State of Grey: One Year On

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I will always associate the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic with going grey. And I know that many others are the same. Those months of not being able to get our hair coloured and cut, February to July 2020 for me, seemed the perfect opportunity to go natural. So on the one-year anniversary of my first post-lockdown haircut, the first one in years where no colour was applied, I thought I’d take a look at where I am now in my hair journey. Examine the state of grey, so to speak.

This morning. No makeup or hair intervention has taken place.

Maybe you’re sick of hearing me waffle on about my hair. And how going grey has been a journey that became about so much more than hair for me. But there we have it. I love to waffle on about shallow things. Hair being one of the biggies. That’s me in February 2020, on the left below. My last haircut and colour before lockdown. And on the right, in early February 2021. All white except for a bit of lowlighting that Carmen had applied to my bangs.

It wasn’t until May 2020, three months into growing out my colour, that I realized I would be totally white when my colour finally was gone. I began to experiment with sweeping my bangs off my face, and letting my curl have its way, a bit. I scrolled through Pinterest, looking for women with white hair whose look I admired. And it was easy to be philosophical about the whole bad hair thing. I hardly saw anyone but Hubby, and when I did everyone else’s hair looked as bad as mine. Besides, it gave me something to talk about on my blog.

My first cut in five months was in July 2020. And it was only a cut. The first time in many, many years I did not have base colour, highlights, and lowlights applied. I almost fell over when Carmen told me how little money I owed her. Gasp. It seemed there was an additional, and unexpected, silver lining to this white hair gig. I needed two more cuts before my colour was gone.

In the fall, we began experimenting with lowlights. The first application came out too dark. My hair looked cool, but the almost black streaks were a bit too obvious for my liking. After they grew out, and Carmen was able to try again, we went much lighter, and a bit warmer with the lowlights. That was much better. The caramel streaks looked almost like my natural hair colour. And they added definition to my totally white head. And to my soft, swept-back style. Which, in all honesty, I was beginning to have second thoughts about.

You see, when my hair was growing out, I started to sweep the front back to show the white. And then I began to like the style. It was somewhat similar to the way I wore my hair when I was in my twenties. It looked like some of the styles I’d loved on Pinterest. And it was different from the shorter cut which I’d been wearing for a few years. Different is the operative word, here. I didn’t want to go from one look in brown and blonde to a very similar look in white. I wanted something altogether different.

And for a while I really enjoyed the longer, softer, swept-back style. And then I didn’t. I tried really hard to be positive, but I was not loving my new look. It looked great when I styled my hair for a photo-taking session. But if I didn’t fuss with it, it looked terrible. Too flat and boring, or too fluffy and even a little old-lady-ish. And first thing in the morning, well, let’s not even go there.

The last time Carmen cut my hair we had a chat. When she said, “What are we doing today?” I moaned a bit that I was thinking about a change. Inspired by Emma Thompson and Gillian Anderson, the longer swept-back style had been my idea. But I was wavering. I didn’t know what to change into. So I said to Carmen, “We should do whatever you think will look good.” And so we did. Thank goodness for creative hairstylists like Carmen. I walked out of her salon that afternoon feeling like a million bucks. And younger, if you can believe it.

And that’s about the sum total of my hair journey to date. I grew my hair out. It looked like hell for months. Then after a few cuts it was completely white. I tried a new style, that I liked and then loathed. Every once in a while I wondered if I had made a mistake in going white. I struggled to come to terms with the new me in the mirror. I tried two colours of lowlights. Then I reverted back to a short pixie cut with asymmetrical bangs. And now I love everything about my hair. The colour, or lack thereof. The cut. Even the texture, which is softer and silkier than when I was colouring it.

What is really wonderful about my new-old style is that it so easily looks good. It looks good when I get up in the morning without having to do anything but run my fingers through it. I can brush it forward and texturize it, or brush it back in a shorter version of my first white hair cut. I can fuss with it or not bother.

And it’s the days when I don’t bother that are a revelation to me. Even on those days when I’m not wearing makeup. Even first thing in the morning when I’ve just rolled out of bed, I’m still in my robe and nightie, and having my first cup of tea on the deck, I don’t feel as if the white is aging. Maybe it is and I’m just kidding myself. But, really, I feel like me. And I’m pretty okay with that.

When my hair began to be more white than blonde/brown back in 2020, I worried about how this new white hair would affect my ability to wear colour, or lack of colour. And while it’s true that I can no longer wear warm beige and some shades of tan and camel, I haven’t had to abandon as many of my favourite clothes as I feared. I’ve tweaked my make-up, with a pinker blush and a lighter hand with eye-liner etc. But the changes were only tweaks.

