Saturday 4 December 2010

Do you or don’t you and why?

I have been covering up my premature greys (grays to you in the US) since my late 20s.

It isn’t that obvious because I have fair hair but there is no way I would consider letting the silver take over and have a life of its own. And I cannot even tell you why except I don't quite want to look like my mother.....just yet.

Maybe I am denying the inevitable. After all I can hardly call them premature greys now as most people can expect to have grey hair in their 40s right?

But why is it then that you hardly ever see women in their 30s, 40, 50s and even 60s with grey hair?

I told a friend yesterday that I will give up hair dye and go natural when I am a grandmother (I am hoping that's still a long way off).

My friend who just doesn’t see the fascination for trying to stall the aging process (Botox, hair dyes, expensive skin creams etc.) pointed me in the direction of blogger Michelle Meyer who calculates that she had spent $52,000 in two decades disguising her premature greys and 693 hours in the salon chair. Her website explores potential health risks critics believe are associated with hair dyes - chemicals, such as ammonia and peroxide. It also features the stories of lots of women who have thrown away their hair dye and made the transition to silver (photos included). It's fascinating.

So why do we dye our hair? Do we think we look better or younger hiding the silver? Has anyone taken the plunge and thrown away the hair dye? Or maybe you have never dyed your hair. Why do women worry about it when the majority of men do not. I would love to know your views.


  1. I've never dyed my hair for the simple truth that I'm too lazy to keep it up. My hair is black so you'd see the roots right away. Art knows me better so everytime I wonder if I should dye my hair, he says don't do it. I wish I had silver hair like some people. I think that would be so elegant.

    You're so lucky to have light colored hair. It's like my sister-in-law. She keeps telling me she's got gray hair. I never see it.

  2. Every three weeks, I wash a color into my hair. Takes 20 minutes and I usually put it in and use those 20 minutes doing a chore around the house. The timer goes off, I rinse and condition and am done. Easy, Easy, and I use a "natural medium brown"
    Grey hair? nope. If I had pretty silver hair like the hubs, I would consider it.

  3. The only time grey hair 'works', as in the case of Helen Mirren, is when it is *all* grey so that you end up with a 'white blonde' effect. Also, it works when the hair is fine. If hair is thick, so that the grey strands don't lie flat, and your hair is still more dark then grey, then going grey naturally rarely works. You end up looking like a lot older than your 40-50 years.
    As a brunette who started going grey along the temples and hairline from the age of 30, I've been dying my hair for 12 years now. I do it myself, buying a L'Oreal product, always buying it on special. Because I do it myself, it's cheaper so I dye it every 4 weeks. Total cost: approx. $180-$200 annually, proving you don't have to spend a fortune to keep the grey at bay.

  4. Grey hair? No way. I am going to be one of those 80 year olds with wrinkles and dyed hair, lol. I am going to be in denial and fight aging until they bury me. Grey is aging and I for one don't want to look any older than I have to. Men with greys look distinguised and women just look plain old. How unfair. You shouldn't give up hair dye either. You would look washed out completely. Do a Helen Mirren if anything, silver blonde.

  5. Helen Mirin's hair has blonde highlights - how much do they cost?
    That is not her natural hair colour but notice she is always the poster girl for aging.

  6. When I was 50, I didnt have a single visible grey hair. And so I would get confidential questions from older relatives asking what dye I used. And they thought I was lying when i said I didnt use any.

    5 years later I tried L'oreal , enjoyed it, but decided I didnt want this routine to be my life. So i kind of do this stuff maybe twice a year, because my daughter keeps after me about this. Mostly when there is some must-attend social function. The rest of the time, I enjoy the natural ravages of age, and treat the changes in color, like we look at the changing colors of lipstick/eyeshadow/blushon/etc (none of which I use ) :-)

    I honestly think there is more to each of us than the color of our hair. And the only folks giggling all the way to the bank are the hair products and makeup manufacturers.

  7. I started going gray when I was 16. I've been coloring my hair on and off for the past 20 years.

    Last year I get my hair go natural, to see how gray (white actually) I had gotten (about 80%). One day, i looked in the mirror and my 63 year old sister and my mother looked back at me. I called my hairstylist immediately!

    I'm not ready to look like my mom more than I already do!

  8. My hair started going really grey in my late thirties, boo hoo. Since then, I colour it faithfully every 6 weeks, but it should probably be every 4 weeks.

