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Stella Tennant photo: Italian Vogue

At 45, Stella Tennant is the latest supermodel to vow to ditch the dye. ‘I’ve stopped dyeing my hair and I’m much greyer than I’d realised,’ she said in ES Magazine last month. ‘I’ve decided I’m going to go grey…I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not.’ Good on her. It’s too soon for the grey to really show – 15 months later, my own grey is still a work in progress, says beauty writer Vicci Bentley – but if fellow catwalker Kristen McMenamy, 51 is anything to go by, she has an even more head-turning barnet to look forward to.

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Turning heads, Kristen McMenamy. Photo: Vogue

Hand on heart, going grey is the best style move I’ve made in years. What I’d failed to realise was my trademark ‘nearly black’ tint was actually draining the life out of me. Now, among the many compliments I get (some from total strangers!) are about how good my skin looks. There’s always been the ‘older, lighter’ beauty nostrum, but who knew that going grey could make you look younger, too?

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Going grey. Stella Tennant photo: Italian Vogue

I’d sort of earmarked my 65th birthday this year as D-day for the dye, but last January, I was so fed up with the roots routine that it simply felt time. Back then, no-one could have convinced me how liberating it would feel to buck the tyranny of tint. Before the ‘pro-ageing’ idea took hold, the ‘anti-ageing’ imperative has meant hiding the grey along with lines and wrinkles – and worrying you’ll be caught out. Outing yourself, however, is empowering. There’s a kind of ‘take me as I am’ confidence about flashing the silver. Although I was never what you’d call a shy violet, I have to confess the menopause took some of the wind out of my sales. I actually feel better about myself now that I’m fully expressing my age.

Of course, like Stella T, I’m in fantastic company. The granny hair trend rocketed grey up there to 2015’s Colour of The Year and a slew of products have launched to polish the silver. My current favourites are Pro:Voke’s excellent (and reasonably priced) Touch of Silver Brightening Shampoo and Conditioner, which both range from around £2 to £3 in chemists like Superdrug. Charles Worthington Colour Revive Mousse in Violet Toning, £9.99 is a leave-in conditioner that ramps up the platinum post-shampoo.

Stella T may already have realised that the ‘badger stripe’ phase is a tricky one. The wonderful brush-on Colour Wow Root Cover Up, £28.50 got me through the first two inches of regrowth, then I switched to Charles Worthington Instant Root Concealer spray £9.99 which covers larger areas faster. CW have also just brought out a brush-on Instant Root Concealer Powder, £14.99 which I haven’t tried, because when my roots started to look less like dereliction of duty and more like a declaration of intent, I stopped hiding them. I had this cunning plan to bleach the sides silver to match the roots on top, so it would all look meant to be.

It’s great to be yourself: Vicci ditches the dye

This of course, was high risk – three hours of bleaching to strip the dye left those sides bits extremely fragile. But with intensive therapy (thank you Kiehl’s classic Crème with Silk Groom, £18) they’re holding their own and the result’s a winner. The contrast of dark tint against natural silver now has an on-trend ombréd effect that people think I’ve paid a fortune for! The best part has been keeping my short bob – more flattering for me, than the default pixie chop. No, I don’t have Stella’s cheekbones, but as the woman herself says, it’s great to be yourself. Not ageing, but grey-ging….

64 thoughts on “Grey hair, oh yeah

  1. Great post. Like you, I’ve decided to ditch the dye and feel so liberated by it. I’m 44 and had always been dark so a big step and not without pain but wouldn’t dream of going back. I’ve had comments also about looking younger which is great but what’s also liberating is showing my daughters that grey hair is nothing to be afraid of and if like me they go grey early too maybe they won’t feel the awful pressure to dye. If only some hairdressers were more open to it…….

