Nicki Anderson
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Sally Field Made Me Do It! Gray Expectations 11

By Nicki On February 10, 2013 6 Comments
67 years and nay a gray!

67 years and nay a gray!

Have you seen Sally Field lately? Well, here she is! Holy cow, at 66 the woman looks fantastic! I recently saw her on Ellen and I couldn’t believe it was her. Of course the first thing I noticed was- no gray.

Like Sally Field, I  am petite. At barely 5’2″ I can’t help but feel that contributes to looking younger than my 51 years. Sally Field is 5’3″ and looks no where near her 66 years. That and the combination of hair color definitely shaves off a few years.

Aside from no sign of gray (yes, I’m sure she colors it) she is vibrant, fit and easily looks 20 years her junior even on HDTV!

At the risk of slighting my lovely gray haired friends, I have to say that if she were gray she may not have caught my attention. I was really amazed at how youthful she looked and how she carried herself. I believe it is a total package. If you’re dying your hair, but feeble and unable to get around, you age yourself. If you’re gray, fit and energetic, you don’t. However, if gray doesn’t compliment you, no matter how fit you are, it will indeed age you. I’m experiencing that right now.

Therefore, I have to acquiesce to those who said gray hair does make you look older. I am beginning to believe it’s true, regardless of health, activity and energy. But here’s what is interesting, I’ve learned that my gray haired friends are not interested in the looking younger piece, they simply like the way they feel with their gray locks. And the same holds true for those who color their hair, they simply like the way they feel.

A quote by Yves Saint Laurent, “I have always believed that fashion was not made only to make women more beautiful, but also to reassure them, give them confidence.”  I believe this statement holds true for hair color.

So here’s my deal, I am so not a quitter. At times I can be annoyingly tenacious. Therefore, the decision to go back to coloring my hair leaves me feeling a bit vulnerable. First, I worry I may not have given the experiment of going completely gray a fair shot. So how do I really know? Trust me, I know.

Enough gray to know.

Enough gray to know.

One of my readers wrote, “Nicki it’s winter, no one looks good in the winter.”  Though I agree with her comment, I’d like to make the most of the winter blahs by doing something which elevates my self-confidence versus squashing it. Gray isn’t it,  for me anyway.

Second, I despise losing. And somehow I feel like I’m losing by not seeing this whole thing through. However at the end of the day, I set the challenge and went in to it blind and excited. Four months later, my sight is back and  excitement has waned. Conclusion? My experiment, my choice to change my mind.

So, yes, yes I’m giving up. I’m throwing in the towel (insert dramatic sob here). I’m back tracking on my journey. But wait, here’s the great part, I have not gone through this process in vain. I have garnered some gray-t insight. Here’s what I’ve learned.

  • Never make a year long commitment public. It’s like posting you’re going to lose 25 pounds and someone sees you downing a chocolate shake. It sucks to get called out.
  • No two people look the same- in anything! I have a whole new appreciation for gray haired women who wear it well and with confidence.
  • Pay attention to what makes you feel good whether it’s wearing a certain color, certain clothing or hair style.  How you feel about yourself (regardless of what others think) can alter the course of your day!
  • Whatever you wear, wear it with confidence.
  • I needed a haircut!
  • I don’t look good in gray- clothing or hair color.

So, the next time I come up with some great idea or experiment, perhaps one of you will talk me down from the ledge. However, with every new endeavor comes life lessons and during the last 4 months, I’ve learned some pretty great lessons, connected with some great women, and learned color is a personal preference, not a moral decision. Here’s to your fabulous color, whatever it may be.

Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!



Getting Personal with Gray – Gray Expectations 10

By Nicki On January 25, 2013 6 Comments
This is what I thought I'd look like.

(This is what I thought I’d look like.)

O.K. so I have to be completely honest. I’m sort of over it, the gray thing. No, I’m not going back on my plan just yet but hear me out.

As women, feeling good about yourself is extremely important. I surmise that’s true for just about anyone. For some it’s rockin’ a great outfit, or it may be pretty lingerie. For others it’s having an incredible hair day. I don’t know about you, but an incredible hair day ranks right up there with a chocolate truffle.

