It’s two years now since I had my hair dyed. It was October 2016 when I last had my roots  coloured, and I look at past photos (here’s one taken a few years ago) and I think, gosh, that was a bit yellow and artificial. Not that I thought that at the time. Indeed, I resisted what I saw as the ‘white hair police’; the ever-so-correct types that were promulgating going ‘au naturel’. I really thought my skin colour wouldn’t suit grey or white because skin loses pigment and you get paler and paler as you age and that certainly has happened to me.  Also I felt very strongly that it was an individual thing to go grey, so don’t you tell me what to do. And I still feel that – you do what’s best for you and your face and don’t listen to me or what the fashion mags and young journalists say.

But I got a slight reaction to the dye on my eyebrows and thought I really ought to give the hair colouring a rest.  And a few weeks passed, then a few months and the white growing through didn’t seem to be that obvious. Also, I seemed to luckily have a white streak at the front.

There were occasions when I could see my hair was a bit odd-looking and was really half and half.

But I didn’t cut it short – that short hair style is not for me at this stage in my life.  If there’s one thing I want to avoid as I move further into my 70s is that short-haired bob with a fringe that so many have. I mean, again, please don’t listen to me but personally I don’t want that look.

I do know that I’m lucky because I have that red hair gene and consequently there’s still a lot of thick hair on my head. Those curls in the pic below aren’t natural, btw, that was a perm, but the colour? It changed with the weather and seasons. The pic must have been taken in the winter as it got blonder in the summer and the colour is a bit enhanced with a flash, I think. .

I bless my Scottish mother for the red hair, although as you know (I’ve written about this before and will again) there is a penalty for this in that I have hair everywhere else including my face. I mean if I leave the hair on my legs and don’t get a regular wax, I look as though I’m covered with fur, still, at over 70 (!) and I am not exaggerating.

Anyway, the dyed hair is now almost gone and the white hair look is nearly complete. Here are two selfies, which I don’t like taking all that much as they’re so revealing of your true looks! No filters here!

And a softer version

And a very soft focus pic below taken yesterday (in poor light) just before I went out to get the hair trimmed. I was wearing another Urban Outfitters item, a grey cotton trench (£24 on a sale rack) with my old charity shop scarf. Can’t wait for the colder weather so I can start wearing my hats!

And here’s what I’ve learnt about the growing-out process.

The growing-out process The most positive thing about growing out your hair is that you are going to save so much money. I spent a fortune on colouring my hair, so you might think, wow, Penny has so much more in her pocket – unfortunately I seem to be spending the saving on my teeth (which I may write about one day).

But note, the whole process has taken two years and there’s still a bit of the old dyed hair there. It will take 3 years in total, says my hairdresser. Logically, you could shorten this amount of time if you cut your hair quite short.

The challenges For those of you who are already blonde, going white or grey does not present a problem – there is little contrast between the white and the blonde.  But there is a challenge for those of you who have darker hair. I’d say make friends with your hairdresser and talk about toning down the dark colour or getting streaks and highlights. Going a bit lighter, with or without highlights, will help you adjust to the greying of your hair. Then you can really tell if it suits your skin pigment, if it doesn’t then hey ho, carry on with the dye.

Condition is everything I asked my hairdresser what we have to do with our hair as we age, and his reply? Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! Your hair becomes dryer as you age so use products that will help.  Btw, I have stopped using hair spray and in the summer don’t even use a hair dryer, letting my hair dry in the air. Anything to preserve the hair shaft and not dry it out.

The hair products that will help This is a very individual thing and everyone will have their own favourite products that they have used for years. However, I’ve always used quite expensive products that can only be bought online or at certain hairdressers. I don’t stint on my hair. These products are by Paul Mitchell and I always notice a difference to the quality of my hair if I run out of the Paul Mitchell shampoo (I use Shampoo no 1) or conditioner (I use Detangler) or their sculpting mousse (I use Supersculpt)

The essential product Those are the 3 products I always use.  And then there’s one more product I also put on my hair, which my hairdresser says is an essential – it is a serum. My hairdresser says it doesn’t matter if you spend 50p, £5, or £15, just use a serum. I buy L’Oreal Elive Extraordinary Oil (£6.66 at Superdrug) and it’s put on after your hair is washed and dried – and especially if you blow dry.  Btw, one of the reasons I don’t use hair spray is that the Supersculpt mousse is sufficient.

