Happier Grey Podcast

Episode 13 With Zoe Britton

June 14, 2024 Helen Johnson Season 1 Episode 13
Episode 13 With Zoe Britton
Happier Grey Podcast
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Happier Grey Podcast
Episode 13 With Zoe Britton
Jun 14, 2024 Season 1 Episode 13
Helen Johnson

In this episode I'm chatting to Zoe Britton who is in the process of growing out the dye and going grey. Zoe's had a mix of highlights and lowlights over the last few years in preparation for the full grow out, that way she'll be able to keep her long hair without having a really defined stripe as she grows out the dye.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode I'm chatting to Zoe Britton who is in the process of growing out the dye and going grey. Zoe's had a mix of highlights and lowlights over the last few years in preparation for the full grow out, that way she'll be able to keep her long hair without having a really defined stripe as she grows out the dye.

Happier Grey Podcast with Zoe Britton

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 Zoe Britton, one of the co-founders of the Arracan Group, a one stop shop for operational management support and social media marketing in the Southeast. It's run by a husband-and-wife team who have two children. Good morning, Zoe.

Zoe: Good morning, Helen. 

Helen: How are you this fine day?

Zoe: I’m not too bad, thank you. Yeah, all is good, apart from the drizzly wet rain that we have down here in Sussex today.

Helen: Yeah, it's a bit grey here as well, but it's supposed to brighten up later. So, fingers crossed.

Zoe: Yeah, we hope.

Helen: I was going to start by asking you, I know you're in the process of going grey.

Zoe: I am.

Helen: Why did you decide that now was the time? 

Zoe: My journey sort of started, like most people did really, just after, lockdown, COVID, when we couldn't get our hair done. I've been having highlights for years, I'm not a natural blonde. My natural hair colour is very dark, dark brown. And I've been having highlights for years to cover the grey. Probably since my early thirties. 

So, after lockdown, I said to my hairdresser, that's it, I've had enough, I'm just going to grow the grey out. And she said, well rather than do that, why don't we just start doing lowlights? Until you are really ready and then it will just gradually sort of fade out.

So, I said, okay, so since lockdown, we've been doing lowlights in my hair. And at the start of this year, I had a bit of a sort of lightbulb moment and I just thought to myself, I'm ready. I'm 47 and I started to see the side sort of underneath going quite  grey and white and I just thought to myself, I feel ready to just stop.

I was due in a hair appointment anyway, so she came over, my hairdresser comes to my house, and she's been cutting and colouring my hair for, 12 years now. But I just said I'm ready. So, we just gave it a cut. And she said, no, let's see how you get on. I'm just really enjoying the journey.

In terms of my journey so far, it's obviously only five months in, but I'm enjoying seeing the changes gradually over time.

Helen: I'm guessing because you had the lowlights, you maybe not got such a hard line as a lot of people have between.

Zoe: Yes. So that's exactly it. It's sort of blended in quite well. So, it doesn't look like, a splat as it would do, and then it comes down. So, I'm kind of enjoying seeing, how it's sort of changing, the colour's changing. I am using, one of the silver shampoos to take away the brassiness of the blonde, but I'm just sort of embracing it now and enjoying it.

And I'm loving how social media, there are so many women at the moment who are just deciding to just embrace it.

Helen: Yeah,

Zoe: I recently did a TikTok, just me talking to camera, walking through the forest and just so you could see in the natural light what colour it was. And the amount of support I got from women just saying your hair looks so good.

 And it is just hair.

Helen: Yeah,

Zoe: It's not like you're looking for compliments and things, but it's just, I just wanted to do it for my own self really. And just to share and say, you know, you can sort of embrace it.

Helen: Yeah. Okay, I'm going to take you back a long way now. Can you remember finding your first grey hair?

Zoe: I can, I can. It must have been before I was 30, so my dad was grey by the time he was 30. And as a family, we've always joked that I have my dad's hair and my brother has my mum's hair, and she's naturally quite dark.

Helen: Uh huh.

Zoe: And when I found my first grey hair, I was just, oh okay, here we go.

Yeah, they were right. And I think I did used to pull them out.

Helen: Okay. So, in the beginning then, did you kind of feel that there was something to be ashamed of?

Zoe: Not so much ashamed of, but I think it was that whole reality of you do age and you were getting a little bit old. Even though I wasn't even 30. Yeah, I just wasn't quite ready to accept that really. Because our, hair is our crown, isn't it? You know, regardless of how you wear it, it's the first thing people see.

 But yeah, it was a bit of a shock when I did start to see grey hair.

Helen: And did you start dyeing it fairly soon after that with the highlights or?

Zoe: Yes. Yeah. Before that I just sort of had sort of chunky highlights, and dye the underneath dark and yeah. And all of a sudden, I was like, okay. And they just became more and more and more with the highlights. 

