Sorry, not sorry, I’m just NOT dying to go grey quite yet! – says  beauty and lifestyle journalist and author Jo Glanville-Blackburn (Jo GB). At 53, you’d think that maybe, like so many of my friends and colleagues who have turned their back on colour and gone grey for ease, convenience, better value and, may I say, rather supreme style, I might think, ‘Oh Jo, it’s OK, don’t fight it, think about your future colour commit, already.’ But you see, I’m a natural redhead: a thick, long, tumbling pre-Raphaelite auburn mane that obediently does whatever I desire. My hair colour defines me and makes me recognisable across a crowded floor; it’s not going anywhere just yet!

Romantically, it was the moment on windy Lake Coniston, when I threw myself down on a grassy verge after an exhausting walk, that my husband declared his undying love. That was 30 years ago… and I’m still a natural redhead. Bar a single stint with henna powder in my parent’s house aged 17, I’ve never, ever dyed my hair. But my days are numbered…

Those first baby greys – whereby one minute you have a few, the  next, every fresh new hair around your hairline is an uncontrollable silvery white with a wild life of it’s own – are upon me. Suddenly everything about my face looks older: namely my skin and brows, not just my hair. It’s a defining moment. Do I try to cleverly colour match (that’s definitely a pro-job), go lighter around the face (that’s way more flattering to the skin as our skin tone naturally pales too, as we go grey), or simply commit to going grey?

As a beauty journalist, offers abound to ‘smudge my roots’ (as auburn is a tricky colour to match), have an ‘all-over veggie’ colour, or ‘hold off and keep using root touch-up powder’ (Colour Wow Root Cover Up in Red, £28.50, is after all a perfect match). But it was a chance visit to Hari’s new salon Herb House for Hair, that got me trying out their new bespoke botanical colour (£95-150); the hand-blended plants and herbs such as hibiscus and coffee with henna, ‘had me at hello’. Plus, I felt safe in the hands of Clare Drawbridge and her phenomenal 32 years experience. Bring on my first ever salon colour…

So forget any hippy henna stigma of the 1970s; rest assured botanical colour gives high shine, great condition, almost zero allergies and reduces damage to hair and scalp. As more and more of us have holistic concerns about how we live, what foods we eat, what ingredients we use on our body and how they’re sourced, right now it seems anything botanical is deemed good. Just do read the label.

An hour later, I meet up with my husband Jim, for dinner, who, as you’ve already learned always rather loved my hair, and was dubious about me colouring it. He peers closely, stands back and says, “Gosh, they’ve matched it well!”

Me? I love it. It think I look younger, and the shine makes it look in even better condition. And it’s not a solid block of colour, it twinkles in the light much like my true auburn colour that changes with my mood. Can I still call myself a natural redhead? Try and stop me.

Jo’s tips on where to buy natural hair colour:

e-salon is a rather clever online colour service and they do a fab veggie tint too.

Naturtint Permanent Hair Colour, £10.99 in 30 shades that’s free from ammonia and mineral oil. And Henne Colour, Henna Hair Colour, £7.49; both available from Holland & Barrett.

Naturigin Natural Hair Colour, £7.99 at Lloyds Pharmacy comes in 19 fab colours and contains the lowest PPD of any permanent colour apparently (but it’s still in there, so I’m a bit less keen on this one).


Read more Jo GB HERE.


58 thoughts on “Meet the 53-year-old beauty editor who’s NOT going grey ( just yet )

  1. I wasn’t ready to go grey at 53 either, or 55 or 58. But turning 60! Wow, that was hard on me! My mother died a few months earlier, that was another blow. All of a sudden, I felt “what if I die? I don’t want to, it’s too early, etc”. Suddenly I felt more fragile.
    And no that is not the reason why I decided to go grey 6 months ago (I have just turned 61). I moved to Australia, not exciting Sydney or glam Melbourne. The bush, 10 minutes from the beach, no gym, no zumba, no neighbours. Just kangaroos. Did I like it? No! Loving the beach walks – you can’t swim, too rough, too dangerous – but missing the city big time! For the previous 2 years, in the UK, I’d have a cold/rhinitis every 4 to 5 weeks. I saw an ENT specialist, did all sorts of allergy tests. Nothing.
    When I realised that every 4-5 weeks is when I dyed my hair.
    So I took advantage of being hidden in the Australian bush to go grey. From a brunette to something close to your colour, Alyson.
    I am not feeling old at all and I think I am looking good too. Many say it enhances my features!
    And I haven’t had a cold or a rhinitis since!

