Sunday 17th December 2017
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Where do you stand on covering up your grey/going natural?

If I thought I could look as good as Linda Rodin, I’d go grey in an instant

This topic came up in the comments last week, so I thought I’d open conversation up to the group at large: I’m curious what your perspective is about going grey, and if it has changed at all. Like, if you were obsessed with dying your hair so that not a speck of grey showed through, and then one day just decided screw it, and went natural. If you went natural, what made you do it? Conversely, if you are like me and run to the salon the second you see roots, why can you not imagine going grey?

Posted on July 18th, 2017 169 Comments

169 Responses

  1. Kate says:

    I chopped my hair to a buzz cut two years ago to see what my grey was doing (it was short and had been platinum and purple/blue for a few years before that. It was cooler than I was expecting, big bold streaks of white up the temples. But eventually I got bored and started dyeing the top in colours again. (My hair’s been some variation of buzzed at the side, long at the top for some time.) Right now the top is teal and dark blue. But the sides are very silver-salted.

    I dunno. If I don’t have the cash to fix my neck, it’s not like I’m fooling anybody anyway. I would let it go all grey (when I was younger and more arrogant, I always swore I’d stop colouring my hair wacky shades as soon as there might be any question that I was doing it to hide my greys) but that’s not fun for long.

    • Kirstjen says:

      I work in such a conservative field (think the intersection of govt & finance…) that I’m in a hurry to retire so that I CAN color my hair crazy colors lol

      • Ali says:

        Too bad the temp spray on colors smell so strongly. Maybe there are better products out there now? I’m thinking of the Halloween things, though.
        The unique colors worn all over now are just wonderful! I appreciate the creativity being shown.

  2. Summer says:

    Not going to stop coloring. The worst of all reasons — my husband (older than me) still hasn’t gone grey. A better reason — I seem to be grey in the front half of my hair, but still black in the back half. Would be a strange look, I think!

  3. Karen says:

    I started going grey in my early 20s — and for years kept up with coloring it blonde (not my natural color, btw). Over the past few years (I’m 48 now), I’ve gotten tired of the damage the dye was doing to my hair, the expense and time involved and thought, aw, f*ck it. I’m growing my hair out and it’s about half-way there now.

    I realize I’m quite lucky the blonde and grey are mingling well, and there’s no harsh line of demarcation. But my BFF is also growing her hair out (GO TEAM!) and she’s got dark brown hair. It doesn’t look bad at all, though she tends to pull her hair away from her face with a barrette.

    I did have to change my makeup to brighter colors once the grey started to be dominant around my face. The muted tones I preferred with the blonde don’t play well with the grey.

    • c.w. says:

      I’ve found the same thing, Karen. I also have to pay attention to my eyebrows––without eyebrows you fade. Also, my clothing tends toward more clear colors––rarely pastels and beware the floral!

      • Karen says:

        Yes! I hadn’t used am eyebrow pencil in forever before I let the grey out. Without it now my face looks out like I’m eyebrow-less. Who knew?

        And thank you for the advice — I will definitely steer clear of florals now!

      • ClaraB says:

        It’s funny the shifts that are needed, isn’t it. I agree. I have a short grey pixie which looks edgy in itself, but I still need to avoid florals and pastels (too mumsy) and instead wear bold clear lines with strong brows and a bold lip. Otherwise I love it. Mine went grey after I had chemo and lost all my hair. I decided I loved the silvery colour and that it was as good a time to transition as ever. Before that I was an obsessive root coverer and couldn’t imagine going grey.

        • Kristin says:

          Post chemo, I came back mouse brown and I really hated it. I was red for a while (I’d been artifically red before chemo) and now I’m blonde. I’m waiting on greys and I think I’ll cover them for the time being.

    • femme50 says:

      Agreed–all on note! Was getting highlights for years to blend gray w my light brown/blond hair, then my stylist suggested I go gray! If she’s willing to forego the extra $$$ not to do highlights on my think, coarse hair, who was I to say no? I wear it super short, often w a face, and I get tons of complements. Stylist does say not everyone can pull off gray, so beware. I did switch to a water filter on my shower and use purple shampoo & hats in the sun to maintain silver color & shine and avoid “piss in the snow” yellow–funny how no color gray still requires the care of color! And, absolutely brows & lips, and bright earrings andno florals. More navy than black these days, too, since it’s a bit softer and makes me look less faded.

  4. pc says:

    I was a (dyed) redhead for 20 years, and then one day my hair started falling out.
    I went from making a pony tail with one large Goody band, barely being able to pull it tightly enough to go around twice (i.e. lots of hair) to using one tiny Goody, one that might be used for the end of a braid, pulled around 3 or 4 times.
    Every doctor I saw said the same thing: stop dying your hair.
    Now i have lots of brown hair with lots of PRETTY silvery threads and streaks. I am my age and I’m owning it. What the heck, I’m still a cool girl (with a nerdy edge). Hair doesn’t change that.

  5. Rosie says:

    A few years ago I realised that the hairstyles I was admiring irl and in magazines and online were white/silver, and started to wonder what my hair would be like if I saved myself the expense and time involved in coloring it. So I did – the process itself was a pain, but once done I was really pleased with the natural grey/silver streaks that resulted. At the same time I grew it from the crop I’d had for years to a bob (I’m Irish, and grey pixie styles here tend to denote a nun – nothing against nuns, but not the effect I’m looking for). Just one thing, you do have to take care with clothes and makeup – anything too staid or hippyish is a disaster, on me at least. Keep it sharp, well-groomed and contemporary (oh, and for the first time since my schooldays, I’m wearing much more navy than black).

  6. c.w. says:

    I’m in the one-day-woke-up-and-said-f&*k-it camp.

    All the women in my family go grey early (my daughter is 35 and letting her grey come in––and there’s a LOT). I began dying my hair in my twenties to cover the grey, woke up at 42 and simply couldn’t do it anymore. Cut my hair relatively short and just let it be. Now, at 65, I’m mostly white. Weirdly, as soon as I stopped dying my hair, people thought I was YOUNGER than I am. Recently I met a man and through casual conversation told him my age––he was floored––thought I was ten years younger––and, yes, I was terribly flattered and yes, I didn’t really believe him––but still his comment leads me to believe it’s not so much your hair color that ages you. I should also note that my grey came in evenly––no weird grey patterning and I was coming off dying my hair in fairly cool colors––it was Seattle––the grunge era. So I was lucky.

  7. Trina says:

    When the women in my family turn gray, it isn’t that brilliant gray you see in magazines. It’s a tired, old, stringy gray…but only until you get to be 70 and then, for some reason, it starts looking better. Or maybe your skin color changes to match the color? Who knows? I’m dying my hair white blonde until I get to 70.

    • Camabiurt says:

      When you go grey, you can still “edit” your haircolour. Just like many people brighten their natural haircolour with highlights, lowlights – you can do the same with grey.

      It’s not like once you decide to go grey you have to give up completely and start dressing like Baba Yaga.

      Just like any colour change, you might need to brighten your makeup, or avoid wearing certain colours (off white/cream not usually good with grey/white hair) but you would do that if you went from brunette to blonde.

      • Claire says:

        Yes to all of this, Camabiurt. And lol at Baba Yaga.

      • Nancy says:

        Camabiurt, I completely agree. It took me 3 hairdressers to find one who is willing to work with this idea. We agreed to start letting streaks of grey happen in my hair, and over time increasing the grey/silver whatever they are streaks. For too many years I had hairdressers whose idea of working with grey was to make me blonde, and over time I ended up way too blonde, washed out and with damaged hair. Now my natural, darker hair is boosted up (still letting the silver/grey snake though). I’m really happy with how it’s all progressing. It’s not dramatic, but it’s consistent and incremental and there’s no tears. My advice, as other people have said: Find a hairdresser who is willing to work with how you want to manage your transition.

    • dena says:

      You have to use the silver/blonde shampoo to rid of the dinginess and make it silvery.

  8. Deidre Clarke says:

    I stopped with the hair color ten years ago. I’m careful though. I wear lipstick and jewelry and really make an effort to dress with thought. Otherwise, might as well be a ghost. My mother, at 82, still has her hair dyed regularly. I hate that purple/red hair on her, but the ladies at the Curl Up & Dye have her convinced it’s awesome.

  9. Mouse says:

    Also in the f*ck it camp. But I live in Maine where most women allow their hair to go grey and look so beautiful. It was inspiring.

    But I was also making a career transition from performing to teaching, and I’m sure that “allowed” me to do it. I was beyond sick of the cost and ethos of dyeing my hair. I only ever did highlights, so I just let it all go and it’s a general melange of colors: blondish, brown, grey, silver. I was lucky to have discovered a natural silver streak in the front, which made it seem intentional and cool. Made me feel like Bonnie Raitt, than whom there is no one cooler.

    Do it. You can use highlights to make it gradual. Dyeing your hair does not make you seem younger; as another commenter says, quite the opposite.

  10. Gemma says:

    I stopped coloring my hair when I was 32 (and already going grey). I had an lover who was ten years older than me and found my grey hair very sexy. I’m now in my mid-40s and quite grey and I love my hair color and texture as I age.

    That being said, I’m still totally freaked out by my grey pubic hair. Acceptance is harder as my carpet is beginning to match my curtains.