Last year I made pronouncements about my changing style. I said I wanted to dress a bit looser, not so polished and neat as I’d always been. I felt my white hair gave me license to be a bit more louche, more edgy. Now, looking back, I’m not sure that I hadn’t been moving in that direction even before I grew out my grey. And I’m not sure if anyone would even notice that my style had changed. Or even if it had changed much, to be honest. As I said in a post a year ago, “besides the obvious change to my hair, maybe all the other stuff is on the inside.” Maybe besides the obvious change to my hair, the biggest change is that I am okay with being my age. With being sixty-five. Especially now that I’ve found a cut that I love. Unreservedly.

So, the current state of grey is that I love my hair. It makes me feel like me. I am no longer surprised when I look in the mirror. No longer wondering who that white-haired person is. I feel totally myself. Comfortable in my own skin, and in my own hair.

I haven’t even had my first cup of tea yet.

I decided to write this post when I realized that my hair cut on Thursday was one year exactly from my first post-lockdown hair cut. My first haircut without colour in many, many years. But this was not the only important anniversary this week, folks.

Hubby and I were married thirty-two years on Thursday. But Thursday was cool and rainy, NOT a good evening for patio dining. These days when indoor dining is still closed, one has to pay extra close attention to the weather reports. So we postponed our celebration to tonight. We drove down to the village of Oxford Mills for dinner at one of our favourite out-of-town restaurants We had a lovely meal and a great evening. And I thought my hair looked fab. 🙂

At Brigadoon in Oxford Mills tonight.

So, my friends do you have any thoughts on your own pandemic hair journey? I know that some of you joined me in unleashing your natural colour last year. Any regrets?

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74 thoughts on “State of Grey: One Year On”

  1. Wendy in York

    Like you I had no intention of having grey hair until covid came along . I assumed I would turn the patchy grey of my maternal side rather than the pure white of my paternal side but I’m somewhere in between – Sort of silvery platinum at the front & more steely grey at the back . I struggled to settle on the cut . I’d had it short for years but liked the softness of it a little longer . I don’t suit anything too sculptured or edgy now . Am I happy with it ? Well yes though I sometimes feel nostalgic for the long , glossy , dark hair of my youth . Dark wouldn’t do anything for me now though & I don’t feel like being a blonde . People seem to like it but the main thing is it feels like me , the woman I now am at the age I now am .
    Congratulations on the 32 years – that man is an angel 😁

    1. I spent so many years in my youth trying to make my hair do things it didn’t want to do, like the awful pageboy I tried to have in high school. Then years making it a colour it wasn’t. It feels such a relief to only worry about a good cut. I’ll bet that silvery platinum in the front looks great on you, Wendy. P.S. Stu may be an angel… but he’s not angelic. Ha.

  2. Wow, you both look fabulous!
    I’ve loved reading about your journey, and I must say it’s been a treat for me to see so many local women and friends embracing their natural, undyed hair color because now I have company. It used to be that I only saw women my age with gray or silver hair when we traveled in Europe. Lastly, I think anything that makes us feel like our true selves is always the most flattering!
    Adele

    1. It’s lovely that going grey or white is now the done thing. At least I think it’s the done thing. I sometimes wonder if any of the women in public life who have always coloured their hair, like Nancy Pelosi or Hilary Clinton in the U.S., will ever be able to just let their hair go grey.

  3. IMO your hair looks terrific! I’ve had grey hair for abut five years. One day I looked at a photo of myself (then a redhead), and realized colour did not make me look younger, it just made me look like a sixty-five year old woman with a head full of dye. I find some things do age appearance ageing (for one, rounded posture), but if you want to scare the bejeezus out of a women, just label anything “ageing” and it becomes kryponite.

  4. How wonderful that you were able to get out and celebrate your anniversary with a break in the weather. We have had two in lockdown, so curbside was the only option. The hair, even with all the variations, you look terrific. The short suits you so well, and to have a stylist like Carmen who you are willing to trust with the scissors is a treat. I am due to have something done, but am torn about whether to go back to a bang style or leave the grown out white streak to the side swept style (ha.. style) that it is now. It takes so long to grow, that I am frustrated as to how much to snip, so for now it waits. It has been great to follow along with you on your journey with hair and the clothing options to look your best. I just started my copy of Conscious Closet which arrived on Friday. This is one of the few times I am reading two different books at the same time, so will see how that goes.

  5. Happy Anniversaries! Your haircut is very chic and that white is radiant, been fun watching its evolution.
    It’s great that you had good weather for a dinner out to celebrate!
    We must honor every milestone these days.
    XO

    1. Thanks, Donna. The weather was perfect for an outdoor meal. And the restaurant is in a sleepy little village, so we strolled around before dinner. A perfect evening.

