I have Grey Hair and Ditched the Dye

By Mel - 10 min read

For every woman out there….there is another way!

I have Grey Hair and Ditched the Dye. I’d love to share with how my journey to grey hair transpired.  I’ll tell you it was positive but wasn’t always easy.  It was one of the best decisions I have made for myself but rarely does anything good come easily and this was true in my transition story. I do love to encourage other women to explore this option, because it is quite likely, a decision that will not be regretted.

The difficulty is putting into words the personal journey upon making that decision.  Quite often, what the decision signals is that a cycle has been broken and freedom from old outdated beliefs ensues! Despite the hesitation, fear and possible internal questioning, it is quite often the catalyst to further change. One of which is self acceptance.

Let me share with you my journey since I made the decision in 2016, now 4 1/2 years later.

Just before my 40th birthday, I had been repairing some fairly horrendous damage I had inflicted on my hair. I had damaged it by way of bleaching!  I had dyed my hair all of my adult life. It was just becoming more and more a necessity to chase the roots that were coming in very fast.    Hence the decision I made back in 2015 to go completely blonde (I was naturally dark brown.)

My hair was unmistakably going grey underneath the dye.  The roots were very white at the temples with a dark streak at the front.  I always joked that if I let my hair go grey, then I would look like Cruella De Ville!  Not really the look I was into!

Prior to my 40th birthday

Prior to my 40th birthday, I spent time working out how to repair the damage caused by bleaching my hair. Also trying hard to accept and manage my very wavy, thick coarse hair.  You see, I had always straightened it!  Even before straighteners were ‘a thing’, I would get my friends to iron my hair for me with an iron… yes the type you iron your clothes with.  It makes me shudder to this day.  

That is the lengths I went to to cover up my hair texture.  This was a time when I wanted to be everything that I would never be.  How I wish I could go back and talk to my younger self about self love and acceptance.  This went on for years and well into my adult life.  An intense self loathing that I covered up with keeping busy and distractions!

Progress happened when I embraced the fact that I had Grey Hair..and lead me to Ditch the Dye for good.

After 18 months or so since the bleaching episode, I was now dying my hair dark brown (my natural colour). I was also mostly wearing my hair with its natural texture.  Not loving it exactly, but I was accepting it and embracing what I was learning from others online about my hair texture.

Unknowingly, I was making progress on my self development. Beginning to find some self acceptance and kindness towards myself, but I still had a long way to go.

By my 40th birthday, I had my hair sitting at a long bob. I was having it dyed dark brown every month at the hairdressers with weekly box dye ‘touch ups’.  Despite the fact that my hair wasn’t in perfect condition, it was now mostly damage free after the bleaching episode.

The weekly ‘touch ups’ inevitably resulted in a severe colour that did nothing for my pale complexion.  It is no coincidence that I was suffering from skin disruptions. I had unexplained spots under my skin on one side of my cheek, and severe acne around my jawline.  Thankfully my skin is in good condition now that I know longer use hair dye.

Self Loathing to Self Acceptance happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.

At this point in my journey, I actually hated my hair (and myself if I am honest). Even though I was starting to embrace and learning to manage my natural texture!! I just never felt good and I really didn’t think there was any other option.  But was there?

Discovering a world beyond the stigma

Over the years, I had coloured my hair, bleached it and highlighted it. Now nothing was covering up my roots for long!!!  In fact this cycle had been going on since my 20’s with it progressively getting more and more noticeable.  It stands to reason, why, at this point, being completely and utterly fed up with myself, I turned to Pinterest.  I searched up ‘Women with Natural grey hair and as I started, a whole new world opened up!

There were no women with ‘granny’ hair colours and styles. On the contrary.  There were women beaming with natural beauty of all ages from 20’s to 70’s, happy, healthy and rocking long silver and grey hair in all different tones and styles and they ALL looked beautiful.  I loved the authenticity of it.  No one had a uniform hair colour…every woman had their own shade of grey and were absolutely owning it!! That was, right there, the beginning of the end of dyeing my hair.

The beginning of the end….

So back to January 2016 when I turned 40, I was still dyeing my hair!  However, in the following month- in February- my husband and I went on holiday to Barbados. Of course I bought some box dye with me.  We were there for a week and on the last day, I dyed my hair just before we left for the airport. 

Due to being hurried and bad lighting, I ended up with a dark rim around my hairline. I told my husband at the airport and said to him that I was going to stop dyeing my hair.  He looked at me as if he didn’t believe me.  However it was true, I never dyed my hair again.  I went to the hairdresser on our return and asked her to help me transition to my natural colour.

A trip to the hairdresser with a difference….

My hairdresser at that time was amazing. She helped me transition by suggesting a series of a full head of highlights to break up the dye.  Every month for the next 3 months, I had highlights put in. By the end of that time I had much lighter hair and I transitioned from that point.  By Easter 2016, I never went back to the hairdresser again for a ‘colour’. That was over 4 years ago at the time of this writing.

