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Going Gray and Maintaining It-The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Since we have been sheltering in place and unable to get to the hairdresser, many of you have emailed me and asked about going gray. I am absolutely delighted to be joined by three uber- fashionable over 50 bloggers Vicki Archer, Beth Djalali from Style at a Certain Age, and Sandra Sallin from Apart from my Art. Collectively we decided to ditch the dye and embrace the gray and are excited to share our experiences. Gray is not for everyone, but for me, it has worked and I have never looked back.  Let’s talk about Going Gray and Maintaining It-The Good the Bad and the Ugly. I have written several posts about gray hair.  I have linked them below rather than make this post too long and lengthy.

going gray the good the bad and the ugly-and how to maintain it

My journey began almost ten years ago I think.  I had gotten to the point where I was coloring my hair (or needed to) about once a month.  My daughter came home one weekend and said “mom your hair looks like a “frazzled mess”. I knew it was time for a change.  Both my husband and my daughter had been encouraging me to give to go natural, my son and daughter in law were not so sure. I was concerned that if I didn’t like it, how could I go back? This is a picture taken at my daughter’s wedding in 2012.  My hair was still salt and pepper, short, and I looked a lot younger!

cindy hattersley at her daughter's wedding

If you decide to go gray, it has to be your decision.  It is helpful if your husband and your family are supportive. Don’t let your hairdresser tell you that your hair will not be a “pretty gray”. If she does find a new one! I had multiple hair stylists tell me that.  When I went back to my original hairdresser she supported me. 

cindy hattersley in her garden wearing cp shades

I did a detailed post on  Simple Tips to Going Gray and you can read the whole post here These tips may not work for everyone but they have worked for me.

three-tips-for-going-gray-gracefully cindy hattersley

You might think that once you quit coloring your hair you will save yourself a lot of money.  Well, that is not entirely true.  Gray hair is more porous and in my case more unruly. I go into more detail in this post How to Keep Your Gray Hair Looking Great

how to keep your gray hair looking great

When I went gray there were not a lot of products out there.  Now that gray has become more “de riguer” there are a lot more options available. I have tried a lot of products and I have switched my favorites up now and again. I am learning all the time.  I admit to being an “over researcher”.  If you want your hair to look it’s absolute best, spend some of the money you are saving on coloring for really good products.  I have found many that work the best have mostly natural ingredients and are the most expensive.   These are the products that work for me that I can’t do without.

Going Gray and Maintaining It the good the bad and the ugly


I am currently wearing my hair longer. I have to be honest I was reluctant to do so for fear it would make me look even older. I am anxious to hear Vicki’s recommendations because I think we have similar hair. My hair is naturally just wavy enough to be annoying. If I wear it short I can kind of let it go it’s own way on occasion.  Now that I am wearing it long, I have added a few tools and tricks to my regime.  If I am working from home, I wear my hair in a ponytail and do not wash it any more often than I have to. If I work in the garden I wear a hat. 

cindy hattersley gardening

I get a formaldehyde-free keratin treatment about every six months. My hairstylist recommended the SRI Salon Dry Pro HairdryerI find it works for my hair which is thick and coarse.  I try not to use a flat iron very often (it can yellow your hair) but when I do I have found the baby bliss nano works the best for my hair type. My stylist recommended that I use velcro rollers at the crown of my hair while I am blowdrying. They add volume and they help soften the look around your face if you wear your hair straight. These clips are the best for sectioning hair while blow drying.  This paddle brush is great for gray hair that gets a lot of static electricity (mine does).  I like this brush for general blow-drying. I have linked all of my favorites below.


I am dying to hear what works for Vicki, Sandra and Beth.


Vicki Archer

Beth Djalali

Sandra Sallin

Reader Interactions


  1. Barbara at Mantel and Table says

    What a great post Cindy! You look fabulous and your hair is just one of the many beautiful parts of the whole! 💗 My hair is just starting to turn and the texture is changing too, so I’m going to be trying some of your products, and watching this space like a hawk! 🙂 Thanks for the great info – take care out there!

