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All the blues and greys. J’adore the new Lanvin campaign featuring Stella Tennant and photographed by Paolo Roversi. A penchant for pyjama-rama-style is easy to cultivate when you work from home. But enough about Lanvin, let’s talk about grey hair. Stella Tennant’s is a work in progress and for the last couple of years I’ve been toying and fro-ing and going Gronde (grey-blonde). Then, last summer, came the ‘Duracell battery’ stage. This is what international hair colourist Josh Wood calls the mid-term regrowth phase (large roots and different coloured ends). I caved-in and had my roots done. And although I received lots of lovely compliments about my hair colour, I instantly regretted it. Now I’m growing in the grey and determined to stick with it. One conclusion I’ve come to is that maybe I don’t need to go down the ‘regular visits to the hairdressers for lowlights/highlights’ route. I tried this (briefly) when I went grey for the Guardian and basically ended up with even more colour in my hair and bleach, too. Pah.

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It’s going to be a long process…

The French journalist and style heroine Sofie Fontanel just went for it, and she had darker hair which is much, much harder. Obviously, growing in the grey is a slow process that will involve hair tied back, a lot, and ultimately going shorter. Possibly with a bit of balayage in-between.

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Sophie Fontanel via Instagram

Haven’t had any colour added since last summer. Watch this grey space.

 

There’s an interview with Josh Wood plus further advice on going grey in Style Forever.

119 thoughts on “Grey hair, very slowly getting there

  1. You’ve inspired me! I’m going down the ‘grown’ route – basically costing me a small fortune to have the same mousey brown hair colour as I’ve always done – just so I don’t look my age? I need to get a grip!

  2. Hello Alyson
    I like your across body bag in the photo above. Would it be possible to say where it’s from?
    Thanks
    Sue

  3. I’m at the same stage with growing out my grey hair now. Yesterday was funny. Over the weekend I’d had a good clear out of my clothes. Went to the gym, came home, had a shower, didn’t feel like washing my hair – looked great at the front. Decided it was high time I bought some new jumpers. Went to a couple of shops, tried on several jumpers – the only problem being ….. at home I don’t have a mirror where I can see the back of my hair, well oh boy was I in for a shock when I did see the back of my hair hahahah what a disaster, it was like you said a Duracell array of hair colours, and not having wsshed it after the gym didn’t really help. I bought the jumpers – thank goodness I could see the potential! Came straight home and gave my hair a good wash and conditioned with a blue conditioner to even out those brassy yellow tones! I keep on going though growing out the grey. Thank goodness I don’t have to look at the back of my head!

  4. I’m 51 and not ready to take the leap just yet, but definitely time to start thinking about it and get ready to do it.

  5. I’m 65 ,originally with naturally-striped blonde hair which has grown mousier as I get older and have had champagne blonde highlights for years-done beautifully. Now I have some grey at my temples, am mouse underneath and my hairdresser said,when I asked about maybe silver highlight to start making the transition, to stick with the blonde. What to do? Any suggestions from your own experience gratefully received

    1. If I hear one more time from my hairdresser, that there is no grey colour, I’ll probably go mad! They tell me you can’t have your hair coloured grey, grey means there is no pigment in your hair! Hahaha You can have your hair coloured pink, green, blue but not grey! My best advice is to have lots of highlights put in and then use a purple or blue shampoo when the yellow tones start showing through, have a lot of hats, lots of things to tie your hair back and a very ‘thick skin’ for all the unasked for comments you will receive!

  6. Great post & I love Stella Tennants’ clothes. I’ve grown blonde out over last 2 years, though caved in & had a blonde streak at the front for my daughters wedding last May. Discovered that my natural hair colour is now dull & mousy, so have had ash-blonde dye at front…which is ok but not very exciting. The main challenge is convincing my hairdresser, who thinks I am very lucky to have hardly any grey (I’m 66) that I want to look the best version of my age that I can, & not 10 years younger. Anyone else have issues convincing hairdressers?

    1. I finally left one hairdresser who would or could not stop hinting about coloring my hair, despite repeated explanations of why I was ready to ‘go gray’.

    2. I suppose many hairdressers, like the worst sort of beauty counter assistants, live in a bubble; all bolstering each other’s idea of what is the ‘right’ way to look. They aren’t always open to different ideas.

  7. I am 51 and have grown my grey hair in over the last 18 months. It is finally done and feels fantastic. It is one of the most empowering things I have done. There are some great on line communities out there to support your journey and provide a wealth of information. I was mid way through growing my hair out when I bought your book Alyson and it gave me a real boost to find my own style, enjoy being 50 and be my authentic self. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. I decided to go grey at around the age of 47 which was 10 years ago, more out of curiosity than commitment. As my hair grows very quickly it wasn’t too painful a process. I didn’t even have to cut it short. The result? I am delighted and have never looked back….

    1. Sounds just like me! I was 43, found my first grey hair at 16 and had coloured it for over 20 years. I had no idea what my natural colour was and was delighted at the silver that grew through. I went cold turkey which was relatively painless as I had a pixie cut at the time and I was pure, unadulterated silver within two cuts. I’ve never been tempted to colour it since. It’s always attracted masses of compliments.

  9. I decided 2 years ago that enough was enough and in preparation for my 50th, I would give up the whole palaver of dying my hair. I used to go every 3 weeks to cover the grey/white roots with my “natural” chestnut brown colour. Natural, who was I kidding?
    My approach was the radical “chop it off” and grow out the roots, so I went from shoulder-length brown hair to a neat Jean Seberg / Mia Farrow waif crop with grey roots and brown ends. Needless to say the badger phase was a time during which I curtly refused photos. Now I have shoulder-lengh grey/white hair, which draws the compliments (“I love your hair colour”) of so many people. Nobody ever complimented my dyed brown hair! To keep it looking glossy and grey/white, as opposed to grey/yellow, I use L’Orleal grey shampoo, and regular overnight hair masks with mustard oil with rosemary and ylang ylang essential oils. It was the best decision that I made in years! I’ve saved time, money and gained self-confidence. I’m me with my grey/white hair.

