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How To Survive Going Gray In Your 40s

What's it REALLY like? Two women give us the scoop.

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A gallery of women with grey hair in a variety of hairstyles.
Peter Hapak/Trunk Archive
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Fashion magazines have declared gray the most popular hair color of 2018. Meet two women who were way ahead of the game.

If ever there was a time to embrace your gray, it’s now. L’Oréal Professionnele reported that silver hair color is on the rise and that 28 percent of women are considering dyeing theirs gray or letting it go natural. And, there’s a real payoff — a 2017 nationwide survey found that the average woman spends $50,000 on hair products and treatments in her lifetime. That comes to about $80 spent on hair a month, along with 11 hours of a woman’s time.

But what’s it really like to go gray? We got the scoop:


When did you decide to let your hair go gray?
“I was 40, but I didn’t start the process until I was 41. The color maintenance was daunting — every 3 weeks! When my father was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, I thought, What am I doing? I buy organic milk, veggies and meat and here I am applying all these chemicals to my head and sitting there for 45 minutes. I just had to stop.”

How did people react?
“My husband wasn’t/isn’t a fan. He thinks I look older. But he understands why I stopped coloring it. The rest of my family got it because they’re all gray, too.”

How long did it take to grow out?
“It took about one to one and a half years to fully grow out. It’s a long process. First I lightened my hair and went blonder. Then I tapped my inner [House of Cards] Claire Underwood and cut it. My hairdresser said, “Once we start, that’s it!” I’ve never wanted to go back. I’m a 46-year-old woman, wife, mother of two teenagers embracing my life now! I’ve saved tons of money, and the number of people who compliment me is crazy.”


When did you decide to go gray?
“I probably wanted to start when I turned 40, but waited until I was 47. We are raising two girls in a culture that portrays beauty in a very unrealistic way. I wanted to teach them that they are beautiful outside because they are beautiful on the inside. I thought to myself, Am I embracing the same spirit I want to teach my daughters?

Being with my family and friends makes me feel beautiful. Laughing makes me feel beautiful. Coming in off the water after a wild, windy sail makes me feel beautiful. Looking young [with no gray] might make me look beautiful, but it’s fleeting and impossible to maintain.”

“The other, more shallow truth, is that I had to go every three weeks to cover up what my youngest daughter once called my ‘perimeter.’ It was way too time consuming! I had that first week where the color was too rich, or too dark, and I felt it looked so unnatural. By the time the color softened to a shade I liked, it was time to go back to the salon. I love the gray because there is zero maintenance.”

What did people say when you told them?
“My husband wasn’t ready to be married to an ‘older’ woman. Once I had the go from him, he and everyone else were so supportive. Our three kids tell me how pretty my hair is and how much they love the gray.”

How long did it take to grow out?
“I’m still growing it out! I’m about three-quarters there. It's a hard process that requires a lot of patience. I like my hair long enough to put in a ponytail, so cutting it wasn’t an option. I did have lowlights put in after about 6 months to blend the ‘ring of shame’ where there was an obvious demarcation between new growth and old color.”

What have you gotten out of the decision?
“Time, money, freedom and lots of compliments!”