Wednesday, June 04, 2014

To Go Gray or Not To Go Gray. Now THAT is the Question!

Hi Silver Sisters, it's Lauren from September 2018!  I have the most amazing update for you - my husband Jon and I have launched our very own hair care line!  I have learned so much on my gray journey, and our new products incorporate all of my "tips and tricks" for making silver hair look terrific.  I am leaving all prior recommendations in place because I hope that they will continue to be helpful to people, and I will continue to use and enjoy many of the products that I have written about in the past. My opinions still stand on them. 

I hope that you will take a look at our new line By The Way, Your Hair Looks Fabulous!™  - it is a complete line of hair-care and styling products made especially for Silver Sisters AND for anyone who wants their hair care to be more natural and more affordable! 

- - 

Dear friends, Romans and countrymen!  \(^-^)/ 

The time has come to discuss the quintessential gray hair question to end all quintessential gray hair questions.
But first, here is a slightly unflattering, hastily made infograhic of me pondering "the question."

(Ok, it's not quite an infographic. I know that.)

To go gray or not to go gray, THAT my friends is the question! 

You might be surprised to hear that I, the girl with the gray hair, am not a champion of gray hair for all. 

Yep. I feel kind of badly about it, but I don't necessarily think the decision to go "au natural" with one's hair is the best choice for everybody. At least not in some situations.

One of the things in life that I value the most is honesty. And if I wasn't being honest with you on this blog, then I'd feel like I was doing a disservice to my wonderful readers, whom I love very much might I add!

I honestly love writing here and cheering each other on. I DO think gray hair can be just as great as blond or brown hair. Everything that I've posted on How Bourgeois about going gray has been the truth, but I've just never talked about my opinion on making the decision, especially at a younger age, and taking the plunge to gray!

So today, for those of you on the fence, or those of you who have taken the leap and are now second-guessing things, I hope that this post can provide a bit of food-for-thought, and help you to make the right decision for YOU. Because the bottom line here is that there really is no single "right choice.

What follows are four basic gray hair truths that I've come to believe after several years of not coloring my hair. They're over-arching thoughts that are really helpful to keep in mind when trying to make the decision that fits your needs.

Next I present my four top reasons to not color your hair, and then my three top reasons for continuing to color your hair.  See where you stand on these points. They're meant to get you thinking and to help you navigate the right choice for you. GOOD LUCK!!!! \(^-^)/




#1.) Life isn't fair. It's not fair and it's rude. Totally. People judge other people on their looks ALL.THE.TIME. That doesn't make it right. It just makes it constantly stupid. 
If you're like me, and your main motivating fears do not revolve around your appearance, then the decision to go gray, will be a lot easier. Because IT'S ONLY A HAIR COLOR and there are 52, 000,000,000 other, way more important and meaningful things in life!

This is not to say that caring about your appearance can't or shouldn't be important. (HELLO! Have you seen how long it takes me to get ready in the morning??) It just means if appearance perfection is not one of your deal-breakers in life right now, then going gray will be much easier. (And by the way, it's only natural that your deal-breakers and most important things change, ebb and flow with life. Ask me ten years ago if I would have been ok with being gray?) This is only human. 

When I decided to stop coloring my hair, I'd come to a point where the allergic reactions from the hair dye were horrible, but also, luckily for me, I wasn't concerned about my appearance being my most perfect. Instead, a good enough, reasonably good, appearance, that was ok with me. Just doing my best. That was enough! 

Are you at a point in your life where appearance perfection is top of your list? Or, right now, is it maybe a little father down? 

#2.) Actually,  no matter what you decide, you can always go back. Even IF you choose to grow out your gray hair, if you don't like it in the end, you can always go back to coloring your hair. A STRONG word of advice though: YOU CAN NOT TELL WHAT YOU WILL TRULY LOOK LIKE WITH GRAY HAIR FROM THREE INCHES OF GROWTH. JUST GIVE YOURSELF SOME TIME. BE BRAVE, THEN DECIDE IF YOU LIKE THE NEW COLOR OR NOT.

I HATED myself with three inches of gray hair growth. I hated it at ear length. It wasn't until months later, when my gray hair hit about shoulder length, that I could really see that it had the ability to look ok. It wasn't until then that I could compare my eye color and skin color to my new hair color and feel more settled. 

#3.) NO MATTER WHETHER YOU CHOOSE TO COLOR YOUR HAIR OR WEAR IT GRAY, NOT EVERYONE WILL LOVE IT AND NOT EVERYONE WILL HATE IT! That's the thing, just like any other personal preference or opinion,  some people will like how gray hair looks on your and some won't. It's not helpful to worry a lot about pleasing others. It just gets so complicated!

For example, if I'm being honest, if I really really had to guess, I would guess that more Men than not, would say they that would prefer a woman who is blond or brunet or a red head over a woman with gray hair. BUT, that's not to say that some men don't like a silver fox or two! 

Once I was at a wedding and a man came up to me, complimented me on my gray hair and said, just like this: "THAT'S HAWT!" (Then he made a little howl.) So, some people will dislike your gray and some people will like it. You can't make the decision based on how you think people will feel. 

Another example, I'm getting a lot of traffic these days from a site called "Mumsnet."  HI MUMSNET! I LOVE YOU !!! :)

I tried to resist seeing what all the traffic was about, but I couldn't help myself! Once again, it was another thread about going gray, and just like last time, there were some lovely Moms who liked my gray hair and a couple who VERY politely commented that they preferred me as a brunet! Which, by the way, I COMPLETELY agree with them! I WISH I was still a brunet! (At least sometimes.) I am at peace with my gray hair, but sometimes a 36-year-old girl just misses her old brunet self. I get it! :)

That's the point though, we all like different things. Our hair color, no matter what it might be, can't please them all. Please keep in mind what makes YOU happy. Also, another honesty moment, the one exception,  I think it's nice to at least discuss with your significant other if gray hair on you, verses colored hair, makes a huge difference in their book. You might be surprised to find that they're quite supportive of your happiness and health, and it can never hurt anyway, to have good, open communication. 

4.) NOT ALL GRAY IS CREATED EQUAL. Ugh, I think this is the most difficult of the basic truths. This is another really not fair, luck-of-the-draw kind of truth I've come to believe. Just like some people have beautiful feet (not me), and some people don't (me), some people's gray hair suits them, and some people's gray hair doesn't.

