Gray Matters: Save Money by Saying 'Good-Bye' to Hair Dye

Gray hairHere's a straightforward way to save a bundle: Ditch the hair dye, and embrace your inner silver foxy lady (or silver fox, if you're a guy.)

You won't be alone. There appears to be a movement afoot to go au natural, as blogs devoted to celebrating the beauty of salt and pepper hair such as and gain steam.

According to, 70% of consumers use hair color to get rid of their gray, Meri Scals, author, hair stylist and founder of the site, told WalletPop.

If you're among that group and are considering salt-and-pepperdom, the amount you'll save by cutting out your salon touchups might entice you to take the plunge.The Professional Beauty Association estimates that consumers nationwide spend an average of $61.73 on permanent hair dye each time they want to cover their gray. And with hair professionals recommending dye touch ups every six to eight weeks to keep the gray at bay -- about eight times a year -- that's an annual savings of nearly $500. And that's a conservative estimate.

Even if you dye your own hair, at-home kits cost between $7 and $10 a pop. So if you forgo those touch ups eight times a year, you'll see savings of $56 to $70 annually.

"With the boomer market exploding, I knew there was an ongoing need for information," says Diana Lewis Jewell, author of the book, Going Gray, Looking Great! That's why she founded in 2008, she says.

Jewell talks about the gray movement with an evangelical zeal. "The most surprising thing happened when I realized it wasn't just boomers looking at the site," she says. "Women in their 30s on up were making the decision to go gray. It's a true revolution." The site has inspired several "Silver Sisters" groups around the country and internationally, where gray goddesses celebrate their silver hair.

But it goes beyond hair color, Jewell says. "These women feel they have an instant connection -- it may start with hair color, but it goes on to include all aspects of their lives."

While saving money isn't the number-one reason motivating women to dump the dye, Jewell says, "They do appreciate the savings." Indeed, readers, such as Michele Meyer, share their stories of liberation from hair dye and the savings they reap from going gray on the site.

"Every three weeks, a two-hour appointment ran north of $150, plus tips," according to Meyer's testimonial. "That adds up to a shocking $52,000 spent to hide my gray over the years. No wonder I was always greeted with a smile and offered a 'free' coffee.' "

But what will it cost to make the transition from dyed hair to gray if you want to disguise the contrast between the gray roots and the still-colored portion? Both Scals and Jewell pointed to ColorMark Pro, a temporary hair color for gray root touch-ups, which costs about $21.95. Then, once roots start to grow out, they both suggested Roux Fanciful Temporary Color Rinse, which sells for $6.49 on "These products are not that expensive," Jewell says.

A "gray blending" is a professional but pricier salon option that involves "weaving into the hair what's called a 'demi' color, which will slowly wash out," Scals says. For darker hair, a gray blending might involve lightening the ends. Scals estimates that a gray blending can cost from $35 to $95 at a salon.

But with hair growing just a quarter of an inch per month on average, many women just don't have the patience to wait for the transformation. That's why, Jewell says, "Most of the women who choose to go gray go cold turkey. Yes, they're concerned about the 'skunk stripe,' but they seem to get over it."

If you decide to skip the transition products, she suggests, "Try zigzag parts so the stripe isn't so obvious, layers and a headband."

It's all worth it in the end, Jewell says. As she explains, "Women experience a confidence they never knew they had."
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