  2. Lynne says

    First of all, this post speaks directly to me! I love the wealth of information you delivered! You are a gift to your readers! 💋

    You and I have similar hair. If I let mine go natural, it’s wavy, too! I have about two inches of salon color, (expertly blended to my natural platinum / grey color), remaining. Among of the positives I have looked to in this pandemic is the fact that I can go without a salon visit, and I will likely have Sarah cut the rest of the salon color off, by taking my hair to a short bob when I see her in late May or June.

    Thank you for this most informative and encouraging post!

    Stay safe!

  3. Barb says

    Okay, you’ve all convinced me. After 30+ years of dying my dark brown hair, I’m going for the gray! My roots are coming in mostly white, so I think it will be a pretty shade. I’m 63 and now a grandmother, so it’s time. I’m amazed at how artificial my dyed hair already looks next to the half-inch gray roots!

  4. cherie says

    Such an “on-point” topic right now — gray hair. With the Covid_19 situation and at 73 a divorce I didn’t want, I’ve decided (I think) this is as good a time as any to let my hair go to it’s natural state. I suspect a lot of white! My hair type, I believe, is very similar to yours so I will make note of all the products you use. I plan to get it chopped off to just a few inches. if I hate the look, I’ll wear a wig until it grows out! Remember the dolls whose hair could “grow” at the press of a button? I wish I were one of them right now. Gray be gone in minutes. I so enjoy your blog! It brings me back to my California roots and inspires me to do so many things around the house and yard and for myself. I’m wishing I had a yard full of bright orange California poppies right now! Instead I have palms in the back yard.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Cherie
      Oh boy do I remember those dolls. Only women our age would! I know an beautiful influencer that wears wigs all the time because her hair has gotten so thin. Those wigs are great looking now. I suspect you will look adorable with the short cut and will not need to worry!

  5. Jane says

    I am NOT going to say I love your color…I LOVE it, and your style and product choices. I love how you followed your own path. Finally I think you look gorgeous!
    I haven’t been to my stylist since late January-my next
    appointment was scheduled for mid March. Bad timing. My hair grows super fast so I am so, so bad at the roots and it’s going down about 2 inches. That said, I found I had very little gray–just a bit at my crown. I had very auburn har growing up, just like my mother. We were “almost redheads”, freckles included, so I have a lot of brassiness. Ugh. I’m not touching to–it needs a professional. I wear a lot of baseball caps in the limited time I get out!😘

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Jane
      I have been wondering how things are in Illinois. Will you be able to spend time at the lake this year? I wear baseball caps all the time because I am too lazy to wash my hair! Especially now. Thanks for sharing you always make me smile!


    Buongiorno Gentile Signora Cindy lei è semplicemente deliziosa. Anch’io faccio parte delle Signore… Sale e pepe ma vorrei essere completamente bianca. Scusi scrivo in italiano(vivo sono di Bologna città del centro Italia) perché parlo leggo Inglese ma lo scrivo pessimo e pieno di errori. Sono molto felice di avere scoperto il suo bloog. 🌼🌸🍀

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Welcome Dora from Bologna

      Thank you so much for joining us. I have Italian friends who live in Bergamo. Unfortunately I do not speak Italian, but I am so glad you are here! We love hearing you share your journey!!

  7. Jjames says

    Yay for grey!

    I just turned 60 and stopped getting tortured in the salon chair 4 years ago. So happy not to do that anymore. I’m about 50% Grey with white streaks in the front. I love being free from forking over so much money for something temporary. My wardrobe colors have had to change as I use to dye my hair with reddish tones, but that’s okay.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi J
      Love your comment about “the chair” So true about the wardrobe changes as well. Thanks for giving me a chuckle today!

  8. Karen B. says

    Your hair is beautiful, you have great hair. My husband started using the shampoo you recommended. His hair (obviously, much shorter) reminds me of the texture of your hair. I don’t have to color my hair yet, but I would consider trying going gray.
    Fun post, I’m sure there are several women thinking this the perfect time to go natural.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Karen

      We thought this post would be timely. I am glad the shampoo works for your husband. My hair definitely always errs to the brassy side. These products keep it in check. Hope your garden is looking beautiful. Have a great day!

