I spent a weekend doing a deep dive into conversations in silver Facebook groups. I wanted to see what all the reasons women chose to ditch the dye were. I had several reasons, health, allergies, organic lifestyle, my parents both embraced their natural color, and my grandparents as well.
I wanted to show YOU no matter what reason or reasons you have, even if you think they are silly or rebellious—you are not alone. If you are struggling with the decision to stop coloring your gray hair; I hope this inspires you. These are real reasons women decided to grow gray.
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The 14 Main Reasons Women Chose to Ditch the Hair Dye:
Thumbing your nose at societal pressures. Media and peers say you should keep dyeing but you’re not buying into that anymore. You’re ready to ignore society pressures and norms surrounding aging and the retention of youth. Ditch the unrealistic magazines as well.
Dye is a chemical and you are worried about what that longtime exposure has done or will do to your health.
While most studies have found no “definitive” link to cancer and hair dye the risk remains with extended exposure, and connections have been found to blood and bladder cancers for those that dyed dark colors before 1980 and hair stylists that handled dyes all the time.
Hair dye is made with a chemical called p-Phenylenediamine or PPD. This warning was on Dupont’s website and it said it all, even for cosmetic grade PPD: “DuPont does not recommend and will not knowingly offer or sell p-phenylenediamine (PPD) for uses involving prolonged skin contact. Such uses may involve, but are not limited to, products formulated with henna for tattoo applications or other skin coloration effects. This use of PPD in prolonged skin contact application has the potential to induce allergic skin reactions in sensitive individuals. Persons proposing to use PPD in any formulation involving any more than incidental skin contact must rely on their own medical and legal judgment without any representation on our part. They must accept full responsibility for the safety and effectiveness of their formulations.” Translation: they know it causes harm but it is up to you to continue use or not.
Martha Adams in the Silver Circle did some tidy math on how much she was spending.
“Just in case anyone else is struggling or feeling a bit weak… I calculated today how much money I am saving by not coloring my hair. $200 per salon session for coloring roots and adding low-lights (to make the color look more natural), a conditioning mask (to offset damage to hair) plus 20% tip at 8 times a year, for the next 17 years (age 65)…equals (drum roll) $27,200 USD.That does not include inflation and assumes that I would actually quit dyeing my hair at 65, it also doesn’t include my time saved. Time is money. And it doesn’t include any physical damage those chemicals were doing to my body. Good health is priceless!!”
This amount also accounts for 8 times a year, if you move that up to 12 times a year and 20 years, which is the average amount of time many of us have colored our hair; that total jumps to $48,000!
Many women chose to embrace what their grandparents, parents, or even siblings look like with their natural color showing.
You know that you are fighting a never-ending battle so why keep chasing that white hair with a bottle of dye.
Many women find that ditching the dye is the first or even the last step to truly stepping into their authentic selves. I know this was one of my motivators I truly wanted to see what ME looked like. I wrote about it in this blog post Finding Another Layer of Authenticity and another silver sister Louise wrote Authentically Middle-aged…Well Bo!!@#&$ to That!.
“I wanted to be truly authentic. It was becoming more and more tied into my personal integrity. It made no sense to me, when I really thought about it, that women were so consumed with fake everything!” ~Wauketa Okoli
I stopped because of what I think was allergic reaction and my scalp burning. I was tired of having to dye every 2 1/2 weeks and the money aspect was kill’n me! ~Tracey Hash
7. Allergies and Skin Conditions:
Many women simply cannot dye anymore due to those chemicals causing allergic reactions mainly PPD. While most skin issues involve contact dermatitis from dye; although rare, it is becoming more common to hear of people reacting with anaphylaxis to dyes, especially the darker dyes. Symptoms of allergy and intolerance can range from an immediate reaction like anaphylaxis to delayed reactions like hives, acne, itching, dry skin, red irritated rashes, and even red irritated eyes from the fumes.
8. Time and Duration:
Time quickly becomes a major factor as we start having to go from dyeing once a month to once every three weeks or sometimes every two weeks. Time becomes a big factor especially when you have your hair colored at the salon.
Then you have to consider how long you have been coloring; I found my first gray hair at 13 (which is true for many) and then I dyed my hair for almost 20 years after the first dye job. I did not want to color for another 20-40 years, the women in my family live well into their 90s. I was not willing to dump chemicals on my head for a total of 70 or more years.
Many women notice that the color looks solid and helmet like, with no dimension or depth. It looks dull or flat and really just doesn’t look ‘good’. Or it looks too dark, unnatural or even harsh.
My dyed hair just didn’t look good. I wanted to look pretty!
~Michelle Ray author of GO GRAY YOUR WAY!: Expert Advice & Inspiration from a Former Color Addict
The gray hair stops taking dye: for many, including myself, the whitest part of your hair stops taking the dye, and white hair pops back up within days of dyeing.
11. 80% to 100% Gray:
When you have that much gray hair, why not. Many stylists will help you embrace your natural color at this point because of the resistance to dye on the whiter hair and color looking uneven or turning orange.
12. Organic lifestyle:
This was a big one for me, I eat almost 100% organic foods, it made zero sense to not allow chemicals into my body, but be dumping chemicals on my head to soak for 40 minutes every three weeks.
