To dye, or not to dye? Should I go grey, or not? That was the question I posed in a blog post a couple of weeks ago. I thought I might be ready to go ‘au naturel.’ Or some variation thereof. My decision? Well… turns out, folks, that I’m not. Not ready, that is, to go grey. For the moment, anyway. I’m way too chicken. I know, I know.  Bok, bok, bok.

chicken running

But, I’ll get to my decision in a moment. First, let’s talk about that post from two weeks ago, on “Going Grey. Or Not.” Wowee. I was amazed at the comments and conversation that sparked. Thanks so much to everyone who was kind enough to respond, and to weigh in with their choices. Or stories of their own adventures in greying.

Between Facebook, Instagram, and the blog there were 60 votes cast and these were the top choices. By far people seemed to prefer #3 and #4/8. (4 and 8 are the same since I accidentally included a duplicate photo.) Some people chose more than one option; I recorded all of them. Nine people demurred when it came to choosing one of the twelve options, and instead advised me to do whatever I thought best. Five said they liked my hair the way it was. One person said “Do not go grey!”

top reader choices for my grey hair look.
Your favourite choices

It was fun reading all the comments. And you had some really great advice. Like Erica’s comment that “if the colour says ‘old’ the haircut must say modern.” That’s spot on Erica, in my opinion. She also mentioned how important eye-brows are when your hair and skin colour are fading. I agree; eyebrows are huge for aging skin and hair. Okay, maybe ‘huge’ is not the word I want there, but definitely important. And Suz mentioned that it would be pretty hard to replicate the silver when my hair has warm tones. Well, not without bleach. Good point, Suz; Carmen concurred with this. Lots of you said, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead; I should let the grey come in and find out whatever mother nature has in store for me. It will be beautiful, you said. Ah thanks, folks.

Here are the choices I was leaning towards. I liked #2 and #5 the best. But funny thing, they both are not terribly grey. Which might have told me something. And none of them resembles what my own hair would probably look like, especially since they all have dark roots. Still, it was supposed to be an exercise in how various colours of grey or silver might look on me. I had never intended to take the picture to Carmen and say, “make me look like that.”

my choices for grey hair looks
My favourite choices

So, my decision? Well….  I must admit. When push came to shove, I was too chicken to make the leap. Like my blonde feathered friend, with the brown roots, above … I ran as fast as my little, skinny chicken legs could carry me to my hairdresser, wailing…”Car-mennnnn, what should I do?” Bok, bok, bok, indeed. Luckily Carmen had scheduled extra time for me, so we could consult.

First we identified my issues. I didn’t want to do overall grey. Which Carmen said wouldn’t be possible anyway, since my hair left to its own devices would be white, and not grey. Akk. Who knew? I didn’t know if I wanted to start growing out white roots with my current colour, or even if I wanted to grow them out at all. Then there were those small dye-resistant patches in the back and side, and I was tired of seeing my sorry looking roots on the top. I didn’t know exactly what I did want, a bit of drama, maybe, and not to look old and boring. Okay.

Now… how to achieve all that?

First, we decided to lighten the darkest parts, on the sides and in the back so the dye-resistant swatches won’t look so stark. And the roots, which grow in very quickly, won’t be so noticeable. Since colour fades, Carmen can do this by lightening the colour she reapplies each time to match the “faded” colour. It should only take a cut or two to achieve what we want. We will go with a lighter colour on top, for the same reason- roots. And to give dimension, Carmen will add darker low-lights, instead of highlights. And the pièce de résistance, Carmen suggested a couple of bold, blonde, chunky highlights in my bangs. One that is very visible, and another that just peeks out. One assumes cheekily. Cheeky, chunky highlights. I liked the sound of that.

This is the result. Indoors. In our sun room.

my new colour

And outside on our deck in the full sunlight. The outside shot most resembles what I see in the mirror. Colour, wrinkles and all. It’s not a drastic change from what I had before. But I really like those two cheeky highlights in the front. They are more visible when the bangs are swept over to the side. And for the rest. We’re evolving. Hopefully into a colour that will be a bit lighter, and blend better with my grey…er…ah.. I mean, my white roots. And which will still have some dimension from those darker low-lights on the top. And which will still work with my warm colouring.

my new colour in the sunlight

As I am wont to do when I’m writing a blog post I’ve been reading articles from around the net on going grey. Other women’s perspectives. One that struck me as interesting is the article “Grey Is Great: Why Hair is the Last Bastion of Vanity” by Anne Perkins for The Guardian. I mention it because her experience is the absolute antithesis of my own. She talks about the “awestruck warnings” of friends and family when she discussed the possibility of going grey. They were aghast; she was too young; her children were too young. If you check out the article, you’ll see that she obviously ignored their advice and went over to the grey side. Me, when I had the same discussion, I had so much support, so many people cheering me on to make the leap. And yet, I didn’t. Funny, eh?

