Aging, Fashion

Guest Post: To Be or Not To Be–Grey Hair, That Is


A guest post by my friend Gail Crane:

When I was in high school, my friends always commented on the grey hairs I already had.  Not many, but just enough for people to notice.

In my early 30’s, my Mom commented that I needed to dye my hair as I had too much grey for someone my age.

So I began the every 5 week task of dying my hair.

At first I had it done by my hairdresser when I would get my hair cut, but finally I decided it was too expensive and my stylist told me how to do it myself.

So for 30 years I’ve covered up the increasingly grey, or rather, white hair on my head.  At first I colored all my hair at 5 weeks.

Then as I got whiter and whiter, I had to also put color on at 2 ½ weeks–but only on my part, around my face and at my neck.  Otherwise I started looking like a skunk!

I have played with different colors.  My original hair color was dark brown.  I’ve been dark brown, light brown, reddish brown, and that brassy blondish brown that happens from putting color on your whole head each time instead of just the roots.  Now I mix two together to get the color I want.

It really doesn’t take that long to color my hair, but every time, I dread the process:

Covering up the counter top,  spreading towels on the floor, and putting on old clothes with a towel pinned around my neck to keep any color drips off of my clothes, skin and especially the floor.

No matter how hard I try though, I still seem to drip some of the mixture (which starts out white so you can’t see it) onto something.  Then voila!  You have a black spot on your floor which is unable to be removed.

We’re waiting until I finally decide to go grey to get new flooring in our bathroom.  No reason to do it yet.

I often toy with going grey. I see many women with beautiful white hair and wonder how I would look.

My sister, who used the same color as I did for years, said she was going to stop coloring her hair when she retired.  And she did, going through looking like a skunk to get to her pure white hair.  She likes it except for the pink scalp that shows now.

Sometimes when I start seeing those white roots appear, I think it would be nice to not have to bother with the messy coloring process.

Sometimes I wish I had never started coloring my hair in the first place.

But for some reason, I just am not ready to be grey.  Will it make me look old?  Make me feel older?

I don’t think I’m ready to go there yet.

Maybe, just maybe, when I retire in four years.

But maybe not!

Gail at Reunion

Gail Crane is a long time friend of  mine. She lives in Hillsborough, NC with her husband Joe and her two cats.  She says she’s a little more vain than she wishes she were, but even though she admits to being officially old, she’s just not ready to look it!  Her two grown children don’t want her to go there yet either.

Decided to go grey?  I’d love a post about your decision. Shoot me an email!  Thanks!

29 thoughts on “Guest Post: To Be or Not To Be–Grey Hair, That Is”

  1. My best friend said she refused to be seen with me if I went gray. My gray is a gorgeous white silver color – but still very salt and pepper. I’m having too much fun being a blond for now, but the question about when is never far from my mind….


  2. Well, Gail, you know I’ve gone gray and I have mixed feelings. I don’t miss the coloring mess and time, and I know it’s better for my hair and for my whole body to be without the chemicals. On the down side, I do think it shows my age and I sometimes miss hiding that!


    1. Your hair looks really nice as salt and pepper. And you and James match each other–cute! I was salt and pepper at 30 which is why my Mom said I should color it. If I was that way now, I doubt I would start coloring my hair. Now I am almost totally white.


  3. When I was young I made the decision to be natural – when my hair turned gray then I’d go gray. No dye ever. But when the time came, I just couldn’t see myself going gray when I felt so young. It’s been 15 years or more and I’m still coloring. Not only do I like my color but my hairdresser says dyed hair is easier to manage than gray hair, which can have a mind of its own. So, I’m with you, Gail!


    1. They do say that grey hair is harder to manage. And I think I read that color opens up the hairs and makes them thicker. I have thin, fine hair anyway.


  4. I thought I was going to quit coloring my hair once I got through my kids’ weddings, but I’m still at it; it just looks better and none of my friends have gone gray…but I do wonder how harmful the products might be. I often think about going au naturel…maybe someday soon.


  5. My best friend growing up and I used to discuss when and if we’d color our hair. I started with some highlights a few years back and now do more single process. Still like the color but think I’ll let it go gray soon. Blondes/redheads don’t gray well– my excuse for the moment. After a disaster doing it myself last year– two days before I had a presentation- and then had to spend 4 hours having it corrected in the salon, I only go to the salon now.


  6. I say do what you want Gail….but I bet you would look classy with gray hair! And I think your sister looks great. But women need to feel good about themselves. That is the priority. I am a bad person to comment, however. I have never dyed my hair!!! One thing I know for sure….we will still be your friend, regardless!! 🙂


  7. I went gray 2 years ago and it was so freeing! You could always start slowly, go back to the hair dresser for a year and get highlights/lowlights til the color grows out… good luck! ps: I am now 54.


