Happier Grey Podcast

Episode 15 - With Alison Jobson

June 28, 2024 Helen Johnson Season 1 Episode 15
Episode 15 - With Alison Jobson
Happier Grey Podcast
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Happier Grey Podcast
Episode 15 - With Alison Jobson
Jun 28, 2024 Season 1 Episode 15
Helen Johnson

This week I'm chatting to Alison Jobson. She's the first person I've spoken to who has gone grey on more than one occasion. The first twice, she chose to go back to dyeing her hair, as a result of other people's comments.

Show Notes Transcript

This week I'm chatting to Alison Jobson. She's the first person I've spoken to who has gone grey on more than one occasion. The first twice, she chose to go back to dyeing her hair, as a result of other people's comments.

Happier Grey Podcast with Alison Jobson

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 Alison Jobson. She's a 52-year-old living in Northumberland with her partner and two teenage daughters. She's worked in HR and recruitment for 21 years and is currently working for an amazing small start-up business as head of talent acquisition. Hello, Alison. How are you?

Alison: I’m very well. Thank you, Helen. 

Helen: I'm going to start by taking you way back. When did you find your first grey hairs?

Alison: I was thinking about this and it was about 28, 29, and actually I thought I was quite young, but listening to, your story and previous guests that you've had. I'm a lot older, so I thought I was young, but obviously not. But yeah, about 28, 29, I got the first hairs at the front. Very prominent at the front.

Helen: How did you feel about them when you first found them?

Alison: At first it was like, oh no, I'm getting grey hair. I'd started dyeing it, so you know, it was covered up, so it wasn't there. So forgot about it for a little while, but yeah, just started colouring my hair and never stopped.

Helen: Okay. And what colour was your hair before you went grey?

Alison: I was a mousy brown, so a light brown. I was very blonde when I was a baby and then just got gradually darker, so yeah, mousy colour.

Helen: Okay. And what colour were you dyeing it?

Alison:  I was quite renowned for all the different coloured hair colours that I had, so surprisingly, I went really dark, really dark brown, then would be reddy browns, very, very dark colours, coppery.

So, I just experimented with lots of different colours, really.

Helen: Okay. So, you're having a bit of fun with it then.

Alison: Yeah, yeah.

Helen: Yeah, that's good. so how long were you dyeing it for? 

Alison: Before meeting with you today, I had a look back to see when I first went fully grey. And that was in 2014. I would have been 33 then, so, 43. So did dye my hair for quite a while actually, so I had it all hidden. I think it was really when I started to properly change colour and see that I had a lot more grey than what I realized.

So, yeah, I went for quite a while before I went fully grey.

Helen: And can you remember what the trigger was for you deciding to stop dyeing it? 

Alison: I had young children then. My youngest was only three years old. And I think, you know, your time’s spent looking after your children. I've got two daughters. At the time I had a seven-year-old and a three-year-old. It was probably more time spent with them and just trying to cover it up a bit.

And then just, it's the time really definitely was the time spent, putting the dye on and thought. Let's give it a go. Talked to my hairdresser who was really, understanding I would talk to him quite a lot and, thought, right I'm going to give it a go. I'm going to grow it all out and I'm going to go and just see how it looks. So, I did. 

Helen: So, how long was your hair at the time that you decided to do that?

Alison: Um, it wasn't long, long. That was probably above my shoulders and in a bob, quite a short bob.

Then I just gradually got shorter and shorter hairstyles. So, the dark colour from the bottom was disappearing and the roots were getting longer. So, it was just multiple different hairstyles really.

And then like most people do. Went for the pixie cut and went really, really short. And it was quite funky and I thought, yeah, grey and funky, why not? Embrace it! 

When I look at the colour of my grey now, it was quite a dark grey, like that, you know what people say, salt and peppery. So, it was a dark grey, but really short, and thought, yeah, why not? And you got the freedom, of not having to dye. And, of course, it was really short, so I could just, you know, wash and go, as it were.