There is no set rule on what constitutes "good" gray hair, but after years of thinking about it, I feel as though a lot of this has to do with your amount of gray hair and the "pattern" that it grows in,  and the fit of your shade of gray with your coloring. You'll know good gray when you see it, and gray hair that drags your down when you see it too.

For example, is your gray a fairly consistent color, or do you just have a few silver scragglers? Are you a bright white, or a duller shade of gray? And, how does your hair color mesh with your particular eye and skin color? For me, I actually feel lucky that I had a TON of gray! I think if I just had a spattering of gray hair on top of my naturally dark brown hair, it might end up looking unkempt on ME. No everyone, but me! Also, I have blue-gray eyes and fairly pale skin. My shades of gray blend pretty ok with everything else, so in that respect, things were alright.

Bottom line of this one is that you need to figure out if your gray looks good on you. Be honest with yourself, and definitely give this aspect some thought and consideration!

Ok! Now that the basics are out of the way, let's talk about some reasons why you might want to stop coloring your hair, and then some reasons why you might not want to stop coloring your hair.........


Oh man. This is not just a good reason to stop dying your hair, this is an IMPORTANT reason - for your safety!

I'll never forget the last time that I went to the salon and had my hair colored. It was a more "natural" dye, but even so, mid-processing, my eyes began to water and burn. Then the headache came on. By the time I left the appointment, my red eyes were super puffy and I kept the headache as a souvenir for TWO DAYS! And, it wasn't any surprise. Over the past few years, my reactions to hair dye became more and more severe. I learned that this is the way that allergies often work. Look at what MedlinePlus has to say:

"Although first-time exposure may only produce a mild reaction, repeated exposures may lead to more serious reactions. Once a person has had an exposure or an allergic reaction (is sensitized), even a very limited exposure to a very small amount of allergen can trigger a severe reaction."

Yep. Exactly. So, you can see that not only are allergies to hair dyes a pain in the head, they can be dangerous! By the way,  I have sensitivities to several chemicals, but the most common hair dye allergy is in response to (PPD)  or p-Phenylenediamine. This ingredient helps hair dye stick to the hair shaft. That's why it is in up to 98% of conventional hair dyes, even many of the more "natural" products. 

You CAN search out and find truly harsh-chemical-free hair coloring products. These days, many upscale salons now offer PPD-free, natural based hair dyes. I consulted quite a few salons actually, but they were honest, and with my amount of gray hair, about 80% gray, the natural dyes, in their opinions, were just not meant to cover a person with so much white hair. Also, you think your conventional dye is expensive........

You can also use henna as I did. Henna is SO COOL! But, it's also messy, and smells like wet grass, and you have to sit with the henna "mud" on your head for HOURS.  If you're like me, once in a while you'll end up with white hair turned green, or white hair turned as red as Ronald McDonald's hair after a while.

I really, honestly spent YEARS researching natural alternatives to hair dye for somebody like me, with more than a few strands of gray. There just isn't a ton that you can successfully use for a long time.

So, if you are having allergic reactions, please know that there is life after dye! There is nothing as lovely as not having a hair dye headache every three to four weeks. There are good things that come with letting your gray hair show! :)


After the allergy, this was my biggest reason for letting my hair go natural. For some time there has been speculation that using hair dye increases a person's risk of cancer. Namely, dark hair dye, and hair dye that used a tar derivative ingredient before 1980. Do I think that hair dye causes cancer? I don't know. D o I think that using hair dye every three to four weeks can be harmful.....? Perhaps. We just don't really know. One of my favorites, the Harvard Medical School educated MD and Naturopath, Dr. Andrew Weil even says that there is not enough evidence that hair dye causes cancer, BUT he does go on to say that he discourages the use of artificial hair colorants because he finds them suspect. That many of the more than 5,000 ingredients that are currently being used in hair dyes, have been found to be carcinogenic to animals, and that our scalps have a rich blood supply. This makes them efficient at absorbing chemicals and then carrying them throughout our body.
You can read the entire piece here

So where does that leave us in regard to chemicals and hair dye? Well, I know that it's not helpful to panic, or for me to be an alarmist. I know that it is not completely understood which chemicals are harmful and in what doses. I also know that my INSTINCT tells me that many chemicals are probably not-so-great, and that the right choice for ME, is to cut them out where I can.

I know that I was using a lot of hair dye often, and I was putting it on my scalp, and that if I could eliminate those particular ingredients, then I'd be happy! I also knew that with most beauty products, it's not so hard to find a nice, natural alternative. In fact, can be fun!

So, if you have a personal desire to steer clear of as many chemicals as possible, or even just the monthly hair dye, then I feel like this EASILY reason enough to stop coloring your hair and to go with the gray!

These reasons speak for themselves. If you really really hate dying your hair and you are READY for a change, or if you don't have the time or extra money, then sure! Stop! If the trade-off is worth it to  you.... having gray hair instead of the annoyance of a monthly dye job, then I'd say it's a worthwhile "YES!"

BIG caveat though.....later on, there will be an argument for the ONE time when you really should just color your hair, even if you hate the hassle or need to squeeze the time and money in. More on that soon!


And now, reasons to NOT stop coloring your hair..............


#1.) I'm just going to go ahead and get the most shameful, reason not to give up dye out of the way. The elephant in the room reason. Guys, I'm really sorry about the following, but I think it might be true, and I only want the best for you.

IF, you are not allergic to hair dye, and if you are not set on avoiding the chemicals in them, and even if you are sick of the time, money and mess, but you are SINGLE AND LOOKING FOR LOVE, then I think.....maybe, especially if you are a "young gray", you MIGHT want to consider continuing to dye your hair. Or even if you're not looking for love, but you meet all of the criteria and your significant other is strongly disliking the gray.

I'm sorry, that was complicated and maybe a little bit controversial, but, SADLY, if you are a young woman who would love to find love, you might have an easier time with men, if again, sadly, you are not gray. It's just a hunch. I could be TOTALLY wrong! I'm putting that out there. But, gray hair, especially at a young age, it sets you apart, and not always in a great, youthful, beautiful way. Don't get me wrong, gray can be so gorgeous! But, culturally, it doesn't signal "youthful."

