Gray hair can be beautiful and sexy

fayleemail1In my early forties, I made the decision to go gray. This decision was not taken lightly. Ask someone to visualize a gray haired woman, and chances are they will conjure up their grandmother or great auntie. Not the image I had of myself.

However, one day I looked in the mirror and realized the silver in my roots looked pretty nice. As well, I was getting increasingly concerned about the effects of chemicals on my head and the environment.

When I look in the mirror now, I don’t see gray hair. I simply see me. My hair is healthy, soft, and beautiful, and the woman smiling back at me is sexy and full of self-confidence.

Why does hair go gray?

Our hair colour comes from melanin. As we age, the body produces less melanin, and our hair starts to gray.

The age at which this occurs is based

  • Heredity – my children have a double whammy; both their father and I started graying in our early twenties!
  • Stress – the expression ‘this is enough to turn my hair gray’ is true. Stress hormones can negatively impact hair pigments.

What’s the best way to go gray?

  • Partner with your hairdresser – I had to convince my hairdresser that I really did want to go gray. However, once he knew I was serious, we worked on a plan to avoid that horrible skunk line.
  • Get some low-lights – my hairdresser suggested weaving in a couple of colours. At each session he applied less colouring until my hair was all gray.
  • Layer your hair – first of all, a funky new haircut will keep you feeling sexy. Second, the layers, like the low-lights, help avoid the obvious difference between the incoming gray and your coloured hair.
  • Go really short – this option is not for everyone. I waited until I was almost completely gray, then cut all the colour off. If you have the patience to wait it out, keeping your hair your normal length is quite fine.

How long will this take?

Hair grows about half an inch a month, so anticipate about six months to make a complete transition.

Does gray hair require different treatment?

Yes, the cuticle on gray hair is thinner making it more prone to drying and breakage. It also absorbs pollutants, and can look yellow.

  • Use a shampoo formulated for gray hair – I just use baking soda, and wash my hair less often, making my hair extremely healthy and shiny. However, I realize this is not for everyone, so use silver-specific shampoos. But go easy to avoid giving your hair a blue tinge.
  • Use a good conditioner – again, I opt for the natural solution of apple cider vinegar, but there are really good silver-specific conditioners available.
  • Straighten you hair – gray hair reflects light, so keeping it smooth adds that extra zing.

Are there other changes to make?

  • Update your wardrobe – once I was completely gray, my daughters forbid me to wear cream or oatmeal coloured clothing. They said it made me looked tired and washed out. “Think jewel tones, Mummers!” Now I wear black, rich browns, and beautiful greens, blues and reds.
  • Add colour to your face – update your makeup as well. I really play up my eyes now, making them pop. You can also get away with a bit more blush.

I have received more compliments about my hair, now that I’m gray, than I have in my entire life. And rather than making me look older, I have been told that I look younger. I would say this is a combination of shiny, healthy hair and the confidence I feel of working with my body’s natural aging process.

Gracefully yours,

~ Eliza

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Comments

  1. I am slowly going grey but I still have to colour my hair as the rest of it is too dark and I look like a skunk. I had to convince my hair dresser to lighten my hair to match the grey as opposed to darkening the grey which made me look older (and it was more difficult to maintain).

    I don’t think grey hair makes me look old because I’ve updated my make-up and wardrobe to match. I think it is great (and sexier) if a woman is confident enough to embrace the age that she is. Trying to look too young is for “cougars”.

  2. If you want a guy’s opinion (I dunno if that’s allowed here… ;-) ) hair DOES contribute to a woman’s attractiveness. But the color itself, I could care less. The importance is the overall appearance.

    All things being equal, I like long hair on women. Most guys probably do. But if done right, short can be quite attractive. It’s all good…just so long as it looks FEMININE.

    Too many women in their 40s opt for the shorter, low-maintenance Uni-sex cut. To the point that they almost look like dudes.

    It’s almost like a rite of passage. “Ooh, I turned 40. Therefore I must cut my hair short and look more masculine, so everyone can identify me as middle-aged”.

    Sigh. Watch it, ladies. That’s only a few steps away from the “Old-Lady Brush-cut” that the 70-year olds like to wear. (With the mandatory big gaudy earrings).

