Going Gray – When Should I Stop Coloring My Hair?

woman with grey hair, gray hair, stop coloring hair

It all began decades ago when I started adding sunny California highlights to my hair. And now, more than 30 years later my hair is still the same color I grew up with, or at least close to it thanks to Clairol Nice n Easy medium neutral blonde. Coloring my hair has been a monthly ritual for so long that it just seems like a basic part of life, like brushing my teeth or washing my face.

I’ve been thinking about giving it up.  Gray is cool now and we have many examples of mature women who look stunning, sophisticated, and youthful with their natural white or grey locks. Friends I know who have stopped coloring their hair often talk about feeling more healthy and empowered, but there are always others who say it makes them feel older and invisible. I’m afraid of becoming one of them.

I’ve come close to letting the color go a few times, but when I mention transitioning to gray hair people will shake their heads and advise me to stay blonde. They say my hair looks good now, so why change it, I won’t be respected as much in business, and I will look and feel old, old, old. Many of the women who say these things have gray hair.

And so, here I am again with the thought of letting the hair dye go tickling at my brain. I try to picture myself with gray hair as I look in the mirror, but just can’t see it. I’ve been feeling a little older maybe even less vital in this 63rd year of my life and don’t want changing my hair to influence the idea that I am aging and tip my mental and emotional scales that direction. I wonder about the transition and walking around with two-toned hair. Will I feel less presentable? Less confident? Or, like I’ve given up?

But, there are reasons why I keep feeling that this is something I want to do.

  • I want to be authentic and live the truth
  • I want to stop putting chemicals on my head
  • I am curious what my real hair looks like
  • I want to embrace who I really am at this time in my life

As I write this, I am realizing these reasons are in alignment with my values and I can feel them in my heart. The rest is simply fear.

What if:

  • I look and feel old
  • I stop believing in my health and vitality and let myself go
  • I lose confidence in myself because of my appearance and start to live small
  • People look down on me or I feel invisable
  • Potential clients see me as over the hill instead of valuing what I offer
  • I fall into depression
  • I become the little old lady in the mirror

It’s  clear to me that choosing to stop coloring my hair is also an inner game. It’s about how I choose to think about it. My heart says yes. Fear says no. It’s also about timing.

Gray hair can be a rite of passage and a polarizing issue for women. I’ve been following a Facebook group called Gray and Proud full of courageous women sharing their transformations and encouragement. The cover image at the top of the group page says, “Those Aren’t Gray Hairs. They are strands of glitter.” Now, that sounds nice.

I haven’t made a final decision that this is the right time for me yet, but I would say that writing a blog post about it and letting the world know I’m considering it is a positive sign in that direction.

So, what about you? Are you a Gray Goddess or a Queen of Color and why? I would love to hear your hair stories and feelings on the subject. I think going grey is a personal choice and it would be nice to share and support each other in whatever decisions we make.

You can share your thoughts by leaving a comment on this post.

Related Posts:

Living in Alignment with Your Values

The Gifts of Living Simply

Let Your Best Self Guide You

30 thoughts on “Going Gray – When Should I Stop Coloring My Hair?

  1. Daniela says:

    I stopped coloring in 2013. It too aligned with my values…values of health, new minimalist choices, environmental concerns (dumping toxic chemicals down the drain), etc. My advice: enjoy the journey, put on your thick skin (everyone will give you their opinions and not all will be good), and remind yourself that you are worth it. Life is not a contest to see who looks youngest at death.

  2. Sara Welk says:

    I love not being tied down to the dye ritual anymore. I have been transitioned silver for 3 years now. What you see is what you get. I’m living my truth and look and feel younger for it. 54 years young. I enjoyed reading your blog.

  3. Theresa says:

    I recently joined that group. So many stunning women & beautiful hair. I’ve thought about going grey for a year now. I’m still unsure but 8 weeks into not dying my hair & im going to go for it & see how it goes. I can always recolour if I feel that bad. Though I doubt I will. I’m 52 now & just sick of money & time spent getting my hair coloured now.
    Let’s see!

    • Linda Luke says:

      I’m beginning to think the hard part is making the decision. Often, for me, once I decide the rest becomes easy because I have done the work to be clear about what I want and where I am going. I would love to hear how things go for you and will probably see you in the Facebook group. Good luck!

  4. Jan says:

    This is a challenge that many of my friends are dealing with too. I have some grey and I have never colored my hair (a lucky one I guess), and I love the look of the grey. I also enjoy that I don’t feel pressure to ‘be’ younger or ‘dress’ younger, or ‘act’ younger. I feel so much freer now, at this age, to just be myself. I know I have done deep work on myself to accept myself for who I am, and am also open to becoming what really moves me rather than what anyone else expects me to become. I kindof see it as all part of the package of aging gracefully. I’m embracing it and I support you in doing it however you feel inspired to do it. Your inner light shines no matter what color your hair is. 🙂
    Thanks for being so honest and open. You truly are an inspiration.

    • Linda Luke says:

      Thank you Jan. Your perspective is what I feel most days, but for some strange reason I created a story that it would change. I love these opportunities to learn and grow as we embrace aging gracefully. And, I think YOU are an inspiration.