But let’s admit it, when we’re having a bad hair day or can’t find a single thing to wear somehow the day just doesn’t have its normal pizazz. When my hair looks great, I feel great. When I have the good fortune of actually pulling together an outfit that matches, (where are the adult Garanimals?) I feel like I’ve won the lotto.

So the gray. I feel like I have perpetual bed head. Remember I was telling you about the different textures of gray? Yeah, well I pulled the short straw, mines wiry.

I looked back on the comments from many of you and was reminded that it doesn’t matter what color your hair is if you feel good!  I know it’s early in the game, so how can I really tell?  Well, let’s run through a few of the comments I received when I started this project.

  • “Why would you want to look old? As long as there’s hair color, I’ll never be gray.”  Since I embarked on this experiment, I have met some lovely gray haired women. I can’t really say it made them look older because they wear it so well. So I’m not ready to say I look old. Drab? Yes. I’m beginning to look drab which translates to feeling drab.
  • ” I would never color my hair. I’m proud of every gray hair I have, I’ve earned it.”  Will wrinkles suffice? God knows I’ve earned those. Further, if you FEEL good gray that’s brilliant.  Regardless of hair color, most take the time to get it cut and styled because it makes them feel good. Therefore, it keeps coming back to personal preference- what makes you feel good?
  • “The only reason I don’t have gray hair is because it washes me out, but otherwise I’d do it.”  Common theme, how one feels. If you look good, do it. But if you don’t feel good about yourself why keep it, right?

    Wiry gray.

    Wiry gray.

I’m sure all of you have a color or style of clothing you never wear. You don’t wear it because it doesn’t suit you. I’m a brunette with olive skin, I’d never go blonde. Eeek! Not to mention my contrasting black eyebrows wouldn’t make for a good look.

At this point, it’s not that I don’t feel good about myself, I just feel like I’m wearing something that doesn’t compliment me. These thoughts take me back to the initial reason I started this whole thing.

Will the way I feel internally change?  Well, it has a little bit. I’m realizing that going gray is not about wrong or right, it’s what compliments me.  I don’t wear hats because I don’t feel good in them, while others do. Some woman glow in yellow, I appear jaundiced. The point is that we don’t wear things that don’t look good on us, and I don’t think hair color is any different.

So here’s where I’m at with this. I will continue on this journey because my curiosity is still alive and well. However, if I notice that I’m avoiding going outside for fear of people seeing  my hair well then it’s time to make a change. As my friend said to me, “Life is too short not to feel pretty.” I couldn’t agree more.

So another day, another bit of gray. For now, I’m good.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!


Will Vanity Prevail? Gray Expectations – 9

By Nicki On January 12, 2013 No Comments
Gray confusion!

Gray confusion!

O.K. I admit it, I’m second guessing my crossing in to the world of gray. This past week I was being interviewed for a video and after the shoot, it was brought to my attention that the videographer had me pegged at 38 years old. “Really? Wow!”  Then I was brought back to reality. Ugh, I’m going gray. Six months from now he’d likely guess my real age, maybe even older. (Vanity enters stage right). I immediately jumped to conclusions bringing on a cycle of negative scenarios of my gray choice. Further, this past week I mastered combing my hair as to discretely cover the gray that now dominates my part. That’s not a good sign, right? The fact that I’m still covering it up and now worried that I won’t look younger than my age? Damn the vanity!

O.K. I need to relax. First of all, it’s becoming more evident that the gray I anticipated will likely be salt and pepper. So, I’m not going to be Barbara Bush gray. Second, my hair is a contemporary style and I’m not wearing orthopedic shoes (no offense to those who do). Third, my whole reason for letting my hair go gray was to experience the barbarabush-190process and see if colored hair not only made me look older but feel older. So, I need to get back to the motive for my experiment vs. my vanity. (Vanity exists stage left).

Maybe this is the first of many lessons of my experiment. What’s more important, how I feel or how I look? In the words of Vidal Sassoon, (here’s a link for you youngin’s that have never heard of him), “It’s more important to look good than to feel good.”  Personally, I think it’s more important to feel good internally in order to project a positive exterior.  I suppose that means if I feel good about my new hair color, I’ll look good. If I look good, I’ll feel good.