  3. Oh, Eliza, this is SUCH a welcome post! Thank you, thank you…

    Countless women have approached me throughout my adult years just to compliment me on being brave enough to wear my natural color. They were from all walks and stations of life and all were totally serious. It’s astounding the way media and peer pressure steer women into thinking there’s something wrong with simply being who they are. Sure, I can see how it’s fun to experiment with coloring in a playful way, but apparently even for women with this mindset it’s easy to become “stuck.”

    My hair started turning in my teens, and let me tell you, in my mid-twenties half my hair was silver and the other half was still deep brunette. I’ve always worn it long: sometimes straightened, often styled in loose curves, and now that I’m nearly all silver and the heating appliances cause yellowing, I’m so relieved to let it just so all wild a natural. I’ve discovered I have curly-ish hair and I love it!

    If only women would be able to understand the FREEDOM that comes from low maintenance. It’s like giving up the routine and expense—and the headache of continual watchfulness—of having acrylic nails. Same thing with our hair color and the care and styling. Like you, I’ve opted for natural shampooing. It’s amazing what a simple change like this can make to our overall lifestyle. Add up ALL the little changes and we find we have a brand spanking new lease on life.

    Friar? Thank you for your comments. My experience has been that of more men than women complimenting me. When I was single, my silver hair was like a man magnet: at the clubs, restaurants, grocery stores, on the street… One man on the bus actually quizzed me about my “courageous transition.” He wanted pointers to add to his own pleas to his wife to stop coloring her hair. He wanted to see the real her and she wasn’t believing him. Truth. Cross my fingers and hope to die. ;)

  4. Awesome do!

    Thank you for writing about this subject. Aging gracefully doesn’t mean, like Canadian Army Wife wrote, putting on the Cougar image — or letting the hair go skunk or stiff. It’s about what’s inside radiating confidently through our looks. I’ve also stopped using shampoos, occasionally using the lightest wash possible with Eucerin’s Calming Body Wash, which is a daily shower oil, so too much is like an oil dump, but just right adds the shine.

    @Friar, so I’m guessing you didn’t like Demi Moore’s hair cut in GI Jane? :-)

  5. @Canadian Army Wife – I think when women try to dress, and accessorize (including hair colour), significantly younger than their age group, they end up looking older than their age. For example, our skin tone changes as we age, and when we use a hair colour that is too dark or harsh, it creates a stark contrast to our face, which is not flattering. As for grey hair making us look old, I am reading an excellent book, which I will be doing a post on later, in which she completely disproves the theory that grey hair ages us.

  6. @Friar – yes a guy’s opion is definitely allowed here. Interestingly, I had men I dated tell me they couldn’t ‘handle’ my grey hair. That was the end of them, of course.

    As for short hair, I don’t believe it’s the short hair that creates an androgynous, or even ‘dude’ look. Jamie Lee Curtis with her super short GREY hair is most definitely NOT dude-like. And I have seen many women with super short hair who are absolutely elegant. I think it is the overall package. No word of a lie, on my daily bus commute, people get on in the forty + age group and I have no idea as to their gender. I finally determine they are women, but they hide all that is feminine about themselves.

    So, I think it boils down to embracing your femininity. That doesn’t mean dresses, high heels, and perfect nails. Heck, most of the time you will find me in jeans and a tank top, hauling dirt around my yard, or wielding a hammer. I mean loving the fact that you are a woman. That is what shines through, regardless of hair colour or length, and that is what is sexy.

  7. @Julie – I knew you’d be commenting on this. I love your beautiful white hair. Isn’t it interesting that other women think we are brave for not colouring our hair? Brave implies that we are afraid of something, but we are doing it anyway. I also have had men tell me that they tell their wives to please stop colouring their hair. Now, here’s an interesting question. Are these men doing this because their wives fuss and frett about their grey hair? And the husband is really saying relax and stop fretting? And the gentleman in your story said he wanted to see the ‘real’ her. Does this mean that colouring her hair is one of several ways in which she hides the real her? I am sure there are women who colour their hair because it pleases them to do so. Playing with hair colour is like buying a new shade of eye shadow. But they aren’t afraid of their grey streaks, so they don’t frett or make a fuss about them. Do their husbands ask them to stop colouring their hair? Likely not. No more than they would think to tell their wife not to buy that particular shade of eye shadow.

