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October 31, 2010 4:22 PM   Subscribe

How do you deal with gray hair?

I have been going gray since I was 18 or so. I went very salt and pepper (mostly gray) when I was in my 30s. I let it go gray, and I realized I hated it and dyed it my natural color: dark brown. Now I am 52 and my hair is snow white, except I color it. I have toyed with not coloring it at all and just going white. But my husband hates the idea and I kind of agree with him.

So if you color your hair, what do you use?

When I was young my hair was straight with a natural wave. I am Caucasian. Now my hair is really frizzy and damaged from coloring. I cannot afford to have it professionally colored. I have had it professionally colored in the past, and I loved it though. My state is one of the states where one cannot buy "professional" haircolor unless one is a licensed beautician. So anything other than drugstore brands has to be mail ordered.

My hair is long. It grows very fast so the gray shows within a few days of coloring. I also hate have it professionally cut, so it is just a long blunt cut. No blow drying or ironing or stuff like that (though I have done that in the past too). I use a good conditioner and only wash my hair once a week.
posted by wandering_not_lost to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (41 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I switched to henna. There are downsides (it's a little more of a pain to apply and it takes longer and it doesn't completely cover all grey). It's cheaper, lots better for your hair, grows out more natural-looking (fades), doesn't make your hair feel like straw, more natural. So overall I'd recommend it, as long as you know the downsides. I buy it from Lush (lush.com). I don't recommend the red colors -- I use the brown one. They also have a forum.
posted by theredpen at 4:32 PM on October 31, 2010

The first time I colored my hair (because I noticed a couple of grey hairs and freaked out) it cost $180 at a salon (and then I freaked out at the price!). So the next time, I went to Walmart and bought a base color and a lighter color for hilights and had the hubby do it. I use Garnier Nutrisse and like the color results. Anyway, I used the main color all over my head then did foils (aluminum foil cut into pieces and pulled up small clumps of hair to hilight and wrap in foil for about 20 minutes). I got tired of the double dying my hair and now just do one natural looking color and skip the foils. For root touch up, I get the same color hair dye that I usually use but only mix about 1/3 of the dye and save the rest (not mixed of course) and use a toothbrush to brush on the color just at the roots, wait, then rinse and it comes out looking pretty good. It is a hassle to do root touch ups but the alternative is multi colored hair. I also got a shorter haircut because I noticed that when my hair was longer, even with conditioner, the ends were super frizzy and damaged due to the repeated dying and blow drying.
posted by MsKim at 4:36 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Henna is a great hair dye for hair that has some natural color to it, but for someone whose hair is entirely white or gray (or mostly white or gray) it almost never works properly. And the problem is that then you can't dye over it, so you're left with weird, patchy or mottled hair. I would disrecommend henna in your case, wandering_not_lost.

I guess I would do a gentle home semi-permanent dye (Clairol Natural Instincts and Garnier Nutrisse are both just fine) and just be careful to touch up the roots every week and redo the whole thing every three or four weeks. If you're dyeing your hair, you should also be dyeing your brows, which is VERY VERY DANGEROUS AS IT SAYS ON THE BOX SO OF COURSE DON'T LISTEN TO ME BECAUSE IT IS SO DANGEROUS otherwise they will look "ashy" in comparison, and the illusion of naturalness will be lost.

To be honest, there is nothing that makes women over 50 look as youthful, in my opinion, as white hair. But I am not you and I am not in charge of your hair. If there is any way you can find the cash to get professional dyeing done, it would be a worthwhile investment--poorly dyed hair is super-aging, again in my opinion.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:42 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Embrace it.
I think of over-colored hair as the female equivalent of the male comb-over. You're not really fooling anyone, and it often looks ridiculous (please don't take this as me saying you look ridiculous!).
Something women tend to overlook is that, as we age, not only does our hair color change, so do our facial skin tones. I often see a woman over mid-thirties with nary a gray hair showing, often with very dark hair - and the color does not complement her skin, actually (in some ways) making her look younger.
You could cut your hair fairly short, let it go silver and see how you like it - this would accomplish a couple of things at the same time; the damaged hair would be (mostly) cut off, and fairly quickly you could see how you like your 'natural' hair.
I agree with sidhedevil that women with silver/white/gray hair over fifty can look quite youthful - I think part of that is that it shows acceptance of who (and what) you are.
posted by dbmcd at 4:47 PM on October 31, 2010 [5 favorites]

grar! second paragraph should say "...actually maker her look older..."
posted by dbmcd at 4:48 PM on October 31, 2010

Thanks all. Yes, I occasionally do look ridiculous, so that does not bug me. And I know I am not fooling anyone! Ack, what a conundrum.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 4:52 PM on October 31, 2010

Please don't use henna on white hair. It will go bright orangey-red. Also, you cannot (or should not) henna over chemically processed/coloured hair or vice-versa, it could make your hair literally break (snap).

