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Gray Hair, Don’t Care (Anymore)

I got my first gray hair in my early thirties, and moved through the decade adding only a few more.  Then came my 20-year high school reunion.  It seems like that milestone was fertilizer for a gray-hair growth spurt.  I swear a new one appeared every day, and I was not ready for it. Gray hair is one of the most obvious signs of aging, and I considered myself to be youthful. Gray hair did not figure into my vision of myself.

I made the decision to start covering the grays, and that worked great for a while…until it didn’t.  As more gray hair grew in, the effort to cover it became a time-consuming chore, especially because I prefer wearing my hair short. Every time I cut my hair, I had to cover the newly revealed gray hair.  As a result, I would not cut my hair as often as I wanted, leading to me wearing the length longer than I wanted.  It was a continuous loop of discontent.

The dark dye days.

My husband kept asking me when I was just going to stop the madness, as he watched my late-night dye sessions. My response was always, “I’m not ready”, as I lost sleep, sitting under the hair dryer for the processing time. Then I turned 50, and something clicked.

I figure I have more years behind me than in front of me, and I do not want to waste time on things that do not bring me joy. I calculated that I would be spending 18 hours a year in hair dye processing time.  That doesn’t include the time to apply it or rinse it out.  Dyeing my hair was not bringing me joy, and it was beginning to look harsh and artificial to me. Not cutting my hair as often as I wanted also was not bringing me joy.  So, I got my next haircut, and didn’t reach for the dye.

The transition has not been easy.  In the beginning, there were days my hair looked like a reverse skunk. I often wished I had never started dyeing my hair. Some days, I wonder what people think when they see me now.  Do they think, “damn, Sabra looks old”?

Gray, claiming it’s space.

It’s usually concern about other people’s perception and opinion that keeps us from doing what we want to do, whether it’s how we dress or wear our hair.  While speaking to a cousin on the phone, I informed them that my hair would be gray the next time they saw me.  My cousin said, “What!? Nooooooo. Well, at least you look good in other ways.”  Say what?  This is the same cousin who told me I no longer looked as polished after I stopped relaxing my hair, and went natural.

Thankfully, my self-esteem is strong enough to withstand this kind of judgement, but this is very indicative of the negative attitude around aging and showing your age.  In our youth obsessed culture, aging and the signs of it are considered to be unattractive and undesirable.

Regardless, I am happy with my choice.  As the artificial color continues to be cut away, I’m feeling prettier.  My abundance of gray looks great against my skin tone and is giving me a softer look.  I can see that I definitely inherited my Mother’s color pattern, as she also had an abundance of gray long before her senior years.  She is now 69 with a beautiful head of mostly white hair.  I can only hope mine continues to come in so beautifully.

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14 thoughts on “Gray Hair, Don’t Care (Anymore)

  1. I love this! Sounds like we have some of the same cousins. 😂 A friend told me recently, at my 60th birthday party, that I “needed” to color my hair because the gray made me look old and that my daughter and I could pass for sisters if my hair wasn’t gray. I get that a lot. I gave up coloring my hair at age 50; right along with shopping in Forever 21. I love my graying, unmanageable locs. My grandmother had beautiful platinum colored hair; I cannot wait for my hair to look like hers. As for looking like my daughter’s sister, no thanks. I wear looking like her mom like a medal… a badge of honor.

    1. Right! My cousin is 12 years older than me, and has always died her hair. Platinum blonde, purple, electric blue…that’s not my thing. Aging is inevitable. Dyeing your hair isn’t changing that.

  2. Very nice article. I too sport my natural, skunk-opposite hair. I’m 54 and started getting gray in my mid 40s and I’m embracing it with pride and feeling blessed. It’s so unrealistic to believe that we’re aging and our hair is still it’s natural color. I know there may be some people who gray very late, but come on, it’s all part of the stages of life. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank you for this inspiration! I turned 51 this year and also wear my hair short & natural. My gray is all up in the front row yearning to be seen so upkeep is a beast. I’ve gone through cycles of dying and not, mostly because I feel youthful and don’t want to be perceived as old. Seeing how fly you look, though, has inspired me to embrace my gray with pride and keep it moving! 💃🏾

    1. Hi Kenya,

      I know exactly what you mean! I am very active and full of life. I put off letting the gray come in for that very reason. Then I realized that the gray doesn’t change any of that. I still do my extreme workouts, travel, laugh with my husband, and wear what brings me joy. I am determined to change the narrative about graying. I’m cheering you on. Thank you for checking out the blog. I appreciate it.


  4. I’ve been graying since my late 20’s….started with a single off-center patch in the front. By the time I reached my 40th, I was nearly completely gray and always thought I should dye it….esp. when people would mistake my daughter as my granddaughter. Those were the hardest moments but then I would see pics of my Mom (RIP 2010) and remember she never dyed hers so now at 50+++, I cherish every last gray and look forward to the few remaing ‘black’ one’s to claim their wisdom.

    1. Hi Sherrie! Thank you for sharing your story. I anticipate that I too will have episodes where folks will think I’m much older than I am. I’ll have to handle those as they come.

    1. Hi Lisa, thank you so much for following along my style journey. I’m very happy with how the gray is coming in.