When I turned 31, I received an unusual birthday present. Surprise! It was a cluster of gray hairs underneath my bangs. I had never had a single gray hair before. In fact, I'd always had virgin hair (that’s hair that's never had chemically processed colors applied to it).
My immediate response was to go into crisis mode. There was a vision of the life I had five years into the future where I was (probably, still) going on dates with gray hair and being viewed as too old. I had to squash that image before it became a reality. I was not about to give up my natural brunette hair color! I began frequenting a salon for base color hair appointments, which I now get every couple of months. It keeps my hair nice and shiny and hides the grays — or more specifically, that cluster underneath my bangs.
So far, that little cluster is the only gray hair on my head. I know more grays will come in time. Eventually, I may reach a point where I throw in the towel on this specific hair insecurity and lean into loving it. How do other women embrace their gray hair? I decided to ask women of various generations what’s their secret to loving their silver streaks.
Lisa Swift-Young is the owner of all-natural haircare product line 4 Curls. At 53-years-old, she has embraced more than her naturally curly 3C hair. She loves the pretty flecks of grays sprinkled throughout it.
“Someone once told me my hair reminds them of glitter!,” Swift-Young says. “It reminds me to always shine and that I can bounce back from any challenge. I embrace my gray hair because I earned it.”
Becky Beach is a 37-year-old mom and business blogger at MomBeach. After having her three-year-old child, she discovered more and more gray hairs on her head each year. Beach, who has naturally light brown chestnut colored hair with low lights, has decided she’d rather let her hair stand as it is than get it colored on a consistent basis.
Much like Swift-Young, Beach also receives compliments on her hair color in spite of the grays.
“I look wise with gray hair,” Beach says. “I also feel better than ever about myself. Women should embrace their color-changing hair and not feel like they have to constantly recolor to hide grays.”
For more than 25 years, blogger Katie Emery dyed her hair to chase gray roots. For a time, going gray was her biggest hair insecurity.
“I had very dark brunette hair that was almost black with pale skin and green eyes,” Emery says. “I loved that look, but by my mid-20s, I was coloring grays the second they showed up — sometimes within one week of coloring.”
It was a chase Emery didn’t particularly enjoy, either. Whether she colored her hair at home or at a salon, she found the process to be tedious, expensive and painful, as her scalp sometimes itched and burned from the color.
During work meetings at her full-time job in the aerospace industry, Emery couldn’t help but notice all of the women in attendance had dyed hair. Men over 30, however, had visible grays.
“It started gnawing at me.” Emery admits. “Why was I so afraid to go gray when all these guys were totally comfortable in their own skin?”
By the time she was 50, Emery decided to grow out her gray roots. She felt confident she would not have to worry about getting fired for looking older and was ready to ditch the dye.
It has been 19 months since that decision, and Emery feels better than ever. She even started a blog and Instagram account to document the transition, both of which have become extremely popular with fellow silver sisters.
“Since I stopped dyeing, I stopped losing hair. My hair is thick, glossy and soft. It feels healthier than it has in years, and I get compliments on my hair all the time!”
One of the biggest compliments Emery receives for her gray hair is that it makes her look younger.
“The dark dye was harsh against my older skin, but the gray creates a softening effect. It’s fun and crazy. Who knew that going gray would change my life for the better?”