Should I Color Gray Hair?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2019
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Deciding whether or not to color gray hair is a very personal decision. Some people automatically banish gray as soon as a few strands appear, and others feel more ambivalent about the process or like their new silver threads. It doesn’t take an expert to see that some people have beautiful gray hair that is quite noted. Richard Gere, the actor, for instance, doesn’t appear to have a problem attracting roles despite his silver locks.

Of course, there may be more prejudice or ageism directed at women than men when it comes to the question of whether you should color gray hair. Men with gray hair may be thought of as wise, magnetic or distinguished, while some women may just feel that gray hair makes them feel or appear older than they truly are. It really takes weighing your personal feelings and deciding how much it matters how others may perceive you.


There is a common complaint among those in middle age who must contest for jobs. They say they often feel in competition with much younger applicants, and that appearing older may not be to their benefit. If there is something to this, than it might make sense for those seeking jobs to consider a little youth in a bottle or at the local hairdressers and color gray hair. If you feel as though perception may give your competition for a job the upper hand, since gray hair may be associated with age, it may be to your benefit to do something about it.

On the other hand, if there is ageism and people respond to it by trying to look as youthful as possible, this can be a slippery slope that promotes yet more ageism. It is similar to the concept that women who attempt to look like fashion models, if they are successful, reinforce the idea that all women will necessarily be shaped like fashion models. This can make it awfully hard for those women who just can’t achieve this look.

There is a trend, in contrast, toward celebrating age as a gift instead of a curse, and the gray hair that comes with it. Some people do feel that though they welcome age, they’d still prefer to color gray hair. Of course, gray can sometimes come without age. Some women and men get their first gray hairs in their early 20s, and in those cases, it might make sense if it feels right to color gray hair.

The bottom line is that deciding to color gray hair has to be right for you. If you do decide to color it’s a good idea to read tips specific to gray hair coloring, or to work with a professional colorist to get the results you’d like. If you decide to own your pretty silver tresses, this should be a respected decision too. Some people are even relieved when their hair begins to gray, as they like the newer color better than the one they were born with.


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Post 1

I agree with a former co-worker: as long as Miss Clairol stays in business, I am not having gray hair! Some people look good with gray hair. The singer Emmylou Harris comes to mind. Her hair is striking and she wears it with elan. But until I'm a fair bit older, I'll be shopping in the medium neutral brown shades at Target. I have just enough for it to make my hair look unkempt, and not enough for a chic salt and pepper look. So off to the color aisle I go.

Since I stay within a shade or two of my natural color, I usually don't have much trouble with color. I just make sure I hit the grays with the color first, and I always look for a kit that says it provides full gray coverage.

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