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WHAT'S ON YOUR MIND?

It’s Only Hair…Right?

89 comments | March 13th, 2012

(story by Mir, from WouldaShouldaCoulda)

No one is ever going to accuse me of being easy-going; my teenager's favorite thing to say to me, these days, is "Geez, Mom, CHILLAX." (I am, I suspect, the only person with whom she uses that word, and the humor is partially because of that, of course.) I can be a bit persnickety, yes. A little high-strung at times, sure. I have strong opinions on many things. I'm okay with this.

One of the issues on which I cannot be bothered to feel strongly, however, is hair. Hair grows. No hair decision is irreversible; even if you're terribly unhappy with your choice, eventually you can do something else. It's just… not that big of a deal.

To me, this makes sense. To some folks who know me, though, I guess it was a little surprising when I let my young son grow his hair long. Or when I let my daughter dye a streak in hers. But to me, it was a easy way to let the kids have a bit of self-expression in a non-permanent way. Soon enough, society will put pressure on them to look a certain way, to be "presentable" and "professional" and conformist. (I figure that if I let them experiment now, they'll be less inclined to head out to job interviews with crazy hair and multiple nose rings in the future, but who knows.)

My flexibility when it comes to my kids on this issue is even more amusing when you consider that I've spent the majority of my adult life trying to make my own hair look more "normal"—no small feat when you happen to look an awful lot like a poodle is reclining on your skull. I straightened my hair for years, have bounced between very short and very long and everywhere in-between, but in general haven't done anything "drastic," mostly because I have no desire to look anything other than presentable. Maybe mostly professional, even.

Life 'round here has been challenging, lately. I feel like I've been putting out fires for months, playing endless games of catch-up with work, family, just life in general. Last night as I readied myself for a much-needed night out with my husband, I looked in the mirror and cringed at my hair. I'm currently sporting about 3" of steely gray roots mixed into my previously-chestnut curls. There just hasn't been time to deal with it, and it looks like exactly what it is—laziness. I look unkempt. It's pretty much the opposite of my goal.

The logical reaction would be to make an appointment to color my hair, pronto. But… I don't know. I started going gray at about 27. I'm 40 now, and about 50-60% of my hair has turned. I feel like I'm too young to go gray, but I'm also starting to feel like I'm too old to give a damn about it. And who am I trying to impress, anyway? Or am I really worried that someone will see my hair gray and assume I'm 70 instead of 40? I'm no supermodel, sure, but I'm not too worried about being mistaken for a senior citizen just yet.

So let's say I make peace with just being gray and giving up hair color. Do I spend a year+ with two-tone hair, or do I just cut it all off and grow it out, uncolored, fresh? And either way, what happens if I need to do a business thing in the meantime? Short poodle hair, or two-tone hair? And later, assume I grow it out and it's uniform, at least, but it's mostly gray… is that inherently unprofessional? Do I even care? Let's be honest; I work from home most of the time. But will I be viewed as less professional than my colleagues if it's obvious that I don't care what color my hair is, anymore?

Also: Why is it okay for men to be gray, but not women? My husband isn't quite as gray as I am, just yet, but do you know what it looks like, on him? Dead sexy. And not inappropriate or unprofessional at all. Men look distinguished when they go gray, maybe even especially if they go gray early. But us women, I don't know. It seems like there's a wave of women now kind of "owning" being gray, but I feel like most of them are 50+. What's a graying 40-year-old to do?

To gray, or not to gray? Buck the system, or buckle to vanity? Is there a third option? How do I choose?

(There's more Mir here)

89 comments

  • Anonymous

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Ooh! Embrace it and cut Off the two tone! I can’t tell you how healthy it is from a childs perspective to see how comfortable your parent is with their own physical appearance (and not just comfortable but happy and in love with it). Kudos to you for letting your kids do what they want- and now you can do what you want and practice what you preach! If you are vehemently happy about yourself and how you look it will foster some amazing self confidence in your children. Go for it! And continue to be the great parent that you are!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Good luck! I am 45, started going gray when I was 25 and PTA president, true story. I hate it! There’s no way 3″ roots could ever be in my world, but because it bothers me. It’s not what I want to see when I look in the mirror. I am not high-maintenance. I am not a person obsessed by looks, but gray hair is not even remotely a possibility. I wish you the best of luck deciding. Yes, sadly maybe, I do think it will affect how people view you. I guess if it were me, for Otto, for your kids, I’d want the gray banished. I remember having a friend years ago and her daughter was so affected by her mommy looking so much older than all her friends mommies. Maybe it shouldn’t matter, but looking older, unkempt, and like you just don’t care is not a message I’d want to send.

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  • Victoria

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    In my town, it seems to be in vogue among the 30 year olds to ”go gray”- they dye their hair gray. So, more proof that what we have naturally, someone else wants! (Curls, color……)

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  • MomQueenBee

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Embrace the roots! Cut it off in a gamin, sexy, close-to-the-head crop, and love it. You’ll look 10 years younger.

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  • Midj

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I stopped coloring about 10 years ago (I’m 51). I used the wash out color while my gray got long enough, then washed out the color and had it cut short (two (?) inches all around). Now I get my hair cut once a year and have many beautiful changes in style year ’round.

    Was at a childhood friend’s father’s funeral two weeks ago and saw several people I had not seen in years. They LOVED my steel grey tresses and a few of the women even admitted they wish they had the nerve to go gray. It made me feel terrific.

