6 Jun 2018

How To Handle The Grey Hair Days

How To Handle The Grey Hair Day on vickiarcher.com

What does that mean?

What I mean is the grey hair, the going grey and the wearing of grey hair can get you down.

It is not all smiles and confidence and feeling fabulous. Grey hair can mean grey days.

I want to be honest – I have done the whole grey thing – but some days looking in the mirror is tough. I don’t like it. Not because of how I feel inside but more for how it looks outside. I wax and wane; I love it or I don’t.

It is not a simple relationship.

The confusion can cause all sorts of poor decision-making.

Changing a style for the sake of colour, not for the right reason or plying the make-up in the hope of a changed vista. None of that is what is worrying me on those days. The reality is going or being grey is confronting and anyone who tells you otherwise is a legend and I want to meet him or her.

This week I don’t like having grey hair.

Now let me preface this by saying I am not feeling rational over this and it is very much a female whim. I am however in the right mind to know I am feeling fickle and I need to remember that. When I feel like this and for any of you, who are going through the process of letting grey hair dominate, remember it is natural to react to change and all this evokes.

Grey is not simply shades of; grey is an attitude and state of mind.

Yesterday, I sat with Nicola our new beauty writer at VA – she has magnificent grey hair, wears it cropped and looks fabulous – and lamented my feelings of blah around going grey. With all “girl” issues, as ever, it helps to talk to a kindred spirit. We decided that the alternative, going back to the bottle, was not an option for us and the solution was to find a way to handle those days when the mirror feels unfriendly.

How To Handle The Grey

Most importantly if the grey hair looked good last week, it will still look good this week.

It is more about you and your state of mind than hair colour.

When the grey gloom hits don’t rush any momentous decisions.

Those will be the ones regretted not the colour of your hair.

Grey hair does not have to look like “old lady”.

Keep your role models front of mind and focus on why you are growing out or wearing grey.

Be practical but not adventurous.

Have a blow-dry, a trim or wear a new lipstick. Mix it up but don’t make an irreversible decision. (I was all ready to cut mine off but knew to sit it out for a moment. I would not look good with very short hair. This is how the mind works with the blahs – what we know will never work, suddenly becomes a great idea.) Avoid this at all costs. The grey malaise will pass; the hair will take a lot longer to grow out.

Growing in the grey is a lot like a diet.

We are doing it for all the right reasons but it doesn’t make it easier. The diet is for our wellbeing but there are times we want to break it and go awol in a major way. When we do all that is left is remorse and regret; better to hang in and see the results.

Write a mental list of the pros and cons.

This is simply a way of re-establishing why you wanted to wear grey in the first place. For me, I know deep down I like the look and admire it on other women. My mood is most likely about everything other than the colour of my hair.

Listen to you.

Don’t ask others for an opinion until you are convinced of your own. Whether to wear the grey is a hot topic of conversation and women, rightly so, feel divided over it. Some women don’t like it and others do. Know yourself and speak to like-minded friends when you get the wobbles.


Forget the hair when these feelings strike and work on activities to boost self-confidence. Taking ourselves out of “us” and working at a deeper level puts everything into perspective.

Boost the wardrobe.

Try a new piece or re-engineer one you already have. Making a change in the wardrobe is the easiest trick to feeling better and look more up to date. Wearing “grey” does not equate with a lack of fashion focus. It is even more of a reason to do so. Linda Rodin (pictured) is the best example of someone who wears grey well with a fashion-forward focus.

Writing this morning has helped me understand my feelings and why I have been a little disenchanted with “going grey”. I do have the not-so-sure-about-it feelings but you know what?

I will wait this out because one thing I do know, it will pass.  xv

image of linda rodin, lo donna magazine

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And the roles models you have strewn across the bottom of your piece here are my “go-to” photos for LONG grey hair. My hair is still surprisingly black, with noticeable gray coming in at the temples. I have been struggling not with the grey, but to let it go long. I am finally doing it. For now, it’s at a very awkward stage, but my hair stylist is talented and is making the transition easier by giving me trims to compliment the growth pattern of the layers from a cropped cut. How do I deal with the greys that are coming in? I do what you suggested by keeping that lipstick interesting, wearing clothing that makes a subtle statement about my attitude, and of course, I love wearing diamond studs to add an extra sparkle to my smile. Keep going, Vicki, you are GORGEOUS no matter what you wear or how you choose to wear your hair!


