Gray hair, do care – Why to ditch the dye

January 16, 2019 (updated January 31, 2023) — Written by

If you’ve ever caught yourself thinking “I could never go gray” or “Gray hair is ugly…” This post is for you! Shining a light on some beautiful role models, talking about gray hair stigma and how to change it, my own personal paradigm shift and where to get support. It’s all here!

Gray hair 20 months, natural hair

By: Lisa Fennessy

Just sitting over here eating crow. It’s been about 20 months since I stopped dying my hair and….I’m loving it. Who knew!?

I mean besides all the obvious bennies like: 

  • Saving 3 hours of my life every month getting my hair done..
  • And saving $1000+ a year on hair dye…

There is the emotional component like: 

  • Eliminating the negative relationship I had with my hair as my grays started coming in stronger and stronger.
  • Eliminating the obsessive thoughts about my visible grays that would consume my conversations and distract me from being present. 

And of course there is also…

  • Saving the planet by not washing toxic chemicals into our water and ecosystems.
  • And not exposing my body to some serious toxins (more here on that).

But then there are the surprises like…

  • Gray hair softens my aging face and actually *dare I say* makes me look better, maybe even..younger!? 
  • I finally have the dimension I’ve always wanted now that my hair is multi-toned and buns and ponies are so fun now.
  • Gray hair looks more natural and less forced on me. 
  • I get reinforcement and compliments from strangers almost daily. 
  • I have women telling me they found the confidence to go gray through my experience. 
  • I have women telling me their mother had the confidence to go gray through my experience. 
  • I’m not even exaggerating, going gray is actually kinda fun. And you get to learn something new about yourself like natural hair colors and patterns.
  • A bright lip and gray hair is the new age peanut butter and jelly. 
  • Realizing we need more role models and women to look up to for examples of going gray. 

RELATED: 10 Things That Surprised Me About Going Gray and 101 Ways to Respond to Rude Comments About Gray Hair.

Flip the script

And if you asked me about any of that 2 years ago, there is no way I would have believed that any of the later were true. My organic-self held on to the one cheat that I would take to the grave; There is NO WAY I will ever stop dying my hair! I legit wrote that in an organic mom’s Facebook group like 5 years ago – I could probably find it but just take my word for it. That was me.

I was so anti-gray, my internal and sometimes even external thoughts sounded like this;

  • Yeah, it looks good on her but there is no way I could pull that off. 
  • Gray hair looks mousy and dirty.
  • Well, she could rub dirt on her face and put a trash bag on and still look stunning.
  • It’s too bad she let herself go.
  • It looks so good on her because she is young.
  • If she just dyed her hair she would look so much better.

And it’s these thoughts that I want to talk about today. It’s this construct that so many of us buy into. That one that says; gray is ugly, gray is less-than, gray is old, gray is letting yourself go. It’s that little (or big) voice in your head that keeps repeating, “I could never..

A woman looks straight at the camera.

But just imagine for a second that there are two windows looking into society. Look through one window #1 and you see gray hair equals “less than” . BUT look through window #2 and you see that gray hair beautiful and in fact the jumping off point into a whole new mindset. Gray is a natural progression. And instead of looking old and haggard. It’s cute, edgy, fun and bold. And people get excited to rock their second do.

And you know what’s crazy about this scenario? It actually exists. Guys. People actually LOVE gray hair. I know! It’s crazy! But it’s true. And the even crazier part is, love it or hate it, YOU get to pick which belief you want to uphold.

But here’s the catch: it’s a transition of blind faith because you won’t believe it until you try it. However, once you do, don’t be surprised when you start hearing things like this…

  • I ordered a soup from this lunch spot the other day and the guy at the register legit stopped mid transaction and goes, “I really like your hair. Is that natural?”
  • Window shopping a woman passed by me with her girlfriend and goes, “I love your look. Gray hair, gray dress. Doesn’t she look stunning?”
  • “My mom is a cancer survivor and we love following you. We both decided to go gray this year too. You make it look fun and attainable!”
  • “That’s it. Your hair looks so good. I am totally growing my hair out too – starting TODAY.”
  • “I don’t have any support at home but I find it here with you. Thank you for your example.” 
  • “I hope my hair looks like yours when I go gray.” 
  • “You make me wish I had gray hair!” 
  • “I didn’t even know going gray was an option until I started following along with you.”

And on and on you guys. So what’s the bigger picture?

We need more role models

This post is not an opportunity for me to tell the world how good my hair looks. Hair is the conduit, while the true root is the social construct (so many of us seem to buy into) that we could never go gray.