So lesson #1, Lighten up! Embrace the process. If I feel good, I’ll project it, if I don’t, I’ll change it. I’ve just got 10 months and 14 days to embrace the process and the new look.

Is it me or is time passing at a snails pace?


Here’s to never wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!




Gray Expectations – Liberation or Panic? 8

By Nicki On January 6, 2013 4 Comments

CharltonHestonTheTenCommandmentsC10_1I have to laugh when people come up to me asking to see my gray hair. Seriously? It’s only been 5 weeks since my last color!  It won’t be a Charlton Heston, Ten Commandments transformation, it takes time.  So, there’s no before and after shots yet.

I have to admit, there’s part of me that when I see the gray coming in I’m half proud and half in panic mode. The proud part of me likes the fact that I’ve dismissed societal pressure and I’m doing something that isn’t popular or trendy, or is it? The Libra in me likes things orderly and neat. That gray part of my hair coming in isn’t orderly and neat. It looks like I’m terribly overdue for a color appointment and I feel a bit discombobulated.  I find myself explaining why I have this gray streak in my hair. “Just so you know, I’m fully aware of the gray strands,  I’m working on an experiment.” Then I realize the lady at the grocery store couldn’t care less.


A bit o’ gray

The other day as I was getting ready to go out, I looked in the mirror to find gray staring back at me. I was inches away from my mascara tube ready to dab that gray right out of my hair! I had to talk  myself down from the ledge, “No fair touching up your hair, remember? Au natural!”  I got over it, sort of, went out and completely forgot about it. That is until people started asking, “So where’s the gray?”

Interesting, women who ask me where the gray is say, “Oh,  I can’t see anything, you don’t have any gray. The guys seem to be intrigued and being men say, “Oh yeah, I see it coming in.”   As of today, I feel good about my decision. But today I have nowhere to go, it’s just me and my computer. My computer doesn’t care what color my hair is and as of this  moment, I’m not that interested either.

Here’s to not wishing for more time, rather making the most of it!



Gray Expectations – Full Disclosure 7

By Nicki On December 27, 2012 5 Comments
1994, short.

1994, short.

O.K. ladies let’s talk hair stories, (men feel free to chime in).

I want to talk about 3 things that many of us have or will experience, but never talk about.

First, eyebrow color change. Second, hairline cover ups. Third, hair styles, the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the eyebrow department, I’m good. But until I decided to try this gray experiment, I hadn’t even thought about eyebrows going gray. But like other hair, (other meaning a conversation for another blog) it also goes gray. Hmm. My stylist told me that people who have gray eyebrows have to color their brows to match their colored hair. Now I’m an eyebrow stalker. I always notice people’s eyebrows. Some are barely there, others that don’t quite match hair color, and of course the low maintenance ones, gray that goes with gray. Any of you in to the brow dying?

Dorothy Hamill look

Dorothy Hamill look

O.K. hairline coverage. I’d like to think I’m not the only dork here that when overdue for a hair color, resorts to my mascara to cover up those pesky gray hairs. Well, am I?  I know, I know there are professional products that cover gray between hair appointments, but when you run out, you have to have a backup plan. For me, mascara does the trick.  Leaves hair a little stiff, but no one is running their fingers through my hairline, so I’m good.

My last disclosure, the ugly of hair styles. As you can see, this lovely hairdo was inspired by Whitney Houston.

1988 July Oct054



Somehow she looks significantly better wearing this ‘do than moi.

So, how many hairstyles have you had over the years? Between bad perms, pixie cuts, shag, Dorothy Hamill, etc. I’ve had ’em all. I’m always able to tell what year it is in pictures based on my hairstyle (glasses are the same way, right?) However, there are those that NEVER change their hairstyle, they keep it the same for years.

So perhaps this gray endeavor is simply a phase that will pass, or I may find that I like it and the color will stay. No matter what I choose, styles and trends will continue in the world of hair, so I will find what I like, and try it until the next trend pulls me in.





Gray Expectations- Hair Color Basics – 6

By Nicki On December 19, 2012 7 Comments

IMG_0168I had my first appointment with my stylist, Terri today for my going gray journey. I learned a lot.