Hi Vicki. I have been growing out my grey for almost two years now and I must say that I will never go back. My hair is very long and was brown so I went ‘blonde’ had ash toners and thought that would do but having now seen the results of ‘sticking it out!’ I’m so happy!! 😃 I feel authentic and although about half my hair is still blonde, it blends. I do wear a stronger brow and lip which help on days where I might slip into felling slightly ‘insipid’ and it works!! Stick with your authentic self Vicki. You look great x Claire

Mary-Jill from Canberra

I was always dark brown & many years ago started getting thin blonde foils to cover greys. The foils increased over the years until I had quite a lovely blonde chin length bob – but cost a bomb every six weeks. Then the foils became lighter to a type of ash blonde as the grey increased. But I always felt ‘safe’ having foils done! Recently my hairdresser said,’ ‘Why are you paying me to put in foils the same colour as your hair? Just leave it! It’s a beautiful silver!’ So I fearfully said, ‘Okay let’s stop.’ She gave me some ‘purple’ shampoo to use once a week (I think it’s to keep the silver from looking dull) & I use normal (good, hairdresser) shampoo every day. I wash & blow dry my hair every day if I am going out of the house ANYWHERE – & quickly tong the edges just to flip up a bit. If I am at home, I don’t worry – just a ponytail. And you know, I AM getting to like my ‘silver’ colour. I think the purple shampoo gives it a nice sheen actually. The only thing I struggle with is the length – I think I have settled on just a tiny bit past my shoulders, smoothly straight & slightly flipped up. Any longer & I think look a bit ‘witchy’! I toy with having it shorter but usually resistvthe temptation as I know each time I go shorter I hate it! Last time I did have a long layer cut but don’t like it so will stick with smooth, one length & just on or slightly below the shoulders. Yes it is a worry to begin with but as long as my hair is clean, straight & smooth I think I am as happy as I will ever be. MJ


It’s funny how that word, “witchy” comes into our vocabulary… It’s become one I am familiar with ;) ;)


Perhaps I will try & experiment with ‘up’ styles like your top picture instead of the ponytail – the pic looks quite sophisticated – although pretty much everything requires glasses these days so don’t know how successful I’d be!


Bravo Vicki – Thank you for sharing! It’s so reassuring to know others have the same doubts, thoughts and apprehensions. My hair is also a similar length and colour and some days I don’t like what I see. Other days I just love it and wonder why I doubted it. I think my hair reacts to my moods – when I’m a bit flat, so is my hair, and when I feel good, my hair is too! Some days my hair definitely looks witchy but I don’t think I want to admit to my mood then. 😂

Mary-Jill from Canberra

PS. I don’t wear my hair in a pony tail out in public much as I think it does make me look old – but washed & straighten the fly aways (its straight anyway) & I think it looks better – at least then I feel as if I am really ‘owning’ my grey hair & liking it. It does take getting used to -& I am 68! Also I’ve always had a fringe (bangs?) – tried to grow them out but never succeed – always thought older women shouldn’t have a fringe !!! But again, I like it , it’s me, so I’m Sticking with a longish fringe, grey well maintained hair & that’s it. More to worry about like keeping the rest of it all together (oh & good well-maintained eyebrows are a must)!


Yes to the eyebrows… and I have never had a fringe.. think I am too round faced… I have had layers quite short at the site but these days I am always a blunt cut with a bit of angle…

Mo Charbonneau

I enjoy your daily emails, Vicki. Thanks for the inspirations! This morning I happened to look at photos of Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal. Photos from the time of “Love Story” and current, which brought home the reality of aging. I look at photos of myself pre-grey days and wonder why I ever thought there were bad hair days. Aging is an adventure, one that I’m grateful to have.

It took about 2 years to grow my hair out to its natural grey and it wasn’t a pretty time. But I got through it and now would never go back to color. Surprisingly, I’ve found that I like my hair a longer length. But I think it was you who said in a post that there’s a fine line with grey hair. I decided the new style I was given wasn’t right, so got a shorter cut and now am letting it grow longer.