    • Jo says:

      Wait till your nose hair goes grey…arggg

    • lornagnyc says:

      Gemma! truth! I also stopped coloring in my 30s when the grey roots seemed worse than grey hair and much worse than the time and money of coloring my roots. I call it silver and Im happy with it. ON.MY.HEAD. The grey pubic hair is an adjustment that I’m not making well.

    • Ali says:

      You can definitely color the ‘carpet’. Use a henna if the chemicals scare you.
      The bad news is that eventually it probably will just all go away. Ask any geriatric caregiver…

  11. Caroline says:

    Ha! This has been on my mind lately too!
    Bit worried that my current color is starting to look artificial in that , fake natural, not good way.
    I”m also pretty sure that if I stop dying my hair right now I’ll be about %35 percent grey kind of all over.
    Instead of a stylish woman with great grey hair,
    I’m thinking more , dour lady at the health food coop,who has decided her looks don’t matter.
    Okay that’s a bit rough. But you get the idea.
    But I’m at a hair crossroads to be sure😂

    • Lorraine says:

      I stopped coloring at 50. I love it…everyone loves it. I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve gotten.

      You still need a good cut and product (Johnson’s Baby Oil just out of the shower with a little glossing cream) to tame the texture.

      But I’m not advocating one way or the other. It just works for me.

  12. CassandraMortmain says:

    When I was younger, I expected gray hair. What I didn’t expect was thinning hair, and of course hair on my chin, etc. I am 58 and haven’t colored my hair, it’s dark brown and I’m just recently getting some gray at the temples. I’ve decided to not go down the slippery slope of dying my hair because of cost. All the extras that make me happy, mainly perfume and cosmetics, are so danged pricey there’s no point in adding another “thing.”

  13. Maggie says:

    I love grey hair on other women and plan on growing mine out once my face looks “old enough,” but I have a feeling that goalpost will keep moving. In reality, I’ll probably end up like my 70-year-old mom, still bringing pictures of 20-year-old models to the hairdresser and excitedly expecting them to perform miracles.

    Since I have a lot of grey at 42, I did go from dark to a light brown with golden blonde highlights, which at least makes the grey blend in better and allows me to go longer between dye jobs.

  14. Jennifer says:

    I have some gray streaks but I don’t plan on ever covering them. I used to dye my hair for fun when I was in my twenties, but I eventually stopped due to… laziness, basically. Now, in my mid-forties, I’m still pretty lazy and can’t feel motivated to take the time or spend the money. However, I reluctantly acknowledge that if I ever found myself unemployed, I would probably cover the gray for my job search. Sad but true.

    That said, I love the look of all-gray hair. I think it’s beautiful. So I guess it’s not just laziness that keeps me from getting back on the dye train.

  15. LisaR says:

    When I started to go grey in my 30’s, my dark brown hair became a lighter, duller brown. The change in color / lack of glossiness bothered me just as much as the few grey strands so I began coloring then, and I’ve enjoyed the results (I’ve added some red to my color which seems to brighten up my skin tone). The cost of coloring is a drag, but I don’t mind the appointments themselves, which give me an excuse to sit and read with a coffee in the middle of the day.

  16. Jst says:

    I’m starting to go grey, and I’m finding that it’s helping my career. I’ve been the youngest in my workplace (despite being in my early 40’s), and this has reinforced that maybe I DO have a number of years experience and can be taken seriously by the old guard.

  17. Jennifer says:

    I color. My hairdresser, who I trust, and who I’m seeing today to touch up 6 weeks of growth before going out of town for the rest of the summer, says I’m not greying gracefully and that I should wait. I’m a little tempted to just let it go, but I feel so much better and more myself as a brunette. For years I was more blonde and I never looked like me, so I’m enjoying a little more of my normal before showing the grey.

    • Beth C. says:

      This is my situation- it is WHITE against my almost black brunette and it isn’t coming in in temple streaks, or Bonnie Raitt bangs, or in another way that looks anything other than frumpy old lady. It’s random and patchy and really just does not look that great. So I’m going to color it until enough my my hair is grey that it’ll look good and “on purpose’ then I’ll probably let it go natural.

  18. Lesa says:

    When I first saw a few gray hairs about a decade ago, I started using a blonde semi-permanent hair color to give my medium brown hair instant blond highlights. In the intervening years, I’ve gradually become a blonde — people who meet me now have no idea that this isn’t the color I started out with. IMHO, it looks good on me so I have no intention of changing the routine the near future, although as the underlying color has gotten more and more gray I have started to think I may need to add lowlights for contrast. If I thought I could rock the gray look I’d go for it, because I’m not really trying to hide my age, per se. Unfortunately, gray — anything gray — has never been a flattering color on me, so I doubt it would work.

  19. Liz says:

    I started to color and then stopped and felt empowered but could not deal with the comments from the chorus. I’m back coloring but trying to go lighter.

  20. Marissa says:

    My grey has increased dramatically in the last 5 years, I’m 40. A good sized streak at my left temple and ever multiplying silvery strands throughout. I’m still coloring, my natural color is dark brown, so the greys are very noticeable at the roots. I’ve toyed with the idea of letting it go full grey, but I’m on my second career as a lawyer and am already 8 or more years older than the associates at my level and don’t want to accentuate the age gap more. And I’m recently divorced, dating with grey hair and 3 kids (16, 7 and 5) might be a bit too much.

    • Ali says:

      New quickie root touch up products are coming way down in price. Have a look next time you’re at a humongous store.

  21. Nicole C. says:

    Love this topic! I had my hair colored for years to hide the grey…in a salon…every 4 weeks…dark brown, until 3 1/2 years ago when I had my F**k it moment at age 43.

    I was walking down the street in Asheville, NC & happened upon a woman with long, naturally curly hair, just like mine. But hers shot thru with grey (probably 50%) that just struck me as SO gorgeous. I’d been having the nagging feeling that the dark brown dye was making me look washed out and I’d started to hate the commitment & $$$ hiding the grey required, trekking 30 miles for a two hour long appointment every 4 weeks, ugh.

    So I mulled it over for a few weeks and then had a friend grab the clippers and give me a crew cut. Seriously. I wasn’t up for the half dyed, half natural look so I decided it would just be easier that way. And it was…I actually felt edgy and cool for the first time in my life with that crew cut. After about 6 months though, I started missing my curls, so I started the process of growing it out. It took about 3 years because my curly hair has so much shrinkage, but it’s long again now and the grey around my face seems almost like highlights compared to the dark brown it once was. I pay more attention my brown and cheeks as a result of the grey, but for me that’s so much easier that the commitment to the dye. At almost 48, I’m so happy I made the change!

  22. Meg says:

    Am in the blonde highlights club! The gray tends to blend well and since I am still in the workforce, it’s necessary not to look like everyone else’s grandmother. Plus there is hopefully many years to enjoy going a la natural which I may or may not do after 65:)

  23. gk2829 says:

    My mother is 85 and has dyed her hair a very dark brown almost all her life adult life. While I never comment on her hair – I find it so ugly looking. Admittedly we don’t have “nice” hair in our family. As a matter fact it is thin, fine and flat so nothing really makes our hair look good but even if coloring did – I would not color it. I don’t blame people for coloring their hair. Coloring your hair makes a lot of sense in a society that worships youth and disdains the aging process, but more importantly if you think you look better without grey hair go for it. It just not for me.

  24. Julia says:

    I was 61 and my Mom was in hospice, her great silver roots showing…she had been a brunette and then started dying her hair, and in later years it was the creamy mushy blonde that washed out quickly and didn’t go with her complexion so well. She would have had striking white hair! My hair was always a caramel blonde/brown which I streaked and ultimately had colored in several shades…$$$. It seemed after the first washing it all started to mush together….so I decided that’s it. I’m done. Fortunately my hair is a nice white (a lot whiter than I had imagined) and it looks better with my aging complexion color. Win win. My husband is totally supportive and graying himself. I’m doing what I can to stay physically fit and young at heart…and happy I finally had the courage to say no more chemicals and to accept that I am in fact getting older. There is a great contentment to this!! PS I do so hate to see people (especially young women) resorting to puffy lips and fillers…it mostly gives a comical desperate look…and what happens if you decide to deflate and your skin doesn’t have the resilience? At 67 I’m thinking there is time/money better spent on other things.

  25. I have been going gray since high school. Most of the top of my head is gray, but I am not all over gray yet, so I would not look as pretty as Linda either. Bottom line, going gray will never make you look more youthful. However, you age yourself when your base color is too dark for your age. My advice is to begin to soften your base color as you get older (our coloring softens as we age), and to continue to cover your gray until you’re ready to be platinum or all over gray (maybe after 60?).

    • dena says:

      Agreed on everything you say. when I did color for a few years, I used semi permanent so the growing out process wouldn’t be so awful.

  26. Joan says:

    I have been dyeing my hair for over 30 years. Going to the salon every four weeks is tiresome. But, I don’t have that pretty silver grey, I have that dull, annoying grey. I would love to dying but until it is completely grey and I can do silver I won’t . My bff went natural and it looked awful for years but now it is a nice silver. It does make her look older though.

  27. Francesca says:

    If your hairdresser is not fully supportive, it could be time to find a new hairdresser. When I was considering chucking the hair dye, my hairdresser told me that utterly grey at 35 was ‘not a good look’. So I found one who thought differently. He held my hand (figuratively!) through the very unpretty transition, and helps me keep it brilliant-grey, as opposed to the dingy grey we all fear. Now my hair is the one thing people reliably compliment.

