Going Gray….Gracefully? My Journey to Sweet Honesty

Well, I’ve gone and done it. Said sayonara, adios, and au revoir to hair color. *Gulp* After 20 years of chemical help to maintain my brunette locks, transitioning to my natural gray was not a flip decision. The following facts gave me serious pause:

  • My husband, who is 7 years my senior, has not one single gray hair. I will look like his mother, not his wife.
  • An insidious double standard deems men with gray hair distinguished, while women with gray hair just look old. Should I ever want/need to re-enter the professional workplace, brunette trumps gray.
  • I will look much older. Am I ready to embrace my silver self?

So I deliberated. For three dang years! And finally, these facts won out:

  • I had to color my hair every three weeks, and it started looking bad after two weeks. I was losing the war on gray.
  • My hairdresser is sweet, but I was spending way too much quality time and money with her.
  • I’m never going back to the professional workplace. And I’m cool with that.
  • I came of age in the “Sweet Honesty” era, when natural was beautiful. Truth be told, my inner hippie has been clamoring to be free. Time to let the old gal out.
  • I have stunning friends who have embraced their natural silver. They inspire me. (Here’s looking at  you, Mel.)
Sweet Honesty Ad 1975

One night I stayed up till the wee hours of the morning watching YouTube videos on how to transition to gray. Turns out, there is no easy way. Figures. Here are the options:

  • Whack off all your hair and let it grow back. Your natural locks will be glorious, but you’ll look like heck for many months.
  • Do an all-over bleach job. You’ll get a lighter color, but maybe not the natural look you wanted. It’s a shocking change and REALLY hard on your hair.
  • Let it grow, and minimize the “skunk” look as much as possible with highlights and lowlights. It’s painfully slow (1-2 years), but this was definitely the best option for me.

April 7th was my last color, so I’m almost 3 months in. Here’s the progression so far, easier to see with my hair pulled back.

Going Gray Gracefully - 3 months

I have about an inch of gray/silver. My hairdresser did highlights to subtly lighten the overall color, hoping to make the contrast less obvious.

Once I made up my mind, I warned my family and friends that my hair was going to look progressively awful for at least a year and begged for their support and understanding. They were cool. In addition to gaining support, being transparent about my decision made it more difficult to change my mind!

I’ve purchased several hats and headbands for when the skunk effect really hits, but so far, I’m pretty okay with my new look. I’ll be posting updates periodically, in case my journey is helpful to anyone contemplating the same decision. For those who’ve gone before, please share your tips and tricks!

Thanks for coming along with me!

12 Comments

  1. You are so brave! I did this years ago but my hair grows so fast that I just let the color grow out and in no time, I was “silvered”. It won’t be as bad as you think – I like the current picture!

      1. I’m pretty darn proud of you! There are a good number of professional gals in our church who have their hair bleached white. I think if the cut is good, it looks like sass and not old age 🤣

        1. Well, in that case, count me in! I’m always up for SASS! You continue to be my inspiration, Mel. You blazed the trail!

    1. Thank you, Donna! You were the one who finally convinced me. I just hope mine is as pretty as yours at the end of this journey!

  2. You might look into a really good hairstylist that can do color correction. I have a wonderful friend who could evaluate your inch or so of natural and color the rest to match. Since she just did this transition herself, she has first hand experience. So if you are going close to Laughlin, NV, I’ll get you two together. You’re beautiful heart will shine through no matter your hair color!

    1. Ah, thank you, Michelle! I don’t have any plans to be in Laughlin, NV but you never know! I have another friend who pretty successfully avoided the skunk look with careful coloring, so I know it’s possible. My hairstylist is great with color, but I don’t know how many of these transitions she’s done for clients. I’ll ask her about the color matching you suggested. Thanks!

  3. I congratulate you my friend! I did the same thing about 5 or so years ago. I decided since I had more to color than natural color it was time to accept the inevitable. I really don’t mind my gray an I get lots of compliments, mostly from younger women who want to know how I get the highlights, because I have so many different shades. I look at them like they are crazy an usually say don’t worry you will have these some day. Plus I have a huge streak that runs in one side that I used to hate but now I love. It’s like my own quirkiness is there. Sometimes I color that streak pink or purple or lime green! The first year you will wake up every day an sigh, my advice…. stick it out an embrace it. You have earned every single gray hair plus my cousin assures me every gray hair is a sign of wisdom obtained through the years. So I am extremely wise now. I’m so glad you have joined the club. It is a sign we survived an are happy with our lives, our bodies an yes… even our hair. The only problem I still struggle with is I had to color up my wardrobe. I love the color gray an black an there is no color there, so I add scarves, an bright shirts an sweaters for color. Welcome to the aura of the gray haired ladies. I think we need a club kinda like the purple hat ladies but I have no time to start that.

    1. Such excellent advice, Terry! Your hair looks awesome — I only hope mine will look that good! I love the idea of coloring your white streak a fun color. My kids would think I’d lost my mind, but that is definitely something I would do! I did wonder about whether I would look washed out, and I’ll probably need to rethink my makeup and wardrobe choices, like you said. It’s been very helpful to hear from those who have gone before! Especially since, so far, no one has said they regretted it. I’m actually kind of excited! 🙂

  4. You’re going to rock the silver my friend! Plus, silver hair is quite trendy right now even with the 30s age group so it’s perfect timing. I got 4 months into it a year ago and then panicked and went back to color. 😑. You go girl❤️

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