Helen: Yeah. A couple of questions out of that then, I guess. So, you say you did that in 2014, So I guess at that stage there weren’t so many people doing it, and you were quite young compared to most people who’d chosen to go grey. Would you say that's right?

Alison: Yeah, yeah, and I just fancied a change, always like a bit of a change. Always had a bit of a battle with my hair because it's thick and wavy and curly, and I could never have the lovely hairstyles that friends had at school. So, I've always experimented and always liked my hair to look nice. And I never felt right if my hair wasn't right.

So, I was always experimenting, putting different colours on and, then obviously gone for the grey and it was really short and funky. I just thought I would embrace it at that time. I did have two young children as well. So being grey and having two young children, I don't know if people looked at that. 

Helen: What sort of reaction did you get from your friends and family at that stage?

Alison: Really positive, really positive. My partner, George was really like, yeah, you're really suited. It looks absolutely great. Family and friends were like, Alison, you're really, really suited. It was really, really positive. And then, a couple of comments, I always remember going on a school trip with my youngest daughter and, one of her friends asking “is that your grandma?”, and it was oh gosh. I don't know if I can do this anymore. That really hit me. And then I dyed it. I went back and dyed it and thought, you know, I've got plenty of time to be grey. I've got two young kids and I dyed it again. And I went back to being all different colours, kept my hair short, but went to different colours.

I was probably grey for under a year and, then I changed it and I dyed it until, after COVID. 

Helen: Okay.

Alison: You know, that period of not being able to go with the hairdressers for what seemed like an eternity. I had grown it and, gone a very lighter colour, to try and not have too much of a contrast, because when you come through when you've got dark hair, it's a massive contrast.

Even though, I know it was my inner sparkle coming through, but I decided to go a bit lighter and lighter and then COVID hit. And luckily, my hair was a little bit longer and I could tie it back.

Helen: Uh huh.

Alison: And then the right away through COVID, the roots just got further and further back. And it was once we could go back to the hairdressers.

So, it was probably 2022. It was long and I had it cut really short again, and all that colour was out because the roots were so long from Covid. So, went back to being grey again then, and I loved it, and my grey was a lot lighter that time. I was almost white at the front when I look at pictures.

I had longer layers. I had my hair short, but I had a long layer and it was really white at the front because that's my prominent area of grey is at the front. That's where I went grey first. That's really white, whereas I'm quite dark around the back. So, I went grey again and I had funky glasses and again, loads of, you know, positive feedback. People going, eeh. Allison, you really suit, I'm glad you went back to being grey. 

And then was on holiday in the summer of 2022. I was in the pool with my youngest and somebody asked “is that your granddaughter?” and I went, no, my daughter. And I dyed it again, the end of that year. 

And then 2023, go back to being grey and, I'm not changing it now. Even if somebody asks if I'm my daughter's grandma again. I’m definitely not, it's here to stay now.

I'm really, really comfortable with it now. And yeah, it's here to stay now. No more putting the sprays on to cover the root. I got a powder with a brush and was putting it over the root. No, it's here to stay now definitely. And I'm really pleased that I did that. So, I’m really happy.

Helen: So, what do you think's changed for you then, this time versus the other times?

Alison: Probably, I'm older and wiser, I hope. But I did say to my daughters when I decided to go grey last year, I said, I think I'm going to go grey now, what are your thoughts? And they went, Mum go for it, you do, you look really good when you're grey. So, I think, you know, that was it, when they said that they were happy for us to go grey, and I thought, you know what, I'm not worried now people think. This is me, I'm a natural grey person, and, why cover it up, you know, so embrace it now and I'm really proud. 

And a friend of mine at work, she's gone grey, and, she's really happy about it. And I gave her encouragement when she was growing hers out. I said, you just do what you feel best to do, and if you think that's grey, then go for it. And she's kept it grey, and she looks great.

