Going Grey Gracefully?

November 4, 2011 · 34 comments

Apparently I’m nearly 40.  In 4 months I hit the big old milestone my mother’s generation dreaded and to be honest it doesn’t feel like the big deal I always thought it would.  I feel about 28, but other parts of my body are starting to tell another story!

I’ve noticed in the last few months especially that my hair especially in the front is starting to go grey, in kind of a glamourous Caitlin Moran way it’s bit of a streak. It’s not a horrid grey, more a sexy silver fox which in some light looks blond, but in my very dark hair is getting quite noticeable.   So the question is should I start dying my hair every 10 weeks or just go grey gracefully?

Spot the Grey!

 

My Nan bless her had the dark hair when she was young and had it coloured the moment she started going grey and carried on until she died when she was 97. She’d drag me to hairdressers in her 70′s and 80′s to show them the colour her hair ‘should be’ and demand they colour it the same, she resolutely refused to ever be ‘old and grey’. My Dad on the other hand has embraced the grey and accepted it as who he is, my Mum was blonde to start with, went grey and now back at blonde – obviously her’s is all natural ;)

I don’t know if I want to or not?  On the one hand I see photos like this on Pinterest from an inspiring blog called Going Gray Looking Great

And think ‘YES!, grey hair can be glamourous and gorgeous’ and then I think, ‘well she’s a model and probably 60 odd and has always looked wonderful’.  I might just look a bit crap on the school run with a head full of salt and pepper looking prematurely old.  Obviously I’ve discussed this with my husband who bless him feigned interest for a good 10 minutes and then told me to ‘do what I’m comfortable with’ – so he doesn’t mind one way or another LOL!

I don’t know is grey a state of mind? Am I going to look in the mirror and think ‘where the hell have I gone?’  Was my Nan right, if you let yourself go grey did you suddenly start acting like an old lady?  Or is dying your hair a desperate grab a youth gone by?

As you can tell, I’m conflicted! Do you have grey hair? If so what have you done?  Done grey gracefully or denied the grey and dyed it?  I’d love to know!

 

 

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

The Mad House November 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I have been going grey since my early twenties! I have been colouring it since them too, but now at nearly 40 I am ready to go grey, so next time I am at the hairdressers, I am going to see if there is any way this can be done without the dreaded tide mark!

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Liz November 5, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Yeah I hadn’t considered tide marks yet. I’m lucky to have kept the grey away as long as I have. Will be interested to see what yours is like?

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kath B November 4, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I’ve been thinking about this too. My hairdresser recommended lowlights to hide the grey as you don’t get obvious roots, but I was thinking about going Aliona from strictly come dancing red (last series not this one, that not such a good colour)

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Liz November 5, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Yes that was a pretty colour, look forward to seeing what it looks like

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MelkshamMum November 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I’m 35 and have a splattering of grey through my parting and I dye my hair every 6-8 weeks – out of a box, not at the salon! My sister, 10 yrs older, decided to stop dyeing her hair a while back and now looks a LOT older (it runs in the family). I will continue to dye, probably forever, as I have a huge fear of looking like my mum. Also you can have great fun with colour!!
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Liz November 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm

See that’s what I’m worried about, I don’t mind looking like a silver fox when I’m 55 but not 40. And true you can have lots of fun with the colours that are about now :)

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Mary Poppins November 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Oh I HATE my grey, I know I should be at one with it and all that, but really on my dark hair to me it just makes me look old, tired, pale and well a little frumpy. I love fashion, make up, high heels and often talk about the fact I perhaps dress a little too young for my age, and my grey hairs just look out of place next to the heels and pink lipstick. We are who we are, and if I am to feel comfortable in my skin then the shop bought bottles of colour come out. I do compromise a little and only use a semi, so the grey is always there albeit in a lesser/more blended form, and I can leave it yonks to re-do. I guess grey hair either suits one or it doesn’t and for me I really don’t think it does. I do think the lady in the photograph looks perfectly lovely and glamorous with her grey hair :) As for you, well in the words of your husband, I would do what ever makes you feel comfortable, and btw I zoomed right in there and I couldn’t see any :) xx
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Liz November 5, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Aww you are a love! I think in my head I just have a hard time associating grey with glamour, my Mum and Nan never did it and you’re right it doesn’t look right with pink lipstick and a pretty dress. Food to think about thanks hon xx

