Thoughts On Going Gray

Everyone’s perspective on gray hair is unique. Whether a woman chooses to embrace her gray hair or dye it, we need to respect her personal choice because the most important thing is to feel comfortable and confident in your own skin. Today I want to share some thoughts on going gray.

As expected, I decided what to do with my haircut as I sat in the stylist’s chair yesterday. The longer we chatted, the more I realized how unhappy I’ve been with the way my hair is going gray. Rather than the bright silver or white I’d hoped for, mother nature has given me a messy melange of white, silver, and blonde. It looks muddy rather than bright. Combine that with letting my layers grow out, and you have a recipe for Jennifer taking scissors into her own hands, which is never a good plan.

Embracing your gray hair can be a powerful act of self-acceptance, but it’s not for every woman. I’ve earned every single one of those strands, and they’re a testament to the full life I’ve lived. However, I want to look and feel the best I can, and I’m not convinced I can get there without some help from added highlights.

How the color started

I started adding highlights to my hair at fifteen.

First came good old SunIn, which turned it a disgusting orange shade and left it feeling like straw. Then I moved on to the sophisticated crochet hook and shower cap routine, which looked splotchy and cheesy. I persevered and “streaked” my hair until foils came along, and I could afford a real stylist. I gradually forgot what my original hair color looked like. I just knew I was some type of blonde.

In 2021, I decided to go gray. Many of you shared your journey and encouraged me to stick with it. Along with the color, the texture has changed, and it’s lost a lot of shine. The whole point of highlights is to add brightness, which I must have always felt my natural color was missing. They also swell the hair, which adds body and helps my thinning hair look thicker.

The stylist asked if I wanted her to put a few highlights up front, to add that “pop” that I’ve been missing. I thought long and hard about it, then decided to wait. I had her cut a few layers into my hair and take off about 1 1/2″. I realize my stylist at home has been blending my layers into a smoothness that is counterproductive for its volume.

Volumizing Products

I came home with an arsenal of new hair products to boost my volume, and I may go back to using Velcro rollers.

I know that some women simply prefer how they look without gray hair, and there is no moral failure in that. I may be one of them. I’m going to pay more attention to the style of my hair as the color continues to evolve and leave my options open.

Does your stylist help direct how you should cut your hair?


  1. Hi, I appreciate your comments on going gray and getting a cut that helps volume. Could you please share with me the way to have a stylist cut layers for
    volume? I have layers that make my hair smooth and flat. I have the dreaded thin, fine, somewhat frizzy and curly gray hair that is a challenge! I just moved and the new stylist was a nightmare!

    1. It looked like she cut them bluntly, and didn’t blend. My stylist at home feathers them which is a flat disaster. She only layered the very top

      1. Got it! That all makes sense.
        Thanks so much!

    2. Bette Farr Rosenfield says:

      My hair color is very similar to yours, and about the same length. Im having the same issue with thinning, and how to add layers to a blunt cut. Keep writing about hair styles for older ladies.

      1. I will keep sharing.

  2. Jennifer, I just LOVe your hair layered like that. It has so much vitality. Love the gray color too!

    1. It’s feeling sassier which I really was missing. Thank you!

  3. Jennifer-Try this(what did when went gray): had the stylist color/hi light my whole hair with a mix of dark/lite gray colors.

    1. Why does that scare me? I just don’t have a good enough stylist that I trust to do that.

      1. I recently switched stylists and am so happy. My hair is silver in front and gray with silver streaks in back. I wear a very spikey pixie. The new gal cuts it like a barber, dry with scissors. Does it ever behave better. I use a leave in conditioner, and then use a firmer styling product with shine.

  4. I’m in the exact spot you are with your hair! I decided to go another month without any high or lowlights. A great cut makes a huge difference & I’m adding some hydrating conditioner to cut out the frizzies. So far it’s not weighing down my fine textured hair. Between Living Proof & Kevin Murphy, I’m happy with the results of added shine & volume. It’s a balancing act, isn’t it?!
    Ps your haircut looks great!

    1. I love the Living Proof too. It adds so much volume.

      1. DeeAnn Boyd says:

        Which living proof product do you use? And which shampoo, etc?

      2. I use the dry shampoo which adds volume on day two and three.

      3. Our youngest daughter works for Living Proof, and she has gifted me products from their Full line (shampoo, conditioner, thickening cream), plus more recently a volumizing mousse. Love all of the products, though the mousse is a bit drying and leaves my hair a bit stiff.

  5. What kind of shampoo are you using? I don’t know if it is ok to mention brands so I won’t mention my favorite but blue/purple shampoo works miracles! My stylist picked the one she likes and my hair which is on the white side of gray absolutely shines. I don’t use it every shampoo because eventually I would have the REAL old lady lavender hair. I encouraged several of my friends to try it and they, too, are huge fans of blue/purple shampoo. I think your hair always looks lovely.