  2. Jo GB looks fabulous with her fiery, titian hair and yes, she does look young for her age in a natural way. All credit to her, but I am still firmly sticking to my grow-in-grey mission and, thank god, have passed the wobble-point of changing my mind.

  3. This just rages on. It doesn’t matter whether you do or you don’t. You can look how you like. You can feel how you like. But you will still be your real age and one day it will not matter a stuff. The big question should be: why does it matter to us if we are grey or not? You are who you are. What other people think is, in reality, unimportant.

    1. Completely agree, Annie. That’s why I asked Jo to write the piece. I often feature grey hair on That’s Not My Age and wanted a bit of balance.

    2. I don’t think that it is the actual hair colour per se but the physiological shift that has to mentally take place to let it happen.

    3. I agree completely. I toy with the idea of going grey but I am just not ready. I love my hair color and want to keep it for as long as it looks natural because it feels like “me”.

    4. I’m sorry if you feel I ‘rage on’ Annie … I love grey hair, especially one Alyson and many other chums of my age. But having never had grey hair, I’m not going to miss the chance to play with my colour for once in my life. Frankly I don’t care what anyone thinks about. me or my looks – I’m 53 and proud, and as a beauty editor of 30 years experience, to never having had Botox, fillers etc takes some self confidence when it’s offered for free every minute of the day. Equally, try not to judge those that do – everything is a choice.

  4. At 53 I waas right there with her (same dark auburn – henna and spices – mane), at 57 I cut it off and let the silver shine – I’ll be 65 this year and I’ve not looked back! Freedom!

  5. YAY thank you Jo! I was beginning to feel like a traitor not wanting to go grey yet, it’s become a bit of a statement lately. I’m happy with my colour & I don’t feel like going grey yet. Perhaps I never will? Then again I may change my mind, who cares right?

  6. I am 71 and a ‘mouse’ where hair colour is concerned. I have never dyed my hair or felt the need. When the sun shines it can be quite ‘golden’. I still remain this colouring with just the odd silvery hair here and there. My father never lost his dark auburnish colour so I am assuming this is a ‘gene thing’. I admit to getting a tad fed up with this constant need for the grey-trend. As has been mooted, we are what we are and I am fine with that.

    1. Def a Gene thing! Some great grandma down the line! I was the only redhead in my immediate family so spent my youth ‘jokingly’ being told by my siblings I was adopted! But then I decided adoption is a blessing… and then they stopped! Now I have 3 gorgeous kids with variations of red to auburn! Keeping that redhead gene alive! X

  7. Thank you for the balance! I’m 56 and a red head and not ready at all for grey so happy to keep dying it. It’s whatever works for you which is why I follow this blog

  8. I’m on the verge of thinking about going grey. What puts me off is the interim work to keep my hair looking good while my hair colour grows out. I guess I need to talk to a good hair colourist and commit to going to the salon for a year or so. If I was Jo, I wouldn’t be ready either! She looks beautiful.

    1. Oh Gaynor that is so sweet! I am not, but thank you! Ask a colourist to ‘smudge’ your roots – or veggie tint/colour… I must write more on this!!! X

  9. For now, I’m with Jo. I also have red hair (a lighter mousey/blondish/auburn-ish red) and it makes me feel ‘me’. I’ve followed your progress on letting the grey through, Alyson, and been very tempted – no more root regrowth or hours in the salon, embracing nature’s natural process and so on. But at 55 I’m just not ready. My skin has become so very pale that grey hair would be too washed-out and ageing. I may do it at 60. But my hairdresser recently suggested I slowly transition from red to strawberry blonde (more like my natural colour). The roots wouldn’t show as much so would need retouching less frequently, and I could get used to lighter hair for a few years first while (hopefully) still feeling like me. I’m considering it.

    1. I think that sound like a great idea – as a dark auburn it’ll be harder for me to make that transition but I too will def go for lighter and lighter tinting x

  10. Beautiful photo! I love this piece about not being ready to go grey yet. And I love the ones about being ready to go grey. We all hope to feel and look our best, which means we must all do what is right for ourselves.

  11. I’m loving Madison Reed here in the US. Love the more natural products. It costs me $60 to get my roots done every 6 weeks, my hair is in great condition and it’s a no fuss experience. I tried their home kits but I was such a duffer in doing the back I would rather go to their salon and have someone proficient do it. At that price you have to dry your own hair but they give you all the products and clips so I am super happy with this option.

