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Frugal tip: Stop dyeing your hair

At a certain age, it's time to end the charade

By Karen Datko Sep 24, 2009 5:55PM

We have decided not to dye our hair again, and all of our women friends have an opinion about it.


Strong opinions -- ranging from enthusiastic support to this comment from an older friend: "If you go gray, you will be a granola. Still interesting to me -- but invisible to others. Don't do it -- savor your youth!"

That comment nearly stopped us in our tracks, but we're going ahead with this. It's not just the expense -- we color at home once a month for about $8.50, but if you have it done professionally, it's $40, $75 or even more depending on where you live. It's also the time, the handling of harsh chemicals (get that stuff in your eyes and you can go blind), the damage to our hair -- and the suspicion that we're denying the realities of age in a way that's not healthy or helpful.


At some point, this charade has to stop (I'm nearly 55), so why not now? (Plus, it's not like losing a limb. If we don't like what we see, we can always dye it again.)


What's the best way to proceed?

  • Growing it out slowly, with lots of hair cuts. "I looked rather like a raccoon at times ... but I knew I would be rewarded with not having to douse or have my head doused in noxious chemicals every month," Cate wrote at 43Things. It took 14 months.
  • "MissLoretta" took a more drastic approach, she wrote at the same site, getting her dyed-blond hair cut short, and then really short when her natural brown had grown out about 1½ inches.
  • Or you can dye it close to the natural color so roots won't show as it grows out. If your real color is white, getting blond highlights is often recommended.

We've chosen the quick route and got our hair cut short the other day. When the roots -- they are snow white -- are about an inch long, it's back to the shop for a trim. Bye-bye, dark brown.


Invisible? Maybe, but in plenty of fine company. We found many stories online about women who've left the large ranks of those who color their hair. A 2005 survey found that 65% of women had applied hair color in the previous 12 months.


Check out Rose Reed, whose hair is now white and short and lovely. "Oh my goodness, what a difference a dye makes!" she wrote at "Seriously, this was truly a no-brainer, and I am sorry it took me so long to figure it out."


Andrea Dickson made the decision last year, and she's much younger than us. "Anyway, this time I am sticking with the gray, both for the sake of saving $75 every three weeks, and also to be free from the tyranny of having to constantly alter so much of my appearance to suit society's needs," she wrote at our partner blog Wise Bread. (Beauty tip: She says that maintaining your eyebrows becomes more important when you go gray.)


What do you think? Is the time and expense of dyeing your hair worth it or are you ready to see how you look and feel with your natural color?


Published Sept. 24, 2009

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