Helen: Were you experimenting with colour then before you? 

Zoe: Yeah I’d already experimented with colour being quite dark. I had dyed my hair all kinds of different, always dark tones. But what I did do is after the birth of my first son, I'd actually dyed it back to a dark brown colour.

Helen: Yeah.

Zoe: And I was having to dye every two weeks because the grey was just coming through.

Helen: Wow.

Zoe: So, I just said to my hairdresser, let's go back to blonde. It was easier with the highlights. 

Helen: Okay. And your hair is quite long,

Zoe: It is, yeah.

Helen: Are you just intending to keep the length the whole way through the growing out process?

Zoe: I'm gonna see, it's taken a long time to grow it long. And I'm just gonna see how it goes. I think long hair on, women looks amazing if it's really maintained and looked after. I don't want to turn into Diana Dawes. So, I'm going to see how it goes. 

I might, have it chopped. I don't know yet.

Helen: My hair is a similar length to yours though. 

Zoe: Right.

Helen: Though, obviously, I've been to the gym this morning, so it's in a plait to keep it out the way. But I like keeping it long and, it is one of the sort of conventions is that if you go grey, certainly in, prior years, you should have it cut short and, probably have the concrete perm like my Nan did.

Zoe: Yeah. No, that doesn't fill me with joy at all. This is probably the longest it's ever been. And I just embrace it at the minute. I kind of like it.

Helen: Yeah, mine's the longest it's been in 25 years. Cause when I used to dye it, I had it dyed bleach blonde. And it actually used to make me quite drawn looking if it got to below my shoulders, because the yellow tones don't suit me. So my hair didn't suit me. 

Zoe: Yeah, well I’ve got really thick hair. So, I'm actually due a cut next week, a trim. I do need because it's getting really heavy now, because it is so thick, it just weighs down, so you can see it's quite flat, but, and I'm naturally, this is natural wave, this is just how it is.

I used to straighten it for years, I straightened it every morning, the GHDs were on permanently. If it was raining it was a nightmare. And now I just, Since having children, I just kind of go with it and it is what it is. And my husband even said, I never realized you had curly hair.

Helen: Wow.

Zoe: I always straightened it.

Helen: And how long have you been together?

Zoe: We've been together 18 years. We've been married for 10.

Helen: Okay. So, all of that time you've been straightening your hair? Wow.

Zoe: Yeah. Yeah. Probably up until, we were actually on holiday in Egypt and, we were on a boat cruising the Nile. And I just said, oh, I'm not going to straighten it today. I couldn't be bothered. And he was like, I didn't know you had all this curly hair. I was like, no, no, it was before we had the children, but yeah.

Helen: Wow. So you.

Zoe: Things we do we’ve just always done.

Helen: Obviously you spent a lot of time on it every day then.

Zoe: Yeah, I used to get up early, wash it, straighten it. GHDs. Yeah.

Helen: Wow. So, what are you doing with all the extra time that you've got now that you're not doing that anymore?

Zoe: I've got two kids. I don't really notice any of the difference of time. I sleep more.

Helen: Along with your hair, would you say that your style has changed at all in terms of the way you dress and that kind of thing? Or is it just the hair?

Zoe: If anything, I think I've got a bit more funkier in the way that I dress. I just find it quite liberating now to just do what you want. And again, I think influencers, 40 plus, 45 plus influencers who were saying, dress how you want to dress. You know, so today I've got a maxi dress on, with a denim jacket, and I've got trainers on.

I think we're losing that whole, oh she's so old, or she looks good for her age. And I've seen a lot of this. She looks good for her age. Well, rather than saying she looks good for her age, can't you just say she looks good?

Helen: Yeah.

Zoe: Oh, your, your grey hair looks amazing. No, can you just say my hair looks amazing.

You look great. Yeah. So just, just sort of losing the, for your age, you know, and, I like complimenting people. So, if I'm out and about and I see someone who does look good, male or female, without sounding weird, I will say, I just wanted to say, I just think you look great. I love what you're wearing today and people do it to me as well.

And I kind of like that.

Helen: Yeah. It's nice to be, just to be acknowledged.

Zoe: Yeah.

Helen: Okay. So just curious about your circle of friends, are any of them going grey? 

Zoe: I do have, a couple of friends, one of them, she's a business friend as well. And she went grey back in 2010. She just decided to stop growing her hair. And she has this most stunning, amazing silver mane. And I actually thought she dyed it. And so, I contacted her quite recently and said, can I ask? I said, is that coloured? And she said, no, and it's the most beautiful silver. I've ever seen. And, she just said, I love how now, I'm actually really cool and funky. I don't think she's 40. So, she went grey quite young. 

I know another friend who's been talking to recently and she's 43, I think, and she's following me on my journey, but she's like, I'm not ready to embrace it yet.