I'm a dude but I've been going grey since I was around 18 as well. Mind you, I've been colouring my hair very regularly since I was 15 years old. It was only when I stopped for a few months that I realized that the greys (well, technically whites) were growing in (and they grow in really kinky, which sucks because my hair has two textures now). So I use a semi- or demi- permanent every couple of months (sometimes I wait a bit longer when I'm broke--I've stopped colouring myself at home, unless I can get my hands on some professional stuff, the drug store stuff is HORRIBLE for your hair). I find Aveda hair colour to be a nice compromise between permanent, chemicals that damage my hair and rinses; if you use a gentle developer (I think I used 10-proof?) with a nice colour (I like to mix shades of a dark and medium brown), then you can get a really nice, natural colour with grey coverage that doesn't make your hair crunchy. The only drawback is that Aveda colour generally tends to fade quicker than other, permanent dyes.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:05 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Short, spiky gray hair is HAWT.

Just sayin'.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:07 PM on October 31, 2010 [6 favorites]

Oh, also: I've seen some GORGEOUS women with silver or all-white hair. Some women (and men) can really pull it off, especially, I think, if they have young(-ish) facial features because it makes them seem like they've just gone grey before their time but the contrast makes them look paradoxically younger.

I had a boss who went all silver and she had a really cute, funky shortish haircut and nice features (she had a few natural wrinkles or whatever, but she looked younger than her age) and it really worked for her. If you do go au naturelle, you might want to look at special shampoos or rinses that help your natural white/grey haircolour from getting muddy or yellowed.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:08 PM on October 31, 2010

OMG sorry but one more thing I forgot to mention: if you have an issue with rapid regrowth of grey hairs after colouring, look into shampoos and conditioners with some natural tints in them. Aveda has some great products (man, I sound like an Aveda shill--I swear I'm not, I just like their products) that are plant-based and so less damaging on your hair.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:09 PM on October 31, 2010

If you want to start coloring again, your husband should learn how to apply color. It's not hard unless you are trying to do it to yourself! To keep the color natural looking, only color your roots when it grows out as opposed to all your hair. If you find the ends are losing color, every few times, run the color through your hair with a comb for the last few minutes of processing.
posted by cecic at 5:10 PM on October 31, 2010

If it makes any difference, grey hair has been really trendy in 2010.

Personally, I think grey hair is really gorgeous on women -- and white is not that far from platinum blonde, anyway. I say go for it! If you don't like it, you can always re-dye; you (and your husband) don't really know if you'll like it until you try it.
posted by harperpitt at 5:10 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have had the same issues - started going gray when I was 17. Dyed it for years - before I quit I was getting it done every 3 weeks by a stylist who was also a friend. We often worked out discount deals - I would fix her computer in trade for the hair color, etc. When I did pay it was normally 80 dollars for the cut and color. Then I moved to Canada, and my husband didn't care if I had gray hair, and without my friend I was nervous about finding someone new and didn't want to deal with doing it myself. So now here I am, 37 years old, a year from my last dye job, and I have about 5-6 inches of white-gray hair with the remaining dark brown-red at the ends. I miss having colored hair. I miss it a LOT. But then I think about what a pain it would be (and how expensive!) to go back to dying it every 3 weeks. It helps that I work from home - the only times I am self conscious is when we go out socially. I'm gradually getting more confident about it, though.

The texture is a big change, and I think that bothers me the most. The color did something to my hair to make it shinier, smoother, more like it was when I was young and had healthier hair. Without the dye it is frizzier, more prone to dry out. I find I am washing it less - while I used to wash every other day, now it's a few times a week, with conditioner in between. Sounds like you have that bit figured out, though. Good conditioner is very important.

