Going Gray: Why I Stopped Dyeing My Hair

July 10, 2017 (updated February 17, 2023) — Written by

This year I decided to stop dying my hair. It was the one thing I thought I would never give up. Come see why I am going gray at 39!

me against a wall with my gray hair roots just starting to peek through

By: Lisa Fennessy

If you suggested to me, even a year ago, that I should consider going gray, I would have laughed out loud and said something like, There’s not a snowballs chance in h*ll or Save the drama for your mama or Do you even know me!?  I mean I even remember saying at one point, No matter how green I go, I will never go gray. My hair is kind of my thing.

RELATED: 10 Things that Surprised Me About Going Gray

I started going premature gray at 19 and since then I have been dying my roots every 8 weeks. Then 8 weeks turned into every 6 weeks and most recently It’s been every 3 to 4 weeks. And NOW, at 39, almost 10 weeks have passed and I have’t dyed my roots. So now I have about 2″ of gray/silver showing and I gotta say, I’M EXCITED!

Okay maybe “excited” is a small overstatement. I should say I am actually bothered by how its is currently looking because it just looks sloppy like I skipped my last two hair appointments. Like when you are three months pregnant and you just want a belly already because you are sick of feeling fat.

Anyways – I am excited encouraged by what I am seeing and I think it is going to look really good once I can grow it out to a substantial length. I’m thinking past my chin and then I can chop it.

Reasons for Going Gray

So here I am going from a staunch heck no to a 100% all-in attitude over the past year.  I wanted to share why and talk about what changed for me.

1. Owning silver instead of it owning me

Okay my first point is a little in vain but here we go. Maybe you can remember when your mom finally went gray? I don’t know why it’s such a shocking experience but it is. Maybe because it’s your mom and you know her as you do and then all of a sudden she looks so different.

But anyways my mom stopped dying her hair in her mid 50s and then my dad wasn’t feeling it so she went back to dying it. Then went to just to low-lighting in some color and then finally all gray again 5 years later. And I can remember thinking I wish my mom would keep dying her hair. I didn’t want her to look different than how I knew her.

My point is at 50 or 60, going gray makes a huge impact on your look. Like when people dye their hair for so long it’s hard to stop. To say I’m not doing this anymore later in life takes a lot of courage – it’s almost like an identity change at that point. Like saying out loud, Okay, now I’m old. But it should’t be like that. Hair color and spryness are not inversely proportional.

So this is my view. With every birthday comes more signs of aging. Like wrinkles, hyper pigmentation, sagging skin – I mean it’s inevitable. So anyways my point is, if I wait until all these others signs set up shop and then the last thing I do is let my hair go gray then all of a sudden I will look old.

So why not change my hair first. I mean at this point I’m about 85% gray so I don’t have to do much – just embrace it. (And wait for it to grow out). So if I have gray hair while I am still in my 30s (39! I’m hanging on!) then as I age – I’m thinking there will never be a point where all of a sudden I look old. It will just be my look.

RELATED: Read my 101 Ways to Respond to Rude Comments About Gray Hair.


Oh my gosh you guys – dying hair is such a time suck! So if you’ve been following me you know I switched from conventional dyes to Hairprint and I used Hairprint exclusively for 14 months. I love Hairprint. It works, it’s nontoxic. Frankly, it’s like the 8th Wonder of the World in my book. You can follow my experience including before and afters if you search my website using keyword “Hairprint”.

So I finally jumped ship with Hairprint because of one factor. TIME. Hairprint is a DIY at home treatment that on average took me 3 hours to apply from start to finish including a blow-dry. This usually happened at night when I was exhausted from the day and the last thing I want to do is give up my whole night to coloring my hair.  Mama ain’t got time for that! I kept telling myself to man-up, suck-it-up, and just get over myself because one 3 hour night would give me 30 days of satisfaction.

But the truth is it’s not 30 days because my hair is growing out so thick with silver that within a week I could see the shimmer breaking though. So it’s like I’m coloring my hair and it looks good for a week and then I’m counting down the days until my next application. It’s just not right! And while we’re at it, let’s do the math. Three hours a week for a year = 36 hours. A legit work week. Do you know how much I could do with 36 hours?!

