Giving Up Blonde, Or, Old Lady Hair Redux


I’ve been blonde most of my life. For the first 30 years, blonde by virtue of genetics. Then I darkened and grayed a bit on the way to 40. When I turned 44, a few years after having rejoined the full-time workforce, I cut my hair short and got it dyed for the first time. I was a short-haired. blonde executive for quite a while. Now, at 54 and semi-retired, I’m ready for another go at my natural color.

Whatever that may be.

Above you see my head. Which statement I find comical in the extreme, but I digress. My natural color appears to be a steely brown mixed with gray. The blonde dye is growing out further down.

Here’s the thing. I wish I could claim a sort of revolutionary bravery in this choice, but it’s just vanity. How so? In what scenarios does steel brown with gray do a better job than blonde?

Imagine this. My blonde plays tricks. I’ve got a lot of hair, and it still swings around quite cheerfully. If you see me from the back you might be fooled into thinking I’m young. Still a candidate for folderol and future family. I hate the thought of someone coming round from behind me, expecting a 30-year old, when, suddenly, “Gah! It’s an oldish lady!” I prefer “Under-Promise And Over-Deliver” to, “Set High Expectations And Disappoint.”

Grandes Dames remain flaxen to the end, Artsy Cousins crop and convert to platinum, but Sturdy Gals face facts, plowing ever forward towards what is.

Besides, you know, as I get older the color of my face changes. Come on, I’m not the only one. Round here capillaries are surfacing like little pink carp chasing breadcrumbs. When you redden, yellow hair loses its charm.

1964. Grandmama’s house. My sister, my long-haired brother, two unknown little boys, and me. Grinning, braided,  in complete ignorance of blonde and non-blonde.

I confess that being blonde has meant a lot to me. I can tell you this only as I prepare to leave it behind. Having sported a little tow-head, and remaining quite fair all through the 70’s, I basked in glory reflected from Cheryl Tiegs, Patti Hansen, and Farrah. We don’t need to use her second name, now do we? And I am quite sure I have a hitherto unexamined relationship with blonde as a sign of my once-ruling class. Clearly time to give that up.

I may go gray, like Ms. Givens of Trend Wisely, Donna of Rock the Silver, and Madame La Streep, all of whom look beautiful below. Join the ranks of Alice Bradley at finslippy, and Anne Kreamer, who wrote Going Gray. Rock the Silver is, of course, a blog often about going gray.

Ms. Givens, Donna, Meryl

Or I may color my hair mostly that steely brown, leaving only a little silver as highlights. I don’t know, and reserve the right to change my mind. Maybe a wiser woman awaits me, hair dark and long. Graying just enough. Which is of course the stereotype, that blondes are unwise. Perhaps that’s only because so few of us remain blonde in the years where wisdom is possible. I was just as intelligent when I was blonde, just nowhere close to wise. I wouldn’t rule it out for others.

I imagine the dark-haired, graying me will know the secrets to Artsy Cousin dress. To say nothing of where to find good hair fasteners.

I am already enjoying the absence of yellow near my face. Still waiting for additional wisdom.

So I ask you, how many of you color your hair? Or perhaps I ought to ask the reverse. How many of you do not? And what do you think you will do once gray begins to dominate?

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122 Comments

  • 03/01/11
    7:00 am

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    miss sophie said...

    i used to color my hair in high school and college – dark red, or blonde highlights (i have dark brown hair). your post just reminded me that i may need to do something fun and crazy for this season though…:)

    by the way, i know you did a post on billykirk a while ago from a post i did last december, but i thought you’d like to see a follow-up post on my blog…

    http://lesantimodernes.blogspot.com/2011/03/billykirk-schoolboy-satchel-review.html

  • 03/01/11
    7:07 am

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    NancyDaQ said...

    I color, but only highlights. Since my coloring is similar to my father’s, I suspect that I’ll go more mousy than gray as time goes on. So I think I’ll be highlighting for a while yet. I’m 52.

  • 03/01/11
    7:11 am

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    Jen said...

    I started the graying process at 18. 20 years later, the gray strands have taken over half my head and large white streaks have appeared at my temples. Or they would if I didn’t pay exorbitant amounts every few weeks to have the gray dyed back to my youthful brown.

    I’ve vowed to stop dyeing when every hair has gone totally white.

  • 03/01/11
    7:21 am

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    Genuine Lustre said...

    I’m 45 and was also a natural blonde till college years. Have highlighted off and on the past 20 yrs. Decided to go natural last fall. Based on older relatives, my hair will never be totally silver, but light brown mixed with gray. I have young children at home yet so don’t want to fade and go frumpy, but also want my hair to match my face. I suspect this means paying strict attention to cut and condition of our hair, and be well maintained in all other physical aspects. Most of all, I never want to MOVE like an old person.

  • 03/01/11
    7:25 am

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    materfamilias said...

    I’ve been colouring for decades, and now see my hairdresser more than I see many of my friends, needing my colour refreshed every 6 or 7 weeks. I’ve actually been going blonder (although not really blonde) the last year or so, as a way to move closer to the grey, with the hope of someday embracing my natural colour. But I’m not ready for that yet. My hairdresser has promised that she’s watching the ratio of grey to colour in my hair and she’ll let me know when it’s time to switch. Even then, I anticipate my grey will be enhanced for some years, at least — I love the shine that comes with the colour rinse.
    Wouldn’t do Botox, never cosmetic surgery, limited faith in skin potions (although I do eye and night and day cream), have dabbled with Touche Eclat and like a decent foundation but am rather lackadaisical about makeup overall. But my hair cut-and-colour? Sacrosanct. For now . . .

  • 03/01/11
    7:28 am

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    Emmaleigh504 said...

    I long for the white hair of my maternal grandmother, but alas I’ve got dirty dishwater hair, so I lighten it to golden blonde. I do let my roots grow every few months in hopes that white will appear. I haven’t found 1 grey hair yet. I think I will have the mousy barely grey hair of my paternal grandmother if I quit dyeing.

  • 03/01/11
    7:30 am

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    Belle de Ville said...

    I would love to let my hair go it’s natural way, medium brown with some gray sprouting out, but Mr. BHB who is of course gray, would kill me. I think having a blond on his arm makes him feel younger.

  • 03/01/11
    7:33 am

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    MJ said...

    Still dying, for many decades, and I have to go every 4 weeks. I get highlights periodically as well so that it looks a fair amount like real hair instead of what I see as the awful one-color look. I have been ruminating about going gray for a long time, but my son says I should wait until I retire. Since my hair is chin-length now I may wait until I’m ready to cut it short again to make the switch, as based on my roots it will be quite white at least in front and I don’t think I can stand a long growing-out period. Like materfamilias I’m trending blonder to make the transition a little easier – I hope.

  • 03/01/11
    7:37 am

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    AN said...

    In my mid 30s, I’ve been dyeing my hair for a few years now since I have a few silvers front and centre and they do show up on a pixie cut!

    I would like to go silver in my 60s like Dame Helen (but have an aversion to salt & pepper). So now each time I see my Dad, I’ve taken to peering at his head to see whether I’m going to go silver or pewter as I take after him(I think Dad is getting seriously creeped out though by all the peering and questioning…haha)

    Lisa -atleast you’re blonde going grey. Think of dark haired folks like me who have so much less flexibility…they must choose whether or not to take the path less travelled far sooner than you needed to…..

  • 03/01/11
    7:46 am

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    evencleveland said...

    I’ve been letting my hair grow out – I’m only 32, but I’ve had gray hairs since my teenage years and there is already plenty of silver. I’m a little conflicted about it, but coloring costs a lot of money, and when I estimate how much I could save in the next ten years, it equates to some pretty killer trips. I think I’d rather have the trips. We’ll see.

  • 03/01/11
    7:46 am

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    AN said...

    I hate the thought of someone coming round from behind me, expecting a 30-year old, when, suddenly, “Gah! It’s an oldish lady!”

    This actually happened to the hubby in reverse. Paris circa 2000. Our first time there. We’re 25. Shortsighted hubs all excited about the tres chic ladies everywhere and sees miniskirted lady in the distance. Puts on glasses for better look (did I mention vanity forbade him from keeping them on?). Recoils when lady older than his mum – but infinitely more chic – walks by:) I laughed till I cried (I don’t need glasses to see whether someone 10m away is 30 or 60)

    That was the last time he took out his glasses to watch ANY woman walk by!

  • 03/01/11
    7:46 am

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    ms Givens said...

    Love Meryl’s gray!

  • 03/01/11
    7:48 am

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    QueenBeeSwain said...

