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Can gray hair be appreciated?

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anaclaire View Drop Down
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    Posted: April 16 2001 at 3:03am
Hi Everyone! I will be 41 this September and have been coloring my hair for about 7 years to cover the gray. There is not a lot of it but it`s definately noticable. My hair is very dark brown naturally and the gray is very silvery. Anyway, I`ve been thinking of letting my hair grow out long again so I can wear it on my head in buns and French twists like I did many years ago. I`ve also recently moved away from my hairdresser of 28 years and don`t want to drive the 4 hours each month for coloring. My predicament is this: Do I go ahead and let my hair go gray now or continue to color it? I`ve been thinking about this a lot lately and have noticed that only very old women seem to have gray hair. Is it a social taboo? Are we so obsessed with being young that we can`t appreciate the grays? I had a Spanish teacher from Peru who told us everyone there pretends they are 4 or 5 years older than they are because old age there is admired and equated with wisdom... qualities not showered upon the younger people there. I have even thought of each of my gray hairs as representing a person I`ve know or a place I`ve visited or a lesson I`ve learned in life... the old adage "I`ve earned my grays." comes to mind. Of course when I suggested to my dear hairdresser my contemplation of going gray, the look on her face was that of mortification after which she honestly told me I`d look 10 years older but it may be pretty on me anyway. I`ve been letting it grow for 5 months and the grays are definately there. Any advice or suggestions out there on this subject? Thanks! Anaclaire
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wolfgang View Drop Down
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Hello,

I appreciate natural long hair with all of its colors. It comes from the physical appearance of a human being and if it is managed well for me it shows a lot of patience and hair care knowledge. I have already seen beautiful long gray hair and I love it. I like it if women not so far away from my own age have natural long hair (I am male, 47).

In society most of the women at age 40+ prefer short hair, but I don`t know if they really prefer it. But this is not the only solution. I think in general people accept individual choices of hair, and if not I think it is wrong to give in only for conformity reasons. The most important thing is the personality of a person and it is easier to evolve humen qualities if there is something that gives a little bit individual joy.

I think there is no need to color your hair, at least not in an objective sense. I also think that my opinion is not unique and if you have long gray hair I am sure you will find admirers who love it.

wolfgang
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dianefromcanada View Drop Down
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Hello Anaclaire:

I will be 41 in October and I am starting to have white hair. Not tons of them but some. I been putting off coloring it because it doesn`t bother me right now and secondly I often wonder if I do start that I might end up cutting my hair shorter because of the cost etc. I haven`t really looked into it yet just general questions that I have asked a stylist but my sister who is six years younger ran to the stylist the other day to color her hair a coffee brown and had copper streaks put in it. NOw her hair looks darker than mine. All this because she pulled five white hair and was tired of seeing them grow. Personally I never seen one on her lol

I think it is an attitude toward growing older. Do we accept the grace that comes along with it or do we run and try to hide it? YOu know. Everyone is so diffirent. I seriously don`t think you will look ten years older and trying a new style might also be exciting for you. I think it was only her personal viewpoint on the subject.
Personally I haven`t made up my mind yet and playing it one day at the time. I do know when I am much older I will allow my hair to turn completely white and I have noticed on others how striking that is.
I am curious what color were you coloring your hair?
I been thinking of trying a browish red when the time comes.
dianefromcanada
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anaclaire View Drop Down
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Hi Diane!