    I have been mistaken for my son’s grandmother, however, and he’s 18… It was a couple of years ago and we were at the University’s basketball game and he and I flashed up on the big screen. The next day, one of his friends said,”Hey, I saw you and your grandmother on the big screen.” I take it as a cultural thing, though, as most of the parents of my children’s friends dye their hair so the kids are not used to seeing a woman with gray hair unless she is “really old…”

    Next month is cut my hair month, before it gets ungodly hot here in Florida. Can’t wait for the pixie cut and feeling cute and sassy! Am also looking forward to wash and wear again! Mir, my photo on facebook (I’m a fan of woulda/coulda so you should be able to find it) is a couple of months into the year of styles. I hope you share a picture if you decide to do it.

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  • Mandy

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    In the face of all the challenges and fires you are putting out (or trying to), it’s important to take care of yourself. (And, yes, I’m a hypocrite, as I rarely take time for myself.) I say color it – get rid of those roots – until things calm down. You’ll look more polished, feel more polished (and thus in control.) Then, when things have calmed down on the home front, reconsider going gray. That’s my $0.02, for what it’s worth.

    And what the hell- why not get matching streaks with Chickie? Maybe a nice pink or blue for spring?

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  • Cindy

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I’m in the lazy camp but for me that means I put “sun in” spray on my hair every so often. It doesn’t cover the gray as much as make it blend in better. I tried going a pro when I first started going gray (at 30ish) but GOOD GRIEF that got expensive. Not to mention smelly and time consuming. Plus I hated the way it looked as it grew out. So I started using the spray in stuff to blend the roots and it didn’t take long for my inner cheapskate to realize this could work long term instead of between salon visits. I have naturally brown hair with a lot of red highlights and some blonde. The stuff I spray in brings out the red and blonde much more and unless I’m just deluding myself for self preservation, it suits me very well. Both me and my inner cheapskate are happy. (and I’m also a poodle head, btw…two words for that: hair serum)

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  • Monica

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Cut it as short as you like, colour or streak the remaining two tone bits so they blend with the gray and see if you like it. After all, changing your mind is as simple as colouring it chestnut again.

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    • Brigitte

      Posted on March 13, 2012

      I agree! You can always change it.

      I’m sporting the aging, graying hippie thing myself, but I am both pushing 50 AND lazy. So far, my 7-yr-old is OK with having an ancient mommy . .

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  • Jenn

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I’ve seen some women my age rocking their gray hair (I’m 45) but I just can’t bring myself to join them. I do have a good 6 months of roots showing right now so going gray would be easy. But I don’t like it when I look in the mirror. In my mind I’m mostly gray in the wrong places: at the temples and the top of my head. So I’ll make an appointment soon to get my usual which is both highlights and lowlights but no overall color. In my mind it helps blend in the grays and means I don’t have a definite line as the color grows out. But I’ve been thinking that maybe in 5 years or so I’ll be ready to let it go.

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  • Kelly

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I think short and embracing it sound fun! And the best part is you can change your mind, color it, let it grow…. just like you said. I like to experiment with my hair, although I always end up back in a comfortable easy bob because just like you said, I can make myself look professional when I need to.

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  • Pris

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Cut it short and color it purple.

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  • Lisa

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I’m pretty much in the same place with my hair. Mine also tends toward the sleeping poodle look and I’ve been very irregularly coloring it for the past 10 years. I honestly have no qualms about going gray. My mom is almost 70 and still dyes her hair black and it doesn’t look natural and I don’t want to end up in the same position.

    Really, the reason I color is because the gray hairs are crazy and wiry and I look more like I have this fuzzy helmet over my poodle-y hair. It’s not like I just have roots. Besides the roots, it seems like whole strands of hair suddenly go gray/white. Putting color on my hair seems to tone the fuzzies down.

    When I’ve talked about going gray with my stylist, she’s suggested going gradually lighter in my overall color and working my way there. It still seems like a lot of bother, but I thought I’d mention that as a possibility.

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  • Tricia

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Absolute truth is that “professional hair” is more defined by kempt than color. I’ve seen people who color their hair who have an unkempt style (or worse the women in my office who drives a convertible and doesn’t comb it when she arrives in the morning)and I’ve seen those with gray who are the role model of style.

    I’m highly pro-gray — mostly, because I’m pro-natural. I’ve been going gray since I was in my teens and in my mind, my gray isn’t an aging thing — its just a thing. I love my head of 80% gray hair (I’m 38). I get stopped often on the street and asked about my hair. I’ve had people ask me if I actually dye it. And the best part is NO roots.

    I dyed for about 5 years after being basically guilted into it by a stylist. I tried everything to hide the roots, including a sad briefly blonde period. And the truth is that I’d have a skunk stripe about 2 weeks after I’d colored. My hair won’t take the home color and the time, expense, and the fact I loathed doing it was an easy choice in my mind.

    My husband thought we’d start to look like Barbara and George Bush and I think he thought it aged him. He’s settled into now. I think he’s more amused than me when we get stopped because someone if stunned with my hair.

    Now, I’m growing it longer and working on encouraging the curl. I have to say my hair has never been healthier looking and also more kempt/professional.

    And the truth is, you can always color it again if you hate it. And think of what you can do with the savings. :)

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  • Jenn

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I have found henna is a nice midway compromise. It fades out on its own so I don’t get the two-tone look and it always looks natural. Meanwhile, I’m contemplating a radical short cut – and hoping I don’t end up getting something that looks just like my daughter’s bob ;).

