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Going Gray Naturally

Updated on September 14, 2018
ethel smith profile image

Now retired Eileen looks back occasionally on her working life. She is enjoying retirement and embracing older age with a smile.

I am on the left of this image taken a couple of weeks ago in Whitby
I am on the left of this image taken a couple of weeks ago in Whitby

Is That A Gray Hair I see?

As a natural very dark brunette those pesky little gray hairs began to show in my late twenties.

I was luckier than some brunettes and it was just the odd gray hair which I savagely tugged out from the root.

But over time the number increased and pulling these gray blighters out was no longer an option unless I wanted the bald look!

So I hopped onto the treadmill of coloring my hair and it has been a long trek.

But finally I have gone gray naturally.

The Hair Coloring Journey

Like most women who color their hair to cover the gray rather than as a style choice I started small.

I used a semi-permanent color which lasted about six weeks and was reasonably gentle on my hair.

Over time the percentage of gray hair increased and I moved on to full blown hair dyes though at this stage stuck with color close to my natural shade of brunette which was a blackish brown.

After years of coloring my hair at home I moved on to using a hair salon. Their products were better and they knew what they were doing. It was usually a root job with a full head of hair color one or twice a year.

But as a dark brown brunette those gray roots began to show quickly. They almost looked light silver so why not change my hair color?

Colored Blond to Natural Gray

Blonde but those dark eyebrows a dead giveaway
Blonde but those dark eyebrows a dead giveaway

Gold To Silver And On To Gray

After a hair saloon consultation I decided to go blonde. My hairdresser thought a silver dye or toner would be too aging.

Having had my hair colored for decades it took a few appointments to strip my hair back and at one stage my hair felt and looked like straw.

My hairdresser stripped back my hair color using bleach to do so. Little wonder the texture of my hair was tough for a while.

However it did not take long to get my hair to a reasonable golden blonde color and back in good condition yet I still had a yen to go natural.

The hair salon used blonde toners on my hair rather than dyes for a couple of years before I finally bit the bullet and said ENOUGH!

I had my bob length hair cut fairly short and began the growing out process.

Anyone brave enough to have a number one or head shave will get instant results but it takes some guts.

With regular trims it has only taken about nine months to finally go gray.

The result is what is often called pepper and salt hair in the U.K.

I have a white streak at the front of my hair, like my Mum had, the rest of my hair at the front is more a silver gray while my hair at the back is a dark gray.

And I quite like this mottled look which some people might pay a fortune to achieve in a hair salon!


  • It is so much cheaper to keep my hair looking good. I simply have a hair appointment every couple of months and without the cost of coloring the bill has more than halved
  • My hair is in great condition. Gray hair sometimes resembles fuse wire and it reacts differently to hair coloring. I try to use good hair products and occasionally use silver shampoo and conditioner which highlights my silver strands
  • If you do not like the result you can have your hair colored again starting from scratch with any color you fancy
  • For me my hair finally feels age appropriate


  • The growing out stage can be difficult. This may depend on your hairstyle. If you have a straight bob the lines between natural and your previously colored hair will be obvious. If you opt for a short ruffled looking crop style those lines will in effect be blurred
  • Are you really ready to go gray? Braving the gray can change how people perceive you. That did not worry me but it may you


It is really up to you whether you choose to go naturally gray or not though it may be as well to talk about any major hair changes with your significant other, friends and family.

They will know you well and hopefully have your best interests at heart.

Staff at any hair salon may have a vested interest in advising you to continue coloring your hair.

However for a good and reputable salon happy customers should always be a priority.

© 2018 Ethel Smith


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