    I’d be a ginger if not for the colorist. And if you’re still loving blonde and identify with being a blonde (I was one when I was little, but then hello auburn) talk with the colorist to see what ideas they have to go tastefully and gracefully “54 and blonde”?!

    xoox

    kHm

  • 03/01/11
    8:01 am

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    Tabitha said...

    I started going grey at 38 and covered it up with semis until I hit 40.
    Now it’s every two weeks at the hairdressers. I hate going, I resent sitting in that chair for two hours and it’s a fortune.I wouldn’t suit blonde, I’d have to have it stripped and dyed silver grey but I’m not ready for that yet

    Love the photo of you all as children! I didn’t meet anyone who didn’t have blue eyes till I was ten.

  • 03/01/11
    8:01 am

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    Candy Dye said...

    How apropos to be a part of this discussion today! I’m on my way to have highlights done for the second time in my life. Never colored my hair before this in all of my (soon to be) 55 years. I’m thinking it is transitional, as I agree with you that the view from behind should agree with the view from the front. In another ten or twenty years, I will make further decisions. Here’s to highlights for now!

  • 03/01/11
    8:02 am

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    Tabitha said...

    Whoops started going grey at 28 not 38

  • 03/01/11
    8:05 am

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    CDG said...

    When I was a bit younger than my mid-thirties self, my dark brown hair was shot through with chestnut and cherry. I took this for granted.

    Now, twice yearly, I have those colors chemically reinserted to my dulling brown locks.

    If I trend like my mother, I’ll go gray in my late forties, so my plan to gradually lighten my color for a few years beforehand, so I can be honey brown until such time as I’m ready to admit gray.

    Of course, plans change, don’t they?

  • 03/01/11
    8:15 am

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    Jan said...

    Beloved, who began to go grey in his twenties and is nearly completely so, would strangle me if I dyed my hair. So I guess I will go the way of my grandmother, the Proper Southern Lady, with the grey gradually overtaking my curly, dark brown locks (which has already started) until the brown is nearly completely gone in my late 80s, if I should be as fortunate to live so long.

  • 03/01/11
    8:28 am

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    DocP said...

    53 and no gray yet. As a young child, I had “new copper penny” hair – gradually darkened as I grew. I have been using dye to return to that childhood shade since my early 20’s. I suspect I will take after my great-grandmother who said “I’ll never have a gray hair on my head as long as they keep making that henna color.”

  • 03/01/11
    8:32 am

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    Karena said...

    I am very silver just not ready to take the plunge.

    Lisa we have seen women look stunning in silver and then those that well, look like little old ladies. So it is how you put it together with makeup etc.

    By the way you are still young!!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

  • 03/01/11
    8:40 am

    Reply

    Walking Barefoot said...

    What exquisite timing! My best friend and I were discussing coloring the other day. I’ve been highlighting since college; she’s starting to discover more greys that she’d like, and is thinking about coloring. I warned her that once you start, you can’t stop — but apparently, you can! My natural color is dirty blonde. It looks pretty mousy w/o the highlights. I know what you mean about dark haired women being taken more seriously, and every once in awhile I consider going dark rather than lighter. But blonde fits my personality and outlook on life.

  • 03/01/11
    8:48 am

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    Jools said...

    Find thee a good colorist! Those of us who reside in the big city need to keep up appearances. Good for morale and all that. Don’t worry that someone will be shocked to see your front after seeing you from the back. Unless you’re doing pilates 7 times a week and you’re dressed completely inappropriately these young people are smart! And on the off chance you surprise someone they’ll give a happy smile to see a good role model.

  • 03/01/11
    8:55 am

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    Someone said...

    Ok, here’s my hair history: golden blonde (never white-blonde) until my thirties, when it started darkening. It is still what I’d call dark blonde, not *quite* a light brown, and has remained the lightest hair of all of us six kids. (One sis was the same blonde I was until college, when she turned as Very dark brown as our other sister had been from birth. It was kinda weird! But then, of course, she took to bleaching it.)

    Enter a bit of silver, occurring mostly underneath, by 40 or so (it took its time). It really is silver, which I love, although chances are I will go as snow white as my mom and her sisters eventually. I am about to turn 47.

    Except for one time when my sister dyed me a bit darker to even out some uneven sun-lightening, I have never ever used dye nor ever paid a salon to color or highlight my hair in any way. And I don’t plan to.

    I am always a bit taken aback by women who dye in reaction to some man’s ageist views about gray. My husband thankfully doesn’t seem to have them…he has actually voiced his approval of the different tones in my hair. (He just turned 34 and sports a fairly similar blond to mine himself – but pretty much no gray yet.)

  • 03/01/11
    9:00 am

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    mgh said...

    At 53 I am mostly silver , with a few dark streaks for contrast. (I will keep the streaks, one way or another – they may end up burgundy or purple.) I look at it like corporate dressing. If it is in pinstripe fabric, it can be a more daring, unconventional shape. If you have greying hair like all the guys, get a really new, edgy cut. It looks like you meant to go grey, not that it just sort of happened. If you are still coloring it, stick with more conservative shapes.

  • 03/01/11
    9:06 am

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    Alex in DC said...

    I’m a bit disappointed my white streaks aren’t concentrated at my widows peak so I could have a single white streak down the center of my head like Alexandra Cabot. (I loved her hair when I was a kid) Lacking that kind of hair drama, I’m stuck with two white wings on each side of my face. I do color it …. myself …. I know, crazy.

    I love white hair on women in their 50s+. Part of me can’t wait to go white myself.

  • 03/01/11
    9:17 am

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    Louise said...

    My story is very similar to yours, except I gave up the blonde earlier. I like having nothing to do with my hair beside cut it and wash it. It is well-behaved.

    When I was 12 and quite blonde, an older cousin said, “Just wait. You’ll turn paper-bag brown just like the rest of us.” At the time, it seemed unbelievably cruel. Her hair has since become the most luscious, pure white. If that’s what’s in store for me, I am content.

  • 03/01/11
    9:25 am

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    Susan Tiner said...

    Refreshing my ash brown hair color every 3 weeks makes me even closer to my hair stylist than mater is to hers.

    That’s an interesting point you make about the clash of reddening skin and yellow hair.

    You’re gorgeous, so I’m sure you’ll look lovely whatever you decide to do.

  • 03/01/11
    9:28 am

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    Northmoon said...

    Coloured my brunette hair red for a few years in my 40’s to cover the beginnning grey hairs. Wanted to be a redhead. After a while I found it a big pain in the *** to dye my hair. I disliked the chemicals on my scalp, my hair was like straw and it took too much time so I stopped ten years ago.

    I’m lucky, my hair is thick, it came in dark grey with silver highlights. I’ve had someone ask who did them!! Since I cut my hair really short a couple of years ago I’m really happy with it.

  • 03/01/11
    9:34 am

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    Stephanie said...

    I know you will look lovely, and be wise and witty, no matter your hair color. I do color, but only in the one spot the gray has had the audacity to appear. (Way too soon, in my honest opinion!) But it is very concentrated, and quite light against my dark hair. I use one of those root touch up kits. I know a streak of gray can look quite chic, but my hair is long, and by the time that piece got anywhere near stylish, the rest of my hair will probably go gray. So I dye that one inch of hair, and sigh.

  • 03/01/11
    9:45 am

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    Madeleine Kolb said...

    After some years of having my hair dyed every 5 weeks or so, I stopped. I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of color, but it turned out to ben whitish. I think it looks great, and so does my boy-friend.

    I think it’s sad in a way that we have to worry about looking old or Letting Ourselves Go.

  • 03/01/11
    9:55 am

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    Donna said...

    Thanks for the shout-out! I agree you will look lovely either way, but I hope you decide to give silver a try. I love the way blondes go gray. As far as the front matching the back, I actually get a kick out of the doubletakes I get. I work hard at being fit and dressing stylishly, and it seems people are sort of surprised to see all that packaged up with gray hair.

  • 03/01/11
    10:02 am

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    Jean S said...

    you’re absolutely right about skin tone and hair color, and I wish more women would take heed of that. One dear friend insists on dyeing her hair dark brown, and it actually makes her look older. Another (who started going gray at 16) gave it up and cut her hair short and looks fabulous. (and, yes, younger)

    I have dark blonde hair and, at 55, a gray streak on the top. I’m doing low-key highlights about twice a year. My stylist and I have agreed that the Barbara Walters ultra-blonde approach is no good.

  • 03/01/11
    10:29 am

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    Jody Brettkelly said...

    I will keep on colouring it blonde for a while yet. (But now I’m headed back to the hair fairy every four weeks which is so time consuming). Love Meryl Streep’s grey though, incredibly chic.