For starters, just because you decide to go gray does not mean you’ll miss one color appointment and boom, you’re gray.

Terri said, “We all have varying levels of gray, but for most of us, it begins around the front hairline, around the ears and less in back.”  Apparently, I’m not as gray as I thought. Hmmm.  Given that I’ve been having weird dreams about this whole process, including being called Grandma by my neighbor, and having long hair with tinsel in it (I think I had too much pizza that night), I suppose that not as much gray means the change won’t be as dramatic. Note, the longer your hair is, the longer the transition.

Terri explained that the texture of gray hair is very different from color treated hair. It can be wiry and coarse, or in some cases very soft (please let mine be soft, please let mine be soft…) Most interesting was to find out that 90% of gray hair that has that yellow tinge to it is due to smoking. 10% is for other reasons. Yay me, I’m a non-smoker.

So today, we just did something called a glaze. No color, and the lovely gray zipper much less visible. The glaze is like a decoupage for hair. It softens hair up and makes the gray less obvious. Apparently, she’ll dictate when to start adding something called, low lights to the glaze. Glazing is very gentle on hair, it’s ammonia free and low ph. Cool. IMG_0176

Finally, I decided to get my hair cut off. Many of you worried that long gray hair is very unattractive. I took your advice with a little help from Terri, and off it went. Btw, having a great relationship with  your stylist is key. You also shared that a cute hairstyle makes a big difference, regardless of hair color. Sooo, chop, chop. About 3 inches, off. I love it, sassy. What do you think?

Two of the most common reasons I’m hearing that women don’t go au natural is, skin tone which doesn’t go well with gray hair and the other, husbands said, “No!”  Hmmmm. Most common reason women go gray, they were ready.

So this was Phase I, no biggie. I’m feeling pretty good about this process. Starting today, I’ll take regular photos to see how the color changes and what I think. I’m also very interested in your thoughts and feedback. I love your gray hair stories and color stories, so keep ’em coming!  I want to know why you do or do not color your hair? How do you feel about your hair? Does your hair define you?  Inquiring minds want to know!




Here’s to a positive spirit that never tells your age!


Gray Expectations – Shades of Gray 5

By Nicki On December 14, 2012 2 Comments

Have you ever purchased a car that you thought was unique both in style and color, only to find out that your choice wasn’t so original? Suddenly every third car is the same  model and color as yours. Hmmm.

Susan Axelrod chatting with Caroline Kennedy.

Well, I’m having the same experience with women and gray hair. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed a lot more gray hair on women than ever before. I’m sure that my spidey senses are in overdrive, but the fact is they are out there. (I see gray haired people.)

Just this past week, there was a story about David Axlerod (Obama’s political advisor) shaving off his mustache because the epilepsy foundation that he and his wife Susan started, raised over 1 million dollars.  As his wife looked on, I noticed a sassy, silver haired, lovely young woman. I did some research and it looks like she’s always had it and in my opinion, she wears it well.

Since embarking on this fun journey, I have received some fascinating emails and even a phone call from my 5th grade art teacher who is a gray believer. “I just love my hair the way it is. I never thought about it being right or wrong, it was just the way it was meant to be. By the way Nicki, it’s silver, not gray.” Alrighty, silver it is!

A couple of days ago, I ran in to an old friend and she asked,” This is a joke, right? You’re not really doing that, right? You’re just doing this for something to write about, right?”  My response was, “No.”  She walked away mumbling to herself something about a crazy woman. I didn’t catch all  of it, probably because my hearing is going. Right? Doesn’t that happen to silver haired people?  🙂

I also received an email from a lovely woman who shared her story as a cancer survivor. She told me that she didn’t have a choice about her hair color. Once she started receiving treatment, she lost all of her hair. While her hair was growing in, she chose to wear different wigs and loved playing with hair color. Her hair came in grey, but she didn’t care much for the color, so she still enjoys wearing her wigs. Hmmm, maybe she’s on to something. She did suggest that I shave my head so that my authentic hair would grow in. You all have said that I’m brave, but I am not that brave. They’ll be no shaved head for this gal. But don’t think for a brief moment I didn’t consider it.

