If you’re part of the going gray club, this post is FOR YOU. Because we’ve all been there—you’re feeling sexy, confident and gorg, and then, out of nowhere, someone bursts your bubble with a rude comment about your gray hair. This is how you deal, with responses sourced from The Gray Book community.
By: Lisa Fennessy
Here I was, adorning a pink jonny with no bra, scrolling social, waiting for my name to be called for my follow-up mammogram when the woman’s phone next to me blasted some ad out of nowhere. Startled, I looked up just in time to catch her casually roll her eyes as if to say *out of all the things in my life that have to deal with or manage or get embarrassed about…I’m not going to let this be one of them* and I rolled my eyes right back sending her *happens to the best of us* vibes.
Then, for a second time, she broke the silence saying, “You are too young for gray hair!”
And I’m not even kidding. I was SO EXCITED. Not because she meant it as a compliment. Not because I took it as a compliment. But because I was ready for it. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
RELATED: 5 going gray DON’TS.
My gray hair story + what rude comments I heard while going gray
I stopped dying my hair 5 years ago, so by now I’m pretty used to that #grayhair life. And I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement along the way. Strangers will stop me in the street, moms will inquire in the library…one guy even yelled across Peachtree Road from his convertible, “I love it!” (looking at me but pointing at his own head).
There were only a few times at the beginning (and I can remember them EXACTLY) that people went rogue. I had one family member tell me after the fact, “I didn’t think it was going to look good.” And one reader, when I took a “Should I?” poll on IG, came flat out and said, “DON’T DO IT.”
The fact is, if you are going gray you will probably encounter some sort of rude comment at some point along the way. Some of the most popular ones I hear women mention are:
- “It will make you look older.”
- “I’ll pay for your salon appointment!”
- “Don’t do it.”
- “You are too young to go gray.”
- “Why would you want to do this?”
And these comments sting. I only had two, but both of those put a crap ton of doubt in my head. However, the irony is that most of the time these comments come from a place of actually wanting to help.
I remember when my mom decided to stop dying her hair. I was in her kitchen and I looked right at her and said, “Don’t do it.” I WAS THAT PERSON.
But, I actually thought I was enlightening her. Helping her. Telling her something she didn’t know. Like, I really expected her to turn around and be like, “Oh, right! Thanks for telling me. I lost my mind for a minute but thanks to you, I’m back.”
Here’s the thing with the rude comments: Sometimes people are actually just being rude and that’s on them. BUT most of the time I find that people really do mean well.
RELATED: 10 things that surprised me about going gray and 6 Things I’ve Learned from My NARM Therapist.
How to reframe people’s comments about your gray hair
So, I didn’t skip a beat hearing the woman sitting across from me in the doctor’s office, and replied, “Apparently not!” with a smile. And guess what—the conversation pivoted.
“Wait, that’s real?!” she said. “I thought you were one of those younger women who, ya know…” And I’m like “NOPE!” And she literally concluded, “Well, it’s beautiful. Enjoy it and have fun!” And we both went off on our merry mammogram ways.
BUT I invited this outcome. If I allowed myself to be offended and followed up with a dirty look or ignored her or told her to get a life, it would have been over. My day would have been ruined. I would have replayed that encounter in my head on a constant loop wondering who the hell people think they are and why does society suck so much.
Instead, I chose to engage in an unassuming way and it provided a space for her true intentions to unfold.
I think a couple things really helped this be a positive experience. First, I chose not to be offended. It’s hard to give people the benefit of the doubt but I did and a beautiful interaction ensued.
Second, I didn’t assume the worst in this woman. Did I feel uncomfortable? YES! But I gave it a beat to allow it to tease itself out instead of storming away assuming the worst.
Third, I was confident in my own skin (and my own gray hair) which just takes time. This will come.
And last, the most intriguing thing also happens to be an X factor.
I happened to be writing this article at the time and I LEGIT had just asked 14 THOUSAND women how they would respond to these kind of rude comments, so I had hundreds of responses at the tip of my tongue and it really made a difference! I was actually excited to respond. So in that vein, I want to help prep you for the next time you encounter A COMMENT.
If you can find it in yourself (I know this is hard but you can do it) to not jump immediately to the defensive and to give someone a chance to explore their comment with a thought provoking prompt (from you!)…we may be able to change our experiences making our going gray journey an all around more positive one.