This is  a difficult decision, because again, we're only talking about a dumb hair color here, but it's life. If you want to take your chance on finding a dude who loves gray hair, then I totally high-five you, you are my HERO! Because you are brave! And no doubt there are men out there who dig the gray. For sure! You just have to find them. I suppose though, the awesome part about finding someone who loves your gray, is that it means they love you for you, and that's fantastic!

Or again, I could have it all wrong. I think when men have gray hair, especially the "younger grays", that's like a super-duper cute bonus feature. I love gray hair on men! So maybe more men like gray hair on women than I dare to think.  One would hope!

*I'm making a quick edit here! This point has been worrying me since I wrote it earlier today and I would never ever want to offend anybody. For the record, I want to be perfectly clear that I'm not in any way saying that young women with gray hair do not attract men. Not at all! What I am saying is that I wonder if being more "conventional" in your looks.....(i.e. not having gray hair)....makes it easier to meet men. Does the gray scare men away? I don't know the answer! I just wonder and worry about it! This could apply to so many "conventional" and "unconventional" looks. Please know if you are a young person, (like me) with gray, never feel less beautiful. I was just coming at this angle from a societal perspective. 

#2.) You don't have a strong desire or reason to go gray.
Going gray isn't easy. People will stare at you. You'll probably have an unsightly "skunk stripe" for MONTHS. It's not something you do for fun or on a whim. I've never met anybody who was able to make it through the first few months without a super strong dedication to seeing this out. If you're not 100% into the idea, and you don't have a health/chemical/money/time reason, wait until your heart is all the way in it. 

#3.) You don't want to risk looking older.
I don't want to risk looking older, but I have allergies and I'm suspicious of chemicals. But, if I wasn't those two things, I would keep coloring my hair because I really don't want to look older! Gray hair ages most of us. It's just how it goes. I try my best to moisturize my face and wear a more youthful hairstyle, etc...but I'm sure it's going to be an uphill battle. If you're worried about aging yourself, you probably don't want to go gray. 

Phew! So there you have it! My rambling rational on hair decision making.
Remember to not take it all TOO seriously. Life is about learning, trying new things out, finding what fits us best, what makes us happy and healthy.

I can't tell you how much meeting and talking with all of you through this blog had enriched my life. Writing about and sharing my personal journey into gray hair territory has been one of the most fulfilling things that I have ever done. I look forward to many more hair posts and many more new friends and lots of encouraging and support as we've always given to each there. It's amazing, and makes my heart SMILE! 

Until next time.....Good luck with all of your hairy decisions!
Lauren :)


lynnie said...

I am 51 with a ton of gray and decided that at my age, I should try and embrace it. I got a short cut (I usually like my hair short) and I hate it. It just looks belch to me- makes me washed out. My cute short cut in all gray just looks like an old lady style. I was going to go buy dye tomorrow, but after reading this I'm going to try really hard and get it to shoulder length before I go back to coloring.

Lauren said...

Hiya Lynnie!!!! :)

Thank you so much for your comment! I loved having short hair. I found it to be so much fun to style. I'm glad that this post could be helpful to you! Hang in there, hopefully, you'll love shoulder-length gray hair.
If you don't though, that's ok too!

You mentioned that you usually liked your short hair in your dyed hair color. If shoulder length hair isn't your favorite, and you decide to go back to short, don't feel bad if you return to dye. I do have to agree, that from my own, personal experience, the combo of short + gray, for whatever reason, seemed to have more of an aging effect than long and gray .

We're all different though, so you never know what you'll find. Thank you so much again. You take care Lynnie!!!
Lauren :)

Jennifer said...


So, I have been reading for awhile now, and finally de=lurking. :)

I turned 36 in April and have not dyed since December. I saw my first grays at 16 and have pretty much been coloring since then, at first for fun, then more out of "necessity". It was to the point where I was needing to at least touch up every 3 weeks...which...UGH. It was just a hassle. (Luckily, no allergies etc.)

A friend posted something on facebook about being 40 and planning on coloring at least until 50, and it hit me that I didn't want to be dealing with it even until 40!! So I stopped.

And I was nervous especially about the dreaded stripe.

So, here we are 6 months later, and shockingly I haven't really had much of a stripe. Somehow it has blended in pretty well, and no one has really commented too much about it. (I know that at least the "mean girls" at work talk about it, but I can't tell you how much I don't care what they think!!

I have had second thoughts a few times, but still haven't touched dye! AND I was completely single in December, but met someone in February, and luckily he doesn't seem to care either way!

Sorry this is so extremely long and rambling, but I just wanted to tell you that I love your blog and that you have honestly helped me to keep going a few times! I just think of how young you look and it helps me keep going! So, THANKS! :)

Unknown said...

Thank you SO much for this post! I'm 32, single, and recently returned to college and lately have been contemplating letting my gray grow out. After 15 years of dying it, I'm just so sick and tired of the time and money it costs and of how damaged my hair is! I haven't let it go yet because I'm so nervous about setting myself farther apart from my younger classmates, and because I fear it will make it harder to meet The One. I was getting pretty down on myself for worrying about "superficial" things and it's a real relief to see read your post and see that maybe I'm not just ridiculously vain, maybe there is some validity to my fears or at least that I'm not the only one who thinks this way about gray hair. So thank you! Not sure if I'll take the gray plunge just yet but I feel much guilty about my reservations now!

Lauren said...

Hi Jennifer!!!

It is so nice to meet you, and I can't thank you enough for sharing your story. (It wasn't rambling at all!)

I'm completely in awe of your bravery. I don't know if I would have "taken the leap" if my allergic reactions hadn't of gotten so bad. I hated that three-week root touch up, but deciding to stop coloring is such a scary decision! So, BRAVO to you! :)

I'm THRILLED to hear that the transition has been easier than you expected for you. People need to hear positive stories like yours. That's awesome! I also love that you don't care what the "mean girls" think or say. Yeah! You keep being YOU! :)

Thank you again. Your story and positivity helps to inspire me and so many others.

Lauren said...

Hi Carolyn!

I just loved your comment. Thank you for such honesty. Please don't ever feel vain or superficial about your worries. I understand them! I think they're real! I used to worry all of the time about "setting myself apart" and looking older. I still do, but have gotten more used to the "gray me" in recent times.

You have real points though. I think without a doubt there are LOTS of people who are attracted to gray hair, but like you, I do wonder if it just makes it harder to "find the one" as you mentioned. Does it narrow the pool?