  10. Bald, white blonde, dark blond, mouse, hennaed, strawberry blond, blond, ash blond, ash, grey, white in certain lights – I started going grey when I was really young but didn’t start growing it out until I was in my early 50s. As it was already very light blond I didn’t have too much trouble with roots although I did waver and tbh still do sometimes. Overall though I am very glad I did it and saving all that money at the hairdressers is also a bonus. Good luck with it Alyson.

  11. Nearly 60 and had grey hair for at least 15 years. Initially the grow out is tough but once you’re done you’re done. Compliments come regularly on the colour grey… yes, there are different colours grey. Come on ladies… you can do it!

  12. Decided I wanted my natural hair colour (whatever it was goi g to be!) by the time I was 65 last October. I stopped dying my hair last Christmas and by the time I reached 65 all the dye was gone. It was an interesting experience! My hairdresser was very encouraging as were some of my friends (not all) my stubbornness helped too! My hair is dark and I have a smattering of grey with white streaks at the front and I love it. The condition is so much better and a trip to hairdressers for a cut rather than the torture of colour and cut is now a pleasure! I took extra care with my makeup and clothes so as not to look as if I was ‘letting myself go’. I am also pleased to find that I can once more wear black when previously it looked too harsh with my dark hair. I think the trick is to just keep going once started and if you’re having a wobble put on an outfit that you like and a bright lipstick. Good luck!!

  13. After years of home dyeing my once dark brown hair, I decided at 60 that I’d had enough. I had it cut very short and loved it so much I kept it short for a few years. Now I have shoulder length white/ grey hair which I either wear in a loose bun or a ponytail and use a blue shampoo every now and then. I still miss my very dark hair but not the hair dyes….

  14. I switched to natural/herbal hair colour (and haircare) four years ago and now, at 52, have healthier hair than at any point since I started colouring at 17. I still get my roots done every four weeks, not light brown anymore but gradually lighter so the greys look like fine highlights. I plan to let the grey come in more and more, no demarcation lines with this method.

    1. Could you please tell, what colour/brand you used? I tried it once and went back to chemical, because it didn’t work for me. But I would love to follow your way! Thanks and liebe Grüsse : )

  15. Go for it – at 62, I decided it was ridiculous for me to pretend to be blonde, and with the aid of a good hairdresser ( I had it severely chopped at the half and half stage) I am now 99% there. I don’t miss the lengthy expensive colouring sessions, and I love the condition of my hair too. I like the White Hot Hair products as well as the Philip Kingsley range for grey hair.
    I also feel the colour works better with my skin tone, and I always wear a bright lippy.

  16. I knew my hairdresser at the time totally disapproved of my desire to grow my colour out (apparently I wasn’t pretty enough) and he liked the blonde. But as I was originally a dark brunette being blonde didn’t sit well with me. And I preferred the colour of my roots! So when I made the decision to grow it in, I didn’t go to the hairdresser for eight months. My father had just died and I wasn’t focused on my appearance so it wasn’t too bad. Different for you Alyson when you need to be photographed so often!

    You will probably decide to get a good few inches chopped off come spring/summer. We often want a new style at this time of year so I would start thinking about that now You can grow it back!

    I cannot stress enough that grey hair is not a low maintenance option! That route is the bag lady route all too often. I have occasional “bleach” foils to blend in the back and brighten it up. I have a toner to get rid of the brassiness and add sheen every time I get it cut (5 weeks). I treasure its condition and use expensive hair care, masques, finishing oils etc.. I also really focus on good skin care and illuminating make-up to makes sure everything is glowy and “youthful”.

    Keep going – it’s not forever!

  17. I’m 61, and for years I’ve had honey and caramel highlights added to the grey that was growing in. Now, after four months of busy house moving activities, I can see what my hair colour really is, and I love it! I am so lucky that the main colour is gun-metal grey, but there is also a white badger streak (inherited from my father) and lighter greys too. Someone asked me if I’d had it highlighted like that, and another friend asked if I’d had blue added!
    I use the Pro:Voke Touch of Silver shampoos and conditioner range (which are fabulous for fine hair) and – in response to your earlier article, enjoy my make up experience even more, keeping my foundation light, my brows dark and my lippy colourful. Currently loving No7 Pretty Please (Sheer Temptation) as a glossy base, with Liz Earle Hibiscus on top, plus navy blue clothes with pink accessories.

  18. Having just gone through the process myself can only agree with Catherine and other responses here. Hairdressers aren’t often in favour, just find one who is, a great cut and make up even more important. Also a tip from the Facebook group Going Grey Gracefully, use your silver shampoo on dry hair, comb through, leave on for about 15-30 minutes, then shampoo as normal, kills the yellow and blorange.

    1. When I’ve tried using purple shampoo on my white/grey hair, it turns it also purple and then I get that old woman “purple rinse” look!

      1. Haha! Me too! I like the Phillip Kingsley silver range. And the elasticiser is a wonder product if you have thick coarse hair.

  19. I guess the going grey process is different for all of us. I too was fed up with the frequent touching up and stopped during my hair in my early 50s. It has been great and I wished I’d done it years ago. I have various shades of grey through my hair and a short style. For me a very cheap and no fuss option. A special grey shampoo once a week and that’s it for me. Wonderful!

  20. I’m a member of an online group for women wanting to grow in their natural colour. It’s called silver sisters cafe gray. The support is great for what should be an easy process but really isn’t!

  21. I went for it a few years ago aged 44 – very annoyed to have the same salt and pepper grey as my 84 year old month! But I had short hair so went for the short crop then grew it out a bit. All the advice was that you really need to see how it grows out – I am lucky mine is fairly even. The big thing I have found is I have to really have some colour in terms of lipstick or clothes otherwise I look too washed out

  22. Interesting point about hairdressers not being in favour – in wonder if it is anything to do with the loss of revenue from losing a colour client? 🙂 I had long (naturally dark) dyed dark brown and could no longer keep up with the very visible white roots – plus hair dye makes my hair itch and that always made me worry about the effects it was having on the rest of my body. So, at 50, I decided to let my hair take on its natural colour. I went down the ponytail ‘route’ for a while then got a shoulder length textured bob. It has taken me about three years and, because the contrast in colour has been so extreme, I haven’t really been able to do it quietly! Luckily my hairdresser has been really supportive – its so tempting to just sit down in the chair and say ‘oh go on, just dye it again’ but he’s never even let that come into the conversation: its always been a really positive, step by step, process. I’m now growing my hair long again – so I will finish where I started but with natural hair. ‘The same’, my hairdresser reminds me ‘only more fabulous’.