  6. I’ve only recently been a subscriber to your wonderful site. I confess, I love your hair and feel like it doesn’t age you one bit. You look great. Happy Anniversary to you and your husband.
    xo,
    Karen

  7. I’m in my 70’s and back when my grey hair began, black hair dye did not seem as natural looking as it can be now. I also did not have the extra cash flow for it. My mother, a full time working, single mom, paved the way by going salt n’ pepper, naturally. I’m fortunate to have a streak in the front that looks like a highlight. Also, a creative hairstylist who took advantage of that streak, gave me a more current pixie style which I still enjoy. I’m really thankful not only for the way my grey hair grew in but for a healthy head of hair.
    I’ve enjoyed following your color journey, from hair to your evaluation of what to wear. Thanks for sharing!

    1. P/S We share a wedding anniversary date, separated by eleven years. For us, it was a celebration of forty-three years this last Thursday. Awed and amazed we made it! Went out for dinner, drinks, AND dessert!

    2. Thanks, Charlene. A woman who works at my eye doctor has a salt and pepper pixie with a beautiful white streak in front. All natural and it’s gorgeous. P.S. Happy Anniversary.

  8. I’m so glad you went back to bangs! I don’t find the color aging at all, but I did think you looked older with your hair swept back. Hey, it was a pandemic and when I wasn’t working at my laptop I had to think about something besides acquiring toilet paper and cat food, lol. I love your hair now. It does look more like the “you” I’ve gotten to know through your posts. Well, done, you. And I don’t think you need lowlights at all, you look great. Happy anniversary!

    1. Thanks, Nancy. I’m much more happy with my hair now that it’s very short. I was beginning to question my decision to go white. But it was the cut that was bothering me.

  9. In a twist of the usual, my hubs went silver during COVID. At 72, he sports a head full of wonderfully wavy hair which he colored himself rather expertly with peeks of gray through a soft brown. Now he’s the proverbial silver fox while I still rage against my mousy gray roots and woefully thin hair. (Thanks, Mom). My “carpet” will never match my “drapes”. 😉 Love your blog.

    1. That is a great line, Missi. My sister has very fine and straight hair. She rages against it too. Cuts have to be so strategic with fine hair, don’t they?

  10. I love your writing – how you “waffle on” about things. I feel like if I did that I would sound ridiculous. You do not. I wear my hair short, but longer than I did before covid. Sometimes I style it with bangs and sometimes I sweep it back which requires products, lots of it. I like it either way. My question is always “how do I really look?” bc I don’t feel like I ever really know – and I feel silly to ask. So, I guess one of the lessons of aging is acceptance. Do I feel like me and do I like how we look to myself?

    1. I hear you. And sometimes we think we look great and someone snaps a picture at an event and we look ghastly. Never believe a bad picture. That’s my motto. Or one of them, anyway. 🙂

  11. Happy Anniversary to you and Hubby!
    Gorgeous,best hair ever! You look so beautiful and happy!
    I’ve embraced my curly hair during both lock down and summer season! So easy and laid back! Although I still love my straight hair more…..
    Dottoressa

  12. Kathy Loughrie

    Happy anniversary to you both! 32 years is a feat to be celebrated…so glad you were able to go to dinner! The hair conundrum is still an ongoing issue for me. I grew my hair out over 3 years ago and found that I was not happy with it. I felt invisible and totally unlike myself. So, I had lowlights added and have been happy seeing the dimension they add to my natural color which now looks like a highlight.. Color so affects my mood that not to have the lowlights would be depressing to me. I am going next week to see the stylist so God knows I may change my mind yet again. Thank you for sharing your own journey. We are all struggling or have struggled to some degree with this topic. Your blog is a joy to read! Best

  13. Happy Anniversary!!!!!!

    Love your hair; I don’t think I would look as good with no color in my hair. You look gorgeous!!!

  14. Your hair looks great. I think the hard part is the half and half hair. I am still growing out. No base since Feb 2020. I did have highlights 2 months ago hoping to somehow blend all the colors on my head. I am not white, two big sections of gray. My actual hair is ashy and not the warm base I used to have so I too have found some clothing colors look not as good as before. It is a transition.

