Happier Grey Podcast

Episode 12 - With Lisa Slater

June 07, 2024 Helen Johnson Season 1 Episode 12
Episode 12 - With Lisa Slater
Happier Grey Podcast
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Happier Grey Podcast
Episode 12 - With Lisa Slater
Jun 07, 2024 Season 1 Episode 12
Helen Johnson

Unlike my previous guests, Lisa Slater chose to go grey in her 40s. 

I loved chatting about her colourful hair history and how she's now happy to be grey.

Show Notes Transcript

Unlike my previous guests, Lisa Slater chose to go grey in her 40s. 

I loved chatting about her colourful hair history and how she's now happy to be grey.

Happier Grey Podcast with Lisa Slater

Helen: Hello and thanks for joining me, Helen Johnson, for the Happier Grey podcast. I'm pro-ageing and love my grey hair, but I know it can be quite intimidating to take the plunge, so each week I'll be chatting to other women who've chosen to embrace the grey in the hope of inspiring and supporting you, whether you already have silver hair, in the process of going grey, or just considering ditching the dye.

Today I'm joined by Lisa Slater. She's the owner of Make Your Copy Count Limited and author of The Freelance Fairytale - How to Create Your Happy Ever After. She's 41, lives in Leeds and has been embracing her grey since 2018.

Hello, Lisa. 

Lisa: Hi.

Helen: How are you today?

Lisa: I'm good. I'm just recovering from a cold. So, I'm feeling pretty positive today compared to the last few days.

Helen: Oh, I'm glad to hear you're recovering. I wanted to start by asking you a few questions about why you decided to go grey so early. “Cause obviously, if you started in 2018, I guess that's what, six years ago. 

Lisa: I started getting grey hairs when I was a teenager. Really, I think I found my first grey hair when I was about 17, 18. I have been dyeing my hair ever since I was 17. And, I've had my hair all kinds of colours. I've had it, dark, I've had it blonde, I've had it red, I've had it blue, I've had it purple. So, it's been a whole array of colours. 

I was just at a point really where I was getting sick of dyeing it because, when I moved to Leeds, I didn't really find a hairdresser that. liked that much, that I felt comfortable with. And with my hair being so thick as well, going to the hairdressers was like a whole day thing.

So, I started using packet dyes, but with my hair being so thick, that took two dyes every time to cover it. And I just, I kind of was, thinking I don't actually know what my natural colour is anymore because it had been so long since I'd been my natural colour. 

And whenever I dyed my hair, if I dyed it dark, the sides, the grey patches that came through at the sides, I don't know if you can see, it's quite light, it's much lighter at the sides. So, it would be really obvious when the greys were coming through at the sides. But if I had my hair, light, then my roots would come through really dark. It was a bit of an experiment really of, what is my natural hair colour? Am I completely grey? Because just from the roots, it looked as though I was, but it was hard to tell.

I kind of just decided to strip it all off, see where I was at. I had quite long hair at the time, so I just chopped it all. And put some colour stripper on, to get the colour out. And, then I put just a temporary silver dye on, just to kind of cover up the bits where it was a bit patchy.

And then I just let it grow out and actually, it turned out I'm pretty much fully grey, but it's all different kinds of shades of grey. So, 50 shades of grey, I guess. At the sides, it's much lighter, which I really like the white at the sides. And then it's darker at the back and underneath, and then on the top, again, slightly darker. There is still a few bits of maybe a mousy brown in there. But majority of it's grey. So, I just kind of stuck with it for a bit. I thought it looked okay and, since then, I've just not done anything else.

I've been trying to think about this the last few days. Whether it was my intention to stay grey forever or not, I don't know, but I just was curious as to what my natural hair looked like. And since I went back to my natural colouring, I've not had the inclination to change it.

Helen: Okay, so how often were you colouring your hair when you were last colouring it then? 

Lisa: Probably I was doing it ever eight or nine weeks or so. My hair grows pretty fast, so it wouldn’t be long before they greys would start peeping through. And yeah, it was just a faff. And it wasn't the cost because home kits don't cost that much, it was just, the mess that it makes. Especially in the winter when it's cold and you're sort of standing there trying to not get dye on everything that you own.

