How old are you!? Now that I’m growing my hair out gray, people just keep asking. Read for more on what I’m loving, hating, products I recommend and more.
By: Lisa Fennessy
Okay you guys so I’m about 5 months into my “going gray” grow out and my kids finally noticed. Last week, my just-turned four-year-old goes, “Mama, you have some white on your head.” I’m like yeah. I do.
Society is all ???
Also people in the community have started to notice and are reacting too. I took the boys to get their haircut and the hairdresser said, “This may sound crazy but your hair would look so good that color!” The bagger at Whole Foods told me he was going to dye his hair white for Halloween. And some other guy I was in a training with asked me, “Did you dye your hair like that?”
Every single time I get a question or a comment like this, it takes me off guard. It almost feels like someone is commenting on my weight, height or nationality. Like, kinda inappropriate. But after some more thought, I think I take it back. Society has been conditioned to think that woman should have brown, blonde, red (whatever color – anything but gray hair) until they are well into their 70s. And when people see anything that deviates from this norm, their system misfires and it’s like “can’t compute….can’t compute…”
So it took a little bit of digging and self-reflection but I realize I can’t blame the guy who blurts out, “How old are you!?” It’s not his fault – it’s a condition of our culture. It’s the communal push pack of the aging process. It’s the surgeries, the hair dying, the going to the ends of the earth to find the proverbial fountain of youth….All of this is creating skewed expectations of what a 40-year-old woman should look like.
And I’m not saying it’s my way or the highway. Honestly, to each their own. Everyone is on their own journey and PS Kumbaya. But what IS helping me through this transformation is realizing the stares and whispers and blunt questions are not really about me. It’s fallout from the push back.
Ma, Are We There Yet!?
I would also say at the beginning of my grow out it was really exciting and new but now it’s been almost 5 months and I have about 2 full inches of gray and I’m like – can we just get on with it!? Like this in-between look is just not cutting it. I think when I get to another inch or so I will chop it. I’m thinking a cute pixie or something but that scares me too because I’ve never had my hair that short. But I’m so over this 1/2 and 1/2 look I’m ready to do almost anything!
And just as much as I’m like. Let’s get on with the show! I am equally like: OMG is this really happening? Now that my hair is getting really white on top, every time I look in the mirror it’s mixed feelings of WOW + Is that me? + Wait! I don’t want to do this! + Dang ma! Your hair is going to look so good!
I also kind of want to dye my hair white in the front for some fun flare but my hairdresser said the lifting process would cause a lot of breakage. She said one time she had a client who dyed her hair white/silver and the client always wore her hair in a bun and one day her bun fell off. So maybe I wont do that.
Also I saw my first gray eyebrow hair so there’s that.
RELATED: Here’s the best eyebrow makeup for gray hair
But then I also got carded at the wine store the other day so…there’s that too.
But apparently I’m not the only one going through this….If you want to continue the going gray hair topic, check out episode #4 of my friend Sarah’s Selfie Podcast – Her and co-host Kristen talk about the decision to go gray and also the importance of using a silver wash shampoo – like a purple shampoo? What am I missing?
Lastly, what’s the deal with gray hairs. It’s like all of a sudden they lose their pigment and then get a mind of their own? Brown hair is shiny, smooth and bouncy. Then sans color it sticks straight up, it’s wiry and has a mind of it’s own?! The other day I looked in the mirror and I swear I had one rogue gray hair sticking 4″ straight up in the air. Like if I go for the pixie, am I really ordering up a porcupine?
But Say I’m Not Ready To Go Gray
Lastly, I get a lot of questions about what hair dye I recommend. So here’s the deal. First, let me say the decision to go gray for me was not product driven per say. Although I was fed up with dedicating 3-6 hours a month dying my hair – it was more than that. You can read all about why I decided to go gray here. And for my friends who are ingredient aware and want to make healthier decisions, I have two recommendations.
Oway is a brand that I used a couple of times. They actually wouldn’t send me samples so I had to buy an entire case and have it shipped to my local hair salon so I could try it. I ended up buying 12 applications and only used three of them. BUT from asking around, this brand seems to use the lowest % of PPD in its formula while still being strong enough to work and I can personally say it does a great job at covering grays. But because it works, that means it employs toxic chemicals. You can get the run down here on what I mean by that.
RELATED: What NOT to Do While Going Gray and 101 Ways to Respond to Rude Comments About Gray Hair.
And the other product I can recommend wholeheartedly is Hairprint. I used this product exclusively for 14 months and I have a ton of before and after pics on my website. The formula is next-level and calls on 8 food-grade ingredients and one inert thickener. That’s it. My only gripe is that it’s DIY and mama ain’t got time for that. Oh and it really only works for people with single process dark hair. But none the less, IT WORKS. Check out my experiences here:
- Hairprint Review
- Hairprint Application Tips
- Hairprint Updates June 2016
- Hairprint Updates August 2016
More On Going Gray
Here are are few more posts I’ve written about my experience if you want to read more:
- Going Gray: Why I Stopped Dying My Hair
- Going Gray: 3 Months And Counting
- Going Gray: 5 Months and Counting
- Going Gray: (at 40!) 8 Months and Counting
- Going Gray: It’s Been A Year!