  2. You are so right Aly, ditching the dye at age 35 literally took years off me. I hadn’t realised how much older than 35 I was looking with a harsh dark brown dye on my skin. Getting a short pixie crop and letting the natural silver shine through was the best decision I ever made 17 years ago! Getting it cut everything 4 weeks is my only indulgence!

  3. stopped dying my hair last summer and in final stages. I got my hair cut to a bob and used root touch up for a while with graduated layers to have the top layers covering the undergrowth (hairdresser is a genius). Some months later, my hairdresser then put some bleach in the mid section where the roots and colour met to take the edge off, and now all the dye is cut out, and only the bleached mid section and my shortest bob yet. I have a lot more grey than I thought, but equally, my dyed hair was beginning to look severe. what I really like is the texture of my real hair again. (in all I have only been to the hairdresser three times since September)

  4. Great article. I went blonde first….several years ago, so the transition to Grey has been less noticeable. But now , with the help of toners to get rid of the yellow I am getting loads of compliments from young women as well as those of my own age.
    I think a good contemporary haircut and great condition are the key.
    And isn’t it fantastic that the zeitgeist is in favour of the older woman at last.

  5. Not another post on going grey – sigh! And sorry but this is an article targeted once again at the hardly old at all. Grey hair looks gorgeous on 40 & 50 year olds – so where are the older age models? Try going grey when you’re nearly 70 as I am. When will I see an article that says going grey should be totally about your skin tone. I have no intention of going grey or white and certainly never when it’s deemed a ‘style move’. Here’s to kicking against trends!

    1. Vicci who wrote this post (and is pictured towards the end) is in her sixties, Penny. And I’m all for kicking against the trends!

    2. I’m “Team Penny” on this one. Look. I have absolutely nothing against going gray. On many women, it looks beautiful–but there are things that need to be taken into consideration–i.e., the structure of your hair. IS your hair in great enough shape to go gray? DOES the gray flatter your skintone..and most important is are YOU comfortable with going gray? If you are not comfy in your own hair color then nothing is going to make you feel as beautiful as you should or deserve to feel. What I do find issue with is the militant tone of this gray movement. I equate it to “Le Leche League’s” militant tone during the 1980’s. I have three children. They are each three years apart. I breastfed each of them for three years. That’s nine straight years of nursing–however, I didn’t pontificate to all mothers that they should do the same as I did. It’s a private matter. Same with the choice to go gray. It’s private.
      For me, I’ll keep on dying my hair the color I was born with–and it ain’t gray!

        1. The trouble is, unless you can afford to go to a proper colourist in a salon, lots of women use home dyeing kits which, while cheaper and convenient, look quite one dimensional and flat and the result looks obviously dyed and is tonally incorrect. I think condition of hair is more important than colour as your hair changes to compliment your ageing skin and there is nothing worse than seeing a glossy well coiffured barnet and unflattering dry skin. I’d rather spend my money on a better cut and blow dry and the rest on good (not necessariliy expensive) skincare and make-up. It just looks more contemporary and is infinitely less ageing. Oh and all those chemicals…. #TeamVicci #TeamSilver

          I’m just starting to go grey at 47 and am looking forward to being a long-haired silver fox 😉

  6. I am just starting out on the ‘let the grey out’ journey – so the tips in this article are really helpful. Thanks. It is not, for me, about staying with or bucking a trend Penny – more that I am just so so bored with sitting in a hairdressers for several hours every month just to stop grey roots showing! Each to their own though…..

    1. I’m with you Northernlass – two inches of silver in previously highlighted hair – I am excited at the change and freedom from the hairdresser hair (though spending a fortune on toners at present to off-set ‘yellow’ hair. Wish I had had the courage of my convictions a couple of years ago. Would have saved me time and money.

  7. Not just for 40s and 50s. I’m 71 and my hair was never as good as it is now because not having chemicals to tint or bleach means that the condition is great so my hair is shiny and silvery. A good cut is essential though and I do get loads of compliments.

