Got Gray?

gray G

Gray is the new black.

Going gray is a topic that immediately puts people on edge: many people consider it the universal sign of aging, or of ‘letting yourself go’.

What if I were to tell you that there is a gray revolution going on out there, internationally, led by women of all ages and races – tired of hiding, maintaining, coloring and damaging their hair. Or perhaps women who had the foresight never to begin dying their gorgeous gray in the first place?

Get outta here.

OK, where shall we go? How about Vegas?

GGLG vegas 2011

Here's just a sample representation at the Venetian, Las Vegas - Sept 2011 Going Gray, Looking Great!

I stumbled upon my Silver Sisters after a series of mishaps caused me to miss one color appointment, then two. I had been gearing up to attend a big awards ceremony – the band I work with was being inducted into the local Music Hall of Fame. I had my colorist on speed-dial, and had booked an appointment for the week before the ceremony, so I would look my best.

Then my daughter got the flu. No worries – bumped the appointment into the week of the big event – I’d look even better, fresh from the salon chair, right?

Then my daughter’s flu turned out to be Swine Flu. And she got pneumonia.

I no longer gave two figs about whether my hair was gray or purple or falling out.

Luckily, she responded well to the medicines prescribed and was on the mend by the time the induction ceremony rolled around. But her mom, well – I had a big glaring patch of roots right in my part line that I had no clue what to do with. For one desperate minute, I even considered running a mascara wand through it.

I can laugh now, looking back. The “big glaring patch” of gray was probably a centimeter long. I went to the event, drank a lot of wine, and confided in the bass player about my ugly gray freak streak. Rob, who is normally the most sarcastic one of the bunch, simply said something along the lines of: “Get out of here. Gray is hot.”

Get out of here! Really?

Music Hall of Fame

Silly Jess. Gray is hot.

I took his word for it (he is my boss, after all) and “missed” my next appointment too. I started to think: maybe what’s under the dye isn’t so bad after all. Then I decided to Google Gray. Guess what?

Going Gray Looking Great by Diana Lewis Jewell

The bible on gray: Going Gray Looking Great by Diana Lewis Jewell

I found an amazing book and its companion web site, filled with wonderful women and their stories. Sharing photos in transition and lending support to “Newbies”. It was truly an ‘ah ha!’ moment for me – I could do this! Although the original GGLG web site has changed formats (you can still get the book there), Diana has done a great job keeping the Going Gray, Looking Great facebook page chock full of wonderful info and photos for those looking to make the transition.

I connected with so many like-minded women, from all different paths, choosing gray for all different reasons. I jumped at the chance to go to the 2nd annual GGLG convention held in Las Vegas last fall so I could finally meet so many of the ladies I had conversed with, including dear Diana herself. To see all that glamorous gray in person – every one had a different shade, a varied hue and texture. Who says gray isn’t a color?

About six months before the trip, I had a chance to share my story on CBS News:

Susan Hersh, the model who was also interviewed in the segment, came to Vegas with us, and is even more stunning and delightful in person than on the screen. A great Gray spokesperson!

It took me 14 months to completely transition to my natural color – and yes, some of the stages were pretty awkward. But in the grand scheme of things, 14 months is nothing compared to the lifetime ahead of me, filled with confidence and genuine happiness with my decision. Not to mention the memories and friends made on my journey.

Transitioning to gray hair

My Shades of Gray


25 thoughts on “Got Gray?

  1. Ruby Young says:

    Hi, I’ve been gray for several years now, and it is wonderfully freeing. I get my hair cut about every two months (senior discount) and never worry about it. Great post, congratulations on being “hot”. Ruby

  2. jesstopper says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Ruby! It is wonderfully freeing, isn’t it? In fact, started to WANT that tiny centimeter of gray bigger! The roots in my part I was most embarrassed about turned out to be my favorite part! Love the structure of your blog – what a great idea to continue a story throughout the ABCs. Best of luck!

  3. Dawn says:

    Oh Jess…you do rock the silver! As one of those lucky gals who got together in Vegas….ditching the dye was a silver opportunity in so many ways!


  4. karen walker says:

    Found you thru a-z challenge and am so glad I did. My hair is completely white and I left it that way for a few years. But I wasn’t feeling all that good about it. I went red about 8 months ago and love it. But your post makes me re-think the whole thing. Thanks – I think!

    • jesstopper says:

      Karen, thanks for finding me! So were you a natural redhead, originally? My mother was a redhead and her hair went a snow white. I am glad you posted, because it gives a different perspective. I think it’s also brave to color after being completely white for a long period of time – I am sure that got quite a reaction as well! Glad you found a color that you love, and who knows? Maybe you will decide to give gray another try someday! I think it’s important to stay open-minded when considering the options, and it sounds like you’ve got that quality!

  5. I started going grey when I was sixteen with a white streak in the front. I’ve dyed my hair various colors since then. About five years ago, I kept the white streak out and dyed the rest and then finally decided to see what my real hair color was. It was gun metal grey with that white streak and it just didn’t go very well with my really pale skin.
    One day, I’ll transition to my real color, but right now I don’t have the guts.

    • jesstopper says:

      Pam, I love your story! It sounds like you went a very creative route, experimenting and playing up the streak. Gray can make people look washed out…esp with pale skin. I still have quite a bit of dark in my hair so I think that helps. I also had a very supportive stylist, and we discussed it at length. We talked a lot about “being ready”. I decided I wanted to try it now, while I still had a lot of dark hair because in my mind, it would be less of a shock than to try to do it at 100%. LOL But that was just me. It’s obviously not for everyone, and it may not be the best thing at certain points in our lives. I work from home, which made transitioning a lot easier, since I didn’t have to go to an office and have co-workers staring at the skunk stripe as it grew bigger and bigger! From what I see of your avatar pic, you look very striking.

