Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Going Gray

Firstly, I am delighted with the response to the new blog after only a few days.  I am now on Twitter - click on the link on the sidebar if you want to follow me.  I've also changed the look of the blog to make it easier to read.  A note for those who may want to contribute, but are reluctant to do so under their normal Blogger persona - why not set up an alternative blog identity?  That way, you can join in and share your experiences without feeling embarrassed.  And if you plan to keep viewing the blog, why not become a Follower?  Then you will automatically be notified when I've put up a new blog post.

I know it's not exactly next week yet, but clearly we have a lot to talk about so I'm starting on the next topic - going grey.   I'm reading this great book that I borrowed from the local library. This is an issue that's waaaaaaay bigger than it looks!  I can recommend this book, even though it's American and doesn't necessarily mirror my own experiences.  The author, Anne Kreamer, does quite a bit of research that may surprise you.

My experience: I decided to go gray when I turned 50, and I stopped colouring my hair (dark blonde) at that time.  I had annoying hair that was completely gray at the front but only partly gray at the back.  I grew my hair long, so I looked completely different if I wore my hair pulled back in a ponytail than if I wore it out.  At that time, I was self-employed and in my "arty" persona.  Then I moved and returned to my daytime profession, financial services.  I needed to change my look, not just for the work but because I was making major changes to my life.  So I went to a hairdresser and asked to become gray all over.  She said that was the one thing hairdressers couldn't do.  Consequently, for most of the past 3 years, I've had blonde highlights to get as close to the gray as possible, with darker colour framing my face.  When I returned from overseas (3 months with no hairdreser!), I discarded the dark framing and opted for dark "stripes". 

Now I'm wanting to do another change in my life  - if I can do it, I'll become a student for the next 3 years.  I plan to stop colouring, though I may still put the odd stripe into my gray.  I'm 56, I don't see the point of having hair that looks 20 years younger than the rest of me. 

What's YOUR experience with gray hair?  Do you cover it up, or go au naturel?


  1. Up to now, I don't have grey hair to speak of. Even the hairdresser says so...
    but I'm coloring my hair just for the touch of color. In the summer, my hair is nice, with a touch of sun in it. But in the other seasons, it looks gloomy, so a bit of color makes me feel better and look better.
    When you are working in a company, and even more when you have contacts with the public, you need to take care of your look, and coloring your hair is almost compulsory, whatever your age. Whatever makes you look older or tired is not good...
    My older sister is all grey now, and she looks great. I hope that I'll look the same when the time comes.

  2. When my mid brown hair started getting grey, I hated it, and began to use colour at home. I discovered that using a slightly lighter shade of my own colour worked best, but even that began to look wrong for my skin colour. Then, one day, it didn't take very well and didn't colour the grey. I decided to go au naturel as I can't afford regular trips to the hairdresser. Now there is a higher proportion of white in the grey mix, I'm happier with the colour and it certainly goes better with my skin tones. My best beloved still fancies me, so no problem. And he's been grey since I first knew him... ;)

  3. I'm a redhead and we have a different problem. Our hair doesn't go grey, the colour just seems to disappear out of it and we end up sort of white with a few brassy bits, not a good look and I'm not going there.
    I've progressed from enhancing my natural red with highlights and now, age 52, have no idea what colour my hair is as I never leave it long enough to find out. I have a selection of colours, my stylist usually does what she fancies doing and I don't have a problem with that, I don't want to have the same "do" every six weeks. When I travel I don't risk and unknown hairdresser and usually end up with very pale hair at the front and on top. I like to call it sunkissed...
    Like your comment about your BB, mine doesn't even notice hair, on me or anyone else!!

  4. Something to think about - the author of the book I refer to estimated that she spent $65,000 on visits to her hairdresser to get her hair coloued during the 20-odd years that she did colour her hair. For thos who do colour their hair regularly, what do you estimate you have spent?