And the only thing that will induce a paradigm shift is examples. We need women, mothers and sisters to look to as role models. We need women of all different colors, ethnicities and walks of life to show that world that gray is freakin’ HOT! 

What changed my mind…

You know what planted the seed for me? What made me start to even think, “What if I went gray?’ I saw a 45 year old woman sitting at a bar in Hingham, MA. Her skin was gorgeous. Her makeup? On-point. She was laughing and enjoying a drink with her hubs. She was stylish sporting a cute bomber jacket…and she had a full head of curly gray hair. 

Her presence struck me. Like, I couldn’t help myself. All of a sudden I felt my legs walking right up to her and heard the words “Can I have your number?” coming out of my mouth. I wanted to talk to her about how she did it. I mean, suddenly, I needed ALL THE DETAILS. Like, what did you wear? How did you feel? What did your kids say? Was your husband on board? What did your friends say? Was it hard? And she turned to me and talked about her journey for about 20 minutes – I couldn’t believe it. Confident, beautiful, gray and a real leader. That was the first time I thought to myself, “I could do that.” I write more about this real life inspiration here.

Shining a light on all the examples…

Several years later, my goal here is not to evangelize those who aren’t interested. Girl, you do you. I’m talking to all the ladies out there who are thinking about going gray. And more importantly, I’m here for all our daughters. I want to normalize the options. And all it takes is living by example. And doing it with pride. 

I saw it that one night in New England but we’ve all seen it. That girl who is just ROCKING IT. And if you haven’t, let me give you a few examples…

(Tell me you would’t pin these to your “hair board” – you know you would!)

RELATED: What NOT to Do While Going Gray

A woman with straight gray hair.
A woman with long gray hair.

Introducing The Gray Book

So I want to do something about it. Bridge the gap. Highlight examples. Normalize going gray. So I decided to start The Gray Book. The Gray Book is inspiration, real women, examples, conversation and community around going gray.

The Gray Book is not about me, it’s about all of us. It’s about bringing real life role models to the forefront to inspire and lead by example. And it all starts with you.

I want to share your story, your look, your journey with woman all around the world. Going gray has never looked so good. And girl, it all starts inside you.

For more on going gray, check out these posts:

xo, lisa in cursive

Common questions about going gray:

What’s the hardest thing about going gray?

Most people don’t realize it but the hardest part about going gray is getting your mindset right. Here are some thoughts I had to grapple with.

How to find support when going gray?

The best thing you can do is join a going gray Facebook group. These groups provide support, inspiration, connection and they will change your mind about what having gray hair means! We like this one!

Why you should go gray?

We think going gray will surprise you. You may find that it’s not about being old or boring. That it’s actually edgy, fun, and bold.

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


    Stumbled on your site through Pinterest. I’m 35 and decided to go grey two years ago. Best decision ever. I chopped all my dyed hair off because I knew it was the only way I’d do it. Yes it looked terrible for about two weeks to a month. After that, I receive compliments DAILY. Now my hair is back to its original length and it’s the healthiest my hair has ever been. I researched going grey young and all the pictures I saw were beautiful. Yes some being prettier than others but ALL of the women looked better by far with the grey hair over the box. Including myself. Ladies, go grey you can always dye it back if you don’t like it.

    1. Reply


      I agree! Natural color is so beautiful on women! Thanks for this Amy! xo

  2. Reply


    Thank you so much for writing this article. I couldn’t agree more. I too believe in everyone doing whatever they are comfortable with but there is definitely something to be said for that time where you let go of the embarrassment of having gray hair and embracing it. For me it’s so good for who I am internally vs the external me that had always conformed to what society says is beautiful. I am still in the transition stage but I am truly loving it and really appreciate those who share their experiences with their transition!!

    1. Reply


      It’s a beautiful moment, isn’t it Nancy?! So glad you are finding your way. xo! Lisa

  3. Reply


    Hi Lisa: I completely agree with you! I went with my natural hair color about 8 years ago all for the same reasons that you listed. I am so happy that I did and I will never dye my hair again! It’s so freeing! It’s so nice to not be concerned about the “silvers” (I say silver instead of gray because gray seems to have a negative impact) showing up any longer.
    When I decided to go natural, I told a group of girlfriends. They all supported be except one. She said to me, “Michele, you should really rethink your decision!” But after going through with the transition, she told me, “you made the right choice! Your hair looks great!”
    If this is something you want to do going natural, it’s worth all the work to get there. I used headbands and clips, whatever I could so I didn’t see the line of demarcation. I got my hair frosted to help with the transition but however you do it, you will see it’s the best decision you can make.
    Good luck!

