Going Gray, Again

When I turned fifty, I stopped coloring my hair.



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I saw my first gray hair when I was nineteen, which means I colored it for most of my life. My hair tends to grab brassy tones no matter what my stylist does, so now I have even given up on having a glaze applied to brighten it and lowlights to give it depth.



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That decision results in once again letting the color grow off of my hair. It was probably late February the last time I saw my stylist, so the last chrome glaze has faded. What remains is the brassy tone only in the back on the ends from the low lights of late last year.



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When I decided to let my hair grow out to its natural color the first time, it was much shorter, so I got regular trims and used a temporary color to ease the transition. My hair grows pretty fast, so I only had to deal with the transition stage for about eight months. At this length it will take more than a year to get rid of the traces of color.



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The process of going gray after coloring your hair for so many years can be scary. I found that the softer silver hair that is my natural color flatters my complexion so much better than any applied color ever did. My thinking was that gray hair would make me look older, but I am sure some of those harsh colors I used made me look much older. I am thinking of the time I dyed it myself, and it turned out burgundy.


I am no stranger to taking the scissors to it on the occasions when my schedule is so full I can not take the time to visit my stylist. The smartest thing I can do is to make regular appointments to get a trim which respects the natural waves of my hair and the shape of my face. A good cut can make you look well groomed and stylish no matter what you are wearing. I donโ€™t wash it every day, but when I do, I comb it out gently, lift the crown and dry just the roots there to give it a little lift and then use my fingers to arrange it in the style I want to have for the day. If my bangs are doing weird things that day, I will straighten them a bit with a vented brush and the dryer on the low speed. I donโ€™t touch my hair again until it is entirely dry. A very light mist of hairspray can keep down any frizz on humid days.


The jacket is old from White House|Black Market. The tank and the ankle jeans are both old from Chico’s. The scarf is by Versace via Saks Off 5th. The fringe suede sandals are old by Dolce Vita. The bag is from last year by Ralph Lauren via 6pm.com.


My stylist is Myra who is also the owner of the Charlemont boutique and salon in Kingsport, TN. It is well worth the drive to visit her if you are within fifty miles!



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Thank you for joining us as we celebrate the second fifty years of life.


Susan Street

Blogger for SusanAfter60.com

47 Comments
  1. Thanks for the helpful tips. I have naturally curly/wavy hair. I agree about straightening the bangs. I bought a very small flat iron just to take a little wave out of them as I find wavy bangs ti look old fashioned. Have a great day!

  2. This comes at a good time for me. December I turn 70 and have wondered if I should put highlights/lowlights into to my 25% grey hair. I wish I were further along like you…gorgeous white hair- a crowning glory! I agree that often times dyed hair emphasizes every wrinkle and bag. You’ve given me the courage to continue graying and have fun with the new color pallet that enhances it. I enjoyed your video on doing one’s make-up. Caused me to experiment a little… instead of a eye liner which seemed too severe for me, I used a small stiff wedge brush and loaded it with the same taupe eyeshadow that I use for the eyelid. I carefully tap the color very close to my bottom lashes. Because it’s a fine line it has a very soft look. Thanks for your encouragement to those of us “over 60.

  3. Hi, Susan! The last time I went to my stylist, I planned to let the color go and live with the gray. The problem is, I’m only about 25% gray on the top of my head and a lot less in the back. It is just enough to be annoying. BTW, I’m 58 1/2. My 97 yo grandmother had more black hair than gray when she passed. At this rate I’ll be coloring forever.

  4. I love your hair natural. I have died my hair for 15 years, had it done professionally for the last five. I have considered and talked to my friends and stylist about growing it out but both have discouraged me. Now life has made the decision. I am in the middle of chemo for breast cancer and have no hair at the moment, rather resembling a 60 watt light bulb! I will be grateful when it grows in and will be unable to dye for at least 6 months. Your post has convinced me not to play with the color with highlights, lowlights, finishes. I don’t want to go through the painful growing out stage twice! I have fun looking at silver and salt and pepper hairstyles of all lengthens. Thanks for your honest sharing.

    1. I hope that you have a full and fast recovery Constance. So many of my friends and family have had to deal with this too. I fear that our environment is toxic. Sending you a big cyber hug!

  5. Hi Susan, You have such gorgeous hair–the color and body make it easy to let it go gray. Not all of us are so lucky! I wanted to let you know that I am new to your blog and just love the information and inspiration you are passing on to us “older” ladies who care about our physical health and appearance. I love your chic and classic style and always enjoy seeing what you are wearing! It is also fun to see pictures of the restaurants, B&B’s, shops, and beautiful areas you visit. Thank you so much for this wonderful blog!