So then... "How do you deal with gray hair?" I joke about it. I stubbornly work to accept it. I try very hard to see it the way my husband does, which is that I look too young to have such white/gray hair, so it looks "Cool." I condition it like mad, and have stopped using the flat iron or the curling iron or even the blow drier unless it's very cold or we're going out and I want dry hair. Were I in your shoes, and it bothered my husband, I suppose I might consider going blond or a very light brown if I needed to color it, as gray/white blends better as blond grows out.
posted by routergirl at 5:14 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm 60. My hair is long and a bit wavy. Like you I'm on a low budget and don't pay for cuts. I snip away at the bangs and have a friend cut straight across the back. My natural color is dark brown with red, almost maroon, highlights. Most of my hair is still that color if I don't dye it. I have a patch of very white at the crown of my head and more white right around my face. I figured out a few years ago that the best stuff for me to use is semi-permanent dye. Like you I don't wash it much, maybe twice a week at most. So I end up dyeing it about every 2.5 months. The stuff I use is L'Oreal Color Spa Moisture Actif, can't find it in drugstores so I order it online, about 6 or 7 bucks a bottle. I leave it on longer than it says to do. I even found a color that is very very close to my natural color. It does not have any bad effects on my hair.
posted by mareli at 5:22 PM on October 31, 2010

When I was young my hair was straight . . .Now my hair is really frizzy and damaged from coloring . . . My hair is long. It grows very fast

Wouldn't the new hair be straight and undamaged?
posted by Neiltupper at 5:32 PM on October 31, 2010

I do it myself, inbetween salon visits. The best pro advice on the internet is Killer Strands. You don't have to love her, but she has the best advice.

Never buy the preboxed color kits. The stuff isn't good, and is more expensive. I use Goldwell and I buy on ebay.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:39 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I started colouring my hair when I was about 17 - blonde streaks, henna, various reds. I always coloured it myself with semi-permanent hair colour so that it would fade out and thus not show roots as obviously. As I approached my 50th birthday, I decided to, as dbmcd said, embrace it. (That's exactly how I worded it, too!). I was wearing my hair in a bob, and I let the underside grow in, and only coloured the very top layer - about one inch on either side of my part. After several months, I cut it all off to a super short pixie, with no colour left, just my natural pewter colour. I love it and I get lots of compliments on it from men and women. The silver in it gives it a lot of texture, which it never had when it was coloured a solid mass of one shade.

So my two answers to your question are 1) embrace the white with a really chic, snazzy, youthful haircut, or 2) semi permanent hair colour which fades out, rather than leaves a sharp line at your roots.

Oh! A third option: my mom has white-white hair and she has a chic, snazzy hair cut. She got a couple of slashes of colour put in it a couple of times just for fun. Once she had apricot put in, and another time a reddish tone. Fun and silly and youthful for a seventy-something!
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:48 PM on October 31, 2010

Short, spiky gray hair is HAWT.

Yeah, I was coming in here to suggest "natural but short".

Also, check out this Spanish hair salon's flickr set for ideas; a lot of it is pretty cutting-edge or high-maintenance but there's some great ideas in there of short asymmetrical cuts that aren't college-aged which could be toned down a bit for daily wear, and there's certainly folks in there rocking the grey (and have a whole set of photos of mature-haired folks including this awesome couple).

Something like this with naturally white hair? Awesome.
posted by mendel at 5:49 PM on October 31, 2010 [6 favorites]

Also, if you're colouring it dark brown, you might consider a lighter shade which won't show the roots as starkly. Maybe a semi-permanent medium-honey colour?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:55 PM on October 31, 2010

Unless you have the time and the money to color it yourself or with a stylist, I say embrace it.
posted by barnacle fan at 6:10 PM on October 31, 2010

I agree with ThatCanadianGirl. If you went lighter then the roots wouldn't show up as quickly and starkly. But when going from dark to light, you definitely want to have a professional do it. Touchups at home are no big deal.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:21 PM on October 31, 2010

But my husband hates the idea and I kind of agree with him.

Maybe you could pursue this idea as a whole new style -- new make-up, nail color, new accessories (scarves, earrings, necklaces, etc.) because it seems like it's a false dichotomy as written -- either 'give up' and go grey or 'fight fight fight' but it might be worth thinking -- is it possible to think of this as a new path? Grey is lovely. People can totally rock that lock, but rocking it is dependent on being really excited about it.

It's possible he wants you to look 'younger' because he wants to feel younger, and those are the markers that make him feel young ('my woman doesn't have grey hair') but it possible to get energized about aging, because it's a you that's wiser, more sophisticated, and more sure about the world than existed previously.

So, this might take some reframing. Figuring out how to get older is something you do together. If you decide to dye, rework your budget and set aside the money annually. If dying it is important to you, perhaps you can find some leeway in your budget. If not, it might be worth figuring out a different path, style-wise. Every ten years seems like a pretty good window to rework your sense of style and preferences.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:29 PM on October 31, 2010

My partner, mum and dad all use this:

Bigen speedy hair color. The 2 tube application is incredibly easy, it takes all of 10 minutes, and is pretty good for your hair.