  6. I’ve taken the it doesn’t matter any more approach. I am who I am, I am not the color of my hair. Glad you spoke out about this.

  7. thelmaz says:

    Visitng from the A to Z Challenge.
    I have very little gray for an older person (My mother was in her 80’s before her graying was complete, but you have inspired me (I’ll wait until after my High School Reunion later this month).

    • jesstopper says:

      Thanks for stopping by, thelmaz! Wow, sounds like you have good genes! My mom was all white in her late 20s. I found my first gray at 12, but didn’t start dying til my early 30s. Always glad to hear I’ve inspired someone! I think it will be interesting to go to the reunion and see if any other women have perhaps reached the same epiphany or developed the same mindset. 🙂

  8. lifeonthemuskokariver says:

    What a fabulous post… so inspiring. My husband and I read and watched the video together, prompting quite a discussion.
    Will I do it? I dunno… but you’ve certainly given me food for thought. Thanks!

    • jesstopper says:

      Wow, I don’t think my bog has ever prompted a discussion, LOL. It’s a pretty personal decision, but it is so amazing how many people – whether they know you well or not – will weigh in. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. I had a woman go out of her way in a cafe to come over and tell me how beautiful my hair looked – and I still had a way to go in my transition. Then I had a friend of a friend ask, “What is up with THAT?” and twirled his finger near my head like I was crazy. I used to tell myself and others, “If I don’t like it when it’s all done, I can always go back.” But I think I knew in my heart, I was ready and I wasn’t going back. Good luck with whatever direction you take! 🙂

  9. Bex says:

    Grey is beautiful! Have you een British actresses like Helen Mirram and Dame Judi Dench? They are GORGEOUS!

    Good luck with the blogging challenge – from fellow challenger

    • jesstopper says:

      Yes, Bex – I love looking at the actresses who have embraced their gray! I’m always on the lookout when I am watching the big awards shows. And funny, it always seems at the commercial break, there is an ad for home hair color. LOL Thanks for popping by!

  10. Damyanti says:

    I guess gray IS hot!

    —Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  11. trina leavers says:

    hi i am at the 5 month stage of growing out the colour and it feels like it is taking forever, i find i have grey envy lol. looking at all the beautiful women who have completed there transition to grey keeps me strong and i will never dye again xx

    • jesstopper says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Trina! I know, that middle stage feels endless. I wore a lot of hats! I agree, keeping your eye on the prize helps to keep your resolve. You’ve come so far – best of luck!

  12. Thanks for sharing your experience. I was 40 and was planning to go gray “soon” when I found out I was going to have my 3 rd child…now at 43, I have mixed feelings about going gray with a 2 year old, along with a 17 year old and 14 year old…I need to build up my confidence and reading other’s experiences like yours really helps. My stylist does not endorse my plan to go gray…that makes the decision more difficult. I think I will go gray soon though so I can plan a fun trip to meet new friends:)

    • jesstopper says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Dawn! It’s such a personal decision, and I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But my motto is: “You can always go back to coloring if you don’t like it.” 🙂 Having a supportive stylist is ideal; having at least 1 supportive friend or family member on board really helps too. If you haven’t yet, check out the GGLG Facebook page – lots of lovely ladies sharing pics and stories. You are not alone in your indecision, that’s for sure!

  13. Monique Daniel says:

    HI. I am intrigued by this and considering “going gray”.I just clicked on this, because I am trying to make a decision re going gray. One day, I saw my yoga teacher’s authenticity and another woman who I admired’s hair color being gray, and was intrigued. Then I started doing research and was surprised by how dangerous dye is. I also realized that all these months, I have been getting itching and stinging when I color my hair. So my choices are to go gray, (and at 53 years old, I’m 80-90% gray or white, according to my stylist) or to use henna, which being that I have dark brown hair, might be challenging. I am intrigued, but scared, cause I am both a single mom and it’s not easy to meet a man as it is, and will be looking for a job. Does anyone have any feedback re that? I am inspired but scared of the transition and of being gray. Also, I have olive skin and brown eyes and I wonder if it will look good to go from dark brown to mostly gray/white or silver, not sure
    what color is underneath, cause although I have about an inch, it’s hard to see what color that is yet! I’d love some feedback. THX! Monique

    • jesstopper says:

      Hi Monique! I am so glad you found my blog! Deciding to transition back to gray is a personal choice, and there are so many reasons someone may want to do it. But I think allergic reaction (which it sounds like you’ve been having) is perhaps the most pressing reason to give it a try. I have met plenty of women through the Going Gray, Looking Great website (check out the facebook page if you can – it’s wonderful) who have had similar irritation and reactions to dye.

      I can’t recommend Diana Lewis Jewell’s book “Going Gray, Looking Great” enough. It is wonderful, the “bible” of going gray! The stories and the tips in there were very inspiring, especially when you are feeling like you are the only one walking around with a skunk stripe of gray in your hair! Check your local library for the book, or pick it up on

      As for dating, Google a woman named Anne Kreamer – although I haven’t read her books, I am aware that she did a dating experiment to see how men would react to her gray hair by creating 2 different dating profiles – 1 with gray hair, and 1 with dyed hair. The results were in favor of the gray-haired profile! Pretty interesting.

      I too have dark eyes, and dark eyebrows. I was worried how that might look as well, but until your natural hair starts growing in, you can’t really be sure of the “patterns” of silver. I didn’t even remember what me “real” hair color looked like until I transitioned – it was much darker than my stylist had been coloring it, and the darker brown goes very well with the silver, I think.
      My motto is: if I don’t like it, I can always dye it back. But it’s been 2 years and I haven’t been tempted to once. 🙂 Good luck with your decision!

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