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Sam November 4, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I’m not ready to give in to the grey just yet. I have been going grey since my twenties, like my mum did, and have been dying it ever since. Between 35 and 40 I tried going blonder, and had highlights in an attempt to *blend* the grey but this started to prove expensive so in the last year I’ve gone dark again and have started dying it myself at home. My mum stopped dying hers in her late forties and now has a really striking grey bob so I totally agree that grey can look great. Just not *quite* yet……… ;-)
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Liz November 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Yep not quite yet I agree, I’m a dying from a box at home girl too. The new mousse formulas are much better than the dye that went everywhere – well it did when I used it LOL! Glad to know it can look glam eventually!

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Leonie November 4, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Closing on 37 and yup, I’m getting the Caitlin streak too. I’ve been dyeing my hair varying shades of red for something like seven years now but I’ve seen some horrible dye jobs on other people which jar with their skin tones and I’m determined to not to that.

So I have stopped dyeing it and am now tinting my grey hairs blondie/red by using a henna shampoo based shampoo from Boots which I can point out to you (can’t remember it’s name right now) and I also have a red tinting conditioner which I pick up from Superdrug when it’s in stock, for an occasional extra boost. I like the way it’s not just a solid dull block of harsh red or black, but something softer and shinier, mixed of varied shades between dark brown and strawberry blonde. I’d like to think I’m gonna just blend nicely into silver greyness eventually, via shades of strawberry blonde! It might not work out like that, but we shall see!

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Liz November 5, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Yes you’re right the skin tone thing is really important, I can’t go dead black which isn’t off my real colour anymore as I just look dead. I love the sound of that shampoo, show me next time we have coffee? x

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Helen November 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I am 46 yrs old and have been dyeing my hair (mostly at the salon) for at least the last 7 yrs. I don’t have too much grey if I stop dyeing but it’s where it is which is the issue as it’s all from the roots in my parting at the top of my head and also in a sheet under the top layer at the sides by my ears. As we all know grey hair doesn’t behave like normal hair, it sticks up in the air and waves “Coohee” at anyone who cares to notice. When it’s dyed it calms down and lays with the rest. It’s that reason and also the reason that when my hair is dyed I look and feel younger that is the reason I won’t give into the grey. I literally feel 10 yrs younger when I leave the salon. I get it dyed every 7-8 weeks. It needs it more often but I can’t pay for it that often!
My parents both gave in naturally to the grey. My Dad was a long time dark and is a bit of a Peter Pan. My Mum was a no make-up, natural hair, old fashioned clothes kind of girl. I just want to look and feel younger than I actually am for as long as I can because it makes me feel younger which then comes across as confidence which helps me get through life:-) x

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Liz November 5, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Wise words Helen! I think it is about confidence, maybe that’s why women in the 70′s and 80′s dreaded being 40? Anyway you always look amazing and glam so if there is an advert for dying it you are it lovely! x

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RosMadeMe November 4, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I thought that I was becoming more blonde, until my hairdresser told me that actually I was going grey!

I am now totally grey and my current hairdresser refuses to dye it… however I do have chums who think I pay a fortune to have it streaked like this, so I will pander to my cheap streak and and stay dye free :)

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Liz November 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm

That sounds cool! My Dad did the same after a hairdresser asked him where he got his highlights done LOL!

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Expat Mum November 4, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Just see what happens and how it looks. It’s definitely becoming trendy to go natural. Just remember that as you age, your skin tone changes too. Some people look fab with grey hair while it makes others look older and washed out.
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Liz November 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Yes you’re right I think the skin tone change is probably as much as shock as the hair changing and to go with what looks right.

