Will gray hair make you look older?

Sadly, once again, I find myself horrified at anti-aging fear mongering tactics used to sell beauty products. In my article In Support of Gray Hair, I spoke out against an article which suggested that women with gray hair look unpolished and unprofessional. This post addresses an article which categorically states

The truth is, natural gray hair makes people look older.

The truth is?

That is a rather sweeping statement. The truth based on what?

Here are some truths ….

  1. I am forty-nine years old. When I tell people my age, they are shocked. Not because they think I am older; rather, they think I am younger.
  2. I belong to a wonderful group called Gray & Proud. It is full of gorgeous women who continue to surprise me when they state their ages. I always think they are younger than they actually are.

Admittedly, these truths are my personal experiences and could be biased. So, how about some empirical evidence?

In researching her book Going Gray, Anne Kreamer conducted an extensive survey in which people were asked to judge the ages of women with coloured hair and women with gray hair. The survey had the following surprising result.

It turns out that gray hair does not make us look older than our real age. It just makes it easier for people to judge our true age. 

Now, if the article I read had said ‘the truth is natural gray hair makes you look your age’, I would not take exception to this. I still wouldn’t like the anti-aging slant to it, but I would not be outraged.

I can list dozens of stunningly gorgeous women who colour their hair and look their age or younger. I can list dozens of stunningly gorgeous women who are naturally gray and look their age or younger.  However, my judgement of their age is not based on hair colour … and by the way, gray and silver are colours.

All these women look their age or younger because they are fit, healthy, vibrant, sassy and full of confidence. The lack of all those things is what makes a woman look older than her actual age. Not her hair colour.

Gracefully yours,

~ Eliza



  1. Geg Fayle says:

    I think grey hair CAN make you look older but not necessarily. It seems it depends a lot on what you do with it and what the rest of your style is like. I saw a woman yesterday with quite long greying hair but it was very bouncy and alive and so was she – she didn’t seem old. It is who is underneath the hair and what is done with it.

  2. I believe our youthfulness is found in our attitude to life and how we perceive it. There used to be a time when bald men were considered old, something which caused a lot of torment for young balding men. Now it is so normal for a man to shave his head that we no longer judge age through baldness. It ia all about perception. If you are a vibrant women then people will see vibrant before they even notice the hair colour. I love being the age I am, I am confident, healthy, and enjoying life! All of that is so much more important than the colour of my hair, which, by te way, happens to be a lovely shiny grey, white, and silver. Great post Eliza.
    Kama´s last blog post ..Comment on Relishing and Resisting Confidence – R (A-Z of Confidence) by Alan Miles

  3. Well said Eliza! Grey hair does NOT make us look older! I think grey hair is beautiful. However, I think it is important to showcase it at its best by wearing the right make-up, clothing and jewellery – otherwise it can make women look washed out and dull. From my own experience, there are certain colours of clothing that I cannot wear because they make my grey hair look dirty and drab. I only wear silver jewellery (never gold) and I always wear make-up. I would like to see perceptions change about grey-haired women but it needs to be promoted by the beauty/hair/fashion companies in their advertising. They have so much influence and they set the trends. Meanwhile, the ordinary women who are part of the grey revolution are ‘doin’ it for themselves’ and are blazing the trail! The advertisers need to catch up! :)
    Denise´s last blog post ..NEW KID ON THE BLOG!

  4. I have to say that since having brilliant silver streaks come in (framing my face and providing fun contrast to my otherwise almost black hair on the rest of my head), I have never received so many compliments on my hair. These come from all ages and both genders, and the compliments are normally given with a big smile of appreciation. And most people do think I’m quite a bit younger than what my driver’s license states. I’ve come to realize that – despite the fear mongering in the beauty industry – a lot of people like the look of gray. So time to proudly wave the gray and tackle life with enthusiasm!

  5. I agree with what everyone has said…I once wrote an article about “going gray” and interviewed several women (from early 40s to late 60s) who had done it after many years of coloring their hair. In all cases, going gray made them look YOUNGER!
    KCLAnderson (Karen)´s last blog post ..Of Chocolate Cake And Green Beans

  6. i’ve been gray since i was 21 years old. i used to dye it blonde. but if i didn’t keep up with the roots, i would look like i had gray hair. when i was 48 i got an unrequested senior citizen discount from a very young cashier at a fast food joint. i was mortified. but when she asked if i wanted to pay back the discounted difference, i declined. i liked the discount. i thought i was on to something. and i was. i never had to say another word, i just let my hair go naturally gray and i get countless senior citizen discounts. now, at almost 62 and with a failing economy, i cherish these discounts. it means i can go anywhere i want, get anything i need, including rides on metro trains at a discount.
    i stopped getting haircuts from stylists because they always cut my hair like an old lady regardless of the photo or cut i requested. so now, i self buzz cut my hair (using a #7 comb) and configure my own hair in a classic Judy Dench style. I love it! Since my hair has a bit of a curl in it, it lays nicely upon my head as it grows out. I just love my natural white hair! it shines. it glows. and it saves me big bucks.
    PS: did you know one of the books you recommended is $117????? Sounds like big business to me. Just saying.
    My Life´s last blog post ..When Every Day Is A Vacation Day.

    • My Life – Holy Crumpets!!! I figured you were talking about Going Gray, Looking Great because I know it is a pricier book (around $45). It must be over $100 because Amazon is not currently carrying it so it is a third party seller. I am going to follow up with the author and see what is what!

  7. Eliza,
    I read some of the Amazon reviews for that $117 book and one of the posters said you can purchase the book directly from the author for only $25 plus shipping. I have no idea how true this is. It looks legit. Here’s the link:

    My Life´s last blog post ..When Every Day Is A Vacation Day.

  8. Susan Donovan says:

    Been grey since 30…. Tomorrow is my 59th birthday. My husband and three boys LOVE my hair. Simple cut…bob with bangs….stacked in back. My hair shines…is bouncy….was told it looks like a halo. No better endorsement. Enjoy what nature deals you..embrace it So fun! I love my grey hair.

    • Susan – I love that cut (inverse bob), it is so flattering. I have had it before and am thinking of going back to it. Thanks so much for commenting.

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