gray hair

On going gray in my thirties

Not quite two summers ago, I shared rather uneventfully that I decided to grow out my gray hair. I was 36 and had been graying for about thirteen years by then, and since having gray hair at age 23 in the year 2000 isn’t “what you do,” I methodically covered it.

For kicks, I went through a variety of shades, the most fun being fire-engine red. But for most of that time, I simply matched the color of my original God-given shade. You’d never guess that I dyed my hair religiously every three months.

I gradually grew tired of the upkeep. There was the maintenance and the expense, and six years prior when I developed an interest in both living simpler and more naturally, it felt a bit…. incongruous.

I never felt that way about anyone else—it was all on me. It made complete sense why one would want to, and heck, I even appreciated the artistry of it. No judgment whatsoever towards those who’d prefer to cover their gray hair until the good Maker takes ‘em home.

For me, it just felt time to grow it out.

Going gray in your 30s - why it can be a beautiful thing to embrace.

I made zero promises to myself that I’d never again color my hair; I loved—and still love—beautiful manes of aqua, pink, and green. I gave myself complete freedom to simply see this growing-out phase as an experiment. I could always dye my hair again.

We were also about to travel for a long time, and low-maintenance was key for my entire care regimen. And so, it was time for me to go gray.

It was slow-going at first, and I felt awkward about my obvious horizontal demarcation line as my locks grew longer. I read tips on gradual graying, but it just didn’t make sense for my situation. So I just winged it.

I laughed at articles that came out later that fall, announcing the new trend of gray hair on purpose. Never once had I been au courant with the style scene.

Going gray in your 30s - why it can be a beautiful thing to embrace.

My hair grew longer and longer, and more and more silver streaks flashed across my head. Kyle swore my hair was only about ten percent gray, but it still felt strange to me. I felt the need to tell strangers that I was well-aware of my graying, I wasn’t just “letting myself go.” Silly, really, but there it is.

Twenty-two months later, and I gotta say…. I still love it.

Well, most of the time.

I do still doubt my decision sometimes, because I’ve got my whole life to embrace the gray. Why start now, before I’m even forty? I do miss looking young. I now look decidedly middle-aged.

But something my friend Shaun said soon after I made my style-decision announcement has stuck with me—he said that he was encouraged to go gray because it evoked an aura of wisdom, but when his wife starting showing gray, she was coaxed to cover it because “it’d make her look haggard.” He hated that.

Talk about a double standard.

In our culture, there’s this pressure for women to look as young as possible for as long as possible. It’s an overlying assumption that young = good and old = bad.

Why do we do that? Why not celebrate our aging? We all get older, every one of us. No one is immune. Several cultures revere their elderly because it means wisdom, strength, a hearty, hey—you made it! Keep on going.

There’s a gorgeous depth to silver-haired women living life.

Gray hair lovelies

I don’t want to speed up the aging process, but I also don’t want to shy away from it like it’s something to be embarrassed about. It is what it is. So I have gray hair.

I recently cut off several inches to finally do away with that demarcation line, and I gotta admit—I really, really like what I see. I honestly kinda like the free highlights.

Going gray in your 30s - why it can be a beautiful thing to embrace.

I’m not yet forty, and sometimes my breath catches at the thought that I’ll be there really, really soon. (I think that’s mostly because I feel like I should know so much more by now than I do, that I really do still feel like I’m a kid playing grownup. Wasn’t I just in high school yesterday?)

Going gray in your 30s - why it can be a beautiful thing to embrace.

When the day comes that marks the arrival to my fourth decade, I’ll be ready to throw one helluva party, because it means a bit more wisdom, a bit more strength. It means I made it a little bit farther.

I may still be rocking my gray hair, or I might have gone back to coloring it. Maybe I’ll be a cascade of blues. Who knows. Either way, I hope to embrace who I am even more than I am today. There’s something glorious about running my fingers through silver, and I love that this look both saves me time and money, is better on my body, and also sticks it to the proverbial man, culturally-speaking.

I love my gray hair.

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Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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Comments

  1. It looks awesome….I have done the same and feel very liberated….can’t believe the amount of comments I get at how brave I am….not brave just happy and accepting of who I am.

    • Tsh Oxenreider says:

      Right? I get that, too. I wanna hug them, then say, “You can do it, too! It really doesn’t have to be this revolutionary if we all do it together.” 😉

  2. It really does look awesome! I’ve been doing the same. I cut mine really short when I stopped dyeing it and I’ve been really loving the silver highlights. Because mine isn’t grey, it’s a very bright silver. I love it! It is adding way more character to my hair than dying it was. And the more of us do it, the more others will follow and we’ll all allowed to look mature and wise without any pressure 🙂

    • Tsh Oxenreider says:

      “And the more of us do it, the more others will follow and we’ll all allowed to look mature and wise without any pressure”

      YES. Exactly!

    • Yes! My mom has grayed naturally and gracefully (she is 64) – unlike many of her friends who are now trying to figure out how to stop. Now, I am 37 and still not graying so I hope I can be as graceful as her … and no judgement for those much younger or older who choose differently!