Thank you for your response to my message! To answer your question, my hairdresser has been using Redken products and she uses three colors to get my hair almost the same as it is naturally. She uses black, dark brown and a dark copper color. My colored hair turns out very dark brown and the grays have a copper color to them like natural highlights. Now that my own hair is growing out, I see my dark hair is closer to black and the grays are closer to silver-white. My hairdresser told me that we naturally gray with age as a lovely way to counteract the effects of aging in our faces... namely wrinkles. She suggests that if I continue to color my hair the rest of my life that by the time I`m 70 the color should be no darker than a medium to light brown. She also suggested I take a look at some older women who color their hair with dark colors to see what she means. I did this and saw exactly what she meant! I saw a couple of women in their 50`s and 60`s with almost black hair and it was truly not to my taste! So, I feel my hairdresser is steering me in the right direction about color. Anyway, here`s my long term predicament: I want to grow my hair out long again to wear on my head more. I know that as hair gets long the ends can be a different color than the scalp as well as the condition can change too. I`m afraid that I might have strange layers of color and condition to deal with. Also, when the day comes that I`d really want to let it all go gray, it could take YEARS to obtain that. Wouldn`t it look silly to have your scalp hair gray and your bun not? LOL Another thought that comes to mind is the fact that after menopause we women tend to grow hair slower and with less thickness due to the change in hormones and that would make the growing out process even more "painful". So, with all these thoughts I just have to decide whether to grow my hair out now and let it go gray, or continue to wear it shoulder length and color it forever. I`m leaning toward the long gray... after all, I can always cut it off and color it if I don`t like it, right!? LOL I think I`m ready to accept myself as a 40 year old woman with gray hair. After all, I like myself better now at 40 than I did as a silly 20-something girl. Sure, I had no grays then, but I knew basically nothing about life that meant anything. I`d never go back to being young! I wasn`t stupid or did bad things, after all I am a college graduate with a respectable career and no skeletons in my closet to speak of... I just like myself with the maturity I`ve gained and am looking forward to being even more wise as I continue to age. I guess I`m just at a cross-roads here and will look back on this time 10 years from now and say, "Anaclaire you were so silly to be focusing on your gray hair so much." Thank you again Diane for your note and I hope you enjoy any hair decisions you make! I must say that I have enjoyed coloring my hair in the past with the short hairdo and I`m sure you would too. Good luck! Anaclaire
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anaclaire View Drop Down
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Hi Wolfgang!

Thank you for your response to my message! Your insight is refreshing and I love the way you speak of individuality. As I get older I find I appreciate people with who don`t seem to be of the "cookie cutter" mentality. I don`t mean the outrageous types that stick out like sore thumbs, but the subltle differences that make each person special... kind of like a lovely bouquet of flowers. I am leaning toward the "grow it out gray" option for now... after all, I can always cut it back to shoulder length and color it if I`m not happy, right? LOL I just wish I could look as good with gray hair as I`ve seen some women look... I recently saw Judy Collins in a TV concert with her beautiful long gray hair (it was about to her shoulder blades) and I also have memories of Emmylou Harris with pretty long gray hair... They are spectacular women though anyway. Well, thank you again for your reply to my message and your refreshing outlook! Best wishes! Anaclaire
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phil View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote phil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 18 2001 at 3:18pm
Hi Anaclaire,
There are 3 ways in which I have recently realised I`m getting old. (I`m 44.) 1, I now prefer "culture" breaks where before I just used to get drunk. 2, I find articles on pensions quite interesting. 3, I find greying hair attractive on women.
But it is! It`s like an (almost) instant and completely natural colour scheme to try out. I admire women who are happy to flaunt their grey - Susan Sontag for one. It shows a strength of will not to be cowed by the way unenlightened folks tend to equate grey hair = old age = write them off. For me the most attractive is when a woman has obviously dyed before, hence the ends are colored, then decided to stop, hence the top is grey and the rest brown or black. An important crossroads has been reached.
phil
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anaclaire View Drop Down
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Thanks Phil!

I really appreciate your insight into this subject. I suppose it really is true that the 40th birthday tends to be a crossroads. I never truly thought it would be however now I truly understand that it is. I am also now able to understand these different crossroads we all must deal with in life better. I wonder when the next one will come? Maybe 60? Who knows! After reading your post I was very refreshed to know that you feel allowing one`s hair to do the natural thing and be gray is more of a show of strength of character than a submission into "old age". In a way I think it would be fantastic to see women embrace their grayness rather than fight it. I`m just afraid there is too much marketing and youth-oriented cultural biases out there right now to see too many women accept their gray hair. Your post has given me the thought that the next time I see "younger" gray haired women that I will think of them as strong, enlightened souls and I will admire them for going against the social grain. Thank you again for your post!
Anaclaire
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Vince View Drop Down
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I think it`s great that you are thinking about leaving your hair go gray, and that you are growing it out. How long was it originally? I don`t think there`s anything more attractive than long gray hair on a woman. On certain people especially, gray hair looks much better and much more natural than colored hair - it compliments the face. As long as you take good care of it, I think you will look very elegant and beautiful. Vince.
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anaclaire View Drop Down
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Hi Vince,

