And for many women, that means cutting corners and saving extra bucks on hair color.
Two-thirds of women have taken steps to save money on their hair in the last 12 months, with over one-third trying to pinch pennies by going to the salon less often, a study conducted by ShopSmart of Consumer Reports found.
But as anyone of a certain age knows, those gray hairs don't stop sprouting just because you're on a budget.
The good news: Consumer Reports just found that three types of at-home hair color do a fantastic job of fully covering grays, with results that parallel a salon experience that would otherwise cost you upwards of several hundred dollars more per year.
And like many Consumer Reports tests, the experts in the labs created some pretty amazing conditions for their experiment. First, 470 wigs of 90 percent gray human hair were acquired, separated into corresponding product groups and then dyed according to the instructions on countless brown hair dye boxes. Then testers washed the hair with shampoo formulated for color-treated hair and blow dried it a grand total of 16 times in order to create identical conditions to a month's worth of every-other-day washings and stylings - which is how often the average woman refreshes her hair.
We're exhausted just thinking about it.
At the end of seemingly Olympic-level hair testing, four brands stood out from the rest of the crowd: Clairol Texture and Tones ($7), L'Oréal Paris Superior Preference ($9) and the male and female versions of Clairol Natural Instincts ($9). All of the top four products maintained consistent color through the 16 washings and stylings.
Our suggestion? If you rely on hair color mainly to cover grays -- and not for more complicated things like double process or highlighting -- give one of these winners a try; it could lower the cost of your hair color routine significantly.
If you're a first-timer who is intimidated by coloring your own hair, a few simple rules can help make your DIY job a success.
Check out detailed color swatch sites like those run by Clairol and L'Oréal to help pick your shade, or ask your hair stylist's opinion the next time you pop into the salon. Go with a semi-permanent color for glossy, full-coverage results that you don't need to permanently commit to.
Always patch test a new hair color before applying it all over your head to make sure you're not allergic to any ingredients in the formula. You don't want to suddenly find something like that out after the dye has been sitting on your scalp for 20 minutes.
This may sound so obvious so as to be silly, but read and reread the directions on the box. Many women breeze over the instructions and don't apply the color properly, which can give you lackluster results and end up costing you more, since the color will wash out prematurely. Different brands can have widely different methods, so don't assume you know how to apply the color just because you've colored your hair before.
When applying the hair dye, aim the applicator straight at your scalp and away from easy-to-stain surfaces like the shower curtain, walls and bath mat. Set a timer to make sure you 'cook' long enough; if you don't have a wind-up one, the oven timer works great too.
Finally, if your results don't meet your expectations, find the free hotline number on the box and give the company a ring. A professional adviser may be able to help you quickly and easily remedy the situation.
For more tips on home highlighting kits, take this advice from What Not to Wear's hair expert, Ted Gibson. Simply follow the steps in the gallery below! And if grays have you gloomy, be sure to check out touch-up tips from celeb colorist Jason Backe.
Hair Basics: Highlighting 101
Get salon-worthy color at home with step-by-step tips from star stylist Ted Gibson.