  • 03/01/11
    10:34 am

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    Valentine Hayes said...

    Brunette going grey . What fun to see what we should look like after 60! More reason for good haircuts and wonderful clothes! Diamonds help an older face, too!

  • 03/01/11
    10:41 am

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    Patsy said...

    Interesting that one lady’s husband would be mad if she dyed and one would be mad if she didn’t.

    My blonde-going-grey-gracefully (the rat-fink) husband is happy with what makes me happy.

  • 03/01/11
    10:57 am

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    Blighty said...

    Topic close to my heart. I was highlighted blonde from about 20 to 45; then my hair got so straw like I looked like Worzel Gummidge so I stopped and let it grow out to my natural mousey brown. Now my hair looks shiny but the colour is meh, I think. Mr B would prefer me to go blonde again. I think I will once I go grey, which I suspect will be any day now..I don’t miss the big bills and the long hours sitting in the hairdressers talking to the 17 yr old trainee about my hols xx

  • 03/01/11
    11:09 am

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    Worthy said...

    These responses and your entry are really interesting. My Mom went gray-blonde at age 30… so I really do not know what to anticipate down the road… but my Mom gets complimented all the time on her “dye job” — even though her hair has been natural her entire life.

  • 03/01/11
    11:44 am

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    deja pseu said...

    I’ve heard that our skin tones tend to get cooler as we age, which may be why your color started to feel too yellow for you. I love the color of your natural hair; there’s a hint of red there too.

    For 25-or-so years (from my late 20’s-early 50’s) I colored my hair various shades of red, and came to identify as a redhead. (Full disclosure, there are a lot of them in my mother’s side of the family, and it suited my coloring.) But then as the percentage of gray in my natural color increased, the contrast between the red and the roots was too noticeable, even a week after coloring. I tried going blonde for a while, but felt that it just washed me out. Now I’m a color that’s a slightly warmer and richer version of my childhood dark blonde/light brown, and am very happy with it.

  • 03/01/11
    11:48 am

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    deja pseu said...

    Oh, and I’d consider going “au naturel” but my grey is the dingy kind, and there’s not enough of it to carry the day yet anyway.

  • 03/01/11
    11:55 am

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    LSM said...

    Here’s the post I wrote about the same subject almost three years ago when I turned 40. I’m still not dying my hair, but I have more grays now to show for it. I also still go back and forth as to whether or not I’ll color my hair when I’m looking more gray than brown.

    http://somewhereinthesuburbs.wordpress.com/2008/01/30/going-gray/

  • 03/01/11
    12:03 pm

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    Lara in Long Beach said...

    So, I’m at an event in Chicago a year ago last October and, when someone tags me in a photo from that event, I am appalled. I look like a woman who dyes her hair. Y’know, the hair looks younger than the skin, the bounce and shine aren’t quite what they once were, the celtic roots in my skin are becoming evident, flushing at the drop of a hat. I stopped dying right there with the exception of a monthly 30 minute application of straight creme hair developer on the halo area around my face to fade and blend the grow out. Searching for beautifully grey’d women online, I found Cindy Joseph (http://www.secondact.com/2011/02/silver-haired-supermodels-hit-the-runway/ ). It’s been almost a year now and I’m falling in love with my hair again. It’s long, shiny, silky…..streaked with silver, but considerably darker in back. I went to Maui last week and got that island thing going with my hair because of the warmth and humidity. I felt like a mature goddess. I wore my hair up with flowers and got SO many compliments.
    Going Grey seems to fly in the face of our agist culture. I feel very rebellious….and it feels great!!!

  • 03/01/11
    12:11 pm

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    Preppy 101 said...

    I have never in my life colored my hair. And it is now gray dominant. So it is what it is. I do get a fair number of compliments on the color. I will admit that I don’t mind my hair. It is silver/white as opposed to the “drab, mousey gray” as my mother called it. If you don’t like yours a la natural, you can always change it! You have great hair. xoxo

  • 03/01/11
    12:13 pm

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    Patricia said...

    I have a similar hair color history to Lisa’s – started out quite blond, but now a brownish gray mishmash. That is, what I can tell from the roots that peek out at four weeks. I know the date by reading my hair color – yep, my appointment is this week. My elaborate process of base color, lowlights, and highlights is time consuming, but thankfully, I have a stylist who is nothing short of an artist.

    However, I am quite vain, and I don’t want to look old, so I expect to keep it up for a very long time. Not sure how I’ll feel when I’m in my seventies.

    Some women can look magnificent with thick, silvery hair, but they are rare birds. To pull this off requires impeccable style, face and figure – think of Carmen, the famous silver-haired fashion model.

  • 03/01/11
    12:21 pm

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    Marguerite Krenek said...

    Stopped coloring my hair 6 months ago and have not regretted the decision. Am transitioning from blonde to silver gray. Most people do not even notice. This has been surprising. Resisting the urge to “pixie” just to be rid of the blonde. Great website Going Gray, Looking Great is very inspiring for anyone even thinking about it. You will be wonderful, LPC no matter what you decide. It’s all about the total package.

  • 03/01/11
    12:31 pm

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    Lara in Long Beach said...

    So, here’s a question for everyone:

    What are your opinions of men dying their hair?

    My ex used to have the most beautiful, silky, silver hair. Unfortunately, he chose to dye it brown and I always thought it made him look….off. I think that when one’s hair looks younger than one’s face, one does a disservice to one’s self. I see someone who is not comfortable with getting older, someone who looks like they’re trying to recapture their youth.

  • 03/01/11
    12:49 pm

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    Aleatha said...

    This is a pretty interesting discussion for me. I’m at a similar turning point, but for different reasons. I started dying my hair red when I was 18, and I hadn’t seen my natural hair color since. My mother started going grey quite early (in her mid-20s), so it was reasonable to think that I might be as well, but I never bothered to check.

    I’ve shifted since then between shockingly red at my most rebellious, and a very modest auburn, but always red. I agree that there’s a lot of cultural expectation and identity tied up in hair color. For me, it tied me to my Scottish roots on both sides of my family, and also to a long line of mythical spunky tomboys. It eased my development in the tech field. People were somehow less surprised when I was outspoken, bold, willing to stick up for myself in a room full of argumentative young geeks. Brunettes are not expected to be sassy. Red-heads are, and I was. It was a career asset in industry. In academia, the value remains to be seen.

    When I got pregnant, I couldn’t justify the extra chemical load on my developing baby, so I regretfully started letting my hair grow out to its natural color. Which, it turns out, is a medium, slightly mousy brown with natural red highlights, and not a hint of grey yet, aside from a few stray hairs at the temples. However, having let it get this far (and with the baby due in just a few weeks, which will no doubt make it much harder to get away for a coloring), I’m asking myself how important it is to be to be a “redhead”. Is it a sign of youthful insecurity to dye one’s hair a color which is not one’s own, am I not yet “bien dans ma peau”? Or is it just part and parcel of creating a good appearance, like a nice scarf or a high quality haircut? (Both of which I regard as indispensable.) Is it a decadent indulgence, or a wasteful time sink that I will resent?

    When I do start to go grey, I’d like to do so with some degree of grace, but I worry that it will simply look ratty against the backdrop of my natural hair color during the early stages. If I do keep up the coloring, I am considering continuing to dye it ever more subtly until I have a good full head of grey (50-70%), and then letting it grow out. We shall see.

  • 03/01/11
    1:06 pm

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    That's Not My Age said...

    My colouring is a bit like yours, I was born blonde went darker/mousey in my teens and started getting highlights. In my twenties a grey streak appeared at the front of my hair which I hated at the time but quite like now I’m older. So, the penultimate time I went to get my hair coloured I discussed going grey with the stylist, who talked me out of it and suggested I go lighter instead. You’re right about yellow hair and an ageing face, it just didn’t suit me and I was quite pleased when my darker roots started to show. Now I am a softer golden-y blonde colour but would love to be a gorgeous, all-over steely grey.

  • 03/01/11
    1:22 pm

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    Delia Lloyd said...

    Hi Lisa. I *totally* color my hair and it gets blonder by the year. I’m totally OK with this as I do so few other cosmetic things to myself (including make up, most days) so I just go with it b/c it makes me happy. But as a natural blonde, you know how that feels so I say that if you feel like it’s time to switch things up-go for it! It’s all about how you feel, baby…

    Delia Lloyd
    http://www.realdelia.com

  • 03/01/11
    1:27 pm

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    Caroline said...

    I am probably about 50% grey but I spend time and money to get it colored every four weeks. I get it colored to my childhood color, a light reddish brown.

