silver fox

I’ve never spent a lot of time on hair and makeup, for various reasons (like I’m bad at it). But when I started going grey in my thirties? Kitty bar the door, I was not ready for that. So I started getting my hair dyed, which went tickety-boo through my 40s with no problem. I really enjoyed experimenting with color, sometimes going red and other times going with lots of blonde highlights, just generally having a good time with it.

Then, several years ago, I came down with a WICKED flu that put me out of commission for three weeks. Shortly after I recovered, my stepmother treated me with a session at a high-end spa, which including getting my hair colored. Unfortunately, a few hours later, my head started to itch. And itch, and itch. By bedtime I was ready to rip my scalp off. Needless to say, I was diagnosed with a bad allergic reaction. I was also reacting to other things which had never bothered me before. Clearly, something in my body chemistry had changed, possibly (according to my doctor) as a result of that nasty flu.

Long story short and after a few more tries, I ended up switching to organic dyes and doing my own hair for the next several years. It was a PITA, but it did cover the grey and I also saved money doing it myself, so pretty much win/win.

And then several months ago I started reacting to the darn organic dye. ARGH!! At that point, I decided enough was enough and I started to let my hair grow out. Because who wouldn’t want to look like the silver fox in the picture above? Or like this wonderful lady?

Glenn Close

My hair, I was convinced, would come in silver and sleek and, since I wear it long, it would look totally cool and not make me look like my mother and her bubble hairdo from days of yore.

Well, not so much. It came in gnarly and steel-grey, and doesn’t really go with my olive-sallow complexion. Balance that, however, with itchy, rashy head and allergic breakouts.

So I forged on, growing out the grey and basically owning it just fine. Until a few weeks ago at a family reunion, when some of my female relatives told me that they would NEVER go grey, that it made women look unattractive and dull, and that the allergic reaction was just something you had to tolerate in order to not look like an old lady.

Yeah, it got a little judgy.

Anyway, I have to admit that I’m still on the fence about my grey hair–possibly because it’s not fully grown out yet. Some days I think it looks cool, and other days I’m convinced it makes me look older (and drab). Then I think, “what the heck is wrong with looking my age?!”

I will confess that I ran across a new, supposedly “natural” hair coloring product just the other day. It was on sale, so I did an impulse buy. I haven’t used it yet but you can bet that I will do a good patch test before I do.

And if it doesn’t work out? Well, apparently grey or silver hair is quite the fashion statement these days, even with young women.

young gray

Where do you stand on the whole grey debate? Do you color your hair or do you let nature take its course? One person who comments will win a digital copy of TALL, DARK, AND ROYAL, my historical romance that features an older heroine and a second chance at love.

Tall Dark Royal.ebook


52 thoughts on “To Grey Or Not To Grey

  1. Charlotte says:

    I don’t mind grey hair myself, like you said it can be rather stylish these days. So why color it? Grey hair saves money which you can spend on books 😀

    1. Excellent point, Charlotte!

  2. Laurie Gommermann says:

    I do not color my hair. My hair grows fast and I swim. I don’t want the chlorine to mix with the chemicals. I don’t want to deal with the dyeing process. I’m content with the way I look. If people make comments, I don’t care.

    I work with a lot of people who dye their hair. Most of the time the colors do not look natural or they are in stages of it growing out with darker roots or grey roots. Not attractive.

    My sister’s hair turned grey in her 40’s . She dyes her hair dark so she looks like a skunk when it grows out.

    Do what makes you comfortable and happy.

    1. Thanks, Laurie! Yes, I do not want to look like a skunk!

  3. Silvia says:

    I have never dyed my hair and yes I’m turning grey more and more eacht day. But I don’t worry too much about it. I’m happy to be alive despite several chroninch illnesses so a bit of grey is of no matter to me. I still feel like a brunette in my heart 😉

    1. I love your attitude, Silvia! *hugs*

  4. Amy says:

    So far, I am deciding not to dye. I do think the grey ages a person, but I do not have the patience to mess with it and I do not like the health risks associated with it. So I am going to try to cope. My question is, why do men (such as my husband) look even better with gray hair?!

    1. It’s so unfair how good men can look with grey hair, Amy!

  5. Cynthia says:

    my hair is starting to have silver streaks so I do blonde highlights to blend in so you can’t tell

    1. That’s what I was doing too, Cynthia.

  6. I’m in my thirties and grey hairs apear by the day. I have dark brown hair so you can really tell. I rather not dye as I have sensitive skin. But I don’t want to look old either… Maybe I just wear a stylish hat on special occasions.

    1. I hear you, and I think that’s a great solution!

  7. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    Why should you have to be miserable? If your scalp itches, then go gray and own it. You’re beautiful no matter what your hair looks like.