    But did I mention the transition was painful? Ugh.

  28. DeDe says:

    So it turns out this is a common story here, but: I started going grey in my teens. In my twenties I started coloring my hair for fun, and as my hair kept getting more greyer I felt like I had to keep coloring it because I was too young for that shit. But it was such a pain in the ass – expensive! Damaging! Not that attractive! – and my grey didn’t take color very well anyway. At one point I aksed my then-very bitchy hair stylist what she thought of letting it go natural, and in a rare moment of sincerity she told me that if she had my grey she’d never color it. So I had her chop the length and I grew it out and haven’t looked back. I was about 35 or so at the time and probably about 75% grey; I’m a few months shy of 45 now and about 90%.

    My mom, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother all went grey super young, too, but I had one advantage over them that I didn’t understand until I grew my grey in: they all have (or had) black hair. My hair was light reddish-brown. My mom in particular struggled to accept her grey because it was a more dramatic change for her. Mine has grown in looking kind of silvery-blondish and has blended well what’s left of my old color – I actually get lots of compliments from Millenials who are trying to get that color in the salon, which amuses me to no end (I love nothing more than telling a 25-year-old that it’s genetic! Mwahahahahaaaa!!). But anyway, my point is that despite being young as hell when this all started, I realize I lucked out. Growing out grey is a struggle for a lot of women, and imo this is an example of how our feminist ideals and our lived realities often exist in a kind of tension with each other that each of us has to navigate for ourselves. If I had my mom’s darker skin and hair, maybe I would still be coloring it. I’m grateful it’s one less thing I need to worry about.

  29. Erin says:

    After playing around with Manic Panic in college, I started getting highlights in my late 20’s through my early 30’s. But I never did it to cover grey – it was always for the fun of it. After I realized my work peers were doing it because they were covering grey, I decided to let my hair go back to its natural color and see what happens. That approach lasted a decade, although at age 36 I started noticing an occasional grey hair that I would pluck as soon as it was spotted.

    At age 42 I now have a few more of those grey hairs, and stopped plucking them after my hairstylist recommended I stop. I still find the sight of them jarring, but I’m getting used to them. I may experiment with color again to help with the transition, but I’m less interested in hiding them and more interested in just finding a look that feels right for me. Having ~10-15 greys scattered across my head of dark brown hair just feels…unfinished? I’m not sure how to describe it, but I’m not loving it.

  30. Betsy says:

    I’m definitely planning to go grey when I leave the workforce. MY question is, will I still have to do some sort of treatment to my hair like a cellophane to tame it and to make it more uniform? Is anyone out there grey but still doing a color like treatment on their hair?

  31. themis says:

    I have wanted grey hair for as long as I can remember. To be fair, island people tend to venerate the aged; we don’t find them scary or pitiable the way mainlanders tend to, I think. I have begged and BEGGED my stylist to take me all over silver; but she says she knows I wouldn’t be able to hack the upkeep.

    Sadly, I have two grey hairs, and my grandmother stayed dark until she was about 70. But I stopped doing blonde highlights about two years ago, hoping I would have the chance to grey naturally. If it turns out dishwatery, I can always balayage some blonde in to richen it up. I hope.

    I think grey is GORGEOUS.

  32. Jenny says:

    I colored for a few years when gray just started to show, but I always knew I didn’t want to be dyeing my hair when I was in my 70s or 80s, and knew that the transition was not going to be fun, so I quit. I found a colorist who is very pro-gray and he helped me transition. Now I can’t imagine devoting time and money to coloring my hair. I’m much more worried about the ravages of time to my face– where did my features disappear to? My husband, who went stark white in his mid 30s, has finally come around (just as well for him!). My teenage son says, sweetly, “Mom, it’s so cool that you aren’t trying to look younger than you are. You are aging so well.” Um, thanks? It’s not particularly gorgeous — scattered gray strands against dark-mousy brown, with one racing stripe near my right temple — but I’m sticking with it.

  33. Dana D says:

    I’m 55 and I’ve been dye-free for going on seven years. Funny, in regards to what Jennifer wrote above, it was a hairdresser, with whom I discussed the transition, who said, “You’re not going to like your natural color”–and that single comment offended and pissed me off so much, I knew I was done.

    This whole issue, along with changes to the face/body through procedures and surgeries, is such a profound part of a larger cultural phenomena. I think I just finally believed that the people in my life love me independent of my hair color, and if I can’t also love myself, I’m really fucked. Who am I, not to age?

    BUT, I work in a profession where I am not judged by my hair color, AND I try to be “cool” through my clothing and style choices. ALSO, I won’t pretend that I don’t sometimes look at pictures of myself with other women my age and then have to have a talk with myself.

    I find it truly odd when women public figures blather on about “natural” products and lifestyle choices and then continue to put toxic chemicals on their scalps. That kind of inconsistency is irritating.

    Linda Rodin is my constant style mentor and inspiration and when I get a bit older I’ll be incorporating the awesome eyeglass feature into my look…

    • carlene says:

      I agree with everything you said up there (except I’m 57 & already have the glasses).

      I wish we could post photos here, I want to see everyone’s hair.

  34. Debra says:

    I’ve colored my hair since high school. What has really kept it at is that the color adds heft and denseness to my naturally thin and body-less hair. The color gray would not bother me at this point but my own hair without some kind of help to give body — I can never do. If any of you ladies who sport gray have advice on how you get body without having to use tons of products, I’ll take it and go gray!

  35. Lesley says:

    I am letting it go gray! I have admired cool women for years that have silver streaks, and I have had also had cool older women warn me that they wished they had never started dying their hair, because they are caught in their 60s and 70s with all the upkeep of dying and no easy way out. I can’t be bothered. I never spent a lot of money on hair color, and I am not interested in starting. One rule I have: I have to have an awesome haircut. I’m not one of those gorgeous women who can look good with long, flowing gray locks. I need to have a smart cut to make it look deliberate.

  36. Jane says:

    I had thick chestnut brown hair as a younger woman and kept up the match on my roots as my hair greyed over the years.

    Several years ago, a friend from London came to visit me and told me exactly what I needed to hear: my hair color, despite being the same color that I had when I was young, wasn’t doing me any favors and didn’t go at all well with my skin (apparently, as we age our skin lightens … news to me).

    My forthright friend was a hairdresser for many years and, now in her late 60s, has the most fabulous hair ever, so I trusted her. She kindly accompanied me to my local hairdresser and together the three of us devised a plan for me to gradually go lighter with my color, incorporating a lot of highlights.

    I’m 64 now and my hair looks pretty fabulous, if I do say so myself: My subtle, variegated more-blonde-than-dark color looks great with my pale skin and the roots showing grey don’t show as much as they did when I was chestnut brown.

    If I had a beautiful grey, I’d rethink the color. But the steel grey roots I see tell me I’m wise to have committed to color. And when I see old photos of myself with that dark hair, I am shocked by how much older and “harder” my appearance was when I was a slave to the dark hair color from my youth.

    • MsMaryMary says:

      Our skin lightens as we get older? Oh dear. Is there a shade paler than “pasty”?

  37. barb says:

    I’m 56 years old, started getting grays around 50, I’m probably 25-30% gray. It’s not the gray I want, but I refuse to color it. I’m going to stand in my truth. The only thing I insist on, is having a fantastic haircut. Also, as black woman, I think our complexion with gray hair is a little bit more forgiving than our paler sisters.

    • Ali says:

      I think we all deserve a great haircut: just the way we have learned the advantages of quality fabrics, a good fit, serene jewelry and shoes that induce smiles (instead of pained looks). Substance!
      My best ‘accessory’ is any beloved being that makes my face light up!

    • Ali says:

      Great haircut:#1 Part of our body!
      Quality fabrics.
      Careful fit.
      Serene jewelry.
      Painless shoes.
      That secret smile of drop-dead lingerie…

      But someone who lights up our face: priceless. When I take pictures, I ask people to think of their pet and their entire face transforms-and beams!

  38. Rachel says:

    I’ve finally got enough critical mass of gray that i’m currently let it grow out. In a weird way it slightly thrills me to see a mass of light grey at my hairline. A bit of “really?! this is me?!” I happen to love the color grey–particularly a whitish-grey–and it lightens up my normally brown hair.

    The haircut is key to me not feeling frumpy. Currently it’s below my shoulders but I can see that soon i’ll have a line marking where the grey really starts up. So maybe i’ll use belayage (sp) to soften the visual contrast?

    I contain multitudes.

  39. AK says:

    Going gray. Can’t be bothered, don’t care, take it as it is.

  40. christine says:

    I’m 58 and went the “f*ck it” route last fall. It was very interesting to see what the pattern of my hair colour is. Best news was that it’s white all along the top, with grey temples (which I don’t like much) and very dark at the nape.
    I have been using purple shampoo to tone it, but that’s about it. I wear my hair short so the transition has been swift. I love it and I love not buying crap loads of boxed hair colour, making a big mess etc.
    I get my eyebrows tinted and waxed every two months as they do tend to disappear.

  41. Colorado Meredith says:

    abandoning color was one of my best fashion decisions ever! i did so after getting married in my early 40s (and taking the teasing from my husband as a result). I love that most salons will accept walk-ins for a simple cut, so i rarely worry about hair appointments and am no longer a slave to the 2-hour cut/color routine which i HATED. I also love that hotel shampoo is back in my routine as i no longer worry about color-saving specialty products. AND, i get tons of compliments about the natural look which many, many people appreciate! so, GO FOR IT

    • lornagnyc says:

      Yes! Not having to travel with special shampoo and swimming for exercise in the winter. the best benefits of no more dye.