    I would love to go grey, but I don’t have the right coloring for it. I have green-brown-gold (warm) eyes and warm ivory skin. Grey clashes. If I had blue eyes and cool toned skin, I’d let my hair go grey.

  • 03/01/11
    1:31 pm

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    Sydney Shop Girl said...

    I colour to hide my ‘silver fox hairs’ as I choose to call them. Have done so for quite a while.

    I go to my natural colour but better, that Japanese henna or squid ink black at my Korean hairdresser.

    SSG xxx

    Sydney Shop Girl blog

  • 03/01/11
    1:32 pm

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    Margaret Scheers said...

    I just started coloring my hair, a year ago. I thought my hair looked older than the rest of me. I’ve gone for a lighter version of my real color with highlights.

    My mothers hair is white and I would like to have that but not just yet. Maybe in 5 or 10 years.

    Margaret

  • 03/01/11
    2:42 pm

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    The Preppy Princess said...

    I love the vision of your ponytail “swinging cheerfully,” that’s a lovely image. As one who has gently enhanced brunette hair (all I’d known all my life until I allowed one of our reporters in Oregon to talk me into just ‘doing a rinse’ 10 years ago), I’m a fan of doing whatever one feels comfortable with.

    The classic Times’ story last October asking “Why Can’t Middle-Aged Women Have Long Hair?” brought 1256 comments before they had to close off commenting, here is a link: http://nyti.ms/hStlKH

    Great topic Miss LPC, look at the conversation you have provoked!
    tp

  • 03/01/11
    3:53 pm

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    mise said...

    Oh yes, be you, and if that doesn’t suit, be another you. White, I think, would suit you – there is a certain fragility about your looks despite the underlying sturdiness.

    I’ve been a blonde throughout, and heaven knows what I’ll do when that changes, as I hate hairstylists with all my heart. I will look to your lead.

  • 03/01/11
    3:55 pm

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    rb said...

    this is me at the salon:

    I want highlights.
    But only partial highlights.
    I don’t want them to show.
    I don’t want to have ‘roots’ growing out.
    Get as many of the gray strands in there as you can.
    But, you know, not all of them.
    I don’t want to be blonde.
    Just my natural color.
    Maybe a little warmer.
    Especially around the face.
    But don’t change the overall color of my hair.
    Not chunky highlights!
    Very subtle highlights.
    I don’t want them to show.

    My hairdresser rolls his eyes, does almost nothing, collects $150 and then I go home and stare in the mirror and wonder whether there was anything at all in those foils.

  • 03/01/11
    4:00 pm

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    DocP said...

    Lisa, one other thought. If your blond shade is no longer working with your skin tone, perhaps an expert colorist might have other suggestions. If you want to stop with the hair dye, that is a different issue.

  • 03/01/11
    4:10 pm

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    Julia said...

    I’m a recreational redhead, but recently I like undyed hair the best. I think hair color does not need to be a set identity, any more than shiny eggplant purses or loafers make you who you are. It’s good to be allowed change.

  • 03/01/11
    4:16 pm

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    Jacqueline said...

    I had to start colouring my hair in my late twenties (eeek, lots of grey genes from both my parents!) and I have very dark brown hair. Now, at 44 and probably very grey naturally, I am on this gerbil-wheel of colour appointments. I have always envied fair-haired people like yourself and my husband, for the grey seems to not show up so starkly. I agree whole-heartedly with one of the earlier posts suggesting that you go and see a good colourist who has some good ideas for what might work. You have pointed out quite rightly that it is a constantly evolving issue. I am also going through some changes, as my skin colouring is changing a bit and we are trying to camouflage some of the regrowth as much as possible, so the white line at my part is not as horrible. Having said that, I am not enamoured with the idea of having ten colours in my hair (reminds me of calico cats somehow). I laughed out loud at your scenario regarding people seeing you from behind! Nobody is going to say that about you, you are so gorgeous!!!

  • 03/01/11
    5:14 pm

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    Couture Allure said...

    I colored my brown hair a deep red when I started going gray, but I stopped after a couple of years. I decided to go gray gracefully and wear my badge of honor with pride. And you know what? Instead of gray, its a very pretty silver mixed in with the increasingly duller brown. My hairdresser loves it and so do !!

  • 03/01/11
    5:27 pm

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    hostessofthehumblebungalow said...

    I have highlights every 2 months…have tons of grey but my former chestnut brown is now a sad shade of dishwater so I am shelling out hundreds in the effort to remain somewhat appropriately coiffed….my mother has silver all over and it looks amazingly chic on her.

    The capillary thing is a drag, I have them too…if you want to spend the money there are skin spas that lazer them and apparently get great results.

    Hair dilemmas are very challenging as we get older…good luck with your decision!

  • 03/01/11
    5:30 pm

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    Melodie said...

    I’m allergic to hair dye so I don’t really have a choice. White is better than bald. Right now I’m chocolate brown with the white coming in fairly evenly all over. At least it’s a beautiful sparkling pure white. I was once told that the darker your hair the whiter the color when it turns. Anyone know if that is true? Do blondes always go grey and brunettes go white? I’ve always wondered.

  • 03/01/11
    5:50 pm

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    Muffy Aldrich said...

    I love the picture of your head. You have great hair! I read with amusement your Under-Promise and Over-Deliver strategy. That has always been a pet peeve of mine and now one that I might have to reconcile.

  • 03/01/11
    6:13 pm

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    Nellie Bragg said...

    I turned grey at a rather young age – totally by 40 – and for a few short years tried to arrive at the color I wanted it to be. Never totally satisfied with my choices, so I just accepted the fact that I would be grey.

  • 03/01/11
    6:15 pm

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    Alex in DC said...

    It’s funny as I’ve been thinking about this issue all day. I’d honestly love to let my gray show ….. but I’m unemployed, in my early 40s, and I feel this would be the wrong time in my life to let it all show. Certainly the wrong time to start letting it grow out.
    It’s a bit silly, but as I do color my own hair, I always let a bit of of the gray remain – just a touch so I look comfortable with my aging and not too touched up. Is that weird? Maybe. I think it’s the WASPy Study Girl in me. (the grand dame still wishes for the white streak down the center of my part)

  • 03/01/11
    6:54 pm

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    CashmereLibrarian said...

    Everything you say here makes so much sense. I’m not blond, but I’m 45 and I do have my roots colored. My mother and my older sister both have gorgeous white hair, and I expect I’ll follow them eventually. Just not yet!

  • 03/01/11
    7:06 pm

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    Rita said...

    I hear you. I’m a natural blonde, getting darker with age, except for the gray. I’ve tried going ‘natural’ but quickly went back to covering the gray with three different colors/shades of blonde. The guy that does my hair is very good, but the older I get the more I hate the hassle and the cost. The one thing I’ve concluded in my observations of others in my age group – 59 – there is a very fine line between looking sophisticated with natural gray hair and looking like you are in need of an extreme make-over.

  • 03/01/11
    8:32 pm

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    Rubiatonta said...

    How timely! I just colored my hair this weekend. Out of a box. I’d been growing out last summer’s highlights, which seem to last longer on my curly, non-shampooed hair, but couldn’t stand the dull color washing me out. Later in the spring, I’ll have a bunch of bright foils done, but for now I’m OK with the color.

    I’m a natural blonde, too, but honey-blonde (just this side of strawberry), and alas it’s gotten much darker over the years, with the added thrill of greys in the more recent past. If only I had my mom’s gorgeous almost-Harlow blonde, which is the natural by-product of her original hair color plus a lot of white. My younger sister’s hair is the same basic color as mine, and she blondi-fies, too. (I think she’s a box girl like me.)

  • 03/02/11
    1:35 am

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    Vivelavie said...

    As a new reader who came over from alreadypretty I’d like to thank you very much for this honest post.

    I am 50 and have been colouring my hair since my early thirties. It is light brown/dark blonde and I dyed it first red, then auburn in my forties, and a year ago, when I felt something was off, a soft caramel brown but still wasn’t satisfied, so started to neglect touchups. Finally, after some mediterranean sailing I had my pixie cut redone and almost all the artificial colour was gone. I now have perhaps 25% silver, it looks softer, my hair is thicker.

    I plan to leave it this way, I even got compliments! I’ve taken to using a selftanning face cream and can now wear very lovely colours in my clothing to make up for the lost colour on my head. Semi-precious stone jewelry looks great, too.

  • 03/02/11
    2:47 am

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    pve said...