So yeah, I just got fed up of doing it really. And as I say, it was more of a curiosity thing just to see what colour it was underneath.

Helen: Yeah. And so how often do you have your haircut now?

Lisa: I've just recently cut it actually the other week, but I've never really been good at upkeep of my hair. So, it tends to be probably twice a year, maybe. Usually, I let it grow a bit and then when the summer's coming because, my hair is ridiculously thick, there's so much of it. So, when it starts to get warmer weather, I kind of take it up to just below my shoulders, and then, thin it all out because there's so much of it, it's quite hot. And then, yeah, it gets a bit longer and then I get to the point where I'm like, OK, I need to cut my hair.

But, I mean, I don't often wear it down, usually it's just back in a ponytail, so sometimes I don't notice how long it's got for quite some time.

Helen: I was thinking about that the other day. Yes. Cause you always imagine like you have got your long hair down, but in reality, when you're working, it's nearly always in a ponytail. And I run, it's in a ponytail. I go to the gym, it's in a plait, and my legs just pretty much always tied up.

Lisa: Yeah, I wore it down today because obviously we were talking about hair, so I thought it shows it off more if I've got it down. But it tends to be just in a ponytail and like you, I go running. And I can't understand, these women who have either run with their hair down or have these big flappy ponytails.

I have to have mine all bunched up so that it doesn't flap around because it whacks me in the face and gets in my face and all sorts. So yeah, it's usually just scraped back in a ponytail.

Helen: See, I try to run with mine in my plait, but I nearly always end up knocking the bobble out at the end of it. So, I start off with it in a plait, and I finished with a ponytail.

Lisa: Mine all just ends up, like, all over the place because of the wind or, whatever, but yeah, mostly it's in a ponytail.

Helen: Got another question for you, then I'm guessing that the age you went grey, most of your friends were still dying their hair. So, you were a little bit of an exception. What kind of reaction did you get?

Lisa: I didn't really get much of a reaction. I think at first a lot of people, because I put the silver dye on as well at the time, I think people just thought I'd gone silver. I mean, because I changed my hair colour so often, I'd been purple for maybe, two years prior to that. 

But then I'd had my hair blue before that, that got more of a reaction when my hair was blue, but that's when I left the corporate world and started my own business and I was like, well, I could do what I want now.

So, I dyed my hair blue. And actually, as it turned out, it was a really good marketing tool because when I was networking, people always remembered me because of the blue hair. And whenever I was meeting potential clients or people, I would say, I'll be the one with blue hair. And wherever I went, I was the only person in there with blue hair, so people could always find me. That wasn't why I did it, but it just worked out as a really good marketing technique. 

So, I don't think it wasn't a shock to anyone. Like, I guess if you've had the same hair colour all your life, and people are used to that, then it might have been a shock. But I think people were so used to my hair being different colours all the time anyway, that nobody really, said anything.

And I actually get quite a lot of compliments on it as well. I've had strangers tap me on the shoulder and say, oh, could I just say I love your hair? A lot of people do still ask if it's natural, or if I dye it like this. So, yes, it's been pretty positive, I've not had any negative feedback on it, but

Helen: I think one of the things about going grey is you probably have a lot of fear before you start that people are going to react negatively. So it's great when you talk to people and they've only had positive experiences because then kind of reassuring people that it's not as scary as they might think that it is.

Lisa: Yeah, it’s odd to me that because I, it’s never been a big deal to me. I don't really think about it that much that I'm grey. Until I see other people talking about it.

So, I recently, I saw a post on LinkedIn, a lady asking, if she should go grey or whether it would make her look older. And there was quite a mixed bag of comments. And then she edited or updated to say that she'd decided to, stick with her colour a little bit longer. And I felt a little bit sad about that because I find it odd that people are so fearful of it, because for me it just really wasn't a big deal to me, it was just an experiment really, and then I thought, well actually I quite like it, and, yeah.

It’s easy to manage. So yeah, I don’t know, I’ve not had any but positive comments and like I say people do still ask if it’s natural or if I dye it sometimes. But maybe when I get older, people will just assume it's grey. I think because I'm still early 40s, people are surprised that I am fully grey at this age.

