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How to Grow Out Gray Hair with Confidence: Sara’s Story

saraWhy I chose to grow out my natural gray hair…
When I was 22 years old, my hair turned from its original black color to about 75% silver, almost overnight.  This drastic change happened in response to a very traumatic time in my life, and I remember feeling absolutely horrified as I peered at my roots in the mirror and saw the silver color I associated much more with my mother than myself.  My mom had also gone gray early, and often had an unhappy relationship with her hair, lacking the money to color it regularly and feeling ashamed of her silver locks.  Sometimes she simply wouldn’t raise her head in public, despite the objective fact that she was/is quite beautiful inside and out.
Determined not to suffer a similar fate, I began coloring my hair every two to three weeks. 
My hair grows extremely fast, and in order to keep up with the roots, I spent a great deal of time feeling ashamed, covering my head with hats and headbands to conceal either the ring of black dye left on my skin after coloring, or the annoying gray that became visible almost as soon as I could “get rid” of it.  And so it continued, for about 15 years, through college, graduate school, my professional life, a marriage, and two children.  This “secret” I was always trying to keep was so much a part of my everyday existence that the negative emotions I associated with it became almost subliminal.  There were times that I turned down invitations from friends because my roots were showing or, like my mother, could not raise my head or look others squarely in the eye because I was ashamed of my gray.
As I entered my 30’s, I started to look around and notice that many, many others were harboring the same “secret”.
 It was no longer the case that I represented the anomaly of a very young woman with gray hair.  As a got older, I grew into the norm.  At that point, it suddenly occurred to me how strange it is that so many of us feel that we must color our hair to feel beautiful or accepted by society.  It is one thing to choose to color, but it is another to feel less than OK for choosing not to.  I was starting to ask the question: what is so wrong with my gray that I must continuously cover it?  The layers of shame and unprocessed emotion associated with my hair began to surface, and as I “unpacked” these layers, I was delighted to arrive at the following revelation:  There was nothing at all “wrong” with me or my hair!
I started to see my shiny silver roots as pretty, not ugly or shameful at all. 
The next trick, though, was to figure out how I was going to get through the transition.  I approached several hairdressers with the idea of growing out my gray hair, and to my surprise they tried to dissuade me, and a couple of them flat-out refused to help.  After my second child’s birth (when I was 36), the abstract notion of growing out my gray roots soon enough became a reality, as I was so busy caring for my toddler and newborn that visiting the hairdresser was simply not an option.  And coloring my hair myself was about the last thing on planet Earth I cared about as I fell into bed thoroughly worn-out each night.
 
I realized that this was my chance to go for it. 
I was already well into the “awkward” stage and there was no point, not to mention no time, to color it again.  Most importantly, I wanted to be a champion of other women and to validate their authentic beauty by confidently representing my own, and that desire to empower others drove my decision more than anything.
how to grow out gray hairThe photos I’ve included here demonstrate that my transition was not without its challenges.  The first few months, in particular, were difficult as my hair was about as two-toned as it gets.  At this time, I returned to my favorite hairdresser who is also a dear friend, even though it meant traveling farther from my home.  She was very emotionally supportive and helped my transition enormously by removing much of my former black color and giving me great shorter cuts to speed the process.
Throughout the process, I chose to simply be OK with each and every stage, to place my focus on my beautiful family and the many blessings in my life, to surround myself with loving people, and to keep breathing.  Perhaps most importantly, I chose to look in the mirror and say to myself, “you are beautiful,” even when society’s interpretation of my reflection was likely to the contrary.
The outcome of my year-long transition is a deep, true self-love and sense of confidence that I had never experienced before. 
I stopped looking at myself and all my “flaws” with harsh judgment – which I wasn’t even fully consciously aware of doing in the first place – and instead, began to look at myself with softer, more accepting gaze.  This new self-acceptance applied not only to my hair, but also to the sum total of myself.  I realized that holding myself to the standard of society’s version of “beauty” (or the way I interpreted that standard) had been holding me back from developing and stepping out with other parts of myself – my intellect, my compassion, my wisdom.  “Freeing” my gray hair was an important key to freeing myself – and it’s a decision I’m so, so grateful to have made.  I hope my story will also inspire other women to see and embrace their unique, one-of-a-kind beauty – for beauty truly does come from within.
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Comments

  1. John Davis says:

    Sara shows you can be silver and sexy at any age! Turning heads . . . a hot mom.