Bigen Speedy Hair Color >
posted by shazzam! at 6:33 PM on October 31, 2010

Yep, my bad -- I came back to say that (my earlier henna idea was a bad one for white hair), too. Sorry about that, and good luck.
posted by theredpen at 7:01 PM on October 31, 2010

I am midway through your situation. Started going gray in high school, and now at 31, the last time I went a few months without coloring (I was pregnant) I was astonished to find that I am now well over 50% gray. I'd been coloring every four weeks like clockwork for so long that I had no idea how bad it had gotten. I have naturally dark brown hair.

I visit the salon three times a year-every four months or so for a pro job. In between, I color the roots with boxed Nice and Easy haircolor. I've never had a color match problem-I range between medium brown in summer and dark brown in winter, based on how much time I'm in the sun. I keep my hair shoulder length and try hard to keep it healthy since I'm abusing it with color so much. I buy Biolage shampoo and conditioner and Pantene color treated formula and alternate-one day I wash with one, the next with the other. It keeps my color in nice shape. I blow dry every day but I use moroccan oil in it first which seems to have helped with the frizz and split ends and I go slow on it-I take an extra five minutes and don't use the hot setting. I do not do ponytails or barrettes at all so that I am not yanking on my hair more than necessary, no flat irons or curling irons, and I sleep on a satin pillowcase so as to minimize split ends too. I brush it under as I blow it dry and then do not brush it again all day. I think that all things considered, my hair is in great shape. But I sure do wish I didn't have to spend so much time and energy thinking about it and babying it in between the coloring.

It sounds like you are doing everything possible to keep your hair healthy but I'd really strongly suggest that if you are currently mostly white, you save up and try to hit a salon for the initial color dark. Then do the touch ups yourself. In a pinch, I think I went about a year between pro coloring and that was ok and pretty affordable. I feel your pain.
posted by supercapitalist at 7:14 PM on October 31, 2010

I get my hair colored every 4-5 weeks at a local beauty shop that caters mostly to lower income and minority clientele. They charge me about $40 for a basic color which is not much more than buying from the drugstore (I need 2 bottles because I have thick hair) and do a fantastic job of keeping my coarse, curly hair in manageable condition. I get it cut every other visit for about $20 more (basic cut).

There's no need to go to a fancy salon and pay $200 for allover color, the local mall/ beauty salon places are just as good.
posted by fshgrl at 7:18 PM on October 31, 2010

Nthing the comments about henna on gray hair. I used henna for decades and as I got gray it looked more orangey and weird. It also dries out your hair something fierce (and I did use Lush henna at the end of my henna run). (I should add that I now get my hair professionally colored and it made a huge difference.)

Snow white hair, to me, is so incredibly great -- you are lucky. Many of us have steel gray, not nearly as cool imo.
posted by sdn at 7:29 PM on October 31, 2010

Started graying at 16, now mostly white, a bit of pepper, with some of the black left at the nape. The gray has a different texture; more wiry. I do think gray or white hair looks older. I've been considering lowlighting; having dark streaks put back in. It doesn't need as much maintenance.

My hair was black, and I've never figured out what color to use; black hair with that white skunk stripe looks awful.
posted by theora55 at 7:33 PM on October 31, 2010

I also hate have it professionally cut, so it is just a long blunt cut.

This is going to wind up having much more impact on how youthful you appear than any color your hair happens to be. Get a flattering haircut! Will literally take years off your appearance, even if your hair remained snow white.
posted by hermitosis at 7:35 PM on October 31, 2010 [3 favorites]

When I colored my graying hair I used Robert Craig. My hair was long and I wanted something very gentle, and RC never damaged my hair.

I let my gray grow out a few years ago and I don't regret it one bit. I was coloring my hair a dark color so even a tiny bit of white growth at the roots was really obvious, and to me that was far more aging than a head full of natural gray or white would be. It was hard to keep up with all the touch ups I needed to keep the white roots at my temples from showing.

From the color of those roots I had expected my hair to grow in mostly white but I was surprised that it grew out to a melange of ash blonde and silver with some white streaks around my face. I actually really like it, and I LOVE not having to screw around with haircolor any more. I cut it short to grow the color out because I was impatient to get to my new natural color, but I've since grown it long again.