  42. Chris S. says:

    My whites, which I do not like, have been coming in slowly and didn’t start until I was in my 40s. My hair is light enough that I can camouflage with highlights, which I have done twice a year. (I committed to professional full-head highlights just last year.) I don’t like the texture of my white strands, and the color does not flatter my pale complexion, so I plan to continue to camouflage until I need to color all of it. But also, there’s so much that happens as you age, and this is one thing I can change back to what I consider “normal” for me.

  43. Kristie says:

    I had very blonde hair as a child which darkened to dirty blonde in my teens, when I began to color it; I started with Sun-in; remember that stuff? My hair broke off in clumps, heh! I wore blonde highlights I did myself until I married at 29 and effed it up for the first time just before the wedding, way too brassy, and saw a pro. Then I went through an aughts-in-California phase of reds and purples for a while. Eventually my husband convinced me he loved my natural color, and it’s been that way for a long time. I call my hair “salt and sand”. I put some blonde highlight streaks in a couple years ago in winter, which was nice, but I let them grow out; my hair is long so the ends are still blonde, but I just prefer my natural color. My husband and I are in the process of ditching our life (sold the house, quit our jobs, 6 weeks left on the apartment) and are moving onto a sailboat. I specifically want to just BE and stop living in a way where the color of my hair is something I give a lot of attention to.

    • DeDe says:

      I had that white-blond hair as a little kid, tooI I used to joke with my dad that I was going back to my roots (ba-dum bum!) – my grey is almost exactly that same color, only a little brighter.

      Good luck with your life-ditching project! That sounds awesome. Much happiness to you and your guy.

    • Lesa says:

      Sun-in, yes! Thanks for the blast from the past.

  44. Denise says:

    My natural red started fading, rather than turning gray, which left me feeling and looking washed out, so I colored it for years. I had grown it long for my daughter’s wedding two years ago; I like my hair long, but not my face with long hair, so as soon as the wedding was over I chopped it, and decided to see just how gray it was. Turns out: not that gray, and some young friends’ initial reaction was, “oh, you went blonde!” I have also backed off the always “done” eyes I’ve worn since 6th grade, although I do rock a bold lip and draw in some eyebrows (mine were always blonde). I’m not ruling out color in the future, but it will be for fun, not to cover the gray.

  45. Mimsy Borogoves says:

    I saw the first gray strand in my dark brown hair at 18. It was the early 80s, and I started playing around with fun color glazes like Cellophanes. As the years went by and the gray advanced, I worked my way up through semipermanent to permanent, spinning the color wheel from brown to red to strawberry blonde and back to brown again. Eventually I was touching up the roots every two weeks! Yikes! Then, one day in my 40s, there was a picture of the place I worked at published a newspaper, and there I was, with a very distinct (if somewhat pixellated) white skunk stripe down my part line. That was it!

    With the help of my wonderful hairstylist Julia, we worked our way from long brown to cropped calico cat to silvery-brownish-gray-white, and I have never looked back!!

  46. Mary Alice says:

    I think gray hair makes one look older, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I also think that it takes someone with the right coloring – women who had very dark hair look better with silver hair. As a blonde, I think I would just look washed out.

  47. Laura says:

    I am all about compromise so I started to hate the trip to salon every four weeks so transitioned with a new hairdresser who dies the roots on the crown blonde and then paints 2 other tones throughout so there’s subtle tones of grey and brown and blonde – no more damaging the entire head of hair so much thicker, healthy and shiny. I go every 6 weeks and it evolves. I’m 51, and plan to be natural in tandem with career and husband as well – and the John Frieda clear glaze left on for 20-30 minutes once a week looks like I just left salon.

  48. LMM says:

    My hair is dyed red, which I started in my teens, long before I ever saw a gray hair, and which I think suits me well. I’m now 41. If I go gray the way my dad did (and since I inherited his hair color, I think I will) it’s just going to do a slow fade from dark blonde to basically colorless, over the span of about 15 years; it’s not particularly pretty. He’s only now fully gray in his early 70s. My mom and my sister both developed very cool gray streaks in their bangs and are going with that and I love it! I’ve seen a few chunks of some not-quite-blonde, not-quite-gray hair at the salon, so I’m holding tight to the red for a while longer.

  49. saochi says:

    I am 56 and have let all my gray show since last year, when my (colored for 20+ years) hair was shaved due to emergency brain surgery. I had loads of fun wearing scarves from my vast collection while hair was growing back — and once it did, showing its true color just felt like an opportunity I did not want to miss. Yes, I do look more like my mom now — and like my dad, who had a gorgeous full head of shiny grey. No problem with that. I agree that a good haircut is key, and find myself wearing makeup more often than previously. I’m also lucky to have great skin with few wrinkles. I wonder if negative reactions from men will change my resolve once I’m back in the dating game — but right now I just really like how going gray made my life much simpler.

    • Ali says:

      You are so upbeat and enthusiastic. You have a vivacious attitude. You’ll be attractive, even if you go green or whatever.

  50. I should wear a sign that says “hair in transition.” After years of long-haired california beachy highlights, hairdresser insisted I needed a base color plus highlights. I’ve done that for 3 years and I HATE IT. It takes forever at the salon, and I think dark brown base always looks fake. But people love that light/dark beachy look and tell me I am crazy to change it. But I don’t think it looks real enough. I’m not an actress, I’m a regular person and I am old enough to be gray, so I’m trying to grow it. I have maybe 25% gray and intend to highlight it the minute I can. UNLESS I CHANGE MY MIND TOMORROW. hahahaha

  51. Nicole says:

    I started going grey at 20, and I was pretty sad about it. I didn’t know what to do at first, but by the time I was 21, I was starting to look a bit haggard, actually. I didn’t like it. So, hair color it was.

    Since then, I have turned 100% grey/white. It’s been 20 years, after all. For many years, I colored it myself, but salon results are significantly better for me, and I go with that. It’s not glamorous, but it makes me feel overall better, and for now, I’m going to stick with it.

  52. Camille says:

    After 18 months, my color is finally gone. I’m @65% silver at age 46 and I’m so glad I made the decision to stop coloring! I do have my brows tinted when I get facials every 5 weeks-as other folks have said, we aging gals can tend to fade a bit. Eyebrow tinting helps with that, I think. I’ve also had to alter my clothing color choices a bit, but I feel like I look better than I have in years. As a natural mousy/dark blonde, my transition has probably been easier than for others with darker hair, but I don’t regret it for a minute. I say go for it. You can always go back to dye if the urge strikes you!

  53. Belle says:

    HA! I’m a redhead, naturally. As a younger person, my hair lightened in the summer with the sun. I did have some grey hairs in my 20’s but not a steady transition. I am in my early 50’s and am greying in places, gently so. Mostly the greys are framing my face, much like the sun bleached blonde when I was younger. Often, people think I have blonde hair rather than grey. “Okay, not so much, but thanks.” The transition is more subtle with lighter hair.
    I’ve dyed my hair once and this was in the past 5 years. It was awful. My hair was so dry I looked older and haggard as the hair looked like straw.(It was an ombre, by the way, and color wise, looked great but far too drying.)
    I doubt that I’ll do it again as it was so harsh.

    I am wondering what others think about diet and skin/hair condition. It seems that many of us are concerned about diet to maintain a youthful thin-ness, but have others changed their diet to improve their skin condition(moisture and tone/color) and hair condition?
    I began vegetable, juicing in earnest, about 5-6 years ago and the more consistent I am with it the better, healthier and youthful I look…I think. I have also increased healthy fats in my daily diet quite a bit. My hair is in better shape, for sure.(Also, I am post menopausal, so I am not going through that phase any longer-and am taking bio-id hrt, one of the best things I’ve done for my self.)
    I’d love to hear what others think and have done.

    • Bethany says:

      I’m a natural redhead too. My hair is pretty fine. At 44 I have about five white hairs. I don’t know what I’ll do because I think my hair will fall out if I dye it. The red has faded so much that most people assume I’m blonde, which for whatever reason is a little heartbreaking. I like the idea of diet for skin/hair and try and consume healthy fats, etc.

  54. Joyce says:

    I love my grey hair, but it is not as shiny as I would like it too be. Any suggestions??

    • DeDe says:

      Have you tried a shampoo/conditioner for grey hair? They’re really for camouflageing yellow tones, but they can also sparkle you up some. I like Davines’s Argento one (from their Alchemic line) lot; Aveda makes one too, but I found the conditioner very drying.

    • Katalina says:

      The Davines Alchemical line is amazing! I only wash my hair 2-3 times a week and I use the hair mask as my conditioner. My hair is halfway down my back and I also get a Brazillion Blowout treatment 3 times a year. It keeps my hair shiny and tamed and stops the humidity frizz from happening. My late husband encouraged me to stop coloring my hair when I turned 50, which was 9 years ago. What I find interesting is, up until 4 years ago, almost no one commented on my hair, but now, pretty much every day, I get told how beautiful my hair is. I guess I’m trending?

