Going Gray: Gray Hair at 40 (8 Months And Counting)

January 25, 2018 (updated January 26, 2023) — Written by

There’s no turning back now guys. It’s been 8 months since I stopped dying my hair and I’m like really gray now.

woman sitting at a table in a coffee shop looking at her laptop

By: Lisa Fennessy

I’m also celebrating my 40th birthday this March. If you had asked me 5 years ago if I would be gray by 40, I would have dyed laughing! But here I am, entering my 40s and embracing my gray hair. So here’s the latest.

First of all, at 8 months out my hair is SO DRY! I realize now when I was dying my hair every 4 weeks, it wasn’t only adding color, it was adding shine, texture and vibrancy. Now, after going cold turkey, the true condition of my hair has been exposed and it’s not cute.

My virgin hair is not dry but the chemically treated section is. And not only is it dry, it’s inconsistent in color. Some parts are darker than others and some strands have fully lost their chemical pigment. Every few months I would have my colorist run my color all the way through the ends of my hair during the last 5 mins of treatment to even out my color and avoid this from happening. And now I have nothing in my arsenal short of a pair of scissors to avoid it.

RELATED: Best Natural Shampoo for Gray Hair

forty year old woman smiling directly at the camera, showing her gray roots growing in

And while I’m on the topic of texture, why is it that when hair goes gray, the texture goes berserk too!? I have some strands of hair that are breaking off at the corner of chemically treated hair meets gray newbie and these 4 inch rogues insist on standing straight up like a soldier at attention on his last day at boot camp. Why!?

A hair oil might be helpful for some. It won’t solve the problem but it will help. The whole key to success here is not using too much oil. Less is more when it comes to hair oil friends. Less is more. Then also tend to set my hair daily with which really helps lay down the rogues.

Another haircut!

Also, just had my second haircut with Jen – founder of the coming soon hair salon Creature. Throughout this process, as my roots get longer and my hair gets shorter, I can finally see the end of the tunnel and I’m telling you right now, 2018 is my year ladies! I will for sure be fully gray probably by the fall. Depends on how short I go.

(You can also check out my final hair cut here!)

I asked Jen about putting a glaze on to help with the dry ends and she discouraged me so I dropped it. The less chemicals the better anyways.

By the way, this study may help you decide to go gray earlier.

forty year old woman sitting in a coffee shop looking overhead

Looking to the future…

I sometimes catch myself looking through my kids eyes and I think it’s really interesting that they will never remember me with dark hair. I feel equal feelings of loss but also pride. Maybe it sounds superficial but it’s a part of me they will never know. I remember looking at pictures of my aunt when I was little. (She went gray early too and started dying her hair blonde because of it.)

I just remember thinking Wow, this is my auntie when she was younger. Then I probably pictured her doing cool things with her cool friends and made up a story of what she was really like. Meanwhile those dark haired pics where from her teens and I knew her when she was gray/blonde and THIRTY. Anyways, I wonder if my boys will do that with pictures of me someday. Probably not.

But I am also proud that they will have a mom who’s looks will never change drastically for them. I will look the same to them now as I do when I’m 60…just with a few more laugh lines, God willing.

On the Outside Looking In

I’m getting less comments now too. Around month three I was getting so many comments from strangers about my gray hair. Mostly positive ones which was encouraging.

But now that my grays are taking over the comments are changing.

I am not getting as many and if I do, it’s a compliment to my hair color instead of the process. Before it was “Did you dye your hair like that?” and now it’s “I love your hair color!” This is probably because the gray is taking over.

If I pull my hair up in a bun now, I have that gray hair, black bun look which is pretty stark but kind of edgy cool too. But the point is, all the hair around my face is gray so it’s becoming my look rather than a question.

forty year old woman sitting in a coffee shop looking down at smartphone with the lighting showing her gray hair

On that note I want to add that looking back I can say for sure the hardest part is over now. Growing out roots is THE WORST. It’s like, it’s just…out there. All exposed. Looking like you missed a hair appointment…or three. But now it’s easy to own. Gray hair wraps my face and if anything, I’m just excited for it to grow out more.

And by the way, I finally have the highlights I’ve always wanted. Booyeah!

What about you?

Are you going gray? Where are you at? How is it going? What are you loving or not loving? Comment below so we can share and support each other!

For more, check out these posts on Going Gray:

Photos by Jenn at Monkey & Squirrel

xo, lisa in cursive

Common questions about gray hair

How do I go gray?

There are several ways you can do gray. I happened to just let it grow in “cold turkey”. Here are 10 more ways to go gray!

How to treat the texture of gray hair?

A bit of hair oil might help to add some shine and softness back and hairspray (all the hairspray!) to hold down those flyaways.