    1. Please share the brand! I use one by Olaplex every so often. Maybe I’m not using it enough?

      1. I’ve used Joico blue shampoo. My issue is more toning down what’s left of the brown hair I used to have. I find that blue/purple shampoos are rather “heavy” which might work against a ‘do that has volume. I wouldn’t do the shampoo and the Olaplex together as they both have a coating action on your hair.

        See if you can find a sample size before springing for a big bottle!

      2. Awesome, thanks Rose

    2. Yes, please share! I’ve been using Redken Graydient and really like it, but I’m almost out and it looks like it’s been discontinued…..I have short hair, so a modest sized bottle of lavender tinted shampoo that is only used a couple of times/week lasts for AGES. Would love to have a recommendation from someone who actually uses the product, rather than relying on magazine websites (“the top 10 anti-brassiness shampoos for gray hair!”), because the cynic in me believes they only highlight products which advertise in their ‘zines.

  6. Hi Jennifer,
    I decided to fully commit when I turned 65. My stylist and I discussed it and came up with a plan. I let my gray grow out for 6 weeks, at which point she knew what my natural gray looked like. She put in highlights and low lights to match my roots. So I walked in with red hair and out with gray. It was great. I used purple shampoo, to keep the silver parts nice and cool as they grew out, and she glazed my hair at regular intervals to keep it shiny. My hair is now fully grown out from the color. I wear it in a simple stacked bob, which minimizes layers, and maximizes shine. I have a mix of white, silver and dark hair, but the top layers are mostly light. I get so many compliments from young and old alike. Ladies ask me who does my highlights. 😂. It took a couple of years to fully grow out, but was worth it. It’s very freeing not to have to worry about whether your color needs a touch up. 😁

    1. Great point about layers and shine!!

  7. I laughed when I saw Sun In. My sister-in-law and I used it one time and both turned carrot orange. What a disaster that was. LOL. I didn’t get the white or bright silver that I was hoping for either, but then I realized that I would look really washed out if I had gotten what I’d hoped for. I am more greige because I am peppered with a light brown/very dark dishwater blonde. If I am in bright light I look more white, and in less light it looks darker. My hair is thinner and finer than yours, so I keep it cut quite short. I will be interested in how you like the Kevin Murphy products

    1. I’ve used these all before and love them! I just have to be careful not to use too many at one time or I have no shine and need a shine spray

  8. Jennifer, your new style looks fabulous! I too have fine blonde hair (a smithering of grey around my hairline) that thinned due to thyroid issues but love, love, love, Kevin Murphy Body Builder, Repair-Me shampoo & conditioner. Thank you for your candid posts!

    1. Thanks Bette! My thyroid wrecks havoc on my hair. I haven’t tried the Repair shampoo and conditioner but I love everything he makes so I’ll look for it.

  9. I decided to go natural with a longer style during the long COVID ban on salon visits. Every time I looked in the mirror, I was washed out, but I persevered. When visits returned, I continued to persevere reminding myself how much money I was saving. One night after coming home from an evening out, my husband said he wished I would go back to coloring my hair. When I reminded him how much money I was saving, he replied (and I quote exactly) “I don’t care what it costs! I feel like I’m a companion to my grandmother! We worked hard all our lives to enjoy some of the luxuries we couldn’t while raising our children. Call the salon TOMORROW!” Needless to say, I’ve been back ever since and my stylist is wonderful at both the cut and color. I often receive compliments and am asked where I go. End of story!

    1. I love your story Maureen! Washed out is what I’m feeling and it’s no fun.

      1. Dorie Girard says:

        I love that story too! Rather than get angry Maureen embraced the idea offered (not so gently) by her spouse and ended up at a happier place. I think as we age and spend more time than ever with our partners it is so, so important to reflect ( and laugh) at their opinions rather than take offense. That’s my 2 cents!!!

      2. I agree Dorie. My husband refuses to comment on my hair one way or the other. It all goes back to the time (25 years ago) I came home with a very short haircut. His comment was, “what happened to you? Your hair got butchered.”
        That was not a good thing to say to a woman reeling from a bad haircut 🤣 My response cured him of EVER giving an opinion on my hair.

  10. You are right to wait on the color. Your general dissatisfaction was probably due to the cut more than the color.

    1. I think you may be right. It’s taken me 2.5 years to get this far. I don’t want to quit without giving it a good try.

  11. I have hair similar to yours and I always get them to put some shorter pieces in it with the thinning shears. Gives me a bit more lift and fullness than being all one length. I find, like you said, that all one length just looks flat on me

  12. I thought a lot about ditching the dye , My hairdresser has told me my hair is 90% gray. So in January, I stopped coloring my hair. My hair dresser cut it very short in two month increments . Now it is gray with my natural brown mixed. I have to say I am liking it. It does take time to get used to it.