During the transition I did have my ups and downs, especially in the early months.  I decided to get a short bob soon after the last lot of highlights and I hated it!!  However I got over it, picked myself up and carried on. I did feel self conscious for quite some time.  However, what I found was that my ‘going grey’ journey intrigued people. I had people asking questions and I was sharing my decision with not just friends, but also with stangers.  I found women and men encouraging and complimentary, which is not something I expected.

Day by day, month by month, and after every hair cut, I got closer to having completely natural hair.  It took about 18 months keeping my hair at a bob. I was fully transitioned by the end of 2017 early 2018!

I then just grew it and I became a lot less fixated on my hair.  In fact I would forget that my hair colour was ‘different’. Someone would ask me while I was out and about if my hair was natural or dyed and I’d remember that my colour wasn’t typical.  This happened A LOT and it was always met with compliments.  I still get it often today.  It usually starts “Do you mind if I ask you about your hair?  Is it natural?  Etc etc.  I love talking about it, because I know it could be the catalyst for someone else.

Embracing the Grey and Positive Change

If I reflect on my journey from that decision in the year of my 40th birthday to now at 44, I can’t begin to tell you how different I am as a person.  No one would probably notice on the ‘outside’, but I am a lot more self accepting and calm. 

I’m not argumentative any more because I would always choose peace.  I feel positive, motivated and have started writing, blogging and looking at ways to start my own business.  I have also invested in training as a makeup artist and taught myself how to do hairstyles, which I use to inspire others.

After years of hoping, wishing and willing for things to happen, I am now relaxed and open minded.  That’s because I believe someone bigger and mightier than me is steering my ship. I have faith that I am in good hands.  I don’t try and control my life through wishful thinking and ‘attracting’ what I want.…I just stay with what I love.

I concentrate on the simple things in life and stay on top of my physical and mental health.  It is a work in progress, but through this journey I am grateful to have found self acceptance and happiness. This makes me excited for my future and I want this for you too.

This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair. Here are the photos of the physical progress.

Over 40 woman with dyed bleached hair with Melbourne background.
Here I am with my late grandmother in Melbourne in 2015. I have bleached my hair to try and cover the grey. It just resulted in damaged hair.
an image of over 40's woman with dyed black hair and the difference when the hair is left naturally grey.
The photo on the left was taken in Barbados in 2016 and was the last time I dyed my hair dark brown. The one on the right was taken a few months into my journey. You can already see how much softer the grey is against my skin tone.
Transitioning to grey hair
6 months or so of grow out. My ends had been highlighted and you can really see the contrast of colour. I kept my hair at this length until I grew it out. I was still wearing it mostly with its natural texture and experimenting with products and the Curly Girl Method.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Over 40's woman transitioning to grey hair.
Around about 9 months and I had straightened my hair after doing some modelling for Dove. I got the job because of my hair colour.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Over 40's woman transitioning to grey hair with a plait hairstyle.
This was taken before I knew how to braid properly. I was about 9 months into my transition here.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Woman over 40 with naturally grey hair and swimsuit with red hair accessory.
About 12 months into my transition and my hair was really showing now and I was enjoying experimenting with hairstyles and started to dabble with blogging about it. I still lacked confidence though.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Woman over 40 with naturally wavy hair and transitioning to grey hair colour.
This was the same holiday but here I am wearing it with my natural texture. It was the first time on holiday that I had worn it wavy the whole time and I was feeling more confident even with the transitioning colour.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Natural grey hair in warm lighting so it looks blonde.
This was about 18 months in. I can still see that I have some colour on the ends but not much. The lighting was quite warm here so it looks more blonde. That’s what happens with grey, the lighting can affect how the colour looks at different times of the day and in different lighting.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Woman over 40.
Starting a new business. I was starting to get out of my comfort zone and try new things. I did this for about 18 months.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Woman over 40 wearing a pink dress and transitioning to natural grey hair and wearing hair with natural texture.  Naturally wavy hair.
Still rocking those waves and about half way there! Started getting my teeth straightened too. Something I had always wanted to do.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Over 40's woman holding a drink on holiday in Spain.
I have no idea when this was but I was in Spain and I think I had a water because I did 100 days of no alcohol.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Woman transitioning to grey hair and holding a cocktail.
Here you can really see my transitioning colour. I had many people ask me about my hair on this holiday.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Natural Grey hair.  Woman over 40 selfie.
When the selfies started. My hair was completely dye free and I was loving the colour. Grow hair grow!!
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Woman with grey hair with a french bulldog.
Me with my beloved Peggy- Sue. My hair has grown and I am now well on the road to long hair again. I’m back to wearing it smooth using medium heat and I prefer it that way.
This is what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair.  Over 40's woman with long natural grey hair.  Healthy and Happy.
Me today with long natural grey hair. More confident and content. 4 years of progress and so glad I started.