  23. I grew my grey through when I was forty but didn’t really like it ……I guess I just wasn’t ready, so it was back to colouring it. At fifty I toyed with the idea, and again at sixty….even on reaching seventy I decided against it as I had a rather good blonde bob and a bit more time to maintain it.
    However illness struck and a week in hospital on a variety of medications turned my neat blonde bob into a headful of polyester fibre!! It wouldn’t swing, it wouldn’t lie flat…….whatever I wanted it to do, it wouldn’t.!
    My next step was a visit to the hairdresser who suggested a layered bob, but longer layers have never worked for me so I took a deep breath and told her to cut it all off. I have to admit I was really happy with the cut, but after a couple of weeks my roots started to show quite badly. I pondered on this……if you can colour the roots to match the ends, why not colour the ends to match the roots.
    My hairdresser agreed with me and said let’s give it a go. She bleached out the remaining blonde, used a silver toner……and there I was …silver and spikey.
    It’s a year now since our adventure with the bleach and several cuts later all my own colour has grown through. No longer grey as it was when I grew out my hair colour at forty, but silvery white. I love it.
    Jill from Glasgow is right though, it’s not a low maintenance option, but treated properly it can look amazing. Whether I look younger, older, taller, shorter, slimmer or what doesn’t really concern me. I know I look good. I am not concerned with age appropriate….as long as I’m happy with the woman I see in the mirror. My white hair really rocks. I hope you get there with yours Alyson……I think you’ll enjoy it.

  24. It took about 16 months for me to grown mine out….. My hair was shoulder length so I cut it to a bob in september 2015 and used root spray on the roots till about Christmas. My hairdresser suggested bleaching the ends of my dyed dark brown hair so she could layer the bob and it would even out the ‘tide lines’ and it was quite effective in so far as it could be, and I stopped the root spray in February. By September most of the ends were gone, but the bob was still in layers, so four months on, the bob layers have grown out and the colour is all natural. I don’t miss my dyed hair as it really had become too severe for my skin tones, and the texture of it was horrid, while my own grey hair is soft.

  25. I tried the grow out last year but didn’t have enough grey/white hair to actually go grey. So I went back to my highlights/lowlights, plus my own mousy blonde colour and some silver popping through. I like it! So, I will continue to colour for a few more years, then start the process again. Crossing my fingers for that beautiful white hair like my sister. Not sure if it will be the same, as she had very dark hair and I was a blonde. One can only hope!
    Your adventure into going grey will be my guide though when the time is right.

  26. As the years went by, I went from my own one-shade-up-from-black to an unflattering beige in my fifties. So then I had highlights dubbed ‘flying colours’, which perked up the beige for a while. But eventually, the airborne colours didn’t take and I let my own grey strut its stuff. So I’ve let it be…

  27. I grew out my blonde highlights last year using Goldwell shampoo and conditioner for silver hair which drastically reduced the difference between my grey roots and blonde ends. Now I am totally grey and loving it! Best thing I have ever done. I get lots of compliments from complete strangers plus I am saving time and money. My advice is go for it! You can always colour it again if you don’t like it but you will never know what it will look like unless you stick it out.

  28. I stopped coloring my hair at around 50 for health reasons! I couldn’t have chemicals near me. For the next 7 years I have had enormous compliments! Mostly from hairdressers who say they cannot create my coulour ! The grey looks like fabulous highlights!
    I have a long layered blunt bob and feel my hair now matches and compliments me !

  29. I’m 52 and decided to stop highlighting my hair around a year and a half ago. My hair is blonde but darker underneath naturally. I only have a few grey streaks at the front and have it cut into a bob. It did look awful while I was growing the highlights out but I think it looks fine now. I go to an excellent hairdresser and she hasn’t tried to get me to colour it again. I am aiming for a grey/ white bob in the longer term; my grandmother had a fabulous chic grey/ white bob. Thanks for the support !

  30. It took me a year and was difficult at first as I am 51 and work in a customer facing role and was told that my appearance was looking ” a bit scruffy” by my boss! (I left the job shortly after). I caved in and dyed roots out for a friends wedding as she thought that it would not look good in the photos and had to start again. I was cross that I put myself back six months. I now have a steel grey with lighter grey natural streaks a bob and love it. I am growing it longer. I never went for a short crop as does not suit my face, but kept it long enough to tie / grip back whilst growing out. It is saving me a considerable amount of money that I am not spending in getting it highlighted and from home dye “touch up” kits. The condition of my hair is amazing as I am not layering harsh chemicals on it all the time. What kept me going was the fascination with other peoples comments, both negative and positive. I found the process intriguing. I was told (by both those I know and total strangers at work / bus stops etc) that I had “let myself go” that I “looked like a witch” that “my husband would never let me go grey” that “I looked like Mary Beard” (I admire her a great deal and don’t see why that was an insult?”). I was also told that I was “brave, that I ” gorgeous” that ” I wish I had the courage to do let my hair grow out” and that I was “making a political stand”. It is just hair !

  31. My greying is on-going and rather fascinating. At present I would describe it as badger – quite pale at the front and gradually moving backwards but the back is still dark. Must admit that I am enjoying this stage and, having had very short hair for some years, taking time to grown it back into a side parted bob. It needs a bit of maintenance because grey hair is drier and I am now looking for something to remove a tendency to frizz. I like my grey hair though this is something I have noticed in the last couple of years – young men tend to call me love or dear. Not nastily, in a friendly way, but it makes me want to burst out laughing. I plainly remind them of their nan. I prefer madam.