So, I can imagine after all this fuss that some of you are sighing and rolling your eyes in exasperation, at my cowardice. Or my inability to face the inevitable. Yep. I’m aging. We’re all aging. I turn sixty in a few short weeks. I get that.

But I’m going to look at it this way. I’ve always been a late bloomer. As a teenager, I literally “bloomed” much later than other girls. Ha. Maybe that’s too much information, do you think? I flailed for a few years in my twenties. Had several jobs before I settled down to a successful teaching career. I didn’t marry until I was in my thirties, although Hubby and I had been together for a few years by then. So, by delaying going grey. By delaying facing the inevitable, maybe I’m just continuing with the late blooming thing.

Besides, as a long time hair-obsessive, if I had to pick between good hair and wearing make-up, I’d pick hair every time. As Perkins says in her article, “hair matters.” And I’m not ready to embrace the identity-change that will come with going grey.

Not yet anyway. Give me five years and we’ll talk again.

P.S. I’d like to add that I wasn’t unhappy with my colour before. Carmen always does a great job. And man, oh man, is she patient! She’d have to be with me for a client all these years.

And so dear readers, I suppose you’re sick and tired of talking about this issue. But feel free to weigh in if there’s anything you’d like to add. Anything. About hair, grey or otherwise. Aging. Chickens.

Shot of chicken running found initially on the very cool website: Salt from the Earth


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41 thoughts on “To Dye or Not To Dye … The Decision”

  1. I think you've made the right choice …I hope you're happy with it. I think it looks great, especially the blonde in your fringe (as I'd say or bangs as you say :))
    The shades are perfect for your skin tone at the moment and as you say you can change it in the future. Good to have options!
    I'm keeping this short and sweet as compared with everyone else I feel as though I wrote an essay, commenting on your last post!

    1. I love my newly blond fringe. And I'm happy that we're doing something a bit proactive short of going all grey…I mean… white.
      P.S. I love your essays, Rosie.

  2. As my late sister always said (about every big decision in life)…one day you'll wake up and you'll just know that it's time. My time to go silver came a few months after turning sixty (I will be 62 in the fall). I never had a second guess and didn't seek anyone's advice. I just did it, without any chemical "enhancements" and love the results. We share the same coloring and color choices in wardrobe…blue/green eyes, freckles, but everyone's greying pattern is unique. It's been exciting to redefine (new makeup options!) and accept. You are brave to let such a large audience weigh in, but something tells me that as you waltz into a new decade, in the end you too will know when or if it's time. And no matter…you will always sparkle…with or without silver.

    1. It was like that when I retired…no I didn't hate my job or the students… or anything. It was just time, and I knew it. Hopefully it will be like that with hair.

  3. I agree with itztru (and her late sister), you'll know when it is right. And the fun thing about hair is after deciding to try "your natural" silver-white-gray, you can always revisit and go back to colour! I let the roots grow from Sept to Dec and chopped it all off Dec 31st 2012 to be spiky (mostly) gray-silver-auburn at 55. It was a great decision for me. Never looked back!
    BTW, love your blog. Suz

    1. Thanks, Suz. Now that I've made the decision, I know it's right. And I'm not moaning about roots… coz I know I can always embrace them when I feel like it.

  4. Going grey is such a personal decision, and you have to do it (if at all) when the time is right for you. I like your new look and what you are trying to achieve.

    My husband started having grey hair in his 30s and has been coloring his hair for 15+ years. We sometimes talk about when he'll be ready to go grey, but he isn't there yet. I have blondish hair and any grey is still pretty much hidden, but since my overall coloring is changing so much lately, I know I'll have to have a good look and make some decisions soon…

    1. Thanks, Andrea. I've made so many changes with my hair over the years. You'll just roll with it. And those hair decisions are not irrevocable like some.