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  • Stacy

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I have one hair goal in life: to eventually look like Jamie Lee Curtis! That woman is beyond hot and sexy and I love her short, grey hair. Unfortunately, my mom is 57 and only has a couple of grey hairs, so I may be waiting for a while. The point is, you’re right: it’s only hair and it does grow back. So, you chop it all off and discover you don’t like short grey hair, you let it grow back and dye it again. That’s what’s so great about hair!

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  • Jenn C.

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I started going gray when I was in high school. For a while it wasn’t very noticeable, so I ignored it. I started coloring it when I was in my 20s, and did that for about 10 years. When I hit about 35 or so, I decided I was just done – the time, the expense, the putting toxic and painful chemicals on my head just all got to be too much.

    I didn’t have to worry too much about looking “professional”, so I just grew it out, but it looked pretty weird while it was three-tone (dyed color, grey and natural color), so perhaps using non-permanent color would solve that problem for you now.

    I get more compliments on my hair and how striking it is now than I ever did when it was dyed, and the only people who have commented negatively are women who I know to also not be super comfortable in their own skin. I have gotten mistaken for my daughter’s grandmother (she’s 10, I’m 38!) but only by little kids who clearly equate grey hair with grandma. I don’t think grey hair is inherently unprofessional.

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  • Alison C

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I colour my hair to cover some grey but mostly because the natural colour is sludge brown. If it was a nice grey all over I think I would let it go.
    Check out Alice at Finslippy.com, she let her hair go grey last year and she is rocking it!

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  • Katie in CA

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Go grey! Dye it until it all comes in grey. I’m starting to go grey at 29 (I started at 27 too), and I remember when my mom rocked the grey hair when I was about 10 or 11. I remember how beautiful she looked. Much better than her current color. I remember at my grandfather’s funeral, my Aunt, my mom’s sister, showed up with tiger stripes in her grey hair. Think shades of grey, not orange and grey. It was soo cool. My aunt had to dye it that way. GO Grey!

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  • Rita

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I have embraced my grey! I keep my hair short (think Jamie Lee Curtis) and the thought of coloring every four weeks to keep the roots in check was unpalatable. I started getting grey in my early 30’s (when I had kids!) and am probably 60-70! grey now at 42. I’d say cut it short, rock a new cut and embrace the grey!

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  • Sarah G.

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I’m with Pris and the purple. I went grey at 30 and it just plain washed me out. I’m very fair with dark brown hair. So I’ve been coloring for 14 years, looking for the perfect auburn. Then two years ago I bleached and went purple and it was so much fun. Now I’ve settled on Violet brown. It looks brown indoors, purple in natural light.

    Interestingly enough makes people happy, from the homeless guy on the street, the librarians at the return desk, and the staff at the school. I look like a normal suburban mommy, just with purple hair. When asked why, I say “I don’t smoke, do drugs, or have tattoos. This is my version of a mid-life crisis.”

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  • Lucinda

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I don’t understand the idea that women are less professional if they go grey. Where did you get that idea? It’s ridiculous. Do what makes you feel happy. If the gray bothers you, then color it. If it doesn’t, then cut it. I know many people who are graying at 40. I’ve always thought a woman who grays early is beautiful because they have great skin tone next to silver hair. But ultimately, with everything else going on, do what makes you happy.

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  • Andrea

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Any time I think of a woman letting her hair go natural, I think of Jamie Lee Curtis. I think she has nailed it, and you could definitely rock that look. I am happiest with my hair when it’s super short, even though I don’t have a face as thin and lovely as yours! My stylist is always very conscious of the ‘details’ of my style, he says he wants to make sure it’s not butch. ha!

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  • Arleen

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Cut it off! You will feel so much better and you can always dye it again if you can’t stand it. Easy peasy!

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  • Mary K. in Rockport

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    A lot depends, I think, on how your shade of gray looks with your eye and skin tones. Some younger women just don’t look right with graying hair. In my case, I started to get blond then gray streaks at my temples when I was still in college – a family trait. I let my hair go natural despite being called my children’s grandmother multiple times. Since I have very long hair, you can see every stage of grayness right down to the brownish-blond tips. Suddenly, however, my hair has gone cotton ball white – white! It’s becoming with my coloring but makes me look way too old. I’m thinking about getting “lowlights,” but it would be big step.

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  • jen_alluisi

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I know lots of beautiful, distinguished, professional women of a variety of ages with gray hair. It sounds to me like in your heart of hearts, you want to embrace it and not deal with it anymore – and if I’m right about that, then I say go for it. Whole-heartedly. And then go visit your favorite hair stylist and tell him or her what you want to do, and get advice on how to do it. A good stylist will be honest with you about whether chopping it all off is too drastic or is exactly the right thing to do.

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  • Gaylin

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I used to do various versions of red hair in my 20’s and when I finally started going grey, I stopped dying it. I love my grey/silver/brown hair. I think of it as Mother Nature’s highlights.

    The idea of the time/effort/money that goes into keeping a dye job, I am too lazy and frugal for that.

    Cut your hair or do an intermediary dye job or full dye job, you will still be your, whichever way you rock your hair.

