Inspired to Join the Silver Circle: Why So Many Women (and Men) Have Decided to Let Their Hair Go Gray Naturally by Donna John
Whether or not we like to admit it, our hair plays a big role in how we feel about ourselves. Why would we spend so much time sitting in a hair stylist's chair looking like something from another dimension with smelly chemicals wrapped in foil squares covering our heads? But something amazing and empowering was ignited by the pandemic – women and men deciding to ditch the highlights and dyes and let their hair do its thing and go gray naturally.
No, this isn't a new revolution. Diane Keaton, Steve Carell, Helen Mirren, Jamie Lee Curtis, Emmylou Harris, George Clooney and Meryl Streep are just a few who embraced gray hair well before the pandemic. But now, a new wave – a Silver Circle – of young and old, celebrities and everyday amazing people, are joining the club. Kelly Ripa, Diddy, Kevin Hart, Tamera Mowry-Housley, Will Smith and Teri Hatcher are just a few showing off those silver streaks across social media. Even Lady Gaga has been known to rock the gray.
Photo: Kelly Ripa Instagram post about her gray roots.
Vogue contributor Lacy Warner decided to let her silver locks emerge during the pandemic. "In order to survive this trying time, I relied heavily on the Instagram account Grombre, which displays photos of real women in the midst of their own grow-out as a kind of feminist rallying cry/support group. It was important to me to redefine what it meant to be fully silver: I didn’t want to be like the sad-sack gray-haired ladies of yore. I wanted my mane to be a symbol of ambition, power and smarts ... I’m quite happy about it! With every passing month, I found myself channeling the intellectual sexiness of women like Emmylou Harris, Anne Bancroft and my own crush, Christiane Amanpour," she writes in her Vogue article.
Photo: Teri Hatcher Instagram post with senior dogs and gray hair.
Inspired to Go Gray
Stephanie Suwak from Virginia, had been thinking about going gray for a while and has no regrets about her decision. "I've been dying my hair since I was in my mid-30s and was just tired of it," she said. "My mother went gray early as well. I made a decision about two years ago that the year I turned 60, I would do it. Plus, my twin sister had gone gray about two years ago and it looked nice."
Christine Wellner, from Arlington Heights, Ill., does not regret her decision to go gray. "I started 'enhancing' my light brown hair with blonde highlights at about age 25, but hair changes over time, processing takes a toll and achieving a natural, effortless look was taking more and more effort ... not to mention time and expense," she said. "I was thinking about an 'exit strategy,' figuring I would go there when I entered my 50s. But COVID had other plans for all of us, and it seemed like the easiest time to transition since I couldn't even get into a salon for a while and there was a fair amount of out-growth."
Photo: Christine Wellner looking fabulous with her gray locks.
Stephanie was a bit conflicted about going gray, mainly because she worried about looking old and how that could affect her career. "I work in a business that is creative, so I wondered if people wouldn't hire me because I looked behind the times. So far, I don't think anyone in business even cares! And a colleague of mine also went gray!"
Intellectually, Christine knew it was the right timing for her, but was worried that she wouldn't feel like herself. "Funny, my mother embraced her gray hair at about the same age I am now. I was in middle school at the time, and I remember twinges of embarrassment as her change drew a lot of attention. She went from a from a shoulder length dark brown, through an awkward two-tone grow-out period, and finally a short, bright white. It was striking, but my younger self did not love that I clearly had an 'old mom,' so that was in the back of my mind." she said. "On the flip side, my husband has been 100 percent gray for a few years now, and while we lovingly tease him about it sometimes, it also really suits him – the whole 'Silver Fox' idea. My kids have asked me, 'so what is your ACTUAL hair color anyway?' and I've heard them say unfavorably, 'Mom dyes her hair.' Being perceived as unnatural or 'high maintenance' was not appealing to me either."
Photo: Stephanie Suwak rockin' her gray hair.
It took Stephanie an entire year to grow in her gray hair, and she highly doubts she will ever dye her hair again. "It makes me feel like I look my age. Which is fine with me. Family and friends are all positive and think my hair looks pretty! I think so, too!"
Christine is enjoying the positive comments about her gray hair. "One of my favorite comments was, 'Mother Nature really knows what she is doing!'" Though leave it to kids to through in a punch line. "One of my precious children may have called it 'Karen Hair,' but in general, I'll take that over the comments they said from before, like I was trying too hard to cover something up. I do feel pretty good about myself!"
"This is ME, and I like her," writes Lacy in her Vogue article. "If anything, this year has taught me to cut out the things that cause me the highest amounts of unnecessary stress. The best wellness routine I’ve found is really nothing at all: no more trips to the salon, no more mixing the bleach and the color, no more pinching my nose at the ammonia smell. No more keeping a hair color pen in my bag at all times in case I needed an emergency touchup or hoping the bar would be dark enough so that no one would notice my roots. All of that is gone. Now it’s just me and my grays. And, to be fair, a really great purple conditioner. I’m not that far above my own vanity."
Did you decide to go gray naturally? Tell us your story below and share a photo!
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