3. Toxic Chemicals

So after I stopped D.I.Y-ing with Hairprint I went back to the salon and used an “organic” hair dye. Which is anything but organic by the way. There have been no new chemical breakthroughs with hair dye in over a hundred years – meaning that no new chemicals or processes have been discovered or invented. MEANING that if your hair dye is working (regardless of what it says on the label like organic, or natural or nontoxic) it’s employing the same chemicals as conventional dye. Sure there may be some organic shea butter thrown in there, maybe a sprig of mint or maybe even the chemicals are used in less % than conventional but the point is IT’S THE SAME TOXIC CHEMICALS. It’s PPD or it’s substitute PTD. It’s resorcinol and aminophenols. And that’s it. Check any “organic hair dye” and you will come up with a combo of these active ingredients. I rounded up a bunch of popular ones here and listed out their (not so organic) ingredients:

RELATED: Organic Hair Dye: The Good, The Bad. The Ugly

So after going back to “organic dye” for two months I was just grossed out with myself. I knew what I was doing and I didn’t like it. So it was either back to DIYing with Hairprint or embracing my grays. So I did. Gray all the way.

4. Taking back gray – It’s a style not the scarlet letter

Platinum is hot right now. People are bleaching their hair out and going platinum as a thing so it’s kind of like the perfect time to go gray. Maybe I will seem cool instead of desperate!?

Okay so this brings up another point. Like I am okay with being gray but I want it to be cute gray. Not mousy wirey gray. You know what I mean?

So point being I am okay with getting help. I asked around town and found #bestcoloristatlanta Jen Jones. She has her own studio called Creature and word on the street is if it can be done, Jen can do it. So I got her first available which was 2 months out. I booked a cut only with her so she can take a look at my hair to see if she can help add some platinum/silver around my face to kind of help ease the pain of the grow-out stage. Just so it looks intentional instead of sloppy. By the way, here is my grow-out progression over the past two months:

So looking forward to this color consult and also a cut because it will be my first cut in almost a year! I haven’t gotten my hair cut since MeCHE, Santa Monica! And I’m always up for a new style, new length, new color  – I love changing my hair. Bring it Jen!

5. A new paradigm

Okay so lastly, I want to create change. It’s not right that deciding to go gray comes with such a stigma, it’s counter culture, outsider, against the grain, looked down on – all of those things. I want going gray to be the norm. Like having brown eyes v. blue. No biggie. I want aging naturally to be regarded as a respected choice. Like first place gold, not an honorable mention. In my heart of hearts I think aging naturally is truly beautiful and I want to step on that side of that scale, add weight to it and be another example for others who are considering doing the same.

So I’m doing this for myself but I am also doing it because you have to be different to make a difference. (Love these wise words from Upbeet).

Have you considered going gray/platinum early like me? What gave you the courage or what changed your mind?

For more check out my latest Going Gray posts:

xo, lisa in cursive

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


    I feel the same way! I’m 37 and haven’t dyed my hair in probably the last 12 years because I just felt like it shouldn’t have to be a thing and if I age slowly it won’t be a total change looking in the mirror one day. I actually supported my mom doing it in her 50’s while siblings said she was crazy. I’m so thankful for all the women who started to do it…let’s change this! Gray/silver/white doesn’t have to be old…it’s just another color. Also, though I don’t have a lot now, I found my first white when I was 14…FOURTEEN… I was definitely not old. Thank you for this post and changing the image!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Kelly! OMG – 14 is nuts! Okay thanks for your support! I agree, gray/silver/white should just be another color! Love that you supported your mom and are on the same path. Keep doing what you are doing girl! xo

  2. Reply


    Wow Lisa – this is awesome! I had the same thought when my Mom decided to stop coloring her hair.
    BRAVO – and how wonderful you shared with the world. I’m going to share now. XO

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Margot! Thanks so much for sharing! I know I’m not alone. I hope it finds its way to someone who was on the fence like me! At the very minimum I am saving my kids from the extreme hair color change in 15 years : ) xo!

  3. Reply


    I just started dying my hair for the first time in my life because of grays becoming more prominent. I’m 29. My husband thinks it’s ridiculous I think it’s expensive. I want to see your finished hair! Hopefully that will motivate me to be brave. ????

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Finished hair coming up in about 15 months?! I am guessing that’s how long it will take to fully grow out! Thanks for reading girl! xo

  4. Reply


    Love your post…I stopped coloring my hair in my early forties and I’m late forties now. I hated the way it looked in pictures…I have black/dark brown hair but the dye faded to looking kind of reddish. Also, I didn’t want to become one of those older women who keep dyeing their hair and don’t know when to stop. We all know what I’m talking about!!! 🙂 That first 6 months to a year when I stopped coloring was the hardest…getting used to seeing the gray and just going with it. My after my streaks grew in, people complimented me on them. It is freeing when you give up the maintenance! I’ve grown to love the grey…good thing because I just keep getting more of it! I can’t wait to see your new do!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      This is such a great testimonial! Thanks so much for chiming in! Good to know that I only have about 4 months to go to get over the hump! Thank you!