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  • Jen

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Would you please let us know what you decide. I’m tired of coloring and have very short brown hair (where there is color) and WHITE where there is no color. The white is framing my face with the almost black eyebrowns (damn genetics – got the worst hair traits from each parent). I’m afraid I’ll have all white in the front, brown in the back and BLACK eyebrows…42 years old…I’m not sure I’m ready for this, but I’m sick of the home colors…and um, what was my point again….sigh.

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  • Mom

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I’m with Pris. I recently (as you know) added a patch of hot pink to the right front of my hair and I love, love, love it. People ‘out there’ seem to love it too, judging by the many positive comments I get from total strangers. I am well aware that they might be laughing behind my back. Do I care? Not a bit. It makes me smile when I look in the mirror and sometimes smiles are otherwise hard to come by.

    I think that gray rarely adds life and beauty to the faces of women (men, yes). If they are lucky enough to go snow white, that’s often nice but few are so fortunate. (I wish I were.)

    I do two ‘vanity’ things – my hair and my nails. I am quite sure I’m worth it. Your nails are gorgeous. Keep your hair gorgeous too. Cut it, style it, color it. I know you won’t go purple or even pink, but some red highlights can be added to your chestnut and just might make you smile when you look in the mirror. You deserve more smiles and unicorn rides added to your difficult days.

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  • Carla Hinkle

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I don’t know. I’m 39 with sparse but very noticeable gray if I don’t color it. And… I always, always color it. I touch it up every 4 weeks. Maybe I’m bowing to societal pressure but to me, gray hair on a woman says “old,” and I’m not ready to be old.

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  • Hope

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I say get that consultation on the best style for your face/body, and then let the hair grow into it, using highlights to smooth out the line, eventually aiming for natural.

    And what I say goes.

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  • Kim

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I’m 43 and was grey for about 5 years, until last year when I started looking for a new job. The first thing I was told: “Dye your hair and get some good shampoo to smooth it out.” But if I ever leave the work force, back to grey it goes!

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  • Saskia

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I’m 25 and I own my gray. Mostly because I earned it. But also probably because I’m the only one to notice it, yet. And so true about the male thing – my boyfriend (he’s 41) has greying temples and although he hates it, I do think it’s dead sexy.

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  • Little Bird

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Let be what it is. I got my first gray hair at fourteen. I gave up coloring it a few years back and now have a serious streak right along the part and in the middle of my head. You can’t miss it. But I kinda like it. It looks like I tried to do it. My mothers hair is white and has been for over a decade. I hope mine does the same!

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  • Em

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    My opinion, strictly because you asked for it, is not to make any drastic hair changes while your life is sort of in upheaval. Regardless of how wonderful it looks, it will be an adjustment and you are in no position to be adjusting to anything optional right now. It has nothing to do with what looks good or what is professional or trendy. I would just stay as is (that is, get your roots done, keep the same style) until things settle down. But I’m not a big “change” person as it is so take that with a grain of salt.

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  • ste

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I have an aunt and a friend who started going gray at 18. My aunt embraced it and it looks great on her. My friend colors her hair and it looks fine, too. I’m 33 and just started coloring to cover up the bit of gray I have. Like you said, no hair decision is all that permanent and you can always change what you end up deciding if you don’t like it.

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  • Alice

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I say go for the natural look, and go with the wash-out colors to help the transition. (and/or talk to a stylist about other transition options – very dark hair makes fudging those things harder, I know.)

    As for ‘professional’, one of the things that the beauty companies really haven’t jumped on is ‘care for grey hair’ – most of the time, grey hair has a different texture and moisture profile than non-grey hair (and especially from dyed hair), and I think a lot of the ‘unkempt’ feeling can come from having a style and set of products that don’t work for your ‘new’ hair.

    Besides, if you hate it, you know that you can always change it back. :)

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  • Katie

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I say dye it Ronald McDonald red. :)

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  • margaret

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I like what Midj said about embracing the gray but using the wash out color to avoid the half & half look in the meantime. I’m not against cutting it short, but since my curls would lose a race with a snail, cutting is a longer term commitment for me. My strawberry blonde showed its first grays nearly 20 years ago, but all I have to show for it is a streak in the front that most mistake for highlights. I have a good friend who stopped with the coloring when she was pregnant and never went back (her son is 5–she is 40). I do think it shows a boldness and confidence to go gray. However, I agree with everyone who has said you should be doing whatever things “take care of Mir.” In some ways now might not be the time to do something you might regret–however temporary. But perhaps everything going on around you gives you a freedom to do just what you damn well please.

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  • liz

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Cut it off, and go grey. I did it and I love it and I will never go back.

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  • amy

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Have you seen Alice Bradley? She’s gorgeous and she just got out of the ‘colouring the gray’ cycle. Cut your hair and let go of yet another stressor (having to cover it every so many weeks/months).

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  • Nelson's Mama

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I started going gray in my early twenties too (sadly, my twenty year old daughter is already covering her grays thanks to my genes).

    I color mine every four weeks and if I didn’t, I’d have the Jamie Lee look down cold. A few years back I briefly toyed with the idea of going gray and my husband nixed the idea; and I’m really glad that I agreed with him. He’d love for me to have long flowing locks too – but that ain’t happening!!

    Eventually, I’ll let mine go gray, but…I’m turning fifty in June and, quite honestly, I really don’t want to celebrate that landmark with gray hair.

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  • Michelle

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Get yourself to a good colorist/hair stylist first. Think outside the box — streaks? Lowlights? There’s ways to go gray gracefully.