    Ah, a good or a bad hair day can be the bane of our mane and one’s mere existence. I cling to my toe-head days and look longingly at the tresses of youth and the bounce and lilt of plentiful strands that seem to identify who we are. Tall, blonde, blue-eyed seemingly and swiftly changes or not. To be a slave to dye does get old and the act of freely letting it go or resorting to the natural color is all rhetoric.
    Show us what you deliver.
    pve

  • 03/02/11
    6:10 am

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    Duchesse said...

    At nearly 63, I colour my hair a flaming, anarchic red not really found in nature, having made the decision to go the Third Way: any colour I damn well please. I don’t care what someone viewing me from behind thinks. It’s not for them, it’s for me, a redhead in temperament and taste.

    I find those women, excepting Meryl, look very…practical. How you will look will be an experiment; I like the comments like Rita’s suggesting “many shades of blonde”. If one “looks like a woman who dyes her hair”- too harsh and obvious- she needs a better colourist.

  • 03/02/11
    6:21 am

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    Pink Maple said...

    I color my hair myself with a no-bleach color to go from my normal light brown to dark blonde. No grays yet, but I hope to follow in my lovely great aunts’ footsteps when the time comes–they still color their hair at 83 and 90 respectively and look 10 years younger because of it!

  • 03/02/11
    6:37 am

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    Shelley said...

    I was tow headed young, but grew increasingly dark into my 20s – sort of a mousey ash brown with reddish sparkle in the sun. Enter casual highlights until my mid-30s, when I began to have weaving to stay blonde. The UK didn’t know about weaving and hairdressers were a stupid price so I hit the Clairol bottle – various shades of ash blonde, some of which too light, until I went for ‘medium ash blonde in my 40s. That was simple enough – a colour shampoo once a month or so. I had been told I could do auburn by a hairdresser I respected, but never had the nerve to try it until after I retired. I’ve loved it for 3 years – the dark almost blue-red makes my blue-grey eyes very, very blue. After a run when my face is bright red, the red hair just makes me look – fresh faced and Irish! I’ve been thinking about working my way back to blonde for a while, as blonde to grey is much easier than auburn to grey, but I’m undecided. For most women grey hair is very ageing – only a few pull it off well, I think. The from the back impression isn’t just about hair, mind – ultra stylish clothes and a wiggle in the walk add to it. And really, does it matter what others think if you feel you look your best? I’ll look forward to seeing what you decide to do – or to try. It’s a challenge for most of us at this age, hair.

  • 03/02/11
    7:31 am

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    HHH said...

    There are so many interesting comments so far that I tried to keep my mouth uncharacteristically shut, but this obviously is a topic on everyone’s mind and begs for more of your attention! For the record, Meryl’s hair was dyed gray for Prada. That is not her usual color. She is a blond and colors it. Gray hair which is pretty much uniformly gray, as in the middle picture above, is entirely a “horse of a different color” (pun intended) than hair just streaked with gray, which I assume is your situation. Mine is the former and if I didn’t have it double processed every 3 weeks I would look like a skunk (even 3 weeks is stretching it). Human hair grows 1 inch a month. The person who commented on hair not matching the face is spot-on. I’m in a book club with women primarily in their 70’s and want to send half of them anonymous letters suggesting they find a new colorist. Rich dark brown hair against an older face looks completely inappropriate, as does make-up composed for a 40 year old face.

  • 03/02/11
    9:27 am

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    Flo said...

    If CZ could talk, what would she be telling us?

    http://www.mydogearedpages.com/2011/02/cz-guest-weber-oscar-chic.html

  • 03/02/11
    9:27 am

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    Lara in Long Beach said...

    Thank you, HHH! Nice little validation on the face/hair opinion.

    Since allowing my hair to show it’s age, I swear my face looks younger and brighter. When it was dyed, my face looked older. Maybe it’s like composing a story….when you want to accentuate the qualities of one character, you rub him up against a character devoid of those qualities. Younger hair…..older face. Younger face…….prematurely grey hair.:)

  • 03/02/11
    11:32 am

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    SewingLibrarian said...

    I already have too many people asking me if I’m my kids’ grandmother. I’m not courting additional questions by going gray. (As a side note, I almost wrote this in response to last week’s post on “Aunts.” I started being a mother, by adoption, at age 54, and I’ll be in my mid-seventies by the time the younger child goes to college. Yes, it is hard, and I get tired. I take heart from the fact that my mother turned 93 on Monday and still lives in her own condo.)

  • 03/02/11
    11:34 am

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    Staircase Witch said...

    X tells me he doesn’t ever want me to color my hair, that he thinks it’s beautiful shot through with white. At 41, I still don’t know what I will do. My hair is still largely reddish-brown and one would have to look closely at individual strands to see the white, but it is encroaching very gradually, like the advance of the Sahara desert. My face, however, is still reasonably unlined.

    One thing for certain: I will not go blonde, as so many women are urged to do regardless of their original hair color. Not that I have anything against blond hair, but I have never been a blonde. It just wouldn’t make sense, and for me blonde highlights would be the female equivalent of the combover or the male perm or John Boehner’s spray tan: midlife desperation. If I ever do color my hair, it will be a natural-looking brown or copper hue.

    I guess I’ve been lucky to miss the premature grey gene. My mother went white in her mid-thirties (when, after the initial mortification of being offered a senior citizen discount at restaurants and mistaken for my five-year-old brother’s grandmother, she just decided to embrace it), and my sister has been dyeing her hair since her late twenties, a light brown–almost a dirty blond. To me, she looks good, but her hair has always been her despair: thin, fine, and shapeless. The coloring, strangely enough, seems to have improved its appearance.

    I like the photograph you’ve posted. Your hair looks complex, interesting, and real. My husband, who thinks women get more attractive and interesting as they get older, would probably consider you a babe. :)

  • 03/02/11
    12:17 pm

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    mary jo said...

    My mother, a tow-head blond was gray by 30, so you see the genes I inherited. But moving on, I really think the blond that I’ve seen on you is becoming and there’s no need to change it yet–for what it’s worth :)

    xo Mary Jo

  • 03/02/11
    12:46 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    miss sophie – I saw the billykirk outrage. I hope they recover. And I hope for a showing of your new purple hair:).

    NancyDQ – If highlights suffice, you are I am sure just fine. I was now having to have my hair dyed AND highlighted. Too much.

    Jen – But are the white streaks distinguished? I used to have a streak but now what will appear is a mystery…

    Genuine Lustre – I think my hair will be like yours, maybe the brown a little darker. It’s definitely not all grey. I also think that because, as you say, movement is key, I can maintain a youthful look. I hope so. Youthful, but still my age.

    Mater – Ha! Don’t fix what’s not broken. And I do find that the uncolored hair is more, um, wiry. Don’t know if I like that.

    Emmaleigh – I think mousy hair goes blonde quite nicely. That’s what I used to have:).

  • 03/02/11
    12:47 pm

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    Lisa said...

    Belle – Ha! You arm candy you:).

    MJ – You know, I haven’t even asked my kids. I wonder what they will think? I imagine that I will start adding in brown lowlights, as a transitional stage. One that may go one for a very long time:).

    AN – I agree, it’s easier to go from blonde dyeing to grey. Right now I can certainly see where the dye leaves off, but it’s not so dramatic that I’m shocking people. Or at least they are being quite polite if I am. I love your husband’s story… I knew I wasn’t crazy.

    evencleveland – Well hello you! The money was a big part of this. Since I appear to have semi-retired, spending $300 every six weeks for my wonderful hair cut and the colorist was pretty steep. So now I have long hair that’s going natural. I enjoy the experiment. At 32, in your shoes, I just can’t know what I would have done. I do think that for artists/designers there is more room for flexible hair, but maybe that’s just because I’m not one.

    ms. Givens – Thank you. And thank you for the photo.

    QBS – You? A red-head? So much is explained. So is my daughter, by the way. With a big personality comes the right to go big with hair color:).

  • 03/02/11
    12:47 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Tabitha – Every two weeks? Wow. You look fantastic, but I can see why you resent the time. Thanks for the compliment on the family photo. I understand that blue eyes will be gone from the planet in a century or so.

    Candy Dye – Interesting. Why did you start now? Aesthetics? To cover grey? Of course, absolutely, I will cheer your highlights for now.

    CDG – Plans do change:). When I was young I swore I’d never dye my hair. In those days it was sort of taboo for some of us. Now I imagine something like 80% of Caucasian women over 30 must color their hair in one way or another.

    Jan – When in doubt, follow the ways of the Proper Southern Lady nearest you:).

    DocP – No gray? Wow. And henna is a great thing, for those who can avail themselves of it.

    Karena – I am OK to be 54, and think of myself as late middle-age. Which I don’t mind. Youthful can be ours at many ages, I think.

  • 03/02/11
    12:50 pm

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    Lisa said...