Being fed up and tired of salon trips, the excess cost and the worry of making sure you’re hair color is perfect for every little life event that comes at you.
14. Pain or Injury:
Many women find themselves unable to color their hair themselves anymore due to pain in shoulder, hands or neck. Or not able to keep up with coloring because of an injury and just letting that priority go in favor of healing.
In case you are still unconvinced,
Here’s 31 More Reasons Women Chose to Ditch the Hair Dye
According to 100’s of other silver sisters here are some of their main reasons.
1. Milestone or Deadline: Feeling like you are finally ________ enough to embrace your gray.
2. Style restrictions: Styling your hair a certain way just so your roots never show.
3. Mermaid Hair: you have always wanted flowy long silvery hair.
4. Demarcation line: The dreaded skunk stripe.
5. Healthy hair: More volume, better hair growth, less hair loss, softer hair, stronger hair…the list goes on. Especially, no damage from frying your hair with bleach every month.
6. Reality: Realizing that you aren’t fooling anyone.
7. The Unknown: You have colored your hair so long you don’t even know what color it actually is.
8. Growing older gracefully.
9. “I’m cheap and my hair grows fast!” ~Susan Neufeld
10. Vision: you have a certain vision of what you want to look like in your last years on earth.
“Years (and years) ago … back when I would maybe get only a few highlights, and well before full blown color … I stood in line behind a woman with a long silvery white braid down the middle of her back. Her hair was so beautiful and I remember telling my friends I wanted a long white braid when I was old enough to grow one. They told me I was crazy. I forgot all about her until 10 months ago when my roots had grown a little longer than usual. My husband grabbed my shoulders, looked down onto the top of my head, and commented on how beautiful the color was. I haven’t dyed since. It will be a few years before I get my long silvery white braid but I’m so happy! Happy to get off the hamster wheel of dyeing and bleaching. Happy to have a supportive, encouraging husband. Happy to be associated with this rebel group of silverhood.” ~Lorelei Ruddick
11. Outdoor enthusiast: ditching the dye because the elements ruin the color.
12. Obligation: Feeling like something that was fun to play with became an obligation.
13. Encouragement: Supporting someone else who is struggling to grow her grays out.
14. Chemotherapy: when you lose all your hair and it starts growing back in healthy and silver.
15. When you shave your head to support a friend going through chemo and you like the silver growing in so you leave it.
16. Multitude of health issues: autoimmune diseases, chronic illnesses, extended hospital stays can wreak havoc on your hair; why add dye to the issue?
17. “Go for it!” Your hair stylist, spouse, kids, friends say “go for it!”
18. Henna: Henna hair dye might be natural but it takes forever, it is heavy the longer your hair is and it turns gray hair orange.
19. Admiration: You love silver hair on everyone else.
20. Gender Bias: Men can be silver so why can’t women???
21. Looking the same age as your spouse.
22. Environment: You no longer want to contribute to environmental issues caused by plastics and toxins released into the environment each time you dye.
23. Boredom: You are done with flat brown, red, black or blonde being your only store choices for hair color.
24. Reinventing yourself: You are revamping your look after a certain life event, an illness, depression, divorce, marriage, job change, a big move, or retirement.
25. No-show: You accidentally missed a hair appointment and like what you see so give it a go or grow…
26. Dumped: You lost your favorite hair colorist so you just quit.
“My reason was really simple…I always threatened my colorist if she ever quits then I quit…so after 20 + years with the same colorist…she quits. Not even a goodbye or anything, just gone! I totally freaked out (this had to be the worst breakup ever!!!) I tried a new colorist but when she said, “We are going to be together for a very long time.” I said, “Enough! I’m done with these long term relationships!” Then my husband reminded me of my promise (threat) so I just quit…cold turkey…done!” ~Jen Grant
27. Pregnancy: You got pregnant, quit dyeing for the healthiest pregnancy, and you never colored it again.
28. Trendy: It is on trend now to be gray so much so the kids are doing it.
29. Freedom: you have a myriad of reasons just to be free from all of it.
“The constant silver peeking through the new growth just kept getting louder and louder. It didn’t matter how you parted your hair or cleverly clipped it. I finally said, ‘#%*^ it! I’m letting these guys just say what they want to say because they all can’t stop talking…’ You know what? I like what they’re saying. It’s quite remarkable — you know the process. Besides, if you’re like me and have been doing this for years, you realize that the salon visits just keep getting ridiculously expensive and it always punched me in the gut to slap down that much money every 2-3 weeks. You really start feeling beat up and question yourself, ‘Why do I keep doing this? Seriously.’ ” ~Michelle Cox
30. Mother Nature: She knows exactly what she’s doing and you might want to believe her.
31. Silver Hair is Beautiful Hair
Ditching the dye was the best decision ever. I just wish I hadn’t hidden it for so long. I’m proud of my silver uniqueness. Be brave, be bold and be silver! ~Jo Richards
If you are still not convinced, this is right for you, that’s okay too. It simply means you are just not ready but you have made it this far in discovering you are not alone.
I hope you found this post educational and helpful.
Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share.
As always it is about so much more than the hair.
Next Suggested post: Transition to Silver Hair, my full transition video
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