  9. Cindy Hattersley says

    Hi Nan
    I am so jealous of anyone who can wear a pixie! If I hadn’t spent so many years in the sun maybe I could as well! I think those of us that have thick hair are lucky when going gray. Thanks so much for sharing your journey. Love hearing from all of you!

    • Nan says

      Last year I let my hair grow longer in lieu of going gray. I look YOUNGER now with the emerging silvery pixie layers accenting my green eyes and cheek bones! My only regret- not doing this sooner! You are gorgeous, Cindy! Love your hair style and color. Your garden is truly Eden. So grateful to discover your website!

  10. Nan says

    Thank you for creating this post today- so helpful for us Embracing the Gray! Now entering Week 10 of The Great Gray Transition… during social isolation, it helps not having an audience during this awkward hair period. After turning 67 at the start of this year and seeing how quickly the gray was showing after cut and color every 4 weeks in a chic pixie style, it was time to accept I was no longer natural brunette. With short hair, I see that I was already 95% gray, with the exception of the back nape area that is now very charcoal. Cleared out my closets and jewelry chest over the past 2 weeks… new wardrobe/makeup color palate is evolving! So exciting!

    Though blessed with thick healthy easily managed hair, to speed the graying I am shampooing with a clarifying shampoo every other day, no conditioner application, cutting my own hair every 3 weeks, and gardening in the sunshine sans hat. By July, the color transition should be complete. Not going to sugar coat it- the now light brown hair left on the crown and upper sides looks like a REALLY bad toupee plopped atop my head over the gray sides and back. A real boost came when a neighbor saw me outside gardening and yelled out, “I LOVE your hair! What stylist is working and giving such a rocking pixie cut now?!” 😉

  11. 1010ParkPlace says

    So happy you’re here with Vicki Archer and Sandy. I love them both so much. Grey hair looks great on other women, but I see my grandmother looking back at me in the mirror… especially this week as my roots are growing out. I’m tempted to mix a paste of dirt and water and spread mud on my roots! xoxox, Brenda

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      I know what you mean about your grandmother. I saw my mom when I first started going gray. Ironically my hair was grayer than hers when she passed at 87!

  12. Gray says

    Hi Cindy! I have just found your blog and love it. I am also Gray (in more ways than one). Well, actually I’m white. Anyway – I wear my hair similarly to you and I do feel it makes us appear younger. I started finding gray hairs when I was around 30 and started coloring it at 33! I am lucky in that I have very thick, smooth, straight hair.
    Love this post and enjoyed finding you and subscribing! We have gardening and interior projects in common as well. I owned a little shop in Richmond, VA for 10 years called Posh. My two partners were designers, very much like you! Look forward to reading what you have to say in the future.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Gray
      Welcome! I am so glad you found me. It sounds like we can become fast friends. And I adore your name!

  13. Sharon says

    Hi Cindy, as usual you have great suggestions! I “accidentally” let my hair go natural years ago. I used to get highlights every couple of months. While I was renovating a house I didn’t go to the hairdresser for months and let my hair grow longer from a short haircut.. Once I got back to her she told me my roots were white and to let it grow out more so now I have white blonde hair. I do miss the highlights as they gave my hair more body but now I use product instead. I loved your suggestions for the rollers and brushes!

    I love your hair color and the length is perfect on you. I too think you look younger than the wedding photo!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Wow thank you! You are always so supportive and offer such insight Sharon. Maybe I don’t need a facelift after all…My hair was almost totally white when I finally gave up the color. No wonder I was waltzing into the salon so often!

  14. Sandra Sallin - Apart From My art says

    Thank you for including me in the grey brigade. It’s interesting how different all of our grey hair is. Boy if we don’t spend money on hair dye we certainly spend it on products. Now I hate to tell you but you look even better now than at your daughters wedding. I love your long grey hair. It looks like it’s in such great condition. Love the style also. But then again I love your sense of style. Be it from your hair to your houser to your blog. You have great style lady. You’re also just a delight. I’ll be trying some of your product picks also. Thanks again for including me.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Sandra the feeling is mutual you know! I want your bracelets, your pins, your art…let’s see is there anything else I could grab? I have always felt the one decent trait I had was my hair. It is coarse and a bit unruly though…keratin keeps it in bounds!