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Fishfingers for tea November 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I’ve been going grey since I was 18 and have always dyed my hair, an at home job rather than a salon. My aunt is completely grey and dyes her hair. For her, even though she is incredibly fiesty, when she’s grey she feels old, tired and just not like herself at all. I really think that if it bothers you then it can have huge impact on how you feel. Maybe try a semi permanent first to see what you think?
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Liz November 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm

From the sound of it, I’ve been positively spoilt that I’ve kept mine so long! I feel bad now! That’s how my Nan felt, if she was grey then she was old and not herself. Thanks for the wise advice x

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Tara November 4, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Gracefully? Hello no. I found a fab mobile hairdresser and turns my ageing hair into something that actually shines. Like a pony.
Also bear in mind this: My mum always warned me, ‘one day your pubic hair will go grey and you won’t know what’s hit you. No one ever told me so I’m passing it on to you so it’s not such a shock’
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Liz November 5, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Oh they started going grey when I was in my early 30′s! I may have screamed my head off when I found them LOL! Just grateful my hair hasn’t been as bad so far ;)

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Jude November 4, 2011 at 11:24 pm

I’ve been going grey since I was 18 too, and started dyeing it in y late 20′s. However, this year I started to feel that it didn’t look right anymore, and made the decision to go grey. I’m so glad that I did, because I now feel that I look much more sophisticated and trendy. I’m lucky with my colour which is an all over light silver grey, and I now get loads more compliments than I did. I think grey is a state of mind – for a lot of women, grey hair has negative connotations, but it’s not the same for men. At the end of the day it’s just a colour which you either like or you don’t, and dyed hair can sometimes actually look more ageing than grey! More important is how you dress, act and feel. It’s made me feel more confident, because I look better, and I don’t have to worry about roots showing anymore.
I made the transition by gradually having more blonde highlights put in, and then once I had a couple of inches of natural coming through, had it cut short. Nobody noticed the process until the change was complete. All quite painless, and took about 6 months.

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Liz November 5, 2011 at 2:06 pm

That’s brilliant to know! Thanks Jude! Great advice for when I do need to make the transition. I bet yours looks amazing! xx

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Patricia November 5, 2011 at 1:33 am

First off, I laughed for about 5 minutes at your telling Paul and his “feigning interest”. I can so visualize that conversation. <3

Now, to the – ahem – root of the problem. ;) Which do you FEEL like? Do you feel you SHOULD be grey because it's natural and part of the process? No-one's saying cling to youth in a ridiculous way, like dressing inappropriately for your age or something like that, but you have to find which reflects how you feel inside: the grey, or something else?

Based on what you said, you don't feel 40, so why allow the hair to age you to that point, or god knows, maybe even older? Having said that, if you'd like to try, probably the "softest" way to lighten up and see how you feel about it is maybe some lighter highlights – see what they do to your face and skin and go from there. And if you do decide to do that, or even lighten your all over color, I'd definitely go to a professional salon first. Get an opinion (or two or three); if you like what they suggest and do it, then you can replicate at home.

For my part, I will fight the encroaching grays for a while. The red works on me, it hides the dreaded grays better, etc. In a male-dominated workforce, I can't afford to look older than I am, especially as I fight for promotions. To a lot of men, gray doesn't mean mature or responsible – it means "old." And "old" women aren't worth bothering with, lol. ;)

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Liz November 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm

LOL! You know he just looked at me like I was utterly mad ;)

I’m still torn, I’m cheap and lazy and can’t be bothered afford to go to a salon every 10 weeks – mine costs £80 to do it! but I do quite like the new home mousse home dyes. That said at the moment it’s looking blonde streaky from the summer, so it’s not too bad but come Christmas that’s just going to look grey, so maybe I’ll do it then.