  5. Well I love chickens -though I seem to remember you aren't keen . I like your new look , Carmen knows what she is doing & you do need a colourist with a good eye . I'd love to have the naturally dark brown hair with red glints I used to have but I know my skin has lightened & it would be too harsh now . So , like yours , it has been gradually lightened into a gentle mix of shades . Harshly died hair is not flattering to older skin & in those cases grey is better . Mine would be unevenly grey , yellowing because of those red lights & frizzly ( like my mums was I'm afraid ). It's good that we can all make the choice.
    Wendy in York

    1. Ha. Well spotted. Birds and me… we are not friends:) I agree about harshly coloured hair. I think that dark brunettes have a difficult time deciding what to do. I'm like you with the family history of yellowing and my own frizz issues. In this case choice is very good.

  6. You look fabulous, but this isn't about what we think. It's about how you perceive yourself as you move forward. Like you, I've hit 60, and right now, I don't ever see myself going all white or grey. It's not what I want to see in the mirror, or what I want others to see. You and Carmen have made smart choices about where and how you've placed the color. BTW, know one would ever guess your age… You look beautiful, elegant, warm and gracious.

  7. Sue, you look great! The color looks completely natural and authentically youthful. Funny how I was just the opposite. In the late 80s-early 90s, when my hair was still dark brown and everyone was adding red tints, I was scared to color my hair. I tried a semi-permanent color once in my late 30s and felt like I was looking at a stranger in the mirror. Now that I'm 60 and more-salt-than-pepper, I am content with the natural color and happy when others occasionally ask if I have the silver highlights added. Carmen is an artist. — Dianne

    1. Thanks, Dianne. It's such an individual thing isn't it? When I saw all the grey next to my blond highlights, it made me look unhealthy, all bleached of colour. And so I went to overall colour. My sister's hair is like yours, brunette, and she looks great with her silver and pepper pixie cut.

  8. Love your hair colour choice. I'm stil keeping my hair dark brown…not quite black. However I do have a swirl of…more white than grey at the front. My
    Hairdresser does the low lights as well. It all seems to work with my skin tone. I think it is wonderful that we have the choice to be how we want to be. It is such a personal choice…..

  9. I like the lighter colour on you. I went through this same exercise in January but in the end I said give me highlights/lowlights. Maybe….when
    I turn 70, I'll be ready. Just not quite yet.

  10. Leslie in Oregon

    A difficult decision, but I knew that you would make the best decision for you now. Frankly, with your great facial features and your wonderful spirit, you are and will be a beautiful person (outside as well as inside) regardless of your hair color/s.

  11. To each her own. As you know, I love my gray. Other women do too, as do men over 60;). But I look best in cool colors – cosmetically it doesn't feel like a hit. As for aging, well, I like my hair lining up with my face, age-wise. But do I think you should do it too? When you're not ready?

    Heck no:)

  12. I love that cut and colour on you! You really do have a great stylist.
    I'm not ready to go grey yet (I'll be 62 in a few months). Well, actually it would be white based on what I see when my roots appear LOL, but I am considering getting highlights and lowlights to shake up my dark brown.

  13. You look marvelous! Carmen is a genius! I let my blond hair do its own thing and now have some white, grey and a little blonde. It suits my sixty-eight year old face.

    1. Thanks, Donna. After I lighten mine more I may go that way… or not. I'll wait to see how I like the lighter colour with my facial colouring.

  14. Hi Sue,
    It is a hard decision! Enjoy your fun colour. It's you at this time! Nice to know you have options and when you're ready to come over to the grey side we will embrace you…;)
    My dilemma… I recently cut my long hair to my shoulders. I think…I would like to go shorter. But it scares me! So there you have it!! Hair plays a big part in our lives!
    Your hairy friend,

  15. Just catching up on several of your posts and didn't think your heart was really in the whole embracing grey thing though I loved the app that let you experiment. Love your new colour. You're really lucky with your stylist. Always enjoy the image of you pedalling away as you read your magazines. Great way to exercise. Totally agree with what you say about Vogue. Magazines are really struggling to survive and I think Vogue is no exception. It's frequently been discounted recently and quality of content has deteriorated imo. Iris

    1. I'm glad you caught my ambivalence about grey… you're right my heart wasn't in it. I talked myself into the idea, and then talked myself right back out. I have noticed as well that Vogue has had a lot of subscription discounts in the past couple of years… too bad that living in Canada meant that I couldn't take part. Guess Conde Nast really doesn't want my money.

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