  6. The whole outfit is cool. One reason is that the tank is in the same color family as your blazer. I tend to do a contrast thing and I think that takes the cool out of it. Will try a tank and blazer of the same color next time.

  7. You are so lucky to have that super soft uniform colour, Susan, and those beautiful curls must prevent your hair from getting the pancake head look! I let my hair go natural in my late 50s; it turned into two-tone skunk, and I get pancake head too. Ten years on and the skunk is still with me but I’m pleased I’m not colouring it any more.
    Thanks for your inspiration as always, Susan, and to Heidi for that eyeshadow tip.

  8. Beautiful gray hair – yours is lovely. I think it can look awesome, silky, shiny and having the guts to exercise radical acceptance and go against the prevailing status quo shows confidence, which is always attractive!

  9. I have been thinking of trying the gray again. Before this, I’ve let it get about an inch or two and gotten tired of it and colored again. My stylist suggested going blonde and using lowlights during the transition. Over the past year, we’ve been highlighting more and more every eight weeks when I get it colored. Has anyone tried this method? I am almost 64 now.

  10. Your gray is beyond gorgeous! I think our hair turning gray does soften our features. For years used to get a hair weave every 8 weeks. With tip it cost about $150. My hair is short. I stopped coloring it when I turned 61. Now at 66 I have very little gray and what gray I do have blends in with my dishwater blond so you don’t really notice the gray. The gray acts like woven highlights! Who knew mother nature would give me what I used to pay so much for? So happy I decided to “go natural”!

  11. Well Susan, I am doing the same thing since my Thyroid meds and other meds are affecting my hair thinning. I have been keeping it very short but would like a ckin length bob for winter. I’m 62 young and do love classy fashion. Chico’s is a favorite place of mine to shop. I do love bargains also. Thanks for sharing. B from South Louisiana

  12. I grew my brunette hair out at age 53. I was pleased to see nice silver streaks. I am progressively more silver on top these days. I love how much more youthful / rested I look as opposed to the dark dye. Freed up my time and my pocketbook! Personally, I think natural is much more beautiful on us middle-agers!

  13. Hi Susan,
    I too started going gray at an early age. I stopped coloring my hair for good in my mid 40’s. I find having gray hair to be completely liberating. The upkeep for me now is much preferred to the tremendous amount of time and money needed to maintain colored hair.

    Thank you for writing about this topic!

  14. I love your blog! The tips you post are very good. I let my hair go gray several years back and love it. I sometimes wonder who the lady is in the mirror.J

  15. I thoroughly enjoy your blog! I particularly enjoy your down to earth revelations about your hair, and skin care….as well as your styling suggestions. Keep up the great work, Susan!

  16. I love your hair! The color, the style, it is so beautiful and flattering on you. I have to tell you, I can’t wait to see your pictures every day. You always look so pretty. I am growing out my gray hair, I love the color of it, but my daughter is begging me to color it. She says it makes me look old and that makes her sad. So we will see what happens. Love your blog!

  17. I went from coloring my hair dark brown (my color from younger days) to my natural gray hair two years ago. Even with a very short haircut it was very challenging! To not have the “skunk effect” with my roots, I had to highlight the wazoo out of my hair which made me almost a blonde. (Not a good look with my dark brown eyes and fair coloring!) So when I talk about coloring again, my stylist reminds me of the pain of the transition and flat out refuses to color my hair now, even though as she puts it, it is money out of her pocket.

    I think your silver hair is lovely and very flattering.

  18. Simply stunning! At 51, I am letting some silver peak out, but its mostly growing underneath so not too noticeable yet after 6 weeks. Maybe its going to grow in very gradually. Both my brothers went grey in their 40’s and one is white now at 60. Did you receive any comments when you grew out the grey at 50? I’m wondering how to respond to people as my gray becomes more obvious. My hairdresser says I’m too young to grow out my grey at 51.

    1. The only comments I got were from my younger sister. She begged me to go back to dying it, but when the last of the color was cut off my own hair, she immediately stopped using dye. Her hair is such a beautiful silver color. We both get many more compliments on our hair now than when we used dye.

  19. Love the color of your hair, I do have to admit, I am jealous of the curl or wave you have. I have straight very fine hair. I call it spider web hair my hair dresser said no its angel hair. Awe. Do embrace the body you have I would love it. Love the look you are wearing.

