So, I’ve been going grey…

So, I've been going grey for a long time. At first, I pulled out the occasional grey hair, when I was twenty. By twenty-five, I was coloring pretty often, from a bottle (about $7 a shot, once a month; hid the grey, but made my hair look sort of dull). Around thirty, I started going to salons occasionally, which was pretty hideously expensive ($250 or so at a time, and three solid hours in the salon). I was erratic about it, but probably did 2-3 times a year, filling in the roots myself with bottle color the rest of the time.

And I'm tired of it. It was fun at first, turning my grey hairs red. But the novelty has worn off, and mostly I just color it dark brown these days anyway, with some highlights to give it life. Which is pretty, but I don't enjoy the process (hours of tedium) and I definitely don't appreciate the cost. And on some level, I do think there's something to be said for aging gracefully, rather than fighting it all the way down. I'm turning 40 this year; I'm a little tired of trying to look young. (I don't see botox in my future!) So I'm going to try just going grey.

To aid in that, I cut my hair short. I stopped coloring it about a month ago, and I had long grey streaks at the temples, very witchy. Here's a thoroughly unflattering photo of me from last Sunday's party, in which you can see the full horror:

It's not quite short enough now to get rid of all the colored hair, but another trim in six weeks or so should handle that. It turns out that I don't have a lot of grey in back -- just a bit over the ears, and some salt-and-pepper on the sides. Mostly it's intense at the temples. This cut actually hides much of the grey, just because of how my hair falls forward at the front, which I hadn't anticipated, but okay. I'm sorry the lighting is terrible in this picture -- you can't really see the grey at all. But I assure you, there's a ton of it there, and it's going to get more obvious as the hair gets longer, especially if I brush it back from my forehead.

I don't know if I'll stick with no-color. I'm worried that I'll look haggard when there's more grey showing, and that it might have negative professional consequences, given America's adoration of youth culture. On the other hand, maybe I'll get more respect from my students. :-)

What do you think? Would you go grey at 40? Do you think it would have positive or negative effects on your life? I was talking about this with a friend yesterday (who I think is closer to 50), and she mentioned that her husband hates the idea of her going grey, and she keeps coloring for him. I'm glad Kevin doesn't care -- but even if he did, I don't know that I'd be willing to go to all this hassle and expense just because he preferred it. If you do color, how much do you spend on it annually? If you weren't coloring, what would you do with that money? :-)

15 thoughts on “So, I’ve been going grey…”

  1. I LOVE the cut! It looks really cute–you have just the right face for it.

    I quit coloring last year because of the expense too. I don’t have a lot of gray yet, so I was doing it partly for the highlights in my plain brown. My mom and my grandpa, whose hair I seem to have, didn’t get really gray until their 60s so I’m hoping that’s the case for me. At that point, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to handle it gracefully.

  2. Having my hair turn white is the only appearance-related thing about aging that has ever bothered me. But it does not seem worth the trouble to do much of anything about it. I did try dying my beard red once, but the dye did not work. I just sat in my hairdresser’s chair breathing ammonia while she cut my hair to no avail.

  3. Nice haircut!

    My hair isn’t really going grey yet, but my beard is definitely heading in that direction. I’ve been snipping out individual grey beard hairs for a while now, but it’s getting to the point where that’s no longer feasible. (Kam said the other day that she couldn’t see any grey hairs in my beard, but I think the lighting must have been dim.) I don’t like it, but I’m not sure whether I’m willing to dye it.

    I suppose at some point I’m going to have to stop thinking of myself as being 30ish. 🙂

  4. I’m 35 & recently decided to stop going grey & go back to coloring my hair. My husband doesn’t care at all (and in fact would probably rather save the $). I changed my mind because I got a glimpse of myself in a mirror while out shopping & realized it was really aging for me because most of the grey is right next to my face.

    That said, there’s a mom at my kids’s school who has fantastic, entirely grey hair & she must be in her late 30s or early 40s. She looks great! I think it’s entirely a personal (and economic) choice.

    I think my color will run around $200 every few months.