    1. Reply


      Thanks so much for your story Michele! I love that you included that your friend changed her mind. That totally happened to me too. The takeaway being – don’t listen to naysayers especially when they are likely to change their mind! xo, Lisa

  4. Reply


    Hi Lisa. I decided at the beginning of this month, February (2022) that I wasn’t going to color my hair anymore. Yep, I’m a newbie. I couldn’t find time to color my roots at my regular 2 wk mark & it became another week later, then another & then another. I have been a box golden brown for 25 years, I turned white very early. I turn 50 this spring & truth be told, I have not wanted to color my hair the last 5 years I have been coloring it. I am more than ready to finally be authentically ME :). A couple weeks ago I ran across your YouTube video about the 20 benefits of going gray. Loved it! Watching it just confirmed that I am indeed doing the right thing. My outgrowth just looks white, which terrifies me. It’s such a contrast to my brown color. But, the fear does not trump the freedom I already feel in having made this decision. Thank you!!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      The fear is REAL! So glad you found inspo in that video. Also, if you haven’t joined The Gray Book on Facebook yet, it’s a fantastic group of women…tons of inspo and support. Support is key! xo, L

  5. Reply


    Thank you Lisa for posting this article. I just recently started to embrace the gray hair. I turned 60 and few weeks ago and decided that would be my turning point. No more dying my hair. I went to the salon and I discussed it with the stylist. She was so helpful and it actually turned out better than I expected. She brought in my natural color which I hadn’t scene in forever and matched it to the gray coming in. She then added some highlights and voila I’m a whole new person. I love it. Just have to wash with purple shampoo once a week as gray and/or blond hair can sometimes turn yellow. I’m free! Add a pop of color to your lips and perhaps dramatic eyes and you’re ready to go! Change can be a little scary however, you won’t know until to try. Thanks again Lisa.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      So happy you’ve found what works for you Sandra! Excited for you and cheering you on! xo, Lisa

  6. Reply


    Hello-At age 50 I decided to stop coloring my hair and allowing natural to be my hair color. I was looking up purple shampoos when I came across you this morning and applaud your efforts to encourage women to embrace heir natural hair color, especially as a means of stress reduction. It costs a lot of money and time to maintain what we think we need to look like in order to be worthy of inclusion into whatever society we are trying to fit in with. Our collective insecurities have fostered an entire industry that has created jobs so many are now dependent on. Think fashion, skin care, cosmetics, hair care, science, research, etc. I suppose it can be argued that hair color in it’s own way has been a non permanent tattoo when used as a means of expressing one’s self as vibrant and therefor not belonging to the granny group, something so many women of us seem to dread? I feared the dismissal being mid aged and gray would bring and it certainly brought that but in a way I discovered being checked out by men I didn’t know wasn’t really the type of attention I truly wanted anyway. My husband was totally supportive of my sporting natural hair color and fifteen years later he still thinks its one of the best decisions I made for myself. He said i was simply happier not fussing with color and spending the time and hard earned money on it as well. I donate all that money to purchasing shoes for elementary school aged children whose parents can’t afford the constant shoe needs due to fast growth. When a teacher sees a child’s feet in need they discreetly send them to the shoe cabinet to pick something out. Not trying to toot my horn, just saying there is no one solution fits all when it comes to we women and how we transition to being simply human without all the demands and expectations from ourselves and others with regards to how we physically appear but I found focus on goodwill towards others leaves me feeling far more beautiful than any hair color or lipstick ever could.. I also find being physically fit to be the most important gift I can give myself, providing myself with the feelings of internal as well as external well being. I would like to see more pictures of non model types in your post versus the pictures I see- more asymmetrical faces and thinner hair, perhaps straighter hair, etc. Many many women will see the women you post and think exactly what you did, which is those women would look good with any hair color or cut. The majority of women do not look like those in the pictures you prefer for your post. I understand you have a private FB page for posting but that is not the same as using photos on your web posts that better represent the vast majority of women who at some point in their lives will have wrinkles, pimples, sagging skin, skin discoloration, etc. not that anything is wrong with any of that natural stuff because it is just what we go through due to hormones, aging, certain medications, stressors, etc. Posts that use ‘model’ types lose credibility as far as I am concerned. In other words, no sale was made.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Thanks for your feedback. I would love to recommend downloading our Gray Hair Lookbook that shows 50 real women’s gray hair transitions, I think that might be more of what you are looking for. There is an option to grab it on this post. Best! Lisa

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