Ali MacGraw, 75, found it empowering to let her hair go back to gray

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Actress Ali MacGraw will appear on Oprah’s OWN Network in an interview to air this Sunday. The Daily Mail has a preview clip in which MacGraw, 75, talks about her decision to let her hair go gray earlier this year. You can tell that it was a hard decision for her to make, but that she understands that it’s a superficial one. She explained that she lives in New Mexico now where women own it when they age but that she’s still subject to the “L.A. talk” where people ask about plastic surgery and Hollywood careers. It was very interesting to me. Here’s some of what she said:

“I woke up one day – I turned 75 on April Fools Day, as you know – and I suddenly thought, ‘Enough is enough’

“I’m sure there’s a million people out there that think I’m crazy – I felt some kind of change. It was subtle but it’s all about building up to, “Who are you?’

“My God, about time, wouldn’t you say, 75 years of practicing and starting to think it was a good idea? I thought I would try it.

“I live in Santa Fe where there are the most amazing looking “grown-up” women doing incredible things and looking like themselves.

“I thought, ‘I’m safe doing this here’ because I’m so intimidated in that old way.

“For example, walking down Rodeo Drive and somebody would say, ‘Wow, I know somebody you could really do your neck’ and ‘What are you doing now?’ You know, all that LA talk to define your worth-ness and I thought, ‘Screw it I’m just gonna see what it looks like.’

“It looked awful for a while but now I really love it.

[From The Daily Mail]

I’ve been dyeing my hair for 15 years and I’m barely over forty. Gray hair runs in my family. My mom stopped dyeing her hair for the first time when she was right around my age. She said that she liked not being “tied to the bottle,” but she thought that it made her look old compared to other 40-somethings so she started dyeing it again. She didn’t go gray again until she was in her mid 60s and that’s when she felt like it was the right time for her. She told me that “There are a lot of people my age who are gray and with the right hairstyle it looks good.” So it sounds like my mom had similar reasoning to MacGraw, she saw other women rocking the gray and she decided to try it too. I’m biased of course but my mom looks amazing with gray hair.

MacGraw looks incredible and I do think the gray suits her better than the black. As for plastic surgery, she must have done a little something to look that fresh. In the video it looks like she uses a little Botox but she also looks natural. She’s a lovely woman.

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In April of last year:
'I'll Eat You Last' After Party

Here’s the video:


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67 Responses to “Ali MacGraw, 75, found it empowering to let her hair go back to gray”

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  1. Steph says:

    She is still a beautiful woman and her face is not plastic. She actually looks older with the dark hair than with the silver hair. The dark hair made her look too severe where the silver hair softens her features.

    • Brin says:

      Agree, she is natural and ageless.

    • Jessica6 says:

      She looks absolutely beautiful with the gray hair – much better than the coloured dark hair. And her “who am I?” really resonates with me as I am 52 years old. I’m not at all a vain woman – never have been – but I was quite the looker in my 20s and 30s. I thought as I aged I would be horrified and “crumble” – far from it. There is so much truth to the fact that many of us “surrender” to the inevitable and embrace it and simply GO with it – in a positive sense. I am SICK of colouring my hair, and am seriously thinking of “to hell with it” and simply be natural – gray and all.

      For the first time in my life, I identify with who I am from inside out – and it’s liberating, refreshing, and invigorating. The older I get, the less so many things seem to matter – and that’s a beautiful thing.

      You rock, Ali.

      • Chris2 says:

        Jessica…..rock on yourself!
        I so agree about ageing. The best thing I ever did was turn 50, I swear. I feel I’m in the right lane now, after swerving all over the place in my forties. Acceptance us a powerful thing too, along with accentuating the positive.
        My big challenge has been accepting the creeping deterioration of my neck, compared to my face. Skincare though is such a joy, little rituals to help you be your best, lines and all. You have to grit your teeth re anything you wish were better (eg my neck) and say fookit, this is me, what am I scared of? It takes only one moment to throw off the worry….and then you are free!

        I notice that every time a woman over 40 is on here, someone pops up stating, as though ’twere a documented fact, that she has had work done. Maybe Ali has, dunno.
        But I can say for certain that you can maintain marvellous skin simply through skincare ( and a skin-friendly diet). So you can look at photos of the same woman at 60 and at 70, and think she looks younger at 70…..and that could well be down to better skincare and lashings of delicious oils!