  12. I simply don’t have the secure position in life I think you need to grow in grey – stable relationships, safe job, flourishing business, adequate pension provision, etc. I’m facing that horrible public sector phenomenon called “apply for your own job” with no guarantee, and I would have to take any temporary work I could get if I were unsuccessful. If you are constantly on the market, you have to fight the appearance of ageing which is why I’ve also joined Slimming World.

    1. You are so right, I hadn’t realized about that until you mentioned it, for most of us you need to have a job and a partner to go grey

    2. Hi Lizzie – if it’s any consolation, I’m working in an industry that still really only idolises youth! I recently left my role on a magazine aimed at 50-something women, only to find they are now refocusing younger – retouching images that were never retouched before. Sad times – we all hear you x

  13. So happy to read this piece Jo and Alyson! At 61, I still color my hair but have been feeling conflicted of late – my heart is ready but my mind is not! As a late bloomer, I still have daughters who are 17 and 20 and don’t want to look like their grandmother. I’ll give it a few more years but who knows?

    1. Awh my kids are 16, 20 and 22 – exactly the same… I don’t ever want to look like their sister – I love my age – just be happy while I’m in it! Jo x

  14. Thanks also Jo , I’m not ready either and I’m 57 , i love my blonde still , just go lighter on the roots and it blends in i go 10 weeks between colours . Each to their own though eh .

  15. There’s a wonderful English lady who lives in my little Spanish town, and at 90+ is still dying her hair a wonderful apricot colour. And why not? It’s her look. And she actually does look amazing and is fit, well and active, and has just had a book published.

  16. Thanks for asking Jo to write this post. There are many of us out there (I guess) that are not ready to go grey and probably never will because nature won’t give us a white/silver/grey head. I dye my hair every two weeks. I am tired and my hair is awfully dry even though I use products with no ammonia. On the other hand I couldn’t possibly think about not coloring it because I have gray hair just around my face, my stylist has told me my hair is completely brown on the lower half of my head.
    The same thing happens to my mom, she has been praying for her hair to turn completely gray for decades and she still has half her head white (top) and half her head black…whenever she asks me “¿When Am I going to stop looking like a skunk and stop coloring my hair? ”
    I answer : “Probably never mom” , and I say this only because she’s sick and she is 90 years old .

  17. Golly, what a conundrum! There’s a definite whiff of The Emporers New Clothes in to go grey or not I feel. For some it’s convenient, sensible and natural and quite right too, but we are the generation of shaking it all up, the pill, HRT etc.
    So for this lovely girl ( just a baby really) ” good for you girl”! For red heads it’s the most tricky, whole colour changing.
    I personally love the idea to do just as we please, as L’Oreal says ‘We Deserve It’! And dye red , blue , pink, if it makes you happy.

  18. Well the grey hair is only one of the many things about aging
    that suck . I’m that rare beast a man who writes a fashion blog for women. As a gay man , of a certain age man I wear every
    grey hair with pride . Many of my contemporaries are no longer with us . AIDS took away a generation , therefore looking back I’ve learned to truly celebrate my age and life. My point being dye your hair pink , wear the wildest clothes celebrate your age ! Ageism is a true sickness in our world .
    Dress The Part

  19. Yes, we must each do with our hair what pleases us.

    At 72 I’m not grey, but still blonde (thanks to my brilliant colorist) with curly, thick, wild-child locks that eventually fall a little below my shoulders. However, what I have given up is styling my hair, which I’ve finally appreciated knows exactly how and in which directions to arrange itself. I no longer straighten, blow-dry, curl or hair-spray my mane into position.