I`m glad to hear your positive comments about this subject. My hair was waist length before I cut it. Over the past few weeks I`ve really begun noticing couples. I find very many where the woman has colored hair and the man has graying hair. I don`t know if it`s just me, but I truly feel in my heart that the couples where both are graying look completely better together. I don`t know why. I`ve also been noticing more and more how advertising, magazines, and oodles of other entities constantly "remind" us of how this or that product or action will "make you look younger or feel younger" as if being older is a horrendously bad thing. I don`t know about you, but I actually do like myself better as I get older. Another thought I`ve had is that I`d like to fully experience each stage of my life. I think that accepting my gray hair is an important part of accepting being forty and growing wiser. I asked my hairdresser if she could frost my hair or remove the color in some way so that my natural grays were back to natural, and she said that they can`t duplicate gray hair. Isn`t that amazing! I think that`s awesome... that those beautiful silver hairs truly must be earned. I love it. I don`t expect it to happen anytime soon, but maybe with us baby boomers aging now we will take the emphasis off of being young and place more respect on being older. Since I wrote my first post on this subject, I`ve become 100 percent sure I will grow my hair out long and gray and see how it looks. So far my husband says it looks just fine and he supports me in whichever road I choose. I`ve decided to choose to embrace they lovely grays and let them grow, grow, grow! I love the feeling in my heart that I will do what I want to without the concern I had when I was younger about what "other" people thought about me. I feel myself growing stronger and wiser each week.

Thank you again Vince for your note. It makes me feel great to know there are other people in this big World who share the same feelings about long gray hair. I plan to treat my hair like a piece of fine old lace... baby it and condition it and love it so it will be as healthy as possible. Since I`ve had long hair before, I know how much effort must be spent on it to keep it healthy... There`s not much sadder than long, unhealthy hair (to me). You said in your note that the long gray hair may make me look "very elegant and beautiful". I hope you are right!

Thanks again,
Anaclaire
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Hi Anaclaire,

Thanks for your quick reply to my post! I totally agree with your comments. I also think gray hair can look good, not just because it represents age (and therefore wisdom, as you correctly pointed out) but because with the right care and attention, it can look as stylish and beautiful as any other hair color. Maybe one of the problems with the perception of gray hair is that it is associated with people who don`t really take much care of their hair, as a lot of people who look after their hair well, especially women, choose to color it as soon as they see their first touch of gray appearing. Another problem is that hairstylists seem to steer clear of recommending either long or gray hair (probably only because they would be doing themselves out of business from regular cuts and colorings!).

I often find a woman with a head of shoulder length or longer gray hair very eye-catching - so many women are coloring their hair these days that gray or silver hair is often the exception rather than the rule. So I certainly think that should you decide to go gray you will be noticed! I like both short and long hair on women, but I`ve always preferred longer styles when it comes to gray / silver as it shows the color off.

I`m glad your husband is supportive - a lot of men seem to disapprove of their women`s desire to change their hairstyle and this seems to discourage the women from having the cut and length they truly want. Go for it! I hope it works out for you.

Just out of interest - how much hair did you have cut off, and how long has it grown back to now?

All the best, Vince.
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Hi Vince,
When I decided to start coloring my hair, I cut it to between chin and shoulder length. I had made the mistake of getting spiral perms over a few years time and although my hair still looked decent, I wasn`t truly happy with it`s appearance. My beloved hairdresser taught me that the older ends may take the color differently that the newer hair due to the age and condition of my hair. I decided to make a big change and cut it all off and begin coloring it. I had it colored with 3 colors (brown, black, copper) to mimic my own natural color of very dark brown, and the cut was sort of a bob with feathered bangs and sides blown dry toward my face. It was very pretty on me and I had plenty of complements over the years. As I remember, over the years, I tend to let my hair grow long for about 5 or 6 years and then cut it to shoulder length. I don`t know why I have done that... I plan this time to grow my hair out long and not do anything chemically to it other than having professional conditioning treatments every so often. My hair is very straight, fine and moderately thick so it often looked best pulled up on my head somehow. I just don`t want to damage my hair with elastics and such! Thank you again for your insightful comments. I`d never really thought of the perception of gray haired women being gray because they "...don`t really take much care of their hair...", but I can certainly see how some people could think that way. Thanks again for the support Vince! I appreciate it very much!
Warmly,
Anaclaire
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Vince View Drop Down
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Wow - you sure look after your hair! Since you obviously take such care of it I`m sure it will look just how you want it when you`ve gone back to your natural color.