I really don't know the answer to that, but what I DO know, is that we do things, especially grow out our gray, when it's truly right for us. So please, never feel badly. You're perfect just the way you are right now! :)

Sending you a hug and a high-five Carolyn. So nice to meet you!

Unknown said...

Hi Lauen! Thank You for all your lovely post, it really encourage me to hang in there, I stopped coloring my hair a month and a half ago, and I'm loving it so far, my husband always wanted me to do it but I wasn't ready, now I feel sooo ready and I'm so happy! I'm 36 years old and I stared to go gray at age of 20 or so.... Now I'm tired of it , the main reason to stop was hair loss, my hair was falling so badly that I could see my scalp around the edges, now I can see a lot of tiny hairs growing and I'm so happy that in not risking myself to go bald, I'm too young for that :(' maybe it will age me but at least I will look myself and happy with a lot of hair in my head hahaha, well thank you Lauren for the inspiration, I'm so happy now , many hugs!!

Lauren said...

Hi Candragora!

WOW! How amazing that you're starting to see new hair growth. That's FANTASTIC! I'm so happy for you. Hair dye can really do a number on our hair's health and strength. I hope you'll also find like me, that your new hair growth is a new, healthy texture! It's one of the best things about having gray hair.

I'm so excited for you Candragora, on this new adventure. And how incredibly sweet that your husband is super supportive. It sounds like you're in the perfect situation to be successful!

If you feel like it, please keep us posted on how you are doing. So happy for you! Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

Lauren :)

Unknown said...

Hi! After reading your post and the comments that followed, I thought I could offer something on the "dating while gray" topic. While I was not gray when I met my husband, he was. Very. He went gray at 20, so by the time we met at 31, there was none of this "salt and pepper/hint at the temple" stuff going on. He was gray. Period. We met online and when we decided to meet in person I was the shallow one. I hesitated because of his hair color. He met all of my "criteria", otherwise, so it seemed crazy not to meet. Obviously, we hit it off and it took me maybe a month before the gray was no longer something that bothered me. In fact, I grew to really love it. When I see pictures of him before he went gray, I laugh, because to me he just looked ridiculous. That wasn't the man I fell in love with.

I really do think that if you are looking for someone to be in a long term relationship with, then you will look past tiny things like that to be with someone who makes you happy. Honestly, a man or woman past 30 will have that sort of insight. Plus, a wise woman (named Lauren, I believe ;) once told me that people can tell by your face and how you dress/carry yourself that you're not old. You'll still look and come off as youthful.

Now that I'm transitioning to gray myself, I feel so much more confident about my decision. I know first hand that gray can be beautiful and sexy. Plus, I get a bizarre thrill out of how I brave I feel doing something that many in society deem as crazy.

Thanks for the uplift!

P.S. I should probably share that my transition hasn't been all smooth sailing. I've had my own doubts and have been told by a few people that I should keep coloring it. How rude! :)

Lauren said...

Hi Leah!!!!

It's nice to meet you! Thank you so so much for sharing your story about dating & gray hair. I loved it! Such a wonderful story. (And, I personally think gray hair on men looks fantastic!) I'm glad that you went for the first date! :)

I agree with you very much that if a person is truly seeking out a lifetime partner, things as small as hair color really won't matter in the grand scheme of things. You are right.

My concern is, especially with young people in their 20's and even 30's, many people start with casual dating, that later leads to a more serious commitment. I have to wonder if once in a while, the person casually looking, might over look a younger women with gray hair.
That a woman in her 30's with gray hair might be unfairly over-looked in a group of women in their 30's with blond or brunet hair. Of course there are LOTS and LOTS of exceptions to this, but my fear is that standing out with an often "negatively" looked upon physical trait, gray hair, might not help but hinder a woman's efforts to find a mate. I know that gray hair will never stop one from finding love, I just throw out there the idea that it might cause some small hinderances, and this is something to possibly consider.

I do think that today, there really is a double standard for men and women as far as how accepted premature gray hair is. My perception is that in our media culture, gray hair on women is much more frowned upon and under-represented, then gray hair on men.

It's not a fair world out there and it's so frustrating!

Anyway, you have very good points!
I'm so inspired by the confidence you have found through your transitiont gray. That's incredible and so awesome!

I hope that confidence helps you to just brush off those nay-sayers in your mind. :)

Thanks again for sharing. You story was really nice.

Lori said...

I loved all the reasons FOR and TO CONSIDER and all that. All things I have thought about too!! I think my hair looks great for ONE WEEK after it's been colored. One week of solid good color, but then a wee bit after that the fading starts. The roots and the ends...then the silver lining appears. So, I have about 4 colors in my hair for a couple weeks before I get it colored again every 3 weeks. Plus, the expense. Plus, the damage. Luckily, I'm not allergic (itching, but that's probably normal), and I've wanted to do this FOR YEARS, but have been told by numerous people - "You're too young!!"

Um, God doesn't think so! LOL.

And what's good for God is good for Lori...finally! :-)
I have all the doubts, fears...and I've thought it TO DEATH - it's time to let it go. Thanks for this post!!

Lauren said...

Hi Lori!!!!!

Welcome, welcome! WOW. This is a big decision, but I know if you want it, YOU CAN DO IT!!!! :)

It's worth a try. I bet you end up liking your "silvers" much more than hair that is 3-week post hair dye. I can remember exactly what you are describing about my hair. I felt like it looked nice for a week and then.....

A big hug and lots of cheer to you! (>'-')> Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a thoughtful post and for such honesty. It is good to be authentic about this experience, and to leave room for others who don't take the same path...

I cut my hair short in March and have been feeling old and ugly ever since. :-( But I am convinced that long gray hair is beautiful! So I am sticking with it. You look lovely and I have been inspired many times by what you have shared.

I think another reason for going gray is to rail against the societal pressure to color and try to extend your youth. If more women would go gray it wouldn't seem so strange! Whenever I see a "young" gray now I always try to compliment her and keep the silver sister love alive.

Gray hair is a crown of splendor, or so says the book of proverbs. :-)

Lauren said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for such a lovely comment. I do hope that when you get to "long gray hair", you'll love it! :)
I have to say, although I had so much fun styling my short hair cut, it just wasn't my favorite look on me. Once my gray hair grew out, it just felt more "right". I realized actually that it wasn't so much my hair color, but my hair length that was bothering me during my short hair days. So, I feel as thought you might have the same experience!