        Here endeth the lesson.
        but younger CBers…..do not neglect your neck…treat it as you treat your face. :)

    • LadyMTL says:

      She looks spectacular with the grey hair! My mom actually had hair of that same color about 2 years ago (she had brain surgery so they shaved her head) and I tried to get her to see how lovely it was, but she hated it. So now she’s back to her “natural” color.

      I think if I’m ever fortunate enough to go grey like Ali McGraw I’d for sure let it be seen.

    • Miss Melissa says:

      On some women, at the right time, gray hair acts like a highlighter and sends light up the center of the face. Judging from the photos, I’d say she is one of those women.

      Luminosity takes years off your looks.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      I agree, the silver looks so much better on her. I have always loved silver hair. I think it might be hard to embrace the gray when it is just starting to come in, vs. when it is all silver and lovely.

    • krtmom says:

      She looks great!

    • DrM says:

      The gray hair looks fantastic on her, much softer and less severe. If I look half that good at 75 I’ll be really pleased.

  2. Kiddo says:

    She looks better with the gray hair. Shoe polish hair in later years looks good on no one, including men. And not all people can get away with blonde.

    • RocketMerry says:

      Way better, I agree.
      Many women actually look lovely with gray or white hair; it just takes a bit more effort to keep the haircut fresh, because I find you cannot skip trims with gray hair.

    • Erinn says:

      Haha, we had to intervene with my grandmother when she was about Ali’s age – she kept going dark because her hair was naturally so dark. We have her into a dark blonde/light brown now, and it looks good. Not fake even though obviously a woman of 87 probably would have pretty white hair at this point.

    • Jaderu says:

      @Erinn My grandmother dyed her hair bright red right up to her passing at 81. She just wouldn’t let it go. She also brought 2 guys as dates for Christmas, 5 years earlier. She was a character to say the least.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I agree. I think your hair gets gray for a reason. It’s softer around an aging face. 75 is too old for black hair and it looks harsh. My hair has some gray in it now. When it’s all the way gray, I’ll quit coloring it. I’m sort of looking forward to it.

  3. Grant says:

    The gray hair is so much more flattering! I think Miranda Priestly/Meryl Streep really helped to pioneer the gray hair movement for older, fabulous ladies.

  4. Gia says:

    I love grey hair! I think it’s beautiful. I can understand fighting it for the first few decades, but after a while, say around 65, let it rip! She looks so much better.

    • Tracy says:

      I started going gray in my mid 20′s so I am sure I will be soooo sick and tired of coloring by 65.

      She looks much prettier with the gray.

  5. Talie says:

    I try to block out what an as*hole Steve McQueen was to her so I can still enjoy his movies. She could’ve been a much bigger star.

  6. zinjojo says:

    She looks lovely with gray hair.

  7. Jaderu says:

    I think long gray hair is really beautiful. Mine are popping in here and there right on time and very rapidly. I hope mine is that beautiful some day.

  8. Jaded says:

    Hurrah!!! I’m 61 and let my hair go its natural colour a few years ago – I’m a natural light auburn now with a sprinkling of grey, and I too was tired of being tied to a bottle of dye and of the grey hair shaming that goes on. I love my hair and the freedom of not having to fret about roots. I’ve had more compliments about it since I took this step and an added benefit is it’s way more healthy looking and feeling than when I was colouring. You rock Ali!!

    • Chris2 says:

      Jaded
      I’m 58 and not going grey fast enough! A few yrs ago I started putting in loads of highlights everywhere but the back ( which has gone much darker in recent years and has no grey). Anyhoo….whitey blonde highlights are my attempt to meet my grey halfway, though I wish one could buy actual grey dye, from pearl frey to charcoal….hairdressers all deny its existence.

  9. BengalCat2000 says:

    I love her. Beautiful inside and out. OT, but I recently saw a picture of her son with Robert Evans & OMFG he’s hot!

  10. bns says:

    I love it. I’m so sick of seeing older people in Hollywood looking plastic. She looks like a real woman and it’s refreshing.

  11. EEV says:

    She looks great! So much better than the black, although a nice honey colour would look nice too (perhaps that’s my age speaking). :)

    I’m also from a super gray-haired family. My mom noticed my first grays when I was 18 – I’m steps away from 34, and have had to dye my hair for at least 5-10 years now. I do find that gray ages some (most?) people, but that doesn’t mean it can’t look fabulous. I hope that I’ll eventually embrace it (maybe only in 30 years), and will rock it like all the gorgeous gray-haired ladies out there. For now, I’ll stick to my bottle-brown. :)

  12. Loopy says:

    This is what Kendall Jenner will look like in 60 years.

