All of us would be happy to say goodbye to the time, expense, and hassle involved in hiding our grays or whites, that’s for sure. But knowing that going natural will transform how we look in ways we might not absolutely love and are not used to fills us with trepidation galore. After all, most people believe gray/white is synonymous with OLD.
But that’s not necessarily so.
Going gray is inevitable – some women have their first gray hairs in their twenties – but there are ways to do it without looking as old as Methuselah. There is a silver lining!
Ash blondes and streaked brunettes are everywhere these days. Movie stars like Andie McDowell, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, and Elizabeth McGovern are living examples of how gray hair can be surprisingly stylish. You just have to decide how you want to handle the transition.
Finding the right way for you to transition will take some experimentation. Going gray gracefully can be tricky because there is no one process to do it. It depends on several factors, including how much of your hair is already gray or white, your natural color, and your hair type.
Be sure to consult with a stylist ahead of time. Your hair might be less gray than you think, for example, and your colorist can come up with a plan that avoids that awful gray-roots-growing-out look.
Ways to Transition
1. Let your natural hair color grow out.
This is the cheapest and easiest option, but it’s not for everyone. Waiting for hair to grow out can be frustrating depending on how fast your hair grows, and that line between the new white hair and the old colored hair doesn’t look so great. However, if you decide to take this route, experiment with different hairstyles that can disguise the demarcation line.
2. Cut your hair short.
If that line is too horribly obvious, chopping your hair off is the easiest way to get you from here to there. The transition stage will be less noticeable as you begin to embrace your gray. Short hair doesn’t suit everyone, however, and cutting off long-loved tresses is a personal decision for every individual woman.
3. Dye your hair to match your roots.
The lighter your hair color, the easier this will be. Blondes don’t have to bleach their hair as brunettes do, so it isn’t as difficult to strip the hair of color before applying gray dye. However, with a good colorist and a lot of patience, any shade of hair can be dyed gray.
Remember this, however: gray hair needs maintenance, too. It is not upkeep- or cost-free because lighter shades of gray hair tend to fade faster than darker shades.
How often you can dye your hair depends on how your hair responds to the dye. Washing your hair less often, limiting heat styling, and always using a heat protectant will help prevent the dye from fading too quickly.
4. Add lowlights or highlights.
This helps blur the line where your color meets the grays and allows you to keep your pre-gray color longer by creating a softer contrast between your colored hair and your gray hair.
Things to Consider…
Though going gray may ultimately save you time and money, you’ll still have to take care of your hair which, when gray, can change in texture to coarse, dry, frizzy, or fly-away and, in tone, to brassy. Thus, you’ll need to step up on your moisturizing and deep conditioning products to combat the dryness creating those dull, yellowing gray strands due to pigment loss. Using the appropriate toning shampoo formulated just for gray and white hair will help keep brassiness away. For most women, a purple-tinted shampoo works well when used once or twice a week and reduces salon visits. Don’t forget to use hydrating and smoothing hair masks regularly. They can keep your grays or whites softer, shinier and healthier and give you an attractive silver shade. You can also do highlights every few months.
Going gray often can affect how you do your makeup and what you wear. Yikes! What worked for you before might not be as flattering after going gray, so consider having your hair occasionally styled, adjusting your makeup, and figuring out what colors look best on you. And which don’t.
Getting highlights or other treatments is expensive, so you’ll need to figure out what options you want to pursue with your colorist. Gray hair is not free hair!
Although we’d all like to see a picture, there’s no real way of knowing what your gray or white hair will look like until you actually grow it out. And that takes time. Only then will you see what your pattern is: lighter top layers and darker gray underneath or a streaked look. And because looking young is important in our society, for most women, going gray is a big step, whatever transition they use. Just know that there are several ways to go salt and pepper, and choose whichever suits you.
And if you want to keep coloring your hair, go for it. Either way, we believe in doing what’s right for you!