    1. Bravo! A short cut can be so sassy looking too.

      1. I was discussing coloring my grown out natural hair with a top stylist. His opinion on color was that it was easy to get a nice color, yet difficult to keep it. I remembered how my color would go brassy and I rarely was pleased with the color. It was a work in progress. Gray hair is even worse to color. If I would do anything to make mine pop, it would be a few. I understand, we all feel like change sometimes, but change can be very frustrating. You were smart to hold off and give it thought.

  13. Cynthia B says:

    I feel ya sister….going grey is not easy street. My experience: I save money on not paying for color work, also no hash chems going into me through my scalp and the drying effect of coloring on the hair. All good things. On the challenging side…I found I needed to add more vibrancy and contrast in what I wore or I looked like a cadaver. So pale pastels around my face weren’t working to my benefit anymore 😩…had to move them down lower on my body. Also, and this was key: the quality and style of my haircut became preeminent. Wrong style or cut sends me straight into “frumpy land” where I do not wish to live ☺️. Lastly, finding the right products to help the tresses shine and be super healthy was a quest. The Prose line of hair products was a godsend. Also, loving Oribe…from my brilliant stylist. Just some thoughts …..hope your quest finds its reward!!!

    1. Your thoughts are golden! No pun intended. Thank you. My uninspiring cut combined with the dull color is a recipe for disaster! I’m finding that true about clothes and it’s a challenge because I love soft neutrals so much.

  14. Jennifer, I also have thinning fine hair. I am naturally a brunette but have embraced a much lighter hair colour (blondish) as I do not like my grey colour. The colour does add volume too. I also use Kevin Murphy products, the anti gravity volumizer and the texturizing hair spray specifically. They are fabulous! My hair stylist is incredible, she adjusts my hair colour and hairstyle as needed…we discuss some styling and then she just works her magic!

    1. Kevin Murphy is my favorite line. The Bedroom spray is magical as is the Doo Over

  15. Good morning!
    The photo you show in your post, looks great. It looks silvery to me.
    I colored my hair auburn for 20 years. I hated my almost black hair color. As the years went by the white strands didn’t color well and I felt like I needed to color more often. I never went to a stylist, always colored it myself.
    I went to visit my cousin in England and she is 2 years older than me and she had white hair. She inspired me to grow out my color and 5 years later I’m gray.
    There’s no doubt it ages you but I couldn’t care less.
    I’m embracing my age and like you, I’ve worked very hard for every white hair.
    I have one girlfriend that will never go gray, it’s all about what makes you happy.

  16. Good day🌹 I am enjoying your blog and the helpful content. About deciding to go gray or not. My original color was a warm brown with copper highlights. In 2010, I had started giving thought to stop coloring my hair (did it at home with the help of Clairol). When it began to last only 3 weeks, I felt it to step up 🤔 By chance, I found a young woman, who was amazing with her suggestions and walked me through this chapter of my journey. I agree you should do what you feel comfortable with and not feel guilty about it. You have to be mentally prepared for this new look. Whatever you choose, it will be the right answer 🩷

    1. I’m glad you’ve joined us, Kathy.

  17. Terri in Ohio says:

    You and I have travelled the same trail on our hair journey, starting at sun-in and ending at grey. My hair is now what I call a streaky grey/taupe mixture, which is much better for my coloring than the brassy tones I had with foiling and finally overall color. However, my hair texture has changed—little volume, curly on one side in the back, matte finish. I would love to find a stylist who would make styling, color, and product recommendations. I would consider adding highlights if there was no risk of brassiness. No luck so far. Please let us know what you discover with the hair products. Thank you for this post!

    1. Yes! I looked ghastly in brassy highlights but that’s what the undertone of my hair liked to pull out. I don’t miss that part.

  18. I think you’re on the right track adding highlights to brighten. I’m not an expert certainly, but always was told that a blunt cut added the illusion of volume while layering took away bulk in thicker hair.
    Like you as I’ve aged I’m becoming less and less happy with my hair no matter what I do. I’m still blonde with horrid mixed up greys as my riits growing white in front and dark grey in back so I keep it blonde.

    1. We are go gray so differently. I was envisioning a luscious bright silver! Ha! Not happening.

  19. My stylist is my best friend when it comes to my hair. She gives me good advice on cut and color. You know she is your bestie when you get compliments on your hair. My hair is very fine and thin so I really need her guidance.