    • lisa2 says:

      I see it.. she could so play a young Ali

    • bns says:

      You really think anyone from that family is going to age naturally and let their hair go grey? Lol

    • Ennie says:

      She does indeed look like Ally, but no she won’t… botox, fillers and plastic surgery are in her cards… her teenage little sister already altered her face already probably with botox and lip-cheek fillers!

      I am bummed that none of the jenner children turned up an athlete of some kind, just regular celeb spawn…

  13. FingerBinger says:

    Good for her. I love gray or white hair on men and women. I have black hair and have no intention of ever dyeing it when I start going gray.

  14. FLORC says:

    Not even 30 yet and I have a skunk streak. I love it. I colored for years when it started coming in at 19. 4 gray hairs at 19 and I had a melt down.

    Someone told me the body ages gracefully. As you gray there are subtle changes that compliment the rest. If you fight the change like coloring there will always be something about your appearance that looks off.

    Even with my grays people still think i’m 10 younger than my actual age. It’s more of a mental challenge to get there. Maybe when i’m fully gray i’ll be singing a different tune. She looks awesome though.

  15. lisa2 says:

    She has a beautiful shade of grey. Not everyone is that lucky.. My grandmother is in her late 90′s.. she doesn’t have much grey hair at all. My grandfather went grey in his 20′s.. so we are hit or miss in my family. So far.. I’m doing great.. Just a few strands here or there. My mom doesn’t have but a few stands too and she is mid 70′s.. so it is genetics.

    I wouldn’t mind being grey if my grey hair as that gorgeous grey. With some black people the grey can be yellowish. So If I get that kind I’m going to dye my hair all the time.

    • Brionne says:

      Mine is growing in silver white, not yellow but it’s coming in around my hairline. I have a friend who has individual strands in her hair and it looks pretty cool. I’m using hair color only on my front edges for now. I feel weird about the way it is growing in.

  16. bella says:

    aside from how lovely she looks with the grey hair, she speaks of a deeper, wiser message.
    the “who am i?” strikes a cord and i’m sure all of us women, especially those approaching a certain age, can appreciate.
    there is so much emphasis put on looks, youth – that women are intimidated by and base their self worth on.
    if we are not gorgeous, thin, youthful looking – we are judged.
    and not just in hollywood – i feel it affects all women.
    but who are we?
    i love that ali brings this to the forefront.
    she recognizes older women who have allowed themselves to age naturally and WHAT THEY DO – the contributions they make to the world – to themselves and family.
    that is who we are and how we should be judged.
    meanwhile, i will continue to cling to my root dye bottle for dear life.
    i’m not ready to own who i am and no matter my accomplishments, the judgment still bothers me.
    but when the day comes that i don’t care – it will be liberating!

  17. Jayna says:

    Each to his own. My mother never wanted to be grey and I loved her subtle warm blonde hair on her. I know I won’t go grey either and will dye I have one aunt who went grey and one dyed her hair as they aged, and both look great. I remember when Sandra Bullock left LA. She said it was toxic living there as a celebrity and the mindset, looks, next role, all superficial and consumed with the industry and looks. She didn’t like who she was becoming. She moved back to Texas. But I’ve seen that she came back years ago and lives in LA again or did.

  18. GeeMoney says:

    I don’t understand why people fear aging so much… but then again, society (or at least American society) is so harsh towards older people. It’s a shame.

    IMO, if you hair is more than 50% gray, I say just be gray. I can understand dyeing it if you only have a few strands or a couple of patches here and there. But if you have a lot of gray hair… just embrace it.

    Unfortunately, we can’t fight the clock… I just say eat right, exercise, and live well… that’s all you can do to slow down the process.

    • venus velvet says:

      We have such a youth centered society, that people need to look young in order to be seen and heard, and stay relevant, unfortunately. Age and experience are dismissed as out of step.

  19. grisgrisny says:

    She looks fantastic with the gray. I started going gray at 18, by 36 I was tired of coloring my hair every month to conceal my roots. After trying highlighting for a year to stretch the space between coloring I went for a super short cut and crossed my fingers. At 43 I have a beautiful head of silver hair that I LOVE and always get complimented on. I wish I had embraced my natural hair earlier.

    • Mtthoughts says:

      I wish I could do the same. I am 36 and short cuts do not work for me. I am tired of the monthly root touch ups!