I loved what you said about more women challenging our societal norms and hence changing standards one day. I agree so much. Let's help get this change rolling!

Thank you again. So nice to have you here!

Eve said...

Hi Lauren.

I'm a long time lurker, but this post made me feel I had to comment.

I went cold turkey and stopped dyeing my hair around 10 months ago. I've coped with the transition by pinning it up, and occasionally adding a scarf. To be honest, it really hasn't been so bad. The one thing I knew I didn't want to do was cut it short. Short grey hair would look terrible on me, plus I didn't want to have to go through the growing out a pixie stage as I'd done that many years ago and found it very tough. I am aiming for shoulder length waves.

I don't agree that grey hair is in itself ageing. To me (and I don't want to offend anyone) there is nothing as ageing as dyed hair when it is clearly there to disguise. I couldn't disagree more with the MumsNet mums who said you looked better as a brunette....but then, I don't think I've ever agreed with them about much. ;) You'd look beautiful with any colour hair I'm sure, but your silver hair is so striking and suits you PERFECTLY.

As for the dating issue, until a year ago I was seeing a man who asked me many times why I didn't stop colouring my hair. He would cite Emmylou Harris as an example of how beautiful it can look. I have heard other men voice a similar opinion. Since I have taken the decision to enjoy my natural colour, I feel it has actually taken years off me as the full head of silver lights up my face. I feel free, strong and authentic. I still take a lot of care with my make up, and as an ex-stylist clothes are very important to me. I think these things add much more to one's style than dyed hair. I wouldn't go back to the bottle for anything! I'm not actively looking for a partner at the moment, but if I were, he would be someone who wants the REAL me, not a fake version.

I do wish that more women felt comfortable ditching the dye, if that's what they'd like to do. Society only views women with grey hair as old because the vast majority of silver lovelies are covering up their naturally beautiful hair. I understand the fear of taking that leap as I deliberated for a couple of years myself, but it is about time things changed and women didn't feel such pressure. The double standard thing we all complain about is never going to change if it isn't challenged! There is far more beauty in embracing nature's changes than trying to fight against them, in my opinion anyway.

Phew! Got a few things off my chest there. :) Like I said, I hope I haven't offended anyone. What's really important is that women feel they can GENUINELY choose how THEY want to live their lives. Yeah, it's "just hair"....but it's OUR hair!!

Thanks for the great blog. xx

Lauren said...

Dear Eve,

Hello!!! A big, warm welcome!!!
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and advice. You wrote such a wonderfully inspiring comment! Thank you for sharing and for your kind words too! Yes, yes, the double-standard thing is such a shame and you are right! We need to start challenging those societal standards by proudly being ourselves! :)
I want to write more to you, but this has to be a mini-comment from me, as we are off to a school trip to the park! I just wanted to pop in though and thank you very very much Eve. So nice to meet you and read your comment! Have a great day!!!!
Lauren :)

Unknown said...

Hiya Lauren!
First of all I just want to say I love your blog and it was crucial in encouraging me to ditch the dye at 34 years old. I’m now nearly 5 months into my transition with no regrets! I think you look extremely beautiful with your natural hair and for me, you will always be a total inspiration. Also, as a fellow introvert I enjoy your writing and insights on other topics outside of the grey hair one.

Your latest post was very interesting and I admire the honesty with which you wrote it. There is one particular point you made that did get me thinking and that was the idea of pretty grey vs dull grey and that some people may be more fortunate than others in terms of how their grey turns out. In all honesty, I would’ve agreed with this some time ago, but throughout my transition so far I have seen so many photos of women with their natural grey that have somewhat challenged this notion. It genuinely seems to me that whatever type of grey someone ends up with, it always seems to suit that person perfectly. For example, I’ve always loved the lighter, whiter grey but then every salt ‘n’ pepper/pewter colour I’ve seen looks fabulous on that particular woman.

Another thing I’ve learned about grey so far is that lighting is everything! For example, my gunmetal grey looks a slate brown in certain lights but then in others, the silver strands sparkle like crazy! Could different lighting be the reason why people tend to see grey as either dull or sparkly I wonder? In terms of encouraging those ladies that are desperate to ditch the dye, perhaps we should try and focus on the idea of nature generally knowing what it’s doing and there’s not too much guesswork involved? (Unlike selecting a box of dye from the shelves, I’ve certainly made some errors in the past!)

Perhaps embracing this thought would make those tough, early months a bit easier and less of a lottery for newbies? It certainly did for me at the start of this year. And as you so rightly pointed out, you have to have grown out quite a bit of your grey before you can see how it truly looks on you. The early days seem like such a leap of faith!

I really hope I don’t come across as being critical of your post, as that’s certainly not the case (and apologise if I do!). I love the fact that you bring so many real issues to the table as well as celebrating the beauty and uniqueness of grey! I just thought that you may appreciate a different perspective on it.
All the best to you and your family xx

Valerie said...

Dear Lauren,
As always, you writing is so inspiring and honest. So heartfelt!
Just didn't want to be a 'lurker.' ;) Thank you for all of the encouragement and insight. Blessings and Sunshine, Valerie

Lauren said...

Dear Thalia,

Hi! Thank you, thank you , thank you for your thoughtful and IMPORTANT comment. It didn't come across as critical at all, and I am so glad that you're here! <3
Thank you for your sweet words too. I'm so happy to hear that How Bourgeois could help out a bit as you transition! HOORAY!!! :)

I loved your insights. That is FABULOUS, what you mentioned about "trusting nature" to choose the right color for us, verses trying to pick a box color. I love that. What a great angle of encouragement. It really is. That motivates me for sure!

I agree with you too, I think so much that light can have EVERYTHING to do with how a person's gray color comes off. In every single photo I take, my white and gray hair looks different. Sometimes light, sometimes dark, sometimes even more yellowed!