  3. One of my past bosses was a young woman with greying hair and I just thought it spoke so much of wisdom and life experience! I genuinely rather envied it. You will always look brilliant Tsh whatever colour your hair is, because you have that lovely inside-out, ‘shining’ sort of beauty. x

  4. Thanks for sharing – your story is almost identical to mine! I have pretty long hair and it is at the half and half stage. Some days I have a wobble about it, but actually it does seem ludicrous that so much time and money gets spent on hair dye – who is everyone trying to kid? I’m loving my “wisdom”!

    • Tsh Oxenreider says:

      Yes! Agreed. That was sorta the wake-up call/question I had, too: “Who am I trying to impress with this?”I enjoy hair color for the art of it, but it’s been freeing to no longer add some weird pressure to do it for the sake of others/cultural acceptance.

  5. I’m 38 and the grey is starting to come in fast and furious. I’m really conflicted about what to do. Part of me wants to embrace it and part of me wants to cover it (because I can’t possibly be old enough to be grey!) However, covering it seems like so much work too.

    Love hearing what others are doing. Thanks for posting!

    • Tsh Oxenreider says:

      Here’s what I’ve realized the past few years: Many of us have this, “I can’t be old enough for this!” experience, which tells me that a whole lot of us go gray younger than we think we “should” (maybe even the majority? I dunno.). So if we all think this, why not embrace it, and who knows, it could become the new normal, and ergo not become some unfortunate sign with a stigma. Know what I mean? You do you, Maryalene, but you might be surprised how much you enjoy the gray. 🙂

      • I think we have this artifical “going gray” timeline in our heads because we mostly see elderly women with gray hair–they’ve finally “let it go”. Could be a health-related or financial decision, or they just dont care anymore. My grandmother was a redhead til her 70s! THAT’S NOT when we gray, people!

        After we as a culture stop shunning gray/white/silver hair like it’s a social disease, society will realize most people gray is around middle age.
        I am amazed at how many men I know make comments about how I need to dye mine. But, of course, their gray or balding is ok. O.o

      • I know. I need to just embrace the grey, but it is tough when everywhere you look, 50 year-old’s look like 30 year-olds! We’re so used to seeing people with colored hair and smoothed wrinkles that we’ve forgotten what natural aging looks like.

  6. I loved this post. You look great – the combination of young skin and grey hair rocks! I will be 40 in October and am just starting to be noticeably grey (much later than my mother and younger brother, who both started greying in their 20s). I have booked in for my first cover-up colour. I really like the idea of going grey but am not quite ready for it; when I can get the toddler sleeping through the night and lose the dark circles under my eyes, I might get there!

  7. It looks great! I’m in the same boat. I’m 36, and about a year ago I decided I was tired of the upkeep and the toll coloring my hair was taking on my natural curls (which are already finicky), so I decided to go all natural. I LOVE my hair now! I have a natural gray streak that my kids say makes me look like Merida’s mom in Brave. Not sure how I feel about that, but oh well.

  8. You look lovely! I admire “gray girls” so much, and so want to be comfortable enough to do this myself soon. I started graying in my early 20s (it’s in the genes–my mom was totally white-haired by 30), and have been doing various things to cover it ever since (I’m almost 37 now). Dye, highlights, henna, natural dyes…I like the results, but hate the process, the time invested, the possible health consequences, and the money spent on it. I so want to just give in to nature but am still working up the courage. You and other beautiful women who have embraced the gray inspire me!

  9. You rock the gray. You really do. You’re so pretty. And 40? Is so much fun!!

    • Tsh Oxenreider says:

      Thanks, Marla! And yeah, I here it just keeps getting better and better. The 30s have been so much fun. Can’t wait to see what happens in my 40s.

  10. I am 38 and stopped dyeing my hair 2 years ago. I have dark hair. After dyeing my hair for 20 years, I decided it is time. (Got my first drey hair at 15). We all will be grey some time. Now the back of is still dark but the front is white. I get so many compliments. I get stopped in malls and people asking where I’ve done my hair. Some people just wants to feel it (funny).
    Some days I just want to dye my hair and then I remember all the dyeing, etc. and the skunk stage. I am so proud about my silver hair.

  11. Yes! That’s great. Upkeep is so expensive and time consuming, ugh! Your hair is pretty, and inspires creative boldness! Lovely silver strands and bright highlights.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for being another face to say it’s OK to be grey!

    I have a lot to say on this subject, so bear with me. 🙂

    You and I are the same age. I started growing out my grey just before your post about growing out yours. I was thrilled at that initial post considering the timing. This was my second go at growing it out and this time it’s actually stuck.

    I’ve felt lucky that both the ombre look and grey is in (enough) right now. As my dyed hair continues to get lighter, and the ends get progressively lighter, it really is the ombre look. That’s what I tell myself and I’m sticking to it. But who am I kidding, because what I really want is for it all to be my natural color.

    Underneath, my natural hair is long enough for me to cut off all the dyed areas and still be a length I like. However, the top isn’t quite where I want it to be. I’ve been contemplating the kind of haircut I could get that would cut off all my dyed hair and still be a hairstyle I want to wear.

