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The Dye Strip Technique for Going Gray in Secret

Inside: All about the dye strip technique for growing out your gray hair secretly, with no demarcation line.

Every week, I receive emails from women who want to go gray but don’t want to cut their hair, don’t want to bleach their hair, and don’t want to sport a strong demarcation line (i.e., “skunk stripe.”)

What if I told you there IS a method that accomplishes ALL of these desires and that you can do it yourself, in the comfort of your own home?

GO GRAY IN SECRET WITH THE DYE STRIP TECHNIQUE

It’s called the Dye Strip Technique and it’s a fantastic solution for women who don’t want to go gray cold turkey, don’t want to cut their hair short, and don’t want to potentially damage their hair through gray blending at the salon.

This method of secretly going gray has been around for a while, but I wasn’t aware of it until I bumped into Diana Moffitt (@silver.is.the.new.black) at a silver sister meetup and she explained it to me.

Diana was kind enough to share her pictures and knowledge, so read on to find out more about this amazing technique!

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WHAT IS THE DYE STRIP TECHNIQUE?

The Dye Strip Technique involves only coloring a small strip of hair at the crown of your head. You’ll re-dye the roots of only that strip of hair as needed.

In the meantime, your gray hair will grow out underneath the strip until you are ready to reveal your glorious naturally silver hair to the world! Any grays that DO peek through will simply look like sparkly highlights.

When that time comes, you’ll flip your part and – wowza! – you’ll look completely, gloriously, gray!

At that point, you can let the dyed strip grow out underneath your fabulous, sparkly gray hair and no one will be the wiser. That’s why the Dye Strip Technique is sometimes referred to as “going gray in secret.”

Isn’t that cool?

GET THE PDF

This post contains everything you need to know about the dye strip technique, but it’s a long, detailed read. If you prefer, you can purchase the PDF version for only $5. It contains the full article (including pictures and links to the videos) and you can print it out and refer to it any time you like. The PDF would be especially helpful if you want to bring this article with you to the hair salon to show your hairdresser how to do this technique! (Click on the book below to purchase)

image of ebook

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links.  You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.

A VIDEO GUIDE TO THE DYE STRIP TECHNIQUE

If you prefer video, you can see my interview with Diana below:

And you can find Suzan Barne’s video (that inspired Diana) here:

How to Grow out Gray Hair Secretly – No Line! part 1

WHAT KIND OF HAIR WORKS BEST FOR THE DYE STRIP TECHNIQUE?

How to perfect going gray in secret with the dye strip technique

Due to the nature of the dye-strip technique, it works best with medium-to-long straight or wavy hair.

If you have bangs, short hair, or very curly hair, it will not work as well (if at all).

The whole point of the dye-strip technique is to grow out your gray roots underneath your dyed part.

So you need that dyed hair strip to be long enough to cover the gray hair that is growing out underneath.

WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS METHOD OF GOING GRAY?

This method works best for women who want to eventually give up hair dye altogether but are not in a huge rush to complete their transition.

It’s especially great for women who have an aversion to the demarcation line. A lot of us silver sisters loved going gray cold turkey, but let’s be honest – that’s not for everyone.

If you are uncomfortable sporting a “skunk stripe”, then this method of growing out your grays is for you!

The best candidates for the dye-strip technique are women with medium to long dark brunette hair. These are the women I hear from the most who are uncomfortable going out in public for a year or two with a strong demarcation line.

This method solves that problem!

Blondes and redheads can also use this technique, but for dark brunettes, the dye-strip technique is the best method I’ve found for going gray in secret with dark hair.

Another benefit? A lot of us experience hair regrowth when we stop the dye. Even though you are continuing to dye that 1 strip at the top of your head, you may see hair regrowth in other areas.

An example of hair regrowth when using the dye technique for going gray
Hair Regrowth – A great side effect!
Month 5 vs. Month 12

WHO SHOULD AVOID THE DYE STRIP METHOD?