  9. Grey hair works if done properly (see Emmy Lou Harris) and not when you just let it go natural and looking like steel wool. But any colour hair looks bad when not looked after.

    I went grey early and coloured it for years. Now at age 47 my hair is all grey but I still go the the hairdressers to keep it looking good. It is long, layered and has white highlights. I style it, use suitable products and keep it looking good. People often comment on it in a complimentary way.

    It looks great because it is not your run of the mill grey bob. But the process of going grey is not for the faint hearted. I would never have done it ten years ago. It was a tough time growing it out as I would not cut it short and your hairdresser has to know what they are doing to make it work.

    Having grey hair has not stopped me getting well paid jobs in the corporate world. Society may be ageist but fortunately I am at the age where I just do my own thing regardless.

  10. No way, not yet anyway.
    My mom dyed her hair red up until her last daysing. We have similar coloring and I would look so washed out.
    I know it costs a lot but it's something that I get a lot of joy out of.
    Happy Holidays Lilly if I don't get a chance later .

  11. I started life as a "tow head" platinum blonde. As I grew older, my hair became darker, still blonde for a long time.

    Now, the natural color is Chestnut brown. . . I am 41 and there are silver shimmers when I stand in the mirror.

    Recently, my stylist added a blend of blonde highlights here and there, that actually accent the silver shimmers.

    I think it's hot and kinda like this maturing look!

    I'm not going all the way natural yet because this blend of color has me bedazzled. Call it vanity? I call it Hot hot hot!

  12. I guess the question was directed to women but I'm going to answer any way. I decided long ago not to put anything in my hair except simple shampoo. As far as the gender difference - well we are different in our reactions to the world around us so there is that and marketing.

    As you know I just posted about aging and I think we could be starting dueling blog posts which probably would not be as good as dueling banjos but would be fun to play.

  13. Hi Lilly!

    About eight months ago I realized trying to keep my hair a youthful blonde wasn't working. I would color it, a stylist would color it (for $$$), and within two weeks the color disappeared. Not enough pigment to hold color. SO, I am now a natural white/blonde color ... folks tell me they like it. I'm not sure I do, but I really have no alternative,except a wig maybe.

    I'm going to go back and read what others had to say.

  14. We live in an ageist society, particularly in the workplace. The average middle-aged person often has no choice but to try and 'fit in'.

  15. I fought the battle of the bottle to try to keep up with colour in my hair. I went from highlights to lowlights then then gave up altogether about 10-12 years ago.

    I love my silver grey locks. I pay for a good hairstyle, and invest in good quality shampoo and conditioner - and let my hair speak for itself.

    I'm 55 years young and NEVER look matronly, and have no desire to compare myself to anyone.

  16. Why do women's hairdressers charge 5 to 10 times as much as the local (male) barber? Because they can.

    When someone pointed out that my beard was going grey, it was a matter of passing curiosity to me.

    When a woman discovers a grey hair though, well:
    "Oh no! A grey hair! This is so awful that I must spend $50 a week hiding the rather obvious fact that I get a year older every year just like everyone else!"

  17. @ Puzzled - you said it double standards. Do we do it to ourselves? I am not so sure about that and the only way we could tell if that was the case is to give up hair dye en masse. I wonder what reaction we would get from males then..

  18. @ Ugich - you are right as to who is gaining from our obsession with youth. I dont know the older I get the more I think we middleaged folks and older should become more a force to be reckoned with. As time goes we are going to be the majority and a big marketing power. We need to be obsessed with whats going on inside people as opposed the external aspects moreso.

  19. I think I'd dye my hair - if only I had any to speak of that was worth colouring - LOL

    More seriously, why would ANYONE want to be old? I don't mean the number of years you have lived, but the age you FEEL... What's wrong with fighting time right to your last breath? You go for it girl!

    PS: You are enjoying the cricket I hope...

  20. @ af1blog - I always enjoy the cricket - um its really kind of our players to let you appear like winners isnt it? Oh dear...what has happened to us????

    You can answer me this question why are men like Richard Gere and you know whats his name George whatever, called silver foxes and distinguised the more grey they get. If they were female they would be saying that she has let herself go!! And yes age is just a number and I for one will be fighting it every step of the way - and never accepting it I am afraid!! Just because there is still so much to do and achieve.