  32. I tried several times to convince my hairdresser that I wanted to let my hair go natural; she continued to resist so I switched hairdressers. Vote with your feet (and your wallet)! At 62, I could see my roots coming in silvery-white at the front. I started getting the usual combo of highlights and lowlights to get through the worst of it, then had my hair cut short. Within a year, I had all-natural hair that is silver-white at the front and darkens a bit towards the back.
    The freedom is amazing. And wonderful!
    I save the money, save the upkeep at the salon, no longer have to time the colouring around events like vacations or seasonal holidays… and when the wind blows my hair, I no longer worry about what shows underneath. I follow my new hairdressers advice and mix the blue shampoo 50-50 with the same brand of regular shampoo; it is enough to get rid of any brassiness without looking like an old-lady blue rinse. Happy, happy, happy!

  33. I love Sofie Fontanel’s hair – perhaps because I have a rebellious streak in me.

    I’m 50. My hair has always been mousy so I ‘sun-kissed’ blonded it for a while, but then forget about it and its now grown out. At the moment it’s fully natural, dark mouse blended with light gray highlights that make it seem fairer than simply mouse.

    It’s okay but I’m getting bored with it an dmy rebellious streak wants to do something a bit different and dramatic. I was thinking to bleach it white and doing a full multi-coloured head of hair, but blues turn green and reds pink and as I can look tired at the moment, I’m not sure I could carry the washed out colours. I might do hints of multi-coloured highlights though, while I’m waiting for white to be more dominant.

  34. Mine is salt and pepper, much more salt than pepper. And the longest I’ve had it for years, past my shoulders, so I twist and clip it up which I love. The only change is a little more lip colour and being braver with my clothes. It’s liberating.

    1. My hair has thinned a lot at the temples, where it’s all white. You can see my scalp right through the hair there, but no one notices, because the white hair reflects the light. If I colored my hair to the shade of the brown that’s left, my (much paler) scalp would show through and the thinning would be obvious. So letting your hair go grey may be more of a solution than a problem, if the hair and scalp would be similar in color value (the colors they would be in greyscale).

  35. 52 years old here. I got a huge number of compliments when I was going through the Duracell phase (red with WHITE/strawberry blonde roots)– I hit it just at the ombre trend. Red on white is very difficult and tends to fade to a Trumpish apricot– not for me, thank you! My tips? The best haircut you can afford. Grey/White hair is aging only if you let yourself look unkempt or you get a menopausal perm. Condition! Don’t use a hair dryer. Key for keeping the “yellows” at bay– shampoo and conditioner without pigment. That goes for product as well. And use a shampoo once a week that gets rid of build up. And don’t smoke. Anyway, I can’t wait til it’s all white.

    1. Menopausal perm! The thought makes me smile. You do still see it around though – tight little curls. It adds about 10 years.

  36. I took the plunge one summer,(so much easier in the heat) had a really short haircut and waited. I now have white hair and love how easy it is,long gone are the days of sitting in the hairdresser for hours,now I go for a trim and leave.
    Ones natural colour whatever it is,is kinder to the face and skin color. So be brave ladies you won’t regret it.

  37. I did it four years ago and it was one of the best things I’ve done for myself. My hair was short and I was having it coloured every three weeks. I suffered through the first two inches and then had it cut short again and within about six months it looked great. My hair is easier to style and people tell me all of the time “love your style”. I do think you need to offset it with a bright lipstick and some funky clothes and possibly cool glasses if you are a “certain age” I’m 64. You also need to be very careful about your shampoo. I took my long grey locks to Morocco one year and came back with orange in my hair – from the minerals in the water! Grey has been very liberating for me.

  38. I joined the FB group Going Grey Gracefully and it’s nice to see other’s journey too!!
    I haven’t been dying mine either, although it’s not super evident yet! But both my mom & stepmom (the models on my blog) have grey hair and I figure they look great!
    Besides, I’m trying to reduce the chemicals around me, so this is just one step I can control!!
    jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

  39. My bigger concern is texture. I used to have loads of silky, fine hair. But as I approach 55, my ponytail is getting skimpier and skimpier. (I wear my hair like Caryn Franklin usually.) I worry about my scalp showing one day.

    Anyway, grey is great but it’s not for everyone. It’s a choice. Meryl Streep keeps her fine (dare I say thin) hair golden; Helen Mirren does not.

    Meryl did look fantastic with a siliver do in “The Devil Wears Prada”, but according to the film’s director, she wore a wig.

    Some women are blessed with amazing heads of grey hair (e.g. Emmylou Harris). In my case, the grey is o.k. enough. It certainly does not automatically mean decrepit, ungroomed or frumpy. It’s not letting yourself go. It’s more like letting yourself be.

    1. I agree. I think if you have fine hair, as you age the addition of colour can give it much needed ooomph. Thinning hair is also usually best coloured because otherwise the scalp is clearly visible. My Mum still has blonde hair at 78 for this reason while her two daughters are both grey lol – my hair is very thick, coarse, wavy and white and my sister’s is short and a pewter colour.

      At the moment it’s quite fashionable and “cool” to go grey but you have to have the right hair type and colouring for it. It is not for everybody. Read Nora Ephron for her take. And you see very few women in senior jobs or in broadcasting with grey hair.

  40. Alyson, I love the jacket and scarf that you’re wearing with jeans in the photo above 🙂

    I think I’m unusual in that I’ve never colored my medium brown hair. I actually feel really fortunate that I don’t have to deal with this issue, as so many of my friends have recently. At sixty, it’s maybe 30% white, but about half of that is at the temples, so it can look a lot more or less white depending on how I style it (when I pull it back off my face, a lot more of the white shows up). I keep it long, currently to my tailbone, and wear an assortment of quick dos — braids, ponytails, buns, twists using hair sticks or forks. I get a lot of compliments on my hair now (mostly from young people), often specifically on the fact that I don’t color it and keep it long, so it’s become part of my style signature. I was inspired by a friend who wears her almost 100% white hair to her waist. It took time to find a great hairdresser who loves it that I wear it long, and takes the time to trim it so that it looks great no matter where I part it. The main challenge is keeping it super well-conditioned, as even a little bit of frizz in mixed brown/white hair like mine tends to get read as “unkempt”. A prewash treatment with coconut oil or Living Proof Overnight Cap once or twice a month in the winter helps. Living Proof Split End Mender (smooths the cuticle all through the length and ends) and Living Proof no-frizz Humidity Shield spray also help to keep my hair from trying to turn itself into a giant puffball, so that I can wear it loose and not have to wrangle it into a braid or bun.