If you are growing out your gray hair due to a sensitivity to hair dye, or if you are simply DONE with putting chemicals on your head, this is NOT the right transition method for you as you will have to continue dyeing your hair for a while.

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links.  You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.

HOW TO USE THE DYE STRIP TECHNIQUE FOR GOING GRAY

You can do this at home or at the salon – it’s up to you!

Supplies Needed:
Home Hair Dye Kit
Vaseline

** Remember to start with a side part – if you part your hair in the center and grab hair on either side of the center part, this method will not work **

Step 1: Part your hair on the side and section off about a 1.5” x 5″ strip of hair along your part line.

Step 2: Put Vaseline on all sides of the strip to protect your natural hair color from accidentally being dyed.

Step 3: ONLY dye the roots of the strip of hair.

Step 4: When you wash out the dye, focus on rinsing out the dyed strip well before you add shampoo to wash out the Vaseline. (If you have trouble washing out the Vaseline, read this post).

Step 5: When styling your hair, part your hair down the middle of the dyed strip laying the dyed hair over your gray hair and style as usual. Voila!

Repeat the process every 4 weeks or so until you feel ready to flip your part to the gray side and show everyone your fabulous silver hair!

Once you flip your part to the gray side, just let the dyed strip grow out (undetected) underneath your gray hair. Eventually, it will be completely grown out and cut off.

EXAMPLE OF GRAY HAIR USING THE DYE STRIP TECHNIQUE

Diana’s transition photos will give you a great idea of the dye-strip technique in action!

Diana's last hair dye before going gray using the dye strip technique
Last Dye
DIana sporting pulled back hair with silver streaks peaking through
Month 8 – pulled back
Diana finally flipped her hair to the gray side after using the dye strip technique for months.
Month 14 – flipped to the Gray Side

PROS & CONS TO THE DYE STRIP METHOD

Pros

  • No Demarcation LIne
  • Your gray hair grows out in secret (BONUS: it looks like peekaboo highlights!)
  • Minimal cost
  • Minimal upkeep
  • No Cutting Required
  • No Bleaching Required
  • Hair regrowth in areas where you’ve stopped dyeing

Cons

  • You will still have to dye your hair for a while
  • Not a good solution for women with short or VERY curly hair

CONCLUSION

I know that, for many of you, this technique is going to be a godsend! Four days after I put the video up on YouTube, it already had 7000 views, so it’s obvious that women are searching for alternative ways to go gray!

If this method isn’t for you, don’t worry!

There are many other ways to go gray. There’s not only one right way to go gray – you have to find the method that suits your temperament. I’m confident that you will.

Do you have any questions about the dye-strip technique? Please post a comment below and Diana and I will be happy to answer all your questions! And please make sure to follow Diana on Instagram @silver.is.the.new.black.

Read my full interview with Diana about her Dye-Strip transition journey here: Diana’s Unique Journey to Gray Hair

Check out my Amazon Shop for all your gray hair needs!

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media, as it helps me grow my audience and spread the word about our Silver Revolution!  And remember to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and Pinterest Feed for more gray hair tips and product recommendations. Thanks!

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45 Comments

  1. Wendy Flockhart says:

    I’m a bit confused. Are you dying the whole strip or just the roots? If just the roots won’t they wind up not matching the rest of the hair as the original all over dye fades?

    1. Diana (from video) says:

      I just dyed the roots of the strip of hair. The dyed ends did lighten but there was never a stark contrast between my roots and the dyed ends. I did not have the problem of my dyed ends lightening too much but I have heard of women go into their stylist to dye their ends because they do not like how much it lightened over time. I also got regular trims so if the hair did lighten it was trimmed off. I hope this helps!