    My brother started dyeing his hair because he said he didn’t want to be mistaken for his younger kids’ grandpa. But he’d still have his young-looking face so I just don’t see that as a problem. I love the grey look on men.

    People always think my husband and I are much younger than we are. They see our 16 year old, followed by a 14 year old, followed by four more children, each 2 years younger than the preceding one. They see my grey hair. Yet they still think we’re in our early thirties.

    The first time I tried growing out my grey I was in my early to mid-thirties and I did worry about being eventually mistaken as my husband’s mother. But apparently that worry was unfounded because people think I’m in my early thirties as well. People really do make the age guess off the faces more than the hair color.

    When I go out grocery shopping and see other women with grey hair I am often struck by how beautiful and classy it looks. My favorite grey-haired look is when the woman is wearing simple, timeless clothing and looks like she takes care of herself – not in a wears-lots-of-makeup kind of way, but more like she eats healthy and has glowing skin kind of way. I suppose that makes sense when that’s the look I’m going for.

    • Tsh Oxenreider says:

      “People really do make the age guess off the faces more than the hair color.”

      Yes, I do think that’s true. Maybe they keep it to themselves, but no one has mistaken me for older than I am! …Yet, anyway. 😉

      I love the ombre look, too, and I would have kept my dyed ends longer if it wasn’t this obvious line straight across. Oh well. Excited to grow it long again!

      Thanks for your thoughts, Elizabeth.

  13. I am 35 and started growing out my grey just before I read your initial post. I too was tired of the expense, and the upkeep. I decided that enough was enough and that I was just going to embrace it. Funny enough, when the greys really started coming in at age 33, I was going to embrace it but then succumbed to the pressure to dye my hair…which lasted a year before I went back and followed my initial instinct. For the most part, I love how it looks. Of course there are moments that I doubt my decision, but then I remember all the other things in my life that are more important than the color of my hair. Thanks for your encouraging words. And I have loved reading the comments from others in the same boat; it is nice to know that I am not alone and that others are rocking their grey locks…

    • Tsh Oxenreider says:

      It’s so nice, isn’t it? I have my doubts, too, which mostly come when I look in the mirror and I still surprise myself. Wait, that’s not me? 😉

      But mostly, it really is so freeing. I love the simplicity of it all.

  14. I vividly remember yanking out my first gray hair (though I don’t remember exactly when – at least a decade ago). Up to that time, I thought I firmly believed in aging naturally and gracefully, and was quite surprised to discover this hidden horror. Gladly, my lazy side won out in the end, and dying never did happen. I’m now 41, and I love my red-and-silver look. But I think the heart of the matter is: be you, whatever particular expression that happens to take. Thanks for the ever-inspiring words, Tsh!

  15. Tsh, I started going grey in my teens…..how could I not……my Dad was platinum since birth and my Mom went grey at 19. I dealt with it until I hit 35 and then decided I wanted color. I went brunette and then a gorgeous red color called Mahogany. After about 8 years of having my hair professionally colored my hair started to fall out…..not a little but enough to scare me. I went to the dermatologist and after a thorough exam of my scalp she said I was having an allergic reaction to the coloring. She said I had 2 options, continue to color my hair and end up balding or let my grey hair breath. I asked about natural dyes and she said she hasn’t seen much improvement in the scalps of women who go through this. I realized at that point my health was so much more important. I have a short razor cut and the ease of upkeep pleases me. It’s wonderful how simple it has made my life. I think your hair looks great!!!

  16. Margaret says:

    I love the way my grey sparkles and shines…free highlights as you say! I started going grey in my 20s and just let it grow. It has been on my mind lately…at a concert at school last week, I was the only one rocking the grey and my daughter’s classmate said I looked more like my daughter’s grandma, than her mom. Well, I do look a lot like my mom. I works for me! I would resent the time spent getting it colored…there are other things I would rather do. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one!

  17. Looks fantastic! I have a hankering to dye my hair silver and lilac but I just can’t deal with the upkeep right now!

  18. I found my first silver (I call them “silvers” instead of “greys”, I think it conveys much better their sparkly nature!) when I was about 15. Since then, though, only a handful more have come in, and they are so thing you can hardly see them. I am a bit sad about it: for a long time I thought I’d go silver quite young, and I had not only accepted that idea, but embraced it completely. Now, nearing 30, I am nowhere closer than I was half my life ago. But it’s okay, because just as much as we shouldn’t want to stop aging, we shouldn’t wish to age faster either!

  19. There are times when I really don’t like my grey hair (like at the grocery store when they give me the senior discount, and I am not yet a senior!). But I love that I am not spending money on expensive hair upkeep and can sponsor more children through Compassion 🙂

  20. I am very glad that you love it and are confident to keep things simple this way. I am all about simplifying, especially beauty routines and trying to be as natural and minimal with my products as possible. With that said, my personal preference is that it looks unkempt and ages you. I am not saying that one should have a high maintenance, fire-engine red color, but I do think that dying gray does keep one looking youthful.