  15. Rosemarie says

    I used to get highlights (for about 10 years) in my brown hair then stopped when I turned 70 – just over a 1 1/2 yrs ago. I LOVE my grey hair – get compliments – some people think I’ve put streaks in my hair. No it’s all natural.
    I searched on the internet the “best” shampoos for grey hair recommended by top hair stylists. Went to the hair product store and bought one of the shampoos. Oh my gawd – what a mess – my hair was now almost brown/black. Went back – got a different clerk – oh yes that does happen – not a shampoo that she would recommend! So I went back to my “regular” shampoo. My hair now which was always coarse and thick was now feeling really thin. While we were on Salt Spring Island in November I bought the Salt Spring Island Soap Company’s calendula chamomile shampoo bar. I’m really pleased with it. Hair now feels thick and soft.
    I’m happy with self isolation as my hair is growing and I’m not getting frustrated with the process! Eventually when things are lifted I will go to the salon and have a trim/style etc. I don’t use anything else on my hair and just blow dry it. Wash it at the most 2x a week.
    I LOVE your grey and style = beautiful!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Rosemarie

      I am so glad you found a product you are happy with and thank you for sharing. There were hardly any options when I first went gray. I have tried many! My gray hair tends toward the yellow so I have to use a “purple” shampoo. I agree with not washing your hair more than twice a week if you can. Have a great day!!

  16. Rebecca says

    Hi Cindy. Your hair is beautiful. I love it and wish mine would go grey. I doubt that it will as my mother’s hair only had a few grey hairs in her mid 80’s. I think you look younger also. My hair has grown during lockdown and I’m liking it much better and won’t go short, short again. Thanks for the great blog. Best wishes.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Rebecca
      Interestingly enough my hair was “grayer” at my age than my mother’s was when she died at 87. Thank you so much for weighing in. We all enjoy your comments.

  17. Carolyn says

    Hi Cindy…Your hair is just beautiful Emmylou Harris hair. Yes, I do worry mine will be ugly gray. Timeline…2010 decided to take leap…2012 natural salt and pepper at wedding? What color was your younger hair and do you have any pictures? Beth has shown us her younger color. My hair is dark like the Contessas and the contrast is hard.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Carolyn

      These comments are so much fun. My hair was the same color as Elizabeth’s (the Contessa). I will dig up an old picture. If you check out my linked posts above. My stylists did low lights and hi lights. It wasn’t that bad. Hang in there!!

  18. LA CONTESSA says

    I am not a PRODUCT GAL NEVER HAVE BEEN but NOW its time as the HAIR feels horrible and has NO BODY!WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR ME AS YOU KNOW ME and have seen my hair in person?
    THAT first photo of the back of your head is DEVINE!I LOVE YOUR HAIR LIKE THAT!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Eliz whatever you are doing keep doing it. Your hair is gorgeous! It is so interesting that you all like my hair longer. I guess I better keep it that way!!

  19. Judy says

    I LOVE your hair! I agree with the other comments , that you look younger today then you did in the wedding photo.
    I started to let mine go natural gray a couple years ago. I had this really pretty patch of gray on one side that my stylist kept looking at and saying…I think you’d have really gorgeous gray hair. She was right. I actually have multi gray shades that go from medium gray to almost white. I’ve had friends ask who’s doing my hair, because they love the high and low lights that I’m getting…haha…it’s all me! I do wear it rather short, which seems to help with any fuzzing that comes along with natural gray. I wish I had gone natural gray sooner.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Judy

      Loved hearing your story, and thanks for the kind words. I think I mentioned in one of my posts that when I first went gray I got more compliments from men than women and many were young. I think we have this stigma about gray hair that we bring upon ourselves. I am so happy to hear you wear yours with pride.

