How Do You Let Your Hair Go Gray

smiling woman with gray hair - go gray naturally concept

Gray hair is beautiful

Whether you have silver hair or just a few random grays, transitioning away from dyed hair will allow your naturally beautiful hair to shine! We are no longer bound by the fashion rules society placed on us in the past, so if you want to stop coloring your hair, don’t let anyone talk you out of it.

At the same time, if going gray isn’t your cup of tea, keep coloring! The average 50 year old woman doesn’t need to look one particular way. The most important thing is being confident in who you are! My main purpose in sharing my story is to encourage those women who would like to stop using hair color and go gray naturally.

I went gray in my mid-forties

Like most women, I have done my fair share of dyeing my hair. Just before I turned 39, I played with hot pink on one strip of my hair. Then at 42ish, I had my stylist cover the beginnings of gray with a beautiful cool red.

Most of my life I had blonde hair. Through my early to mid-forties, I added highlights in various shades of blonde. As a child that was my natural color, so it felt the most “like me” to keep it that way. I hadn’t realized how far I had gotten from my natural color until I started transitioning to gray.

My colorist originally talked me into blending my gray in with highlights and lowlights. I kept up with that for a year or so before my oldest son started telling me I was crazy to cover my gray hair. He said, “mom, that’s your wizard status.” Well, that got me right in the feels and I stopped coloring my hair. I’m 49 at the time of this writing and I am still not coloring.

If you browse social media you’ll find that to go gray means you’ll be in good company. I follow several silver sisters on Instagram and I’m in two Facebook groups for women with gray hair.  It’s so nice to see women embracing their natural hair color.

I’ve talked to so many women about going gray since I stopped coloring my hair many years ago. One thing I’ve found is that the most important thing is to wait until YOU are ready.

Go gray when YOU are ready

Perhaps somewhat out of the ordinary, I started letting my natural gray take center stage before my own mother did. 

When my mom was in her early 70s and still coloring her hair I would sometimes suggest she let natural color grow out. This wouldn’t have taken long considering she has an adorable pixie cut. She had been coloring her hair a shade of blonde that I felt was hiding her naturally beautiful gray. 

My mom has naturally silver hair that, especially when paired with pinks or reds, made her look more vibrant than the shade of blonde, which was actually drabber than her true hair color. Once I talked her into letting it go natural the compliments started rolling in. She is absolutely adorable. 

Many women got a taste of what it is like to transition to gray without the help of a colorist in 2020. During the pandemic, most people had no choice but to let their gray roots show. A salon visit was out of the question. After months of lockdown, many discovered their natural gray hair isn’t so bad. Other women learned to do a decent dye job at home!

Go Gray Naturally

I get it, it’s not easy to go through the transition period when your hair doesn’t look the way you want it to. There are plenty of ways to make the transition from colored hair to naturally gray smoother. But first…

It’s easier to go gray naturally if your stylist isn’t too pushy about coloring. Let’s face it, hairstylists and colorists make money by doing things to your hair, and we want them to make a good living. If you are not completely confident about going gray you may waiver when you talk to your hair care professional. In fact, your hairdresser may pressure you to color your hair. 

Even your spouse and friends may tell you that gray will make you look old. Thankfully, my spouse, children, and friends have been supportive of my decision. I’ve read so many accounts of women who stood up for what they wanted and in the end, they loved their new look. Do this for you, not for someone else.

Dramatic hair color changes and heavy dyeing will often leave a demarcation line once the gray hair begins to grow out. Many hairdressers have heard, “I just don’t want to see a line.” Going gray is one way women choose to get out of this endless cycle.

There are several ways to go gray and have your hair look fabulous. 

A fresh hair cut

Probably one of the fastest and easiest ways to transition to gray is to go for short hair. A cute pixie cut, or even a buzz cut can help. I have friends who have pulled off a buzz cut even without wanting to grow out their gray hair! 

Of course, short hair may not work for those of us who have always had long hair and would like to keep it that way. Long hair will take longer to grow out, but as you persist you will show your self-confidence in allowing yourself to be who you want to be.

If you decide to go for it, a short hair cut paired with one or more of the methods below will help you make the transition without the wait.

Blending in the grays

Demi-permanent hair color is one way to blend in the grays without a line of demarcation. Because it is not a permanent hair color, it will gradually fade over the period of a month or so. Using a demi-permanent color for 3-4 months while your hair grows out, then trimming a good bit off the ends will give you a headstart.

Women who already have light blonde or platinum hair are at an advantage, but if necessary, a colorist can soften the transition between new growth and colored hair.

Another way to blend the gray is to use lowlights that compliment your natural hair color. As long as they pair well with your natural color they will ease your transition into gray beautifully.

Highlights can also help you grow out your gray by blending in flawlessly. Your hairdresser should be able to blend the gray in little by little. Each time you go back for a touch-up, you can ask for fewer highlights until they are no longer needed or wanted.

Using a toner

If your hair starts to look brassy, you can ask your stylist for a toner. Blue pigment in toner is often used to get rid of a yellow tinge in your gray hair. A silver toner can also be used during the transition to fully gray hair. Just ask your colorist for their opinion on this.

Styling hair to camouflage gray

Especially for women with dark brown or jet black hair, the transition can take half a year up to a full year before you feel truly comfortable with the new growth. If you have long black hair, this could even take a few years. 

In this instance, consider hairstyles that will make the demarcation line less noticeable. Try updo’s, cute barrettes, hair sticks, and styles that allow you to hide the transitioning section of your hair. Pretty headbands, cute hats, beanies, scarves, etc. are good examples of using camouflage.

If your goal is to stop coloring your hair because of the chemicals, you could consider extensions for a period of time. Extensions can ease the transition while your hair grows out. For those who are tired of hair upkeep, extensions would not be a good choice! Choose what you are comfortable with. 

Upkeep of Gray Hair

Purple shampoo and conditioner to neutralize the undesired yellow pigment or brassiness can make a huge difference while growing out your gray. Using hot styling tools can also make your gray hair look more yellow. 

White hair especially will need a shampoo and conditioner that are made just for keeping white hair white. These usually have a blue or violet color that neutralizes the yellow undertones.  

The most important thing when it comes to letting your hair go gray is to do it in a way that makes you feel confident and beautiful. Be patient with yourself and definitely document the transition with photos. At the end of your transition period, you will feel such a sense of accomplishment.

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