    1. I think I will be ready to go grey after I retire in 4 years. I have been running through strategies for easing my way to grey without looking like the skunk whose picture is on this post. But my hairdresser says there just isn’t an easy way to do it and to just have the white roots until you can get it all cut off with a short style. Actually, my husband says a lady at his place of work went grey and had white roots and he didn’t think it looked that bad. If I could go blond first it would be easier, but I do not look at all good as a blonde. But yes, I am sure it is freeing!


      1. but I cannot tell a lie: it was painful for that year or so… and I did ‘go blond’ first. It was a small price to pay for the end result. I also figured if I hate it I could go back, but it was good. some friends love it, some don’t, but I always say… to each her own :>). I have learned it’s important to stay young-looking by keeping fit, and wearing lots of great looking clothes with color. It’s all in the attitude :>) keep us posted, k?


  8. I’m still working on the transition. I tried an all over color for a while but my favorite was low lights which really looked pretty. Low lights were expensive and time consuming so I only kept it up for about a year. Now I’m just natural which more salt than pepper. I’m close to 60 so I’m ready to embrace the gray (or white in my case)


    1. Don’t know what low lights are. Maybe I will ask my hair stylist about it. I am constantly gathering info about options for gradually going grey.


  9. Cute post Gail. I remember as a teen begging my mama to let me color my hair and she absolutely refusing, “you are NOT coloring that pretty dark hair”. And luckily as I have grown older I don’t have to color it. Folks think I do, but nope I have good genes. My granny was salt and pepper
    as a great grandmother. When to go white? In the summer and you can borrow my hats to cover the transition.


  10. My opinion as a 30 year old is to keep coloring… But I don’t have a good reason because I think the correct answer is “natural beauty is the best.”

    Love the skunk comparison!


    1. Natural beauty is the best if you are comfortable with it. But it is ok to enhance that beauty too. I am glad coloring hair is no longer something you don’t talk about. Now so many people color their hair that it is not a big deal for people to know you do it.

      When you have dark hair and your white roots are showing, the skunk comparison is very apropos.!


  11. I started coloring about 10 years ago. Had some grey, so started with blond highlights. Well, my hair ended up being so blond (adding more and more expensive highlights each visit to the salon) that my friends didn’t recognize me! So then I went back to dark. I like it but I’m guessing my crown must be totally white because I have to do the 2.5 week touch up myself too. I’m just not ready, at age 46, to go grey, especially because my husband doesn’t seem to even have one grey hair on his head (of course).


      1. Hi! I am Carla, Gail’s sister. I was surprised at how easy it was to go grey. I just got a really really short hair cut. I would say that the benefits of coloring are that you look younger and who doesn’t want to look younger. However, I like the white/silver color of my hair, the money and time saved from not coloring and oh I love being older (67) as it brings with it retirement which is the greatest thing ever.


      2. Hi Carla! Fun to get your comment. Can I talk you into writing a guest post about the joys of retirement and what the transition was like for you after working so hard in your nursing career?


  12. Great post, Gail, and great comments, too. I still color (at the hairdresser) and my grey is mostly around my face so the color job actually results in natural highlights around my face because the grey sort of shines through… which is fine. I quit having the hairdresser add highlights (or low lights) because of that; saved me some money. My hair leans to the reddish/blondish color so I typically go lighter which works okay to hide/blend the grey.

    I used to do my own color at home. I used a semi-permanent type so it would wash out slowly and not leave me with a color line on my part. And, yes, I hear ya on the mess. I have black smears and blotches on the cabinet, door, light switch, and shower curtain. 😦 I don’t miss that at all, but the expense of the hairdresser is not pleasant, either. AND, because of my reddish undertones, no matter what color I chose (ash types to tone down the red) I would eventually end up with orange looking hair, especially the ends. So, I ended up going to the hairdresser and haven’t had orange hair since. But, $$$$$. sigh.

    As far as giving it up and going grey goes, my hair is still too GREY and not white enough. My Mom and Gramma stayed salt and pepper well into their 70s so I have a way to go before my hair finally turns white. At that point, I will quit coloring. When my Mom finally went white in her 70s she tried one of those ‘bluing’ hair color products to make white hair whiter. It backfired pretty bad. She ended up with green highlights in her hair. Not good. 😉

    Thanks for sharing this fun topic!


  13. At this point — age 43 and not too much gray yet — I’m thinking I won’t cover the gray. I have dark brown hair and while there’s definitely some gleaming silver around my temples, I just don’t feel compelled to hide them or feel ashamed about my age and I really don’t feel like dealing with roots.

    I will admit though that I do get a few highlights (usually around 4 or 5) on top of my head every few months because my natural ones have faded and now my hair looks a little mousy and flat. Long-term, I don’t know how long I’ll continue doing this, but for now, I’m having fun with it.


    1. It is good we have choices! But if I were to do it all over again, I wouldn’t start coloring mine. It is a hassle to keep up especially with dark hair and lots of gray/white roots. And letting it grow out and going through the “skunk look” is not something I look forward too!


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