5 Women on Going Gray

This is some serious grayspiration. (Sorry.)

06.29.16

Nora Ephron once said, “There’s a reason why forty, fifty, and sixty don’t look the way they used to, and it’s not because of feminism, or better living through exercise. It’s because of hair dye.”

I love you, Nora, and as much as it pains me to disagree with you, I have a feeling today might be the day. Because we interviewed five women of all ages who went gray and skipped the dye and, in the above slideshow, they present a hearty counter-argument to the hypothesis of gray as old and replace it with a new one: gray is beautiful.

Click through above to learn about their experiences going gray: when it happened, why they embraced it and how it all felt.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.

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  • Celeste

    Love this so much. I’m 25 and have had grays coming in for a few years now, not really knowing how to approach it in terms of dyeing it or letting it grow out. Nice to know there are women with a similar situation who have chosen to embrace it.

  • Wow, so much beautiful gray in one place! ♥♥♥ (*feels all fluffy inside*)

    (while I have only just started going gray I already know I like it – the most important thing I have done about my hair was to (finally, sigh) find the length and the style that I feel the happiest with. Don’t know what took me so long – probably lack of time and experience. So gray I go.)

  • Ashley

    My mom has beautiful, silver grays and I so badly want long silver hair (it’s magic) but I only get one or two grays every six months and it’s plain old white. My father, in fact, barely has any. His hair just thinned which I guess is something I can look forward to? #teamtoomuchhair

    These women are so pretty, though! I love all of them. Add this as another reason to stop coloring my hair.

  • FashionableLena

    I started going grey in high school. My dad was grey. My mom was grey and colored her hair. They were both under 40 so I embraced it. About a year ago, a hairdresser encouraged me not to color it because I would have to get my roots done every couple of weeks. I didn’t want it colored anyway, but she was the first beautician to encourage me not to do so. Besides, I like seeing it shine.

  • Ooooooh so beautiful! (Also, LINDA RODIN, she is such a star)

    My mother still insists on hiding her greys, even though she has beautiful, glossy black hair and it would look like rad highlights! I feel like I’ll be following in her footsteps because I inherited my dad’s blonde and (assuming) propensity to not turn grey until my mid-fifties, BUT I dye it black.

  • These ladies do have beautiful gray hair! I received my first gray hair before even becoming a teenager because it runs in my family. And I’ve been dying my hair since. Gray hair is beautiful but to me, having strands of gray throughout your natural hair color ages you. I’m always asked for my ID when my hair is dyed. But if I let time lapse and some of my grays appear, no one asks for my ID at all! Now, that I’m 37, I am secure with my age, but I have no plans on looking older. So, I’m sticking with hair dye! ?

    http://www.fashionnotfear.wordpress.com
    http://www.bluelabelsboutique.com

  • Michaela Williams

    This is super inspiring. Linda is one of my top fashion icons. I love her style and her grey hair. One of my favorite family friends has the most beautiful head of silver hair. She keeps it short in a pixie cut. So chic. She must have embraced the grey really early on, because she couldn’t have been more than 45 or so when I first met her and she was fully grey then.

  • Robin

    I’m 17 and I have a few gray hairs. Not noticeable but when I look for them, I find them. First one was found by a hairdresser when I was 15 years old and she was like ‘… I don’t know what to tell you … You’ve got a grey hair …’ and then she pulled it out. Talk about grey positive! I’ll probably follow in my fathers footsteps who was 50% grey when he reached the not-so-ripe age of 30. Not looking forward to it but the thought of spending hundreds of euros on dying my hair monthly is even less appealing to me. I hope it turns out pretty.

  • Something Stacy London said to a participant on What Not to Wear stuck with me – “you won’t look old in that dress because you are not old.” I relate that to mitigating anxiety about looking old with gray hair.

    • Ria

      I’m 36 and have recently decided to let it grow (never dyed it btw). I’m not superficial or have an age-ist attitude, it’s society that worries me. The stares I’ll receive, the seats on the bus I’ll be offered, judgement from family. So I just have to be brave because this is how I will look from now on.

  • dk

    Sarah Harris is my ultimative silver babe. I haven’t started seeing white, but once I go over the 30’s hurdle, I’ll be expecting them. But she has definitely been my hairspo und the main reason why I’m thinking of not dying my hair.

  • I gave up dyeing my hair a year ago and I’m so thankful I did. I must admit though, that I was inspired by all of the young girls dyeing their hair grey. Go figure.

    • I kind of wondered if that had something to do with it too! Why not be the cool chick with gray hair, yet without having to pay out the nose for it?

  • MR you must have read my mind! I was contemplating this exact question earlier this week. I am currently sporting a lovely regrowth racing stripe which contains sprinkles of my grey hair. Do I finally embrace them? Or do I run straight to the hairdresser to hide them with my usual blonde hair tint / highlights ritual? I fear the dye might win this mental battle for a little while longer!