What’s the cold turkey process for gray hair?

It’s a no-intervention process where the hair roots grow longer while your hair gets shorter. Here are some photos of my process.

By Lisa Fennessy

Lisa is the founder of The New Knew. Passionate about clean beauty, organic eats and nontoxic lifestyle, Lisa writes to create awareness. Conscious consumerism and informed decisions will impact the marketplace, our health and THE WORLD!


  1. Reply

    Claire D'Anjou

    Congratulations on stick ing put to your decision. At 40, I had décidé to let my hair go gray. And I did…. until my Sister – who I see once a year – came over and sais that I looked old. A few weeks layer, I was back at my hairdresser’s to have my hair dyed again.

    I will be turning 49 next month. Two months ago, I went back to my hairdresser and sais “I’m ready”. I now have short hair (I look best with short hair) and the dye is almost gone (one or two more haircuts). My grey hair is beautiful and looks healthy.

    Going grey do not make one look old. It is sad that society puts so much value on “looking” younger. NEWSFLASH: we are fooling no one by dyeing ourt hair. We are all getting older. That does not mean that we “are” old. We are only as old as we feel. 🙂

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      I love your story! All so true. Thanks so much for sharing. And it just proves too how much weight we hold by encouraging others rather than discouraging. I’m glad you are almost there! Send us pics when you get your final cut! xo!

  2. Reply


    Lisa, still look to you for inspiration! Almost caved 3 weeks ago. I did have my stylist add light highlights so it would not be as obvious at 8 weeks in, and kept me going ????. Going to be a LONGGGGGGG road. Hope I can stick with….

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      You stick with it girl! We got this! Send me pics! xo

  3. Reply


    Keep inspiring! If there was a grey heart emoji it would be for you. Thanks for sharing the stages, progress, and how the hair care changes.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Thanks for the gray heart emoji! We need that one and a bunch of kale too – no!? Love the support, thanks for being here! xo

  4. Reply

    Tammy S

    I love your hair!! I think it has looked beautiful through the whole process! Yes the grow out period is painful! I feel your pain! I’m in the process of growing out my hair and there are days I’m about ready to give up! Most of all, I love how boldly you have owned the process! Your confidence and naturla beauty shines through!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Tammy! You are a doll! Thanks girl! Hats were the answer for a few months there…now I feel like I am finally owning it. I’m sure you look beautiful too. Share pics with us here if you can! xo!

  5. Reply


    March 2009 was the last time I dyed my hair (I was 50) .I thought I would be totally gray since the gray roots were taking over and I was coloring my hair every 3-4 weeks. But it took FOREVER to grow out and when it finally did I had very dark brown hair with nowhere near as much gray as I thought. I had been blondish for 30 years so it was such a shock! The wiry grays were so annoying and I plucked them for a while til I realized bald spots were not a good look ????. Anyway all these years later I’m STILL not totally gray, maybe 50% but I get compliments every day on my silver “highlights”. And I gotta say I am saving a ton of time and money not coloring. Good luck on your gray journey! I think your boys will remember you with dark hair though. My mom had dark hair until she stopped coloring it when I was around 13 and to this day when I picture my mom, she has dark hair.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Really? That is so cool. I love that you stuck with it. Would love to see pics! Love the memory of your mom too. I still wonder! Thanks for sharing! xo

  6. Reply


    Thanks for sharing your story. 5 months ago I started dying my hair with Hairprint. My colour is ash brown with lots of roots in Swedish Blond ( that is a Dutch joke and is actually referring to grey). However Hairprint is covering for 90%. I’m very happy with not only Hairprint’s dye, also her ranges in shampoo and conditioner are fab. I believe it was you that spent a blog post on Hairprint! So many thanks!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Yes! I used Hairprint for 14 months exclusively and I was AMAZED at how it works only using 8 food-grade nontoxic ingredients. It’s mind boggling! Glad you are having success! For anyone else who is curious about Hairprint, search “Hairprint” on my site and all my experiences with it will come up!

  7. Reply


    I just want to tell you I think your hair looks great. It gives you a really modern and edgy look! I started following your blog a few months back when I was researching Hairprint. I decided I was going to try henndigo first and if that didn’t work out for me, I was going to grow my hair out to its virgin state and give Hairprint a try. Well, after a trial run with neutral henna and a horrible allergic reaction to it, I now find myself with two months of roots (dark brown with some gray) and an extreme fear of putting my scalp through any further irritation, so it looks like I might be taking this route. It’s a terrifying prospect, but I have to admit that the thought of shiny, non-chemically damaged hair is very appealing. Thanks for writing about your journey!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Andrea! Oh my gosh. Thank you so much for your comment and sharing your story! I totally understand and I want to add the first few months are the hardest. After you get through that initial breakthrough you are GOLDEN! Golden in a good way (not in a Golden Girls way : ) Let us know what you decide!