I agree with you that we shouldn’t do anything drastic on those blah days. Good advice, all of it. Perhaps the sentence that stands out the most for me is, “Don’t ask others for an opinion until you are convinced of your own.” This is, after all, one of the benefits of aging … coming to know who we really are.

Maggie Schwagele

Hi Vicki – after many years of long coloured hair I decided 2 years ago to do the natural grey (premature greying in my family). Fortunately short cropped hair suits me. I have it cut every 4 weeks so it does not get scraggly and untidy. I don’t wear make up often and have extremely pale skin. There are days when I feel insipid and BLAH. I have changed my wardrobe to more “elegantly” alternative (have always been an alternative dresser) – rid my closet of mediocre outfits – going boldly monochrome – love black. Trying to wear makeup occasionally. Love wearing colourful long necklaces with beads, ear cuffs, bead bracelets – a bit Iris Apfel’ish. Getting a new pair of glasses in 2 weeks time. Choose a bold pair – loving it. Yes, I am getting older but cannot tone down who I am. In actual fact, I now am choosing to dress in a way which doesn’t follow the current trends but rather my own style. Thank you for your blog – it has made the journey easier and inspires me to embrace my age (56).

vanessa de lisle

i had reddish hair very difficult to colour and the COST highlights seemed to go orange. some years ago i went white and very white and have very dark almost black thick stripy low lights, every 2 months. length bobbish but not straight. i think it looks good and less aging on me than pure white, as im more of an english pudding face and the elegant ladies in the piccies. seemed to be liked by friends who have been doing the same thing. whats great about white hair is a whole new colour palette works. i used to always wear tans and browns, coral ocre etc. now its greys and navys. im 71 and still sometimes being a fashionista, have just bought some jcrew white martie trews, v pleased pip pip


First I think it’s important to truly embrace ” silver ” hair which has a better ring to my ears than ‘gray’. Going silver means a whole new color approach in makeup and clothes and that can be fun. Getting your colors done is so important because then you wear the colors that will always light you up. It was tough going completely silver, but it was so worth it as I love my hair. It’s long–past my shoulders–and is in the best condition it’s ever been. And on those Blah days….boost your make up a little, wear a more colorful scarf –wear bolder earrings…it all helps.


This was good timing. I’ve just begun the adventure of going from dark to silver and am pondering going shorter to both blend things together more and to avoid the summer humidity caused frizzies. They seem to look worse when grey. I do like the shiny silver coming in and would not consider going back though.

Devra Long

I let my hair go natural 6 years ago for my 60th birthday and still love my white hair…..most days!
Vicki, thanks so much; just what I needed to read today!


My blah days are oftenabout the length. It’s well below shoulders and sometimes just annoys me. So I think of having it lopped off. But I grew it at my granddaughters’ request and they say not to get it cut as they want me to be like them and our DiL. That’s what is stopping me. That and belief that long hair is softer for my aging face and helps hide a less than crisp jawline.
Have never coloured my hair. Even now it’s a naturally streaked light toffee strawberry blonde with increasing strands of silver. Hairdressers refuse to colour it and say I’m so lucky I mustn’t even think about it. With teenage granddaughter you can guess I’m probably older than many of your readers. But I do get my eyebrows threaded and tinted. They match them to the darker colours in the head hair.
Don’t get your hair cut, Vicki! It looks fabulous! Best wishes, Pamela

Taste of France

I just got home from some city time, including a trip to the art museum. One of the docents had the most amazing haircut, so perfect for saying to the world, “Yes, I have gray hair. AND?”
I do think a good cut helps a lot. And good posture. Which go a long way toward having the attitude that says we mean business.


What a thoughtful post, Vicki. With so many terrific looking women out there with grey hair, we’re all confronted with whether we want to go grey and whether it would look good on us. I don’t see myself ever going grey. My hair is already fine and SO THIN. I’m afraid I’d look like the grey-haired woman in the chair next to me at the salon, yesterday. She mentioned her age… considerably younger than I am, but I would have guessed her to be just the opposite. She looked just this side of what I would consider “elderly.” You’re wise to suggest when confronted with a major change to our appearance, that we wait a little while and see if it passes. xoxox, Brenda


unfortunately I have thin hair – anyone have advice for that – I am 68 – use to have a full head of hair and it went gray and got amazing compliments now it thin and I use a dark blonde – wish I could go gray again ..scared !


