Reason for not Graying

Senior woman with dark hair
Q: I am 82 years old, have highlighted my hair for 40 years. Recently I decided to let it grow and cut the bleach off, Result-I have dark brown hair (as it was before beaching) with not enough gray hairs to see. Is this very unusual?
People (other than my stylist) think that I dye it. I am embarrassed by the looks I get when I say it is my natural color. Is there a reason for not graying? I would appreciate any help you can give.

A: Actually, it’s not as uncommon as you might think. Personally, I noticed that my own mother’s hair was “growing darker again”. Mother, who was quickly becoming significantly gray had asked me about “covering up her gray” last year and we began using a demi-permanent color, with which she was very pleased. However, I noticed on our last “retouch” that her new growth is significantly darker than it was a year ago.
As for the reasons for the change in your hair color, it’s as simple (and as complex) as the reason for many people to go gray: your genetics and your environment. Some people go gray early on as a result of genetic disposition and/or environmental factors. Back in high school, my best friend’s mother went completely white-haired in her late thirties as a result of chemotherapy treatments. As a senior in high school one of my classmates was already going gray.
There are many reasons for the hair to change pigment, including genetics, hormonal changes, medications, diet, stress, etc. You may simply be genetically predisposed against graying hair, and possibly the fact that you’ve kept your hair colored has helped to reduce the stress that might have caused the loss of pigment.
As for the reactions of other people, I know how difficult it can be to have people make assumptions on your appearance when it is different from what they expect. I personally advise that you tell them the truth proudly and let them believe what they want to believe – they will do so anyway. Of course, it’s also appropriate in some cases to remind the person that such questions are not polite and that you choose not to answer them.
Photo: Lisa F Young/Shutterstock
See also:
Going gray
Hair and the older woman
What is the average age for going gray?
My hair color is going darker instead of grey. Why is this happening?