  8. I was 43 when I stopped dyeing. That was 20 years ago when it was considered eccentric in the extreme. I didn’t give a damn and have worn my silver hair happily ever since. Oddly, a lot of people commented on how much younger I looked with grey hair.

    The crucial thing is the cut, it has to be sharp as a knife, whatever the style. I know I’d look ancient if I dyed my hair now.

  9. In North America I have seen a new t.v. commercial for L’Oréal hair dye, featuring Susan Sarandon.. It comes across as a challenge against going grey. There is a line something like….’What’s next? No make-up?’, said with a hint of sarcasm.

    At 54, I have quite a bit of grey hair. I’ve enjoyed the process of watching it change naturally. I think some people with silver or white hair look stunning actually. I also am o.k. about the reality that people do age. Finally, I am a relatively pragmatic person with a tight budget!

    I hope the battle lines don’t get drawn between those who do and those who don’t. You know, like women who were stay-at-home moms versus those who were not. The important thing is to have choices and support everyone’s right to make their own.

    1. Heidi – I googled up that ad, terrible!! I’m sure it’s just me, but Susan S. seemed a little embarrassed when she delivered that “What’s next? No makeup?” line. Girl needs money and a room of her own Susan, I get it. I quit coloring 15 months ago and I love my gray. Even better, I discovered I truly don’t give a rats patootie what any one thinks about my haircolor – says more about them than me. Sorry hair color companies, I’m spending my cash on new shoes.

  10. For a decade, between my 40’s and turning 50, I colored my prematurely-going-to-gray hair and was never really happy with the result — I thought it looked good for 1 week of the month, after the harshness of the initial color had subsided, but before it faded a little and my roots started showing. But it was that period when my hair wasn’t really gray enough to be snazzy, just enough to make me look washed out. I promised my husband that when I turned 50 I would go back to my natural color and it was the best thing, ever! Except for the initial pushback from my 3 daughters (aged 21, 19 and 13), everyone was supportive and complimentary. I still have women come up to me and ask me how I did it, or tell me I inspired them to make the decision to go gray. I keep it short, and some days I wear it spikey, some days sleek. But I love it every single day and feel like it helped me find my “brand”.

  11. Silver naturally is spectacular & no chemicals! FB sites as ‘Going Gray & Lovin’ It’ & ‘ Silver Curlies’ offer much help with makeup & wardrobe.

  12. I refused to let the grey through until 4 months ago, luckily I have hair that grows like a weed……amazing the grey is in fact a lovely silver. Should have done it years ago…think of the ££ saved,not to mention the chemicals! Viva la silvery grey!!

  13. I’m going with Penny on this one. You can lighten your hair without going gray (softer on the features). And going gray totally depends on how much gray you have. I am a dark brunette, 55, and have salt and pepper (mostly pepper) hair. I dye my hair it’s natural color, but have caramel highlights put in. Much better than the gray, which if let to go natural would just look witchy. If I was solid silver, I would certainly let it be free. And why is everyone so obsessed with the time spent at the hairdresser? I enjoy the time as ‘pampering’. It allows me to sit, relax, and catch up on my blog reading!

  14. I am a silver gal at age 61. I went silver mainly because I have health problems and was really curious as to whether the monthly dyeing process was affecting my health. I really think it depends on the percentage of silver hairs you have. Mine was about 75% silver so the regrowth was so fast and so noticeable. I was a slave to hair colour and spent so much money on hair dye. It is a personal choice usually and not because it is trendy. It is mostly a trend for the youth right now which I cannot figure out . I think to myself why ? My hair is curly and I get so many compliments on my longish silver curls however I have a warning . In my particular large city which is Vancouver, B.C. Canada I have noticed men don’t like it. I am fine with that though. I am confident I will maybe one day meet a male silver fox somewhere in this world.

  15. I am 68 and never felt better about how I look with gray hair. I look how I look. Not old not young! I accept not needing or wanting a label!