My hair feels much thinner now that it is grey than it did when I streaked it blonde… It’s very healthy now so that explains the feeling. Having coloured my hair forever I was never used to the feeling of smooth and soft hair…

I do think a bit of colour will make your hair feel and look thicker… perhaps you could highlight areas and let some of the grey in?

Morion Macrae

Are you kidding? Oh! I so understand what you are going through. Something that is helping me to decide one way or the other is looking at a recent photo of myself. It helps to choose now, and perhaps allows me to change my mind later. The thing is: the camera sometimes shows you in a different light, and you understand how others see you. That in itself changes your perspective, you see yourself as you! It isn’t just a mindset, it’s a new way to look at yourself. Try it! See what you think! Lots of love, Morion.

Rebecca Agar

After growing out my grey I had short hair for about a year but having always had long hair , although people liked it, it never felt like me. One day I woke up after a period of grey blah and realised that with all the money I had saved not colouring my hair for the last two years I had every excuse to pay for extensions. My clever hair dresser perfectly matched them and because they are so long, thick and lustrous, apart from the colour, I now have the hair of a twenty year old and hair that naturally I could never have produced myself. Wether in a long pony, an elegant up do or flowing around my shoulders these long locks of my dreams banish a lot of blah.
I must also add that honestly, I have never thought my grey colour was anything but superior to any dye job I’ve ever had – despite always paying for the best and also superior to the natural blonde brown of my youth – Blah can come what ever colour your hair is.


What a fabulous, fabulous idea! Love it… and yes… “Blah” is in every colour ;)

Vicki Ford

Well, I have been you-tubing “extreme hair makovers”, where the sassy hair stylist audaciously cuts very long hair quite short a lot of the time – sometimes mercifully leaving it at shoulder length. I am amazed at what a shorter style cut achieves, they are very talented people. Of course he colours the heck out of it as well! But what about trying Christophe Robin’s range of Shade Variation colour treatments? They are subtle and designed to last a certain number of washes only and then you put it on again. So you could try that perhaps? His salon is in Paris and he has on line tutorials to showcase his products. I am in Australia with my hands itching to try a few of his things!

Pamela Wilson

Vicki there are those with a good colour to the skin plus hair that is an attractive shade of grey or white fortunate to look absolutely stunning, as shown on your photographs of models however, there are those of us with insufficient skin colour or warmth plus hair that will never be a pretty stunning grey who should never give up colouring their hair. Going grey is not an option for us all. If you don’t absolutely love it don’t buy it, clothes or hair colour as one size fits all is not true.


John Freida has a “clear gloss” that makes the hair feel thicker. I’ve been tempted to go back to the color bottle. Not worth it. I know I would regret it. Simple is better for me. I cant sit in the hair salon that long anymore. Embrace Silver – love that. AND comparing it to a diet – great perspective.


The last time I had a root touch-up was January 27–so am now 4+ months into this adventure. I have found it fascinating to see what my natural color really is! Perhaps the most touching part of this journey has been to join social networks on Facebook. One is “The Silver Circle (Go Silver, Find Sexy)” and the other is the “Going Grey Guide”. The generosity and loving comments by women in these groups to other women who are sometimes struggling in this transition has been heartwarming. It has been an unexpected bonus in this process. I am beginning to feel that silver is beautiful–and I definitely am not–feel like–or look like an old lady! Thanks for your continued inspirational topics!


I am replying to myself :) but Ashton Applewhite writes beautifully about this topic
And just a few more thoughts:
I recently turned 60 and spend my time between the San Francisco Bay Area and Santa Fe, New Mexico. I also work full-time and am realistic about the potential downsides of being silver. I find that in the Bay Area many women in the 40+ age range are blonde and blow-dry their hair straight–it is rather a hair “uniform” in which I belonged.
In Santa Fe, New Mexico, it is much more common for women to be “natural”, silver, with wavy or curly hair with great individual overall style. I find that more interesting and empowering. Oddly enough, I never have had more compliments on my curly, slightly tousled, partly silver hair!
We will all have our “blah” days, but I think that is often not related to being silver!