- Going Gray: A Transformation Both Inside and Out
Would love to hear your experience or thoughts in the comments! One thing that has helped me continue on with this process is the support from all of you! Seriously, hearing your encouragement and praise has made this experience really exciting and enjoyable. Would love to continue the conversation here so others can benefit too!
Until next time!
Photos by my girl Jenn at Monkey + Squirrel
SamanthaOctober 31, 2017
I think your hair looks great so far! I’m right at 3 months and I agree, I wish I could speed up the transition process. I’m only 28, but I started going grey at 14. Dying my hair has just become such an ordeal and the dye makes me not feel well. I figured I could give transitioning now a shot. Worst case I dye it again but I feel like now I notice so many women with lovely long silver hair that looks gorgeous. I hope mine gets to that point someday!
thisorganicgirlNovember 1, 2017
I agree! Good for you girl! What symptoms were you having when you dyed your hair and you were not feeling well?
ClaudiaNovember 2, 2017
Have you changed shampoos since your gray is coming in? I’m only about 5% gray at this point, but have decided not to cover it. Still using the same SLS-free wavy shampoo I’ve been using the last few years, but wondering if there’s something especially good for gray. Thanks!
thisorganicgirlNovember 5, 2017
Hey Claudia! I have kept the same shampoo (True Botanicals) and its been working for me. I think you would want to seek out a color correcting shampoo if your grays start to yellow but mine haven’t yet so sticking with what I love for now! Good luck with your grow out!
SarahNovember 14, 2017
Love this post- I identify and it made me laugh! My last color was June 10 (after 20 yrs of mostly DIY jobs). I’m 46 and my stylist says I’m about 50%. My female coworkers are watching my hair like hawks. I’m doing this “cold turkey”- no highlights, etc. I’ve been getting it cut more frequently, a little bit shorter, but a good style for me (chin-length bob). I have to use blue shampoo occasionally, as well as VO5 conditioning dressing for silver hair, due to the medium brown dye having faded quite a bit (clarifying shampoo helped)- it can look a bit brassy without. My biggest issue is breakage at the point where the outgrowth and dyed portion meet. Those little white strands (multiples of them) do stick straight up. Hoping my hair gets healthier and less prone to breakage the longer I’m not putting chemicals on it. One coworker told me she plans to “go silver” in the new year… so maybe I’m doing OK overall.
thisorganicgirlNovember 14, 2017
Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for sharing your story! I’ve just noticed that too – my chemically treated hair is so dry and brittle now and I figured out because I stopped dying/conditioning it. You know right after your hair is treated it’s shiny and smooth – so now with no more treatment for almost 6 months now, the true condition of my hair is finally coming through and its pretty weak. I also have a lot of breakage. I think another inch or two and I can get it cut really cute and short : ) You are definitely doing OKAY!
MelissaMay 20, 2020
I know this is long after the original post but I had to add my two cents…Actually I don’t think those little white hairs are breakage at all. At least in my case it appears to be brand new growth popping up now that I’ve stopped dyeing my hair. Healthier scalp = new hair!
LisaMay 21, 2020
That is so exciting! Thicker, healthier hair!!! Thanks Melissa! Lisa
AshApril 12, 2021
I’m at the 5 month mark with about 3 inches of that lovely gray.. wish I could speed up the process. I have gray, then a inch of light brown where the lighter root of my dyed hair was and then the dark brown.. It’s a colorful mess right now. Thinking in another 5 months I’ll do a cut..
LisaApril 12, 2021
Hi Ash! Oh totally! I wish I could have sped up the process too. I haven’t gotten my hair cut since “my final cut” where I cut it into a short bob to cut off the last bits of dyed hair — and now it’s grown down to the middle of my back and I can see the ends of my hair are darker than my roots because as my hair continues to age, it’s getting more and more gray so it’s still multi colored, even fully grown out now…if that helps at all ; ) xo, Lisa
Raye Mona ShusterMay 18, 2021
I’m at 5 mths gorwn out. I have extremely dry hair and it was bleached/color processed before. Any product recommendation? Not sure when to start with purple shampoo but definitely need one that is for dry hair.
LisaMay 20, 2021
Hi Raye! I would recommend using some hair masks and deep conditioning treatments. And also a moisturizing purple shampoo. My faves for both of those are here! xo, Lisa
PattiMay 31, 2021
Gulp. I’m kinda, almost, pretty sure I’m done coloring my hair! LOL Last color was 16 weeks ago. I’ve been coloring my hair various shades of blonde since I was about 14 (I’m 60 now). My added issue is that my hair is long — down to my waist — meaning that in addition to coloring, I haven’t cut it in that long either (except for tiny trims every 8 wks or so to even the ends). It is appearing that they gray is mixed with a darker color so I’m nervous, but am trying to stay the course. The “joke” has always been that my first question to God when I get to Heaven will be, “What is/was my natural hair color?” Your journey is my inspiration. Thank you!
LisaJune 24, 2021
Hi Patti! You’ve got this! It feels weird to go gray because it can really challenge our identity as women sometimes. It creates a gap and a space where we need to figure out who we are again. On the surface, this can sound trivial but it’s so true. We look at ourselves daily in the mirror and who we see looking back at us informs our story and what we think about ourselves. It’s how we identify. Take it slow and know that with time will come clarity and resolve. xo, Lisa