  16. I’m lucky and inherited my maternal grandmother’s “salt-and-pepper” gray. I was curious how it would look if I let it grow out and now have left it alone for about 9 months. It’s a lot less fuss than dealing with those ugly and much more ageing ingrowing roots and I think the color looks good on me. It did inspire me to make some changes in my cosmetics colors but I’m happy I made the change. I’ve gotten lots of compliments on both the cut and the color. 🙂

  17. Going grey is certainly not for everyone. If you have that lovely white hair, then yes. I tried growing mine out but it was a dull brown with grey here and there. Not pretty! I get highlights and lowlights so it looks more natural and no roots to show as it grows out. Having a lighter colour helps, too. I believe dark browns are too harsh for our paler skins.

    1. So true, it’s completely individual how one’s grays grow in. I think what cinched it for me is that my Mom went gray very early and had lovely, silvery hair and my brother’s gray grew in just as beautiful. They both had darker, more olive complexions so it was super flattering on them. I inherited my Dad’s paler, more freckly complexion, but I’m happy to say it has turned out just as well for me!

  18. I’ve been hennaing my own hair for over 40 years. This was way before I noticed that my hair was going grey. I adore the henna color and it’s a great conditioner. For years I said I would stop when I tuned 65 but here I am at 70 still doing the henna. Because the red of the henna on grey makes it very bright at this point, I now add indigo to the henna and it softens the look a lot. Happy henna head here… Maybe grey one day, but can’t imagine when.

  19. I am very lucky genetically with my silver/grey/white hair. I dyed it for years (started going grey in my late twenties) and then stopped all the chemicals in my forties because, quite frankly, I got too lazy and it was too expensive. My hair is also curly and long. Having long silver/grey/white curly hair is, for me, going against the trends! And I do get compliments all the time. But like everything else in the world of fashion one should do what makes one feel most comfortable.

  20. I agree that gray is a personal choice. I think some hubbub is inevitable as we throw off the chains of Thou Shalt, and when things settle down we’ll all be choosing along the axes of skin tone and whim of the day, vs. our politics. But, I confess, for now, I enjoy this easy rebellion;).

  21. At nearly 52 I have never dyed my hair! I have always been too timid. I have dirty blond hair with zero grey as of today and I’m actually looking forward to seeing my hair change color!

  22. I’ve been a hair stylist for 35 years. Two years ago I quit colouring my hair. Once I had more than 50 percent grey I found I was constantly doing touch ups. I have naturally dark brown hair with a lot of silvery grey. I love the salt and pepper look and have transitioned a lot of my clients to grey. It’s not for everyone, but for those that can go grey, healthy shiny hair and a good cut are crucial.

    1. Kim

      Oh to find a hairdresser with your attitude to going grey!!!
      How do I find a salon and a stylist who will support me through the transition? Last dye was in October, since then I have been putting my hair up, having the dyed brown ends chopped and begging my hair to grow…Went for a consultation with a recommended hairdresser and was subjected to fifteen minutes worth of negging…

      Any suggestions for supportive salons in the south east of England or London would be most welcome.

      A

  23. After 5 years of silverly hair, I’m contemplating bucking the trend. I don’t relish the time, money and chemicals required for tint or dye, but recent candid vacation photos prove to me that, at 70, my hair is now making me look more grandmotherly than chic. Perhaps if I were less active, this wouldn’t bother me, but I’m divorced without grandchildren, travel globally and stay current on culture and world affairs. Yet I feel like I’m constantly fighting against initial preconceptions that I’m older and therefore less vital physically and socially. This may be ageism on the part of others, but I suspect my hair isn’t helping. That dramatic silver is about to go ash blonde.

  24. Still coloring, I hate the bother but I look 2,000 yrs old with gray hair, wish I didn’t but my skin tone is abysmal.
    And when I am being dyed, I’m surrounded by gray’s also being dyed—to a better, prettier shade of gray.
    So I ask—what is the difference?