  5. Shirley, I went through this whole thing a couple of years ago when it looked like I might have to find a job. Last fall I had all the hair dye cut off. Will take about a year before I have long enough hair to get another decent haircut. At ten years older than you, it was well past time to forget about the dye. thanks for your new blog,

  6. Hi Shirley. I read the same book and wrote about my own gray hair several years ago.
    I love seeing women with beautiful, gray or white hair and sometimes cringe a bit when I see women coloring their hair thinking it makes them look younger, when in fact it just makes them look odd!

  7. PS Didn't mean to say that all dyed hair looks "odd"--just that it needs to be done with some care and finesse for a great outcome. I think most everyone needs a softer look as they age--not necessarily the color that they were in their youth.

    Yikes, this is the second time I have stuck my foot in my mouth in less than 24 hours!

  8. I began going gray over 30 years ago and I am not so old. My hair is currently 4 natural shades...dark brown, light brown, gray and white. I love and receive a lot of compliments on my beautiful hair. In my mind it takes great courage to sport gray in our age-obsessed culture. And it is not just the US. People all over the world are obsessed with gray hair, covering it up & trying to look young again! I have better things to do with my go girl!!!

  9. I agree with Terry about the finesse needed, also how skin tones change with age. I did have a fling with streaks for a while to brighten up my hair, I am a redhead and the colour has all but faded out, with white on the scalp and temples but it goes with the rest of me so now I chose to have it well cut and keep the au naturel look!

  10. I turned 50 in 2010 and have been gradually developing a grey halo (hope I have spelt that correctly). My children now 23 and 26 have both ordered (yes ordered) me to stop going grey!! So I have been dyeing my hair for as long as its been going grey - SOmetimes I dye it the boring brown I was born with but most of the time I try colours that are more fun - on New Years Eve I dyed is 'Mystic Violet' - its not as purple as I would like and some say its just brown with a hint of a reddish violet. I am just not brave enough yet to go to the hairdresser and ask them to bleach and dye it a proper purple. But I will as soon as I work up the courage. My children say I can (if I want to) go grey once I am OLD - ie an 80+ year old granny - and as neither of them have children of their own yet I have a way to go colouring my hair yet!! Oh if only I was brave enough now to be Purple!It is absolutely nothing to do with wanting to look young again - just I hate grey and like purple!! - It makes me feel like me - if htat makes sense! - PS the office I work in dont mind either.

  11. PS - as to the cost - home dye at the moment about every 3 months at a cost of £2.50 per time - I have found a great cheap, non alergenic,non amonia, shop own brand which is great. However I would happily pay a hairdresser to do a proper purple job maybe once every 6 months or so.

  12. I have been colouring my hair for more years than I care to remember. I dont have the courage to go grey although I absolutely admire people who have let there hair revert to its natural colour. White and grey hair can look fantastic. I think part of my reluctance is due to the awful regrowth I would have while letting it go grey. So while I am still working I will keep going to my hairdresser who I let decide what colour I should be as I think she can judge my skin tone better than I can. I currently get streaks done evey twelve weeks or so and the roots touched up in between.

  13. Off the topic - but good news for Shirley's work

  14. Going grey? Yes that's me all right.
    I used to colour my hair so it didn't show, but realised quite quickly that all that happened was when the colour grew out - the greys seem to have multiplied, and not only that, they shone brighter.
    When I became a student last year - I couldn't afford the hairdresser anymore so left my hair to grow. The greys are growing happily as well, and interestingly haven't multiplied any quicker either.
    Being a trainee chef, having long hair is good as I find it much easier to tie up and put under my chef hat.
    And yes, I am going back again this year, so its looking like my hair will just keep on growing and the colours can stay in the shop.
    Going grey gracefully is quite a new thing for me, but as I will be the big 50 this year, I thought I might as well embrace all the exciting things that will bring!

  15. I've been lightening my hair for years - a suicide blonde, that's me (dyed by my own hand). But I recently cut my hair very short because it became so dry and brittle, so I thought I would put up with the dark roots until they grew out and I could start colouring again. To my surprise, it isn't grey as I thought - it's a mixture of brown, blonde and white. So I shall leave it, because the summer sun will lighten it naturally.