Helen: Okay. So, a question on style then in terms of like the way you dress and that kind of thing. Talk me through your personal style, ‘cause I'm interested to know whether it's young or old or timeless.

Lisa: I guess, I'm not really out there. I tend to stick to more plain stuff. I've never really been into fashion that much. My husband is. He's very fashionable. He matches his outfit. He even matches his running outfits, yeah, he’ll buy new running t shirts to go with his new trainers and things like that.

He plans what accessories he's going to wear with which outfits. We've got a holiday booked and he's already asking me what I'm going to wear on the day when we're going to, some famous landmark. He'll plan his outfits, whereas I'm just kind of, I'll get up and put what I put on in the morning.

Working from home, I tend to be just, mainly in tracksuit bottoms and jumpers. I've actually got jeans on today cause I'm meeting a client for lunch after this. So, I actually have made an effort today, but yeah, I guess I'm just not really fashionable. So, I tend to just stick to plain-ish stuff.

Helen: I'm just thinking, so if you're talking about wearing sportswear, then you're probably dressing on the younger side 

Lisa: I'm not walking around looking like a grandma just yet, most of the time I'm in Doc Martens. That's my go to. I can't do heels. I've never been good in heels. I'm not really a girly girl like that. I like dresses, I wear little dresses, but they usually go on with my Docs in the winter,  in the summer, a pair of flat pumps.

I'll always be in flat shoes. But I love wearing dresses. I prefer dresses. Probably to jeans and jumpers. I guess a bit of everything really. Sometimes I put a leather jacket on, sometimes a denim jacket, but also, I'm not happy to wear pretty cardigan.

I'm pretty flexible. Depends what mood I'm in really, or where I'm going.

Helen: And then a more aging related question. Obviously, you talked about running. Are you doing anything else to look after yourself as you get older in terms of health and exercise and that kind of stuff?

Lisa: Yeah, I do run a lot. Well, I do a lot of exercise, really. It was my husband that got me into running. He's been running since he was 17. I've been running now at least 10 years, maybe more. 

I do weights. We've got a home gym, so I do a weights workout at least once a week.

We've got a spin bike as well. So, I do a lot of indoor cycling if the weather's not good enough to go out running. 

So, I probably exercise four to five times a week. I say that I haven't done that much exercise the last week because I've been full of cold. But yeah, usually I exercise four to five days.

 I recently retired from half marathons. So, I'm just doing 10K's at the minute because, um, my knees are just done in so the training for the half marathon started to get a bit much. But I’m doing the Leeds 10K in June. I’ve done that every year since I moved here. So, I do running. 

I eat healthy. I cook from scratch pretty much every night. We rarely get takeaway, maybe get takeaway two or three times a year. We will eat out, probably once a month. And obviously when we go on holiday, we'll eat out more, but most of the time I cook from scratch. I use fresh vegetables every day. I think I've got leftovers for tonight, to be honest.

Friday we'll have aubergine, courgette, sweet potato, onions, garlic, tomatoes, a whole array of vegetables. Pasta with vegetables in it, noodles and vegetables. I made a lentil Lasagne on Sunday. So, we eat good food, we hardly have any processed food.

Helen: Are you plant based?

Lisa: No, no, we do meat free Monday, so we usually have, vegetarian food on a Monday for costs and for the environment.

But we're not vegan or vegetarian, or anything like that. And we do, have some processed stuff. We just try and limit the processed foods.

Sleep, I'm very good with sleep. I like to get my eight hours a night. If I don't, I'm not a very nice person to be around. Helps not having children. When you don't have children, you get a lot more sleep. 

Water, I always have a beaker of water. We have beakers up in the office. I've got beakers downstairs. We've always got water on the go. Always take water out when we go out. 

We don't drive, neither of us drive, so we walk everywhere.

I'm not, one of these people that is constantly monitoring everything that goes in my body. I mean, I like beer. Every week on a Thursday, we try a beer that we've never tried before, because we're trying to support more of the independent breweries. So, I'm not, one of these people who is, my body is a temple type person, but we are conscious of, what we put into our body, in terms of our health and the environment, really, as well.