  25. I’ve toyed with the idea, but am waiting until my “silver %” gets a bit higher. It’s not the grey I want to cover, but my very drab natural color, sort of “wet cardboard.” In the meantime, a platinum-y blond is working for me.

    1. Agreed. It is the link between grey = old that causes the reactions. Grey, silver, slate…all beautiful.

  26. I was inspired by the recent “trend” that allowed me to finally see real women of all ages at different stages of gray growth that are posting photos of themselves on the net. Being able to visualize what it really looks like on women with different skin tones, ethnic origins, and hair types gave me the guts to let my gray/silver grow in and quit dying for a while to see what I had to work with and if I would like it or not. I have about 3 inches of silver grow out now with my natural dark brown hair (was previously foiling in caramel highlights) and am very intrigued by what I am seeing so far. I actually have less silver than I thought with the majority around my face that will be streaks and the rest salt and pepper. I cut my shoulder length lob to a shorter, chic, bob to help shorten the grow out process.

    I do feel empowered by letting my natural hair colors show and not worrying about looking more my age ( 50’s). I agree attitude and a great cut are imperative in pulling it off, especially during the transition phase. I may add in some low lights down the road if I feel like it, but would hate to give up that virgin hair feel that I am experiencing. Hair is a very personal issue and one that has a huge impact on self esteem. If you feel better coloring it, you should do it. Just don’t make me feel inferior because I am happy with my sassy silver and dark brown self.

  27. I can’t THINK of a more presonal decision. Catherine said it all. Most of the models that wallow in their greynous are not even in my age bracket. I’m 73….and will dye my hair til I die. I have since I was 13 and have no idea what my real color is. I think I’m gray around my face…but not sure. If one does go gray….please ladies…start wearing some foundation and blush so your face and hair aren’t the same color. I’m on Facebook…type in my name….Maureen Valley and tell me what you think. I am currently in a kind of warm, reddish brown….no longer the vibrant red I embraced not long ago. Happy in my skin….I remain….73 and counting. LOLOL

  28. I’m going to join the minority here (Penny, Kathleen, and a few others) and say that there’s nothing wrong with dyeing your hair. There’s also nothing wrong with deciding to go grey. Sure, if I looked like Stella Tennant I’d contemplate going grey to (mid-40s, model, gorgeous, etc.). Alas, I’m almost 10 years older than her and not a model and think I’d look decidedly frumpy.
    But. (There’s always a but.) I did go several shades lighter than my normal dark brown. According to my talented and lovely hairdresser, I’m the lightest brown with a drop or two of blonde mixed in. I call it light brown; some people call it blonde. I’ve gotten tons of compliments on it and do think that the lighter colour complements my skin tone better. And, the incredible up-side is that before I had to do home touch-ups between salon visits to avoid roots and now the grey roots just blend in with the lighter colour so I’ve saved that time and aggravation.
    Maybe some day I’ll go grey but not any time soon.

    1. I don’t think anyone is anti-dyeing but I do think that being able to afford a good colourist and the upkeep of transitioning colour is expensive. I’ve just made a decision not to dye but I’m on a mission to find a good conditioning treatment. Now that’s been tricky…

  29. I stopped coloring my hair 2 years ago, having started when I was 22 (I’ll be 50 this summer). I never got compliments on my hair from strangers when I was covering the gray. Now, rarely does a week go by that I don’t receive multiple very kind comments about my hair. I wish I had all that money spent on hiding the gray – I could be in Italy right now!

  30. Good for you – as someone who has always embraced my natural hair colour I can’t imagine how painful it is to have to manage the roots . There must be a reason we go grey and surely it is meant to complement our changing skin tone. Well, I surely hope it does.
    There are two of us writing this blog and the other Anne does colour her hair, so I think I need to go and discuss this with her in greater detail.