  8. Dawn A says:

    I started going grey in my early twenties, so yes, I colored my hair for years. Unfortunately, I had health issues that kept me from the hair salon for close to two years. After that I decided to let my hair be its natural color. It’s slowly going grey and I’m okay with that.

    1. You’re a good role model for me, Dawn!

  9. Veronica says:

    I have wanted to color my hair, but there are many different colors to choose from and I can’t make up my mind! So I am a beautiful natural Grey haired woman.

    1. That’s awesome, Veronica!

  10. I’m sorry you have encountered judgy relatives and allergic reactions! I’m not sure which one’s worse. You’ve got to do what makes you feel best, whatever that might be. As Shana said, you’re going to be beautiful no matter what.

  11. Natali says:

    I don’t mind grey hair I love it as it is 🙂

    1. That’s awesome, Natali!

  12. Kathryn in Montreal says:

    Jeez, your relatives! I am probably not the best person to ask, because I am in my early fifties and only just starting to get a few gray strands – my Mum was gray in her twenties, but my Dad was well over 50 when he started to change. I like gray hair though and prefer to see that than the people I call “determined blondes” – those who cannot let go, even when the hair colour clearly clashes with their age. Hair colouring can be done gracefully, but doesn’t always suit everyone at every age.

    1. I so agree on the whole blonde issue, Kathryn!

  13. Nikki H says:

    I colored my hair for years. But it got so time consuming and a pain. It was every 2-3 weeks to color the roots and I did it myself. But then I retired and we moved to be near our kids and grandkids, and I didn’t know anyone else. So I took a giant step. I’m happy with the way it turned out. It’s silvery-white, similar to the color my mom’s was.
    I say own it. Rock it.

  14. Kate Sparks says:

    I am low maintenance and my mom had a grey patch when I was in jr high. I have brown hair with just one area of grey… it’s the dark eyebrows that are going white/grey that are killing me!!

    1. Oh, eyebrows are tough, Kate! I pluck the grey ones, I admit.

  15. Mia Kay says:

    I dyed my hair for years, but as my schedule got busier my roots showed way too often. 🙂 So I’ve embraced the grey – and my natural curl. It’s distinctive.

    I think the ladies here are right on target. Do what makes you feel best. If you decide to stay grey, I’d suggest talking to your stylist. S/he may have some suggestions on products that will help you love your grey.

    I’m sorry your family members made you feel bad. As an allergy sufferer (mine was a specific type of shampoo), I know nothing made me more miserable than itching.

    1. Thanks for the great advice, Mia! I did find one leave in product that is a temporary color and doesn’t seem to bother me. I’m trying it out.

  16. Susan P says:

    Oh man, I’d have not been nice if those relatives said that to me. I started gong gray at 18, along with my brother and cousin, thanks to the genes of our grandmother who went gray at 18. My brother and male cousin own it and make being gray at a young age pretty awesome. BUT, they are male and can get away with it. I, of course, started dying it. I’m not even 40 yet and mostly all gray underneath. There are times I’ve toyed with letting it grow, but hubby nixes that. LOL. I’ve always done well with great results doing it myself. I had a stylist cousin who showed me the best way. I’m not bothered by being gray or having people know I’m gray. I laugh and remind them I had no choice in the matter! Someday, probably soon, I will stop dying it and embrace the awesomeness that is the way God made me. 😉 You go girl!!

    1. Thank you, Susan – you have a great attitude!

  17. Barbara Rogers says:

    I always kept my hair colored once I started to grey. First, it was dark brown (almost black) like my natural color — then, as I got more and more grey, I started to go lighter because the roots wouldn’t show as quickly. However, when I had to have shoulder surgery, where I would be unable to use my dominant arm for about 6 weeks, I had my hair cut really short so most of the color was gone — and then I let it grow out from there. I am so glad I did that. I haven’t wanted to bother with color since and I get so many compliments on my hair.

    1. You turned a bad to good, Barbara!

  18. I want to go gray…just not as quickly as Mother Nature wants me to go gray. So I’m letting some gray streaks come into the science that is my current hair color. We’ll see. My hairdresser hates that I’m doing it. ; )

    1. I think hairdressers can be a bit judgy, too – and I love the way you’re doing your hair!

  19. catslady5@aol.com says:

    I greyed very early. First I had this wonderful white patch a couple of inches wide from front to back. My other hair was dark brown. People use to ask how I did it lol. Then the rest caught up to it. Only once did I try dying it in my 40’s and it was horrible. Way to dark. I just said forget it and I have gotten compliments on it although most of my friends all dye their hair. I’ve always been a take me as I am kind of person. I’ve seen too many that look so fake (especially the botox craze). I’ve always said I’ve earned my grey hair and wrinkles lol.