  55. Danna says:

    I colored my hair for about 12 years and last year I bit the bullet and went totally grey. Actually, it’s more silvery/white than grey with just a bit dark hair missed throughout. I’ve gotten so many compliments on the color and how I look with it, but most importantly I love it. It really is freeing to not worry about whether my roots are showing too much, or having to make time to get to my stylist for touch ups. A nice perk is that the time and $$$ I used to spend on keeping up with all that is now spent on other, more worthwhile pursuits. Yoga class, anyone??

    I do agree that you may need to reassess your clothing and makeup to complement your new hair color. And I definitely went with a bolder brow. Also, as silver/grey hair tends to oxidize and turn yellow, invest in a good shampoo for silver hair to counteract that.

  56. Susan says:

    I’m 44 and dyed forever, not to cover anything, but for kicks. It’s been pretty grey since my late 20s. I went through a pastel phase recently and (like so many others here) decided it wasn’t worth the effort anymore. I bleached it blonde and now the roots show but are barely noticeable. I may get bored and do fun colors again, but never again am I going to try to fool anyone that I am a natural brunette 🙂

  57. Claire says:

    So far I don’t dye my hair to cover grey and it’s a melange of colors but reads brown. I don’t know if I’ll decide to dye it at some point. For now, I’m happy the way it is.

    I want people to do their thing, and at the individual level of course it’s a personal choice with its own subtleties for each person. However, I resent the cultural narratives that yoke this choice to assumptions. We have too few role models of gray-haired women and we communicate in archetypes of crones and dour matrons and witches. We are without a full language for grey, for aging women as the norm rather than the cultural cognitive dissonance that does sees this as a contradiction in terms: aging women are no less women, and in my own opinion no less beautiful, though we are taught to internalize this contradiction as somehow our fault and to believe that we will look more beautiful by striving to hide our age, working against the grain of it, at cross-currents.

    I resent hairdressing as an industry that tends to shame us into conforming, that has a profit motive in dyeing women’s hair and promotes harmful stereotypes about “going grey” (reminiscent of “going to seed” or “letting yourself go,” with its corollaries of “not loving yourself enough” or “not taking pride in your appearance”). Dyeing is an option if you’re a man – no one tries to tell a man that he doesn’t really love himself if he simply has the hair he has; no one dares to promote a false binary between going gray and being well-groomed. Yet for women grey is a signifier of defeat, or else it’s viewed as something only an extraordinary woman (unusually powerful, stylish or beautiful) can pull off. I believe that we really need to change this .

    Do whatever you want with your hair, but please try in whatever ways you can to be a role model for expanding what women are and can be.

    • Claire says:

      Sorry, that sixth sentence got away from me. It should read something like: We are without a full language for grey, for aging women as the norm, _because our_ cultural cognitive dissonance sees aging women as a contradiction in terms. Aging women are no less women, and in my own opinion no less beautiful, though we are taught to internalize this contradiction as somehow our fault and to believe that we will look more beautiful by striving to hide our age, working against the grain of it, at cross-currents.

      • Jenny says:

        I love that this blog is a place for comments like this.

        • Dana D says:

          I agree, Jenny…

          so many fascinating and wise and powerful messages here, about what it means to be a strong woman today!!!

    • DeDe says:

      Can you clarify something for me? You say to “do whatever you want with your hair”, but to me this reads the opposite way, i.e., it implies that there is one correct choice and that is to go natural. Is this what you’re saying? Also, do you feel that women who color their grey are less likely to push back against other norms than women who don’t? (Asking this as a woman with grey hair that reads grey.)

  58. Katherine says:

    I’m 38 and stopped colouring 6 years ago when the white streaks began. I have family on both sides with that lovely snow white colour and I knew from an early age that it was coming for me too. It has come in relatively well and has become a signature look for me. But I might feel differently if it was a dingy grey or a challenging texture. Now my hair is it’s natural ash colour (meh) but with big white streak at the front and the rest of the white (maybe 15-20%) is evenly distributed and I often get asked who does my hair. I smile and say ‘Mother Nature’.

  59. Lori says:

    I just turned 47 and have been dying my brown hair red for nearly 20 years. My greys are getting worse every year. I get my roots touched up every 4 weeks and the last week before the touch up drives me nuts. I can’t imagine going grey at this age, but have started to think about a different color that will make the greys less noticeable. I don’t have the time or the $ to go for touch ups any more frequently than I currently do. I’m thinking maybe some sort of highlights, but that will mean giving up/toning down the red.

  60. ads says:

    I’m in grey transition right now. I’ve been letting my hair go silver. To help me with the growing out, my stylist just cut it much shorter and did a dark brown semipermanent (my hair color is/used to be) dark brown. When that fades he’ll do grey highlights to let the transition happen more seamlessly. I have olive skin so I think the contrast will be nice.
    It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years. I always notice stylish women around my age (48) who let their go grey. It’s a badass move, I think, and I hope I can live up to it.
    I’m not sure if anyone’s mentioned this but a big part of it for me was health. I don’t want to be dumping a solution containing formaldehye on my head every month. Also, I hated getting roots about a week after coloring. It made feel like I was trying to present myself as something I wasn’t.

  61. Francine says:

    I started getting grey hairs in my late teens (just a few) and began coloring for fun in my early twenties. At some point in my late 30’s, the coloring became a necessity. My guess is that I’m close to 80% grey under these costly roots. I get my roots done every 4 weeks, though grey shows at my temples and hairline at day 10 while I suffer through 20 more days til my next appointment.

    From my cold, dead hands!

  62. Lolly says:

    Very interesting. I have been amazingly lucky and at 43 I am just starting to notice some grays. I thought I would let it just take its course, but then I met a woman at the gym with gray hair and assumed she was much older than me – turns out she is the same age, and she looks way younger in her pre-gray pics on Facebook. So… I got a semipermanent “gloss” at the salon a few months ago but am still holding off. My mom lost her hair with breast cancer in her early 60’s (nine years ago) and it grew back a wonderful silver, which she keeps very short and chic – I envy her! My husband has silvery gray hair too and it’s totally sexy on him. So I have some good role models – maybe I will just go with it!

  63. Claudia says:

    I started going grey in my 20s as well, and just couldn’t be bothered to spend the time or money to deal with it. It had been a mousey brown, nothing special, and I kind of liked the gray. I get a lot of complements on it now. I do deal with my eyebrows and I let it grow a bit longer.

    Here’s the thing–I’m tired of fake blonde women on TV–that’s what’s not normal. All the women I know are busy, fun, and beautiful in their own ways. Grow into yourself, not into a scary Barbie!

  64. Lorelei says:

    My mom is 80% silver/grey at this point. And I convinced her to let me take her to the salon for a good cut (she keeps it short, but it’s shapeless) and a color. Pink, to be exact.

    It turned out fabulous: she has a cloud of cotton candy pink hair sitting on her head, and she’s reveling in the attention. She looks wonderful.

  65. Years ago I thought about going gray–nothing embarrassed me more than when roots showed and I hated constantly dealing with that. My husband not only said he wasn’t ready to have a gray-haired wife, he wrote a SIMPSONS episode about Marge going gray, based on his fears. This led to a whole online discussion, with a lot of gray-haired women taking him to task. I defended him (he didn’t forbid me to dye my hair, of course, just said he preferred it brown) but that was several years ago, and this year I decided enough is enough. I didn’t want to look like a skunk though, so I had someone remove all the dye, then bleached it all as light as it could get. Just for fun, I put in color–purples and blues mostly. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had with my hair and I never worried about roots since they blended. Now I just wash with the purple Clairol shampoo and conditioner so it has a purplish tinge instead of anything yellow and I’m free of dye and that horrible brassy red-brown color you always end up with. Not going back.

    • Lisa says:

      I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger but… Do you know what process was used to remove the dye? I’ve often thought if I could just see what it looks like underneath this cap of color it might make the decision easier. I want to see what I’m up against before I take the plunge.

  66. Michelle says:

    I found my first gray hair when I was 17. My hair is dark, but not brown or black, sort of an ashy black. At 54 I currently have a lot of gray, maybe 25% is gray. I’ve never colored my hair because I always loved how dark my hair was. When I mentioned coloring to several hairdressers, they all said I wouldn’t be happy with it. Now it’s getting lighter with the gray but that’s been a good thing as I age. I have curly hair and the gray seems to be giving me light highlights around my face. As other women have noted, I stick to brighter, clearer colors in my clothing and makeup. And more brow pencil. I also am careful to avoid fizziness so I don’t have that wild gray hair look.

  67. Christiana says:

    So in the spirit of true confession, I have to say that I experimented with letting the gray grow out, but my 10-year-old son wanted me to go back to brown. I always get semi-permanent color, so the color is not too uniform or harsh, and, for some reason, my son didn’t want me to appear to be the oldest mom at school events…

    • marjorie says:

      Christiana, my mom went back to brown when my little brother, at 7, asked her “Are you going to die soon?” (He also asked why all the other moms got blonder and she got grayer. I’m sure you are shocked that he turned out to be gay.)

  68. Meg says:

    I dyed my hair some form of red since my early 20s. By the time I hit 40, the red was fading faster and faster between colorings. So a friend suggested that we get crew cuts and see just how grey we were… answer was pretty stinking grey.
    It has been 10 years, and I have not gone back. And I regularly get compliments on the natural grey/blond/red/brown color that has grown in.
    BUT I wish there were more fancy hair products for us early adopters of grey. Most products are designed to strip off yellow, but end up being very harsh!