  31. As a new blogger of a website tha celebrates women in their ‘third age’ I would fully endorse embracing the grey. It looks cool and sophisticated and with a great cut will enhance your face and skin. Going grey, that is ditching the dye, is a celebration of who you are, the character and experiences tha define your life and age so far and a confidence booster . Go for it!

  32. Excellent article! I do believe that everyone has the right to choose to choose to dye or not to dye. However, I felt when dying my hair it was “just not me”. It cost a lot of money, took a lot of time and felt very unhealthy. It felt like I didn’t feel good about my body and I was hiding something. My body (for whatever reason) decided to start growing gray hair when I was 17 and why did I have to feel ashamed about that? Yes, I think in my 20’s and 30’s I did look older but I looked more confident. I am so tired of the pressure that females feel to change themselves to fit somebody else’s ideal female. We need to make others start changing for us. Now, in my late 40’s my hair is a beautiful silver and I feel like it is a shining light to give other women the courage to “go natural”. Yes, in family photos my mother, who is 79, does have darker hair than me!

  33. My jaw length bob is stripey – a mixture of practically white to brownish grey – which I’ve had a couple of years. It took about a year to grow the dye out, which was easy enough – the tutor (I had it done at a local hairdressing college) suggested I add ash blonde highlights to blend the grey roots in, with fewer highlights each time I went. Each to their own, of course, though I think my skin tone looks better against natural hair rather than dyed.

  34. Going grey has to do with skin tone? I thought it was a natural thing? I don’t understand the correlation– I’m black… A dark African American woman–whatever you choose to label me as… There are strands of grey in my newly chopped close cropped afro and I’m just fine with whatever and however the good Lord grows it out. I do agree however, that the process of ‘to dye or not to dye’ is a personal one. However, ‘going grey’ is a privilege a few people NEVER have the opportunity to have/undergo. You ladies truly lost me on this one… Sorry!!!

    1. My skin tone has changed with age, before I went grey.. It’s not the same as it was when I was in my 40s and, with dyed hair, something was just a little “off”. Perhaps what I mean is that my skin tone and hair now look as if they belong to the same person!! But yes, I do agree, I am fortunate to have the opportunity.

    2. I’m of Indian origin and hair colour has everything to do with skin. I’ve lost count of older friends of my mother who look old because, in their 50s and beyond, they have chosen to dye their hair black/dark. It just looks odd and ageing. My mum went grey at 50 and never dyed her hair. Now 81 she looks 10 years younger than her comtemporaries. Not ageless but just right and a great role model for me 🙂

  35. As my natural auburn hair started to go an ugly, dull, mousy gray, I started dyeing it. I went redder than my original color and really loved how it suited my skin and green eyes. I loved wearing chartreuse and mustard. I loved the attention that red hair attracts. It was an expensive habit, but one I was happy to maintain.
    At 60 I was faced with major chemo treatments and all hair went away. Months later when my hair started to grow back, it was much grayer than I had imagined, and the color was a silvery white. I decided to take a break from chemicals, and I never went back. My wardrobe color range is different — blues and grays, white and black — but it has been fun to see myself in a new way. Women stop me to compliment the color of my hair and to ask me how I had the guts to do it. No guts, just chemo — and a supportive husband who also has silver hair and who uses my anti-yellowing products unabashedly. Red was great for then; gray is great for now. And I’m six years past ovarian cancer without a recurrence, which is the best of all.

  36. The bottom line here is to do what makes you happy & what makes you personally feel confident. It is not about ‘trends’. Maturity means I personally don’t give a hoot about trends! I embraced my grey & love it. It’s an amazing colour that happens to suit me but if when I’d grown it out I had disliked it I would have headed straight back to the hair dye. There are no rights or wrongs just a life that should be lived as we each see fit. As Lucinda has pointed out there are often far greater things in life to worry about so here’s to health, happiness & a life well lived.

