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7 things mom didn't tell us about going gray

A mom who decides to embrace her gray hair rather than dye it can influence her daughter

Emanuella Grinberg | 5/8/2014, noon
Our mothers and the women we look up to offer our first lessons in beauty and personal maintenance.
Some women choose not to dye their hair to cover the grays for many reasons. Credit: Courtesy Ty Alexander

— Our mothers and the women we look up to offer our first lessons in beauty and personal maintenance.

They tell us whether it's acceptable to leave the house without a painted face, well-coiffed hair or shaved legs. They send those messages both indirectly, through their own beauty rituals, and directly, with a well-placed, "No, you are not going out looking like that!"

Ultimately, what we decide to do as adults comes down to individual choice and evolving beauty ideals, but mom's old routines can stick with us as we age, especially when it comes to gray hair. Even as fashion, makeup and hairstyles change, the pressure for women to cover up gray hair endures, no matter how many lists or articles tell us to embrace natural beauty.

And yet, there's hope! Take it from these women who chose to stop covering their grays in their 20s and 30s. They have nothing against women who choose to color their hair, but this is what works for them. They shared their most compelling reasons for embracing the look. Let us know in the comments what you would add or dispute!

It's a great way to rebel against mom -- and challenge beauty standards

Watching her mother fret over finding the right color and hairstylist made Kelly Barrows want to do the exact opposite. She never understood why her mom did not appreciate her thick, beautiful curls, which Barrows herself coveted.

"She's so beautiful and all she sees is what she could change," she said.

While Barrows, 27, can't influence her mother's attitude toward aging or appearance, she can change her own. Her grays are just starting to come in, but she's looking forward to more, and she has no plans to hide them.

"I like showing my mom that I can take pride in it and it's not something to be ashamed of."

Christine Candelaria also has vivid memories of how the women in her life were tied to the messy rituals of dying their "canas" every few months at home: stains, chemicals running down their foreheads, accidentally choosing an unflattering shade.

"I clearly remember sitting on my mom's bed in eighth grade, watching her hair ritual, and declaring out loud that I would NEVER dye my hair. I remember thinking to myself that I wanted to grow old gracefully and naturally."

Or, you can honor the silver foxes in your life

Ty Alexander's mother and father never colored their hair, so she was used to seeing adults own the look with confidence.

"For me it was just what our family did. It wasn't a second thought," said 37-year-old Alexander, who stopped coloring her grays when she was 25. "I knew I would stop dying it because that's what we all did."

Larissa Pissarra, 42, also took style cues from her mother's natural approach to personal maintenance. Her mother wore minimal makeup and never colored her hair, not even when it started graying.

"She looked great no matter what," she said. "When she started graying, she didn't do any color, and she didn't seem to care."