I like what you said too, about seeing so many photos of different, beautiful versions of gray hair. I've seen those too! Yes, there are so many pretty and different shades. :)

I hope that I wasn't offensive, because that is the very last thing i would ever want to be. I just feel , and this is ONLY my humble opinion, not the opinion of everyone, that sometimes gray hair, no matter the shade, that sometimes some versions of gray suit some people more than others. Just like some people make better blonds, some better red heads....some look nice with straighter hair or curlier hair....... I also think that amount of gray and the pattern and the rest of the hair can all look great or not so great on different people. There's really no rhyme or reason. It's just kind of the way everything blends together. I know this might be a bit controversial, so please excuse me for being a tad outspoken. I know that we all can't feel the same way on everything. Variety is the GREAT spice of life! :)

Thalia, thank you so much again for sharing your story. I really do appreciate it so much. I'm happy that you're here and I feel lucky to have a new friend to discuss these things with, so please, please, comment again if anything more comes to mind!
Also, I am always looking for new introvert friends! I think this is a topic that is not discussed enough! (Maybe because we are introverts.) LOL.

So, a big thank you again and I hope that you have a lovely weekend!!!
Lauren :)

Lauren said...

Dear Valerie,

Thank you so much for the kind words and the sunshine my friend!

So much love and cheer to you.
xoxoxoxox :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lauren for your reply! It was so nice to finally get in touch. And thanks also for embracing the spirit of open conversation. You have a great weekend yourself! X

Lauren said...

No, so many thanks to YOU Thalia!
Thank you for reading, and thank you for getting me to think and for your great ideas!

Please come back and chat again! :)

Unknown said...

Hello Lauren Loved your post here. Such a huge topic for us women. Young middle age or what ever age it's HUGE. I would of been Gray very young if I would of had the since to do it. That's just the way my hair is. So glad I decided to it & would never go back to dying it. I agree with all the posts here & what it boils down to is Society has brain washed us all into thinking our Natural color is just wrong !!! Not my words it's was told to me by another Silver Sister. It's so.... True. So everyone that's going through it just keep on going your hair will be in better health for it. Of course as always Lauren yours is beautiful.

Lauren said...

Hiya Pamela!!!

Well said! I know, doesn't society have soooo many opinion!? :)
I wonder..... in the time before mass market hair dye, was being gray such a shock or big deal? I would have to guess that aging was just much more a part of regular life and nothing to write home about.

Well, the more of us who wear our hair gray, one by one, we're helping to make this not so taboo!

Thanks you for your thoughtfulness as you always do Pamela! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren, I actually think you look better with your natural gray. You look pretty in the picture where your hair is brown, but the white/gray shade of your hair now is stunning and looks exotic.

I'm sort of at a loss. I am 41. I have a three year old daughter and don't want to be confused with her grandmother, but in the past few years I find I am just not happy with the results of coloring my hair anymore. I do a semipermanent every few months. My roots come in with some gray and I get some gray at the temple, but nothing skunk-like. I honestly have been coloring my hair so long I don't know how much gray I actually have or what my true hair color is. I actually prefer my hair at the three week mark, because I hate the flat matte look of the dye. I think I will probably go another few months an see where I am. I hope whatever color emerges it will be better than the dye job because the status quo just isn't working for me.

Thanks for such an informative post. it's given me plenty to think about.


Lauren said...

Hey Melanie!

It's nice to meet you. Thank you for your sweet comment and for your encouragement! I do sometimes miss my brown hair, but I get what you're saying, my brown, dyed hair was so matte, it wasn't my favorite.

I think your idea of waiting and seeing if perfect! That's the nice thing about going gray, you can grow your hair for a while, see how you like it, and then decide if you want to start up with color again or continue on.
It sounds like you are in a great position for this too, especially because you lack the dreaded "skunk stripe!" ;)

I wish you lots of luck, and hopefully, you'll find what I did underneath all of that dye....healthy, shinier hair! It's been a lot of fun.

Thanks for reading and for stopping by!

Fiona Sawyer said...

Hi Lauren,

I just discovered your blog. I have been going grey since I was 20. I am about to turn 39 and the scariest part is actually noticing grey in my eyebrows. That was something that I frealise has scared me more than the hair on my head. IAnyway I jwas going to write a long diatribe about my story but realise all I wAnted to say was - thank you for your honesty. All of your points are so valid and have made me want to continue in the Inbetween phase. As much as I know people are going to comment I need to stay true. Thank you

Lauren said...

Dear Fiona,

WELCOME! I'm so glad that you're here! Fiona, I could not have said it better than you did, we need to "stay true", don't we!

Fiona, I know this in-between time of growing out your gray hair can be incredible challenging in so many way. I promise you though, once you push through this time, there are lots and lots of great things to come! Even if you didn't end up liking your new color in the end, you'll still be left with healthy, happy hair and a break from the dye. It's like a whole, new beginning!

Hang in there. Know that I will be thinking of you. You can do it!!! :)

Thank you for your nice comment!

Priscila said...

hello, I am Brazilian and my name is Priscila, I loved your blog! I have white hair since age 18, now 36'm sure I want to take them. I'm not allergic to hair dye, but I'm going through a phase of life that I'm sure I want to take who I am.
the length of my gray hair no more than two fingers, the rest is covered with brown dye. How did you leave all white, cut his hair short and let it grow? I need help because I would not cut my hair, and I doubt if it would really be a good option lighten them.
thank you :)

Lauren said...

Hi Priscila!!! It's very nice to meet you! Thank you for your comment. Congratulations on deciding to grow your natural, gray hair! This is a big decision, but it has many benefits. I think your natural hair will be very healthy and soft and beautiful!
You can find all of my blog posts about how I went gray on this page:

Basically, I stopped using hair dye and stopped using henna. It was difficult in the beginning, but soon it became easier! After my gray hair was about 1" long, I decided to cut my hair. First I had a "bob hair cut", but then one day I just decided to go for a short hair cut, like a "pixie cut."

It was really difficult for me to imagine a short hair cut, but it helped a lot and it grew longer again quickly.

I found that the best way for me to grow my natural hair, was to just go for it! I grew it and soon it was great!

I wish you so much luck. It just takes some time, but in the end, everything will be ok! :)
If you have any questions, I'm always happy to help. So nice to meet you!!!!

k8ty0pat said...

Thanks for the encouraging post. It's hard...I'm only about three months in, but I think it'll look rad in about a year:) I use a spray that covers gray, but it is so tacky feeling and gets all over my fingers and my sunglasses (and then my face). That's when I get thanks again. I may have to read this every third day for the next year.


Lauren said...

Hey Kate, hi!