  5. Denise says:

    Hello , I tried it both ways and for me I love going from strands of brown and gray to dark brown. I like the look and so does my husband. If Will do what make me feel and look the best and this is it for me. Also what I use is henna based and is not permanent. As it dissolves the look is natural with some grays showing instead of a harsh line of root grays and then the dark permanent I see with many women who color.

  6. Sarah Arrow says:

    I know how you feel! I’ve been grey since my early thirties and have to colour once every ten days.. and it’s a chore. My hubby doesn’t want me to go silver fox (As I call it) and let it grow out. He thinks people will treat me as old…
    I think I have a solution though. I’m going to get a wig. I can wear this for when I have to be on “show”. But for every day life, I’ll just let the grey grow in. Publicly, I’ll still look the same, privately there will be a gradual change. Then hubby can get used to the idea of the silver me. And if I don’t like it, I can go back to colouring 🙂

    • Linda Luke says:

      A wig is a great idea. It would be nice to try silver ones on before we even decide. I love your solution and can’t imagine having to color every 10 days. That is a lot of work or time at the salon… And yes, we can always go back.

    • Linda Luke says:

      I love your clarity and authenticity. I think some of us got trapped in coloring when we were younger and it’s a habit that is hard to break. I bet you look great as a Gray Goddess!

  7. Great piece Linda, it’s a popular topic among my midlife friends, but especially one I’ve been considering lately. I’m still coloring right now but I’m seriously considering going letting it all go. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Linda Luke says:

      Your welcome Cheryl. This decision represents entering a new phase of our lives and we can choose to move into it when the time feels right, which is unique for each of us. There are a lot of us “considering”.

  8. Lottie Moore says:

    Great post Linda! I went to grey about 18 months ago, and haven’t regretted it at all. My hair is in the best condition it’s been in years, I feel I get taken more seriously in the corporate world, and still get told I’m cute all the time.
    My observation has been that those that advise against it have never taken the step themselves, so are often speaking from their own fears.
    My advice? Go for it! If you hate you can always dye it back 🙂

  9. David Bennett says:

    The telling sentence for me is where you said – “..and we have many examples of mature women who look stunning, sophisticated, and youthful with their natural white or grey locks.”

    It’s fair to say that men have a broader range of ‘acceptable’ models than do women from which to choose. It’s tough on women – but then so does having curly hair in England.

    If you ‘go grey’ (British spelling) and want to feel at home with it – visit Scotland, where there are many grey-haired people. I often stood in queues or sat on the bus and had a solid assembly of grey-haired people in front of me.

    Here’s a thought – good posture and a healthy walk trounces grey hair.

  10. Tracey-Jane says:

    I’ve never dyed my hair, but have many friends who do. I’ve always wanted to be “me”, and have been blessed with naturally curly random hair which is greying (age 46), but it ties in.

    My Mum went back to her natural colour in stages so it wasn’t a total shock to herself or those around her.

    It sounds like you’ve made your decision now, as I write this. As others have said, you need to do what feels right & you can always change again 🙂

    • Linda Luke says:

      Thank you. Part of me wishes I never colored my hair. I thought I was just getting a few highlights, not knowing that I would still be coloring decades later. I love the idea of your wanting to be you.

  11. m.c.frye says:

    I never really got into coloring my hair, though I did color occasionally when I was in my late 20s to early 30s and just wasn’t comfortable with the gray coming in.

    Since those days, when I look in the mirror, I’ve noted the gray, not always been happy with it, but didn’t want to enslave myself to a coloring routine. I changed my hairstyle when my bangs were suddenly mostly white.

    In the last couple of years, something happened. Suddenly the white streaks looked dramatic. I started cutting and styling my hair in ways that accentuated those streaks rather than minimize them. I like my hair. I like wearing deep, jewel-tone colors that make my hair look even more dramatic. And I’ve gone back to wearing bangs. I missed them!

    • Linda Luke says:

      Thank you. It’s nice to remember it can be a process. I love jewel tones, but they aren’t always flattering to my warm colored skin and that is part of why I wonder how I will look with gray hair. Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

  12. Damien says:

    I am male but I will weigh in on grey hair. I dye mine away. I am 31 I am not ready to have grey hair but due to stress and poor health I have greys. I don’t plan on not dying.

    • Linda Luke says:

      Thank you for sharing. I like having a man’s perspective. It does seem like you are young, but I must say that I was once in love with a man your age who had white hair. Of course, that was many, many years ago…

  13. JoAnn says:

    I have had exactly the same thoughts that you have had. Reading your blog hasn’t helped me reach a decision, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone in my thoughts.

    • Linda Luke says:

      You are definitely not alone. Many, many women responded to this post here on my blog and on social media sites. It is a common dilemma and potential rite of passage for those of us who have colored our hair.

  14. Barbara says:

    I also have concerns about putting chemicals on my head especially once a month. So instead, I buy hair color from sprouts health food store that has supposedly one-tenth the amount of dangerous chemicals in it and I only color my hair with it every few months. In between I just touch up the roots that show in the front with Clairol root touch up. Some people look great with white Platinum looking hair but at this point mine would be just streaks of Grey which I don’t think I would like.

    • Barbara says:

      I suppose it would be less toxic to touch up the roots with the health food store brand hair coloring, I just haven’t got that far yet.

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