  5. Reply


    Girl! So grateful for this! I feel like you’re leading the way, giving me courage, and I feel really proud of your bravery! Thank you! You are a knock out, sister, and I feel like you’re going to be one of those women who make gray look so cool! This is so dumb, but… I feel like I’d have more courage to commit to gray if I were thinner. I know, I know… but being a fat old lady is seemingly so much worse than just being a fat lady. It’s a mean thing to think, I know. I feel like if I’m a cute lady, I’ll be a cute lady with the courage to rock gray hair, but if I’m a not-so-cute lady, I’ll just seem… unkempt and lazy.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      That is the exact stigma I am talking about! It’s not right and I want it to change! Blonde, brown, gray, red – all the same – who cares!? You gotta do whats right for you. Just do you and don’t beat yourself up over it. Rock it and own it sister. xo!

  6. Reply

    Lisa Hodgson

    After hi-lighting my hair for years – started when I was 14, at 42 I decided to stop. Everyone that knew me questioned my sanity. I’m “dirty blonde” naturally now with silvery temples and strands through the top. Friends and family still ask me after 4 years why. I was tired of the upkeep, the cost and truly was never 100% happy with the highlites – too blonde, too brassy, too much contrast etc. My grow out really just looked like ombre while it was happening so I am thankful for that. Good luck and don’t give in!!!!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      So good to hear success stories – your hair sounds BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for this! xo

  7. Reply


    Yes! I stopped dyeing my hair just over a year ago (I am 38). I like how the color is coming in and can’t wait until it’s all back to natural (my hair has never grown so sloooooowly though – ugh). My reasons were pretty much exactly the same ones you listed. One difference though: I remember my mom doing the same thing at an early age and she looked so good! But then her husband didn’t like it and she started up with the dye again. I now have two daughters and want to be my best natural self for them so that they’ll have the confidence to do the same. I only wish I had stopped sooner. You are going to look so amazing with your natural color! Have you looked up “grombre” on Instagram? You can view a lot of people making the transition and quite often there are some our age. Good luck!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      OH MY GOSH! Thanks so much for sending me @gombre – I instantly followed them. I seriously could read that feed for hours. So many cute looks and it’s so inspirational – seeing people who have already go through the process and have done it well. So how long is your grow out after a year?

      1. cm

        It’s only about down to my ears for now. Such a long process! Short hair wouldn’t look good on me, so I’m just committing myself to another 12-18 months of bad hair days. It looks best pulled back in a bun so I do that all the time. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why its growing so slowly…

      2. Lisa Fennessy

        Someone did tell me hair grows faster if it’s trimmed every 8 weeks (not sure how valid that is?). I’m like, I’ll try anything so I appreciate any and all feedback!!! Desperate! : )

  8. Reply


    Thank you for writing this. I am turning 43 next month and have been coloring my hair since my late 20s! I am married to a man who is 15 years older than me and still has no gray hair. When I have mentioned that I might want to stop coloring my hair, he objects, But, this post is making me reconsider. I am in the midst of a pretty great body transformation and I feel all kinds of confident so I think now could be the time to pull it off. A colleague of mine embraced her gray hair, and my sister-in-law has done it as well. I suppose that if I really, truly am unhappy with it then I could go back to coloring – right?

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Absolutely! That’s what I keep telling myself too. If I truly hate it, I can always go back! I get more excited by the day though – I doubt I will turn back. Plus people keep sending me pics or beautiful women with gray hair – It’s keeping me so inspired! Let us know what you decide and congrats on your great body transformation!

  9. Reply

    DLG in Mich

    I’ve also been rocking my “natural highlights” for a few years now. When I turned 44 I realized that I had been covering my grey for half of my life. I was having to touch up my temples every few weeks. It was time-consuming and expensive. I got a lot of flak for deciding to stop coloring my hair. I was really surprised by the backlash I received from family, friends and even co-workers. Everyone told me I would look so OLD and I’m too YOUNG to look OLD. It took me about a year to grow it out and I had my colorist do lowlights to make it look a little less obvious that I was growing it out. I LOVE not having to color my hair now. I’m about 75% light grey with some dark grey on the back of my head. I have my colorist highlight the back of my head 2x/year so it looks more consistent. I get some strange looks at times, but I wouldn’t go back. Stay strong and welcome to the ranks of proud prematurely grey!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Thank you for this warm welcome! I would love to see pictures! When people look at you do you just *know* they are checking out your hair? I am so excited to see what type of pattern or coloring I get. Like lighter in the front v back or a streak at my bangs? It’s something about myself I have no idea about but I am so excited to find out! Thanks for your comment!