    • Tsh Oxenreider says:

      Yes, but that’s my point—why do we feel the need to look youthful in the first place? Sure, the unkempt thing can happen (as it does with any color hair), but yep, you betcha it ages you—I’m saying maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

    • To me it’s less a matter of looking youthful than not looking dowdy and haggard. I have very, very fair skin and right now my grey is just not a pretty shade of grey. I don’t care about looking young but I do care about not looking like I’m a beaten down, mousy mum. HA!

  21. I have let my hair go grey as well and I LOVE IT! I do have pink highlights however. I was very skeptical about doing it. I have been premature grey for years and the idea of grey just freaked me out. My husband was a driving force in this decision. He said “hey, if you don’t like it then go back.” Well, I love it.

  22. I love what an inspiration this article is for those who are ready to take the plunge! I am 41, and as much as I feel like I MIGHT be ready to go gray, I continue to color my hair. Last year, I wrote about my dilemma, and why I made the decision to continue coloring my hair, for now at least. I will say that I look forward to the day when I am free to go gray, once and for all. By the way, Tsh, you have such youthful skin that it wouldn’t occur to me to think of you as middle-aged, even with the gray.

  23. Danielle Drown says:

    Oh my gosh! I have been going gray since I was 18, I just turned 38 and have been having a seriously hard time with it because I too still feel like I am too young to be 38! The double standard for gray hair has always bothered me and yet I still feel the pressure to look younger than I am. I have gone through phases of dying my hair and then letting it grow out since I was in high school. it was more about having fun with color than covering my gray. Thank you for this article I truly needed the reminder that it is about what makes me happy and not society’s wacky ideas of beauty! We are beautiful when we embrace what is glorious and unique about us!

  24. You and your hair are beautiful, Tsh. About 15 years ago my daughter told me, “Mom, your gray hair makes you look older than you really are,” and promised to keep it colored for me. Then her life got busy (mine already was) and I let it go gray again. I’m 66 now, a retired but part-time working “Stay-at-home Grammy”, and I love my red hair. The shade changes from auburn to burgundy on my whim, and if the Olive Garden dress standards would allow it I would probably try shades of blue or green. My point is simply this: Do what feels good on you, for you, and don’t worry about what society thinks. You are beautiful! – Fawn

  25. Jenn H. says:

    My silver story became prominent 3 years ago when my husband was deathly ill. Not until he came through after a year fighting did I have a moment to breathe & notice my previously young face & hair had absorbed the stress & accumulated lines & silver streaks. Initially it bothered me; I felt old, tired & battered @ 32. But as we have healed & significantly more silver has joined the reddish brown… it now reminds me that we made it! God carried us thru & even surprised us with a later in life baby girl. Life is still bumpy but God is still good & I have a beautiful free highlight job to remind me!!

  26. I was quite glad when my mom stopped coloring hers because her coloring with the grey/silver looks beautiful. It isn’t that I don’t want grey because it would be so much easier but I don’t to lose my look that I feel like reflects my style and my personality. Love having my dark pixie with fair skin and light eyes. If my grey were more on the silver/white side, I’d be very tempted to go with that but alas, for now it’s a rather boring shade of grey and it doesn’t do anything for my complexion. 😉

  27. I love it, too. It’s feminine and beautiful. And I’m here on the other side of 40 saying come on over! Things are great over here.

  28. What Shaun said about the double standard is so true. My boss was being interviewed a few years ago by a couple different tv stations. The first reporter, a well-known female anchor here in town, I am sure dyed her hair–her kids were entering college; she mentioned her upcoming fiftieth birthday. But her hair was perfectly deep brown. The second tv station sent a younger field reporter, a young man not long out of college. And you couldn’t tell on camera, but in person it was very obvious that he dyed his hair grey. The woman had to look younger (though she’s probably been on television for twenty years–we KNOW she’s not young) because women have to be young and pretty, and the man wanted to look older because he needed an aura of age and experience. It was eye-opening, and sad.

    Also, I feel basically this same way about makeup. There are women who love it and have fun with it, but as you said in a comment above, when someone tells me they’re not brave enough to go without makeup, or that they just aren’t “allowed” to go barefaced, I “wanna hug them, then say, ‘You can do it, too! It really doesn’t have to be this revolutionary if we all do it together.’” There’s nothing wrong with wearing makeup or dying your hair, but don’t feel like you have to do those things–because there’s nothing wrong with not wearing makeup or going gray, either!

    • Yes! The double standard needs to be pressed back on by any of us who want to! And I too hurt when a woman says she could never this-or-that.

  29. Charissa says:

    Love this post, Tsh! It’s a timely one for me and I so appreciate your brave, honest words. I’m starting to go gray (or actually, white) myself and I’ve had some anxious thoughts about what I might look like when my hair is mostly white while I still feel so young inside. My husband and I have had several talks about how many women (and men, for that matter) dye their hair for decades and about how MOST people in their thirties and forties dye their hair. Yes, if more of us choose to go the natural route we can serve as examples for others to follow. Here’s to proud acceptance of who we truly are!