  20. Hi Susan – I’m enjoying your ‘new’ blog as much as I enjoyed the ‘old’ blog. I subscribe by email and find that no matter what I do, your posts go straight to my Junk Mail. I click ‘not junk’, but then the next post goes right to Junk. In the grand scheme this isn’t a big problem, but I thought you’d like to know. Thanks for the great, uplifting and affirming posts.

  21. I love your natural hair! I’m 57 and have been coloring my hair for probably 5ish years. Your article gives me courage to stop coloring. I’ve contemplated it off and on for awhile. I have the same issues of brassy looking color too. I love seeing other mature women with there natural hair, well put together, age appropriate makeup. It just looks very classy. There’s power in a woman who is comfortable with aging gracefully and beautifully!

  22. Your hair is gorgeous! I stopped coloring my hair long ago because of sensitivity to the chemicals. My hair still is brassy in places because of our water. Think a trip to Walgreen’s for shampoo is in order.

  23. I am happy you have found your unique look that captures who you are and flatters. Especially since looking attractive does not have to mean constantly shopping and spending. Spend your dollars on activities and experiences instead…wonderful! Thanks again for your wisdom.

  24. I know most of these comments are about appearance but I’m wondering what is the general opinion here about using such strong chemicals on your head so regularly? I quit dying about 10 years ago (I’m 61) after having to use color in a box more and more frequently. Even salon color didn’t hold more than about 3 weeks.Your hair is gorgeous – like it better without the lowlights, etc.!!

  25. Love your hair! I want to keep my hair natural, I hope my hair will turn as beautiful as yours. I am also 60 and have only a very few gray strands. I have admired others in my community that let their hair go gray. My mother always colored her hair, so I don’t know what to expect. Besides, it’s expensive to keep up. Thank you for sharing.

  26. I found my first gray hair at age 18. We fair-skinned redheads lose pigment early. My sister with dark brown hair is just getting gray now, and she’s older than me. My colour is probably 90 per cent gone. At first it looked like blonde highlights. Hairdressers commented about how evenly distributed the grays were, and told me not to color it. So, early start but easier transition. I guess that’s something.

  27. I stopped dyeing at 50 also. An allergic reaction forced the issue. It was a blessing in disguise! It took a little over 2 years for all the dyed hair to grow and be cut off because I kept it a little long. I love it! What was I so afraid of? And as far as aging, no way. I still get reactions of surprise when I tell people my age or that I have grandkids. They mistake my grandkids for being my own children! I’m a mentor with MOPS and I’ve had moms meeting me for the first time react with surprise that I’m a mentor. They assumed I was one of other mothers with preschoolers. ๐Ÿ˜€ Poor fitting, out of date clothing, an unflattering hairstyle, and an “old” attitude do much more to age a woman than the her natural hair color. ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Love your new website! Thanks for sharing your ideas and thoughts on how to put clothes together. I’ve copied several of your outfits and have started my basic wardrobe. Sorry to hear you occasionally receive ‘uncool’feedback. Please know that there are a lot of us who value your opinion and will continue to look forward to your blog, Susan!

  29. I stopped coloring my hair three years ago. I also use the Jhirmack shampoo you mentioned. I also use the Malibu hardwater treatment or the Malibu swimmers treatment every two weeks, to remove yellowing or brassiness from my gray.

  30. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your hair!!! So proud of you (and all of us….) that have been able to stop with the color!!! But it is not for everyone, so I am firm in my hope that everyone finds what makes them feel beautiful!! I will admit I struggled with the length of my hair as it seems when I turned 60 I was suppose to cut it short…..or so “they” say. Well, I will be 63 in November and still have shoulder length hair. Keep up your terrific work….we enjoy and appreciate it very much!!

  31. I think you have wonderful hair and your skin is lovely. Love how your clothes are not brand new, but classics put together in new ways w an accessudropped in here and there. And they are from stores the average woman shops at-such as Steinmart, Chicos. Great job!

  32. I have grey ‘highlights’ now, but plan to let it go, too! I have never colored my hair. I think I am the only one in the universe. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I wear my hair pretty short, but pray it will look ok. I want to spend that money on clothes and traveling, not color! You look AMAZING.

  33. Hi Susan
    I just recently found you on the web and can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying reading your posts! I’ve been sharing you with girlfriends who are also in our age group and we all think your’e a hoot.
    Seriously, your writing style is lovely, frank,and honest. How pleasant to find someone who so enjoys looking her best and passing it on to others. We all need the occasional reminder. You hand it to us with grace and style.

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I blogged for five years as Fifty, not Frumpy. Now that I am sixty, I am honoring this new decade with a great new website SusanAfter60.com

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