  • Ruth Lakin

    I have really dark hair and have been going grey for about 5 or so years (I’m 26 now). I recently highlighted my hair so the greys wouldn’t be so noticeable but also so I wouldn’t have to worry about covering up my roots. My husband is afraid I’ll go blonde but I told him I’ll be a silver/white for before that happens.

  • mrose

    I’m 21, and I’ve just started to notice the few odd grey hairs here and there. I used to look forward to having the same bright white hair as my grandmother and father but when I actually noticed one I freaked out a little – I’m only 21, etc. This article was exactly what I needed, thank you! <3

  • I recently decided to quit dyeing my hair (mostly lazy, but also my hair needed a break), and can’t wait to see which parent I take after.

    My mom started going gray in her late 20s, I think, and my dad didn’t get a single gray until he was like 50. Since my hair tends to lean more toward my dad’s anyway (color and texture-wise), I assume that might mean it’ll stay poo-brown for a long time, too.

    I think with the trends of women going with the gray-blonde and lavender hair, going gray isn’t so weird anymore. I’ve seen younger women dyeing their hair gray on purpose, so if it happens naturally…lucky for you!

    I think it would be cool if you guys did a post on what kinds of hair products women going gray should use! There are so many great ones out there specifically for women with gray hair that make sure it stays silvery, white, and shiny as hell!

  • Mairzi

    I noticed a few grey strands in high school and by the time I was in law school it was noticeable enough that I started coloring it. In my mid forties, I broke my leg and was basically immobile for two months and in a cast for 6, suddenly coloring my hair seemed less important then the effort it took to drag the cast around while working and raising two kids. I have been happily grey ever since. My only regret is that it is not the beautiful pure silver color my maternal grandmother had.

    • Jo Ann Drgan-Andrews

      She might have used ‘bluing’ to turn it to snow white. It wasn’t a bleach, I think, more of a rinse….I would look into it If I were you?

      • Margaret Marchese

        It might have been a rinse for salt and pepper or grey hair manufactured by a company called Roux. My Aunt used it for years.

    • Rose Hall

      I’ll second that! There are wonderful blue and purple shampoos that help tone greys/blondes toward a clean silver color. I especially love Lush’s Daddy O. Smells like violets and brightens my saltier bits beautifully. I swear it makes my dark hair richer, too.

  • I am in my mid-forties with grey hair. Yesterday someone mistook me for a 60 year old. I’ve been grey for about four years and this is the first time this has happened. It’s the moment I had been expecting ever since I stopped dying my hair and I’m not going to lie, it hurt a bit, but not enough to send me back to the hairstylist every 3 weeks. This is the most interesting hair colour I have ever had, and if it makes me look like a woman with 20 years more experience than me, then I’m going to use that power to my advantage.

  • Lorri Ann Barrier

    I’m 48 and have been growing out my gray for two years. I found my first gray hair around age 20, and by age 30 I was dyeing it every four weeks. I am so happy with my gray and happy to not be tied to the dye cycle and expense any longer. My only regret is not doing it earlier.

  • ava

    Stopped dyeing my hair 3 months ago (always had dark hair, I’m 53 now). Suddenly hated the process of dyeing it every 2-3 weeks, but most of all: I didn’t like the look and feel the dye gave my hair, and it was obvious that it couldn’t be my real color anymore, especially with the “root-highlights” coming in – it just looked fake, well, at least in my eyes (although I still got compliments on it). We are just so totally used to this dyed look on women and I happily accepted it for a long time too until I suddenly wanted to know what I really look like now. And it’s more than exciting to find out! I was always afraid of the 2 tone phase (not chopping it off), but actually feel much better now, not trying to maintain a certain look but embracing the “new”. It me feel younger, strangely enough. Never had this feeling with fresh dye on my hair, just the “ok, so you have 2 weeks rest now from thinking about your hair”. But in the end: the best thing is, that we have many options today, everyone can choose what is best for themselves.

    • Lisa Glass-Edmonds

      Good for you! You are going to love it. I was like you. If the color covered my gray it was witchy black, or it didn’t quite cover enough and then it would become a brassy brown within a couple of weeks. Being the real you is fantastic.

  • Gabrielle Dolceamore

    Thank you for this. I’ve been growing out my streak for the past couple months after years of dying it and I feel so liberated. Not to mention I have gotten 50x more stylish since then simply in letting the whites go. True, people have no idea how old I am, but I actually think it makes me look younger bc no one actually believes I’m old enough to have so much white hair.

  • Lisa Glass-Edmonds

    I gave up dying my hair at 51. At first, it was a little frightening; after all I was EXPOSING the real me! In reality, it was the most freeing thing I have done for ME in a long time. I am now 60 and probably 2/3 gray. I admit I don’t have wrinkles and look younger than my age, which helps. I am stopped all the time by women telling me how beautiful my hair and the gray (silver) is. I am very encouraging to women to do the same. I think many women want to but feel like I did in the beginning. I think women will be surprised at the men that admire it as well.