    I love this look! It not only feels like ME, but it’s an agreeable way to disagree with those who have very different ideas than I about how a 72-year-old woman should look and act. It’s shocking to me how wrong they are! 🙂

  20. Good to hear and see the other side of the argument. I didn’t embrace any grey hair until 65. I’m not very grey but up to that point every woman in public life or in media had well dyed hair. As did I. Lighter bits added and moving from brown to a more ladies who lunch blonder highlighted colour.
    There has been a sea change on this topic. Prominent women of around my age like Christine Lagarde at IMF and our PM Theresa May suddenly appeared with neatly groomed grey hair. Both are far greyer than I am. I may never end up with a thick head of silver hair as my younger cousin has. It looks great.
    This is very much a personal choice and a scary one to embark one. In my opinion allowing the grey to come through and not covering up the roots makes one appear a bit of a mess and older. But I’m following the lead of Alyson and have had no hair colour for a year . Not there yet more an ombré mix of white streaks at front, browny bit and grey bits. As Alyson recommended recently I’ve taken to pinning back off face the top bits with a hair slide so it appears more uniform. I have a sharp chin length bob cut which I plan to grow. Many compliments recently about my hair and general appearance so must be doing something right. Texture much improved without dye. Swimming regularly so I shall gauge the impact of chlorine. I do wear a bathing cap but hair does get wet as I swim back crawl principally. Without Alyson and others I wouldn’t have had adequate confidence to embark on this path. But have no regrets. As with everything else, everyone to their own.

    1. It sounds like you are doing great with the transition. A suggestion regarding swimming, I wet my hair in the shower prior to putting on my bathing cap so my hair is already hydrated. I think it helps a bit with the chlorine issue. Cheers!

  21. As a 53 year old natural redhead who has a hairline tint every four weeks to keep those greys at bay, I have yet to feel any inclination to let my hair go grey, and becoming a mature woman of an indeterminate age and hair colour. Like many redheads, I feel after all these years it is an intrinsic part of me, and will probably be red when I’m dead. Living in Australia means more sun, so my hair has many different shades of red on one head, which does make it a bit easier as you age, rather than a bloc colour. Thank you for the article, surely at our age we can style and colour our hair how we want! I do get weary of the grey haired movement telling me how I should gracefully age with white hair, the redhead in me will never agree!

  22. It’s different for everyone, isn’t it? If I had gorgeous, self-defining hair like Jo’s, I’d probably hang onto it too. And it depends on how one goes grey as well – I inherited my grandmother’s rather good silver look, my hair having been a very dark brown when I was young. And the grey seems to be more flattering to my skin, although I do wear a little more makeup (eyebrows, lips) than I used to. Funnily enough, my mother has much less grey than me and still dyes hers auburn – it doesn’t exactly look natural (she’s in her late 70s) but it’s her, and I agree that her grey isn’t really flattering. It’s also so much easier to grow out your grey if you have short hair, which I have always had. I do admire the tenacity of those – like Alyson – growing out long hair.

  23. Thank goodness I’m not the only one who isn’t going down the glamorous grey route! My hair stylist (and daughter-in-law) tells me she would have to bleach my hair first to make it grey as, at the moment at 71 I have only a few grey hairs and am Jo’s colour. Nobody wants to hear ‘mutton’ and ‘lamb’ in the same sentence, but although I wouldn’t mind being grey it just isn’t an option fo the time being for me.

    Vive la differene!

  24. Yes great to hear an alternative viewpoint! I’ve been uncomfortable with the wiff of moral high ground that’s entered this issue. And also lots of interesting comments that perhaps regular readers haven’t felt confident enough to express previously. I was particularly struck by Lizzie’s comment about being in the position like many others of applying for your own job and presumably it feels similar if you’ve been made redundant or your simple looking for a new job. I’ve noted that many of the women who have talked about the couple of years transitioning to grey and their feeling of freedom etc have been retired and their main concerns have been around their self image. When you are still at work, particularly if you work in an environment where your appearance is an important part of your work persona, it’s not just about your self image but also how you are perceived and a head of hair like a mangy salt and pepper tabby cat (or in my case the badger/skunk look) can impact. Now the fact that it shouldn’t be like that is something we need to address, but for the moment let’s cut each other some slack.

    1. Agree, Maureen. Many women work in industries where appearance matters and/or they are not allowed to show visible signs of ageing. And image does become particularly important when interviewing for jobs (or your own job, sorry to hear about your predicament, Lizzie). Working in the fashion industry and now mainly on a freelance basis, I’ve been able to grow in my grey without having to worry about such matters. But I do appreciate that for many women this is not an option.
      PS There were times when my hair did feel a bit mangy – but I’d like to hope I’ve moved beyond that phase!