    Really the whole psychology around this topic is quite fascinating.

  8. @Lori – “what’s inside radiating confidently through our looks” … okay, so that nicely sums up my long winded replies to everyone else’s comments :)

  9. As you know, I’m totally on board with the grey thing. I would like to argue with one point, however — the suggestion that we need to straighten our hair if it’s grey. You want me to straighten out my wild curls so I can have a nice smooth grey helmet of hair? Why? I give my daughter heck all the time for straightening our her beautiful curls — she does it because apparanlty only straight hair is cool. Nevermind the awful damage you do to your hair with that flatiron every day. As you point out – grey hair is dryer and more prone to breakage. Why torture it like that? You’ve gone to the lengths of letting it go grey naturally. Using natural products on it, why not let it go curly naturally?

  10. @XUP – a fair counter argument. The point in my post being simply that for added zing you can straighten it. I certainly don’t advocate doing this on a regular basis. Each morning, as I look in the mirror, I decide what to straighten, if anything. Generally, it’s just my bangs. Sometimes bit to frame my face. On the very rare occassion, I straighten it all for a different look. In general, though, I find neither the blow dryer, nor the straightening iron necessary. Also there is a difference between your curls, which are tight and beautiful, and my sometimes unruly waves that depending on the weather want to go in the most ridiculous directions :-)

  11. Hi Eliza. I think you look stunning! I too made the decision to go grey a couple of years ago. Just before that I tried the redhead look. I liked it and got a lot of compliments, but the upkeep wasn’t worth it. I’ve been lucky that my grey has come in pretty evenly so I don’t feel that there was much of a transition. Except for the wardrobe of course.

  12. @Davina – thank you. It helps that the photo was taken by my beautiful daughter. It’s amazing how much upkeep is involved in coloured hair, in terms of time, money, and having to pay attention to when to book that hair appointment. Now I just book an appointment when my hair needs a bit of trim, and one or two weeks past when that appointment is required is no big deal.

  13. Traveled over here for something else, but you know I can’t resist a pretty face, so click and read I did.

    I just wanted to say there’s only one word I associate with a woman in her 40s and grey hair: elegance. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – that looks more elegant (to me) than a modern woman confidently wearing silver hair and dressing well to match it.

    Ha, like you! Take that!

  14. @James – well, like I told Friar, the male perspective is always welcome here. Especially when it involves paying me a compliment :-)

  15. Yoshira says:

    I have been gray for so many years I have no clue what my real color was at one time. I started going gray in my early 20′s, I colored it and hate it everytime i did. I know wear a beautiful short cut (not too short) my gray is really beautiful and i get compliments on a everyday level. I think it’s heridetary my son is 28 and has been going gray for sometime now. Its not for everyone, but because i feel so great about my self it just does not interfere with anything.

  16. @Yoshira – welcome! I think mine was dark brunette with auburn highlights at some point in my life :-) Two of my three children are going grey already (ages 23 and 25) and both are quite happy with that. I love this line: because i feel so great about my self it just does not interfere with anything. It’s so true. I love my grey hair. It is simply part of who I am.

  17. Hello !!!
    I’m sooo glad I found you !
    I am 48 and realizing that I cant afford to colour my hair anymore is a blessing in disguise !
    I did’nt know I had these beautiful strands of shining silveraround my face ! Wow !!!
    I love it. My hair has always been different shades of brown depending on where I was living,as a child living in the mojave desert in California it was almost a blondish brown ,very pretty and when I moved to Pennsylvania it turned black,but most of my life it was really just dark brown with natural copper highlights.
    Seems every time since I was about 35 when I had troubles with a man i would either chop it or die it or both.
    I bet I coloured it 20 times in the last 4 years of my torturous life with my husband who was leaving me every other week !!! LoL. Now as a single woman i cant afford to die it and really have no need as I have no man problems right now Thank God !!!
    I love the silver strands and streaks I have recently discovered but it may be tough letting all this colour grow off my hair and looking at your beautiful hair,I am going to be courageous and just do it ! And I have been noticing that grey and silver clothes are exiting me right now,I just found a fantastic pair of silverish black flats that as soon as I tryed on and looked in the mirror made me really love my hair,funny how your shoes can set off your hair !!!
    Thank you for your site,I love it !!!
    Your new fan,
    Shari MoonGlow SavingGrace “Sisters of the Moon Unite “

  18. Oh ….will you please tell me how to shampoo using baking soda ?

  19. oh never mind my last question please,I just found the answer her on your pages !
    Thnk you for your site.I love it !