Helen: Which is fab. I do have a question for you then, ‘cause I'm quite interested. I think one of the fears that most people have if they choose to go grey, is that they are going to get negative comments, and that people are going to say they're older. Obviously, that did happen to you. Do you think, when you decided to dye your hair again, that was partly because you had younger children and you were worried about being judged about not being their mother?

Alison: Yeah, I think it's definitely, the first couple of times when I went grey, and those comments did think, ooh, do I look old? 

But now it's definitely, this is me and maybe I'm more confident in myself. I changed jobs. After being in the same job for over 20 years, and I felt really brave, the fact that I made that decision to move.

And I think now I've in the job that I'm in, and the encouragement that I've had, I'm more confident as me as a person as well. So maybe that's a factor because I'm confident with me. I'm confident with my hair and it's always been part of me, like I said before, I always had an issue with my hair and if my hair didn't look right, I didn't feel right. But now, I'm really happy with my hair. So, I'm a confident person and I hold my head up high when I walk in a room now and, embrace the compliments that you get, because if you do get a compliment, you've just got to take it and that builds and builds.

And I do get a lot of compliments. The business that I'm in, I'm on LinkedIn quite a bit. I'm networking quite a bit. I'm mixing with people all the time. And building my confidence and I'm confident with my hair the way it is. So that's how I will stay. I think it is definitely a confidence.

And if people look at you think, well, you're looking at me, maybe they’re looking at me thinking, wow, look at her hair. Somebody actually thought that I dyed my hair.

Helen: Uh huh.

Alison: I didn't realize that I was actually grey. So, I think that's a compliment because they’re maybe thinking you're young to be grey. 

Helen:  It's lovely for me that you asked your daughters what they thought and they were really keen on the idea.

Alison: Yeah. They're really supportive. Because I would hate them to think that, their friends or whatever, were thinking that they were with their granny all the time. And, not that that's a problem because the love would be with their actual grandma. But, I wanted thei, support, and they gave me that wholeheartedly.

Helen: So, it sounds like the grey hair this time kind of coincided a little bit with a life transition in terms of the job as well. Did anything else change at the same time in terms of style or health or anything else?

Alison: No, I think it was, a big decision. We decided to move house as well. So, there's quite a lot going on. So yeah, new job, new house, new hair. Really? You know, why not? The trio. 

It's just being happy and confident. I don't regret it at all now and anybody else thinking about doing it. It has to be for you, but I would encourage them, because people do get stressed over your roots coming in, and it does cost a lot of money. It's a lot of time. But if somebody is really, really thinking about it, I'm more than happy to talk to them, but it is up to that individual at the end of the day.

But give it a go. That's the thing with hair, it grows, so you can cut it. You can colour it and you can do what you want with it, put it in different styles. That's the good thing about hair. It, doesn't have to be, one style forever or one colour forever. 

Listen to podcasts. That's really encouraging, listen to the different podcasts that you've done. It's listening to other people's journeys, 'cause it is all very different reasons why, how people feel about it. So no, it's really interesting. I think it's great that we can.

Helen: The one thing that everyone has in common, is they've reached a point in their life where they feel comfortable with themselves.

At that point they're happy to make choices that are for them rather than listening so much to the external influences. I do think that's like a real commonality with everyone that I've spoken to. 

But beyond that, the reasons for doing it and the reasons for dying the hair in the first place, if they did are all different. It's nice to have a bit of balance. Cause what I want to do is ideally find people that anyone can relate to somebody's story.

A question because your hair now looks quite white. Are you using special shampoos to keep the colour?

Alison: No, just. any normal shampoo. I do find that my hair is really soft though, because you know some people say, oh grey hair is it not wiry and it's not. It's really, really soft and I think it's because it's natural. That's why it hasn't got colours. You know when you colour your hair it's lovely and shiny and it's dead soft, but then it can sometimes go a little bit dry.