  30. I’m 38 & I was about 25% grey in my early 20s according to my hair stylist. I’m about 75-90% now. I really hated chemical dyes for soooo many reasons but I’d been dying my chestnut brown to auburn since age 15 & I like being a redhead. in trying for a simpler life also & wanting to detox my body as much as possible I decided on henna. I’m just not ready to be grey yet…&, like you totally get, it has to be YOU being ready for it. Of course my hair grows fast & henna is messy…at least it’s super affordable & I find mine with a guarantee that it’s 100% plant based. No metallics that can be harmful. So every 6-8 was I’m in a seran wrap turban for a few hours…so far it’s still worth it. In honor of my grey I have a strip growing in the back that is really obvious when my hair is up. I love my grey streak & im trying to get one started in my bang area also but that’s been a challenge.

    I’m always soooo living women who choose to be brave & go grey young. It is bravery…bc grey hair is totally a double standard like you said. It gives me courage for the time I am ready.

  31. Oh my goodness, could’ve written almost every word of this post!! Here’s my gray hair that the past two years I’ve finally allowed to just be what it is. And I think I’m more surprised than anyone that I really actually like it. http://www.betterthaneden.com/2016/02/all-grown-out-gray-hair-update.html

    • Michelle C says:

      Just read your post…your hair is absolutely gorgeous! I am just about through the growing-out phase with mine, though I did cut it super short. Mine is looking lovely, too. Thank you for sharing your story! It has been challenging to find other young women with young children doing this!

    • Cristina says:

      Wow your silver hair is beautiful! Do you use special conditioner on it? I have so many wiry silver hairs that just stick out, I can never get it that smooth. I sometimes wish my dark hair would just get it over with and go grey faster, I’d rather be all silver than salt and pepper (which I am now and I feel like I will be for a long time).

  32. As someone who has just, at the age of 52, decided to let my hair be the white that it is, I can complete relate to what you wrote. And while I don’t care what other people say about it (referring to the guy who thought his wife looked haggard), I myself thought it made me look older than I felt. So went to a stylist a put just a few streaks of light purples and blues and teals in it, which will fade in a couple of months and I can redo it if I choose to. It made me feel awesome and I thought I looked more like I felt. So while there is a double standard, you have to please yourself first. If you like it, keep it. If you feel like you want to rock your grey with a few bits of color, you can do that too. First and foremost do what makes *you* happy.

  33. I LOVE this article! I have a lot of gray, now granted I am 51.5, yes .5, but have had a lot of gray for some time. Early gray runs on my dads side of the family. I have had hair dressers tell me it will be pretty, but I have not been able to “let the gray run free” just yet. I don’t have very many wrinkles and don’t think I look my age at all, but just can’t stop coloring. Maybe it’s the fact that my husband of 26 years, who is 7 months younger than I, hates gray hair. He shaves his own head because he hates it on himself. He teases me A LOT about being older than he is, even though it’s not by much. So the thought of letting my gray hair free and giving him even more ammo to work with, does not thrill me. Thank you Tsh for this and I read Mary @ Better Than Eden’s article, which is also inspiring.

  34. Tsh, You rock and are wise beyond your years. At 54 just took the plunge in a big way. 5 hours and $300 later, I am all gray at once – my word of 2016 is platinum and now I match! Love how you are communicating to others how to go gray with grace. S+

  35. When I was in my 40s I made the same decision to stop coloring my hair and have not regretted it once. I felt that coloring my hair to hide the gray was being a little bit false and less-than-honest about myself. I had gray hair – so what! Now, 15 years later, well there’s a whole lot more ‘salt’ than ‘pepper’. Still, it is a decision that I stand by and encourage other women to do so, as well. After all, it’s just hair.

  36. Ann-Marie says:

    I started greying in my early 30s, but I am noticing even more grey now that I’m 43. But I embrace it. And I, too, feel good that it’s free, healthy, and flies in the face of the greater society’s idea of beauty.

  37. I decided as I noticed more and more grey in my hair that I would not go with the constant dyeing route, mostly due to the constant expense and that I have had pretty short hair for years. Some time I would throw a box color on in some shade of red. But with more grey I hated that line that developed. Recently I wanted a little change and did a box again after a long time. Now I am shedding hair more than usual. So I guess I would prefer more hair with grey than the damage from the color change. I am sure it would have been better at the salon.

    What is most discouraging to me about grey is that I have more grey than my mother. She doesn’t color. My husband says she pulls them all but I can’t even keep up. But I am glad I have so much company with the decision to let my hair be in my forties.

  38. I love it! My mom has never colored her hair and is about 50% gray now and I think it’s so gorgeous. Women with gray hair always seem extra graceful and self-assured.

  39. M Sonnenberg says:

    Good for you ! I have thought that it wasn’t fair for society to have such a double standard. A man can look distinguished while gray but a woman is to look forever youthful. It doesn’t make sense. Then you have these gray haired men next to their so called ” blonde” , ” ” brunette” haired wives and sometimes it almost look like they are fathers and daughters. Until you look closely and you see their faces do not look young either. I have read that skin changes as we grow older and dark hair against it often looks very unnatural. Society needs to change our thinking. Getting older needs to be accepted in our society.