  20. @Shari – it’s 6:30 a.m. as I am writing this and I woke up rather groggy with that ‘wrong side of the bed feeling’. But reading your comments has perked me right up. True, the espresso my darling man just handed me helps, but honestly your comments have already made my day. I think the part that really jumps out at me was changing your hairstyle and colour in response to a bad relationship. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt! It’s fascinating isn’t it, how we change our externals when we are avoiding changing our internals :-) BTW, I too have actually just discovered gray clothing. I recently bought a gray long sweater/tunic which I wear with bright coloured scarves or one of my pieces of jewelry. I got so many compliments from the gentlemen at work I was looking around for the TV camera LOL All this to say, welcome to Silver & Grace!

  21. Im so happy to read all these wonderful comments on silver, grey, etc. I started going grey aroun the age 0f 30 while yes i did color my hair for sometime i got fed up with having around 3 colors which did not look so good, after 4 weeks worse still since all the roots were peeking, expensive to keep doing and i was miserable. I know keep my hair sylver, i use a little bit of rinse ( can not do too much) for grey hair and it gives me such a wonderful shine. Many people have asked me if i have colored it this way. I love it. I am 49 years old and i dont think i look any older than the average person around my age. My hair is very thick and yes i keep it short since it is easier to maintain. There is nothing wrong with working with what you have, if you really dislike it than i understand, but trust me it comes a time when you say to yourself WHATEVER. Enjoy life it really is wonderful. :-)

  22. Eiza thankyou for this……………I think you have made many women feel great. Thankyou, thankyou. LOL

  23. @Yoshira – once a month I use a shampoo to strip off pollutants. Otherwise, just baking soda. And I agree that gray hair does not make me look any older than any other 47 year old. I was wandering around downtown this evening and was glad to see a good number of women in their forties and fifties with beautiful gray hair. And thank you for all the thank you’s. It is certainly my goal to enhance other women’s spirits.

  24. Goodday Friends !!!
    I almost made a huge mistake today. I was at walgreens and started down the dreaded haircolour isle….I usually spent 20 minutes looking at all the boxes before going to the same one I was using for the last year witch is a beautiful colour by Natural Insticts called Nutmeg cause it’s closest to my own natural colour, but this time was different,I looked at that one box,shook my head,muttered something to myself nd practically ran out of the store LoL. I just thought about you ladies and thought “I can do this,I like my silver,shiney strands around my face and what about those new shoes,they just wont look as nice with Nutmeg hair !!!
    This was a test,it was only a test.If I can do this maybe I can quit smoking next…one day at a time ,thats my new motto !!!
    God Bless the sisters of the moon.( I say this because our hair shines like the moon )

  25. Thank you for the welcome Eliza !
    Yes changing the internals is my new thought lately…I want to be healthy,happy and wise. I’m on a mission to find my true self.I know Im in here somewhere !!!

  26. @Shari – This reminded me of an emergency TV broadcast. “We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to test one woman’s conviction to going gray. Please do not adjust your hair colour. This is only a test. We repeat, this is only a test.”

    Seriously though, I have not coloured my hair in over three years. However, about once every six months I briefly flirt with the idea of colouring it. Generally though, it’s on a bad hair day. So, I just wash and style my hair, look in the mirror, and wonder what the heck I was thinking. My hair is beautiful just the way it is.

  27. It took me about a year and a half until the last vestiges of old dyed brown was finally cut from the tips of my collarbone length hair. Walking by windows and seeing my image with the sun bouncing off the silver was almost unnerving in its intensity. This was not the vision I wanted to have of myself, but the years of hair color were taking its toll: I had to choose between gray or gone.

    I finally googled for healthy sexy images of women like Emmylou Harris and began to look for clues of happy gray haired women locally. In small towns, gray is much more prevalent and I don’t know if I should attribute that to smaller incomes or healthy egos.

    I am not going back to brunette. Somewhere deep inside I have to make peace with, and perhaps find joy in the gray. I must say that since the grow-out, I just feel older. Much older. Deep down inside I know it doesn’t have to be this way.