  8. Reply


    Oh! Your hair looks awesome. I stumbled upon you a bit ago regarding Hairprint and looked to you for inspiration….I stopped Hairprint also and am letting the gray shine through. It’s pretty liberating. Love your blog and your hair looks great!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Lisa! Thanks so much for this! I am loving the going gray process – that really surprised me. So glad you are enjoying it too! xo!

  9. Reply


    I just decided to stop highlighting my hair 5months ago I have long hair so growing the color out will probably take a while The gray is growing in to but I want to give my hair a break I going to be swimming a lot and I figured the chorine is going to be bad enough for my hair so trying not to highlight and dye my hair Hope I can get use to the dark hair growing in any suggestions

    1. Reply


      Good luck Marci! Come join us over in The Gray Book Facebook group – so much inspiration and a ton of suggestions there! xo, Lisa

  10. Reply

    Lyndsay | Laccrue Organics

    I like the look of the natural gray hair on women. I myself am getting few ones lately. I actually think of it as the silver strands of wisdom and I see them as sparkling crowning glory (well, now you see how far my imagination can go) every time! Anyway, mine is starting at Rogue’s highlight (referencing Rogue from X-Men character). Yep, it’s going Rogue on me! lol

    1. Reply


      I love that! lol! Streaks are so pretty. xo, Lisa

  11. Reply


    Hi Lisa,

    You look great! I stumbled upon a woman’s youtube channel called Leslie’s Prime. She has dark hair at 54 and she uses lipsomal glutathionone (Altrient i think) i just thought i would share if you are interested.



    1. Reply


      Thanks Catherine!!! xo, Lisa

  12. Reply


    This is the fourth or fifth time I read this article from you. You are my inspiration, I’m 8 month in – the stage where you feel it just stopped growing and it looks like the same week by week. I also get my first positive comment (I had to wait 8 months for that, haha). Thank you Lisa for all your related uploads, it helps a lot. Waiting for a new video on youtube from you, I’m sure you still have a lot to tell about the journey. Stay safe, hugz 🙂

    1. Reply


      Hi Agi! Congrats on your first hair compliment! YAHOO! Thank you so much for this encouragement – I know! I need to do a new vid soon. Anything you would like me to talk about specifically? xo, Lisa

  13. Reply


    I am a few years late on this but I’m experiencing this now. I’m 39 and just about a little over4 months shy of my 40th birthday. I have silver hair coming up in the front and I’ve decided to also stop dying my hair. The silver hair/ gray hair have no mercy on me and seem to grow extremely fast. I am African American with 4c texture hair so it’s very interesting to see. I will say my hair is healthier as I stopped dying 6 months ago. This is an experience 🙃

    1. Reply


      Hi Latoya! So glad you are seeing healthier hair now! If you haven’t yet, come join us at The Gray Book on Facebook for support, community, inspiration and solidarity. It’s so empowering to see other women doing the same and I’d love to follow along with your grow out! ; ) xo, Lisa

  14. Reply


    Hi Lisa, thank you for sharing your experience. It gives me hope. First of all, your hair is gorgeous! I had been thinking about going grey for a while, but I got forced into going grey back in January 2022 as I had COVID and have Lyme and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. I am not supposed to use any chemicals. So, I was not mentally ready for this journey. My hair is different in that it’s mostly white in the front and still mainly brown in the back with some silver. I am 9 months in, but my hair grows slowly, and it is becoming painful. My hair dye is coming in orange, and I feel like I have a million different colors going on. Also, I feel like with my skin tone, the grey doesn’t look as good. I think I am going to try the Overtone conditioner you talk about in another post and I will be cutting my hair too. I do really appreciate your experience and advice and still think I will see this through. The dyeing every 4-5 weeks was starting to drive me crazy. Thank you!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      I can totally relate to the “driving me crazy” part! Wishing you the best of luck and hope you are feeling well! xo, Lisa

  15. Reply


    I never wore make up or considered dying my hair for my entire adult life. I feel like my hair started turning very grey in the last few years and it is quite shocking to me. Now I am like, OMG I want to dye it or do something because it makes me look so pale. Or maybe I need make up! The grey and dark circles under my eyes when I don’t sleep well are kind of crazy and I jump when I look in a mirror. I am not sure I expected to look older so quickly after looking relatively young my entire life!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Jennifee! There are so many options for you. Of course you can dye your hair again if that’s what you are feeling but if you want to try some other options first, you could play around with adding lowlights to your hair to add some color / dimension to see if you like that. You can also try using concealer or some hydrating eye masks (I personally am obsessed with the eye masks because they really work). xo, Lisa

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