  20. Vanessa, you are beautiful no matter the color of your hair. Do what makes you comfortable, and remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation, especially if they’re being judgy.

  21. LilMissMolly says:

    I’ve been coloring my hair since my early 20’s. In now in my 50’s and don’t ever want to go gray. Even my grandmother dyed her hair until she died in her 90’s. It’s not a vanity thing with me, I could care less about what others think of me (I rarely wear makeup); it’s more of a self image thing. I’m already overweight and having hair that looks youthful makes me feel better about myself.

    Also, I only go to a hairstylist that uses Goldwell colors – I’m allergic to bleach and a lot of color has it in it. Over the counter stuff is worse. I just have to look at a box of it and break out. 🙀it. I view Goldwell as the “hypoallergenic” of hair products.

  22. Winter says:

    I dye my hair now because it’s been going gray since I was 18 (31 now). However, once it’s mostly gray I’ll probably just let it go. Mine are white and pretty so I don’t mind it. I just hate that gray/dark brown combo I’d have now.

  23. Quilt Lady says:

    I kind of like the silver grey hair. I do not color my hair and never have. I am sixty years old but I don’t have much grey in my hair, just a small patch on the right temple. My older sister is the same way. Now my younger sister has lots of grey in her hair and she just turned fifty. She doesn’t color her hair either. So I guess I will be one to go with the natural look.

  24. mimi says:

    I started going grey in my 20s. I colored it for a long time but just stopped right around 40 and haven’t looked back. My high school students love my hair and have threatened me if I ever get cozy with the Garnier again. It’s how I was designed–why not own it?

  25. bn100 says:

    no preference

  26. Glenda says:

    I’m still enough of a blondie that my greys don’t stand out as much as they do on ladies with darker hair. My plan is to age as gracefully as possible and not dye my hair. (my being cheap and lazy doesn’t have anything to do with the decision – really. 😉 ) Honestly, I’m more concerned with the fact that my grey hairs seem to be more brittle and break off more often than the rest.

  27. Julie-ann Ford says:

    My daughter (a hairstylist) insists that I am too young to look old with gray hair so I let her color it every 6 months or so.

  28. girlfromwva says:

    i have mainly grey hairs around the temples, so i do color my hair still. (looks like i am an exception on these answers). i always say “do what you need to do for you”, so that would go for hair, too!

  29. Ellen C. says:

    Do whatever makes you happy. I have some gray, but it isn’t too noticeable, so I don’t color my hair. I may change my mind, but for now, I’m happy. Some of my sisters color, some don’t, but we would never attack each other over hair color. Be happy and healthy.

  30. Eileen A-W says:

    I colored for years. Like you I started going grey in my 30s. When I was in my 50s I couldn’t believe how fast my roots were growing in giving me what I called my skunk line. So I decided to slowly go blonde, which meant that the roots matched the hair color. Two years ago I decided enough was enough and stopped coloring. I also was retired, despite not being 60, and didn’t feel the need to look “younger”. My old hair still hasn’t grown out. I now have blonde, silver, and brown hairs. The brown hairs are in the back and underneath the rest. I’ve accepted it for what it’s worth and I save a lot of money each month. My mother never liked my going grey, but I decided it didn’t matter as it’s my hair.

  31. Rhyanna DeTuathana says:

    I have been slowly going gray, still have a lot of brown hair. I kind of like the brown, grey coloring, the darker the hair color, the more it contrasts with the gray and for some reason i like it.
    I use to dye my hair alot, auburn, lighten it, golden color and more.

    I would love to read your book.

  32. Karen says:

    Personally, I think you should do what is right for you. If you feel better covering up your grey, do it. Hairdressers don’t always have the best ideas on what looks good on a person. And they tend to express opinions that are hurtful.

    Who really cares …if you feel good? Be who you want to be. Everyone else is doing that…rest assured.

    I do add highlights and color to my hair to keep it bright, and I will cover grey when it begins to pop up. I don’t see stopping any time soon.

  33. Lola Donnelley says:

    I dye my hair about every three to four months with a store bought wash in dye Because of my health my husband actually does the applying, bless his heart. But I have seen many women that look beautiful with grey hair. Unfortunately I do not.

  34. Margaret C Turner says:

    I went grey several years ago, after coloring off and on for over 30 years. I finally realized I was pushing 70 years and decided if I wore my hair the right length for my face, I was looking pretty good/better than faking my hair color. My darling husband likes me this way as well. I do use a rinse that makes the silver shine and removes any yellow that sometimes occurs.

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