I know what you mean about work though, if I had to go to an office I think I’d do it without thinking! xx

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Lorna November 5, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I’m 42 and started with an occasional grey hair 2 years ago. It isn’t grey from the roots as such, just occasional hairs are grey and it is worst at the front. I get a “masking” done every so often, either at every cut or every second cut depending on whether I have left 8 weeks or 12 between cuts. They just comb it thruough my hair so it doesn’t take as long as a hair dye (I can’t imagine sitting in the hairdressers for 2 hours – aaagh) and as my skin is so sensitive, it is kinder to my skin too.
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Liz November 6, 2011 at 11:55 am

Yeah I’m not keen on dying it lots for the same reason, sounds like it’s working well for you :)

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Marianne November 6, 2011 at 6:57 am

I am 46 and started getting grey hair in my mid twenties. I ignored it for some years until I looked at myself in they mirror and thought it was too much. I color my hair at home, I use L’ Oreal Excell10. It’s pretty good! I wouldn’t dream of not coloring my hair. I still thing I am too young for grey hair, maybe when I am older.

BTW I miss the sharing option in Google Reader since they changed it! I miss reading the blogs you share! I have to look into that. BTW I bought the iPhone 4s, really love it! Did you upgrade to IOS5 and Lion?
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Liz November 6, 2011 at 11:57 am

I like the L’Oreal Mousse, not sure what it’s called?

I miss you on Google Reader too! I hate not being able to share on it, I’ve added you to my Google reader Circle on Google + but it’s not working as well as on Reader :(

Oooo good to know about your 4s! I’ve stuck with my 3GS for now, but upgraded to iOS5 and I love it. Not tried Lion yet, bit worried my photoshop would stop working! :) xx

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teresa November 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm

I’ve been gray since my twenties
and yes I color my hair….If I let my hair go gray I would look like my husbands mother. I say do what you are comfortable with. You will most likely be one that does gray well……me on the other hand not so much.

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Rosie Scribble November 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I’m 38 and I’m not ready to go grey yet so I dye my hair every 6-8 weeks. There isn’t a lot there are the moment and I don’t worry about it as much as I did in my 20s when the thought of turning grey horrified me. You do what you think is best, Liz. You’d look lovely either way. Awww. :)
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Kylie November 11, 2011 at 10:42 am

I’m 36 and getting a huge kick out of watching my greys come in. I quit the dye nearly 3 years ago after continuous salon visits for 18 years, primarily because I was tired of trying to find a colour that wouldn’t fade to a reddish colour after a week or two. (Grrr!) My natural colour is medium ash brown, and my super-pink skin really needs the ash tone to look healthy. I started finding stray greys in my mid-20s, but they were never my reason for colouring. I just wanted darker hair than nature gave me!

Anyway, at present I have two “wings” of grey/silver on my temples, and a few tinsel strands scattered throughout the rest of my shoulder-length hair. Very fine streaks of silver ash amongst the brown ash … I love it. :-)

Quitting the dye was a great decision for me, but it wouldn’t be the best decision for everyone. Truth is, I’ve never minded being the age I am, and I don’t really care if I look 10 years older or younger, either. Maybe it would bother me if I looked 30 years older … but then again, maybe it wouldn’t. To me, beauty is ageless.

So I’d say that you should just do what you’re most comfortable with. Maybe try the “grey gracefully” approach for a while, and if you don’t like it, dye your hair. (By the way, in your photo I can’t actually see the silvers you refer to, but I do think silver streaks would look lovely on you.)

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hasenschneck January 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

Rather a late contribution but I just came across your post:

I’m 52 and about six months ago decided I’d had enough of fighting the lopsided fringe of white hair that ringed my face within two weeks of having it coloured. My hair isn’t grey enough over my whole head to let it go completely, so I settled on continuing to colour it but leaving a streak where it was whitest.

I’ve ended up hugely liking this look. It’s not a wide a streak as Caitlin Moran’s, for example, but I think it looks pretty cool. My daughter (21) agrees and she certainly doesn’t mince her words when she feels I’m doing something wrong! The thing I like most about it most is that it’s different, with a definite nod to my age.

My friends mostly continue to dye their hair uniformly but a very solid colour just doesn’t suit an ageing face, so they move to awful, lighter dye colours that are completely unnatural or highlights (expensive to maintain and totally fake looking unless you were naturally blond).

I’m proud of my appearance at my age and I don’t want to pretend I’m 30, so my solution is a good compromise – for me.

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