So what happened when I stopped Dyeing my Hair? I started accepting myself warts and all! As a result more opportunities have presented themselves to me. I am living out my life with more authenticity and appreciation instead of self loathing. I am free but I still need to do the work to keep myself on track. It can be difficult in a world trying to pull women in different directions. I’ve learned to anchor in the moment, slow down and stay creative, keep my body and mind healthy and go with the flow.

Do consider joining me as I continue sharing my journey via the links to my socials. You will find hairstyles, grey hair inspo, makeup and more. You can also join the newsletter here.


Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a small commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

Join the Newsletter


10 thoughts on "I have Grey Hair and Ditched the Dye"

  1. Hi Mel , thankyou for sharing your silver hair journey, and life journey with us, I am also transisoning to silver hair new year’s eve tonight and my silver roots are starting to shine through I’m at the first month, also as you wrote like wise I really feel like I need to be me and what ever makes me feel better and happier, I’m a bit lost sometimes which direction do I want to take , am I ever going to be good enough, am I confident enough all Ifs

    1. Hi Kerry. Thank you so much for your comment. yes it can totally feel like that at first but from my experience, I have never felt better about myself and I love my hair colour and there is no reason why you won’t feel that way too. The first few months are the most difficult generally but once you’re through that then the rest is a breeze. I found it empowering and confidence building and I really wish I’d not waited so long but it’s all in the timing. Happy New Year and do keep in contact. Mel 😊

  2. I have been thinking of embracing the grey for months now. I had my hair dyed blonde a year ago, after years of being dark, as a way to hide the grey. But with the various lockdowns it has only been done twice since then. It’s now been nearly 4 months since my last appointment and I think I’m ready to make that transition (I had 6 months between appointments last year and I wish I had done it then). I have long hair so it’s going to be a long process, unless I get the courage to go shorter (and can persuade the other half that shorter hair is only for a while 😂). I’m turning 50 in 3 months and I’m loving the idea of a new decade, a new colour! Reading your experience has certainly helped me to make my decision, especially after so many comments of “why, it will make you look old before your time”. I’m going to do it!!

    1. Hi Jo, thank you for your comment. It certainly seems as though you have made up your mind. It is all in the timing and with a new decade looming, it seems like a great thing to do for yourself. Forget the myth about looking older. I actually look at photos of myself 5 years ago before my transition and I think I look younger. My skin is better due to no chemicals on it from dye, the colour suits me whereas the dyed dark hair was too harsh and did me no favours. Don’t be put off by others that may not see what you envision. Sometimes the best way to do it is to ‘show’ them. You will have other women very intrigued and you will likely inspire others as you go along. Mel

  3. Hi Mel, thanks for the reply. I have definitely decided to do it. Your post has spurred me on, it’s so inspirational. And you look amazing! I’m following you on Instagram now for ideas and tips, and to keep me going if I feel like giving up. 50 is the year of the grey 😍

    1. Amazing. So pleased you’re over on IG. So many inspiring women over there. Exciting times ahead 😍

  4. Hi Mel,
    Thanks for sharing your journey into the transition into no longer dying your hair. I am 45 and have been dying my hair since my early 20’s. I have finally decided I am ready to start my transition and after reading your story it has definitely inspired me to stop dying my hair. I’m actually excited to do this!!

    1. Amazing. It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made. It’s difficult at first but so worth it. If you’re on Instagram, follow the hashtag #silversisters and you’ll see lots of women on a similar journey to you x

  5. I also put off going dye free because of all the ‘you are too young:it will make you look older’ comments, but during lockdown – having followed you and other gorgeous silver ladies online – I decided to take the leap. I’m starting to get positive comments now, but more importantly, since I am no longer battling against my true colour I feel more self acceptance!

    I never associated my skin problems with hair dye, but like you, the problem (which I had for 2 decades) cleared as soon as I stopped using box dye! My skin and hair condition now is better than it has ever been.

    1. That’s amazing. The process of transitioning to grey is so much more than the physical growing out process. It can often be a time of self discovery and self acceptance. Yes, it is possible that dyeing hair affects the skin negatively. I used box dye and it used to run down my face in the shower. I’ll never be sorry that I never have to do that again. Thank you for your comment 🤍🤍🤍

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the author

I’m Mel and the author of Silver Styling. I help women over 40 find calm and confidence by encouraging a holistic approach to beauty.

I am a professionally trained freelance makeup artist, session hair stylist and beauty author, based in London.  You can find more about me here.

Do consider joining the newsletter as we start to build on content in 2022.

Find out more

Join the Newsletter

Newsletter Signup