But I find my hair is in great condition now. It's lovely and soft.

Helen: Yeah, I think mine's probably a little bit different because I used to bleach mine blonde, so it wasn't in great condition. It was quite dry and, it felt quite coarse and, it wasn't particularly shiny unless I'd just been to the hairdressers. Now it's just in much better condition and takes much less effort to look after as well.

Alison: I know. I know. As I say, you just wash and go, don't you?

Helen: Yes, completely. Mine's quite long, but I do just leave it.

Alison: You can tell it's in lovely condition though.

Helen: Yeah, it's good. When I had it dyed. I never had it much below my shoulders because it just got split and dry. Whereas now it's a lot longer than that, which is cool.

Alison: It is.

Helen: I am going to ask you one last question, which is if someone came to you and said, I'm thinking about going grey, what advice would you give to them about how to go about it and what to think about?

Alison: If they're in the very early stages, you know, just the odd little bit here and there, just do whatever you're comfortable with. I would say, it's entirely up to you. You do what's good for you, what you feel good. It depends on the hairstyle as well. Go for a shorter haircut and your roots will grow out quicker and you'll see the results quicker. 

Research. Have a look at different styles that are out there and how good people do look. What works for them and the reasons why they're thinking about it. They why, so, they've obviously planted it in their mind that they're thinking of going grey. So, I ask, well, why are you thinking of going grey? And then, you know, elaborate on the conversation there.

But I would say to somebody, give it a go. And then if it's not for you and you don't feel comfortable, then you can dye it again. But yeah, I think you do have to give it a go.

Helen: I think you're a really good illustration of, if it doesn't work for you at the time, you can dye again and you can revisit it at a later date when you think it might be right for you again.

Alison: Yeah. But if not,  just let your inner sparkle shine through. That's what my hairdresser used to say about the roots, it's your inner sparkle, Allison. I'm like, oh yeah. I think that's quite nice as well.

Helen: See, my hairdresser wasn't very keen on it, because I talked to my hairdresser for probably a couple of years before COVID about growing it out. Because I used to work with a lady who had just beautiful, like snow white hair. And I was like, if my hair was like that, I would grow it out tomorrow.

But they kept saying, oh, you know, it won't suit you. And It'll make you look older and you really need to think about it. Which is why I didn't do it until COVID, but obviously when COVID happened, it was kind of like, well, the option is you let it go out, or I let my husband dye my hair, things that won't be happening.

 And then I was like, I just should have done it when I first started talking about it, but you never know. And I might've felt differently as well, because I think the fact that so many people went grey during COVID, that you now don't stand out particularly. There's going to be other people around who have taken the same route, probably gives people a lot more confidence to stick with it and just do it rather than wait a lot longer.

Alison: I think you do see quite a few more grey people around now. I don't know whether it's because I'm grey, I notice it more, it does seem to be. And lots of variation of hairstyles and age groups as well. So, I definitely people have embraced it and I think COVID gives them that opportunity to, to give it a go, grow it out and see what happens.

 But it has to be for the individual. It has to work for, for you. As well, I've noticed them wearing different clothes as well, wearing different colours. I tend to wear, I know I'm wearing black work hoodie today, but wear a lot more pinks and bright colours. I used to always be quite dark colours, but I try and wear colours as well and you know, your whole face and image changes. 

I know somebody you mentioned on one of your other podcasts, or somebody wears bright red lipstick. I've never been one like yourself for wearing a lot of makeup. So, I do now and then try to wear lipstick, but I've not really been a lipstick wearer for forever.

I think it's more on what I wear and the colours that I wear, and glasses and things like that. So yeah, it's just your own image and you getting used to what works for you, what makes you comfortable. Definitely.

Helen: Cool. Well, it's been lovely chatting to you. Thanks for coming on the podcast.

Alison: Oh, thank you so much for having me. It's been great.

Helen: No worries. Have a good day.

Alison: Thank you.

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.