To Go Grey or Not to Go Grey

I was standing in a line when a small group of women reached out to compliment me on my grey hair.  They all wished that they had the courage to do the same.  One even suggested that my going grey was a feminist statement.

While I’m in absolute favour of taking such high praise if true, half-true, or even sort of true, this was just too much and  I needed to stop them.  I wasn’t courageous, I was cheap.  It wasn’t a statement, I had just gotten too busy.

At the time I made the decision to go natural, my hair was so grey that I needed a full head root touch up every ten days.  When I self-coloured at home my hair began to look oily with so much colour so soften.  If I did it at the salon it was expensive…, so, so expensive.  Both methods took too much time.  At home it was  a messy hour and a half and at the salon it was three hours – every ten days.  Then there were the days leading up to the colour when I took on the tell tale “skunk” look and my hair styling technique was all about hiding the white roots. My life was packed and I resented all time and effort this one area in my life was consuming.

However, what finally tipped the scale was the travel factor.  I had to take a root touch up kit wherever I travelled.  While I was on a vacation in Europe in needed to take  the time to touch up my roots in the hotel bathroom.   Not cool.

The money, the time, and worry spent on hiding my roots became an unnecessarily miserable experience.  So I decided to go grey.

Nothing I’ve done has been as controversial or as visually loud, so here are the four big things I’ve learned:

  1. Whether you cut your hair and let it grow in, or work with a professional colorist, the process takes a long time.  I worked to do it gradually, first highlighting my hair, then having it coloured lighter and lighter.  However, at some point, I just had to let it grow out.  That means that at some point it looked like I was growing my hair out. Suck it up Buttercup and accept the grey line.   It took 3 years before I could say I have grey hair
  1. You look older with grey hair.  My grey turned out to be a glorious colour.  It’s rich and full.  While I feel so lucky about the colour, feel and texture, I look much older than if I had colour.  No way around that.  However, I do feel more authentic; this is me, just me and at this time of life that’s worth a lot.
  1. Purple shampoo keeps the yellow away. I had never heard of purple shampoo but I had a fear of the dreaded yellow grey.   Without purple, grey turns too yellowishy from the sun.  It looks unkempt and adds even more years than the grey. My colorist turned me on to this secret.  But not just any purple shampoo, Clairol Shimmering Lights  is the stuff to find and buy. It’s been around forever and after trying more high-end products I went back to Clairol for good. It keeps my hair silver and chases the yellow away. Just the shampoo though, their conditioner, and all purple conditioners I’ve tried dry my hair instead of conditioning.
  2. I had to change my clothing and make-up palette.  There is a reason that stunning women with grey hair wear black and grey tones, because nothing else really matches.  I add bright colours as accents, but bright colours or warm tones as a base will just wash me out.  I fought it until I gave in and accepted and not my closet is primarily greys, blacks and whites.  Bright make-up can look garish against the silver.  I needed to go to a professional to find the right colours for my skin tone and grey mane.

Do I regret going grey? Often.  Do I miss the effort to hide the “skunk” look?  Not at all.  Just the hint of all that time and money spent is enough to keep me grey, despite the occasional wish for coloured locks.

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As always,




  1. Hey, Beth – Congrats on making the transition! I went gray a couple years ago and have never regretted it. I did it the easy way, though. I had my hair cut into a pixie, so the transition only took about six months. I do look older, but…*shrugs* I look like I’m supposed to look, you know? This is me at 56. The thing is, I get more compliments from random strangers now than I have ever received in my life. Like you, I lucked out with the color. And you’re right about the shampoo. Jhirmack puts out a purple shampoo that is mild enough to use daily, and it’s great. I have the Clairol that you mentioned and use it a few times a month. My advice for anyone thinking about going gray is DO IT! You’ll be so glad you did.

    1. Beth says:

      Lisa, I love the fact that I look like I’m supposed to look. After years of coloring, there is something grand about finally being authentic.

  2. Cathy says:

    I think you look lovely. Thanks for the honest assessment of what it takes to go gray. I have an appointment to get mine colored tomorrow. Keep saying I’m going to quit…

    1. Beth says:

      Going grey should only be done when and if you are ready for it. Enjoy your appointment.

  3. Alana says:

    I was prematurely grey and just got tired of coloring my hair perhaps three or four years ago. I’ve never regretted it. Even my mother in law, who is 89, stopped coloring about a year and a half ago. I had never heard of purple shampoo, by the way, and am going to be seeking Shimmering Lights out.

    1. Beth says:

      Alana, you’ll love what the shampoo does for the grey.
      Thanks for stopping by,

  4. I haven’t been able to bring myself to go gray yet. Although I’ve seen many women, including you, with beautiful gray hair. I go to Supercuts so it’s not too expensive and every 2 or 3 months. My younger sister went gray and now she looks like our mother.

  5. Grammy Dee says:

    Love it. Good for you! I am in the process of going gray. People tell me I don’t want to go gray, even my stylist at the salon, like I don’t know what I want. I remind them that I’m in my 50s, I’m a grammy, and coloring every 3-4 weeks is tiring! Bring this post over to our #BloggingGrandmothers #LinkUp #BlogParty so other grandmothers can read it 🙂

    1. Beth says:

      I was just saying to a friend that one of the joys of getting older is being clearer about what we want and not letting peer pressure get to us. Thanks for the heads up on the linky party!!!

      1. Grammy Dee says:

        You’re most welcome! Yes, when we get to be our age we can say goodbye to peer pressure! Thank you Beth for sharing at #BloggingGrandmothers #LinkUp #BlogParty. I shared on social media.

  6. candy says:

    I stopped color several years ago for the same reasons. After getting my hair done one day at the salon a young girl came in and complimented me on my highlights. I laughed and said it took me years to get these highlights. Thanks for linking up with Blogging Grandmothers.

    1. Beth says:

      And these last natural highlights have been the most expensive– I got some when son broke his collarbone, when they went to college, when husband went off to war…. Yup, my highlights took years and were very expensive.
      Thank you for stopping by

  7. The gray is gorgeous. I’m not ready to go all the way yet, but I am seeing more and more ladies who are wearing it well. Which has me giving it some thought. Thank you for sharing with Blogging Grandmothers. I have shared on my social media.

  8. […] Featured: Aging as Gracefully as I Can To Go Grey or Not to Go Grey […]

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  10. Finally someone I can relate too. Beth, I also got sick and tired of the coloring treadmill. Not only was it expensive, time-consuming but it also made my hair dry out and look like straw. I went gray in my early fifties and have never looked back. I don’t care what anyone thinks. I love the ease of this hair. Wash and go!!

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