Going Gray: It’s Been ONE Year!

April 18, 2018 (updated January 31, 2023) — Written by

This month marks one year of growing my hair out gray. I literally can not believe it’s been a year already. It feels like just yesterday I came home and told my hubs I dyed my hair for the last time today. One year has brought some unexpected insight, a sense of pride and an overall acceptance for who I am right now.

me typing on my phone

By: Lisa Fennessy

A Beautiful Transformation

I guess one of the most beautiful transformations that I’ve experienced has been on the inside. I used to carry the weight of I hope no one sees my roots today, they are so bad. That story would live LOUDLY inside my head two weeks out of the month. I used to “prefer to stand” just because if I sat down then people would have a birds eye view of my grays. I used to be mid conversation with friends, family or coworkers and be sidetracked wondering Did they just look at my hair? I bet they can see my grays.  I was carrying around so much mental weight about my hair – it was totally owning me.

And the kicker is, even though I was dying my hair, I was unhappy with it 75% of the time. I hated a fresh dye because my roots were super dense/opaque and way too dark to look natural. The second week was great. But by week 3 + 4 I was living in paranoia city again.

This sort of cyclical rumination was taking over and I didn’t even realize how big it was until now. Now that my story has changed. With a year under my belt, I can look back and compare then and now with some insight. And with this perspective, I can clearly see it’s a classic If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em scenario – but one with the most powerful ending.

Now I see people staring or commenting about my hair but I know it’s because they see the young face/gray hair juxtaposition and their brains are going haywire with can’t compute..can’t compute.. Either that or they like it, or they don’t but whatever – the looks don’t eat away at my self confidence and sense of self worth like they used to. That in itself is AMAZING to me.

RELATED: Best Natural Shampoo for Gray Hair

standing with my face to the sun and pulling my gray hair back

What Changed

Like how could something bother me so much before but now that I’ve leaned into it, I could kinda care less? What the heck changed?! Not much really. I mean I’m still me. I look in the mirror and I still see my face. I look around and I still see my loving husband and beautiful kids. I talk on the phone and catch up with the same friends. I mean, I’m still me…It’s kind of like when you turn another year old and people ask how you feel – and you’re like um….the same? 

So let’s compare. For the first few months of my grow out, I was starving for compliments and positive reinforcement. I just wanted my mom to tell me that she loved what I was doing and that my hair looked amazing. I wanted to hear it from my friends and husband too. I really needed that fuel to feel like I was doing the right thing. (As my Love Language screams Words of Affirmation). 

But now? Now that I’m a year in and about half way there? I don’t really need it any more. We were at dinner the other day and one of my relatives said, “You know, I was really skeptical when you started growing out your hair, I was like, don’t do it Lis. But now it looks so good!” That comment would have given me drive for another several weeks when I was at the beginning stages but now I’m just like, “Cool. Thanks.” But it didn’t effect my sense of self at all. I didn’t need it. I didn’t thrive on it. It was totally peripheral while my core remained as-is: strong, confident and fly. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m not feasting on praise anymore. I’m not thirsty for affirmation. I truly just like the way my hair looks and I’m happy where I am now. (Okay actually I can’t wait till it’s fully grown out but that’s neither here nor there). I NEVER anticipated to have these feelings of ownership, pride and confidence. But I’ll tell you, feeling at peace with a part of my body that I hated for the past 20 years? Now that feels pretty dope.

RELATED: 10 Things That Surprised Me About Going Gray

The Highlights I Always Wanted

Did I tell you I’ve always wanted highlights? I love the look of 100 shades of blonde ranging from white to brown – don’t you? It looks cute up, down and the dimension is visually stunning.

wearing a wool coat and putting my face to the sun with a short haircut

So naturally getting highlights was happening at some point in my life. I mean, did anyone escape the 1” highlight fad circa 2005? Didn’t think so. Except for me, getting highlights meant lifting my dark locks for a ridiculous amount of time to the point where a week later they all broke off at the midpoint. (That was hot). So anyways, at 40 I finally have the 100 shades of dimension I was going for 15 years ago. Up-dos, braids and buns, here we come!

