Letting Myself Go Grey

I’ll bet you expect this to be about 50 Shades of Grey.   Surprise!  It’s not.  It’s literally about me letting myself go grey.   But let’s get one thing out of the way first.  Is it spelled g-r-e-y? or g-r-a-y?   Turns out it’s both.   Gray is more common in America.  Grey is more common in the UK.   So now that I’ve settled that, let’s talk aging hair.

I’ve been an “almost black” brunette my entire life.  For the first 25 years it was natural.  Then I started to grey prematurely.  Since then I’ve been dyeing my hair every few weeks–mostly black, but I have at times been red, blonde, and even brown.   About ten years ago that dyeing process began to result in allergic rashes, and those rashes have since turned into outright blistering and scabbing events that can last for 7-10 days after a treatment.   Back when I only had to dye every 6 weeks, that wasn’t as big of an issue, but at this point in my life I am more than 50% grey and those dye jobs are coming around every three weeks.   So that means that half the time I exist, I have blisters and scabs on my face and scalp.

My reactions to dye have actually caused my skin to be so sensitive that I am down to one, and only one, shampoo that I can use without getting an identical rash to the hair dye rash.  I can use no conditioner at all.   No hair products.  No sprays.   No gels.  Nothing.  Clearly there are chemicals in these products that my body hates, so I’ve been considering dropping the coloring for quite a long time.   I’ve just never had the guts to do it.

Until now.

After I hit age 44, things began to change.  I became less satisfied with following the crowd.   I began to really yearn to be more of myself and less of the person everyone else wanted me to be.   Since that year I’ve been honoring my own heart’s desires and those gentle tugs on my soul more and more.  This year it hit hard with my appearance. I could feel myself getting angry every time I had to dye.  It was clearly injuring me, yet society demands that I attempt to look younger than I am.

Amazingly people actually believe that women don’t get grey hair until their 70’s.   Well we do.  We’re just so conditioned to women dying their tresses that we have no idea what we are supposed to look like in our 50’s and 60’s anymore.  Well, I had been teetering on rebellion when an amazing thing happened.

Have you taken a look at the gorgeous grey and silver hair styles out there these days?  It turns out that grey is the new black.   It’s cool.  It’s hip.  10917879_10205050445634007_3976663573089690135_nIt’s the in thing.  Young and old alike are packing the salons to take on gorgeous hues of grey, steel, and silver.    And for me, that couldn’t be better timing.

So I’ve begun the process of growing out the dye.  Here’s where it was two weeks ago.  That’s about a month in I’d say.  Not much yet, but it’s a start.  This week it’s really becoming visible.  I’ll have to take new photos.  You can’t really tell from this particular photo, but those grey hairs are actually white/silver.  And the most shocking thing of all to me is that I absolutely love them.

They sparkle in the sun like little diamonds in my hair.  I can not wait for the full grow out–which I’m told will take just under two years.

Since I don’t relish the idea of the skunk stripe, I have an appointment with my stylist to put silver highlights in throughout the black, but that will officially be the final time I ever color any portion of my hair.   That’s scheduled for April 7–which also happens to be my 25th wedding anniversary–the silver anniversary.  Ah yes.  Won’t hubby we surprised with his new gift.

There have been a few other surprises for me as well already.  The first, those little whisps of white around my temples and framing my face?  Yeah.  They match my now greying eyebrows and they actually match my skin tone.   I look much better with lighter hair.  Who knew?  The delightful thing when you change to grey is that you also get to wear brighter make up.  You almost have to in order to keep from looking washed out.   I get to wear bright plums and raspberries now.  I couldn’t pull that off before.   With the dark hair it made me look gothic.    And have I mentioned?  I. Love. Lipstick.

The second shocker has been how people I barely know will angrily tell me not to allow this travesty.  I will look twenty years older, they insist.   More than once it has taken every bit of my manners to refrain from turning the table on them by insisting that they immediately go for stomach bypass surgery or purchase a toupee to better suit the tastes of the public at large.  Why not? If it’s good for them to tell me how to be more acceptable, why shouldn’t I return that favor?

Ahhhhh… why indeed.  It’s a good thing I’m a lady.   They’re just lucky that despite appearances to the contrary, I’m not a cranky, ornery old lady.   Yet.

Stay tuned for updates.  I’ll post before and after photos on April 7.

UPDATE:  See post 2 here.

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  1. I did this last year. Last dye was in Feb of 2014. It’s grown out now and I am so happy with it, plus I get more compliments than I had ever imagined.

  2. Best of luck to you!! I’m not quite ready yet but it’s very inspiring and I will avidly follow your progression ~ thank you soooo much for sharing it with us :))

  3. I stopped dying my hair a few months ago, and I started to notice a few silver strands in my other wise very dark almost black hair. I was actually very excited! I can’t wait to actually have tons of beautiful silver highlights.

  4. I am beginning to think we are kindred spirits! I started going grey at 21, and started coloring my hair, for 17 years I was a red head (my natural color is brown) I finally decided enough was enough! In fact it was one year ago today that I last colored my hair and it was this thing called Shades that would hep me grow out the color. I am now 100% grey and I love it. I am 39 and people think I am older, but people have always thought I was older than I am so nothing new there!

  5. Instead of using dyes you could try henna for hair! It’s all natural and stains the hair it works great without all the harsh chemicals in hair dye. If you are ready to go gray/grey than way to go! 🙂

  6. it always amazes me that so many people are so rude about things that are none of their business in the first place.
    I am 59 and started going grey at about 50. I was blond. Now, my hair is grey,white, brown and even some red. I was looking for grey hair-color so I can just make it grey and be done with it.
    My husband said it’s still coming in all colors, so I should wait a while, so I will.
    My daughter says I’m like a calico cats-all colors.lol!

    I am glad to see you back posting again,

  7. I had grey hair for almost 10 years. The last year though I felt like I was disappearing. So I have returned to brunette. When I get tired or irritated by the hair color I will just go back to grey. Life is full of choices. And we are free to change our minds about many choices we make. Some though, like , being a mother, can never change. Once a mother, always a mother.

  8. My dentist is the most classy fashionable lady you will meet, she has short white hair, from behind with her shapely and petite figure you would assume she is a young girl that choose white instead of pink blue or green hair dye… when you look at her face you assume she is a really cool middle aged lady… but turns out she is old enough to have that hair color, nobody would ever guess it, it certainly doesn’t age her, if anything everyone assumes it’s a fancy hair dye, I am sure you wil look awesome, please share pictures!

  9. I’m just now picking up your “going gray” story on pinterest as I am, at 53, ready to embrace my gray! My natural “born with” color is very dark brown, but I have been coloring since I was about 35, mostly because I was bored with my color. (early midlife crisis maybe). I’m so sick of having to chase my roots every 4 weeks so I’m ready to let my gray be the beautiful base and add a few really dark low lights to make the transition more subtle. Where can I look to see some more of your transitional photos?

  10. I have just read your post and am currently experiencing the same allergic problems with hair dye, after using colour for many years. It is now 10 weeks since my last colour and the silver roots are becoming very noticeable. I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I will soon have grey hair and feel encouraged by reading your story. Thank you for sharing.

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