  40. Terri T. says:

    Love this! I started dying the gray in my early 30s. I’m now 44 and it’s been 12 weeks since my last color. 🙂

  41. Christine says:

    I am with you, Tsh! I am a (very young looking) 44 yr old and I let my gray grow in about 2 1/2 yrs ago. I loved it for the same reason: as a very dark brunette, I had never had those really light highlights, and then I did!
    Two weeks ago I was convinced to try “warming up” my look a bit with some red/brown “lowlights”, leaving some exposed gray. My hairdresser insisted that I would want full coverage at my next visit. But guess what? I want either less coverage or none at all. That remains to be determined. I guess I thought if I was ever going to go for color, now would be the time, as I am only going to get more white from here on out. :). It was a good experiment, but I was comfortable going natural.

  42. Linda Sand says:

    When I decided to stop coloring my hair I didn’t want to go through the skunk line of gray roots with darker hair. So I went to a salon and had gray highlights put in thought my hair. That made the transition much easier for me. But, it sure freaked out the stylist to have me want gray streaks.

  43. I love that you’re putting this out there, and that I’ve found compadres in this movement! My silver streaks have become more plentiful in recent years, now that I’m on the backside of my 30s, and I tend to think they give me more credibility since I look young otherwise. A bonus is that my husband thinks they’re super sexy – so, really, what’s my motivation to dye them other than my own (clearly absent) vanity? I’m also really proud of my mom, who is in her mid-60s: she’s dyed her hair blonde for over a decade, and recently began letting her natural gray show. She’s been comforted in realizing that people treat her with more respect out in public – maybe because she’s being more honest about who she is and that she’s lived? p.s. A timely post, given that it’s International Women’s Day 🙂

  44. I started going grey in my early twenties. Better than the other family hair trait (baldness). It showed in my beard too. As an engineer, it helps make me more believable. 😉 On you, grey looks great! I was thrilled to see that you let it grow out. My wife is starting to let her hair grow out finally at age 55. Our first grandchild last month helped her to made the decision. Looking forward to seeing what you do next on your fortieth birthday.

  45. Good for you! It does take courage to be different but if you are already living more naturally you’re different already. That’s a good thing! I started going gray when I was 28 due to Hashimotos and it has been ever so slight until this recent decade. It is coming in fast and furious now! The streaks are even starting. I have decided I too will let it grow the way it is. Being committed to natural living there is no way I could feel good about putting some chemicals on my head. I know I would also have a terrible time of recovering physically from it too since I have MTHFR and don’t detox well. I’m going to skip the color and yes, it certainly does take some bravery. Thanks for sharing this. I think the more women feel comfortable in this part of aging naturally, the more gray we will be seeing!

  46. Michael Burns says:

    I always wondered when people who were X years old claimed to be X-10. People might thin “If they look like that when they are X-10, what will they look like when they are X. Why not just claim to be timeless like God and dismiss the whole issue? Old is gold. Embrace the tiger.

  47. Michelle C says:

    I am thoroughly enjoying reading through these comments today. What a treat! I just turned 38, and my hair is completely silver/white underneath. At the new year, I decided to discover what it might be like to live with a different “color” on my head. I have been dyeing my hair brown or reddish-brown since I was 16. I was embarrassed to let the white show through. Now, it’s showing through in spades! I have a 13 y/o son, a 10 y/o daughter, and a 1 y/o son. I want my children to grow up with a mother who is happy about how she looks, no matter the color of the hair. Far too much of my energy – mental, physical, financial – has gone into my hair color!!

    So, I cut it very short to make the process a bit less painful, and honestly, I am growing quite accustomed to it! I’ve been so afraid of looking “washed-out” or “frumpy”. Again, so much energy in this – as if it is my identity!

    Anyway, just want to thank you for bringing it up. When I was ready to revert back to my natural color, I couldn’t seem to find much information out there on young women wearing their hair this way. Even on Pinterest, while I was hunting for hairstyle ideas, there were just a lot of pictures of Judi Dench and Jamie Lee Curtis (both of whom I adore, by the way, but they’re not in their 30s!)…I wanted some inspiration, and there just isn’t much out there. I’m inspired to put my own photos out there!

    Thanks again.

  48. Congrats! I too at that age let my grey come out and loved it, but pressure from my daughter (teenagers!) I dyed it again. Now I’m 41 and going to transition back to grey. It feels so liberating! You look beautiful, thanks for this topic!

  49. AnnMarie says:

    I’m get and I get so many compliments on my hair. Stopped dying it at 41, and although I will have my doubts I like it so why change it?

  50. “I’m not yet forty, and sometimes my breath catches at the thought that I’ll be there really, really soon. (I think that’s mostly because I feel like I should know so much more by now than I do, that I really do still feel like I’m a kid playing grownup.”

    Getting older is a chance to act and feel much younger, like a kid. Therein lies wisdom. Adulting is for the unwise and unfortunate.

  51. “It Takes A Very Long Time To Become Young”- Pablo Picasso

  52. Here’s something I wrote last week about my gray hair:
    I love my graying hair. It used to remind me of a favorite grandmother with prematurely gray hair who passed away much too soon. Now it is just a part of me I love.

    I love the aesthetic of salt and pepper hair, and I’m grateful I don’t really know how good or bad it appears to others.