Since I only stumbled on this site when I was looking for some info for my sister (who doesn`t have a computer), I`m really pleased you feel that I have given you support! I thought I should probably voice my opinion as I`m sure that there are many folks out there like me who find gray hair attractive. I hope message boards and forums like this will encorage more women (and men!) will follow your lead and return to their natural look.

Anyway good luck, and let me know how it goes!
Take care,
Vince.
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anaclaire View Drop Down
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Thank you Vince for voicing your opinion here. I`m glad you stumbled onto this site. I rather stumbled onto it myself and find the boards informative and fun. I hope you found the information your sister needed. Your support truly is appreciated and I`ll keep you posted on my progress if I can. For the first update, I have my next hair appointment this coming Wednesday. When I made the appointment 2 months ago I scheduled for the hair trim as well as coloring... just in case I`d changed my mind by then. Well, I will be calling them Monday morning to let them know I don`t want the color after all so someone else may have that time slot. Wow... my first real step in the process is beginning now! Long way to go, but I`ll get there. Thanks again and I wish you the best life has to offer! Anaclaire :-)
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Hey :)
My sister wanted to know about coloring her hair (which is how I came across your post). I`ve been trying to convince her that her hair looks fine as it is, because I don`t think she really wants to color it, she just doesn`t like gray. She won`t believe me when I say that lots of people think gray hair can be attractive! So I read your posts with interest.
Did you go ahead and call and cancel your coloring? What did your hairdresser say?
Take care,
Vince.
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I am 38 and have long hair that I used to dye blonde and am growing out the gray. I think it depends on the type of grey it is. I have seen beautiful older women with silver sparkling grey color shiny hair and it looks great. But I have also seen women with long grey hair and they look like hags. Bottom line - it depends on alot of factors: condition of hair, type of gray, how it is worn, etc. etc.
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Hi!
I`ve been wondering myself if I should let my grays grow out. I`m 34, so I don`t know if that is the normal age to have grays. I do have quite a bit around my temple area (at least in my opinion). My husband says that he can hardly notice them. He says it gives my hair a "highlighted" affect. My natural hair color is light brown and that`s the color I use when I go and have it done. So, maybe I shouldn`t be so vain and finally start to appreciate the grays. I just hate the fact that I`m graying at 34. Actually, I`ve had them for a few years now. And, stopping the coloring will more than likely make my hair healthier, and save me money.

Kathy
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Gray hair alone does not make a woman unattractive--at least not to me. I was at a coffee shop recently and saw a woman with a shoulder length "bob" cut that was gray and she looked great! I think that she must have been in her mid to late thirties, went gray early and decided that she wasn`t going to dye it. If so, it was the smartest move that she ever made.

By the way... I`m a male in my mid-forties and as such consider myself to be an expert in such matters.



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote duke Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 13 2002 at 8:51am
Letting your hair go gray is, I think, part of accepting age gracefully. Besides, it`s really not such a big
deal. I`m 22, and a little while back I found that a hair or 2 in my comb or somewhere looked like it might
be white. I quickly stopped thinking about it (or maybe it`s just a hair bleached by the sun, who knows).
At any rate, hair changing color is part of our natural cycle. It`s better to learn to work with what one has -
in the long run, you can not escape old age, but you can enter into it healthy, and part of this is avoiding
the use of chemicals on your hair.

And it`s always nice if you can bring yourself to just be yourself. :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Nancy999 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2002 at 1:53pm
I love gray hair and am 38 and am letting my gray grow out after dyeing my hair blond all through my twenties and thirties. It looks like highlights in my dirty blonde hair! Blonde dye always looks fake on a older woman
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote phil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2002 at 4:56pm
Let`s face it, dyeing grey hair is effective at first, but it does not take long for the law of diminishing returns to apply. In the end, some of the worst hair bloopers are leaving white roots showing where the hair is parted, and applying dye to hair that has so obviously lost its colour. I`m with all the others who say why not be yourself? - and in any case I think grey hair, well cut in say, a sharp bob style, is wonderful.
phil
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