  21. Hi Lilly,
    I'd definitely look 70 if I stop dying my hair now. Although it was only five years ago that I started dying my hair, my greys have been showing up at a very fast pace the last 3 years.

    I'm so aware of the dangers of those chemicals, yet I'm still not ready to give them up. I'd rather be all silver than in patches. However, my hubby doesn't want me to dye my hair all silver.

    You're so lucky that you're a natural blond.

  22. Here is a really excellent article written by an ex supermodel on aging. She clearly has more than just beauty going for her because its very funny. Well worth a read.

  23. Hair dye is the ONLY thing I haven't needed yet-- Why I lucked out at 52 and still only have about 12 grays is a mystery but I'll take what I can get cuz I spend a fortune on botox, facials and am seriously considering the "fillers". Plus my facelift is on the calendar for my 55th birthday.

    Why??? Because I feel better when I don't look so wrinkled and tired... but it's a never ending battle.

    xoxoxo jj

  24. @ Tasha - 70? No honey definitely not, you have that beautiful olive skin too and do not look anywhere near your age now.

    @ Joanna - wow , way to go. What you save on hair dye can be diverted elsewhere. Love it!

  25. When Oprah allows her grey hair to sprout, that is when I will stop using hair dye. Can't wait to see her here.

  26. I'm over 50 now and not a grey hair in sight on my head. Just the odd eyebrow hair that is white! I can colour those in for myself.
    One thing we forget is our complexion changes as we age, so hanging onto the same hair colour by enhancement means the hair colour may age you more.
    If you have to do it, make sure you get good advice because the colour you think you should have may not match your skin effectively.
    My daughter-in-law's mum has opted to go blonde, but she does it herself and it is brassy. It makes her look older. I have'nt a clue how to broach the subject with her. I don't want to be nasty - I'm not - but her natural colour with the odd grey strand was looking gorgeous.
    I've gone from platinum blonde as a teen to mousy in my 'old age'. I look forward to it softening out a bit more as I get older. Colouring wrecks my hair as it is too fine and eventually the ends get a bit furry. I think I'll take the advice of a few of the correspondents and invest in a good cut and leave the colouring for the more adventurous. Then, I can invest in more chocolate!

  27. @Lilly: Sounds unfair, doesn't it? But I think the truth is that men like Richard Gere and G are attractive to a lot of women and probably have become more so as they've got older. That is just a fact of nature - hormones and stuff. If they were less attractive to the opposite sex looking older, with their money they'd do something about it and try to look younger. It's just about looking PHYSICALLY attractive (or sexy, or whatever) for the opposite sex because - as I've mentioned before - appearance is what we make our initial judgements on and celebrities in particular rarely get past the initial judgement stage with most people, yet their jobs depend upon remaining interesting to others.

    Sorry that's a bit long, but you did ask - LOL

  28. Dear Lilly (you sweet young thing)
    Thanks for giving me yet another post idea. I posted about our fun comment exchange. Of course I gave you a shout out.

  29. I started going grey at 21. I shudder to think what percentage I'd be if I let it go natural. And its white, not even grey anymore. Some day, I'll lay the bottle down, but for now I look forward to the transformation every 6 weeks and my stylist helps me keep it looking great in-between coloring. It definitely helps me not look so washed out, and my natural color is so ashy, I'd probably color even if I weren't grey!

  30. Do I dye my hair? Only my hairdresser knows for sure! :-p

  31. @ Vicky - well there you go you jsut cannot pick it at all. You and your hair look beautiful!

    @ Awake in Rochester - so excited to see you here. And sometimes a girl has to have her secrets, lol.

  32. You don't need a hairdresser to stop your roots from showing. An ammonia free colour applied at home every 4 weeks will do as well. Just avoid very light or very dark shades as regrowth will be more obvious. I will be a redhead until I'm dead!

  33. My hair is really only looking grey now that I am 67. I just cannot be bothered with dye. I find really elderly people with dark coloured hair look older, somehow. Grey can be softening, and much kinder!

  34. If my Mom read this, she would laugh gleefully. She's been through a lot in her life, but the one thing she never, ever has to worry about is "going gray/grey." She says it's her "justice" for all the people who made fun of her or were cruel to her when she was a little girl.

    I don't have my Mom's beautiful snowy white hair, but I do get snow white strands and those strands stand out big time with my dark hair.

    I dye my hair, because I prefer a light auburn or light brown (my natural color is as close to black without being black).


Thanks for your comments.