    It reminds me of, and helps me accept, my mortality, fragility and imperfection, and helps me remember that I’m not alone in those characteristics.

    It also reminds me that as I age, I care less and less about things I thought were important, relevant, enough to worry about. Aging encourages me to be more irreverent, more playful, more joyous, more me.

  53. I wish I could join you. It is expensive, but I feel like as a professional working woman, I must look a certain way. And, unlike men my age, I cannot look older than I am. It would go against me, rather than in my favor. Women cannot have it all, and sexism vis a vis ageism is alive and well in today’s workforce. We are not allowed to age without being punished. Sad but true, we must be attractive and smart, but not too smart and not too attractive. I cannot stop coloring until I’m at least in my 50’s (in my opinion), or until I’m ready to retire, or unless I became a stay-at-home mom and my looks could be 100% determined by my own expectations. As a natural brunette, I think losing the color is more shocking, rather than blondes who have never had colored hair against their face. Anyway, maybe if ALL women just quit the coloring, we could force society into accepting us as we are. I hate being part of the expectation, but I feel the stakes are too high to buck the system on this one (for me, in my situation). More power to you.

  54. I have to agree. I discovered my first gray hairs about five or so years ago and while at first I was horrified (I’m too young to have gray hairs! LOL) I like the look now. At 36, I have a bunch of gray threads running through my hair now and while admittedly they aren’t incredibly noticeable in my blonde hair, I love being able to say I have a head of gold and silver!
    (Plus, with three kids, I think I’ve earned each and every one of those silver threads!)

  55. Dayna W says:

    I’ve also gone back to my natural color in anticipation of an extended trip. And it’s really not so bad haha! I was wondering – did you ever do a review on the scrubba? I’m considering buying one, but would love to hear if you thought it was worth it? Did you use it a lot? Or did most places you stayed at have a washing machine? And did it really get your clothes clean easier than just washing them in a sink? Thanks!!

  56. Awesome, just so awesome! I am 38 and have been graying since I was about 26. I have decided to stop dyeing and grow it out & it it very grey now. I am in the middle and have also decided to try and dye it later if I want. What a great article of encouragement and honesty. Glad to know I have not been the only one on a similar journey. 🙂

  57. I think you look fantastic and you’ve made me excited to embrace my “sparkly” hairs as they come in. Now I’m wondering if you could tell us about your makeup? It looks very pretty and natural. As 40 gets closer I sort of feel like I need to grow up and finally wear makeup 😉 However, putting chemicals on my face doesn’t sound like a good plan. And the trial and error of finding the right shades of concealer, foundation, etc to kind of even out my skin tone sounds expensive and frustrating.

  58. Perfect timing! I’m 44 and have been growing mine out for the last few months for the same reasons you mentioned. But now I’m in that awkward phase, and after being asked to be a bridesmaid this summer (with a group of ladies in their early twenties) and a vacation to see family where youthful appearances are a priority, and I started doubting my decision. Today I had some salon help at breaking up some of the saturated black that was not helping, and had a fresh cut which helped a lot. Sometimes I don’t like how it seems to age me, but most of the time I am loving the freedom. Thanks for sharing, it was just the boost that I needed. Your hair is absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

  59. You and people like you inspire others so much more than those like me, who has tried for more than ten years to encourage new habits (like not dying hair) through education, based on knowledge about mutagenic things, like lots of ingredients (some not listed! I can point you to papers, but no one wants to read them…) in hair dyes, and activities with mutagenic consequences, like smoking or sunbathing, that we choose to do. I tried to find a new ‘big picture’ way to talk about what is going on in cells, and all the many things we can choose not to do (if our attitude could change), coining the idea of ‘genomic integrity’ – dynamic processes that basically include all the molecular genetic details in our cells – and still things seem to move so slowly… I even made an ‘art call’ – hoping that would draw the general public, with little effect after a couple of years. Now the latest ideas include ‘citizen science’ and dark chocolate (which could protect skin from UV among other benefits, as long as one can avoid eating too much) for fundraising…. Please don’t mind my venting here, but I really like your article, which I saw from the ‘silver circle’ group in facebook… (also a great source of inspiration!) Somehow everyone together will manage to make the world a better place, where what we do is good for us all? That is my optimistic hope! (p.s. I have tons of white hair, especially in front, am already dye free for more than 7 years, but also already 53… 🙂

  60. Christy R says:

    I’m 40 and still have almost all my original color – my grandmother wasn’t really gray until her 80s! But I love my aunt’s solution! She cuts it short and sassy and colors it with henna. All natural, easy, does the whole natural highlight thing because it works with your natural color – lighter hair gets more red. You can also mix henna and indigo to get more of a red-brown. I did it for a while just for fun, and it’s really good for your hair. Not cheap, and rather messy to do it with the real stuff, but if you want to color it and stay away from those nasty dyes, it’s the way to go. I find instructions on a website, hennaforhair.com, but I’m not even sure it’s still there.

  61. I am 37 and have gray at my temples — when I pull my hair out from my ears, you can REALLY tell. Except that I keep my hair tucked behind my ears. On top of my head, you can’t tell that much. I want to be free to gray or not gray — my mom has been coloring her hair for 35 years, and I just don’t want to follow in that unless I WANT to.