Save a buck…or 25,000

Also, let’s talk money. I used to totally cheap it out and forgo the blow-dry just to save money and I was still shelling out $60/month with tip in my heyday. So let’s do the math. That’s $720 a year and for argument’s sake, let’s assume at 40 that I have 35 more years of hair dying. (I mean I’m aiming to live to 100 but most people are okay with having gray hair when they are 95 – right?) That’s over 25K in savings (!!??) I should just congratulate myself right now and buy a new car with all the money I’m saving.


So I know a lot of people struggle with their grays turning yellow. Fortunately that hasn’t happened to me…not yet at least. I’m wondering if it has something to do with the water quality and/or element exposure?

So for the summer I’ll be doing a lot of hats. But honestly, now that I’m in Atlanta, I really don’t have much of a choice. I was at the playground with my kids last week for a few hours without a hat and got too much sun on my forehead – in April (!?!) So I think living in Atlanta just means hats…all the time.

But I have also been using True Botanicals Shampoo faithfully and my hair has not turned yellow. I don’t know weather to chalk it up to my environmental situation or the products but either way, it’s working! (2019 update, I used to use their conditioner too but it’s been reformulated and it’s too heavy for my hair now. Still love and use the shampoo!)

I also love using Josh Rosebrook’s Hair Spray Firm Hold to tame the gray flyaways – totally helps!

And I’ve actually been enjoying Innersence Organic Beauty Quiet Calm Curl Control when I straighten my hair. It’s a gel texture and gives my hair just a little more weight/texture so it lays a bit flatter. And of course when I curl my hair with a diffuser I am still loyal to my hero product: Inner Peace Whipped Creme Texturizer.

I have a video tutorial of how I style my hair both straight and curly with these products here!

Last Thoughts

Now this is just a theory of mine but I think going gray is easier when you have A LOT of gray – way easier than when you have a half-hearted mane. I wonder sometimes if I would have gotten this far if my grays weren’t as prominent. I think I may have been tempted to turn back if my end game wasn’t so obvious.

Also I can see that with a short structured cut, after a year I’m about half way there. Hoping to be all gray by December even if that means having to go shorter to get there.

Now tell me about you! Are you going gray? How is it going? What surprises did you discover along the way? 

If you are not ready to go gray yet, check out my Hairprint review – it’s the cleanest and only nontoxic option on the market for coloring hair. It’s limited but if it’s a good fit for you it can be a life saver!

For more:

Photos by the lovely Monkey + Squirrel 

xo, lisa in cursive

TNK Team Note: This article may contain affiliate links, including Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.

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


    You’re totally right. I think it’s easier to go gray when you have a lot of gray. The worse is the transition. I’m 44 and don’t have that much gray so I think and hope that Hairprint will be a lovely way to transition towards gray. I still have to find the time to apply it 😉 I hate dye because it’s almost never perfect and it’s not good for your hair and your health on the long run. Plus I’m allergic to it so I don’t really have a choice. The pressure that society (and ourselves) put on us is unbelievable. Enjoy your freedom! Glow and radiance are coming from the inside, that’s what make us beautiful! I love the concept of Shen in Chinese Medecine, it’s all about this and it’s so powerful 🙂 Enjoy your radiant and authentic self! 🙂

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Thanks so much Perrine! Yes! Hairprint is a great option for people who don’t want to use hair dyes (all of which contain toxins, even the organic ones!) It does take some time commitment and some patience to get into the grove of using it but if I can do it, anyone can! And I agree, glow comes from within! xo

  2. Reply


    How do you use the Inner Peace Whipped Cream on your curls? I’m a relatively new follower and woulds love to see a photo of your curls! My hair was stuck straight until my mid 40’s. I needed these cirls ion the 80s to avoid perms, lol. While my hair is curly, it’s fine, so it can easily get weighted down. I would love to stop coloring my dark brown hair. My olive Greek complexion has me worried…..