    I’m going grey too. I’ve done highlights in my medium brown hair just to help blend it. I don’t see myself ever doing a full dye job. I’m 40 too, and I’ve earn every wrinkle and gray hair.

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  • My Kids Mom

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I colored my hair (highlighted) for 20 years and at age 40 decided to “let God color it for me.” It is still only “highlighted” with gray, and I’m ok with it. It isn’t solid gray so it isn’t quite the same as what you’re implying. I think I look my age. I could probably look younger with clothing and makeup as well as hair color, but I don’t worry much about them either.

    So, I would suggest giving yourself a deadline, of say a year. Let someone help you grow out the gray slowly so it doesn’t leave a line, and then don’t color it for a year. If, at that time, you think you want to go back to hair color, don’t beat yourself up- just do it. But it takes a while to get used to how we look in a mirror with a change, so give yourself time to adjust.

    I think we need to stop believing that at 20 or so we’re done growing up (physically). Our bodies, hair included, will continue to grow and change for the rest of our living lives and we need to somehow embrace that change as ok.

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  • Kristi

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I had a 40-something neighbor who had a very short do and a BEAUTIFUL salt and pepper color. She ROCKED that look and I secretly hope that when I am more than my current 5% gray, that I can pull it off too. I say GO FOR IT!

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  • Mrs. Fakefish

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    OPTION THREE: highlights. I started going gray at 28 and have bounced between hair colors and lengths in the past ten years, but what works best for me is highlights. I get them done about every 10 -12 weeks and it (mostly) blends in the gray so its not as noticeable and is easier to keep up, and afford, than having an all over hair color done every 6 to 8 weeks.

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  • Tenessa

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Grey or not, you will seem ancient to your kids. I say, “GO FOR IT!” Cut it off and embrace the grey! I have a friend whose mother embraced her grey in her forties and she is GORGEOUS! Grey so becomes her and ages her not one bit. Now that she’s in her sixties, she seems ageless since she doesn’t fight it, but just seems to flow from one year to the next.

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  • Therese

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I am 50 and won’t go without coloring my hair. I get many compliments on my hair and its color all the time. If anyone asks if I use color, I simply tell them it’s “chemically enhanced.” I’ve told my husband when I die, if they have to do an autopsy, warn them that my brain will be totally black from all the color that’s leeched into my little skull over the years. Not looking forward to the day I don’t color anymore. I don’t know how the transition will be.

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  • Mir

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Wow. Y’all have some opinions. 😉

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  • dad

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I have been graying or gray for 47 years and my hair has never been as attractive as a frenetic poodle’s (You can thank me later for the genetic link). True, it has passed as “distinguished” because I have testis but if were you, I would go with the youthful look even if it’s a bit more work. You have lots of years ahead of you to hone your “I am comfortable with what I am” look. For now you are pretty perky…and very pretty.

    Vanity is just a snarky term for self-esteem.

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    • Brigitte

      Posted on March 13, 2012

      Ha, too much!

      It IS rather unfair that my 47 y.o. hubby who could look as distinguished as you, still has a full head of hair with not a strand of gray. Hmmph!

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  • Valerie H

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    You’re pretty! I am jumping into your 2003/2004 and am pretty sure I want to be like you when I grow up. At 40 now and facing big changes, I am not ready for my hair to be one of them. Whatever you decide, make sure it makes you feel pretty and in charge rather than boring/lazy/conformist/other more interesting adjective. Then write about it because you make me smile. :)

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  • HoneybeeMDM

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    There is a salon here that does a dye lightening process, you might see if you can do that. Live with the longer gray for a while, and see if you want to go short gray, long color, short color etc. Have you played around with a makeover tool online? There are several free websites where you can upload a picture of yourself and “try on” different colors and styles. Those are just fun to play around with – I can just imagine the kids giggling at the sight of you with a purple mohawk! I would recommend calling a stylist you trust or admire their work and asking if you could set up just a consultation. Go in, discuss the options and costs/upkeep required and then decide. That way you don’t feel pressured just because you’re “In THE chair”, and most stylists love to have a client who values their opinion and actually wants to consider their options.

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  • Nelson's Mama

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Oh, and because I thought you needed a little levity…

    The, how shall I say, locks, on my head aren’t the only ones that need a little color assistance these days. Nobody warned me about that :)

    Report this comment

  • Crista

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I’m weighing in with the “cut it” crowd. You look super pretty with short hair and I’ve always loved the salt-and-pepper look. I think if you have a haircut you love then it doesn’t really matter what color your hair is. If you feel good, you look good :). And no, I don’t think gray hair is unprofessional.

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  • Leanne

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I’m 47 and I stopped colouring my hair about 2 years ago. A permanent colour (dark brown/purple) was fading to pink after about 6 weeks. I have not enough grey to stop colouring, too much to colour.

    I can’t wait to go grey properly! Oh, and I’m STILL two tone. Although my hair is down to mid back so that might have something to do with it.

    Go for the grey, make it your own. I’m sure you’ll end up looking ultra trendy. :)

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  • Caro

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I’ll be 50 this year, curly auburn hair with about 10 strands of gray. I plan to wear it long, curly and whatever color it turns, for the rest of my life! There is some freedom in aging…

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  • Tara

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I love gray hair and white hair, as long as it’s not yellowing. I also like short hair as much as long hair. My only thought in all of this is that if it were me, I wouldn’t want to look older in years than my husband and not look like my kids’ grandmother. A friend of my sister’s had gray from her early 30’s and to me she looked like her young child’s grandmother. Think about this too: gray hair will require use of makeup to bring out features so you don’t look washed out.

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  • angie

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    My harsh opinion is that while yes, some women do look fantastic in gray hair, in general it makes you look older. In some cases many many years older. If you have the confidence, and if you’re married (i.e. not dating or trying to make a “young” first impression and your husband will love you no matter what you do to your hair), and if you’re not job hunting (same caveat), and you are ready to embrace it and don’t give a rat’s ass about looking older, then I think that’s fantastic. I am single, and I don’t have that level of confidence.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    DO NOT GO GRAY. I can’t think of anything that ages a woman faster. don’t get lazy, please please please don’t be one of those women who gives up. Gray does NOT look natural or beautiful, it looks OLD and you have a wonderful husband who does not want you to look OLD.

    Report this comment

    • Mir

      Posted on March 14, 2012

      I find it interesting, or more accurately, creepy that someone is leaving an anonymous comment on behalf of what my husband supposedly wants. My husband is a big boy with no problems speaking his mind, thanks.

      Report this comment

    • Victoria

      Posted on March 16, 2012

      If more of us went gray, it may give courage to more women to do so. Which may put to rest this attitude that natural hair colour could ever be a negative thing.

      Report this comment

    • Otto

      Posted on March 16, 2012

      For the record, I have no problem with gray. Or green. Or even a garish orange. My wife is beautiful. Period.

      Report this comment

  • Paige

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I don’t know. My hair is usually purple or green or black and white…whatever as long as it doesn’t look “natural.” I just like weird colors, I guess. I started going gray at 20…my natural color was dark red and redheads apparently go gray early.

    I let it go gray for years, but when I turned forty I just said “what the hell” and went back to my beloved purples and greens and oranges. In every combo possible. I’m 48 now and my current hair color is a shaded dark purple to amethyst. The cut varies from extreme asymmetrical to fairly stodgy bobs. I’m also a middle and high school English teacher and my weird hair has never been an issue. Thank goodness.

    Rainbow hair next. Whee!

    Report this comment

    • Victoria

      Posted on March 16, 2012

      I love your post!! And I would soooo be joining you in the purple hair camp but I’m at the front office of a legal firm. But, I dream of purple hair……

      Report this comment

  • Amy-Go

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Girlfriend. Get thee to a salon. Color that gray. What, you don’t have enough going on without letting it look like all your stress landed on your head? SPA DAY. STAT.

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  • Nancy

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I have always said, “When you can’t change your life, you can always change your hair.” Do what makes you happy.

    Report this comment

  • Lesley

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    I have tried to embrace the grey, but it will NEVER happen. I’m just not me when I’m grey.

    Report this comment

  • Stephanie

    Posted on March 13, 2012

    Well, I have little grey, but color mine at home….cheap and, if you could do it while working! But honestly, it depends how you’re leaning. It’ll grow if you cut it short. You can color again if you decide the grey isn’t working. So if that’s the way you want to go, go for it!

    Report this comment

  • Von

    Posted on March 14, 2012

    Do you really think anyone is going to look at your two-toned or grey hair and think you don’t look professional? Come on. People rarely pay that much attention to others’ hair as long as it is clean; they are too busy thinking about their own looks. Do you make judgements because of grey roots?

    I started going grey at 25, coloured it for a few years and then stopped because I was tired of all the time spent in a hairdresser’s chair. It was not a big deal. Use the same criteria you use for your children; it’s just hair.

    Report this comment

  • Christine

    Posted on March 14, 2012

    Mir, you are so pretty amd I’ve never seen you! In my professional opinion as a counslor I would say no more (avoidable) changes for you right now. It doesn’t mean you couldn’t rock a pixie cut and/or embrace the grey, it means that the timing isn’t right. Get you hair colored and styled and look forward to life getting boring when you’ll enjoy the process of experimenting with your hair.

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  • Jen

    Posted on March 14, 2012

    I think you should have the part that is not currently gray dyed to match the gray and see how you like it. If you go a few months and want to dye it brown again, then at least you will know what does and doesn’t work for you.

    My mother in law went gray early. She had it gray for awhile in the late 80s, early 90s, but then started dying it again. I think she would look a lot better if she just let it go gray again.

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  • Erika

    Posted on March 14, 2012

    I only have a few grays, but my stepmom went gray very young (think 25). She embraced it, and it looked SO COOL on her. She was also a super-professional, worked in HR for years and was always very high up in her company. I think it made people respect her more for being strong and going against the societal norms. Whatever you choose will be fine (and reversible!)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on March 14, 2012

    I always thought looking older would work IN MY FAVOR since I was trying to be a teacher. Older. Respect. But frankly, we are older at 40, why not be honest about it? Older is wiser. Older is OK. Be comfy with your body and send that message to your kids. Worry and spend time on the important things- not hair! If your friends/coworkers can’t accept you looking older… what is their problem??? Its not like you are out on the job market to make an impression on strangers. Just my 2 cents because I don’t like this pressure to spend lots of money on chemicals I don’t need and may or may not be bad for us or the environment just because I’m female.

    Report this comment

  • Kim Smith

    Posted on March 14, 2012

    Grey hair is a crown of wisdom… something like that, anyway. Bible talk.

    My mom was grey by the time I was about eight. Didn’t scar me, didn’t make her a social pariah. She was PTA president, my Girl Scout troop leader, later a public relations director for various nonprofits, the scout council president, etc etc. (Incidentally, her skin is bizarrely sensitive and she can’t wear foundation or eye makeup. This also did not inhibit her career and community success.)

    I say cut it short for summer and let it grow out. If you dislike it, you can dye it later. But imagine the freedom of being divorced from the dye jobs….

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  • yasmara

    Posted on March 14, 2012

    I DON’T find grey hair or well-colored hair unprofessional. I DO find obvious roots unprofessional (be they dark roots on a blonde or brown on a redhead or grey on anyone). Maybe it indicates (to me) a lack of attention to detail? I equate it to wearing clothes that don’t fit you. Women can be professional at ANY size, but if their clothes don’t fit (too large OR too small), it reflects badly on them. Intellectually, the state of hair or clothes shouldn’t matter at all when it comes to getting a job done, but they do contribute to the overall perception of a person.

    My mom colored her hair for years, but stopped when she was about 50. I colored mine for years, stopped for 3 or 4 years, and then recently started again. My husband doesn’t care, but it made me feel better – part of an overall attempt to focus on my body/spirit this year, along with starting a regular exercise routine.

    I think the advice that’s resonated most with me from all the many opinions is freedom. Will it make you feel free to not have to worry about roots, salon appointments, how much it costs? Or will it make you feel like you are “letting yourself go” (perhaps a sexist phrase, but a concept that we working mom’s often do need to contemplate honestly…when to stop “putting yourself last” as Oprah says?). For me, right now it’s the latter – I color my hair because I like the way it makes me feel and look. But if it starts being more of a burden than a pleasure, I will stop!

    Maybe try a little guided imagery – imagine going to the salon and spending time getting your hair colored. What does it feel like when you walk out? Glad that you’ve taken some time for yourself, or resentful for having to spend money on something that feels unimportant? Then try the other scenario. Imagine going to the salon and getting your hair cut off short or working out a plan with your stylist to go grey. Do you feel relief at not having to worry about your hair anymore? Or dread at catching a glimpse in the mirror?

    It’s like the flip-a-coin trick – you don’t flip the coin to MAKE the decision, you flip it to see how you would FEEL about the option that was chosen.

    Good luck!!!

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  • Lynne

    Posted on March 14, 2012

    I’ve been dyeing my hair for 18 years, 9 professionally. I’m 90-95% grey.

    I’m 33 and I’m part of the “smothered” generation. We’re the ones that take care of parents and grandparents. Between my Dad’s cancer treatments, caring for my Grandmother (nursing home), looking after 3 properties and handling the finances for all of us, I’m exhausted most of the time.

    Add in my job managing a non-profit, my volunteer work, caring for a disabled animal and trying to keep my relationship with my partner going and I’m frequently at my breaking point.

    Have I considered letting my hair go natural? Yes. And I’ve decided that it isn’t the right choice for me.
    As difficult as it can be to schedule my hair appointments I absolutely love having my hair done and the final results are worth the effort. I love changing colours, adding extensions, switching styles. I love sitting in the salon chair listening to gossip, drinking a fancy coffee and catching up with my stylist who I’ve been seeing for almost 7 years.

    I love having someone ask how I’m doing. Someone who realizes just how tired and stressed I am, just how busy I am and how I would love to get a bit of credit/acknowledgement that while I don’t have kids I’m every bit as busy as those who do and maybe even busier.

    Will I ever decide to go natural? Maybe one day if my grey hair goes from wiry, tough strands of brushed metal (feel and look) than I’ll consider it. Maybe I’ll grow to resent the expense (time, money). For now, I’m happy to keep having my hair done.

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  • Kim

    Posted on March 14, 2012

    I have red hair, but it’s gotten dark enough as I’ve aged that others don’t always see it. It’s such a part of my identity that it shocks me when people ask where my daughter got her hair color.
    However. I have gotten compliments all my life on my hair, and all the different colors it is, and wow, people would pay good money to get that color. And even as it goes grayer (ashier, I believe is the word one bitchy stylist used) it still has lots of different shades in it. I tried a home dye – awful. The professional job I had done for my wedding was fine, even nice, but ohgooglord the time and the money. So I am all about the natural, which seems to be a nice bright white for me.
    What really gets me is that I am relatively young in a family that keeps its youthful looks for a very long time. And I have the most grey, including my 90yo grandfather. Gray rebel, that’s me.

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  • Reb

    Posted on March 14, 2012

    Join the revolution and go for sexy short grey. It’s the only way we’ll ever get grey-haired women viewed the same as grey-haired men.

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  • Mae

    Posted on March 15, 2012

    Cut it down! It’s almost summer and the right time to go short! I am opposed to horizontal changes in color. You want to put a vertical streak have fun with the rainbow but horizontal… it rubs me the wrong way…

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  • matinyoupi

    Posted on March 15, 2012

    I’ve started growing grey hair since I’m about 16. I’ve dyed my hair for about ten years and then I decided that it was ridiculous: I was not going to dye my hair for the rest of my life and inhale chemicals regularly. And… I’m lazy too, my hair looked fine for one week and then the roots would start to show and I’d look unkempt for most of the time… Tired of colouring my hair, I’ve decided that I’d go grey. I’ve cut my hair short and have lived with two shades of colours for I can’t remember how long and now my hair are living their natural life. It was difficult to accept it sometimes, especially at such a young age; but now that I’m approaching forty, and that people around me are finally getting grey hair too, it’s less difficult for me than for them to accept the change of colour.
    At the moment my hair are not entirely grey, they’re the perfect match of pepper-and-salt.