    1. Thin hair is really a challenge. One wrong snip makes a huge difference.

      1. I have natural curly hair. A blessing everyone says. But it is not always. My hair is straight in the front and fine and pretty cur!y in the back.
        Decided during Covid I’d go gray. (I am blonde with high lights). The gray was awful. Looked like I was related to a skunk.
        My hair stylus said to just color it a nice shade of blonde and see what my gray looked like as highlights. It worked. My hair is a nice shade with true high lights. She just gave me d good bob hair cut and angled the front so I can blow dry it forward or back. What a difference. Just got to make yourself happy. Love your new cut. Highlights would give you more body and shine.
        But you need to be in your Happy Hair Place. 🤗

  20. Mary Eward says:

    Thanks for the post, Jennifer. I am a brunette in my early 60s and have been gradually going gray for a while now. I stopped coloring almost 6 years ago, choosing the highlight route. That seems to work for me as the gray hair, the blonde highlights, the caramel-ly lowlights and my still-brunette hair provide interest in my hair that I think would be lacking with just gray and brunette. I look forward to hearing how your journey goes with your highlights.

  21. Your new style looks great and I do hope you love it. Your colour choice is very much your own decision and there will be many differing opinions so you do you for what makes you feel like you. Those products have me intrigued so let us know how you like them after using them at home.

    1. I have tried them before and know they’re terrific.

  22. Brief history. My Dad had beautiful white hair at 40 and my Mom was Salt and Pepper finally at 70. I asked my hometown hairdresser based on my roots which way I was leaning. She said my Mom. I kept coloring a Medium Ash Brown. She continued discouraging me from going gray.

    Six years ago was in need of a a haircut while we were at our cottage in another state. I asked that hairdresser based on my roots her thoughts. She said pure white(except at the nape of my neck). She dyed my hair blond, gave me a really short hair cut Jamie Lee Curtis and in about 4 months I had white hair. During COVID I let it grow out longer to a Bob and scrunched my natural curly hair. I have loved it ever since. Just recently got it all cut like Judy Dench.

    Best advice:
    Do what makes you happy and feel good.

    1. Your hair sounds fabulous!! I love your advice

  23. I think your hair is gorgeous as is and suits you perfectly. As a summer, bright gray shiny hair probably wouldn’t suit you. I think of you in that neutral outfit with the long sweater. Those colors, your hair and you are in perfect harmony. Your eyes just pop. I think we have this stylized idea of what “silver” is supposed to ne, but few people look that way. As a dark winter I was was expecting defined salt and pepper. Nope, it’s a muddled gray/brown that looks silver in some light but not others. Oh well! Everyone has to do what makes them most comfortable of course! I think you look great as is, esp in your summer colors!

    1. Thanks Shari. You’re right. Too bright would be overpowering on me. I am definitely looking at colors diferently as my hair changes.

  24. Pat Patterson says:

    Happy Friday Jennifer, OMG, I want your haircut, you look fabulous!!! I have been coloring my hair since I was 39, (72) now..
    My middle daughter told she is letting her hair go grey, my other two daughter still color their hair. I’ve talked about it with my husband, he likes the color my hair only because I have never let it go grey and to be truthful, when my roots come in, the grey makes me looked washed out. So, I’ve decided to color my hair every 6 weeks. Thank you bring up this topic
    Have a great weekend

    1. Happy weekend, Pat!

  25. Your new haircut looks fabulous!

    1. Thank you. I do feel like a new woman 🙂

  26. My hair is thick, wavy and coarse. Going grey has made it coarser and drier. I live in a dry place to begin with, so it’s a constant struggle to find products to help with this. Add sensitive skin to that equation. Many products irritate my scalp. I have natural blonde highlights of my own, but I don’t use blue shampoo very often as it adds to the dryness of my hair. We all have our challenges, I guess!

  27. *That should have read 1.5 hours.

  28. I travel literally 100 miles, driving for 1.5 miles to see my stylist. It’s well-worth it, though, because Tracy gets the color and cut perfect every single time. I can totally relax the minute I sit down in her chair because I know she’s got my back. I am blessed and grateful.

    1. You are lucky! My fabulous gal moved several states away so I’m going to have to explain myself better to this one. Finding a new stylist is a nightmare.

  29. Lottie A. says:

    I am white 3/4 of the way- mostly front and sides. Back of my head salt n pepper. For fun, I have purple added to strips on each side of my part. I get so many compliments. ! Having a good cut every 6-8 weeks helps too. Lottie

    1. I love that Lottie!

  30. I can only tell from photos, but I think your hair color looks natural and is flattering. Gray hair does come in at different stages, so what you have may not be what you’ll get. Different colors? Actually, our hair is always a blend of shades. To me, hair that’s all one shade looks fake.
    I don’t mind the color of my gray hair, and does have a range from light to darker. My complaint is dullness. My stylist, who I trust, also recommended a few highlights around my face for brightness rather than color. I don’t regret doing it, but it really doesn’t make a difference . The only thing I notice now is a little gold tinged strand once in awhile. I’m going to skip the highlights.
    Do any readers have recommendations for adding shine to gray hair? I use a gloss, rotate a purple shampoo and have a shine spray.

    1. Interesting! Thank you. I do have a shine spray but forget to use it.

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