    It is true that I’ve received comments from men while dining publicly. I’ve actually had men (and women) approach me at my table saying things like, “cool hair”, oh, your hair is beautiful”, etc. Even babies look at me reverently! How strange.

    So, I have choices about how I am going to envision myself in gray – healthy, in my prime, glowing, gray and gorgeous? Perhaps. I need more role models!!!! Or melanin. And definitely more jewel tones in the wardrobe!

    (54 years and not counting most of the time) :)

  28. Maureen – hi! Not only did I Google Emmylou Harris, I cut a pic of her out of a magazine and put it where I could see it. I also did the same with Jamie Lee Curtis. I like that the hairstyles on the two women are extreme opposites, but they are both stunningly gorgeous. For role models, if you are on Facebook I encourage you to join my Silver & Grace group at http://www.facebook.com/silverandgrace and the Going Gray Looking Great group at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Going-Gray-Looking-Great/334857020776 . In these groups you will find healthy, in their prime, glowing, gray and gorgeous women who are every day gals just like you and me. The support, interaction, and sense of sisterhood is awesome! I would love to have you join the Silver & Grace community. We have tons of fun :) Cheers, Eliza.

  29. I let my hair be natural about 5 years ago…I just got so tired of the expense of dying my hair and hating the result everytime. I am so happy with my “moon hair” I swim everyday and have gotten a bit dull so have been looking for ways to brighten up my moon halo.

  30. I think this is fantastic. I started going gray in my 20's, and now in my early 30's it's really coming in. I made the decision years ago to go gray, and my hubby is 1000% on board. I love the way it looks on men–so distinguished and sexy, so why not on me (as a woman)? Good for you! You look gorgeous. :)

  31. Jan Glover says:

    I got a buzzed cut to get rid of the old coloring. Pretty drastic
    But, love it. So do alot of other people. It's got a couple months grow now and I'm going to keep it short and spikey

  32. Jan Glover says:

    I got a buzzed cut to get rid of the old coloring. Pretty drastic
    But, love it. So do alot of other people. It's got a couple months grow now and I'm going to keep it short and spikey

  33. Thats what I do with mine Jan, when they give me a cut they use the electric buzzers lol

  34. Thats what I do with mine Jan, when they give me a cut they use the electric buzzers lol

  35. Jan Glover says:

    Steen, I think we should start a club:-)

  36. Jan Glover says:

    Steen, I think we should start a club:-)

  37. Jan Glover says:

    we'll have form a club:)

  38. It's a pity that this couldn't also be for the attention of GUYS going grey as well. :-(.

  39. I’m joining the club. I’m a natural blonde so my grays blend in pretty well, but for the past 20 or so years I have used a light color to conceal them more. Now I will be 60 this fall I have decided to go natural. I’m still trying to decide how to transition, I have about half an inch of my ‘real’ hair showing and it’s not too awful. Thanks for all the good tips and encouragement on this page!

  40. Judy – I have a secret which I will tell you. I am going to be launching an online magazine totally dedicated to gray hair. It will be CHOCK FULL of tips about everything from hair care to make up to wardrobe and more. Stay tuned! :)

  41. DAVE DIBONA says:

    the gray calls to their eyes in a sensual whisper
    their heart and soul alive on their lips with each kiss
    their body adores the painter that touches them
    as they feel the stroke of the brush without apprehension
    though their hair might be gray and their skin pale
    their passion is sweet to taste as they become a rose in full
    a flower that blooms as all the other flowers
    in a great big smile

  42. Dave – wow! Awesome! :)

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  3. [...] a year of blogging, my post Gray hair can be beautiful and sexy, is consistently the top read article. And by a significant amount. More than double the next most [...]

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  5. [...] Eliza Fayle maintains Silver and Grace, a blog I’ve been following for a while.  Eliza says:  “There is point in every woman’s life when she debates whether to hide her gray hair.  Many do, but more and more women are ending the dye process and transitioning back to their natural silver locks.  It’s all about what contributes to feelings of confidence and sexiness.  My decision was to go gray, and I found that gray hair can be beautiful and sexy.” [...]

  6. […] Originally posted in Silver & Grace on July 23, 2009, four years later I still feel the exact same […]

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