  5. After years of high maintenance long hair, I was seriously considering going grey. My hair is naturally a dull brown but I’ve colored it some shade of red for over 20 years. Now I have tons of grey and silver hair and the red color is incredibly time consuming as I have to have a different shade with more brown applied to the roots, then the overall long red color. It takes forever! I decided around 40 that maybe I’d go grey by the time I was 45, streaking my long hair with lighter shades to avoid cutting it all off. (My stylist said it would probably take a couple of years to go “natural” that way.) But then I had Patrick at 42 and I hesitated because I wondered if having a grey haired mama would embarrass him in the future. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about that, but I figure it does no harm to wait until he’s old enough (and his little brother, due at the end of August!) to tell me whether it would bother him to have the “old” looking mommy. Because people do associate grey hair with age, especially with regard to women. So, we’ll see. It still appeals to me to be done with the salon prices and the time consuming process though.

    Also, I think you look absolutely gorgeous with short hair, whether it’s dark or grey or in between.

  6. Heh, Mary Anne, I’ve been dithering over the exact same thing. Though I don’t spend nearly as much as you have — I color twice a year with dye bought from Sally’s, so it probably runs me a total of about $20-25 annually, and 2-3 hours a year.

    But my gray is coming in thicker now, especially at my temples, so the new growth that used to just blend into the color is now more noticeable as there are two swaths of gray that abruptly stop at the colored hair. Sigh. It’s just such a pain to color my hair that, even though I feel I should do it more often, I just keep putting it off.

    I read some beauty tip that you could use mascara to cover over a little bit of gray growth, but I haven’t tried that yet because a) I don’t have reddish brown mascara at the moment and b) I don’t like waterproof mascara so I don’t have that either (and I assume I’d get it all over my hands otherwise) and c) it sounds unhygienic unless you buy specific mascara for your hair, separate from the stuff for your eyes. That said, I keep meaning to pick up an appropriate tube and try it, to hold me over.

    The women in my family are blessed with good skin, so we always tend to look younger than we are. I admit to vanity, and that’s my main reason for not going gray gracefully — I *love* passing for 10-15 years younger! I started coloring my hair because I liked the color at age 14, so don’t see any reason to stop just because it’s now going a bit gray.

    But that’s me. I admire women who have gray streaks in their hair, and if my hair were naturally red, and thus not abruptly stopping, I don’t think I’d worry about gray.

    Oh, and your new haircut? Freakin’ ADORABLE!

  7. As someone who is five foot nothing and therefore often feeling “small” or “young” I embrace my grey hair! A director once pulled one out during a photo shoot and I was so upset “I EARNED THAT”!!! I think grey hairs look great up against black hair. GO GREY! Go aging naturally (yeah, ok I do use moisturizer)

  8. I think that cut looks adorable. And black and silver hair looks great — my partner has that, and it looks wonderful.

    I myself would embrace the grey. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I actually have some (almost 40, no grey at all yet), but I don’t think so. I remember loving how my grandmother’s hair looked as she went grey in her late fifties — it came in in streaks, just as her original color had. My hair is streaky like hers was, so I’m guessing I’ll have some fun stripes.

  9. Mary Anne,
    The short haircut works for you and should be your new do. Maintenance has got to be easier also.
    Interestingly no one has mentioned a wig suitable for work and special occasions. By carefully coloring it , one could gradually transition to grey or not.
    For us men at some point we in kind have to deal with not only going grey but suffering hair loss. So it’s either a hairpiece or shaving all hair off for the bald, bullet head look. :^(

  10. No, Dennis, there is the Ben Franklin look. Bald on top, long hair on the sides. More or less what I look like, though not completely bald on top.

  11. I like the pic with the pink dress, Mary Anne. I am not sure why you regard it as unflattering. In the other one with shorter hair, you still look good but not as good as in the longer haired one, in my opinion.

    You once suggested that maybe I preferred women with long hair regardless. I am married to a woman with hair less than a half inch long all over her head. Long hair would not work for her. But for your face, I think it is better. I understand the reduced maintenance factor, though. Keeping my hair long is certainly a lot of extra work.

  12. J and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the short hair. You look amazing with a pixie cut. This is saying a lot because you know I loved your beautiful long hair. The pixie is perfect for you! I like the idea of the gray for the university professor side of you. And for the mom side of you, I love it too b/c it will be low maintenance.

  13. I’m in very similar shoes, and I find my all-white is strikingly attractive on my Asian skin. Given that yours is salt-and-pepper, is it easy/cheap to bleach out the black?

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