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Inside: Long gray hair inspiration, hairstyles & haircare tips!
When I was a little girl in the 1970s, I was dazzled by my sister’s godmother.
She was beautiful and glamorous. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be like her: slender, with platform shoes and long, feathered hair.
My babysitters were the same: tall girls, with light-blue eyeshadow, thin eyebrows, and long Farrah Fawcett hair. I always had short hair as a kid, so I was fascinated by their voluminous locks.
The 1970s were all about hair, and since I was little back then, it really imprinted on my brain that long hair was the epitome of beauty.
Now I’m 53, and sporting long hair, but it’s not the black hair I was born with. Instead, it’s gloriously gray!
I stopped dyeing my hair in 2018 after 25+ years of coloring. My natural hair is now silver on top and black underneath. You can’t get this color from a bottle, and I wish I hadn’t fought it for so long.
It took me over 2 years to grow out the dye to shoulder length, but it was worth it – my hair is healthier than ever before, and I absolutely love the way it looks.
LONG GRAY HAIR IS GORGEOUS AT ANY AGE
Unfortunately, that old 1950’s mindset that a woman over 40 MUST have short hair is still going strong.
And the majority of women over 40 dye their hair, so you can imagine the type of pushback women get when they decide to go gray with long hair.
It doesn’t stop there: Young women are told they shouldn’t go gray because they’re too young, and older women are told they shouldn’t go gray because they’ll look older than their age.
And women of all ages who are growing out their gray hair get told that they must cut it or risk looking like a witch, or a crone, or Granny from “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
It’s time to throw out those outdated, sexist AND ageist notions and admit that women of any age can wear whatever hairstyle or hair color they so desire.
Check out the photos below and you’ll see how long, naturally silver hair is beautiful at any age!
Note: All of the Instagram and other photos on this site are used with permission. Please show your support to these awesome gray hair influencers by following them on social media. You’ll be inspired, I promise. ❤️
LONG GRAY HAIRSTYLES
What’s so wonderful about long hair is that it’s so versatile. You can wear it up, wear it down, wear it in braids, curl it or keep it straight.
STRAIGHT LONG GREY HAIR
Gray hair (or silver hair, which is my preferred term) looks gorgeous straight as that really shows off its shimmery, tinsel-like tones.
When you are thinking about growing out your grays, you may get told that your texture is going to change… that your hair will be coarse or wiry.
While that may be true for some women, in general, that’s just one of many gray hair myths. The majority of women I’ve spoken to are thrilled to find that their natural silver hair grows in smooth and shiny.
It’s a great bonus to ditching the dye!
Straight long silver hair is gorgeous on its own, but if you want to change things up a bit, think about adding layers or bangs:
LAYERED GRAY HAIRSTYLES
Some women find that their hair thins a bit as they get older. Layers are a great way to add volume and movement to thinning hair.
If your hair is thick, on the other hand, layers can remove weight.
Jin’s thick, long salt & pepper hair looks fantastic with this layered cut:
And Erica’s and Leigh’s layers provide movement and wave:
Some of us have cowlicks in the middle of our forehead that make it difficult to get bangs to behave, but if you can make it work, gray bangs are a great look!
WAVY LONG GRAY HAIR
Sometimes it’s fun to wear your hair straight, and other times call for gorgeous long silver waves.
Make sure to check out the long gray hair tips at the end of this article to find a super-easy method of getting waves!
CURLY LONG GRAY HAIR
A lot of women find that, once they’ve ditched the dye, they also want to embrace their naturally curly hair.
Can you blame them? Look how gorgeous their naturally gray curls are!
Many silver sisters swear by the Curly Girl Method when they embrace their natural curls (or a modified version of it).
If your curls are coming out lifeless or frizzy, you can also check out this awesome course that helps you achieve gorgeous curls: Fabulous Curls Made Easy by Delilah Orphi.
LONG GRAY HAIR IN BRAIDS AND BUNS
If you’re dexterous and have long enough hair, how about braids? There’s something super magical about silver braids, don’t you agree?
One cool bonus of braiding long white or gray hair (or putting it in a bun) is that our graying patterns are so unique, and these hairstyle’s really show off those patterns!
And @jjmua rocks an assortment of buns and updos on her Instagram channel:
LONG GREY HAIR AND GLASSES
Sometimes long hair can overwhelm your face a bit, so statement glasses really are a great way to draw attention to your eyes:
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR LONG GRAY HAIR
Gray hair is not particularly high-maintenance, but there are things that you can do to help it look its best.
AIR DRY YOUR HAIR WHEN POSSIBLE
The most important thing you can do is to be very careful with heat products: flat irons, hot brushes, curling irons and blow dryers can turn gray hair yellow.
To protect your hair from heat damage, try to air dry your hair when possible:
After showering, wrap your hair up in a t-shirt towel and leave it on for 10-15 minutes. For extra shine, and to tame flyaways, add a little bit of hairdresser’s oil to your damp hair.
If you want to add some waves to your hair, try putting your damp hair up in space buns!
Divide your damp hair into two sections, twist it into space buns, secure with bobby pins, and let it air dry for 2-3 hours. Once your hair is relatively dry, remove the bobby pins, use your fingers to shake out your hair, and enjoy your beautiful waves!
Don’t have time to air-dry your hair? No problem!
USE HOT TOOLS WITH CAUTION
You can use hot tools, but you should still wrap your hair up in a turban or t-shirt towel for 10-15 minutes to try to get as much of the water out as possible.
Then, spray your beautiful gray locks with a thermal protectant and turn your hot tool to LOW to keep from damaging your natural silver hair.
My favorite hot tool is the Revlon One-Step but I only use it on Low because it gets SUPER-HOT!
USE PURPLE SHAMPOO – SPARINGLY
If, despite all precautions, you find that you do have unwanted yellow tones in your hair, you can always try a purple shampoo.
Just try not to use purple shampoo more than once a week, as it can be very drying. Always follow up with a deep conditioner afterward. If you have time, leave it on for up to 30 minutes.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A SUPPORTIVE HAIRDRESSER
One of the best things about long hair is that you don’t need to get your hair cut as frequently. But when do you go to the salon, you don’t want to be shamed for your choice to wear your gray hair long (or for having long hair after a certain age).
If you don’t have a supportive hairdresser yet, check out these tips on how to find one. And then check out my Gray-Friendly Salon Directory to find a salon near you.
If you can’t find a salon in that directory (it’s growing all the time, but still relatively new), see if you have an Aveda salon in your area. They tend to be gray-friendly, although it doesn’t hurt to ask!
I hope these pictures have convinced you that long gray hair is gorgeous at any age and at any stage. If long hair isn’t for you, I’ll be doing features on Medium-Length and Short Hairstyles. as well, soon!
Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!
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