So ladies, and even men, if you’ve decided to go au naturel, please continue sending me your stories. I’ve got a great collection so far that I will share, anonymously, as I move forward. And for those of you that would rather scrape your knuckles on a grater vs. letting your colorist retire, I want to hear from you too!

I love adventures. In 5 days I go to my first “going gray” hair appointment. Photos to follow!

Here’s to a positive spirit that never tells your age!


Gray Expectations – Gray Chic- 4

By Nicki On December 10, 2012 5 Comments


So, who would have thought that gray is the new black? It seems to be among the young Hollywood crowd. If Pink can sport it, why can’t I? Seriously, how cute is this? I know, I know it’s Pink and she’s 20 years younger, and a rock star.  But  still, it seems Hollywood is jumping on the silver hair bus. You think they’ve been reading my posts? Have I started a trend?

I have to say, I find this fascinating. What do you think? I’m thinking I’m a lot more hip than I gave myself credit for. (My kids will likely laugh when they read that line.)  If these young girls are jumping on the silver bus, than this gal is driving!

Although, I can’t imagine any reason young girls would want to go silver – it may have something to do with the cougar thing. Perhaps younger girls actually want to look older. If that’s the case, hell has frozen over!

As I move forward in this journey, it’s nice to know I’ll have some younger company. Let’s see who wears it better.



Here’s to a positive spirit that never tells your age!



What Changes When My Hair Does? Gray- 3

By Nicki On December 5, 2012 20 Comments

Questions I have about changing my hair color:

1. Walking by a group of guys, gals and thinking, “Brunettes, blondes, redheads gets the looks. Gray heads- not so  much.”

2. I will never, ever, ever be carded again except maybe to prove my AARP card is legit.

3. Will my current wardrobe go with my hair?

4. When I’m with my kids, will they think I’m their Grandmother?

5. What will the texture of my hair be like? Why do I have visions of  the lady from Princess Bride? “Boo, Boo, Boo!” Wait, my hairdresser wouldn’t allow it. And seriously? Either would I.

6. Why do people keep telling me not to let my gray hair be long and stringy? Hellooo? I’m changing my hair color, I’m not changing my personal hygiene habits! And yes, I still do care about the way I look. (Argh, the stereotype continues to rear it’s ugly head.)

7. Will the color be a gorgeous gray or the mousy kind? If it’s mousy, can I bail out of this  whole experiment? It’s my experiment so the answer is, “YES!”

So many questions and nothings even happened yet!  A year? Wow…

Check out my column in today’s Naperville Sun !


Gray Expectations – 2

By Nicki On December 2, 2012 9 Comments

Wow, wow, wow. Since posting my initial going gray journey, it’s been fascinating to read the responses both on Facebook and my blog. Some are shocked that I would even consider this, others would like to try it, but vanity prevents it. There are also a few that have never colored their hair, ever. In fact, they don’t understand why it’s even an issue.

Some of my friends have asked, “Now Nicki, why would you cover that gorgeous, thick brunette hair (now they tell me!) with dull, stringy gray?” While others have said, “Oh Nicki, don’t do that, you don’t want to do that.”  I felt like I was letting them down in some way. Perhaps there’s a woman code that I’m unknowingly breaking.  I suppose it just proves what a controversial topic going gray is.

But I keep going back to – if I feel fine with it, what difference does it make how others view it?  But I’m beginning to understand that I care more than I thought.

I mentioned in my last blog that age and old are not synonymous. Surely, you know someone in their 30’s that acts old, or someone in their 60’s that is energetic as well as, wait for it, wait for it……gray!  I am a true believer that it is your spirit that either ages you or makes you ageless. I bet we all know someone like that, despite their age or gray hair, their spirit is young and catching.

My kids tell me to, “Go for it.”  While my Aunt reacted as though I told her I was going to cut off my pinky toes to fit in to a pair of Jimmy Choo’s, “Oh you’re not really, are you? How can you do that?” Very interesting.

I see a few grays peeking through since my last color. Hmmm.

Here’s to a positive spirit that never tells your age!