Who’ll stop the gray? (Sung to the tune by CCR, ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain’)

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Does the hair color gray call to mind individuals who are vibrant or those who are old? Can one stop coloring their hair after years of doing so, gracefully, and without that time-honored grow-in period? 

Yes, I am doing it. I’m thinking of doing something trendy, yet the thought of it is very intimidating for me. Stopping the regular coloring of my hair at the salon and growing in my salt and pepper natural color. OH MY GOSH!

Can I really do this, after 25 years of coloring? I had only started coloring my hair in my 40s, when the salt and pepper was already there, having emerged during my 20s. Even my poor daughters, in their 20s started seeing the gray/silver in their own hair. I commented on how the “silver sparkle” looked so lovely in their hair. That went over like a lead balloon. 

I came across a Facebook support group for women undergoing this transformation. Their reasons were varied, as were their ages. Women in their 20s and 30s who wanted to embrace their early gray (but then, they had their sun-kissed young faces), more mature women who were ready to become their “real selves” as well as those who wanted to take back the two hours of time (and money) on a regular, monthly basis spent in the stylist’s chair. That Facebook group, however, didn’t feature anyone who had short, curly hair like mine.

Even on my own Facebook page, I saw friends from high school who had embraced their gray (and those who also went from high school brown to mature-age bleached-blonde!) as grandmothers. What happened to us? We were so young, weren’t we?

Jane Fonda

Then I saw a photo of Jane Fonda with her new gray style! She looked fabulous, but of course, anyone with an unlimited checkbook can have that fabulousness as well as beautiful, physician-enhanced skin.) And I thought about Jamie Lee Curtis, who always proudly embraced her true gray-hair self, seeming to be the face (and hair) of moving through life gracefully (and on the cover of so many magazines because of it!)

Could I do it? After so many years of looking in the mirror and seeing dark, curly hair could I start the process of growing out my curls to their natural color(s)? How long would it take? Would I look older than I am? LOL! Sometimes, when I got an especially great haircut, I told the stylist and myself I looked so cute (at 60+!) with the new “do.” Would I ever be “cute” again when I let my hair grow out?

Jamie Lee Curtis

And my friends, acquaintances, and colleagues? Would they think I got lazy coloring my hair or would they wish they could break their own continual hair-color habit? Would I gain an appearance of ‘plus ten years’? Or would my smashing new cut curls make me look trendy and hip?

Because my short, curly hair meant the growth period would be way less than someone with shoulder-length straight hair, I’m giving it a try. And curly hair is “forgiving,” in that the first cut without color didn’t reveal much gray (it was hidden down in the curls at the roots).

Next month’s cut, with added intentional gray highlights, would tell the story if I could be brave and move forward. Or would I just widen my eyes and at once tell my stylist I wanted my “color” back, and now!

I haven’t really mentioned this to anyone, even my husband. (Of course, hundreds of you know now). I did happen to mention it to my doctor’s receptionist yesterday (also a mature, hair-colored woman), and she was appalled. “I’m going to color my hair until the end!” she exclaimed. And “growing out the gray makes you look so much older.” Thanks for the encouragement.

So next time I report in on this transformation, it may very well that I’ll be back to what I typically look like in my Ink Link photo. Or the transformation may be beginning. Tune in!



About this Author

Annette Kurman

A native of Philadelphia with baccalaureate degrees in journalism, nursing, as well as an MBA from now defunct Daniel Webster College, Nashua, her endeavors in various roles and industries — as well a very supportive husband — once again bring her to the question of “What do I want to do when I grow up?”