Isn't it funny how sometimes that the products that we used to cover our roots, is just as messy and frustrating as the hair dye?
Hang in there! In no time, you'll be past this initial phase and it will just get easier. Three months is a big start! You're totally on your way.
For what it's worth, in the beginning I used "Tween Time" by Roux. It's a pretty big root touch up stick. Kind if like a crayon. You probably know all about them already. Not a perfect product, but worked pretty well.
Also, if you have't seen the tab already, I've made a separate page for all of my gray-hair related posts. If you go to the top of the How Bourgeois homepage, there is a tab that says: "Going Gray? HOORAY!" Click there if you're interested in more.

Lots and lots of luck to you Kate! I think you will look awesome very soon, and you'll be loving your new hair. It's so great!

Thanks for stopping by!

Laura Jean said...

I know you meant to be gentle when saying that women who are greying (and still single) should consider the effect on potential suitors, but it still came with a sting. It's not to say that you weren't speaking truth about societal expectations (I think you were to a degree, unfortunately), it's just that what you said implied that a woman must look different than her "real" self in order to attract a mate. I'm 37, single, and getting some defiant greys in front and on the side. And yet I'm still ACTIVELY DATING! I still get noticed by guys, and I even cut off all my hair just to prove to myself (and them) that a person’s worth isn’t about the length or color of one’s hair. It’s been an interesting experiment, to say the least!

I also want to mention that I have met some INCREDIBLY gorgeous women with greying hair (some more obvious than others) and lo and behold, wouldn't you know, a lot of them were STILL very desirable to men! I've met a number of greying ladies - both single AND married - who guys still notice admiringly (My date to a wedding last year couldn't conceal his outright admiration when a lovely yet modest woman with salt-and-pepper hair walked by our table. He nearly whistled!). I just say all this because, as a young woman who is going grey herself, you are ABSOLUTELY gorgeous, and spunky and brave to boot! That man at the wedding who thought YOUR grey hair was "HAWT!" (and gave sound effects to prove it) was onto something: not every male wants an artificially-beautiful woman, and some really dig the sexiness that comes with aging (imagine that!). And if the current trend of May-December Hollywood romances is any proof, I don't think all men mind being younger than the women they're dating -- some even PURSUE older women!!

Truthfully, tho, I've struggled with the grey-or-not issue (esp. here in Southern CA where nearly EVERYBODY has something fake about them), but I'm coming to the conclusion that I want to be liked for who I AM, not for who someone else (even my own ego) wants me to be. I want to attract someone who loves ALL of me, and who's own ego is strong enough for an authentic, un-contrived woman. Is that too much to ask? I think not!

Just food for thought. :-)

Lauren said...

Hi Laura Jean!!!

I'm right there with you! Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a thought provoking comment. As a woman (also in her 30's) who has devoted 2+ years of her life writing about and promoting gray hair, I agree with you on all points!

In fact, I have mentioned before in my writing that authenticity is such a beautiful and powerful thing. When I stopped coloring my hair and let my "real" me shine through, it was an incredible and POSITIVE experience! I've written often about being truth to one's self, and being ok with that. It's such a meaningful thing.

I'm so sorry that my post stung a bit. It stings me too, and you are correct, I'm only coming at this from a societal perspective. I mentioned in my post and in the comments that of course I know that many many woman with gray hair find love, of course! And that many many men value and love the uniqueness of gray. The only thing that I was pointing out is that sadly, I feel that SOME,not all, some men might discredit or look past a woman with gray hair, before even getting to know her. You know, like a split-second judgement call.
That's all. I never meant to imply that I thought women with gray hair could not find love. I do hope it did not come across that way.

The reason that I wrote this post is because I realized that I have been writing lots of happy, pro-gray hair posts, and that I've never talked about the little, not-always-happy bumps along the way. I felt that I had to be honest and open about the POSSIBILITIES of our sometimes silly society. That's all. I do notice differences now that I have gray hair.....some good, a few not as good. I felt like I love you guys and it is my duty to be open and honest.

Oh! Just so I don't forget.... yes! Yes! I COMPLETELY agree 100% that gray can be gorgeous and amazing! Oh sure! Absolutely! In fact, I've seen many men and women who look, in my opinion, radiant and glowing with their gray! More glowing than before they went gray!

Thank you again Laura, and thank you very much for your encouragement and kind words. Right now I am sitting here in leggings, fretting for he past hour as to whether or not I am fit enough to dare venture out into the world in them. Your comment has helped to remind myself, regardless of if I do leave the house in leggings or not, about loving and accepting ourselves who we are. And even celebrating that! Thank you for the food for thought!

Fonner family memories said...

Agree with you about the light...

Lauren said...

Hi Lisa!

Oh yes, yes, light, it is so import to how our gray comes across. Let there be light! :)

Thank you for your comment. I hope that you're having a very nice week and a great day today!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just stumbled across your site and it is wonderful :)

My mom was prematurely gray and a friend noticed my first gray hair back in 5th grade! I just turned 39 last week and decided to take the plunge and stop dyeing it. I worked with a woman who had gorgeous long gray hair and she was my inspiration to stop coloring mine. I had a great layered hair cut that I chopped off the other day and while I hate it (b/c I am plus-sized and feel like I have a little head and big body), I know it will pay off in the end.

I decided to stop dyeing because I just don't want to keep dumping all the chemicals on my head. I am a natural dark brown and I know the dark colors are the worst.

You are absolutely stunning and I hope my hair looks as good as yours when I am done!

Thank you for your great site!

Lauren said...

Hi Anonymous new friend!!!

Thank you so much for stopping by and for sharing your story. Here, have a hug! (>'-')>

I hope so much that you end up loving your new gray hair. I couldn't agree with you more about not really wanting to put those chemicals on your head all of the time. I felt the same way, and the freedom from having to always touch up your roots is wonderful!

Oh! And I felt out of sorts when my hair was cut short, I also worried that it looked too small. :) No worries though, those short haircuts grow out quickly! In the meantime, they can be a lot of fun to style!

Sending you cheer and rooting you on! Thank you again for visiting and for sharing!
Lauren :)

Tine said...

Hi. I came across your site googling pics of long grey hair. Like you mentioned, most of the going-grey tips are about cutting your hair short. My hair is almost waist length. I have considered dying it greyish, but hair-stylists don't recommend it....I'll be reading your tips again as my skunk-stripe gets wider.

Dessica said...