Those white hair products Gosh there’s no shortage of products for white hair and no shortage of advice.  But there are things you need to know.  You need these products because white hair shows the dirt and picks up pollutants more than your original colour did, and can therefore go ‘brassy and dull. But a too strong white hair product will turn your hair purple but, hey, no worries, it washes out.  Anyway, I use White Hot Hair products which have never turned me purple (!) and are bought online. I use Glorious Shampoo, which is gentle and can be used every day and the White Hot Hair conditioner Luminous Conditioner. But. Not together. I use Glorious Shampoo with my Paul Mitchell Detangler conditioner, and then 4-5 days later the Paul Mitchell Shampoo with Luminous Conditioner.

Now you could say what a faff. And, how expensive. But people, my hair is in excellent condition – it shines, it’s sleek, it has made the white/grey colour look lovely – so job done I think.

If possible…. And continuing the idea of maximising the condition of your hair, do you use a hair straightener or curler?  At one point I tinkered with the idea of buying an electric curler but decided not – that really was too much faffing. But if you do use these, I wonder if you’d consider taking a break? White Hot Hair suggests there are alternative ways of blow drying that will straighten hair, and if you can avoid these, the hair on your head will be grateful.

My last point is that you might say, you’re lucky with that head of hair, what about the other thing that happens as you age – thinning hair.  Well, that I can’t write about from experience but I want to direct you to a friend across the pond who blogs about her lack of hair – and her wigs. Honestly, Catherine of Atypical60 is such a hoot, but such a role model too, and her wigs are just amazing. Another person who has begun wearing a wig or two is Terri of MeadowTreeStyle. Her wig-wearing, one of which is totally stunning, is featured more on Instagram  – do have a look at her.

Well, I’m sure there’s more that could be said on going white, and hair generally – see my last point – but remember, only you will know when the time is right to go white.  But what do you think? I know that I often learn from you as the tip about alternating the white hair products with your ordinary products came from one of you, and for that many thanks as it worked for me    🙂

That’s all for now

With love

Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper






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30 thoughts on “The thing about white hair

  • 9th October 2018 at 11:47 am

    You always look charming and elegant. There was one thing that really shocked me yesterday and that was a documentary by Stacey Dooley called fashions dirty secret. I never knew that fashion was the second most environmentally damaging thing on this earth. It was absolutely shocking. Stacey went to the Largest inland sea, it is now a pond as the water has been used for growing cotton, and also to the Philippines with tons of toxic dies which include heavy metals like mercury and cadmium are discharged direct to rivers. This water is used for cooking and irrigation. The increase in skin trouble and cancers has risen. So we can all help by not purchasing as much.

    • 10th October 2018 at 7:34 am

      Prompted by you we watched the documentary last night – it was shocking and therefore so good. I’ve seen a similar doc a few years back and I’ve read most of what Lucy Siegle has written. But I’ve been slipping as, since I moved to Brighton, I have bought more new items albeit usually reduced and/or on sale. The documentary has cured me of wandering around the new Zara with, I’m sorry to say, my mouth watering. I haven’t bought anything though and now I definitely won’t. Will write about this shortly. It’s a disgraceful situation.

  • 9th October 2018 at 12:07 pm

    You look marvellous Hun, love the hair colour and your previous was striking! I’m having my hair coloured every six weeks and will carry on doing so for the foreseeable future, I’m just not ready to embrace grey just yet! Jacqui Mummabstylish

    • 10th October 2018 at 7:37 am

      Actually, I am glad not to be caught up in that 6-week routine (which I was) but you carry on, because definitely only you will know when the time is right, Jacqui, and for me I certainly took my time!

  • 9th October 2018 at 12:41 pm

    I love your hair Penny, and so envy it’s thickness. I slowly changed my hair colour from dyed auburn to my natural colour with highlight’s and low lights, which has cut down on my visits to the hair salon, from every three weeks to every three months. I’m now taking a hormone inhibitor after my mastectomy, and am noticing that my hair is changing in texture, it’s thinning, and my skin is drying out, so the money I’m saving by not going to the hairdresser is being spent on my skin. I do think that as we get older, it’s important to really take more care of our hair and skin. I can’t just get up and ‘go’ anymore. Our winters here in Canada are really hard, and our homes are overheated and dry, so unless I’m vigilant, by April, my skin feels like an alligator! Looking forward to seeing your hats again.