Helen: Which is a nice place to be.

Lisa: Moderation.

Helen: Sounds like you have balance, which is what I think everyone should strive for.

Lisa: Yeah, I think you don't want to restrict yourself all the time, it's nice to have treats. People think we're, odd sometimes because we have Treat days. So, Tuesday, we usually have a biscuit with our coffee. People are like, well, you only have one biscuit a week. I'm like, yeah, because then it's a treat, you know.

And then on a Friday afternoon, we'll have a bag of crisps. And that's like our Friday treat, and Thursday we have a beer. So, we have like little treats that we look forward to, if you're just sitting and eating a packet of biscuits every day, it's not a treat.

That's my husband's influence. He's got a lot more willpower than me. I think if I'd never met him, I'd just be one of these people who sits and eats chocolate all night. But I've got into these routines and habits now, that I can't get out of. But for the best, 

Helen: Probably better for your long-term health.

Lisa: Yeah, absolutely.

Helen: Okay. Well, I'm going to ask you one last question. So, if someone came to you and said, I'm thinking about going grey, what would you say to them? 

Lisa: I'd say do it. There's too much pressure on women anyway. And men, I guess, men don't have the same issues with going grey as women, I don't think. But, yeah, if someone said to me, shall I go grey, I'd just say, just do it, try it. What's the worst that can happen? You don't like it you can change back.

It's not, you know, it's not forever. You go grey, and after a couple of weeks you hate it, well you can just put another dye on it, it's not like it's this forever decision when you make it. 

But actually, I think once you've done it, most people won't be as interested in it as you are, because they've got their own stuff that's going on. So, people go, oh, you've changed your hair, and then they'll just get used to it. And it won't be a thing anymore. It will just be that initial reaction. Once you get past that, you save money on dyeing your hair. I guess it's empowering in a way that you haven't got to worry about that anymore.

Yeah, I think just do it if you want to. I keep telling my mum she should embrace the grey. She's not ready yet.

Helen: Oh, interesting. See, my mum never really got into dyeing her hair. But she's not got any more grey hair than me, and she's 88, but she is very dark. She's like Harry Potter colouring. So, she's just got a few grey hairs, but she's never dyed it. And a lot of her friends still dye their hair.

And she's kind of like, it just doesn't look real. By the time you get to that age, it's like Lego hair.

Lisa: Yeah. My mum's still quite young. She’s 60. She just turned 60 last year. She is pretty grey, I think, underneath, but she's not ready to embrace it yet. I

Helen: And I think you do have to be, I think that's the main sort of thing from everyone that I've talked to is you reach a stage where you're comfortable with the decision and then it's not so hard. I think while you're still umming and erring.

Lisa: I think it's just habit as well, isn't it? You just get used to doing these things, that you don't question it anymore. It's like shaving your legs. You shave your legs, and then, actually, you just sit back and think, why am I doing this? I mean, obviously, in the summer, it's nicer to walk around with shaved legs. 

But you just do it because it's so ingrained in us as women to conform, to these ideas of what beauty is. Like, dye your hair, look younger, mask your age and, you know, try and stay looking young, get rid of hair. But why? I mean it grows there naturally, but I mean I'm not saying we should all go around and start embracing hair everywhere and that. 

But it's just if you start to really unpick it and unpack it and go, well why am I dyeing my hair? Is it for me or is it for other people?

If you're dyeing your hair because It's for you, and it improves your confidence, and it makes you feel better about yourself. That's fine. But if you're dyeing it because you feel like you've got to conform to some kind of ideals, then. Go and be natural. Go with what you've got. So, but it's a personal decision, I guess.

Helen: It is. Cool. Well, it's been lovely chatting to you. I'm going to wish you well for the rest of the day.

Lisa: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Helen: All right then. Cheers. Bye.

Lisa: Thanks Helen.

Helen: Thanks so much for joining me for this week's show. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. I'll be back again next week, but in the meantime, you can follow me on Instagram at happier. grey. Have a great week.