Straight from TOG’s private, inspirational going gray Facebook community, The Gray Book, we asked real women who are going gray themselves to respond to some of the most common rude gray hair comments. This is what they had to say (and I’m bookmarking this for next time I need it myself!).
RELATED: The best purple shampoo for gray hair.
How to respond to: “It will make you look older.”
1. “Growing old is a privilege not all of us get to enjoy!”
2. “It will make me look like me!”
3. “I am older!”
4. “I am older, wiser and happier. I don’t want to go back to my younger years. I love that I am given the chance to grow older. Not everyone is given that chance.”
5. “Who do we think we’re fooling?”
6. “What’s so wrong with looking older? And why doesn’t anyone express the same concerns for men looking older?”
7. “Older than what?”
8. “No darling; it will be fabulous like the rest of me!”
9. “Actually I look younger because my natural hair color makes my complexion glow, while dyed hair looks fake against my face. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing.”
10. “And wiser.😜”
11. “Perhaps in your eyes, but in mine (and others), more natural and beautiful.”
12. “I feel like it makes me look younger, not older!”
13. “Better to be true to myself than to try to look like someone who is trying too hard and not fooling anyone but myself.”
14. “It’s not the color of the hair that counts, it’s the shine in the eyes, and the confidence.”
15. “I am older. You are older. We are all older. Let’s not be thirsty for what has passed.”
16. “Are you saying a person with a wrinkly face, neck, chest and hands magically looks younger, because they are sporting an unnatural hair color with a skunk line? Interesting.”
17. “Nothing or no one *makes* me do anything.” (And sashay away.)
18. “Older than who? This is what my age looks like!”
19. “Well, hair color or lack of it isn’t the only thing that makes us look older.” (Then wink at them.)
20. “Well, I’m not a teenager!”
21. “Jealousy will get you nowhere…”
22. “What is the alternative? NOT AGING and dying young? I’d rather age.”
23. “I know, isn’t it great?! That’s the best part.”
I have 2 adult children and 2 teenagers. I’m supposed to look like I’m in my 40s. I suppose I might say “Well, you’re welcome. You’re welcome for making older look so dang good!” 😆
24. “And why do you care?” (Unless it’s your significant other lol!)
25. “Older (and better) like fine wine! 💁🏻♀️😂”
26. “I am older.” Some people don’t get to get older. We talk about it like it’s a bad thing, but I’m grateful to be alive.
RELATED: Makeup tips for going gray.
How to respond to: “Why would you do this?”
27. “It looks better!” (Which is true for most of us.)
28. “Why not embrace my natural God given hair color?”
29. “Because I’m inclined to be comfortable and natural with myself. Besides, the path of least resistance is healthier and more becoming.”
30. “Because I don’t need to pretend I’m something I’m not…I’m a mature woman and proud of it.”
31. “Because I want healthy hair that doesn’t break due to over processing and because I’m a bad @$$ and I can rock my grays and look good.”
32. “You do what you want. I’ll do what I want…with my hair and everything else.”
33. “Because I am sick and tired of being a slave to a half inch of roots!”
34. “Because I want to!”
35. “Because the silver is way cool! I’m going to go into my second half of life living like a rockstar.”
36. “To teach my children that beauty comes at all ages. They should not be afraid to age.”
37. “Because I set my own beauty standard!”
38. “Honestly, my dream of old age is to have long gray Granny Clampet hair (braided, of course) and I would sit on my back porch with my varmit gun with my husband and shoot varmints in the woods.”
39. “I just decided that going natural was something I wanted to do and I’m so happy I did. It’s not anything I can explain. It’s a personal choice. I hope that helps you.”
40. “Why do YOU want me NOT to?!”
41. “The gray is inevitable. It is the way I am supposed to look.”
42. “I wanted to see my natural color.”
43. “Interesting question, why do you ask?”
44. “Why am I eating well, exercising and taking care of my body and then putting toxic chemicals on my scalp? It just doesn’t add up!”
45. “Because I just don’t want to have my life revolve around my ‘hair day’ at the salon, spend all that money and then only look good for three weeks. It’s a vicious and expensive cycle.”
46. “I want my hair to look healthier, and not feel like straw from the constant color maintenance.”
47. “Because, as it turns out, my natural hair colour is way prettier than any dye job I ever had.”