  41. I’ve been toying with the idea of letting my hair go completely grey for the last couple of years but my 9 & 11 year old want nothing to do with it! At almost 52 (I’m having a birthday next week) and an executive in the fashion business in NYC, I am concerned about being considered “old” and not current (which I know could not be further from the truth.
    You’ve inspired me to reconsider! Thank you !

    1. I’m your age and my kids are your kids’ age. Mine were horrified when I told them I was going to stop dying my hair, but they’ve been absolutely fine ever since. They get used to it like everything else. Professionally, I reckon the further up the food chain you are the easier it will be, since you command respect and are looked to as a role model. I was also nervous about copping ageism in my youth-oriented industry but didn’t notice a change, and as a fashion professional you’ll just adapt your style to ensure you remain current. It’s all good.

  42. Around 50 I quit highlighting and let it go. Seven years later, I still love my hair and get lots of compliments, but my aunt always says, “oh, you should color!” We all age, so why not embrace the process? Thank goodness I am aging. I just picked up _How to Age_ by Anne Karpf, really good book for any age, as she talks about our attitudes towards aging. “Ageism is our own prejudice against our future self!” Go with the grey! And please do tell, Alyson, where you got the jacket you’re wearing in the picture. Love it!

  43. Could all you brave ladies move to Greece for a bit so I won’t feel such an oddity ! I need some back-up, since you won’t see many older women with grey hair here, though you will see some horrible dye jobs, growing- out chestnut brown with white roots being the favoured look. I have let my hair go completely grey, I have it almost shoulder length and I love it. My hair is in great condition, soft and shiny, which it never was when I dyed it. Not true that grey hair gets coarse, you just need to care for it.
    The growing out phase was quite painful, you do need a supportive hairdresser, which I didn’t have, so I stopped going. Also, you will always get negative comments as well as admiring ones, but what makes you happy is what counts.
    On the hair care front, I have stopped buying shampoo from the supermarket, and go for something as pure as possible , paying a bit more, and use a hair mask with olive and aloe oils every week.

  44. From a hairdresser’s point of view… I have been cutting and coloring hair for over 30 years. I have helped women grow grey out, cut it off, recolor it and anything in between you can think of. My job is to help you look your best. It’s really about communication. I think some younger hairdressers might not understand the desire to grow out the grey, it kind of goes against what they have often been taught. Toning shampoos really help a lot of people in the inbetween stages, but if your hair is rather dry naturally or dry because of chemical services it can start to go purplish.
    In the end a good hairdresser, no matter how old or young, will listen to you and discuss options to help you thru the transition of colored to no longer colored hair. Ask lots of questions, get answers, and if you can’t get on the same page, then it’s time for a new hairdresser.
    Love your blog, Stella T is a great model, and was curious about what jeans you were wearing in your picture. Wish I could have seen more of them. Struggling to find a pair I love right now.

  45. Informative to read all these how to comments. My hair is dyed brown with greyish roots which I touch up with wow colour. I don’t have that much grey so would take a long time to make the transition. I would be glad to get away from the dye and cost of maintenance if it didn’t leave one looking a mess in the interim. It’s a hard one.
    It does help to have strong women now of my age, sixty plus, being seen in the public eye with grey well groomed hair. Thinking of PM Theresa May and Christine Lagarde of World Bank. However neither Angela Merkel nor Hilary Clinton could present themselves without their blond power bobs. Men can have naturally greying hair with age, women less so. A double standard prevails.

  46. I agree with Fran about keeping hair in good condition. I also have found Living Proof shampoo, mask and conditioner. Wonderful products for coloured hair. I first bought it at a Sephora in US. Now available at Space NK in UK in store and online. Worth paying for this brand. My hair has never been softer, shinier and lacking in frizz. I’ve only tried their range for coloured hair, there are others including for frizz.

    1. You are quite right about keeping one’s hair in really good condition,and a lot of shampoos don’t do that. I use “White Hot Hair ” products ( designed especially for grey/white hair) which are fabulous. I buy online very easy. And my white hair is happy and I get a lot of compliments. So a really good haircut and great products do the trick!!!!

  47. I think you look beautiful. You always look beautiful. As someone who’s had silver hair for for 13 years I can say I love not having to color my hair every 4 weeks. On the other hand I long for color sometimes. I just have to do the color with make up and accessories now. I did the cold turkey approach and for 6 weeks my hair was freaky: reddish brown growing out and weird low lights sparsely scattered at the crown. At six weeks my stylish buzzed my hair off. Quite glam actually. Yes, it was a big leap.

  48. Years and years of highlights and hours and hours in the hairdressers at around £250 a visit…. such a bore so let it go.
    Initially fewer and fewer highlights plus a very regular trim and I am almost there – up in a chignon or “boofed” into big hair I have never had so many compliments, personally I think longer, groomed hair is far more flattering than a short crop. Linda Rodin was my inspiration. Rethought my make up to compliment silver hair and paler skin, introduced a little colour into my wardrobe (still fan of black & white) quick smudge of grey liner and mascara, plus bright lips and I love it.
    Bottom line IMO is dyed hair does not make most people look younger – just older people with dyed hair.

  49. I am 47 and decided back in May 2016 to go grey. I’d been toying with the idea for a while, since my hair was dry and coarse from all the coloring, and 3 weeks into a dye job I could already see the roots coming through. My hair came down to my waist and had caramel and copper highlights. I initially thought of going the slow route, and let it grow for 2 months, but started hating my raven black (natural color) roots with plenty of grey. So on the spur of the moment, while holidaying, I entered a salon I’d never been before and asked them to chop off all my hair into a pixie cut, with the full support of my loving husband who’d been telling me for so long I was ruining my beautiful hair with all the coloring. My hair is now black with lots of grey scattered all over, and I’ve been asked by multiple people if I’ve had grey highlights done, LOL! I just tell them, no, it’s my grey! I maintain a pixie cut, and I’ve never received so many compliments – its suits my 5’2″ frame and lean face. Do I sometimes wish I had my long caramel locks? Yes, but it goes away quickly when I touch my soft and healthy hair and feel authentically me!