  37. I ditched the grey because I could not be doing with the upkeep. I am 48 & my hair is that rather nice “silver” rather than the dull grey. I am so happy with it, although the downside is my daughters friends first thought I was her nan. It’s liberating and when I see my two sisters (one older, one younger) spending upwards of £120 & them wasting 2 – 3 hours in a hair salon every couple of months, I am relieved that it isn’t me.

  38. Going grey is freeing, it seems to me. Because it isn’t just your hair that changes as you age, it is everything. So your face changes, your skin alters…and it really shows if your hair and face don’t match. I think you need to change your make up too and soften everything. Otherwise there is a tendency to look as if you work on the dodgems. It is hard work, fighting Time. Or rather, fighting the outward evidence. Anyway, your hands always tell the truth.

  39. Been thinking about this…it strikes me that women and their hair has always been a source of contention. Whether we cover it (and, here in the West, it is only in recent times that we have abandoned this custom), bare it, cut it, curl it, dye it, leave it, shave it off…it all causes reactions out of all proportion to its existence. This is just another step along the way.

  40. best decision i ever made
    i was 57, had been using henna since i was 16 to bring out red highlights in my very dark brown hair – i spent a winter growing it out under a hat and when spring arrived, chopped it into a short crop. it had been shoulder length or longer for years. i’m 62 now, it’s a messy shaggy and gorgeous salt and pepper bob on the way to my collar bone. the silver is shiny, the dark, darker than i remember – i am only about 30% grey – and it is stunning! i look better, younger and love it! can’t believe i ever wanted tro cover it up!

  41. I have had a grey / white streak in chestnut hair since I was 16, it got wider and wider as I got older and of course now these days it has been joined by a fair sprinkle of white everywhere else. Perhaps that streak got my used to the idea of grey hair as I have never dyed it. I had always planned, when my hair was predominantly grey to THEN dye it a colour… dark purple or indigo but seeing some of the models with long grey hair, I may change my mind. Who knows!

  42. I had never ever coloured my hair despite it being basically quite a boring brown/mouse shade & yearning for the stunning auburn of my mother & sister. I always shied away because I thought it would be so obvious what I had done. I was and am however lucky enough to constantly receive compliments on how shiny my hair is – for which I can take no credit as I have no idea why it is shiny!
    Anyway, as grey started to appear I talked with my stylist and he suggested (as a colour virgin) that I do a very minimal tint, every 12 weeks or so. He is totally on board with grey, but pointed out that not all grey hair is the same & in particular the issue of some of the hairs appearing dull and/or very corkscrewy. I did have my hair tinted three times over about a year and liked the result.
    However, then I discovered patches of alopecia, discs of totally bald skin, fortunately all able to be hidden by the rest of my hair. Not something I have ever suffered before. My stylist AND my GP were both certain this wasn’t due to tinting, but frankly I am unconvinced as it is the only thing I have done differently. (My doctor reckons alopecia areata is just “one of those things” no one really knows the cause for and apparently the only treatment, which is not certain, is steroids, so no!)
    I stopped tinting and the patches are all growing back in (grey!) and I am not going to risk trying it again only to get a bald patch I can’t hide this time! It is time to embrace the grey for me, so I will be investigating those grey-care hair products!

  43. A great article, thank you. I stopped colouring my hair about three years ago and it was a tough time, especially with the dreaded skunk stripe, so I had foils and they definitely toned it down. At the same time I was also growing my hair, which it seems can be another no no for older women (rude comments were freely given).
    I get lovely compliments about my hair colour and also the length and it is nice to be me, without the dye.

    PS. I had decided to grow my hair to my boobs, so a good bra is essential !!!!