And I said, it's completely personal preference, isn't it. It really is.

Helen: it is totally,

Zoe: But like for me, you know, I've been doing the lowlights for quite a long time. So yeah.

Helen: You've been preparing yourself.

Zoe: Yeah. Preparing myself and just going, yeah, let's just go with it.

Helen: So, what sort of reaction have you had from people that you know, then in terms of you going grey?

Zoe: They've been quite surprised and I know that the reason why, you invited me to come on, which is lovely by the way, was because I decided to do a post on LinkedIn. I do go against the grain quite a lot when I'm on LinkedIn as a social media creator.

I, just posted a picture. I think it was a picture or a video just saying. I've decided since January to stop dyeing my hair and to embrace the grey and that's how you saw my post, and we connected, and you invited me to come on today. And people have been quite surprised, just by me being so open about it. But not physically, when they've seen me, they've not sort of noticed it.

Helen: Yeah, yeah, which is so weird when you think about it. Cause going grey is just a natural part of life.

Zoe: Absolutely it is, yeah.

Helen: Cool. Can I ask you about ageing generally? Do you think that you've kind of come to terms with the ageing process or not?

Zoe: Yes. And no. I said earlier, I'm 47. I take quite a lot of, not a lot, but I take collagen, evening primrose oil, things to help my skin, natural assisting things just to help. 

But I'm finding, cause I'm friends with quite a few people who went to school. And it's always interesting when you see people who you've known since you were 12, 13, 14, and you, naturally compare yourself to them and you see sort of more crinkles and wrinkles and lumps and bumps and things.

And for me, I kind of, I'm not ready. I don't think you ever are ready to get old. And at what stage do you define as being old? I'm three years off of 50. Do I feel like I'm three years off of 50? No. I'm quite fit and active. I run three times a week. So, I know you said your hair's up in a plait because you've been to the gym.

Mine's normally scraped back on the top of my head when I'm running. But for me, I think if you could stay fit and healthy and active, I think that does help delay the ageing process, but I also think it's a mindset as well. I don't take life too seriously, you know, I'm into music, so I listen to music a lot.

I just think it's down to the person.

Helen: Yeah, so it sounds like you kind of got a fairly healthy attitude towards making the best of the place that you're at.

Zoe: Yeah. Yeah. I think having, children older in life helped, for other reasons. We had our first son when I was 33. So having them later, you have to be able to run around with them. and have fun. So, I will, run and they'll ride their bikes.

Helen: I was 41 when I had my daughter. So much later.

Zoe: Yeah. Much later. So do you find you have to be active.

Helen: I think I always have been. So, I used to run cross country in my teens and I've run on and off ever since. I still run now. Do yoga. The gym's a relatively new addition because I've read so much about strength training being important for muscle and bone as you age and thinking ahead. What do I want to be doing when I'm 70, 80?

Do I want to be mobile and fit? Yes, I do. So, what do I need to do? Now to bank for that, but I'm actually quite surprised. I'm enjoying the gym, which I didn't think I would. So yeah, it’s good.

Zoe: Good.

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

Zoe: I think I’d say to them the same thing that was said to me, would be to prepare yourself, and look at things to do before you do decide rather than just going cold turkey and going, right, that's it. I think you've got to prepare yourself for a long journey. I listened to the podcast yesterday from the lady you had previously, and she said, it is a journey and it is a transition.

I'm prepared to stick at this now, whether it takes me a year, two years, five years, I don't know. But I do find it quite liberating now. And obviously quite cost effective as well, not having to have highlights every six weeks, but I just think prepare yourself to do it.

But when you do decide to do it, you have got to stick at it. You know, you've got to decide you're going to do it. My hairdresser did say, oh well maybe we could do, just a few lowlights in about six months time, if it's getting too, grey, too quickly.

But I'm like, no, just go with. 

Helen: Yeah, I think you do reach a place where mentally you're comfortable with the idea. And I think the other thing for me is when you've just got roots, you don't think it's going to look very nice, but when you've got a bit more of it going through, it's kind of like, actually, I just like the colour.

Zoe: Yeah. I really liked the colour because quite a lot of it is white.

Helen: Yeah.

Zoe: Even though I was really worried, it would age me. It doesn't seem to be doing that so far.

Helen: Now, I think it probably is because it complements the stage your skin is at.

Zoe: Yes, and the skin as well and hormones and other things do change. But yeah, I'm finding it really liberating and really fun as well on the journey to see what, yeah.

Helen: Great. Well, good luck with the rest of the journey.

Zoe: Thank you.

Helen: and thanks so much for coming on and chatting to me.

Zoe: Oh, no, you're welcome. Thanks for inviting me. It's been really fun. Thank you.

Helen: Have a good day then.

Zoe: Yes, I will. And you.

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.