  20. Marcia RAYNE says

    Cindy, does an oil treatment make your hair yellow and Is the yellow permanent?
    I have been wanting to go gray but it is still mousy brown so I keep highlighting it. I do think I had a small amount of gray near my ears because my hair is coarse and wonky there.
    Because my hair closely resembles a broom head, I use a Matrix product called Total Results Smoothing Oil which has really improved it a lot. So much that people have asked what did I use on my hair. Sigh, I never thought I would wish my hair was gray!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Marcia

      Someone else mentioned that keratin treatments yellow your hair. My hair tends to yellow (as you can tell from the closeup picture) anyway. I could probably use a purple shampoo everyday and my hair would not turn blue! Thank you for your Matrix suggestion, I hope it will help some of our readers out.

  21. Joanna says

    Cindy, I loved your hair curly. It’s so cute on you!
    I’m a blonde who’s hair has gone a mousy brown with a sprinkling of white. I keep getting highlights as it brings my hair alive. Once my hair is white, I will stop with the highlights and let it go as natural. But it’s not there yet. Once we are released, I will be in the salon chair, getting a trim & highlights with a big smile on my face.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Joanna
      That is exactly the process I took, highlights and lowlights. Good Luck with your journey!!

  22. classic casual home says

    You always give the best advice, Cindy. I just sent this to my sister. My hair stylist says I’m just 10% grey (at the temples) so it may be a year or two away. Such a great group of admirable ladies.
    Mary Ann

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      They are a great group aren’t they? Your sister’s hair sure is gorgeous! She is going to be one of my victims soon! You look so cute just the way you are. You look like a teenager!!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Vicki

      Thank you so much for joining us. I absolutely agree with you, this was a blast!! You ladies rock!

  23. Charli says

    I admire anyone who can stop dying their hair and just let it grow out! YIKES. Nothing is uglier.
    Here’s what I did…..I shaved my head! Well…. it wasn’t quite that easy. Chemo caused the great fallout…. As soon as the great fallout began (24 hours after first chemo treatment) I visited the local barber. I wear my hair VERY short, so shaving my head was not that big a leap…other than driving home having breast cancer…..Anyway…..I LOVED MY SHAVED HEAD. My “grey” is platinum and so much more beautiful than dyed hair. In truth, I had been talking about shaving my head to make going grey easier…..

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Charli
      My sister in law is the one that inspired me to go gray. She too went through chemo and her hair came back in the most beautiful silver you can imagine. She looked 10 years younger. I am not so sure that happened to me but I am so glad I did it and have never looked back for a second. Thank you so much for sharing and stay healthy!


  24. home before dark says

    I think you look fab—way younger and happier than the “younger you”—so what ever you are doing keep doing it. One of my favorite garden writers, the late Henry Mitchell, said about gardening “find out what works well in your garden and plant more of it.” I think it can be applied to most things. I felt about hair coloring the way I felt about HRT: good for some, but not for me. My hair is white now. I miss my younger hair, a vibrant chestnut with gold highlights, but my white hair is hair to stay. I applaud all of you ladies and you are my heroes for keeping your hair longer. Pixie for me or it looks and feels like a brillo soap pad.

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Patricia
      My hair is kinda like a brillo soap pad as well. It has been described as horsehair as well. If I didn’t have a keratin treatment it would run wild!!

  25. kim says

    Cindy, I adore your hair and I think you look younger now than in the wedding photo. You are lucky to have thick straight hair which makes grey hair look chic! My mom had that hair too. I think this is such a fun post and I am going to share it on my Facebook page as a lot of people may be thinking of this now. I haven’t highlighted mine in 10 weeks and I am letting it all grow into see how it looks. I don’t think I have as much grey as my mom had. but it is a nice time to see and if doing this is an option. You all are beautiful and chic and we need more role models like you ladies !! xo Kim P.S. I told Max the other night that Jane Goodall is my style icon. She hasn’t changes a thing in all her years and still look fab in her little grey ponytail!

    • Cindy Hattersley says

      Hi Kim
      Actually my hair is not straight. I have to force it that way. Little Summer’s hair looks like mine as a child. My hair is naturally wavy…just enough to be annoying. My mother and sister both had beautiful natural curls. I got the unruly waves.

  26. Jennifer ConnollY says

    I love your gray hair! I’m heading that direction, unintentionally. I have thin, flat hair so my highlights help give it body. I’m not hopeful mine will look very nice gray, but we shall see!

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