48. “Why not? I am not afraid to show my age and be who I really am.”
49. “I’m trying to prevent hair loss. I hope getting dye-free will do the trick.”
The other day I saw a t-shirt that read, “I will not trade my authenticity for your approval.”
50. “Because I’m a silver fox in the making.”
51. A hairdresser asked me that question and I said, after 24 years of dying my hair, “I just want to see the real me.”
52. “Because I’m embracing authenticity in this and other areas of my life.”
53. “Because I want to teach my daughters and granddaughters that natural is beautiful.”
54. “Because the world is changing…I’m part of the silver revolution. It’s all about a new way of thinking about nature and natural beauty.”
55. “Because I had to tile and grout my bathroom brown, because I looked washed out, because if I scratched my scalp I got dry dye under my nails or with every breeze showed my true colour and I would die of embarrassment. Because I had a cupboard of box dye as needed to do this every three weeks. Most importantly because I wanted freedom.”
56. “When I was diagnosed with cancer last year at the age of 64, I started thinking that I haven’t seen my natural color completely grown out since I was 16. Now maybe I won’t have the luxury of getting older and seeing it later, so…”
I would sing 🎶 like Tony Bennett…“I’ve gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me!”
57. “It’s because I finally feel like I can and should just be me and I am really good with that. Age happens.”
58. “Because I want to show myself and others how fabulous, and smart, graying can be.”
RELATED: 10 ways to grow out gray hair.
How to respond to: “But you are too young to go gray.”
59. “I want to enjoy the beautiful, dynamic nature of my hair throughout my life, and yes, as I age. I deserve to see my natural beauty at all stages…and so do you.”
60. “I know! Thanks. [smile] But, silver is in so why not let it grow out naturally? [smile and change subject]”
61. “All these girls and younger women purposely dying their hair gray would disagree.”
62. “Well, I started to go gray at 18 so…letting it shine at 44 is not that bad, isn’t it!”
63. “Gray is the new blonde!”
64. “And too fabulous to hide it.”
65. “I like this color.”
66. “Please don’t let me make comments on your hair.”
67. “Have you been living under a rock? Grey is the rage. It’s about time too. Grey is gorgeous.”
68. “You’re never too young or too old to go gray!”
69. “Oh! I look younger as I go gray!”
70. “Well, apparently God didn’t think so.”
71. To quote Monte Walsh…”You have no idea how little I care.”
72. “Do you have a life rule book with you? Are you going to issue a citation?”
73. “It’s coming in naturally, so I think I’m just the right age!”
74. My 13 year old son said it best…”It may be starting to gray, but at least she combs hers and makes it look nice.” (while giving his friend and their unkempt mom some killer side eye…)
75. “I am embracing my authentic self. You should try it too.”
76. “Tell that to Mother Nature.”
77. “Grey hair symbolizes wisdom and I am blessed.”
78. “Age is irrelevant, my dear.”
79. “And you’re old enough to have better manners!”
80. “I want my silvers. I have earned them. I deserve them. Why should I wait?”
81. “Oh really? What else do you think? What should I do with my hair? And the haircut? Maybe some makeup advice?”
82. “Would you prefer me gray or bald?” (They all say gray).
83. “I love it this way!”
84. Whenever anyone asks or says something to me that I deem inappropriate, I just go “Oh, well isn’t that marvelous? Thanks.”
85. “Ever wonder what people looked like before hair color existed? Normal!”
86. “Thank you.”
87. “No, I’m not! I’m 60 this year. It’s about time I went naked!”
88. “Let’s start again, and this time I’d prefer you tell me that I look great.”
89. “You pronounced Silver Sparkle wrong.”
90. “Silver is for rock stars.”
91. “Apparently, my hair disagrees with you.”
92. “No, I am just too old to concern myself with random opinions.”
93. “I’ve spent over $16,000 coloring my hair. Just think what I could have done with that money!”
94. “Mother Nature is a bad-ass colorist…Don’t you think?”
95. “I’m mature, not old.”
*direct stare, never breaking eye contact or silence, while the commenting party squirms and backpedals*. <— Priceless
96. “Well, bless your heart.”
97. “First I’ll go grey, then I’ll go white—just like Gandalf.”
98. “Thank you darling, but I’m too wise not to go grey!”
99. “I got my first gray hairs around 12. So apparently the Lord thought otherwise.”