    Walking Barefoot – Blonde with highlights is wonderful. We used to get those highlights in the sun – but now with the skin fears, why not highlight? And those who take blondes less seriously have only themselves to blame when they get schooled…

    Jools – My colorist was pretty good. She did as I asked, she pointed out I needed to go darker to cover the gray and then highlight. However, I promise I will do my best to keep up appearances. After all, one must present oneself appropriately:).

    Someone – Your husband sounds like a keeper. But you knew that already. Your hair sounds gorgeous, BTW.

    mgh – Good point. If I go grey, I do want to look as though I’ve done it on purpose. I also want to look youthful and female. Thank you.

    Alex – I love the look of white wings. As much as I do a stripe. But you know I wasn’t ready to try this, not at all, until just one day several weeks ago when instead of going to the salon I thought I’ll just go get a trim at Supercuts and see where it takes me.

    Louise – Paper bag brown. Nothing wrong with paper bag color. I quite like it, myself.

  • 03/02/11
    12:51 pm

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    Lisa said...

    Susan – Thank you very much. I will rely on everyone here to tell me if my experiment proves a failure.

    Northmoon – I love that! Who did your highlights!

    Stephanie – Oh thank you so much. I look older. I asked my significant other. But I may like looking older. We shall see. If I had only one inch to dye I’d probably do it too:). And maybe sigh.

    Madeline – I agree. I mean, what’s so bad about looking our age? As long as we are in good shape and look healthy and as though we are intentional and happy with our outcomes.

    Donna – You are so welcome. Thank you for participating. You see you get the kind of double takes I’d prefer.

    Jean S. – Highlights twice a year. Now THAT I can get on board with. I am fascinated by how my face changes now that my hair is cooler colored near my face.

  • 03/02/11
    12:52 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Jody – You’re young – I am sure it looks great. The hair fairy. Ha!

    Valentine – Ah yes. What was I thinking! Must wear more diamonds next to face! You are so right:).

    Worthy – So natural works for your mom. Good info for me. Thanks. The responses are so helpful, all of them, to clarify my thought processes.

    Deja – I remember when you changed your color and I liked the change. If gray scatters don’t work, I get it. I have yet to see.

    LSM – Thank you very much. I appreciated the link.

    Lara – So your hair itself looked good? If this grows out shiny, I will be a happy woman. And I too dream of the goddess look. Of somehow making more of an unconventional statement. Easier in Hawaii, of course, but should be possible in California too.

  • 03/02/11
    12:52 pm

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    Lisa said...

    Preppy 101 – I am in awe. Never colored your hair. Seriously, I am in awe. Thank you for the compliment. We shall see what my hair is really like:). xox

    Patricia – It was the base color, lowlights, highlights thing that finally got me. Especially since, after all that, I began to feel that I looked bad in yellow. You see, I am also quite vain. It’s just that my vanity for some reason doesn’t preclude looking my age. If that makes sense. It is also true that I have always looked at least 5 years young than I am. Even as a teenager. Which I loathed, in those days:).

    Marguerite – Oh fun! I love having company for projects! I will spend some time on that website. Thank you. I too am looking at the total package, wanting to make sure that the whole impression is who I want to be.

    Lara – Men’s hair has definitely not yet made it into stuff they can play with for vanity. At least not men in my generation. For the 20-year olds, it’s different, right?

    Aleatha – Absolutely fascinating. Personally, of course, because I have a red-headed daughter. We should all have mythical spunky tomboys in our family, no? As to whether you stay red, at this point in society, I believe that hair color is more like a scarf than like flesh. More an accessory of choice, than an indicator of identity. So if the red works, wear it. And the day may come when you get sick of the effort, or it starts to conflict with who you feel to be. I have found that I’ve been pretty clear all along what I wanted to do in the moment. But, as you say, we shall see.

    That’s Not My Age – I can imagine that you and I might both look good with the white hair of our babyhoods. But to do that now would be very Annie Lennox. And I’m not quite that radical, although I admire the bravery in others.

  • 03/02/11
    12:54 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Delia – Hi Delia:). I agree. No right or wrong. Just what we say to ourselves in the mirror.

    Caroline – For me right now it is 80% about the coloring of my skin in contrast to my hair.

    SSG – Squid ink black. Yay!

    Margaret – Thank you.

    TPP – Oh thank you for that link! I remember the article, and the fuss, but not well enough to locate the story. I am grateful every day for the commenters here. Every day.

    mise – I will report back from the front. The slightly fragile front:). Who is there of high sensibility who does not experience fragility?

  • 03/02/11
    12:54 pm

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    Lisa said...

    rb – Bawahahahaha. Exactly. Someone’s got to put that in a TV series. Hot In Cleveland?

    DocP – Understood. I want to stop with the hair dye, but if it doesn’t look the way I want it to, I will go back to color and this time tell them to work with my skin tone above all.

    Julia – Recreational redhead. I am learning so many new terms:). Yes, I agree with you on hair color and identity, especially in this generation.

    Jacqueline – Oh thank you. I swear that although I was prettier in my younger days I have never felt so happily attractive as I do now, and you guys’ comments are responsible in no small way. I think that because I am not working, I have a little window where I can experiment, and if the regrowth isn’t camouflaged, oh well. So I’m fiddling with something that was set in place for close to a decade.

    Couture Allure – Yay! More hopeful examples!

    Hostess – Have you done the laser thing? I’ve heard about it too. Hmm. This aging business seems to have all sorts of new technology involved:).

  • 03/02/11
    12:55 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Melodie – Well said. White is better than bald:). I don’t know how blondes turn white/gray vs. others. I should do research…

    Muffy – Thank you:).

    Nellie – Acceptance is a very useful strategy for many things.

    Alex – I would let gray show too. Stripe or no stripe. Sturdy Gals want to face reality, at least a little bit:).

    CashmereLibrarian – I found I knew when the time was to start playing around with all this. No rules. None whatsoever in my mind.

    Rita – I am aiming for sophistication. I think:). It is annoying to pay all that money. Especially afterwards, I’m still 54.

  • 03/02/11
    12:56 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Rubiatonta – Maybe I will look into doing whatever I wind up doing, myself. Addressing the cost issue, at least.

    Vivelavie – Thank you for coming over from Already Pretty. I’m honored. I try to make this all as true as I can. Yet another happy example of graying. Thank you so much.

    pve – I will absolutely report back. Thank you for the eloquence.

    Duchesse – You make the Extreme Style choice. Understood. That’s one way to go. I find these women quite beautiful, and think that the gray hair makes a faerie-like nimbus that actually highlights youthfulness.

    Pink Maple – Sounds like your family has a tried and true approach:).

    Shelley – How fun to have some time as a redhead. I’d look dreadful, but sounds like it works well for you. Ha! You caught me on the wiggle. I prefer to think of it as a stride but you may be right:). It is a challenge, and I’ll report back in a few months.

  • 03/02/11
    12:56 pm

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    HHH – Why keep one’s mouth shut! No! I love these comments. And am very happy to give it my attention, especially since I am trying out something so new. Understood about Meryl and Prada. I am streaked with gray. We will see what happens.

    Lara – Yes, the contrast, and it is the whole package.

    Sewing – Well this is special circumstances indeed. You are a brave woman. Who sounds as though she has very stalwart genes.

    Staircase – Ha! Yes, those theoretical physicists have always found me appealing:). Just kidding. If I think back to 41, I hadn’t even begun to color my hair at all by that point. Party of my impetus was working at a dot.com where everyone was 25:).

    mary jo – Thank you. It’s a little bit fun to have a project.

  • 03/02/11
    1:08 pm

    Reply

    Debbie said...

    As a natural redhead born to two natural redheads, I am watching both of them very closely to see what the future holds for me.

    My father, now 74, went completely silver/white years ago. It suits him, but he now colors his hair the shade of a trench coat (and not a very nice one at that). I wish he wouldn’t, but I’ve heard that in reality, men are far more vain than women.

    Mom, on the other hand, is still very much red, at 69. She has never colored her hair, which is always met with looks of disbelief when she answers the question of what her natural color is. If you look closely, there are greys mixed in, but they are a champagne color and blend to look like highlights.

    At 40, I am going down the path of my mom. I have greys, but they look more like highlights. I am hoping to hold onto my color at least as long as my mother has – as I already fork over a hefty sum for a keratin straightener on a semi-regular basis, I am not amenable to adding to it the cost of coloring. On top of it, my hairdresser refuses to color my hair, not even to hide the greys, not even though it would mean more money for him.

    Hopefully, I will grey gracefully. Redheads are not known for their even temperament, and I dread fighting it every step of the way.