This thread had some pretty good suggestions on how to look great with gray hair, if you should decide to embrace that look. The main thing with gray is that you have to try extra-hard not to look frumpy. But it can be very chic and even sexy if you dress and groom yourself attractively.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:42 PM on October 31, 2010

A few tips:

While non-professional dye is different, you can get pretty close to professional results if you apply the dye as a professional would. Section your hair into 4 sections (front left and right and back left and right) Transfer the dye to a bowl. Apply the dye ONLY to the new growth. Use a hair dye brush to aid in precise application. Use the tail of the brush to divide the section of your head that you're working on into rows, as you go along. Keep the dye on for 40-45 minutes, no matter what the box says, as it takes that long even for the professional dye to cover resistant gray hair. I've had good luck with most Loreal dyes. Frederic Fekkai also has hair color available at drugstore.com and sephora.com. However it's $30.00 a box and unless you can remember to order it online, it's a bit inconvenient as well as expensive. If you do go that route, the colors in the brunette range run very dark. Order a shade lighter than you'd normally get in another line.

One of the biggest "tells" of home dyed hair, is that it's not evenly applied and darker at the ends (which are drier and absorb dye more readily, that's why it's important to only dye the new growth). If you can stretch your budget to get your hair professionally dyed even 2 or 3 times a year (I try to go every 3rd or 4th time), the stylist can even things out and cover any missed spots.

As others have said, go lighter. Black and even dark brown dye over white hair is very harsh and unnatural looking. If you are naturally dark brown, go medium. And don't go for something with too much red (unless you naturally have a lot of red in your hair). The white/gray areas will pick up too much red and be too brassy. Also As someone else mentioned, generally complexions change as one ages and it's difficult to carry off the natural color of one's youth, particularly if it's dark.

Not cheap, but I've found that Moroccan Hair Oil (the original treatment oil) has done wonders for the texture of my dyed (probably at least 50% gray underneath) hair. You can use it to coat and protect your hair when you dye it (except for the roots) and even a few drops to the dye. These suggestions are from the Moroccan Oil web site but do not appear on the box or bottle. I've done it and my hair was very smooth afterward. It certainly didn't hurt.

I also only wash my hair 2 or 3 times per week and let it air dry (seriously I've had the same travel dryer for 20 years that still works because it's gotten so little use).

If you decide to grow it out, know that it is going to be a tough road that will take a year or so depending on the length of your hair. It would help if you could go to a hair salon so that they could gradually add highlights and lowlights to soften the giant skunk strip effect. It would also be easier if you decide to cut your hair super short to get rid of as much as the dyed bits as possible.
posted by kaybdc at 8:18 PM on October 31, 2010

I started going gray at 17; I was going gray from the temples, which seemed a little Reed Richards for my (female) liking. So I dyed it variously for years, until the gray had reached my crown, at which point I got a good highlighting job with the instructions that I wanted to be able to grow it out seamlessly. That worked pretty well, and the complete dye job grew out in a few years. The highlights allowed the tiers of my hair to be dye/ dye with highlights / natural with highlights / natural.

I'm now in my middle 30's, and regard my 95% white hair as a distinct asset (it tends to read platinum blonde, though I had auburn hair as a teenager). I wear it as long as it will go (which is, regrettably, not as long as I'd like -- it does split easily) with tapered bangs, which take about ten years off my face.

While I tend towards pro-natural, I remember when I was dying it and (other young) people around me were all like, "ooooooh, but I think it's SO COOL if I had gray hair" etc. and it was terribly annoying. The effects they were imagining were not what was going on with my hair at the time.

On the other hand, if you've been dying for a long time, then you may like the effect now a lot more than how it looked as it was still in the process of going gray when you were younger.
posted by endless_forms at 8:26 PM on October 31, 2010

why not try going blond? most people who dye their hair blond go through 2 stages - the bleaching and the tinting - so you get to skip the bleaching and just add the colour. you'll be able to go months between dye jobs, as the roots will hardly show up. Test your colour on a strand of hair you've snipped off before dying the whole thing to make sure you'll end up with a shade you like
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:59 PM on October 31, 2010

If you live in a large city there is probably an Aveda institute where you can get your hair dyed. I can't recommend them enough and they are generally less than half the price of a salon. Highlights are about $60 if I remember correctly and a straight dye job is almost certainly much less. Aveda dyes I've been told aren't the best because they fade, but I've found that the upside to that is they damage your hair less.
posted by whoaali at 10:01 PM on October 31, 2010

My natural hair color is dead-mousy brown so I've been messing around with it since I was 13. Now that I'm in the middle of middle-age, I'll share some things I've learned:

* Skip drugstore dyes. Both Aveda and Goldwell give you better and subtler colors, without the harsh flatness that shrieks "home dye-job." (1000monkeys has invaluable advice!)