      1. DLG in Mich

        I would be happy to share pictures. Drop me an email and I’ll send some your way. Yes – I often catch people staring at me in public and I have to remind myself that they’re probably trying to reconcile the fact that my face looks relatively young, but my hair is almost completely white. You need to have a healthy dose of confidence and genuinely not care what others think to stop coloring your hair in today’s youth-obsessed society. I was thinking about your post long after I read it. You hit the nail on the head when you wrote, “I want aging naturally to be regarded as a respected choice.” Yes!! I’m happy to avoid the expense and the hassle of coloring my hair, but the bigger reason for bucking the trend is to model the change we’d like to see in the world.

      2. Lisa Fennessy

        Thank you! That is EXACTLY what I want! A paradigm shift! Thank you for this!

  10. Reply


    I completely agree with all of your logic! I’m just not there yet with my own self-confidence. (I’m 40) You’re right that it should be perfectly acceptable and I’m shocked at all the examples of people’s family & friends telling them not to do it or that they don’t like it (husbands!!) – even if I thought it, I wouldn’t say it… People don’t understand what they’re perpetuating with stuff like that (why are men “distinguished” when they go gray? Such a double standard) – just like people who tell me that I’m pale and need to get a tan. ????

    So although I shouldn’t even have to be saying this: you go girl! You look fabulous now and you’ll look amazing when it’s all grown out!

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Thanks so much! That is exactly how I feel and I want to contribute to change! It is scary but I am passionate about standing up for this! Plus I know if I hate it I can always go back – although I am praying that will not be the case! All in good time girl! Also I will add that two months before I committed to this I was NOT ready! One day it will just hit you : )

  11. Reply


    Hey Lisa,
    I love reading your story. I buzz-cut my hair a year ago. Now I have uneven grey highlights all throughout the middle part of the crown (not the lower part). I also am on a journey to toward natural beauty. My only problem is that I seek harmony in things and the sharp contrast of black hair and a whole bunch of grey ones make it a bit unruly site to embrace. Have you found a good way to resolve this way of thinking? I decided to not dye my hair ever again before I read your blog. It is nice to see others in their late 30s also think alike. However, I have spent too much time trying or find various toners for dark hair that would be natural and not permanent. I would appreciate you thoughts.

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      Hi Kath! I hear you 100%. It’s normal to think and feel this way. The resolve is a mindset change. I found the best way to do that to alter your reality. Join The Gray Book on Facebook and normalize gray hair in your FB feed. Follow hashtags on IG like #goinggray #grayhair #silversisters to normalize your IG feed. This will help you start to change your perspective. As much as I can identify with your view (I’ve been there!) I know (I KNOW) it’s one that is not a universal truth. It’s simply your view and it’s been constructed by external influences (society, the patriarch, media and more). The beauty of it all is there are several other ways people view all of this and all you need to do is encourage yourself to step into those. Remain openminded and give it time. You can do this. xo, L

  12. Reply

    Cheryl c

    Hi, just wanted to make a comment about why would anyone actually want to color their hair,? We are not put on this planet to please other people. It is okay to just look like ourselves, without make-up or hair dyes . If it’s okay for guys, then okay for females. I am 62 year old female and have never dyed my hair, or worn make-up. I believe it’s okay to look natural like ourselves. What if I was the only human on earth., would I feel the need to please anyone else. Why not be who we truly are? Just be your own person.

  13. Reply

    Christie Desrosiers

    I have tried going gray one time in the past…but caved in and went back to blond. I was natural blond in young years and just went to coloring it when it started showing roots of gray. So, here it is now…turned 78 this summer and have decided to just do it. Should have done it years ago. I have NO idea what my natural hair looks like and my Mother colored her hair blond until her last day on earth. Hope its not too late to do this

    1. Reply

      Lisa Fennessy

      It’s never too late! I was emailing with a 92 year old woman last week about her decision to finally go gray and she is so excited about it! To each our own. You’ve got this! xo, Lisa

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