  • 03/02/11
    2:04 pm

    Reply

    Lara in Long Beach said...

    Lisa,

    One of the things I did do after swearing off the bottle…:)…is using a milder shampoo and conditioner. Why stop one harsh chemical if you’re just going to use another harsh chemical? I think it’s the lack of them that has allowed my hair to get shiny again. As an FYI…I’m using Giovanni 50/50 clarifying shampoo and conditioner (my hair is thick for being fine and straight). It’s wonderful!!! And it’s available at Whole Foods.

  • 03/02/11
    3:27 pm

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    Loretta said...

    In the 30 years we’ve been married, my husband has only made 3 demands on me re my appearance:
    1)he likes flats with cute socks
    2)he likes painted nails
    3)he hates gray hair.

    I’ve disappointed him with #2, since I can never be bothered, so I indulge him with #3 (and #1 when and if it ever stops snowing).

    And actually, as much as I DESPISE the $ and time dedicated to it, today’s color products make my hair sleek and healthy. I’d be a steely, wired-hair frizzy mess if I went gray.

  • 03/02/11
    4:23 pm

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    The Devoted Classicist said...

    Champagne might be considered. I mean the hair color for blondes past a certain age, but the beverage might make you feel better about it, in any case.

  • 03/02/11
    6:11 pm

    Reply

    PattyKaye said...

    I started going grey in high school. I started coloring my hair medium brown and then I went to low lights. One day I realized that I was spending way too much time getting my hair presentable. “We need to color it but not cut it” and a few weeks later “We need to cut it but not color it”. Bottom line I moved to another state and it was the perfect time to go natural.
    I get a very good (read-expensive) haircut that works and everyday someone complements my hair.
    By the way, people always say “I’d go grey if my hair would look like yours.” and my reply is “How do you know it wouldn’t?”

  • 03/03/11
    2:01 am

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    Sarah (Semi Expat) said...

    Well, I’ve got to admit that yes, I do colour my hair and I applaud you for your decision LPC. Last time I was at the hair salon I thought to myself how many hours and $$ have I spent over the last 10 years or so getting this done? And when do I let the grey takeover and what will it look like?? My mother has never coloured her hair and has it cut in an attractive pixie cut but then again her colouring is cool which suits grey hair. Mine is warmer and does not. Well that’s my argument. At the moment! x

  • 03/03/11
    3:59 am

    Reply

    Colleen said...

    My sister has had patches of grey in her brunette hair since she was three years old. While I did not go grey until my early thirties, we black Irish seem to have a hard time letting the brunette go. And yet, every three weeks (and the third week I must use reinforcements) I think about the expense, the time and the brain cells that must be affected by putting chemicals onto to scalp. I am 53 and I think that I am just too “young” to do it – yet. I envy those grey goddesses with silvery hair who look stunning, but most just look washed out to me. I read “Going Grey” and loved her bravery, but also remember that the process took a full year and if I ever do it I am going for total liberation. Wonderful post.
    Best,
    Colleen

  • 03/03/11
    4:43 am

    Reply

    Mardel said...

    I haven’t needed to color my hair, yet, and I am still somewhat torn about whether I will and when. My hair is brown, it was medium brown in my youth with more red highlights, then got darker. Now I definitely have fine silver streaks, and they are becoming more common, but are manageable now.

    The women with groomed elegant silver hair appeal to me, but the process of getting there seems daunting.

    I know I am very lucky. And I don’t yet know exactly what I will do. If my hair were lighter or blond, if my gray highlights weren’t silvery streaks, I would be in the colorists chair ASAP.

  • 03/03/11
    5:04 am

    Reply

    lenore* said...

    I have seen women look incredibly beautiful w silver hair!
    Always admire them…hope to look like them one day,
    perhaps my wardrobe will all be in charcoal greys & wear mikimoto pearls! Just saying…

    xo as always*

  • 03/03/11
    9:47 am

    Reply

    Michelle said...

    I have dark brown hair and started going gray in my early twenties. I started using henna on my hair in college, just to play around with hair color–not to cover up my gray, of which there wasn’t much, anyway.

    Fast-forward to my late thirties. Struggling with depression, having the longest hair (barely shoulder length) I’ve had in my life…I looked in the mirror, and saw that my hair was making me look older. So, because of an allergic reaction to one hair dye a few years before, (and because I don’t mind the red :-) ), it was back to the henna. Which now took *hours* to use, because of the long hair + numerous stubborn gray hairs.

    Exercise and paying attention to style and other matters improved my spirit, so now I sport shorter hair in a variety of colors, as I let the henna grow out without any thought to trying to “blend” the color at all.

  • 03/03/11
    10:11 am

    Reply

    quintessence said...

    I feel superfluous here as the 100th commenter or so but will put in my 2 cents nonetheless. If I knew I could have gorgeous warm gray hair, I wouldn’t color mine but since from the glimpses I have seen, it doesn’t seem to be the case, I will continue coloring. Not to mention I am way too pale to have light hair – I might just disappear!!

  • 03/03/11
    10:21 am

    Reply

    Josephine said...

    I was definitely blond when I was younger and now my hair is going quite grey especially at the front, perversely it seems to be going darker at the back. I normally have blond highlights to blend in. However this time I went to have it coloured it was looking decidedly brassy. So I took the plunge and asked the colourist to tone it down and just add a few ash streaks to even it out. The result is certainly more natural however it is taking a bit of getting used to as I do miss the blond, but as my daughter pointed out at some stage you have to choose between your hair and your face. I must admit that it is softer and more flattering to the skin tone.

  • 03/03/11
    1:19 pm

    Reply

    Kathy said...

    Mine is all natural (gray) and I can’t believe I kept coloring until last year! It looks so much better than my old dye job.

    Give yourself permission to try it, you can always change your mind. Also, keep in mind that you won’t know how it really looks until the last of the dye is cut off.

  • 03/03/11
    3:52 pm

    Reply

    Terri said...

    I do not color my hair…although I often fantasize about going platinum grey and getting the inevitable over with. I think a head of striking white is beautiful.

  • 03/03/11
    7:59 pm

    Reply

    Maggie da Geek said...

    Oh dear,

    I made one of those 100 comments on AmidPrivilege — and I didn’t comment on any of the models. I wasn’t meaning to insult anyone … and I am over here checking out your blog today. I think you look lovely.

  • 03/03/11
    8:02 pm

    Reply

    Maggie da Geek said...

    Oops,
    Wrong blog

  • 03/04/11
    5:49 am

    Reply

    DiscoveredJoys said...

    As a gent I didn’t mind showing grey hairs in my early twenties – I could kid myself that it added the look of ‘experience.

    Now I’m near retirement age I’m almost entirely white. I tell people that it is ‘sun kissed’.

    Mind you, I grew a full beard recently (now shaved off) and that too was white and it made me look old. People started talking to me in the street, and shop assistants were suddenly more helpful. Go figure.

  • 03/04/11
    7:55 am

    Reply

    Patricia said...

    I started highlighting my natural blonde in my mid- 40s. When I turned 50, I selected L’Oreal’s Champagne Blonde. One month I noticed that I was not seeing any roots growing in, only to realize that my natural color had TURNED Champagne Blonde! So I ceased coloring.
    While some (well…all except my husband who both knows better and is color blind) will say my hair is gray, silver, or white, the truth is, I’m STILL, AND ALWAYS WILL BE blonde; just a shade I, and I alone, call “Sands of the Beach Blonde” no matter what other, less kind, souls call it.

  • 03/04/11
    8:37 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Debbie – Champagne is a wonderful color:). That’s how my mother’s hair changed too, and maybe I will be so lucky.

    Lara – And you know I went to Whole Foods that day and bought those products, right? I did. Thank you.

    Loretta – At one request per decade, I’d do exactly as you do:).

    Devoted Classicist – I’m working on champagne. Maybe I should buy a bottle to open on the day the last yellow meets the salon floor. Perrier Jouet?

    PattyKaye – Exactly! Most of all I needed to know what is happening. How can I know what I want to do if I don’t know the baseline?

    Sarah – I think it’s a process, this. A long and complex relationship. Follow your heart, as in all relationships…

  • 03/04/11
    8:38 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Colleen – I understand that the process would be far more dramatic, and require far more commitment, were I brunette. I think if I had brown hair and did want to go gray, I’d start by going lighter and adding highlights, to judge the effect, and to soften the transition.

    Mardel – Sounds as though nature will make this pretty easy for you:). Nothing wrong with some easiness.

    Lenore – Yes. With style!