  20. Lizzy1013 says:

    My gram has the most beautiful gray/white shiny, thick hair. People constantly ask her for her colorists number but it’s all natural!

  21. aqua says:

    When my cousin got married in her mid 20′s ,in her wedding photos her hair was completely grey and it really suited her.She didn’t really want to start dealing with dyeing it at such an early age.I also have a male family friend with the same issue and when he dyed his hair it never looked quite right.

  22. belladonna says:

    My hair is almost black but I have had a grey patch since I was a teenager and now that I am in my 30′s it’s more than just a patch. I feel like I have been dying my hair my whole life and I really have to do it once a month otherwise the roots on my dark hair looks ridiculous. I’d love to be free of the hair colouring, its so irritating and its not good for my hair or health in the slightest. Once I hit 50 or so I plan on just saying screw it but that’s a good twenty years away! I kind of wish I just had a grey streak because I’d totally let it grow out now and look like some kind of mutant! It would have been so cool but I just didnt appreciate it in my teens/early 20′s.

  23. jc126 says:

    I know people who look great with their grey hair too, but I also know tons of people who do NOT look good when their hair turns. I’m one of them.
    Ali MacGraw looks really good.
    What do people think of Kristen McMenamy’s look? She went all grey. I kind of think it looks bad, even though I feel like a jerk for judging her looks in any way.

    • Chris2 says:

      I don’t see why you shouldn’t have an opinion on anyone’s appearance…..it’s not as if you are condemning them.
      I love the grey she went for but definitely feel she should wear bold makeup…..brows and lips. I think many a grey head would look miles better with red lipstick!

  24. maddelina says:

    Wow she’s gone from looking like Whistler’s mother to a very striking woman. Love it!

  25. QQ says:

    my Grammy is 91 but she looks so young (seriously people ask her all the time once they see her with my ma and aunts and stuff!) still and generally bomb and spry that her daughters insist on dyeing her hair…I think she has beautiful hair and could technically get away with it but doesn’t…but I cant tell her a thing about it since im sitting here with actual my Little pony purple hair soooooo

  26. Mew says:

    She looks SO much better with gray hair. Even younger than with dyed harsh dark colored hair.

  27. irene harvey says:

    this is really funny. i always wonder why people believe actors who say they’ve had no work done. they ALL have work done. but in this case, it’s just too perfect. ali mcgraw is an ex client of my husband’s. he sat next to her on the plane (we used to live in santa fe) when she was going to los angeles to get her neck done.
    she may not look that great but she’s certainly not natural.

  28. holly hobby says:

    When you get to be a certain age, the shoe polish black hair just looks weird. This is especially true if you are Asian or a minority who can’t easily dye their hair blonde to hide the grey. I’d rather go grey to be honest.

  29. Decloo says:

    Wow, she looks amazing for 75. Except for the grey hair.

  30. Isabelle says:

    She sure doesn’t look 75, she looks an easy 15 years younger.. This is how you age Hollywood, she looks much younger than the stretched, plumbed & shot.

  31. RobN says:

    I turn 50 next month and decided a few months ago to go gray. I don’t know about empowering, but it certainly is very freeing. Never looking at your roots, never spending a small fortune on it, it’s great. I have gotten a lot of kind of wishful sounding comments from women my age who are still coloring theirs and want to know how I worked up the guts to do it. “It looks great on you, but I don’t think I could do that” is a really common comment.

    Lots of compliments from men, too, who always seem to mention how they think it looks kind of stupid for women of a certain age to pretend they have no gray. Many ask if women think they’re fooling somebody.

    I wish I’d done it five years ago.

  32. Alarmjaguar says:

    Love her shout out to NM women!

  33. EMR says:

    I don’t know how she held out so long – she looks beautiful both ways. I’m close to 40 and so tired of dyeing my hair that I will say the h*ll with it when I’m in my 50′s!

  34. anomie says:

    I pulled my first gray hair when I was 17. Nothing empowering about that

  35. Amy says:

    Why let your hair go gray but Botox (or whatever else)? I wish we could honor who we are completely (with respect to the pressure she must feel from Hollywood).

  36. Ennie says:

    She has a beautiful face, and still looks youthful, even with the thin lips. Nowadays the plastic generic face is attacking even in my small Mexican town. One can see the awful results and the women do look generic.

  37. jenny12 says:

    Good for her! Can we please stop being so scared of aging?