  69. Pika says:

    Guess I’m in the minority. I’m 47 and just had this conversation with my 70 year old mom. My natural hair color is one of the few things I have truly loved about my physical appearance since I was a teen. It’s dark brown with red undertones and contrasts with my light skin and eyes. I will be coloring it until the day I die! The goal is always as natural looking as possible and I have learned to touch up roots at home mainly because it’s too time consuming. I tried going a bit lighter which bought me more time between colorings but I missed my dark hair. My style is pretty simple so the color is even more important. My mom let hers go gray at 50 and in her late 60s let it grow out to a bob and started adding blond highlights. People didn’t recognize her and my dad wasn’t supportive. As a pioneering feminisy she used to tell me my hair should be short in a professional setting and we always argued about it. Now I understand where she was coming from as I tend to look young but I love to see her have fun with her hair and it all really comes down to each of us choosing what we want and what makes us personally happy!

  70. Lucia says:

    Abhor the grey hair on myself. The hideousness began in my early 30’s and since then I’d say, 60% is wolf-grey and the rest is a lovely from-the-bottle medium brown. I’m a very youthful 51 otherwise and the consensus is that I look 35 tops. Slim, sassy and self-assured but I refuse to color my hair every 2-3 weeks. Every 6-8 weeks, YES. In the meantime, try not to stand in lines, which give me palpitations and on breezy days, put on a hat or just walk quickly. LOL

  71. marjorie says:

    Am I the only one who actually adds MORE gray?

    I put a fake white streak in front — the rest of my hair is maybe 20-30% gray? I hated the all-over threads of gray in my nearly black hair (which I keep long, because it’s thick and wavy and I do not have the skillz to style it when it’s short — every time I’ve gotten a short cut I’ve bitterly regretted it) with a swoop of white by my face I mind the smattering elsewhere a lot less. I have been told I look like: Rogue from the X-Men, Susan Sontag, Caitlin Moran, and the mean girl from Josie and the Pussycats. All those work for me.

  72. Katie says:

    I’m a pale woman with 5N/6N hair that is oily, flat, and wavy/curly. It’s a very blah color on my face. I’m 43 and I don’t have much gray yet, but I lighten it to a medium blond with highlights for the body and texture. I wish I had the “good gray” coming in because it would be so much better than my natural color. Think limp, dirty dishwater colored hair. My grandmother had nearly jet black hair as a young woman and started going gray in her mid-20’s. When she stopped coloring it in her mid-50’s she had the most beautiful salt and pepper hair I’ve ever seen. Alas, I did not inherit her hair.

  73. Bex says:

    At the moment, all I have are white streaks at my temples and I think they look kinda cool, so I’m going to leave them alone. If my hair ends up the same pretty silver-white as my dad’s I probably won’t ever bother coloring it. We’ll see.

  74. Laura says:

    I stopped dying platinum blonde after college when I no longer could afford it. I got “Bride of Frankenstein” silver streaks at the temples at 28. Men complimented me on the hair drama. I let it continue. By 45 my hair was totally silver-gray and now, at 56, it is a great glorious long silver mane. I love having awesome and noticeable gray hair.
    As noted above, eyebrows are KEY. So, instead of dying my HAIR, I dye my BROWS! I even got them microbladed recently to get through the faded days at the end of the dye cycle.

  75. Mamavalveeta03 says:

    I wasn’t ready to go all gray in my early 40’s, so 1st, I went to the salon to cover the gray with highlights, but gradually, it became more and more of a task. But then, last year, I thought I’d see what it looked like in its natural state….UCK! It was a mousy brown, devoid of all of the auburn pigment that had made it my best feature. I looked like those women in the “Before” makeover shots. No shine, gray dispersed throughout the brown, no color in my face. Just blah!

    So I found a great stylist who cuts my hair to bring the natural wave and she touches up just my roots on top and where it’s pulled back, then does a little balayage. I love it!

    When it’s ALL silver, I’ll be more than happy to go gray. But not just yet.

    • Sisty says:

      This is exactly where I am. I just started coloring my hair recently to a reddish brown with gold streaks not because of the gray — which is only around 10-15 percent — but because the color was looking really dull. So now my roots grown in a shade or two darker than the rest of my hair, and have had the roots touched up only (no full-head dyeing) for about the past year. Good haircut is essential, though.

  76. NWDCDiva says:

    So my hair started going grey when I was in my 20s. By 30 it had significant streaks in at. Combined with the giant black circles under my eyes from working at my law firm what felt to be 24-7, I decided to start dyeing it. At 53, two years ago, I stopped. I had been having to go every 3 weeks since my hair grew so fast and whatever was under the color contrasted terribly with the color. It was a process of streaking it blonde as the roots started to grow out, and then cutting it short when the white hair was taking over.

    While I am now regularly called “Ma’am” and one guy tried to offer me his seat on the Metro (I snarled, “Fuck you” to him, poor guy), I LOVE IT!!! My hair turns out to be a pure, shimmery silver-white that has people stopping me on the street to compliment me. I feel like I am channeling Marilyn Monroe. It has caused me to need to wear bright lipstick, which in turn has been paranoid about those fine lines above my upper lip into which the lipstick bleeds, but that is another blog posting for you, Kim — to fill or not to fill. In any event, I love my white hair. I’ll send a picture of before and after if you would like. It was a scary decision, but I feel good about it. Thanks for asking!!

  77. S. says:

    If I can go silver rather than grey, I’ll embrace it! I think. My dark brown hair color, with bits of gold and red mixed in, is the one part of my body that I’ve always loved and never even thought of changing. (Seriously, the one.) At 51 it’s still going strong. When the time comes, though, please let it be silver!

  78. mlinky says:

    I’m lucky. At 62, I only have a bit of grey. My dad didn’t go grey until he was in his mid-seventies, my mom was silver white by the time she was 20. I used to dye my hair for fun, but I stopped years ago so it would still be fun when I need to do it.

  79. Cola says:

    I have dirty blonde curly hair that is about 40-50% grey. I completely embrace the grey at my roots but I do get a blonde balayage on my ends once a year with a few blonde whisps around my face. The result is a silvery blonde ombré effect. I love it. I even sometimes get compliments on my hair from 20-somethings, so there is that too.

  80. missannethrope says:

    I don’t mind my hair starting to go grey around the temples, I’m 55 after all. But the white eyebrows among the dark black ones are rather disconcerting.

  81. Laurie says:

    Dye, dye, dye until I die! At least that has been my motto up until I turned 50 last year. I’ve dyed in some form since my teens: Trends, moods, fashion, and then mainly for grey (which started in my 20’s). My hair is the only part of me that makes me seem/feel young(er). The color and style for that matter. So, I’ll keep it going. That said, in my 40’s I knew I had to keep my hair non-grey for my profession. More mature women in my field were getting cast out at that time, so I knew I had to keep the dye-jobs going. I did dream of being a professor or doctor, where a mature grey seemed to fit right in. Now as I enter my 50’s and have a new career, I’ve toyed with the idea of going all grey. But think I’ll hold out for just a little bit longer.

  82. MsMaryMary says:

    I’ve never dyed my hair, with the exception of some youthful experiments with sun-in and semi-permanent burgundy. My hair is chestnut with natural golden/aubrun highlights and I love it. But I’m 37, and I have a sprinkling of gray. I joke that they’re platinum blonde highlights. I don’t have the patience or organization for regular dye jobs, so natural it is. I hope for dramatic streaks or a respectable salt and pepper.

    Ironically, my hair stylist is a talented colorist. She’s a family friend who humors my boring haircuts. Maybe if I ever work in less traditional industry, I’ll let her do her prism/mermaid/superhero hair magic.

  83. Tina L. says:

    I am 49 and I do hate the trips to the salon. Like others, I’ve gone blonder as the years have gone by. My stylist is a color wizard, so he streaks lighter blonde where my gray tends to come in – in the front, and on both sides of my part, at my temples, etc., so it’s less noticeable. I also do an at home root cover in between salon visits. That way, I can go 6 to 8 weeks in between appointments. I like the look of gray on others, but I do think it ages most women. My goal is to age gracefully, and all the while look like me. I don’t do Botox, or any other radical skin treatments, so I justify the time and expense for my hair. I reserve the right to change my mind at any time, of course.

  84. Nancy L says:

    I discovered my first gray hair at 52. I am now 70 and the gray is beginning to come in, but only the front. I absolutely refuse to dye my hair or have Botox or any kind of plastic surgery. This is what 70 looks like!

  85. KathyH says:

    I started going gray in my early 20s and started coloring around 25. When I turned 55 I realized a.) I had to have the roots done every 3 weeks and b.) I had been coloring my hair for 30 years straight. So I stopped coloring. I’m 98% silver gray fortunately, with some very dark hair in the very bottom back of my head. I had intended to slowly grow it out and not cut off length, but when it had grown out about 4 inches, I was over it and had it lopped off into a pixie. Every now and then I’ll have some unicorn color stripes put in just for fun. I’ve had pink put in, purple and also blue. You’ll know when you’re ready. It’s almost always a ‘ef it, I’m done’ moment.

  86. karen says:

    when i retire, i may go grey…until then nope……as i aged by brown hair turned this really dull dark brown/black, mixed with grey thats coarse and wirey…not pretty. wish i had that grey that was silvery, sigh….

  87. Karin says:

    I always thought it would be great to go gray and have a chic, gray bob. But I’m into my late 50s and my hair is still not going gray aside from the occasional strand or two. It remains “dead mouse brown” so I get it highlighted with blond.