  2. Well…..my story is so similar to yours. And now I have been gray/white since 1998 and I LOVE LOVE LOVE my white hair and everybody else does too. I find it incredibly liberating and I'm about to be 62 years old!

    • Sara Davis-Eisenman says:

      That is so awesome, Ann! I truly hope this will become a revolution of empowerment for women everywhere. It is SO liberating!

      • Thank you! Your story and your pictures have really helped me make a firm decision. I feel like I have been a slave to dying for too long I'm in my 30's already and it feels like a lifetime of dye times wasted. I could just imagine how great it feels to embrace the gray not look back!

  3. Bob Lund says:

    Ubba Ubba . . .Sara looks much better au naturale. Sexy!

  4. I am 33 and in the same position you were… i have a 19 month old daughter and 80% SILVER… thank you for inspiring me to go through with the transition… im a month and a half into it… thank you for sharing your story…

    • That is wonderful Hiedi! Enjoy every minute with your beautiful girl and congrats on the decision to go natural! I bet it's just beautiful…When/if you feel comfortable, please post a pic on my FB website :)

  5. I am so happy to see this post! I'm 33 and 90% silver, and have been kicking around the idea to grow it out. We are not alone!

  6. Decided to stop dying my hair after almost 39 years (I went prematurely grey at the age of 22). This has been difficult as my hair is quite long. Your story has encouraged me!!!

  7. I am 56 and can longer deal with the pain and agony of being allergic to every hair dye on the planet.I used to take allergy pills to go the hairdresser and fall asleep on the chair. I stopped coloring about 4 months ago and I feel so free. Cant wait for it to grow out completely. My husband is not handling it well, he is still hoping I can find a color that I can use. (His hair is silver)

  8. I am so glad I found your site. I am 53 and struggling with not dying my hair anymore. The grey is going in so fast now to the point that colouring it leaves me so frustrated. I know I don't have much, but the growth at the edges makes me feel I un-attractive. I don't look my age at all which I have enjoyed for a life time, but the grey coming in is changing that for me and I don't like it. I'm hoping for support with this new revolution of ging grey. I so want to come to that place of being free with my grey and yet see my beauty!

  9. So fun to read all of your stories here…my advice is…keep on keeping on! And remember to extend to yourself the same unconditional love and support that you would give a close friend. The results will be beautiful! Beautiful = being happily, confidently YOURSELF. Thank you all so much for sharing your journeys!!!! – Sara Davis-Eisenman

  10. You couldn't have described where I am more perfectly. Full head of grey since 25 years old now about to turn 36 and I too am done feeling ashamed and that I have to hide it. I did blond highlights over my dark brown dyed hair to start my transition. Everyone except one cousin thinks I'm nuts. Thank you for valdating how I feel!

  11. Priscilla says:

    I am 2 months into the process , it is hard i am 42 and startedmgoimg gray at 26. But I feel its goig to be ok. I am so tired of dying it. I feel everybody staring at it , and feel the think i am unkept. Th truth is this whole haair thimg has made me realize how much attention I give to what people think of me. It is very revealing and think I have to do some work in there. Its very inspiring to read your story. Here my husband and son are very supportive as well as my siters and mom. Thank you

  12. I got my first grey hairs at 15. Started coloring at 28 on a regular basis. Fast forward 15 years later with 5 kids, my baby being 5, i became a Grandmother. Coloring still on a regular basis, every 4-6 weeks. I loved being a Grandmother but didn't want people to think I was my 5 yr olds Grandmother instead of his Mother. I lived by the saying, "I love being a Grandmother just don't want to look like one.". The coloring has become every 3 weeks and it's not only become a chore, I've come to hate it. With 5 kids, 3 adults, 1 is 18 and my baby is now 12. I now have 6 Grandkids and a very busy Real Estate Career. 6 months ago I went blond. I feel even more fake. I can color every 6 weeks but it's still a pain and I really just want the freedom. I see Clients weekly so I don't think I should shave it. I don't think old be happy growing it out with the line. Should I have grey highlights to blend the growth and just let it. Go? I'm 51, I'm ready to embrace my grey (I think) I pray it's the beautiful white color of my grandmother. Glad I found you all. Have a feeling my family won't be very supportive. I love reading your tips so please share,Share, share!

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