100. “I’m a leader, not a follower.”
101. “It’s not gray, it’s actually Arctic Blonde.”
What do YOU say when people comment on your gray hair?
“First I’ll go grey, then I’ll go white—just like Gandalf.”
“Thank you darling, but I’m too wise not to go grey!”
“I got my first gray hairs around 12. So apparently the Lord thought otherwise.”
“I’m a leader, not a follower.”
“It’s not gray, it’s actually Arctic Blonde.”
These are just a few comebacks to gray hair rude comments—read our 101 ways to respond here!
If you’ve ever been in a position where someone rudely commented on your gray hair, you’re not alone. Here are 101 comebacks to rude comments!
SondraJanuary 26, 2022
Loved your article on January 25, 2022! Had to respond!
Last year on 5/04/21 was the last day I ever had my hair colored. I was serving jury duty and was picked to be on the jury. I had to serve when my next appointment came up, which was exactly 3 weeks after 5/04. Had to cancel my appointment!
For a little bit I panicked and then realized this would now be the time to let the real me shine!
When I did go back to my hairdresser, she put foils in and lightened up my brown hair to help the transition into gray look a bit better so there wasn’t too much of a skunk stripe. I was now off to the races!
I felt at 63 and some months, that was the most liberating experience I had in years. I had my hair colored the first time at 29 and now 34 years later, my time had come! No more appointments every 3 weeks!
We moved to a small town in Washington state in October 2019. We came from Southern California. Many women here in Washington state have embraced their gray hair and they have been an inspiration to me! In Southern California, you could be in a room with 100 women and hardly anyone had their natural hair!
A friend here in town commented to me, when she noticed a few months ago, I was growing my natural color out, “There are many old people in this town.” That was her explanation as to why so many women embrace their natural hair. Well, I just turned 64 this month and am coming up on 9 months without coloring it and it has been great! It has actually been fun and interesting to see the way it is coming in after being covered up with hair dye for 34 years! I have a combination of gray, silver, and platinum!
I use both the n24 Brun Schampo and n24 Brun Balsam products you sell. Love them both! Wrote a review too!
Lisa, thank you for being out there with great products! So happy I found you and your company early on! I look forward to your future articles with wonderful insight and information as well!
You are such an inspiration to me!
Lisa FennessyFebruary 6, 2022
Hi Sondra! What a lovely note, thank you so much! Sounds like you have had a wonderful experience and I’m so glad you are here. I love hearing what ultimately pushed you on the track of going gray…jury duty of all things! xo, Lisa
LoriFebruary 5, 2022
Thanks, these are awesome! I saw mine in there, and picked up some new, helpful, honest retorts. I love my silvers, and am so happy to have the opportunity to age. Your sharing of your organic self is liberating from feeling we have to follow social norms to the detriment of our minds and bodies.
Lisa FennessyFebruary 6, 2022
Hi Lori! This was such a fun post to put together – LOVED reading everyones answers. Some of them made me laugh out loud ; ) I love showing up for this, thanks for being here! xo, L
Tina LamertinaFebruary 12, 2022
NO MORE ROOTS!
Laura BuckleyFebruary 25, 2022
Just joined your FB page, and I’m drinking in the wisdom and inspiration of this wonderful group–thank God for you all! I’ve been threatening to do this for a couple of years and now I’m here. I am around week 5-6 and feeling a little wobbly about this momentous decision, not whether I want but whether I can stay strong. I’m getting zero support. My two daughters (18 and 23) are pleading with me to wait (they’ll support at 60, I’m 55), my 21 year old son shakes his head and my husband is decidedly not weighing in, which clearly means he’s not on board. And, my best friend worked me over this week pleading that I put it off. Both of my brothers who are fully gray think I’m crazy since I have the “option” to hide the gray as a female, and they don’t. So, I’m pretty much on an island. I will clearly need the support of these Silver Foxes and will tune in daily for my inspo. THANK YOU for all you do!
Lisa FennessyApril 10, 2022
Hi Laura! I’m so sorry you are getting that much push back. It’s been a month since you commented, how is it going???
Cheryl Graveline-DelgadilloMarch 28, 2022
Had my first rude comment this morning…..the woman that commented did so in front of a group of co-workers. Her comment: OMG! Look at all your grey hair! My comment: So what? It’s a natural thing…it happens to all of us! She got flustered and fled, mumbling to herself. Thank you for this article…now I know I made the correct choice to not dye my hair ANYMORE! Have a great week!