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Mina! Check out my Nontoxic Hair Game post: https://thenewknew.com/my-nontoxic-hair-game/ This has pics of my curls styled with it. Apply a little to wet hair, work through and then diffuse upside down – that’s how I get my best curls. I think olive skin and white hair would look STUNNING! Thanks for sharing! xo

  3. Reply


    Lisa, you are still so inspiring!
    Loving True Botanicals shampoo and conditioner! Best green shampoo I have tried; and I have used sooooooo many and not cared for them.
    Just hit 5 months without root dye, but only 3 1/2 since highlights. Had lunch with a couple of my sister’s and my Mom last weekend and they LOVE it!! Yay!!!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      YES GWEN! True Botanicals shampoo + conditioner all the way! 5 months is awesome! I feel like the worst part is 0-3 months when it’s so undefined. You are well on your way now. Keep it up girl! xo

  4. Reply

    Beth Godfrey

    I am 52 and have been going grey since my teens. And colouring since my teams! I finally made the decision to ditch the dye last November. I had to colour my hair every TWO WEEKS, my hair grew that fast, and even after a few days of colouring, I could see the white poking through! Trust me …It’s NOT easier going grey with a full head of grey hair- in fact it’s worse!! I felt like I was sporting a “bag lady chic” style. It was NOT attractive and I knew all eyes were on the Pepé le Pew skunk line at my roots! I found myself paranoid to walk outside without wearing a hat, and then started wearing one inside (except at home)! Hardly appropriate for restaurants and cocktails parties! I could go on and on… but I just wanted to say, hats off to you Lisa- excuse the pun, haha. Going grey was a courageous and healthy decision and a true act of self love, to be brave enough to make the decision and follow through! What a beauty!
    Xo Beth Godfrey
    An Instagram follower

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Beth! Thanks so much for sharing your story – I can totally relate to that “all eyes on my roots” feeling. I guess it’s really not easy going gray at any stage, any age or any amount of gray – is it. It takes courage! So you will be hitting your one year mark later this year too – congrats! I checked out your IG in hopes of seeing a pic of your progress. Cute jewelry! xo!

  5. Reply


    This sounds so similar to my gray hair journey, I found your blog googling cute haircuts for young gray moms. 🙂 I’m 34 and a year and 3 months in with no dye. I still have a few inches of color remaining, but my next haircut should be DONE and fully salt and pepper gray! It was rough going the first few months, but it got easier and easier as it looks more intentional. The comments and looks seem more positive now too, but even the rude ones no longer get to me anymore either. Well sometimes it’s the surprising ones from my 3 year old who saw a commercial for Just for Men hair color and says “just like mommy!” when he sees the before picture, ha, super fun buddy. But he also tells me he thinks I’m beautiful and loves my gray hair (and so does my husband too, he’s the one who encouraged me so much to go for it in the beginning). On the other hand, my mother and mother-in-law both gave me the shake down when I told them I was ditching color last year and wanted me to reconsider, but they’re both coming around now that they see the progress. I can’t wait to try some of the products you recommend!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Kendra! Omg you have me laughing – “the shakedown” – ahaha! And kids can be so honest. My youngest told me my head is white. I totally found it to get easier as time goes on too. Thanks for sharing your story and I love that I came up for “young gray moms” – ha! xo

  6. Reply


    I wanted to comment after each of your posts but since I read ten one after another, I waited til the end. 😁 Like you, I started going gray very early and I started coloring it when I was 22. Fast forward 24 years and I’m just SO tired of the every 4 weeks routine. The top front of my head is Snow White, and I have about 70% silver everywhere else. It’s a never ending battle and I QUIT! I last colored my hair about 11 weeks ago. My husband is NOT happy, but he’s bald AND gray and so there isn’t anything he can say that holds water in this regard, for me. I’m 46, and I just want to look like ME. I want to be my authentic self, and that includes a lot of glitter in my hair. Thanks for posting your journey. I’m also considering a really short cut, just to get the process over with quickly, but short hair isn’t a good look for me so I’ll hold off as long as I can. Right now I’ve got a good inch of growth and I can’t wait to have it ALL! 😁

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      DAWN! Thanks for your story girl! Omg, you had me rolling at “but he’s bald and gray so..” hahaha! TRUE! Congrats on making the commitment. You can do this and just know it gets easier as the months go on so don’t give up! So happy for you and enjoy the ride! Check back with us again and give us an update! xo

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *