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Wednesday 26 February 2020

We Went Grey - And Love It. And Link Up

Jane Fonda shows how stunning grey hair can be on an older woman
A few weeks ago the Is The Mutton annual survey asked you a few questions about grey hair, and the answers revealed that 25% of us have grey hair and are happy with it. But the rest, well, very mixed views. 14% are thinking about going grey. 18% say they will never go grey. Four per cent said they wouldn't consider it until they're retired.

Since then a couple of prominent women have received a lot of attention because they've gone grey virtually overnight and in public:  Jane Fonda, 82, and Sharon Osborne, 67, now both have chic crops and both look amazing.
Sharon Osborne goes from dyed red hair to platinum
But it's still quite rare to see grey haired women on TV, certainly here in the UK.  I can only think of historian Mary Beard, Prue Leith, in her 70s, and Mary Berry, in her 80s.  Joan Bakewell, in her 80s, below, is still coloring.
Dame Joan Bakewell, credit Clara Molden
Newsreader Susanna Reid, 49, was quoted last week saying she would probably not go grey for least  30 years.  Meanwhile Jennifer Aniston said recently:  "I'm not gonna lie. I don't want grey hair."

If you look on Instagram you'll find lots of women who are growing out their hair and documenting their journey, plus women who have been grey for a while. Check out @grey_hair_oneday, @Rosemariefern, @claresmiler36, whose long hair looks stunning as it grows out;  @silverstorm777  @going.going.grey and @silverserenity4

In this post I'm talking to two women who have gone grey and are thrilled with it, and another woman who's determined to keep dyeing.  I've also got some tips from stylists on how to grow out and style grey hair. 

Gail McCauley, 50+ Women's Fashion and Style Blogger

A before and after for Gail McCauley, style and fashion blogger, on her grey hair transition
Gail lives in Arizona, US, and has been a full-time blogger for the last year. She's been 100% grey for the past three years.  She says:  "I went grey because my grey was coming in so fast, I was coloring my hair every 3 weeks and spending a fortune. I was in my early 50’s when I decided to let my natural grey grow out. Both my sisters, who are older than me, tried to talk me out of it."

Gail asked her hair stylist for advice. "Unfortunately she messed up my hair by trying to match my grey color to my colored hair. This is why I opted to just let the grey grow out. My hair was turning orange from so much hair dye that it could no longer hold the color. 

"The two plus years that it took me to grow out my grey hair were incredibly difficult and my hair looked terrible. But it was worth it in the end. I love my grey with silvery highlights!"

Gail has silvery grey highlights mixed in with her natural grey every four weeks, and highlights every 12 weeks. She cares for her hair with purple sulphate- free shampoo to help hold the highlights better in her hair. 

Follow Gail

facebook.com/lifebeginsafter50 www.twitter.com/lifebafter50
YouTube: Gail McCauley

Liz Klebba, Image, Wardrobe and Color Consultant

Playful picture of color and image consultant Liz Klebba talking to Is This Mutton about her grey hair transition  in 2008
Liz, from Augusta, Georgia, USA, was a classroom teacher when she went grey.  She stopped coloring her hair eight years ago and hasn't looked back since. 

She says: "My hair coloring history was on and off. I found my first grey hair at 16 and loved it! It was a good way to buy a few years and the privileges that go with being 18 or 21… (wink. Nudge.) I colored my hair in uni and in my 20’s for fun, not to cover the grey, but because I wanted a different color like auburn or rich chestnut, rather than my mousy brown.

"It wasn’t until I was living in England and hit 40 that I started coloring in earnest. My social circle was all mums who were far younger than I, and my grey started making me feel self-conscious. A hairdresser from my church worked from home (and my boys were older and could mind themselves for a few hours) so getting my hair high/low-lighted was a lovely treat! And not nearly as pricey as at the salon!"

Going grey was a spiritual decision

"During prayer, I made one of those foolish statements about wanting His will for me, wanting to be more the woman he made me to be. The answer was clear, “I gave you grey hair. Why are you trying to change it?” Not in those exact words, but the feeling was intense and irresistible, so I decided to run with it! If that was 2008, I was 45."

Liz says no-one tried to talk her out of it, and it was her decision anyway.  She laughs: "My mother did make it clear that she wasn’t “old enough to have a daughter with grey hair.” I laughed heartily at that! 

"My biggest struggle is finding a new hairdresser. They always want to have “the talk,” so I just start with the fact that coloring my hair is a non-negotiable. If they don’t want to take a client that will not color, that’s their loss. Not mine."
Liz with her first grandson in 2012 
Back in 2008 when Liz began growing out the dye, it was quite unusual. And still is, to some extent:  Mary Beard in a radio documentary, in 2012, found that 75% of women still color their hair. Liz says: "I went for a more gradual process sans professional help or advice. I had no desire to do the “skunk stripe.” I’m just too vain and the stripe would have been quite the conversation with 400+ students!

"I used semi-permanent color every 4-6 weeks (depending on how often I was washing) to soften the stripe as my grey grew in. It gave my hair a mottled effect, and the greys looked like highlights. 

"I didn’t get any odd comments, so I suppose it worked well enough! When I got to a few inches of growth, a friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I chopped off my hair in solidarity with her. That created a bit of a stir with my students, but they got over it by the end of first period. They’re like that."

Liz says her hair doesn't need much special attention now - it's healthy hair. "It doesn’t need any special conditioning like it did when I was coloring. I wash three (or so) times weekly and mix my regular shampoo with a purple shampoo for one or two of those washes. I let it sit on my hair for a few minutes and rinse it out. That’s about it. Low maintenance."

I've often wondered if women need to e-evaluate their colors and makeup when they go grey, but Liz, who runs color and image consultancy Closet Play Image, says she has definitely avoided brighter colors. "I used to wear heaps of black punctuated with some cool brights. Since going grey, I have embraced the softer colors that better flatter my hair and complexion. I didn’t throw out my wardrobe and replace it immediately; it was a gradual process. I certainly wear more color than I did before!"

Her message to women who may be pondering on whether or not to go grey is a powerful one.

"I never knew I was hiding until I chose to stop. The freedom of being who you are and showing up that way in the world is POWERFUL. You could not pay me to go back. I get FAR more compliments now on my hair and the way I look than I ever did when I colored! There’s no loss in trying, and no shame if you decide to color again. It’s your hair. You do you!"

Follow Liz: https:closetplay.biz

Grey hair? No thanks

Dutch fashion blogger Nancy Baten doesn't think she will be growing out the grey any time soon. When she sees the grey hair reappearing, she can't wait to get rid of it again and goes to her hairdresser every six weeks. "After just three weeks the first signs of old age are starting to be visible again.  I do like grey on other women, although not on all. But for me it doesn’t work. I get very unhappy about it and am very content coloring my growth every six weeks."

My own hair was dark until around 2012 and I was getting the roots tinted.  A few highlights turned into a full head, and now I'm in the hairdresser's chair every seven weeks. It's a tedious process and expensive.  I have seriously thought about growing it out but the hairdresser said I wasn't ready yet. Not enough grey.

My mum went grey in her early 50s.  My dad used to color her hair with a home product and in those days the chemicals were very strong.  Her scalp started to sting so she stopped dyeing it.  I was horrified, thinking she was letting herself go.

Now she has pure white hair which gets a lot of compliments. She wears striking glasses and bright colors because she doesn't want to be a "beige old lady."  Grey or white hair seems to look best when it has a definite style:  a bold crop like Jane Fonda's, for example. It's the small permed grey heads of old women that have put us off grey hair for years.
My mum June with her brother at my wedding in 2010

Growing it out with a hairdresser's help

If you don't want to go cold turkey and undertake the one to two years growing-out period, with all the stress it can entail, hairdressers advise having highlights put in to lessen the demarcation line.  There's some great advice over at Katie Goes Platinum with before and after pictures.