  15. Having discovered you only recently I’ve only “known” you with your white mane, so to me you look odd with your old color. I love your “new” look! My mother had beautiful white hair, which I don’t think I’m destined to inherit. During Covid I’ve grown out my 25-year-old chin length bob past my collarbone and stopped getting highlights. My inspiration was Cindy Hattersley, whose hairstyle I love, but whose lovely white locks don’t seem to be in my genes, which promise only a heavy infiltration of gray into my medium brown. So after 18 months plus, I’m debating adding some warm highlights again. But I’ll give it a bit longer before I decide.

    Happy, happy anniversary! You and your hubby seem to have such fabulous adventures. And isn’t a long-lasting marriage another one!

  16. I would absolutely kill to have gorgeous white hair like yours! Mine is mousey-taupe and thin. I manage to brighten it up with highlights a few times a year. I prefer you without the low lights – fully au natural – more dramatic. Have you ever thought about going shorter and spikey? I think that would like amazing on you. boomerbroadcast.net

  17. Growing out my ‘lightened’ brunette with blonde highlights only to find that my base colour is hela darker with few silvers. The big change are my ‘wisdom’ streaks near the temple which are very white and a bit Cruella de Ville! Going to have the silver extended into the ‘money pieces’ ( framing the face) so it all looks more intentional. Never going back to short. Last November in a prescient moment had my shoulder lengths cut to a chin length bob which I hated as it really did not suit me. As luck would have it that was the last time I saw my stylist so that cut has grown out …I’ll go back to my graduated ‘lob’ with soft bangs which, as you say makes me recognize myself. After retirement pretty much had to choose between keeping the colourist and downgrade my stylist. My guy is one of the city’s best and charges accordingly so I choose to keep his scissors going and ditch the two step colour process. You look lovely with the pixie though…and happy anniversary!

  18. Happy Anniversary Sue and Stu! Don and I marked 32 years on July 7 this year! (Did we connect the dots when we worked together that we got married one day apart?). Love your hair. I started going grey 2 years before Covid hit – just got tired of the colouring process, so it was a decision motivated by laziness I guess! I like my hair and Don has gotten used to it. For a while he couldn’t spot me in a store or in a crowd cause he was looking for a blonde! It does feel healthier now. And we are not feeling old, even though we look our ages. Went for a motorcycle ride yesterday! 😎

  19. You hit the nail on the head Sue “thank goodness for creative hairstylists like Carmen”. For years my Stylist pushed the envelope with me and each time I have been extremely happy with the results. Congratulations to you and Stu on your 32nd year wedding anniversary!

    1. Thanks, Glenda. It’s so nice to not have to worry about whether I’m going to get a bad cut or not. Sometimes I bring pictures for ideas, and the rest of the time I just leave it all up to Carmen.

  20. You look great – love the pixie cut on you…mine was very short for years and easy to just use gel so it curled a bit. With the lockdown I have let my hair grow long and now I can use combs to hold it up and back, and soon will be able to twist into a French knot. Only 2 haircuts this past 16 months, for shaping.
    I let my hair go grey when I was about 70 and didn’t like the mousy color grey so dyed it dark again, and after another year tried once more, and voila…much whiter, silver with dark grey patches….makes it more interesting, I think, adds depth. What a relief not to not have that messy, smelly chore of applying chemicals on my head. Started a career late so, in order to save $ for retirement, had to color my own hair but have had a wonderful stylist for years.

    Hair, our crowning glory, thank God for my special shampoo for thinning hair and it does help. I do enjoy all your thoughts on whatever.

  21. Fine post.
    I am unashamed to say that I have always loved my hair. When I was young it was dark and there was plenty of it. It looked especially great in a bob, which I spent money on to get the best cut when, really, I couldn’t afford it. But the results were so worth it. And when I started to go grey, I simply accepted it. I like being grey just as much as I liked having long, sleek, dark brown hair. Like you, I adore being able to get up, get in the shower, get on. I met an old and very good friend today; we have known each other since 1980 and the first time we met she had a bleached crewcut. Today, she has divinely soft white hair in a bob. She looks, to me, exactly as she always has. You are right. You look like yourself. And breathe. Also: congrats. It is a long haul and you both still look happy. Kind regards to Stu.

  22. Before COVID, I had already been talking to my stylist about how to go grey once I began my retirement. (At some point I had realized that coloring my hair just did not look especially natural.) The order to indefinitely work from home made the time right for me. On my first appt with my stylist, we decided to go ahead with the transition, helping it along with some heavy blond highlights. After several haircuts, I’m thrilled with the results—similar to Wendy in York, I’ve got lots of silvery white around my face with more steely grey in the back. I love it!