Lisa FennessyApril 10, 2022
I love that you were ready and prepped for this moment Cheryl! You go girl! xoxo, L
Laura BuckleyApril 11, 2022
Hi Lisa, the naysayers in my family continue but my resolve is stronger. In conversation at a business meeting this week, our client asked if I was the older sibling (I work with my brother). He has full head of white hair for many years and is four years older than me. He loved it and told my family over this weekend that he wants to stage an intervention with me over Easter dinner (tongue in cheek, sort of). My husband and kids know I’m resolute so will be interesting to see what happens. This is quite a social experiment in so many respects. I guess I’ll need to get used to unexpected and unsolicited comments. At the meeting, I took a breath and just answered the client honestly without reference to my hair. And the moment passed. Queue the exhale 🙂
Lisa FennessyApril 20, 2022
Oh man. I feel this so hard. When my 75 year old dad was in the hospital a few years ago, one of the nurses asked if I was his wife, lol. I WAS 42!!! Hang in there! xo, L
BrunaMay 17, 2022
I am 48 and transitioning to white after spreading chemicals on my head every month for the past 18 years. So far nobody made any negative comments, except my father (maybe he thinks if his daughter looks older people will realize he is older too, but that’s his problem) and I told him I will be as stilish as ever with white hair. I am ready to answer back in a gentle yet firm way to any unappropriate remark…. I agree with Laura: it is a social experiment. People has many expectation about how a woman should look. I have had enough. My head, my hair, my way!
Lisa FennessyMay 20, 2022
Oh heck yeah!!! So excited for you Bruna!
AngeAugust 24, 2022
I love your blog! And the wisdom about going gray and deciding to go gray. I’ve made my decision and it is all about being being patient and waiting to grow out out my last colour job. But it will be soooo worth it!
Lisa FennessyAugust 29, 2022
It will be SO WORTH IT! So excited for you to start your journey Ange! Best of luck! xo, Lisa
MarcieSeptember 6, 2022
I’m 46 and get so disturbed when friends of friends talk about my grey hair. I want to tell them, non pregant pregant belly looks good on you, or oh wow look how many spider veins, or wrinkles you’ve grown. I don’t, because I dont look at them or their hair or their bodies, because I don’t compare myself to them. I know they are expressing their own insecurities on me. But it’s uninvited and very annoying. I appreciate the polite shutdowns found here.
Lisa FennessyNovember 11, 2022
It really is weird when you say it like that. Like, do you hear me commenting on your nose hairs?! NO!
MarySeptember 11, 2022
Thank you for these inspiring answers! I think people who make these types of comments are looking for confrontation for the most part. And they are really thinking of themselves and revealing their own insecurities. But, people should know to filter comments. Here’s my answer to negative comments:
Thank you. (Always start with that no matter how insulting their comment is). I am using a filter now on my water to keep my silver hair from unwanted dullness and to ward off dimness. I haven’t yet tried it on people.
Lisa FennessySeptember 19, 2022
Love the filter! We just installed a new one too. And I agree. These comments are 100% about the other persons fears or insecurities. A great perspective to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing! xo, Lisa
KiannaNovember 14, 2022
This is my first time here but this article came up in my feed while I was scrolling so I decided to have a look. I’m a young gray myself(I’ve had a couple since elementary school but now they’re a bit more prominent at 25). I’ve never colored my hair at all so you can imagine the rude comments frequently come in. I never had any good comebacks so I may have to use some of these in the future.
Lisa FennessyNovember 15, 2022
Bookmark it friend! xo, L
KarinFebruary 15, 2023
I found your blog through a Google search for reviews of Hairprint color, which I recently heard of and thought about trying – I’m 49 and have never covered my gray but every now and then I consider it. I’m now leaning the other way after reading your post about why you chose to go gray, which reminded me why I had done the same (time, cost, being a slave to constant root touch-ups, the natural gray complimenting my skin tone, etc.) — so thank you! Anyway, I refer to my gray as Wisdom Highlights. I also love the term “Gray Pride”!
Lisa FennessyFebruary 24, 2023
So excited you are starting your gray hair journey! Get ready for one of the best rides of your life ; )