  62. Lisa Dixon says:

    Whenever I start to think about getting older, I just remember how lucky I am to get to be 43. What a privilege it is! Many people do not make it to this age and many who do, are not content. I am grateful for my age.

  63. Dawn Linneman says:

    After 20+ years of dyeing my hair (had to have it done every 3 weeks by that point) I went silver 4 years ago. Which led to a career change at 54 from oncology/hospice nursing to a modeling job…never expected I could have so much fun!

  64. Thanks for this! My gray/white has increased exponentially since I turned 33 last year. Like you, I try to live pretty naturally and I feel like dyeing goes against both my desire to avoid unnecessary chemicals and also against my values that say I don’t need to try to look like anything other than exactly what I am!

    However… I’m single. And there’s a small part of me that fears that if (when) I go fully gray, my chances of finding a partner will go down. I hate that I think this, that societal conditioning has put it in my head that I can only find a man if I look young (whether that’s true or not… though many men my age on internet dating sites are looking for women in their 20s), but it’s still there. I’m pretty determined to overcome it, though, as long as the gray looks good!

  65. What a wonderful story. As I have been saying for a few years now… I am bringing sexy back to gray!!!! I also started going gray at am early age (16) and swore I would not color my hair. Then I turned 26 got divorced and lost 40 lbs. I looked great for 36? What I’m only 26!!!!! Of to the colorist I went. 1st it was every 5 weeks then gradually every 4 weeks then every 3 weeks what I don’t have the time, money or attention span to keep that going. Flash forward 20 years and I let my colorist know I am going to go gray at 50. It was going to be ACA (against colorist advise), heck she had 3 kids to get to private school. Then that fateful day
    when at 48 I Was diagnosed with cancer and coloring my hair was not an option anymore. When I say it was a blessing you may not understand but it sure was. I cut my hair short (picture Jamie Lee Curtis) and the color was gone in a month. It took awhile for me to recognize myself in pictures and in reflections but I love it and I am SEXY!!!! I will never go back. I felt so free. Never again do I have to worry about the wind blowing my hair and my roots showing. I may look older but I don’t care. I have earned everyone of them. For the ladies who ask me why I let my hair go gray I say better gray hair than not being here at all. So I will continue to ROCK the GRAY with my fellow gray sisters and enjoy the ride!!!!!!

  66. I have to say it wouldn’t surprise me if people thought you were dying your hair grey in some way because your face does not look “old”in any way. Seriously. Also did you know we aren’t suppose to say “wrinkles” anymore? Apparently, “fine lines” is the only appropriate way to say it. WHAT?! Who cares? I’m not for looking haggard or unhealthy but the alternative to aging is at the bottom of my to-do list! PS – I think all the hair upkeep is only worth it if it is worth it to you. It is A LOT of trouble and expense isn’t it?

  67. I applaud gray hair!! For me, never coloring my hair is my ultimate simplicity. I am 61, began graying in my late 20s/early 30s (hard to remember exactly when), and like you, Tsh, for many years, I felt as though I had “free highlights”. My hair is now fully white and I embrace it. I can’t imagine how much money and time I have saved over the last 30 years!

  68. Hi Tsh, and thanks so much for posting again about your hair! It’s great to see your pictures and to hear about this subject again, because your earlier writing on this had a direct influence on my own gray journey. I had already successfully transitioned once to my natural color (after about 20 years of coloring to cover grays that appeared in my late teens) but had started coloring again . . . and then I read your post in the summer of 2014. It was the final encouragement I needed to once and for all just be who I really am and finally let go of the goopy, messy, smelly, time-consuming, costly coloring routine for good. I got a sassy and fun short cut to jump-start the process, and have been growing it out ever since. I LOVE going out on a windy day and not worrying anymore about my roots showing. I love my stylish streaks that frequently elicit questions about my cool “highlights.” I love showing my young daughter that it’s OK to be gray. I love celebrating each day that I have been given and just experiencing the exact age I am (44). I have simplified and refined my wardrobe (more solids, fewer prints) to complement my silvery locks, and find that I feel more stylish and “on-trend” than ever. It’s been a great journey toward simplicity and I just want to thank you again for posting about your own gray hair adventures!

  69. I’m 39 and have decided to stop coloring my hair. I also have a very short pixie cut and have decided to grow it out a bit, so we’ll see how this whole growing-out / turning gray process goes (my “grays” are actually more silver and white than gray). I’m probably only about 10% silver myself (and to be honest I wish it was more). If I could just snap my fingers and have the beautiful solid silver hair that my aunt has I would take it in a heartbeat! But she has about 30 years on me, so maybe one day. 🙂

  70. Oh wow, I think your hair is absolutely gorgeous! I made the decision to keep my natural hair a year ago (mine isn’t gray yet, but it will be some day!). It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made beauty-wise. You save so much money, don’t have to worry about upkeep, and I’ve found that I’m more happy about my appearance. I think it’s shockingly rude when people say you need to cover up gray hairs. They’re natural and they’re beautiful. 🙂 You do you and stay simple.

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