  23. Colleen Gander

    I had grown my hair out to a long bob for our son’s wedding and then just got out of practice treating myself to hair care. Like many through this past period, since I wasn’t going anywhere, cinching my hair in an elastic or into a bun probably aged me even more than my 66 years. So, as a treat, and with a new unknown-to-me stylist, I had it all lopped off last week. It was an act of faith. She asked the right questions and listened carefully to my descriptions of my hair and its idiosyncrasies. My faith was rewarded and I love my new look. Although I have plenty of good eating in NS, I am envious of your opportunity to celebrate (and congratulations) at my favourite restaurant. We love to dine there with special friends as it was our Christmas treat in lieu of an office party.

    1. Ah… what a coincidence, Colleen. We love to go to Brigadoon. It’s great that you lucked out with that new stylist. Carmen is originally from Halifax, and she says the hairdressers are pretty great there.

  24. Your hair looks great. I went white several years ago and love it. During Covid my hair, which is still quite thick and mostly straight, went from a chin- length bob to my shoulders. Lately I’ve been fed up with so much hair but haven’t yet figured out what to do — sometimes it looks lovely and striking and then I’m tempted to keep it. Other times I just want it off, but a truly short cut isn’t so good with my long face. So in other words I’m waffling too!

  25. Your hair is awesome! I’ve gone grey/white in the last few years, although I still seem to have more patches of “pepper” than I do of “salt”, but I have a great stylist who manages a cut that highlights the white on top and the grey underneath. And I look at the old photos with brunette hair and they don’t look like me!

  26. Your haircut and color are perfect!! I remember your post back in that year to end all years when you talked about going gray. Btw, your blog was a pick me up during Covid even if for brief moments.

  27. Ditto. I went thru the same experience. My hair now is a beautiful silver. I thought I could wear the same hairstyle, a short bob, but it looks better in a short cut with length on top. What looks really cute is tying a bandana on it with the knot on top. It just adds a little something extra. Who knew. I don’t like wearing white tops now because there’s no contrast but with the bandana or scarf I can. Royal blue is my best color now.

  28. Suzanne Richards

    Ha, your hair looks exactly like mine (only yours is thicker, lucky you) . I’ve had pixie cut for twenty years, every now and then I think I might grow it out…nope..terrible. I too am happy with my hair, the pretty color and easy care cut. We too celebrated our anniversary on 12/7, 52 years ..hubby not well so no celebrations, but grateful for what we have 😌

    1. I too grow and chop, grow and chop. Veering away from a very short cut just for a change. And then veering back. Congratulations on your anniversary. 🙂

  29. Hi Sue … belated but sincere happy anniversary to you and Stu! Glad you had a lovely meal out to celebrate.
    I think that your latest “pixie” style is definitely my favourite… it really suits you and looks more youthful and stylish (imo 😊) more like the pre grey Sue! My hair sweeps back into a wave like you had yours but I soon realised I preferred it forward. Your hair is a gorgeous shade and looks so healthy.
    Rosie xxx

  30. My husband is far from angelic,but puts up with me! He has always stayed away from the hair question. Hair grows,do what you want!I always had very dark hair,then(when I found out our daughter was expecting triplets,) I did not know what was going to be expected of me as far as grandmothering was concerned. My hair grew out a really nasty nasty of grey. Couln’d have that,no one recognzied me, so I went to blond,rather than apricot or some other variation! The trips are 7 now and I am still a blonde. Perhaps when my hair decided to go white,I can slide from one color to the next. In the meantime, still trying to find out if it is true about blondes and Fun.Think I had better get a slinky red dress!I do hope this makes sense,because we have just returned from a 24 hr. flight from seeing relatives in Alaska! Do not recommend it! I am rather screwy and not caught up at all, but the good news is we made i! Been trying 3 times since all the Covid shutdowns! And it was worth the effort, so we are glad we did it!Sue I do like your hair. Brings out the pink in you skin which i pretty and feminine. You and Carmen made the right choice!

    1. Thanks, Susan. My hubbie does not interfere in hair affairs, either. Too much drama for him. Ha. So glad you were able to finally make that trip to Alaska.

  31. I’m 51 and just had my first hair cut since August 2020. My hairdresser asked me whether she should do a root touch-up before putting in some highlights for me. And I said yes. She then, went away and came back and said, “you have such few grey hairs, how about we not cover them?” She then said, that she didn’t want to charge me for doing this and she convinced me that I have an opportunity now to start growing in my grey hair. She noted that my eye (or brain) will actually get used to the grey and soon I won’t see it as starkly as I do now. And you know what – I decided to start this journey now. My hair is dark brown/black and my grey hairs are coarse and springy and right at the front of my head but I’m willing to do this if only to try to grow more comfortable in my skin. Thanks for your posts on your hair. I really appreciate reading them.

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