  • teresa

    I am a natural light blonde, and I do use a light natural blonde hair color….even when my greys start showing every 8 weeks, they are not noticeable because they just blend in so well…..I choose to color simply because I like it…..and bottom line, it’s all about the choice and the freedom to choose.

  • Erin

    Here’s the big problem for some of us: as I grow older my skin color gets whiter. So my hair would be completely white if I don’t color and my face would fade into nothing. It’s an expensive habit, but will continue coloring for as long as I can.

  • Julie Jenkins

    Sorry, I will go grey when I’m dead. Not unless I get a sensitivity to hair dye which would be the ONLY reason I would stop. I do root touch-ups monthly but only completely dye my hair twice a year so I do not get dye sensitive or so I hope. Happy for you all though who love your grey.

  • dshbaird

    I am coming up on 64 and people frequently believe me to be in my mid 50’s. For some reason, my family doesn’t turn gray much into well into their 60’s and my grandfathers were in their 80’s before they were totally gray. My body isn’t perfect and, with freckles, my skin is firm but not smooth and even toned. I tell everyone that the ONLY thing that makes me looks younger is my hair that has only the faintest amounts of grey and, even those disappear when my hairdresser add in a slight golden blonde weave.

  • Ginger Smith Bate

    I was a brunette. in college I became a partial blonde. In the late 60s that was called frosting. I went back to brown because frosting was too expensive. Coloring my hair with dye from the drug store was not expensive so I went to red. Started having more money; back to blonde. Then back to red. Noticed that the red did not look natural. Cut my hair short and let the red grow out. It’s mostly silver, bright silver. My natural waves keep it in place. I love it. Shampoo it in the shower, rub it with a towel, arrange it with my fingers, let it dry. I was a Hillary with hair styles. No skill with combs and curlers. Now that doesn’t matter.

  • cindyswhimsies

    funny that this photo comes up, it’s not in my profile currently! I’ve been going gray since 30. At 40 I quit coloring. At 58, I’m delighted to see my mom in the mirror. My hair is easy bc it’s curly and I don’t dye it. I hear all the time that folks love it. Meanwhile, I’ve been given Senior discounts I never asked for, for ages. I embrace it.

  • Libbe HaLevy

    I LOVE my gray hair. Grayed out early, colored it for a few years but hated how that made my hair feel and wasn’t happy w/chemicals like that on my scalp. Went natural in my early 50’s and flipped out; I’d never had light hair before and it looked terrific. The key is a good cut and a healthy attitude. I find short gray hair stylish, while longer it can look a little clunky. I’m 68 now and I’m still guessed in my 50’s.

  • Jessica

    I wish we weren’t so ageist about grey hair. Grey in any other context is a beautiful colour, why is it so weird as a hair colour?? My mom went all grey a number of years ago after YEARS of covering them with dye, and her colour is now an amazing silvery white. While some family member pick on her, calling her old, she actually still looks younger than most women her age. I’m so proud of her, and it has resolved me to never pick up a bottle of colour once i start going grey.

  • Lynn Alexander Huttleston

    I am 58 years old…I stopped coloring my hair 3 years ago, have let it grow out and I Love It! Get many compliments…Won’t color again. I sure Love the silver more than the yellow!

  • cindybear

    I saw my first gray hair at age 23. By age 40 I was 50% gray and now at nearly 64 my totally gray look is complete. I like it that way and so does my husband. A few men I know have remarked that my gray hair makes me look old, but their opinions don’t matter to me at all. There are things about their looks that need improvement too, but I’m not rude enough to point them out. People need to mind their own business and respect each other’s differences.

  • Iris

    I am 70, have very long, wavy gray hair, and I get tons of compliments on it from men and women! I still get looks and flirts from all kinds of men, young and old. Hasn’t been a negative at all!

  • Nancy Minter

    I went gray in my 30s. By 45 I was offered senior citizen discounts. It was a pretty color but ageism is rampant and I won’t stop coloring until I officially retire for good. Plus I don’t like make up as I have rosacea and it makes me feel like I want to claw my face off. Gray washes me out to the point where I have to wear make up. It’s a choice of which artificiality is more comfortable.

  • Kelsey McLean-Terriquez

    I have gray hair coming in stage 32 and I am embracing them as well I like how they look, I will not cover them up

  • MissingLeong’s

    I stopped fighting the grey last year as a 49th birthday present to myself. I did find a great colorist and stylist who helped me minimize “skunk stripes”. I started wearing my hair a bit shorter while she did her magic and now I’m so close to being grown out! I’m a couple of days away from my 50th bday and I couldn’t be happier.

    My natural hair color is awesome!

    I’m glad that I’m not going to one of “those” older ladies who keep dying their hair in a vain, and worthless, attempt to maintain a youthful appearance. Dyed hair doesn’t negate wrinkled skin or a prune-ish demeanor.