    All my friends are super gray and have to dye their hair constantly (like every 3 weeks) and use touch up stuff on their roots. I have one friend who went full gray last year, has long iron-gray hair, and looks AMAZING, but no one else has the nerve to try it! In fact, I found out recently that two of my friends’ husbands dye their BEARDS. Now that’s nuts!!!

    I might feel differently when I actually go gray and I have a feeling gray doesn’t look as “cool” when you’re a heavyset 60-year-old as when you’re a slim, Linda-Rodin-type 60 year old. We shall see….meantime I’m enjoying not having to make the decision.

  88. Thea says:

    Sorry to say this thread really saddened me. Women wouldn’t have their JOBS if they were gray? I believe it–of course I do–but I can’t help thinking that we feminists should not be so even-keeled about this form of sexism/ageism. (Incidentally, I do know men who cover their gray; I think they look comical.)

  89. Dusty says:

    At 40, I felt that I was fighting a losing battle covering the gray, I had moved to a new apartment and didn’t want the bathroom to look like a crime scene from auburn dye, but really, I had so admired my mother and aunts with their blue eyes and white hair. And suddenly, the millenials have reached the same aesthetic.

  90. Anne-Marie says:

    At age 51, I’m perhaps 20% grey. My brown is mousy, dull, and drab, and it’s that part of my hair that I’m hiding, not the grey. Once I get to 75% grey, I’ll probably stop coloring.

  91. Maria says:

    Letting it go at 55. My natural color is dark brown and I never dyed my hair until I started getting gray about 10 years ago. I did the full dye on a brown bob forever. The roots showed so fast and the upkeep seemed impossible and expensive to keep up. About 10 months ago I stopped dying. The roots looked horrible. My hairdresser had the brilliant idea of changing my part to show the Bonnie Raitt streak and to cut it short. It was a hard transition, but all the dyed hair is gone now and I love my look. And overall, my hair isn’t as gray as I thought it would be. Mostly it’s my front streak and some streaks on top. It mostly reads as brown. I may even keep it short. Totally agree about needing to pay attention to accessories and makeup – I love a bold red lip – and dress youthfully, but honestly, I don’t think it makes me look older. I get a lot of compliments, too.

  92. y.k. says:

    i am looking forward to sitting down & reading all the comments – thanks kimfrance for this post. i am asian american & all my life I’ve had very thick straight jet black hair. so black it seems blue black in some light.

    in the past year (53) my body has started to betray me in yet another way – by sending up out of my scalp – wiry gray/ white hairs. i would be ok with a cool white streak like josie ( of the pussycats). but no they’re randomly placed & of a weird texture. idont know how to handle this. coloring options seem bad, high maintenance & expensive. all gray/ white would be ok too although god knows how long it would takefor that to happen. it’s this weird in between -ness that is confusing…upsetting.

  93. Emily M. says:

    Thank you for introducing me to Linda Rodin. I had never heard of her before, and she is amazing! She is my new style icon.

    I am forty-two, with very dark brown hair and only a few silver streaks. I plan to let my hair turn naturally. With clothes, jewelry and lipstick, I will make it work for me.

    I am also lucky that as a public defender, there is no pressure to look like I a kid at work. My clients like to know that I am older. They don’t want a lawyer straight out of law school.

  94. Jaimie E says:

    I started going grey in my twenties but was very committed to being a red head. After I turned 50 I finally got fed up with getting my color done every 4 weeks. My hair grows very fast. I was curious to see how white my hair really was – very white! I wore it natural a couple of years and I loved it, always had a cool hair cut, and it was very healthy. I got loads of compliments but I did worry I looked older after I went through menopause. I am now coloring it again, blonde with highlights so the difference is slight. The expense is horrendous though so I am thinking of going grey again. BTW I use Just For Men beard and mustache in light brown to tint my eyebrows and it works great!

    You should do a bit on fab grey babes, like Emmy Lou!

  95. Cory says:

    I found my first grey in college, and knowing that my dad was totally grey by his early 30s it seemed it was just a matter of time. But when it started coming in at my temples it didn’t look cool, just made me look tired and haggard. So I started coloring it close to my natural brown. Then about 10 years ago, my then-boyfriend suggested growing out a Sontag-esque stripe in the front, just to see how the grey was coming in – my “racing stripe” looked pretty good! Still, I hated coloring the rest of it, and after a while even “permanent” color didn’t last more than a few weeks. Then 2 years ago I moved to a new city with a new job and felt more at peace with myself and happier than I’d been for a long time. In an effort to be “more myself” in this new place at age 43, I made the decision to let it go. It took about a year to grow out all the fake color, and I looked like a calico cat for much of the time (and I was meeting a ton of new people, which was a little embarrassing) but now I couldn’t be happier. I’m lucky that the grey has a lot of tonal variation (silver around my face, iron by the nape of my neck) and I keep it in a sharp stacked bob. The consistency is still soft, not wiry, abetted by my quarterly keratin treatment (although I have learned to ask them not to use full heat on the keratin or the grey will yellow). I’m glad I waited until it was more salt than pepper, but I love being able to embrace this aspect of my true self.

  96. Teresa says:

    I got my first grey hair at 22; had a streak in the front by my early 30s. I’ve always been baby-faced and swore I would never dye my hair. But in my 40s, I started doing lowlights, which took out some but not all of the grey. Even that got to be a pain in the ass, because my hair grows so damn fast. I got really tired of the time and the expense. Even my hairstylist, who makes money off of me dying my hair every month, encouraged me to let it go. I did and I’m so glad. I’ve got a salt and pepper pixie; I’m 56 the end of this month and I get tons of compliments. It’s liberating. Not to mention, a hell of a lot less damaging and expensive.

  97. Erin says:

    My mom started coloring her hair in her twenties and when she finally decided to embrace her natural grey in her 50s, she looked so much younger and better than with the fake mousy brown. She cut it all off into a pixie, dyed it platinum blond, and then let the grey/white grow in. I quit coloring my hair a few years ago when I could see that I was going to have a decent streak in the front. Now the streak and the rest of the grey that’s sprinkled throughout is one of my favorite things about myself. I actually feel more confident than before! Getting older is a privilege, and going grey doesn’t mean that you are letting yourself go!

  98. Darcy says:

    I can’t read all of these, but it seems like besides Marissa and Jst, no one is mentioning ageism and discrimination in their careers?

    • suz says:

      Most people I know color so they can stay employed. Its just a fact, especially if you are female. I am considering coloring when I start the job hunt for that reason only.

      Age discrimination is a very real thing.

    • Liz says:

      There’s a book called “Going Gray” by Anne Kreamer that talks about the impact of gray hair on how old you look and on career.

      I did two successful job hunts while gray and in my 40’s. Both times I was hired by men younger than I was by a few years. Age discrimination IS a thing, but I don’t think a 50 year old can color their way to 30.

      In my opinion youth and energy comes from what’s in your head, not on it.

  99. suz says:

    I am on the fence about this – I am a natural redhead, so it’s been going blonde (which is truly weird for me as I identify as a redhead – it’s something that just happens as you deal with the reactions since childhood). Redheads don’t go grey – we go blond and fade, then it goes white/silver. I have platinum white strands coming in – which are pretty, but also startling.

    I am too lazy to commit to dye as I have never done so (red hair is it’s own statement)and I have extremely sensitive skin – part of the package. BUT I am looking for work so I may have to. Right now everything is blending somewhat, but I do kinda resent being a “blonde” now. And I am a bit worried about the getting paler overall as I get older – I will be entirely white :/ with just a pair of floating eyeballs….It’s very aggravating to try and dye if you are an actual redhead – everyone seems to think red hair comes only in the fast food clown shade….I don’t want to make a statement, it’s just my haircolor.

    Meanwhile they have 800 brown and blonde shades. Argh.

    So – on the fence. Generally I think going grey/white looks better on most.

  100. Gal says:

    I’m 52 and still coloring my hair. It’s been dark brown my whole life (other than some forays into auburn), and I just am not feeling the change yet. I have wavy hair and my grays are coarse and wiry, and I’m worried the texture of my undyed hair will be unruly and dull. Also, I don’t have a particularly youthful face — some of my friends who have brilliant salt-and-pepper hair have olive skin and no wrinkles, but I am not so lucky. I feel like the gray will just wash me out and take away the contrast I like in my look. I’m probably somewhere around 30% gray, and my stylist agrees it’s not time yet.

    I suppose the bottom line is that I’m not ready to look in the mirror and see gray yet. I don’t think it will look fashionable or intentional, and I don’t think it will go well with my style. Even friends of mine say that dark hair is a signature part of my look.

    I love how silver and gray and white hair looks on other women; I just don’t think it will look good on me.

  101. Hick from Styx says:

    The beautiful thing about red hair is that it isn’t all one color. It’s an individual mix red, blonde and brown that cannot be replicated artificially. Can you imagine dyeing each strand of hair a different color? That is what makes going grey easier. It just blends in gradually without anyone noticing until one day you’re grey. Redheads start out with less their melanin, and go grey early. It started at 18 for me, 16 for my mother. Why dye it when going grey is this easy?

  102. Dana says:

    When my hair really started to grey, I was getting these large patches below my temples and it looked really cool in a Holly Golightly way. I loved it. The color was very pretty. Then, I started getting these wiry hairs at my part and it aged me in a bad way. I had my hairstylist at the time add a few highlights to blend the colors together. She explained the reason I liked the streaked part was because the color grey it turned was a “clear” grey. I’ve had more blonde added lately and I like it a lot.