Sara Elisabeth

I am 61 and have not yet gone grey so I don’t know if you will find my comment relevant.My fair hair has become mousy brown over the years and so I have blonde foils put in every 3 or 4 months. I am amazed by the number of my friends who have gone grey who no longer color their hair. The reality of grey hair is that it is aging – it adds years to your look. Yes of course it can look very attractive and even beautiful but there is no doubt that it is very aging and quite disconcerting when you bump into an old friend who has suddenly gone grey.Women often feel obligated to compliment their friends on their new hair cut or color even if they don’t like it- it seems being nice is more important than being honest. If you are not comfortable with your grey hair, and it would seem from the number of posts you have written about it that you are not- go back to coloring it! Life is short – do as you please. You love fashion and beauty and clearly have good taste so trust your instinct. I am sure you will find the time you have to spend on it worth it. I have a friend who went grey for about a year and then changed her mind and started coloring her hair again as she did not like the way she was treated with grey hair.


I have been trying to go white for almost 20 years and finally set my mind to do this so that when I turn 70 I will be all white. I am now about 2 inches into growing it out and I am surprised how how beautiful it is and making my hair feel fuller. I always enjoy your articles as well as the responses on this topic because it helps me to know that other people feel the same as I do about the process. When I retired, I replaced the mirror above my dresser with my favorite prints because as I walked past the mirror I would say to myself “when did that happen?”…haha So now I focus on the beauty of the prints and enjoy just liking the changes in myself, but also know that there will be days when I come close to changing my mind.


Deep breath. As a 72-year-old with longish, salon-created blonde hair, I’m a little nervous about posting what I really think about this topic, but here goes anyway.

I think grey hair is terribly aging on most women of a certain age. Of course, that age varies, depending on the woman and her many other physical and additional qualities. I will also stipulate that colored (dyed) hair in any shade is also not terribly flattering to every older woman either.

Yes, some models, actresses and other fortunate women have morphed into grey-haired style mavens because the color make them look striking. After all, no one could possibly criticize the current incarnations of Ali Macgraw and the other five beautiful women whose photographs are featured above in this blog post. They’re gorgeous! But they always have been.

I am familiar with the points often made about reducing one’s hair salon budget, living more comfortably in our older bodies, etc. But in my observation the proposition that most of us will look better in grey hair just doesn’t doesn’t pass muster. Obviously, others’ mileage may vary.

I am also hearing a theme in conversations like this one that once you’ve gone grey there’s an expectation that you should not go back. Certainly, I appreciate the time required to grow out one’s colored hair to discover what emerges from our follicles and that throwing away that investment on a whim after a (literal) bad hair day would be impetuous.

Put another way, I don’t recall how or why it was decided that women of a floating certain age, given a choice between (1) going grey and (2) coloring their hair in a flattering color, were awarded more points for choosing the grey door.

So perhaps a better question to ask is: Under what circumstances are those who’ve gone grey encouraged or supported to change their minds?

After all, everyone does not look or feel wonderful in black. Or yellow. Or green. Or grey.

Rebecca Agar

I feel mine looks better Grey, especially when I look at photos of my dyed hair and considering that they are now from four years ago. Perhaps it is easier for once blondes as silver or gold is not a big difference. Perhaps growing out the Grey is harder or even maybe less flattering for brunettes who are used to a dark cloud setting off their features?? I think it looks especially good on black ladies and especially bad on anyone with out much hair …..baring the exceptions that exist to prove every rule of course.

Rebecca Agar

I would like to add, to address the point of this blog, let us not forget that no matter what age we were we had blah days. Now they can be labeled “grey” blah days but I don’t think they are more common than my blonde blah days, my red or brunette blah days, the blah days I had in University when my hair was pink or violent magenta. Blah days happen no matter what colour our hair. They happen to Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson and The Queen of England (who grew out her Grey back in the eighties with a cavalier Cruella Da Ville streak.

cindy hattersley

So many good comments here I am late to the party. I finally now get your posts via email so I don’t miss a one! I have been gray for probably eight years. I too feel my hair looks better gray than it did when I was coloring it. It is a fair amount of work keeping your gray hair looking great. I have shared what works for me on my blog. Kudos to Ann for honestly commenting. Gray is not for everyone.


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