    • 10th October 2018 at 7:46 am

      Hello Geri and yes what a saving it is to cut down those visits to the hairdresser – I was on a 6-week colouring routine and am glad that’s over. But the skin, oh yes, honestly unlike you I have nothing much going on apart from some very minor things, but my skin seems to have deteriorated in the last few months. And it’s partly due to (very low-level) stress and then a couple of minor conditions that have popped up, but also there was that glorious sun we’ve had which is not the usual weather in the UK and as nice as sun is, and as weak as it is in the UK, sun is damaging. So, I aim to have a consultation at my beauticians shortly and get some really good moisturisers.

      Wore a hat yesterday!!!

  • 9th October 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Having been a brunette colouring every 6 weeks, going grey was a challenge, especially as I was determined not to cut my hair short. I started by applying a colour stripper which did the job but it did look rather brassy so I toned it down with non permanent grey to get past the badger stage. Eventually the colour blended and began to look more natural. My biggest mistake was asking my hairdresser for highlights and she proceeded to put brown back in- despite having made it abundantly clear I didn’t want to go darker. Disaster! It put me back a year and I had to start again. Some hairdressers just don’t get the grey thing at all. So be very sure you trust your hairdresser before letting them loose on your silver locks. Now I’m well on my way to total grey and silver again and definitely no more hair dye. It’s a long process but definitely worth the wait for healthy looking shiny silver hair. It’s the most happy I’ve ever been with my
    hair. After a lifetime of frizz I use a combination of white hair and moisture giving products and serum washing only twice a week instead of every day now. You will know if and when going grey is right for you but the most important thing is to be comfortable with the way you look and not be swayed by other people’s opinions.

    • 11th October 2018 at 7:52 am

      We think alike Pamela and have had similar incidents around discussions (!) with hairdressers. Mine now understands what I want from my hair, which is no more dyeing. And definitely it is up to us to know when to go grey – it is such a major decision. And also your original colour makes it a much harder process than the one I’m going through. Well done to both of us, I think!

  • 9th October 2018 at 4:27 pm

    Your hair is looking lovely, Penny. I can’t wait for mine to go white – I’m still at the silver grey stage. My hairdresser says it takes about 10 years from going grey to going white…My daughter uses the Paul Mitchell products and swears by them.

    I use the Provoke shampoo and conditioner for grey/white hair – cheap and cheerful; straightening cream after washing and conditioning from Savers 1.00 per tube and Argan oil as serum, 1.00 from Savers, too. I get it cut monthly and rarely use a hair dryer.

    Hope you’re enjoying our lovely Indian summer weather…

    • 11th October 2018 at 7:57 am

      Hi Veronica, and yes, I am enjoying the weather up to a point as I see this warm weather as yet another sign of this over-heated earth – actually I’m looking forward to the colder weather and wearing winter woollies! And hats!

      Thanks for the tips on your products as I could go cheaper with the serum – I don’t have a Saver nearby but I could definitely go into Superdrug and will next time I’m passing .

      Have a good week xxx

  • 9th October 2018 at 4:33 pm

    You’re a fabulous advert for going au naturelle. Your hair is in great condition thanks to those quality products, and the colour suits your skin tone. Plus you’ve chosen a non-ageing style. Those short bobs with fringes – and I see them all the time in the daytime gym – add years on! I’d like to think about going grey, my mum did at 54 because she was allergic to dye then, and her hair is pure white and looks lovely. But I still get a lot of dark regrowth so maybe need to wait a while.

    • 11th October 2018 at 8:03 am

      I think your hair colour is absolutely right for you and looks very good. I mean I was 70 when I made up my mind (!!!) so you’ve got many years of colouring ahead I think. When you do decide note how long it takes – it’s such a lengthy process so you’ve got to be 100% sure. The hair style I’ve got is very me, but I have to be aware that not everyone wants to do that.