  103. maggie zackowitz says:

    I was out of work for six months last year (was editor in chief of a magazine who got kicked out–WHY DOES THAT SOUND FAMILIAR?) so I took that time to grow out my roots. Once I had a couple of inches of what turned out to be silver/pewter/with some white, I lopped everything off into a pixie. Best decision I ever made. I haven’t had a cut in a year now and I am still loving my hair. It’s a whole new curly, wacky texture now that I’m not coloring. Sure I look older. I’m 57! I wasn’t fooling anybody with my dyed brunette. I also look happier. I feel like me now. Also I’m gonna grow this shit down to my waist and rock a whole sexy witch look now. It’s a plan.

  104. Barbara says:

    For the moment, my 53 year-old head only has a sprinkling of greys which just look weird on their own so I dye them back to brown or drown them in highlights. I won’t always. My mom’s grey is an interesting greige and my grandma’s head turned a gorgeous snow white. I’ll be all over either of those colors should they show up.

  105. DLS says:

    I colored for years until I saw Jamie Lee Curtis rock her natural color. I wanted to be brave and just rip that band-aid off. So I did. BTW, I’m a strong salt and pepper gradually fading into more salt. For a long time my grey looked like highlights. My sisters protested vigorously and I had to rely heavily on my stylist for emotional support. Even though the color was great…it took time before I was finally fully confident and peaceful about it. I love it now and I wear it as a badge of honor. If you are going to go for it, I would recommend expecting a period of transition both physically and emotionally.

  106. Lori says:

    Love hearing all these stories. I’m 57, and like so many others just had that f*uck it moment a few months ago. I’m naturally a very mundane brown, so I’ve died it for years, “streaks” (remember pulling your hair through those caps???), highlights, full-on blonde, red, dark brown… get it. The last time I went to the hairdresser it was someone I had never been to before and she actually brought it up; and shocked me when she told me I was 70-80 percent grey!!! I got a few highlights that day and haven’t done anything since! My hair is very thick and curly so it’s a bit easier to hide the mess! 🙂 Now that its grown in quite a bit, I’m really starting to like it, and my 31 year old thinks it’s rad.

  107. Gables girl says:

    My hair is coming in gray patches so trying to go completely gray would make me look like I had patches all over my head. However, I am three years out from retiring at 55 so I plan a buzz cut and letting it grow in.

  108. Lisa H says:

    Up until about 3 months ago I was reading blog articles like this firmly in the camp of I will dye until I die. Then I had the f*ck it moment. Not sure why really – a combination of factors I think. I was getting lazy about touch ups, hating the fake red tones that dominated my hair a few weeks after a dye job (I have dark brown hair and find most brown dyes, even those marked as cool colouring have a lot of red in them) and perhaps through these types of blogs being exposed to more photos of beautiful grey hair has had a subconscious effect on me. And I am also in the camp of admiring the gorgeous Linda Rodin.

  109. I LOVE my grey hair. I have NEVER colored it and have slowly been going grey since I was 27. I am 57 now and feeling like I still have a lot of adventure left to experience. My hair is my signature – it is a beautiful mix of black, grey, and silver that never fails to draw compliments. My hair is extremely curly so I get it cut into layers that end below my ears. It is soft and sexy and full of wonderfully colored ringlets. I refuse to give in to the myth that grey hair = old. It has been incredibly freeing not to have to worry about dying my hair and wasting so much time on care – all I do is get an occasional haircut and I am good to go!

  110. Cecelle says:

    I am really enjoying all of these stories.

    You can add me to the f’it camp. I started going grey in my 20s (in college; I came down with chicken pox and found my first grey on the same day) but I’ve only recently decided to embrace the gray. I just got tired of monthly salon visits (even though my stylist is awesome) and always feeling not quite pulled together. I had long straight, quick growing hair and I’d get a week out of a colour before the roots started to show. So about six months ago,we started transitioning away from the brown permanent colour, using a combination of semi-permanent tones and highlights. Just this weekend she cut it shorter and did a combination of low and highlights, letting the natural gray come through. I LOVE it. I think I look younger now than I did when I was wearing a heavy dark colour around my face, even though it was nearly identical to my own natural colour.

  111. laura says:

    I think because my first grey hair arrived while I was still a teenager, I never associated it with aging. So I have simply never covered it. I have “nature’s highlights” and I’ve enjoyed being unique. At least until recently – at my last salon visit they told me that they had just dyed someone’s hair exactly the same as mine is naturally!
    I like that my hair is always healthy and I never have to worry about roots showing. And it feels very feminist somehow. I also like matching my husband, we are the same age and now he is greying along with me.
    Also, think of how I can spend that money I save on hair dye!!

  112. Victoria says:

    I was out of town last week and therefore late to this great hair party, but so happy to see it and to join now.

    My first greys came in at my temples when I was 18. I’m half-Greek, and my hair was very dark, brownish-black. It was a shock to see them on myself, even though folks on both sides of my family went very white early in their lives, and clearly I would do likewise. At that time, the greys were not noticeable or numerous, so I left them. After grad school, at age ~25, they came in more visibly, so I started to color my hair myself. Clearly I was in denial, because not once did I note the brand or the shade I used between one drugstore visit and the next. I’d just eyeball it, and I only ever bought one box at a time. Sometimes I got it broadly right, and sometimes it was just … off. (Usually that became clear when my sweet but otherwise unobservant boss would say, “Did you do something to your hair?”)

    When I got married at 30, my short hair was shot through with grey. Then, on a whim and for a couple of years thereafter, I went to a fancy salon and had it colored every four-ish weeks. It took forever and cost a fortune, but it looked great, plus I trusted the colorist implicitly. She would say fun, hairdresser-y things like, “I’m feeling fall colors on you today,” or whatever, each time I came in. The last time I had it colored was at my sister’s request, for her wedding. She didn’t care about my hair color per se, just that I not be in the awkward half-and-half growing-out phase for the photos, which I understood. After the wedding, I stopped coloring entirely. It never occurred to me to graduate to a lighter shade — I would have looked weird as a blonde, with my coloring — and it a relief to quit.

    Now I am just 50, and my hair is about 95% silver-white. Short, but I am thinking of going shorter still. I’d love to rock the Jamie Lee Curtis look. (Or Emmylou Harris, or Joan Baez.) On the whole, my hair is shiny and healthy, I get lots of compliments on it, and I’ve made my peace with the color. It’s part of who I am, even if I occasionally mourn the premature disappearance of my earlier dark-haired self. Now and again I catch sight of myself in a window and I’m startled by how much I resemble my 80+ year-old mom (whose own hair is totally white). When my kids were younger, I did not love kindergartners asking me if I was my daughters’ grandma, but I could deal. And as others have noted, I need to be more vigilant about lipstick and blush to stay present in my own face. A purposeful, sharp haircut and visible earrings are also a must. All of which are easier to afford now that I am no longer my hairdresser’s handmaiden.

    Whenever a woman comes up to me and tells me she wishes she had the “courage” to let her hair go as white as mine (interestingly, men never comment on my hair color: discuss), I tell her to go for it. Own it, even if just for a while. There is great freedom in letting your hair do its thing on its own. If you hate it, you can always color it again, no big deal. It’s only hair, and one thing we all know for sure: the grey will be right there where you left it if you ever change your mind again!

  113. Just Tina says:

    I dyed my hair since my twenties and stopped 3 years go. My hair is Emmylou Harris silver and I LOVE it. Dyeing my hair I wasn’t fooling anybody into thinking I was younger plus the roots as a brunette would show up in 2 weeks making that expensive dye job a waste of money. I get tons of compliments on my hair now and rarely did as a brunette. I looked like everyone else back then-now I am unique. Working in retail for awhile I saw so many BAD dye jobs on middle aged women I lost count. If you are considering going gray-keep your haircut modern and clean. Dye your eyebrows to define them. Brighten your hair with toners and purple shampoo every once in awhile. There is something empowering about being your authentic self-I say DO IT!

  114. Achariya says:

    I’m half Asian, so my hair is so brown as to be almost black. The grey that has grown in is actually pure white, and the contrast is incredibly visible. I don’t have an answer — I like how youthful I look when it’s dyed, but I’ve lately found the contrast of white to dark kind of pretty. As with everything in life, maybe both are good.

  115. Johanna says:

    I still color my hair myself, and have used the same formula for several decades. The warm blonde color looks better on me than white hair. My younger sister went gray and looks older than I do at 66. But if gray flatters, then go for it!

  116. Ali says:

    I found my first glowing white hair sticking straight up off my crown on my first anniversary. And yes, it was a bad omen…*

    I had to decide then and there not to start pulling them. No. Matter. What.

    I am enjoying the arrival of more and more, because the strands are twice as thick as my limp fine blonde hair. Of all the crap that happens with aging, at least this is a plus for me. Whoopeee…

    I’m happy to be a woman, feeling free to fiddle around with my hair color any way I want. I do find it less motivating to do it every day, being retired. I fear the default ponytail looks very like the laziness that it is. But no split ends from the constant dryer now, either. At least I do not expect permanent baldness like our brothers.

    * what do you call a man’s long hair style after he goes bald on top and the wheezing ponytail is a straggly ratty thang?
    He’s rockin’ a ‘skullet’.
    (we are all old enough to remember mullets, right?)