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Why I don’t dye my gray hair

The gray hair in question:

Kristen in a black dress.

In the inadvertently selfie-heavy Five Frugal Things post yesterday, reader Crystal left this comment:

I especially love your hair! Lovely! My hair is going gray and I find that people are uncomfortable with it. I am 50 and I am just weary of coloring my hair. Maybe you could do a blog post about this?

Aww, I am sorry to hear that other people are foisting their gray-hair opinions on you.

I really dislike the cultural narrative around aging, especially for women, and I wrote a fairly long post on the whole topic of aging.

Kristen with a gray streak.

A lot of what I wrote in that post is relevant here, but I don’t think I’ve ever written a post specifically about gray hair.

But first, I need to make something clear:

I have mixed feelings about my gray hair

Like you, I live in a culture that is terrified of aging, and even though I try to fight against that, I know the culture affects me and how I think.

So, sometimes I feel bummed out that I am getting more and more gray hairs, and I wish for the days when my hair was all brown.

Kristen in a red tshirt.

But as I wrote in my post about aging, I don’t think I need to pressure myself to love my gray hair. A place of acceptance is a very adequate goal.

I’ve taken almost 46 trips around the sun, and it is impossible to do that without experiencing some age-related change. Accepting that as fact helps me to feel more peaceful!

Now that we have that out of the way, here are the reasons I have not dyed my grays.

1. I don’t like to spend money

Home hair dye is fairly affordable, but that does still add up over time.

But salon dye…that is expensive for sure, and I just am not sure my frugal heart would want to commit to regular, expensive hair salon trips.

2. I am lazy on the beauty front

Kristen in a green American Giant hoodie dress.

I know I’ve said it a million times: it takes very little to reach my, “Nah, that’s too much bother” threshold when it comes to beauty.

I spend maybe 15 minutes on hair and makeup each day, excluding the time it takes to shower, and my product lineup is super minimal.

Based on this long-standing history of behavior, I don’t think I’d want to keep up with home dye jobs or regular salon trips. That’s definitely above my “too much bother” threshold!

3. I would probably be walking around with visible roots all the time

Given the above information, I can gaze into the future and see that I’m a likely candidate for being a person whose grown-out roots are showing on the regular.

I’d either be too lazy to bother with touching up my roots at home, or too cheap to go to the salon to get it done sufficiently often.

And honestly, grown-out roots are not more attractive than the current hair situation I’m in.

tired Kristen.

I think that specific fact is what helps me the most!

4. I want to push back on unfair beauty standards


Part of my refusal to dye my grays is based on stubbornness. I am irritated that our society views men with gray hair as being attractive and sophisticated, but women with gray hair are considered to be washed up and worn out.

I am irritated that it is considered to be “brave” to show your gray hair when you are in your 40s and 50s.

Kristen in scrubs.

I am irritated that gray hair is considered to be normal only when we reach our 70s or 80s, when the truth is that most humans start getting gray hairs in their 30s and 40s, and once we’re in our 50s, pretty much all of us have a lot of gray hair.

5. I want to normalize what is actually, factually normal

The reason we buy into the, “Gray hair is for old people” lie is that we are not used to seeing people, women in particular, showing their gray hair until they stop dying it.

And that’s usually in their last few decades of life.

I think there is a small cultural shift going on right now, with more and more women choosing to stop dying their grays, or to never start in the first place.

And I’m a small part of that. 🙂


The more we see this, the more normalized it will become.

6. I am being kind to my hair

I know there are ways to mitigate the damage that dye does to your hair, but probably nothing is kinder to your hair than leaving it undyed.

7. I never have to navigate the growing out process

If I don’t ever start to cover my grays, I never have to make the big decision to chop it all off or go through the painful growing-out stage.

I can just let my hair slowly do its thing, and my body will decide when I will become all gray. 🙂

Kristen holding a calculator.

And now I have three thoughts about the issue of other people and their opinions!

1. Get confident in your own reasons not to dye

If you feel solidly content inside of yourself about your decision to stop dying, other people’s opinions will weigh less.

2. Own the fact that this is your hair

If other people feel uncomfortable about what you are doing with the hair that is on your head, well, they really need to stay in their own lanes a little better.

(And perhaps they need to do some soul-searching to figure out why someone else’s hair is so important to them.)

Kristen in a hoodie.

Other people don’t have to walk around with your hair, and they’re not the ones who bear the burden of maintaining repeated coloring, so I just don’t think their opinions need to hold a bunch of weight.

Each of us gets to make our own decisions about what we will do with our own bodies, and that includes what we do or don’t do with our hair. You are the boss of you!

3. Find some online community that helps normalize what you are doing

Maybe there’s no one around you in real life who is ditching the dye, but there are tons of Instagram accounts where women are documenting their gray hair journeys. Following them might help you to feel less alone.

gray hair influencers.

This is what came up when I searched “gray hair” on Instagram

Also: there are people who can appreciate the beauty of gray hair. I have gotten multiple compliments on my gray hair, so rest assured that there are people out there who will be supportive of your decision.

Alrighty, readers! Share your gray hair thoughts with us.

P.S. I have not made an irrevocable decision against dying my hair. It is possible that at some point, I will splurge and get the deep auburn red hair color I’ve always wanted to try.

But if I do that, it won’t be to cover my grays; it will be because that is a color I want to try for a bit. 😉

P.P.S. If you choose to dye your hair, please do not read this post as a judgment on your decision. If that’s your splurge and you love your reasons for dying your hair, that is a-ok! Your hair, your business. It’s all good. 🙂

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Molly H

Tuesday 14th of May 2024

I love this! The women in my family have all started going grey by age 30... I am nearly 25 so starting to think about whether I will dye it or not. I am leaning towards embracing it and growing it out. To look younger, I may end up dying the tips light pink or a fun color which is cool but does not require the upkeep that dyed roots require. We shall see, but I love seeing grey hair represented (especially among younger women such as Liz Kamarul, an interior designer


Monday 6th of May 2024

I quit dying my hair a couple years ago and now I am just letting the part that still has color grow out. My natural hair color is now a mixture of different shades. I have my husband trim my long hair every couple months and I still have a few inches on the bottom that was colored. I told him that he could cut off all the remaining color, but he said he likes it long, so it will probably be another year before all of the color is gone. My younger sister is still coloring her hair, she said that she would feel like an old biddy if she let her hair go gray. She is still working as a massage therapist and she feels like it makes her look younger.


Tuesday 30th of April 2024

Thank you for writing this blog post! It took me a while to read through all of the comments and it has totally made me feel so much better about my grays. I think finding the right stylist that can walk through this with you is helpful. I haven't found that yet, but I am on the lookout! Thank you for all of your wisdom and insight! Thankful for this sweet community!


Friday 26th of April 2024

As someone who is just starting to get her first gray hairs, this really inspired me! You reminded me: I remember telling my mom that I liked her gray hair when she was about 50 and dyeing it all the time, and she grew it out after that and gets so many compliments now. Her hair is super healthy and looks great! Setting aside my own thoughts on possibly dyeing at this point because I agree with all the things you and others in this thread have said :)

Susie Murphy

Sunday 21st of April 2024

Like you, I don't like the cost of dying and if it takes more than 15 minutes, I don't want to mess with it. I think it is a personal choice and I don't care what other folks think about my hair.

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