      Have a lovely rest of the week x

  • 9th October 2018 at 6:52 pm

    Hi Penny,
    Loving your hair! It’s a really big decision isn’t it? I’m still colouring and not sure if I’m brave enough yet for the natural look, if I could be sure that it would be a good colour I might chance it but I wouldn’t like pepper and salt. I see a woman at a cafe where we go for lunch whose hair is a spectacular silver, she wears bright red lipstick and looks great, one day I’ll pluck up the courage to tell her how fabulous she looks
    I have been growing mine for about two years now and although at times it has looked dreadful I’m pleased now that I held out. I’ve always had wavy hair and hated it when young and everyone else seemed to look like Marianne Faithful! My lovely hairdresser has helped me to persevere and promised that my hair would ‘learn’ to be straight so now I have the hair I always wanted. I bought a Dyson hairdryer which helps a lot, I’ve never had a decent dryer before so this is a real treat, I just run my fingers through it and it takes just 5 minutes.
    It’s wonderful to escape the tyranny of having to wash it every single day and I wish I’d grown it years ago, much easier to deal with and great for getting out to work quickly, I like to wear it very softly taken up by combs.
    I was interested to hear about serum, I always thought that they would flatten my hair but I think I should try one.
    Sarah’s post has shocked me. I didn’t see the programme but as someone who always tries to buy cotton as apposed to synthetics I wonder if I’m doing the right thing.
    Very interesting post, thank you.
    Chrissie W.

    • 11th October 2018 at 9:52 am

      A Dyson hairdryer – oh, yes, but haven’t got one yet though. And as I don’t blow dry my hair throughout the summer I have to think would the cost outweigh its usefulness probably! The colouring business/going grey is such an individual decision and I think you’ll know when the time is right.

      Re: serum, if you have dry(ish) hair which a lot of us do as we age and especially as our hair goes grey and then is coloured on top of that serum is wonderful. And I continue to use it now. But again look at your hair and, if there’s that fly-away, dry look hair then use it, but if it gets greasy then no. Btw, you only use a tiny couple of drops – so it lasts a long time and doesn’t cost a lot either.

      I’ll be writing about that documentary (you can get it on iPlayer) and the business of cotton in particular which is so very very problematic very soon.

  • 9th October 2018 at 7:08 pm

    Penny, my husband reckons we share more or less the same hair colour but I reckon mine couldn’t cope with a serum. I truly believe my mane, a tad longer than yours, would be greasy by the second day. My preferred shampoo is Pro-voke, a very purple shade of gloop!, but I temper it with mixing it with clear or white shampoo and leave it on to work its magic while showering. Then, a run-through with conditioner – not a lot – and I’m done. I always air-dry and brush either with a Tangle Teezer (no handle) or a Tangle-Tamer (with handle). Both good.

    As I like to change shampoos now and then I shall look out for your choices and give them a whirl, but as for using a serum, I dunno…

    • 12th October 2018 at 7:20 am

      Ah ha, you’re the second person to say they use Pro-voke so I’ll look out for that one, but am very happy with White Hot Hair plus the Paul Mitchell. It’s so individual and very much about knowing your hair. As I say above, if you’ve got that fly-away look after drying your hair then serum is so good. But you need to use it very very sparingly just a few drops on the palm of your hand and then onto the hair. But if you think your hair would go greasy, then no, don’t use it.

      Just had a trim, but not too much, for the split ends.

  • 9th October 2018 at 7:54 pm

    I loved your hair when we met. It’s very thick and it suits you perfectly! And what about that trench? Wow! Love it.

    • 12th October 2018 at 7:26 am

      Ah, thank you Nancy, and yes, that trench is so good. I love it too!

  • 9th October 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Your hair looks fabulous and is a tribute to all the good care you take of it. I am so with you on this as our hair and skin do need more maintenance as we age but it’s so worth it. I have naturally curly hair and since retiring I have let it grow longer as well as let it do it’s own thing but for me moisturizer has been the secret to keeping it looking good. I do use a silver shampoo about once a week to stop it looking yellow.

    • 12th October 2018 at 7:30 am

      Thank you so much – about the hair! Yes, I’m careful and frugal about the clothes I buy, but like you, I don’t stint on my skin and hair care, that’s where the money goes! But it is so worth it. Thank you again for your comment

  • 10th October 2018 at 2:28 am

    Penny, you look wonderful! Bravo! I have a friend who quit dying her hair a brass-y red from her youth and allowed her natural gray to grow in. She looks ten years younger! She no longer has that harsh contrast between her hair color and complexion. I have two other friends, mother and daughter, who quit doing the blonde highlights (no more chemicals) in their long hair and have a darker blonde color. To me, their blue eyes and darker eyebrows are now more outstanding!
    I never really dyed my Asian black hair except for a brief rebellion after high school when I had a friend “lighten” it. It was the late 60’s. Note to self: Asian hair does not “lighten”. :). It was a horrid red, dry, frizzed mess. Today, I have found a hairstylist not intimidated by the volume of my hair and has kept me in a cute pixie, spiky, cut that follows my natural growth pattern. He has taught me to use product to get the spiky tips and texture that keeps the cut current. He says I’m lucky in that I have natural highlights…my gray/white hair. Ha! There’s a streak right across the front which works perfect. The rest is salt/pepper. Again, the cut and styling makes all the difference in how my white/gray hair is perceived. I do love it.
    Love this topic and, like you, feel that each woman must find what works for her. Let us support each other in our choices and, when possible, compliment one another! It could brighten the day and spread a little sunshine. 🙂

    • 12th October 2018 at 7:34 am

      It is good that streak of white at the front. Bet you ‘highlights’ look good. And yes, it is good to support each other as we age and change and make choices about our looks. It’s good to hear about each other’s experiences and say – you go for it! Thank you Charlene – have a good weekend.