  44. I started growing out my silver last winter, about nine months ago, bleaching out the dye from the processed hair once it was three inches long. (In Canada it’s easy to hide the skunk stripe with a baret or a touque all winter long), and then I toned the bleached stuff with Ion Titanium to even out the mismatch between my own silver and the processed remnants. A few months after that, I cut off four inches of frizz. Now my natural wave is back, I’m loving the colour, get tons of compliments, and most tellingly, many inquiries are about how I got free of the hair dye tyranny. I crunched the numbers and in the past two decades I spent the equivalent of the cost of a new coupe-type car on highlights and lowlights and root treatments and never found the results looked authentic. The worst was when I came home from the salon, having blown the cost of a really fine pair of shoes, and my husband would ask: “Why did you let him do that to you?”
    I run across all sorts of women who claim that dying their hair makes them look younger, even a relative who is half paralyzed from a stroke and wheel chair-bound and 82, and still paying through the nose to dye her hair the colour of a dandelion, so she’ll look “young”. This is a delusion. The hair dye industry has been taking us for a ride. The skunk stripe is aging. The dye fries your hair. It just makes us look like we’re “trying too hard”. Eventually the only option with dyed hair is to cut it such that it fits like a helmet on top of your head. And if the rest of you doesn’t look 24, nobody is fooled. You’re just blowing the cost of a nice holiday down south every year to pander to an unrealistic beauty standard. And nobody is fooled.

  45. I stopped the blonde highlights around age 50 and haven’t looked back. My hair has silver highlights and is shinier than before. I may look older to some than I did with the blonde, but I don’t care. I do get compliments and men don’t seem to be deterred by it. As far as looking “youthful”, skincare, eating well, exercising, having a positive attitude are all way more important than the colour of hair.

    I think everyone should make themselves happy and do what they want with their hair but for me, the potential adverse health effects, wasted time and money are not worth it. I feel so free and I think going grey is an act of bravery that signals confidence to others. I have noticed that my wardrobe and makeup choices have shifted a little. Since I wear it longish and am moderately handy, I trim it myself too and with the money I have saved I have splurged on a couple of health retreats in the southern U.S. to escape our Canadian winters…..

  46. Loved reading this and all of the comments! I’m 47 and proudly wearing my 11 weeks of dye-free roots. It’s not easy and a real challenge to my vanity but I do feel completely liberated for the most part.
    My addiction to dye started in my twenties with only a few grey loners and it was easy enough to get the rinses every so often to hide the intruders. Fast forward all these years and there has been nothing easy about maintaining the colour for me. My peroxide brunette started to make me feel older & I got so tired with the whole process.
    I’d like to think I’ve always been stylish with trends that suited me and my lifestyle. However my hair wars made me re-think of how I could feel my best even with my 80% grey self. I never thought I’d admit this being addicted to the dye and all but NATURE got it right. My new growth is so beautiful and complements my skin tone which BTW is also changing. My complexion actually sparkles and I’m excited to see what I’ll look like moving forward. Another bonus is how much softer and healthier my new hair is. The whole “grey hair movement” is not about trying to suggest that all women should embrace their grey but more so to encourage gals like me at 47 or at any age that it’s OK to choose not to dye and reveal our natural colour.
    These posts and wealth of information out there have helped me keep it together and commit to my transitioning with a little more confidence. It’s a support group I totally need right now. There’s also nothing wrong with dying either to cover grey or simply express ourselves through the endless glorious shades of hair colouring. Some women dye forever and that’s OK if that’s what makes you feel good. For “moi” the never ending roots peeking through 10 days after a salon dye started to chip away at my confidence. I no longer left the salon feeling great but instead with a mental timer calculating how long until my next fix and what was going on with my social calendar. I no longer controlled the grey…they controlled me. Exhausting! I spent more time hiding the greys between appointments with an arsenal of touch-up products than actually enjoying my pricey colourings!
    Now at 11 weeks, it’s a tremendous relief for me to be rid of what has been 2 decades of dye commitments and treat myself to something new with the saved $$$. So to all women out there, let’s continue to support each other no matter what our personal hair journey is and encourage each other to be our best selves!!!

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