    I’m glad I’ve done that choice honestly. And I’m even kind of proud of myself for actually accepting my natural colour of hair. And if anyone is hurt by looking at my silver mop, they can avert the eyes… On some occasions, it’s happened that I was even complimented on my (stupid) hair, honest praise or not, I actually don’t care… And I don’t think I’ve ever be mistaken for an elderly granny.
    The key, though, is to always have short cut hair if you don’t want to look like a witch fallen from her broom (especially if you have frizzy hair like me).

    My mum and sister get on my nerves for asking me regularly when I’m finally going to dye them… They seem to ignore that I’m done with dying hair. (My mum is 75 and still dying her hair in a flashing auburn shade which turns rather pinky on her now entirely white hair and looks pretty ridiculous in my opinion…)

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  • Maria

    Posted on March 15, 2012

    OK SO! I am 39, soon to be 40 and have quite a bit of grey. I debated whether to dye or not but knowing myself (low maintenance, not a primper, am lucky if I get my brows done every other month, etc) I decided early on NO DYES! I would have twelve inches of roots and and think “I should really see to that” and then fail to. But not too long ago, a $3 coupon came up in the paper for temporary color. 28 washes and gone. So I did it. Once. For 5 bucks. And its… OK. I dont see myself doing it again but its nice to have the temporary option. SO maybe its something you use until the color grows out and more grey come come in? I used a Herbashine, I believe.

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  • matinyoupi

    Posted on March 15, 2012

    Me again.
    I’ve skimmed some comments through, and it’s funny how in some of them, the fact that you may have grey hair is supposed to impair your professional career. That’s something that has never crossed my mind. It says a lot about what an artificial society we’re living in, if all is based on the appearance and not on the being.
    Do you really think that you could be turned down from a job interview for having grey hair? I personally don’t think so. But if you do, do you know what that is called? It’s called physical discrimination, and that is illegal.

    The other thing that strikes me by reading the comments is that you’re supposed to dye your hair to comply to a norm? And/or to please your partner?
    Well, I’m even more determined to go my own grey… eeermm… way.
    I seem to be a latent rebel.

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  • Alix D

    Posted on March 15, 2012

    If you’re comfortable with the color, and you don’t think Otto will consider you a million years old, then cut off the color and grow from there. You shouldn’t cringe when you look in the mirror, and if you don’t see things getting easier, take the easier way out. There’s no shame in it, and it will save you money in the long run.

    I’m only a few years behind you, but rather than grey, I got SUPER color resistant white, and let me tell you, the dye they used to color it and keep it colored for 6 weeks, let alone 3 months? Was apparently made of gold dust, angel tears and unicorn hiccoughs. The price was just silly. For about half what the cut and color cost me, I now get a very versatile cut that makes me look reasonably good no matter how little I do to it. And trust me, my hair is just bizarrely hard to work with.

    Looking polished and professional isn’t so much a matter of color, I think. It has everything to do with the style, and that can vary wildly from persn to person. Example, I worked with two women with the same cut. One colored and had a slight wave, the other had lovely silvery straight hair. The latter, 100% of the time, looked infinitely more professional and polished than the former did, because the cut just. didn’t. work. for her. Another friend with hair cery similar in texture to yours, gets a nice, short halo cut. It grows out nicely, and respects the sproing. I think all she uses on it is Aloe vera gel (the clear kind you buy for sunburns) instead of regular gel.

    If you’re not true blue BF4EVAR with your current stylist, look around. Find someone who works not just with curly hair, but can understand YOUR hair. Maybe even think about trying a stylist who works more often with African American hair textures. Ask for a cut that you can do as little as possible to to make it look good. A good pixie cut will work wonders, but it does require some maintenance. I’d even recommend asking for a “grow out” cut, that will keep you looking sane for the times when you just do not have time to care.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on March 17, 2012

    My best friend cut her hair very short when she decided to go natural (gray) after coloring her hair for years. Both the color and style were SO flattering for her! She’s never returned to longer styles, although she did start coloring her hair again just because she wanted a change.

    I’m 47 and have very dark brown, short hair with what I think is quite a bit of gray, but others don’t seem to notice it. Several years ago, I found out by accident that several of my husband’s female relatives thought I colored my hair!

    If you look at women’s magazines, it seems like everyone is “going gray” now, so this is a good time to try it. Cutting off the longer, processed part of your hair would probably be a healthy thing to do. It sounds as if a big change in style might be just what the doctor ordered, anyway (IMHO). Keep in mind that you’ll probably have to adjust your make-up.

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  • Swistle

    Posted on March 20, 2012

    My late mother-in-law used to have “reverse frosting” done: the stylist put in little streaks of color among her greys. That seems like it would be a good transitioning thing, if you decide to grow it out—or a nice compromise between “continuing to dye it all the way” and “letting it go all-grey.” I also remember my cousin’s stylist used a “color stripper” to get out most of a black hair dye that was not as good an idea as hoped. I wonder if a color stripper (to get out as much as possible of the old dye) plus a reverse-frosting would be helpful to lessen the transition time to whatever you choose? In any case, if it were me I’d take the whole problem to my stylist: I’ve found that when I think I have an impossible hair dilemma, she knows what to do about it.

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