Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Book: "Going Gray" by Anne Kreamer

"Going Gray" by Anne Kreamer has been in my to-read pile for some time now -- and after I wrote about my last visit to the hair salon (and after pointing others struggling with this question to this book), I decided it was time to actually get the thing read myself, lol.

Anne Kreamer was 49 years old and had regularly coloured her hair for years (at an estimated cumulative cost of $65,000)(!!! -- she DOES live in New York City...!) -- until she saw a photo of herself that led her to question that decision and contemplate the consequences of "going gray." (Hint: It's not just about the hair.)

The book had its beginnings in an article Kreamer wrote for More magazine -- and it does feel a bit padded at times. Kreamer seems determined to explore every angle she can find related to the decision to "go gray" -- to the point that I sometimes I had to scratch my head and say, "Seriously??" At any rate, she does do a thorough job.

She explores the history of hair colouring, how hair colouring products have been marketed through the years, and the pressures women face to maintain a youthful appearance. She looks at gray hair in Hollywood, in politics, in business and in other countries/cultures (particularly that bastion of fashion, France). Beyond interviewing women AND men (both famous and not) on their opinions about gray hair (can gray hair be sexy?) and their own decisions on the matter, she devised a survey to probe attitudes about age, beauty and gray hair, including photos of people with and without gray hair. With her husband's blessing (!), she ventured onto online dating sites, using photos of herself with and without gray hair, to see which profile generated the most interest. She even went barhopping, first in a wig and then in her gray hair, to see which version of herself attracted the most interest from men. (Sometimes, the results of these experiments were surprising.) She also visits an image consultant, and looks at how colouring your hair can be a slippery slope that leads to other anti-aging measures, such as botox and cosmetic surgery.

If you're wondering whether to "go gray" yourself, this book might give you some food for thought.

An update: I'll be heading home to see my parents shortly, but before I do, I'll be making my traditional pre-trip visit to the salon. ;)  I haven't made up my mind yet as to whether I'll be asking my hairdresser for a cut & colour/highlights, or just a trim -- but I'm leaning towards just the trim. And bracing myself for my mother's reaction, lol.

This was book #11 that I've read so far in 2015.


  1. This made me laugh - given our other conversations on the matter. I cannot imagine how she managed to spend $65,000 on hair colour though! I used to colour three or four times a year, even at our city's best (in my opinion) salon, and it is scary to work out how much that would add up to, over about 15 years. But still, it's only a fraction of $65K. (And that's on a simple dollar to dollar rate!) Now I'm doing it myself, and it looks good, I think! (I got a compliment recently from a friend who didn't realise I had been doing it myself.)

    If I wasn't job-hunting (sort of), then I'd definitely consider going grey. My younger sister has stopped colouring her hair, and she looks good.

  2. Yeah, coloring hair IS expensive. I don't color because I have grey hairs, but because my "natural" color is a blah dishwater blond that washes me out. And yes, I know if I readjusted my expectations, yadayada, but I just looked at some photos after the salon and holy crap do I look better! My natural color looks awful with my skin tone. I'll probably never go grey - my Dad is 75 and still has my "natural" haircolor. :) That being said, I only get highlights once a year, so much more low maintanence than coloring grey.

    Honestly, I love grey hair - it's gorgeous. I love it on 20-somethings (see it everywhere in the city) and older folks alike. I covet the grey hair on the book jacket photo above.

  3. I'm going grey due to indecision. Meaning, I haven't done anything yet, so I am going very grey. It's not a few strands here and there. It's whole chunks of my head are grey. Sometimes I'm okay with it. Sometimes I think I should do something about it. I don't know why I am so reluctant to dye my hair now when you wouldn't have thought twice about dyeing my hair when I was a teenager.

  4. Economics is the main reason why I do not color my hair. I am unwilling to make a lifetime commitment to maintaining color. I don't care if it's $10 at the store or $60 at the salon; I don't want to spend my money that way. Plus, I currently have the stress-induced grey streaks that frame my face (in addition to the weird, wiry stuff populating the rest of my head) and that amuses me.