  2. Is it difficult to wash vaseline out of hair? Any special shampoo needed?

    1. Diana (from video) says:

      I did not have any difficulty washing out the Vaseline for my hair with regular shampoo. I also used a permanent dye that needed to be washed out after being on my head for about 45 minutes. I am aware that there are certain dyeing techniques where the hair is not shampooed until the next day. That is not the process I used.

  3. What if I have major grey roots around my face; will this method still work?

    1. I don’t see why not – with this method, it won’t hide ALL your gray, the point of it is to keep you from getting a harsh demarcation line between your dyed hair and gray hair. So your gray hair will still peek through, but the dyed hair that hangs down over it will disguise it a bit and make it less noticeable as it grows out.

      1. Thank you! I will be trying this method this weekend.

    2. Diana (from video) says:

      If you have gray around your face like most of us do, you can use a root spray to cover the gray around your face if and when you want to pull your hair back. But as Katie said, it is not very noticeable when using this technique.

  4. Are you able to portion out the same bottle of hair dye for multiple applications or are you investing in a full box of dye and throwing away the excess after each application. It would be great to only mix exactly what’s needed without waste. Not sure if that’s an option.

    1. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can save the dye. If I remember the box dye instructions correctly, you always have to dispose of unused dye within 24 hours (?).

    2. A good option would be to get a tube of professional permanent creme color. They’re usually available at beauty supply store like Sally beauty. You squeeze out whatever amount of dye you need, and you mix it with developer (sold separately). The unused portion can be recapped and stored for awhile, as it hasn’t been exposed to much air or mixed with developer. Buying the dye and developer together is usually less than ten dollars, so it’s comparable to box color in price.

    3. Hi LRB, you can probably portion a box color for three times depending how much hair your are dying. All you have to do is empty 1/3 of the coloring liquid and 1/3 of the developer cream in an small glass or plastic bowl, mix it and apply it with a brush. Make sure the recap tightly the remaining coloring liquid and developer cream and store it in a cool or regulated climate location. Use the original containers or airtight containers. As long as the developer has not already been mixed with the color, it is safe to keep it.

  5. Reno Nevada says:

    I understand how this would work to cover gray on the top and sides of one’s head, but what about the back? Thank you.

    1. Hi, you need to make sure you separate out enough hair that can drape over both sides, as well as the back of your head. I’ll try to do a video soon that shows a close-up of how much hair to grab.

    2. Diana (from video) says:

      Reno, I was surprised by how little hair it actually takes to cover the back of your head. The strip was approximately 2“ x 6“. Remember, the intention of this technique is to break up the demarcation line, it is not meant to completely hide the gray coming through.

  6. Natalie Jones says:

    I’m wondering is there an up to date video of someone actually applying the dye etc

    1. Hi, Natalie – not yet, but I can see if I can come up with a video like this. Great idea!

    2. Diana (from video) says:

      Throughout the process, I never made a video as I was applying the dye. The important thing to remember is to use just enough dye to cover the roots. If you pile it on it begins to seep into your gray grow out and even the Vaseline isn’t a powerful enough barrier to prevent it from potentially dying your gray roots. I enlisted the help of my daughter to ensure that I was picking up the same dyed strip each month so I didn’t accidentally dye my hard earned gray grow out. Then, I applied Vaseline on the gray grow out bordering the strip and began to apply the dye with a brush applicator.

  7. Hi Katie,

    I’m planning to try the dye strip technique. I have two cowlicks at my crown. I generally part my hair down the middle and have a widows peak. Where do you recommend I take the do the strip?

    1. Hi, Johanna – I know the widow’s peak might make it difficult, but are you able to force a side part (even a mild one) in the meantime? If not, I’m not sure. I will keep thinking about it!

  8. Graciela Soberon says:

    I saw this idea a couple of days ago and since I have a two month gray grow out and I don’t like the first few months of demarcation line I thought this was a great idea for me. I had an appointment with my hair dresser and I told her to do this and I showed her the article but she ended up coloring more than a stripe and I told her that she was going to far but wouldn’t stop. So now what I have is my top and front part of my hair colored and won’t be able to flip my hair. Now I don’t know what to do. Any thoughts?

