! Glad you are going “authentic”! Bet it will look wonderful! 💕💕💕💕


  5. debbier says:

    Great post, Kathy! I meant to comment back when I read it, but just rediscovered the tab in my browser (I’m in search of simple Internet – LOL!). I am on the gray transition journey right along with you! I stopped coloring back in April and turned 50 in August. I’m at 6.5 months of growth at this point and it feels like my hair is growing at a snail’s pace! A few weeks ago, I got heavy highlights below the line of demarcation to lessen the “skunk stripe,” but I’m not totally sure that was the right thing to do, as my highlights look pretty brassy. You’re right that there IS no easy way! The Facebook groups are helping me a lot, too, to stay the course. I have written a few blog posts on my transition and will be doing another update soon. If you want to read what I wrote, here’s the link to the category:

    I enjoyed seeing all of the photos of you with your various hairstyles. You look great in all of them and I know you will look fabulous with your natural hair color, too. Best wishes! Let’s keep each other posted on how it’s going. We can do this! P.S. I wanted to do this earlier, too, back about two years ago, but my hair stylist talked me out of it 😦 I have found that younger stylists seem to be more supportive. The one I went to before told me I was too young and that I would look terrible during the transition! Living in San Diego, it IS hard to do this, but I am motivated by the freedom of no longer “chasing roots,” not putting more chemicals into my body, saving money, and being more myself. Hopefully, we will inspire others to make this choice, too!


    • Thanks so much for your comment and support Debbie. It is comforting to know I am not alone. Can’t wait to read your blog posts on your transition. And yes, let’s keep one another posted as the clock slowing moves forward.


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