  50. Just do it! Stop overthinking. It’s all about attitude. And, a bit of a tweak with makeup and clothing (color-wise).
    I have been shades of grey for 30 years and have never looked back. Or looked better.

  51. GO back THREE photos on my instagram………..I CALL IT TINSEL!
    I LIKE IT.
    The coloring CANNOT be GOOD for your HAIR. Plus the expense.
    I feel I have earned the GREY……….bring it ON!

  52. I’m 62 and have very few grey hairs but I have had to pay a fortune to my hairdresser for balayage because my natural hair colour (almost black – Asian-Euro heritage) has suddenly become really draining against my complexion. I’d love to have more grey, ironically! I am thinking of chopping it all off and going navy blue for my 65th birthday — channelling my inner Tina Chow. (In my dreams.)

  53. Alyson, you look really great. Why will you need to have it cut shorter at some point? I don’t understand why this will be necessary? Personally, I love the stripey look – it’s what I have sort of ended up with, and I do wear it long in loose layers and tied up 99% of the time. My hair was very very dark, naturally, and with the constant depressing trips to cover up the grey roots, I had begun to look like a playmobil person with a wig.And, the colour had become weirdly aging. Whatever. It is only hair,I suppose. ( Please, please would you advise me, are the Gucci loafers worth the money, in your opinion?)

  54. Oh my, how the words ‘grey’ and ‘hair’ raise the blood pressure (and the number of comments) when put together!
    You know, it was only mulling over what others have written that I realised that at one stage I actually sported salt’n’pepper ‘headphones’ for a while when ahem, blending from reddish brown to pewter. I was in my early 20s and didn’t mind at all but I must admit to a momentary pang when I realised one day that my hair colour was actually age appropriate!
    But I’m a happy enough old dear: The old silver tresses reach halfway down my back and need scant maintenance, although, like Jen, I believe in a good conditioner and air drying. A good cut is a given. I liven meself up with a bright lipstick (now I’ve learned how to keep it in place, more or less!), and bright nail polish. My secret weapon is a handsized hairbrush – a Tangle Teezer. It’s amazing.
    As for Lin’s Moroccan orange hair, I do sympathise! I now always have lashings of purply stuff with me when visiting my daughter in America since the time that minerals in her well water left me looking liked I’d been dunked in a vat of mustard!

  55. It has been a very long three years, but so worth it ! I had to have blonde foils, because the whole “skunk stripe” was just too much! But I did persevere and it is great, I love my grey hair (with a few blonde ends). At the same time I also grew my hair, mainly because I wanted long hair again and having someone tell me I should not have long hair only spurred me on!
    Just go for it, the journey is a great experience and very freeing.

  56. I am 47 and started with the highlights to blend in the grey about 3 years ago – realised about 7 months ago that it was far too blonde and yellow to really suit me (naturally very dark haired). Growing out, and it is pretty long now
    . I like the piebald effect – but also really love the natural colour coming through. Time for a serious trim soon, but it is so freeing not to ‘have’ to get my roots done, etc.

  57. I’d been having gold highlights put in my short hair since I was 19 and started noticing I needed less gold as my silver highlights grew in starting around 45. I decided that if the grey came in like Anderson Cooper’s salt and pepper (he wasn’t completely white at that time) and not like some of the stripes and patches I’d seen some women endure, I’d go grey. But how would I know which type of grey growth I had unless I stopped the highlights, a decision I kept putting off. When I was 48 I was laid up after an accident and the silver lining (pardon the pun) was no visit to the hairdresser for four months. Four months in which I learned I was blessed with the salt and pepper hair of Anderson Cooper. Recently, I’ve received compliments on eyeglasses and outfits I’ve worn for years. My sisters and I puzzled it out and our conclusion ~ there’s even more silver in my hair and it’s made the dark rims of the eyeglasses and the black clothes I love pop!

    Alyson, keep at it. It’s going to be marvelous!

  58. It took me about 2 years to go from dyed dark brown to naturally grey. Giving up the twice-monthly root coverup was a In between was a lot of highlights/lowlights and money. At one point, I was the blonde I had always dreamed of being as a teen. I did bite the bullet and cut it short to alleviate some of the “growing in” stage but that was about 18 months in. I love my hair now and get constant compliments on both the color and the style.

  59. Your hairdresser’s attitude does help. Mine is totally anti-colour and anti-chemicals so he is in tune with my determination to go grey naturally. Because I’m South Asian there wasn’t much choice – black hair dye just looks awful in my opinion. Honestly, it’s no big deal, a stylish cut is much less ageing than grey streaks! Go for it Alyson.

  60. I am 36 and secretly going grey. My hairdresser says that I am about 70% grey now. I have dyed my hair for such a long time that while I am very curious to see what my hair looks like natural, I am petrified what people will think especially men. I do worry about the chemicals in hair dye because I am a survivor of Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma cancer from 5 years ago, and the doctors say that the jury is still out on the relationship between hair dye and lymphoma cancers. In addition to my fear of risking cancer, I do get annoyed with the long visits to the hairdresser, the money spent and the smell/itch of the dye. I wish there wasn’t that double standard where men with silver are “silver foxes” and women who are grey are “old” or have given up on themselves. You see, I am currently getting my Masters degree, and I hope to teach languages abroad. Do you think I will jeopardize my chances of finding a good job like in Asia for example if I go grey? If I did do it, I would take care of it with the right cut and shampoo. I just don’t know. My mother who has always had good sense and advice suggests I cut it into a short pixie and let it go grey this summer as an experiment to see what it looks like. She said I could always dye it back id I hated it ( it’s currently a shade of ash brown). I feel like such a coward sometimes. Any advice?