  • 11th October 2018 at 6:24 am

    I so enjoyed hearing about your journey to embracing your silver. Your hair always looks lovely and so well cared for , it always is worth spending a little more for better quality products I find too. I have just started growing out my colour and will be interested to see what colour emerges, I think it will be a bit salt and pepper.
    I had to laugh at your reference to bobs and fringes , this is me and has been off and on for years as it always suits me best, to each her own.
    Enjoy your Autumn days, Penny.

    • 11th October 2018 at 8:21 am

      Hello Jill, I look forward to seeing your journey through the process. And yes, I’m always keen to keep the condition up – it is worth it. Btw, I do apologise for that reference to the length of hair as that decision of mine to keep my hair long(ish) is just an individual decision. Because that hair style you have is absolutely you. What I notice though is this: in my new abode (which is for people over 55 but in reality has much older people – we are perhaps the youngest here) the really much older have either the very, very short cut and/or a tight perm, the ones nearer my age have the short fringed bob, and my contemporaries and friends (not living here) who’ve all either had their 70th birthday or coming up soon, some of these have quite long hair. So are the post-war baby boomer going to be different as we become very old? I’m really hoping to live long enough to see what we look like when we’re 80 and 90+ It will be fascinating!!!

  • 11th October 2018 at 1:48 pm

    I’m the same age as you Penny and though I have moved house around the UK several times in my life, the one thing I search for straight away is a good hairdresser. Once you have that and you get to know each other then it all becomes a lot simpler. As you say, colour, length and style of hair is a very personal choice, but the honest advise of a good hairdresser is to be cherished.

    • 12th October 2018 at 7:36 am

      Hello April – it’s good to hear from you. Yes, I so agree, the hairdresser is a very important person in one’s life!

  • 13th October 2018 at 3:22 am

    Thanks for sharing your post at the Top of the World Style linkup party. I’d never thought you were a red head. I thought you’d been a sandy blonde as it would be called here in the US.

  • 16th October 2018 at 2:37 pm

    You mentioned skin tone fading. That is my problem. I’ve gone grey in the past but the last few years I’ve dyed my short hair dark brown. Now I’m considering going back to grey, which is actually white at this point. But what about the skin tone? Some just say “wear more makeup” but I don’t like piling on make up. I do wear eye brow pencil as it really helps (my brows are very fair). I’m also on regular medication that has thinned out my hair and I’m not sure that will ever repair itself.

    • 18th October 2018 at 8:29 am

      Hello Betsy
      Yes, that skin tone gets paler and paler as we age, but I think we can look both pale and interesting, and you’ve prompted to write about this, and big thanks for that. You already know that the eyebrows are key to framing our face so that’s a plus.

      I do hope you’ve gone on to Atypical60’s website as she’s such role model for thinning hair. Here’s the link again

      It’s a long process going white/grey – very best of luck with it 🙂

  • 21st October 2018 at 1:16 pm

    My hair started going grey in my mid twenties and I stopped dyeing it at 49. I had the colour stripped out and found that the resultant pale blond grew out without any problem. It has been white for years – now 66 – and all hairdressers I’ve had say never to colour it again. I dyed it for about 15 years as I went back to education at 35 when my hair was at the silver threads stage.
    My hair suits me better quite short although I had the ‘bob’ look for quite a while. What I don’t want is the no-nonsense short cut with no style. You often find this goes with ladies who don’t wear make-up or colourful clothes, which is of course their absolute right.
    I’ve never spent a lot on make-up or beauty products, I think I’ve inherited good skin and as it’s dry I’ve always used moisturisers just to feel comfortable. I think I’ve only ever has one facial ever and I’m unconvinced that it will make a difference now. I do my own nails, which people often admire, I’m just not interested in being ‘pampered’ – I’ll leave that to pets!

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