      1. At my last job (a leading magazine aimed at women over 50 no less) – as the Beauty Director – my ‘new Editor’ peered at my face and questioned why I didn’t wear much makeup! My reply – I do, but if you can see it, I haven’t applied it well’ – now back off (oh left that bit out 😉 – I left a month later xx

  25. I wish I lived in a world where a woman (or a man) was judged by her qualifications, ability, compassion and competence when searching for a job. The idea that anyone is not hired because of their hair color is appalling, and true. And as far as being single, if someone would choose to not get to know me because of my hair color, well that would save us both a lot of time because I don’t care to know anyone with that attitude. Dye or don’t, embrace the gray or love your colors, whatever they are.

  26. I think a great haircut ‘fixes’ your look no matter what the color. If grey is kept in a modern cut it has been my experience that the
    color of hair really does not matter. Attitude helps immensely. Head up, shoulders back.

  27. I appreciate the honesty and diversity of opinion here. Especially points made by Lizzie. My sister in law and her friend still working full time in institutions in USA have told me they have to maintain the most youthful appearance that they can muster to keep working. Their approach is very high maintenance and expensive. Not only the hair colouring and visits to hairdressers to appear well groomed but staying slim and fashionable dressed and a lot of Botox and fillers in addition to eye lifts.
    Men of the same age don’t have to pursue such drastic measures. On the one hand prominent 60 plus women like Lagarde and May have neatly cut white and grey shortish hair. But they also wear expensive very well cut clothing and tasteful jewellery. The blonde ones of a similar age like Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton stick with the perfectly coiffed hair and neat custom made clothing and their jewellery as a uniform.
    As everyone including Alyson has written here it is a function of one’s job and milieu and context. There’s no total freedom of manoeuvre. Good for the ones sticking with carefully coloured hair free from any trace of grey and good for those trying on the grey for size. I was struck watching the Bafta television awards ceremony last weekend to see several women who may have been producers coming up on stage with long grey locks wearing beautiful clothes. Confidence is growing that one can appear looking like this and still look attractive.

  28. I am 50 and working at a hospital´s laboratory; so, as a “laboratory rat” the way I look is not very important, but after work I go to pick my 11 year old son to school and amongst that crowd of women (including grandmothers!) there are only two of us with grey hair, this fact makes me feel uncomfortable sometimes, but I feel free and I won´t go back.

  29. I’m 61 and am in the camp of “not ready to embrace my grey”. I was blonde as a child, then my hair went brown in my adolescent years. So I still have the coloring to pretend to be blonde….I have quite a lot of grey, but am still coloring blonde. I do feel that the silver/white look is great on women with excellent skin and bone structure. I don’t have great cheekbones, and my eyes are pretty baggy, so I’m convinced that going grey would just make me look old at this point. My mom finally quit coloring when she was in her late seventies, so I might follow that plan!

  30. First of all, huge kudos to Jo. She has been gifted with very beautiful hair and who wouldn’t wish to maintain it as long as possible!
    Having said that, I am 61 years old and have not colored my hair for roughly eight years. I am slowly going silver/gray and I don’t think I yet have the gray hair I wished for and may not for some time but I am so happy that I did this. None of my female friends have gray hair and I love every one of them and believe they are all beautiful, each in their own way but I do not for one second think any one of them looks younger than I do. They have actually hinted that I ought to color my hair but I wouldn’t dream of it. It is a very personal and individual choice but I personally believe that the most beautiful thing a woman can do is not fight age so hard. There is an utter beauty to an otherwise not so beautiful woman that has learned to walk the world with grace and acceptance and joy. I don’t always love what I see when I look in the mirror but I love it so much more than the me that fights time with dye and artifice. And I find that the more that I carry on with that, the more I like what I see in the mirror and the more time and money I have for what truly brings me joy.

  31. Thankyou! I am a 53year old,natural auburn redhead too! I loath the grey and texture change in my hair! I am happy to know it’s ok to keep my color!!

  32. I’m 62, have grey, fine hair and don’t like it. What I don’t like even more is the repeated effort I would need to make to colour it. But my greatest dislike when it comes to my affairs of the hair is that hairdressers see my grey and think ‘old lady’ and give me an old lady bob cut. I look like a man – spitting image of my father – when my hair is short, and it also emphasises my thickening neck and chins so won’t go there, but surely a clever hairdresser could give me a medium longish haircut that has a little edge and style? (Or am I asking too much?) It hasn’t happened yet and I despair when it comes to my hair.

    Other than that I am blessed to have a pretty good life and also recognise that I am just plain lucky to have hair. I often think of those women who are balding and what they think of the grey vs coloured hair debate. I’m fairly sure I know what they are thinking.

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