* Dark brown is too dark. Over the next few months, shift to a lighter shade. No, even lighter than that. Lighter than you think is at all reasonable. It'll look great.

* Crispy frizzy crinkly ends are hideous, no matter the color. Find a youtube video for blunt-cutting and watch it with your husband. Have him cut until he gets to healthy hair. This will be way shorter than you want. It'll look great. And keep it trimmed. There's no point in having long hair if half of it looks breakable and/or flammable.

* Do not rule out professional help. Go to a salon, the one you went to before or one recommended by a friend, and have a chat. See if they'll let you book an appointment with a colorist now and go home with the formula to deal with regrowth yourself until you come in 6 months later. They'll probably go for it. And you really will want to save up the money to come in every 6 months for the expert refurbishment.

One more thing, from observation rather than experience:

An excellent cut (as referenced above) will indeed work wonders—that day. In two weeks, it will look... okay; in six weeks, distinctly odd; in two months, downright grotesque. Unless your husband plans to become a stylist, a new haircut is not your answer.
posted by dogrose at 10:26 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

One of the most awesome heads of hair I have ever seen: classic bob, all luminous snow white hair but for a slim streak of green and purple in the bangs. So so so cool.
posted by emeiji at 11:33 PM on October 31, 2010

I've always been jealous of people with grey/white/salt-n-pepper/badgerstripes/etc etc! So I'm nthing the advice to just learn to rock it.
posted by Drexen at 6:48 AM on November 1, 2010

My first grey hair was pointed out to me by the girl sitting behind me in seventh grade. They kept coming. Through the years (I'm now 36), stylists have asked me about dying my hair, to which I've always declined.

The way I figure it, I've been too young to worry about looking old (and of course, looking older when you're younger can in fact have certain benefits). By the time I get to the age where I'd be worried about looking younger--if that ever happens--I figured I wasn't going to be fooling anyone. I'd probably have had hair like Leslie Nielsen for years (currently mixed grey), and I was just going to imagine the scene at work the day after I dyed having been with grey hair for so long. Would it really be like the Viagra commercial? "Hey, RTT, you look different! Younger! Did you lose some weight? Did you shave a beard or something?"

No, I don't really think so. I always felt that my youthfulness was going to be best conveyed by my actions and demeanor more than the single detail of my appearance. That's not always the case--and it can be easier for men to go grey--but it works for me.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:00 AM on November 1, 2010

Often people--especially people of mostly European descent--who had smooth hair in their youth find that their gray hair is much rougher and feels "frizzy". It has something to do with the shape and symmetry of the gray hair strands vs. the original hair strands.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:12 AM on November 1, 2010

I don't have time to read all the responses, but I've always thought if I had long gray/white hair, I'd just leave it that way and make sure it's as healthy-looking as it can be. Frizz is the big issue there, but you now have Brazilian Keratin Treatment to take care of that.

If you need convincing that gray hair can be gorgeous, look at this.
posted by Dragonness at 11:27 AM on November 1, 2010

I'd have to respectfully disagree with dogrose. I've been fortunate to have 2 very talented hair stylists who somehow cut my hair so that it looked great in 2 weeks and honestly still looked great in 6+ weeks. Only if it was short would I need a trim in 7-8 weeks because my hair is very thick and I have tons of it, so the back could get a bit bushy. Sometimes that's all they needed to do and a lot of places don't charge for that (or charge a minimal $5 fee; same for bang trims). But again, that's only if my hair was super short, otherwise I could go at least 3 months between haircuts. In addition to having luck finding great and not super expensive stylists, I was also very honest with them. I straight out told them that I was awful about coming in regularly, that I never bothered to dry my hair with a blow dryer, and didn't want to spend a lot of time styling it. Same with color; I let them know that I'll only be coming in 3 or 4 times a year for a professional color to keep things even, so whatever they do, I have to be able to maintain at home. But however talented your hair stylist is, there is no denying that there is more expense to maintaining shorter styles, but I would agree with others that a great haircut can take years off. Some people look great with long hair, but it can a lot of others look haggard after a certain age (which varies greatly depending upon the person).
posted by kaybdc at 7:58 AM on November 2, 2010

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