I'm in the early stages of "Do I or Don't I" so I really appreciate this post! I found it through a "premature gray" Pinterest search and am so thankful I did. I'm 32. I found my first grays at 21. I've colored my hair off an on since I was 16 but I'm really tired of the hassle and the chemicals. I avoid chemicals in all other areas of my life (mostly…makeup is still a toughie) and continuing to slather peroxide on my head every month just doesn't make sense. My mom waited until her 50s to let all the gray come in and she's told me repeatedly that she wishes she'd done it sooner. At this point I haven't colored in…long enough that I can't remember the last time, but I think it was right before Halloween. I don't have the skunk stripe fortunately, so I guess I can consider mine random strands of glittery tinsel? I don't know, but I think now is probably the best time to dive in. Sorry if this is random and rambling. I'm just so glad to have found you!

Lauren said...

Hi Dessica!!!! \('-')/

Oh my gosh, your comment wasn't random or rambling at all! I really loved that you wrote and it sounds like we have some similarities. I too have been graying since my early 20's and I finally "took the plunge" around your age! I tried to stop coloring my hair at 31 and about 32. The third time I had a go at it, I had just turned 34 and it worked! AND, I feel just like your Mom, I wish I had done it sooner, it's been SO great! :) (Well, great once I got over the initial grow-out.) I can't tell you how nice the freedom is to not have to put those chemicals on my head each month. Like you too, I've tried to stay away from as many of them as possible. (Btw - I love Vapour Cosmetics and some of Origins too!)
It sounds like you would have a great grow-out because of your "random glittery tinsel strands." WOO HOO! You can do this!
Thank you for writing. I'm really glad that you're here! Sending lots and lots of luck and cheering your way!
Lauren :)

Madonna Hitchcock said...

Where have you been for the last twenty years! I'm 66 and sick of the expense, time in the chair and even though I have a wonderful colorist - I'm tired of the artificial look of my hair. I've given myself a start date - Fall of 2015. So far I haven't found a salon who is willing to help me going lighter or with putting some streaks of silver in my hair
( don't think Cruella) So I will begin with the search for the salon and take baby steps.
Thanks Lauren!


Lauren said...

Hey Madonna!!! I've been right here! LOL. :)

Thanks for writing, I'm so excited for you! It sounds like you have a fantastic plan in place with your start date and you WILL find a supportive salon. Just keep looking around. My stylist also does color, but even though I don't color, she GAINED me as a client because now I come in for trims and treatments. So I'm in more than I would have gone before.

I think you will look beautiful and you're gong to LOVE that freedom from all the time and money with the hair dye. It's soooo nice. :)

Thanks for writing and welcome!!!!!

Sarah said...

Hi Lauren
What can I say but wow... you ARE one super-cool girl (and yes, quirky DOES count as cool!). I'm 37 and I've been colouring my hair for 20 years. I'm sick of it! Although I have recently discovered Tints of Nature, an as-close-to-natural hair colour as possible (and a box chock-full of gorgeous smelling products), I can't stop thinking about stopping colouring my hair. I'm pretty sure that I coloured it for the last time last week, now I'm impatient for the four-week point so that I'm officially not colouring it anymore! That makes it sound like I'm making a very impulse decision but I'm sure I'm doing the right thing. After years of on-off reactions to various beauty products, I became completely chemical (and cruelty) free. I use a mixture of products from Handmade Naturals and Faith in Nature (both UK-based like me), and they are fabulous (no more reactions, no more dry skin). My mum has beautiful silvery hair which people often think she has coloured that way. My dad has pure snowy white hair... I really can't think what mine will look like but if it looks anything like your fabulous tresses I will be very pleased! I know I'm going to hate the growing-out process but I have kind of made step one by having about 4 inches cut off since colouring it, so that if I decide to go much shorter to speed up the process it won't be so extreme a difference.
You've really inspired me to start this process and I can't believe how much positive support there is out there!
Thank you so much

Lauren said...

\(^-^)/ Hi Sarah!!!!

What a wonderful comment. Thank you!
You know what? I think it sounds like you are WELL ON YOUR WAY TO SUCCESS!!! :)
I love how positive, hopeful and excited you sound. Yes, you are officially on your way, and getting those first inches cut-off was a great idea. It'll help the transition now, and later if you decided to go shorter. This is exciting!!!

With a Mum and Dad, both having GORGEOUS sounding hair, I think there is no doubt that you will be just stunning.
I'm going to look up Handmade Naturals and Faith in Nature. They both sound very nice and interesting to me. Thank you for sharing.

Well, a big warm WELCOME Sarah!!! Congrats on your new journey. I'm so glad that you are here.

crochetophile said...

Hi Lauren! I just turned 37, and I've been coloring my hair out of "necessity" since my early twenties. I am very new to even CONSIDERING going gray - and to my shame I must admit that I've spent the last couple or so years harrassing my own mother about her decision to grow out her colored hair. She's in her late 50s and just didn't want to deal with coloring anymore, it made her head itch, and the color would only look good for maybe a week anyway... so she went for it. And I absolutely could not understand how anybody could CHOOSE to LOOK LIKE A GRANDMA, when we have all these means and ways to dye our hair and keep our "youthful appearance"...

Well, what can I say. I have inherited the premature grayness, and last year I have chopped off my long hair into a pixie cut, because the upkeep of my roots with my thick hair has become too expensive and too much of a hassle. It was cheaper and easier with my pixie - imagine, my stylist has even told me what a good idea it was to go short, because my long hair made me look so old! :-(

I need to run to the salon every 4 weeks now, and my hair only looks good for maybe a week, before my silver starts to show at the roots. I do not have any idea just how gray my hair really is, I just know that my temples are quite white. I am starting to reconsider... I don't know if I should give it a try, or not. I found your blog when I looked around on Pinterest for inspiration - and I absolutely LOVE your hair. Would I know that I'd end up looking like you do, I'd never dye my hair anymore.:-)

If you are interested, I've blogged about my thoughts on this here:


Lesley said...

I have just discovered your blog. Inspiring! It am in my second month of growing out my "silver" hair. I am worried ( I teach music to 3rd -5th Graders) not sure how those lovelies will respond. 😐 But I have reactions to the hair colors too! Not as bad as yours, but annoying. My hairdresser said with the issues I have had I don't need to color my hair. I just turned 43. I feel like that is also young. I am sure my hair is very grey/ white. It is white at the temples. Oh - it's also curly and blondish. But I have hope that it will look nice when all is said and done! I think your hair is beautiful!