Well-known UK hair stylist Josh Wood, Redken's global creative color director, says your pro should keep the color lighter nearer the face. “Try to get the hairline as light as your natural grey,” he advises. “If the eye sees the lightest color against the face it will give the appearance of being totally grey."

He warns it can be a long process. "When you do decide you want to start to grow the grey out, you’ve got to be realistic about the time frame it’s going to take to start to feel like you don’t have a 'hard' regrowth. The quickest I’ve ever seen anybody be able to transition was around nine months, but realistically, it probably takes around 18 months to get to a point you're happy with.

“The first step in the process is to purposefully leave a little bit of grey regrowth around the hairline, so it starts to break up that harsh regrowth. It looks a bit more natural and helps to introduce a bit of grey gradually. If you’re going to a salon, you should talk to your colourist about having a lighter brown tint around the hairline for a few weeks, then introduce some kind of highlights or balayage. This will help break down the demarcation - the line between the grey and your coloured hair.” 

And once you are grey....

Certain types of product can help your hair look its best. “Grey hair has no natural pigment so it can become yellow over time,” says Katie Allan, creative manager at Charles Worthington. “To prevent this from happening, use clarifying products weekly to eradicate any free radicals and impurities.” 

Also invest in a silver shampoo, advises Adam Reed, editorial ambassador for L’OrĂ©al Professionnel. "This cleans and purifies the hair fibre while neutralising any yellowness, to give clarity, shine and softness”.

Lastly, you may notice that the lack of pigment in grey hair also affects the texture. “It can also be very dry and wiry,” Allan notes, so take conditioning seriously with the addition of a weekly hydrating mask."

New York hair stylist Yvette Gonzalez, senior stylist and makeup artist at Sahag Workshop, recommends getting a sharp cut with clean edges. "Ask your stylist not to use a razor, because it can cause the ends to fray, making your whole style seem untidy," she says. Whatever cut you choose, be sure that you get a trim every 6 to 8 weeks. "Grey hair can start to look unruly if it's not trimmed frequently enough."

Gonzalez says your makeup colors may need to change, and she recommends a different shade of blusher. "Go for shades like apricot, peach, and rose—not beigy or tawny colors. They make your skin tone look muddy next to grey hair." 

Use a liquid or cream blush for a youthful glow, rather than a powder kind that can leave skin looking dull.  Most important of all: Groom your brows. Trim wayward hairs (grays tend to be wiry), and define your arches with a taupe pencil so they don't disappear.

Sharing this post with Claire Justine, #ShareAllLinkUp at Not Dressed as Lamb, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge, Anna at Muttonstyle,#BloggerClubUK or #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Stylish Monday Link Up at Hello, I’m 60ish, Thursday Fashion Files at Doused in Pink 

I'd love to hear from grey haired women in the comments with your tips and thoughts on surviving the growing-out phase. 


Now it's time for the #WowOnWednesday link-up. Bloggers, find more readers for your posts on the topics of fashion, beauty, fitness, jewellery or travel.  Readers are keen to discover new blogs.
Last week's most popular post was by Kim from Fierce Fashion, showing again how to create a unique garment.  In her post "Free People Inspired Babydoll Top" Kim showed her ingenuity in using fox print material to make a baby doll top.  She didn't have enough fabric but managed to find some more.  I have always been hopeless at sewing so I really admire anyone who can make their own clothes. What a wonderful skill to possess.
Kim from Fierce Fashion in hand made fox print baby doll top with white pants and white boots
My favourite post was from Iris of La MouMous and her post "Keep Up With Me: Upcoming Projects."

Fashion blogger Iris from La MouMous in denim shirt and long floral skirt
Iris works full-time and has small children, but her energy takes my breath away.  Her upcoming projects include delivering her very first fashion workshop in March and preparing to release live videos on IGTV. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter



  1. What a interesting post and such a good story of Liz! It's very diverse what women think of going grey!

  2. I think it's a really interesting post too, especially the difficulties in the growing-out period and the tips on how to manage the transition. I guess the fact that some of us are happy with grey or white hair and others want to go on colouring it is all down to personal style and perhaps what suits our looks and complexion.


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