    1. Listen to your mother. And re-read these comments. You have faced up to cancer so cowardice isn’t really part of the picture. And I have never encountered a man who has expressed an opinion on grey hair, to be quite honest with you. As for the Asian question, I cannot imagine it would be too much of a problem. I suppose it depends on where you want to work. I visited Korea a couple of years ago and the subway has areas reserved for older citizens to sit in because they respect age. I didn’t think this would apply to me but my son had pre-warned me as we got on – if they offer a seat, take it. One look at my head and I was ushered politely by an elderly Korean gentleman to a seat. Yes, there is less grey hair but that is just a geographical-genetic quirk. Re experiment: I wouldn’t re-dye if you don’t like it, I’d buy a hat. And guess what – I bet you LOVE it! I do. Every day I look in the mirror and am pleased. Just jump.

    2. My hair went grey really early too – from having very dark hair. I wish I’d let it go grey then instead of tinting it back to dark and then to blonde. Given your cancer history I would definitely go for it. Look up Sarah Harris of Vogue to see how to look fab at your age! Good luck and wishing you the best of health and a brilliant career! X

  61. You can do it. My hair is curly and layered but I committed to it and just ignored it. My hair is not completely gray but all the color has grown out. I like it and it feels natural. The coloring put too much red in my hair for my skin tone. For the first time since I decided to color my hair it feels like I’m looking at the real me. I wish I had never colored it at all. It was a waste of time and money. Even with my gray hair people don’t believe I’m going to be 64 so it’s all good. We should just be who we are at the time and enjoy our lives in the moment!

  62. My identical twin sister and I have let our grey fly for several years…Get MANY complements from both men and women. Think one of the things that makes grey hair look particularly beautiful is a good haircut now and then. I never looked back after growing it out…my hair is healthier, save lots of money, and think they softer grey makes my skin look nice. Have a little patience and you’ll be glad you did it.

  63. Alyson, Your hair looks great–and I’m in love with the blazer you are wearing. And although I have the utmost respect for all women going gray. I’ll keep coloring. I did like this post though–a lot, because it was not militant and all of us dye jobs, thank you!!

    1. You are right about Alyson but the militant grey hair lobby are more than active enough in the comments section. I don’t have natural grey hair, and do dye, so I assume I must really be not embracing all kinds of the right stuff in some people’s eyes. Not that I give a monkeys. I do hope the next post isn,t about letting body hair grow…..

  64. Hi Alyson………Brava for growing your hair out to your natural grey! Wear that hair like a flag that tells everyone you’ve had a life, and that you’ve had some experiences!! You are beautiful, smart and confident…..and it shows in your style! I gave up coloring my hair years ago…I’ll be 66 next month. I can’t begin to tell you how many compliments I receive on my hair….including…”who does your highlights?” I always say, with a warm smile, that my hair is compliments of my ex-husband and my children! That exchange usually ends with a nice remark or at least a laugh. My hair used to be salt & pepper. Now, it’s saltier in the front and on the sides with a sprinkle of pepper in the back. Embrace this age of maturity. By the way, I feel that coloring your hair an unnatural, “youthful” shade actually makes a gal look a bit older. Not fooling anyone, it’s obvious. Just look at the hands!!

  65. The consensus certainly seems to be in favor of grey! I just turned 60, and just can’t see doing it yet. My hair is probably mostly grey or white…I was blond as a child, then my hair got darker as I got older. As an adult, I had brown hair with blond highlights. Now, I am mostly blond, so that the grey roots aren’t too obvious. I think blond works with my coloring (see: blond as a child!), although I certainly agree with wanting to get rid of the maintenance & expense. I feel that I would look so much older with grey hair…it looks good on women with great bone structure and perfect skin, but that’s not me.

  66. This topic is obviously a biggie! I say, Go For It! My hair looks quite peculiar at the moment as I am growing in my streaky grey. Luckily I don’t have the ‘skunk’ effect and it is coming through as steely highlights all over. However, the ends of my bob are the oddest, faded, overdyed apricot colour of years and years of dyeing. I thought my natural hair colour was actually quite reddish (I started colouring at 14) but, no, it is a really dark brown/black shade that I wish I had known at the time. Years and years of every colour under the sun mostly from DIY boxes. Suddenly it makes total sense that why, when I wore ‘autumn’ type colours I never looked quite right. So, despite well-meaning friends thinking and commenting on my state of mental health/am I short of cash to go to the hairdresser I am “biting the bullet”. Finally I think my own personal colouring (fading fast!) knows what colour it needs to be to match!! (Fortunately I work from home – if I went to the office perhaps I wouldn’t be so brave!).

  67. Wow
    Given the number of comment’s you have certainly hit a ‘hot spot ‘ with us over 25 gorgeous gentlewomen!
    I was always dark haired medium skin colour. For many years to help deal with ‘the badger stripe’ l went blonde with dark and light contrasts. Recently l met a stylist in London who immediately said ‘do you have problems finding colours that suit you because you have the wrong hair colour – were you dark at one time?’
    She was spot on. I have now had my long bobbed hair coloured a reddish brown and it looks great albeit l am now in the realms of big time grow out should l want to do so.
    I would love a magic wand to go grey for 24hrs to see if l liked it enough to
    persevere with the ‘grow out ‘. I am almost 71 so not sure if l have enough time on earth to complete the mission ha ha.
    You so remind me of Stella McCartney – loved the jacket.
    All power to your sword – l am a new devotee of your blog and just love it.

  68. My biggest fear was of the first grey hair on my chin;-)
    I loved watching the transition to grey, although it took me almost 2 years b/c of my long hair. I started in November, when days get shorter and the light is foggy and soft. At this time I still worked in a shop and nobody noticed. Now I love my white and grey streaks, the most white around my face. Often I get asked by younger people, which hairdresser made the highlights. I answer “you still have to wait a few decades”. I was 58 when I decided to go grey and wish I had started earlier.
    For those who want to let grow out without a bis skunk stripe I recommend Wella’s Color Fresh which is a semi permanent Color Liquid, available in most countries and very easy to use. I still use it in “Silver” once in a while for washing my hair. It gives a really great gloss to your hair.

    A few asked for Alyson’s tweed jacket, which I believe it is from Jigsaw, no? I’ve been eyeing it, but was not sure to order. One review said it’ts color is more grey than blue. But what I see here is definately blue! It’s on Sale and for € 99,– it’s a bargain.