    Michelle – I am very glad that the depression has lifted. In comparison, going gray is nothing at all.

    quintessence – No one is ever superfluous. Thank you.

    Josephine – A few ash streaks is definitely a route I may take. I would choose my face too, I admit. It’s stood by me. Hair is a more fickle friend:).

  • 03/04/11
    8:38 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Kathy – I’m quite enjoying myself so far. Thank you. The dye may take a long time to be gone, since I’ve got long hair, but it was mostly highlights, so I think it’ll be OK.

    Teri – I agree.

    Maggie – Well thank you for your comments. Also for alerting me to the issue.

    DiscoveredJoys – My uncle has the whitest head of hair. It looks great. However, when he grew a beard, one of the little family children thought he was Santa Claus:).

    Patricia – I love that! Sands of the Beach Blonde. I will probably be Silver Dollar Blonde, the Beach Friend:).

  • 03/04/11
    2:05 pm

    Reply

    The Demoiselle said...

    Unfortunately I can’t weigh in on this matter with any helpful insights but wanted you to know I very much enjoyed reading the post! ;)

  • 03/04/11
    6:36 pm

    Reply

    Susan said...

    After 26 years of coloring my hair, I decided to “get back to my roots”. I decided to blog about it, mostly to post photos of my transition as well as to journal my feelings about the process. A few years ago I read Anne Kreamer’s article in More magazine about her journey and her future book Going Gray. It was after reading her book that I made the decision to transition to my real self. I have been AMAZED at the varying opinions about women and gray hair. I have been fascinated at the number of blogs and websites I have found about women transitioning to gray. I found wonderful encouragement and support at Going Gray Looking Great and Rock the Silver just to name two of many. I enjoyed reading this post and all the interesting comments and opinions. In the end, one must do what makes one feel best about one’s self. I have found it’s been great for me and I am glad I took the leap. I do find myself in a huge minority in my community but I also find that many women seem to envy my “courage” or “bravery” and I get many compliments on the color. My hair has also inspired many great conversations with people in the most unlikely places. Feel free to check me out at http://www.almostsilversue.blogspot.com. It is what it is.

  • 03/04/11
    9:41 pm

    Reply

    ADG said...

    It makes no difference quite frankly, what color your strands end up. You will remain consistently elegant and lovely, in a sturdy and stunning way.

    Onward.

  • 03/05/11
    6:21 am

    Reply

    firstmilk said...

    I high- and low-lighted mine throughout most of my early twenties, went red and dark brown and red again. (People who had met me with red hair continued thinking it was red long after it wasn’t–some of them still do.)

    I decided to go with my natural color three years ago, and enjoy it much more than I thought I would. It’s darker than I thought it would be, somehow, and the silvers that have begun glistening bring me no small amount of joy. They feel like something won.

  • 03/05/11
    5:41 pm

    Reply

    Susan said...

    Lisa, I’m coming to this party late via another blog, even though I usually read your posts here.

    I am in the camp that dark dyed hair (whether red, brown, etc) really ages a woman once she is in her mid 50s or beyond. IF they want to look like the eccentric Auntie Mame, they should have at it.

    I agree with you that a pretty gray or white brightens a face and lets some youthfulness (rather than harshness) show through.

    It’s also important though to adjust makeup. I think that might help all of us, in fact.

    I have hair somewhat like yours. It’s multicolored now due to my colorist giving me highlights to better blend with the white. I’m not covering the white–just blending with it. I have to say that I like it.

    Good luck to you with your hair color saga. Thanks for an interesting post which generated many replies. I enjoyed reading them as well.

  • 03/05/11
    5:43 pm

    Reply

    Karen said...

    I am a retired hairdresser at the tender age of 55 due to disability. I was taught by a master colorist and learned a few tricks along the way.

    For those who hate the costly visit to the salon, try this: Instead of using a semi or permanent hair color try a temporary color.

    The advantages are no line of demarcation (no telltale sings of natural root color regrowth), fades after a period of time, (don’t have to wait for color to grow out, naturally highlights hair when color grabs to gray and is easier on your hair. In essence, instead of weeks it may be months for the return visit to the salon. Some draws backs are that some shampoos may strip color sooner than others and that the fade happens so gradualy that one morning you wake up and notice all your gray. It is easier to see if you want to go all gray or not.

    The secret to having any great hair color is hair gloss. If you don’t want to use it everyday, some companies make a gloss hair color dye.

    Live Love and Laugh through going gray

  • 03/06/11
    11:52 pm

    Reply

    Jessica said...

    My goodness, I was about to leave a comment almost identical to Karen’s above. I too am a retired hairstylist and had the same thoughts…especially about putting some kind of gloss on your hair since grays can tend to have a mind of their own, it tames them a bit and will give you some of that “good damage” feel that coloring gives, which is really the main reason I color my hair…for the good damage. No matter what you do, hair is hair and you can change your mind any time if you don’t like it and try maybe a different shade of blonde in a temporary color, easy peasy.
    Please keep us updated…and good luck! :)
    xo J~

  • 03/12/11
    6:46 am

    Reply

    Vyvyan said...

    i was always light brown/beach blonde until i moved further north and inland, and i grew older and grayer. eventually i had that ugly, dirty blonde salt and pepper look. an old friend came to visit and expressed concern as to my health; she said i looked “grey” like cancer patients. YIKES!!! time to color the hair! so i’ve settled on a lovely caramel color that is dark enough not to look bleachy, but is light enough to blend in with the grey. it looks very much like the color of my youth. i would love to have that beautiful silver look, but i’d only be changing color of hair dye so blonde it is for now!

  • 03/18/11
    7:39 pm

    Reply

    Vivienne Grainger said...

    I ran into a physical problem whose upshot was that I could not work for more than two years. Due to this problem, I was assigned a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (I am only a Privileged WASP in my heart, and about 40% of my DNA. No fortune, crumbling or otherwise, attends this). She advised me to color my hair; research apparently indicates that those who are not gray are more likely to be hired.
    Born brunette, I’ve always longed to be redhead. So, at the age of 62, I Went There. It’s unlikely I’ll stay long; it feels alien and disruptive, and while it might have worked for my younger face, it doesn’t add much to this one.
    My current debate is only whether I shall bleach and dye my hair silver, thus failing to leave behind the Roots Problem, or get as close as I can to my natural color, and once hired, allow Nature to take her course.
    I found that part of my disillusionment with the color I wanted so badly for much of my life is that I’m quite disgusted with feeling coerced to tell that lie. But there is some part of me which says that if someone is so shallow as to require that deception to see what I can contribute, they emphatically deserve to be lied to.

  • 03/24/11
    2:05 pm

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    Anya said...

    Sorry ladies, but gray is out in my book. It adds a full 10 years to your face… Subtlety is the name of the game here.

  • 12/18/11
    10:48 am

    Reply

    Liz said...

    I know this is an old post, but I just happened upon it and it interests me.

    I suspect that I will not “go grey,” but rather “go white.” I grew up with many relatives in their 80s and 80s, and all had bright white hair – none had passed through a grey phase. And, at 35 with just a small number of hairs in one area of my head changing color, I can say that that color is WHITE. I am glad that I may not wrestle with the grey question, because quite frankly, grey simply does not look good with the skin tone of some people. Just as some shades of blonde begin to look bad with “old skin,” grey also clashes. It may be natural, but that doesn’t mean it is the optimal hair color to go with aging skin.

    My suggestion would be to consult with a very good hairdresser, who understands the subtlety of color. Grey is always “aging,” simply because young people rarely have grey hair, so one knows you are almost certainly at least of some minimum age if you sport grey hair. But, it it is not necessarily “aging,” meaning that it makes your face look older. I live in New England, where most older women do not color their hair. Some people (probably the majority) of course look dowdy and simply ungroomed. But they would look that way regardless of their hair color. A good number of others, though, look attractive and elegant… even youthful. I think the key is a good cut, and the right kind of grey tone for one’s skintone. Some have bright white hair, some have very silver hair, and some have salt and pepper… but it is neatly styled, often with a more precision cut than a younger person can get away with. These women seem to really know who they are, and they make the most of what they have NOW, not what they used to have.

    Alas, if you find that your mix of grey and brown does not suit your skintone, you may want to work with a hairdresser to either go MORE GREY, or to stay blonde, but a less yellow-y blonde. An ash tone or a beige blonde can still work with a redder skintone.

    12/18/11
    2:13 pm
    Lisa said...

    I confess, absolutely, that I am doing this because I prefer the look of gray hair to my old pretend blonde. Vanity, in this case, supports my politics and convenience:).

  • 12/18/11
    10:54 am

    Reply

    Liz said...

    80s and 90s, that is.

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