  69. Look at the likes of Lyn Slater and Caron Franklin, and embrace it. If in any doubt, think about the money you’ll save on re-colouring..!
    I say-go for it! You only get one life and it’s YOUR head!

  70. Welcome to the grey gang! Like the lines and wrinkles, grey takes YEARS to acquire but what a life to I’ve had to get them!!! Went from a coloured bob to a grey crop and have never regretted it.

  71. I have just read that cold make up colours suit grey hair better, do you agree?( I am not a native speaker, I don`t know if I have made myself clear); the writer said that you should not use green, yellow or mustard colour make up, but violets or purples instead, I would appreciate an expert’s opinion!

  72. I stopped dying at 41 having started going grey at 17. I now have a ‘sugar and spice’ mix of grey and my own reddish brown. I found that the blue/ purple shampoos killed the red so I just stick with glossing shampoos so the greys have a silver, sparkling look and do my best to keep it in good condition. I have had to mix up my make up a bit but thats been fun too. I’ve had it short for years so the transition was only 6 months or so.

    I’d ditch any hairdresser who was less than complimentary about my hair colour or suggested dying it.

  73. Btw had a cocktail today with two of my Dress For Success volunteer friends. I just turned 60, and they are 70 and 75. We all color our hair, and I brought up this post….we all agreed that we think grey would make us look older, especially since we don’t have the skin or bone structure of (for example) the model Carmen Dell’Orefice. Her grey hair looks so beautifully thick, too…anybody have suggestions for helping thinning hair???

  74. Growing out my grey has been one of the best things I’ve done. Yes the inbetween phase is a bit painful, whenver I felt like giving up I’d look at pitctures of Linda Rodin and Sarah Harris to stay motivated! Now I get compliments about my hair (I never did before) and more than that I feel liberated, and from more than just the hair dye. It does feel like making a statement, whether you want it to or not, but I think it’s a positive statement and the reactions I get have so far always been 100% positive too. Plus you get shiny, alive hair back! Now all I need is one of those amazing looking new Linda Rodin lipsticks…

  75. So many comments and good advice here, I am sure you don’t really need my imput Alyson. But I’ll give it anyway!
    Go short. Embrace the grey – I think it will really suit you. You’ll probably love the change and get loads of compliments
    (as others on this post have said). If not, well hair grows, no big deal. You can always colour it again, but I have a feeling there will be no need.

  76. I decided to grow out my grey about 15 years ago, yes there was a stage where I was two tone as I refused to go short but it was worth it. I get lots of compliments on my hair for its colour and condition and what I’ve saved on hairdressers has paid for some great holidays. My advice is go for it.

  77. I was 48 when I decided that colouring my hair every 5 weeks was boring, time consuming and stupidly expensive. I found a blog in which a woman with dark hair, as mine was, had highlights which blended the harsh line you get when growing the colour, so I followed that regrowth route. It was a learning curve for my hairdresser. I get so many comments on how cool my hair is and how much younger I look with grey hair than dyed. My children love it! I still don’t instantly recognise myself in current photos though! It is very liberating and I think the grey suits my skin tone bette (which has also changed with age). It is a very personal preference though and I think you have to have a strong sense of self not to be concerned by others comments.

  78. Enjoyable reading all
    I love to see natural coloured hair, admittedly the first greys can be startling (I had dark auburn when younger so it was something of a contrast when they started appearing). My mother had the same colouring as I, and always looked great, so when mine started to change it didn’t phase me.
    Occasionally, for fun, I add a streak of vibrant blue, but it’s frustrating as the grey/white hair still needs bleaching and the blue needs a lot of attending to.
    My observations are, that as we age our skin does too, and maintaining strong colours can often drain and even age people further.
    I’ve often wondered if wash in wash out colours might not be easier so that the classic tell tale line left by permanent colour is not so obvious?
    I’d like to age gracefully as well as funkily – don’t always manage it but trying hard so delighted that a friend showed me your blog Alyson

  79. I had my colours done a few years ago and am a Winter. One of my wow colours in a silver grey. Mandy (the colour consultant) said that I should stop highlighting my grey hair yellow blond & embrace my grey. to be honest, I’ve never looked back. I have the gun metal grey & everyone thinks I’m so brave to stop colouring & that it looks so much better. I love my grey & wonder why it took me so long to embrace it?

  80. I’m going for it at 40. My arsenal includes blue conditioner, glossing serum and good bows! What pushed me over the edge was having longer hair – going grey while I swish feels very glamorous 🙂

  81. I’ve gone grey (quite white in the front, and dark ironish grey with red highlights at the back). So I’ve been low-lighting the front to match the back. I stopped doing the whole head dying (reddish brown) because it was expensive to have someone else do it, and I did not do a good job myself. Plus, after I had my driver’s license picture and saw that I wasn’t fooling anyone with the color, which looked quite unnatural, I just went ahead and started transitioning to the grey. I did it one summer when I cut my hair into a pixie. I don’t see myself as “brave” or anything–it’s just more practical to go with the flow. But I do know several women who have now transitioned from grey to a kind of blonde. I don’t think that would ever really work for me.

  82. Hi Alyson
    Judging by the volume of comments, the subject of going down the gray route is a very emotive one.
    I am now 71 and follow your lead of ‘not younger just better!’
    My philosophy is when l stop going to the gym, wearing high heels and colouring my hair for me it’s time to go. So as l am just beginning to decide what l want to be in
    life besides being a Rocket Scientist my time to go ‘au naturale’ is not in my personal diary. Personal power however is doing what is best for us as individuals so l wholeheartedly support those women who do – l wonder if they have needed to rethink their makeup and clothes colour palate. It would be interesting to know. I recently went from highlighted blonde/brown hair to mid brown all over and find it much easier to choose colours that suit me.
    Just my personal opinion on one of the aspects of becoming a mature poised women – I’ll let you know if l ever achieve it ha ha!!
    Best wishes
    Georgina

  83. Hi Alison, I am a natural grey having decided to embrace it some time ago but I like the idea of some temporary funky colour. Would love to see you do an article on how to do this successfully and with style please. Best wishes Corinne

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