    1. Diana (from video) says:

      Hi Graciela, I’m not sure when you left this comment but I’d like to say I’m so sorry your hairstylist did not listen to your directions. I’m sure she knew exactly what she was doing. You do not have to start from scratch. As long as you dye the hair along a side part when you are ready to dye your roots next time, you are good to go. I would suggest going to another hairstylist or talking to your stylist about a root color you can purchase at a beauty supply store to do the process from home, which is what I did. All you need is to enlist the help of a friend or older child to assist in tht application. Good luck!

  9. This process sound like something I could do. I’m already discouraged by the line of grey after only three months! Here’s what I am wondering about…does this process work if you have bangs? Thanks.

    1. Hi, Carol! I think this would be difficult to do this with bangs unless they were long bangs. You need to be able to flip the dyed hair over the gray hair.

  10. This is something among this line. I’ve been gray since 2013, but lately I have been putting peek-a-boo highlights under the back of my hair. You can see the highlights when your hair if pulled up. Just because we’re women if a certain age doesn’t mean we can’t have fun!

  11. I decided to try this technique after dyeing my hair for about 20 years. My hair used to be black, thick and it grows pretty fast, so I had to be in the salon every other week. I am very optimistic about it. I dyed the strip last time, and now I can see about 2 fingers of gray hair underneath. My question is: what is the length of the underneath hair when you can actually start seeing the different colors? Thank you!

    1. Diana (from video) says:

      Hi Maysa, I’m not sure you when you left this comment but I’m just seeing it now. I’m sure you are already noticing the different colors within the first couple of months. I hope this technique worked for you!

  12. Lisa Matta says:

    How would you describe “very curly” hair? I have curly hair (2b/c).
    Thank you for your help!

  13. Ivy Sakamoto says:

    Hi Diana,
    I’m excited to try this method of growing out my grays. Here are some question I have:
    1. Do I use a temporary hair colour to dye the strip?
    2. Do I continue to dye the same strip for 12 months before I flip my parting to the other gray side?
    Thank you so much, I think this method will be my choice to transition my grays out.

    1. Hi, Ivy!

      Diana might not see this for a while, so here are my answers in the meantime:

      1) You can use semi-permanent to dye the roots of the strip. Temporary might wash out too quickly.
      2) You dye the roots of the strip only for as long as you like – you flip your parting to the other side whenever you feel ready to show off you gray! You might want to be gray one weekend (to test it out) and go back to dark for a while – it’s totally up to you and what you feel comfortable with. That’s what’s so fun about this method – you get to decide when you are ready to show off your grays!

  14. Stephanie says:

    I am excited to try this technique! I have dark brown hair but after not dying it for 4 months, the dyed hair looks more brassy. I’m concerned that it will be tricky to find a dye colour for the strip roots that matches my washed-out dyed hair. Does anyone have experience with this? Thank you.

    1. I would suggest consulting with a stylist because this can be a major problem since you will likely dye the strip for 8-12 months.

  15. Annette Clark says:

    I don’t think that this is for me , although I do appreicate the heads up , my grays aren’t really popping out for some reason , but once there is a big enough change I will come back for another question .

  16. I came up with something like this, and it worked really well. I have thick hair that was dyed brown.
    The worst part of growing out your dyed hair is the first few months when you have that stripe. Keeping my part touched up got me off of that. Once I got to 3-4 months I could see how my uncolored hair was going to look, and that was encouraging.
    I did a lot with clips, and began to feel comfortable with the grown out gray hair. By the time I got to a year I had enough streaky gray that I just quit with the dyed strip and the grow out didn’t bother me.
    When I started out I switched my side part to the side that I thought had the least gray. I knew the other side had a big streak at the temple and thought I’d like to end up with that showing. Originally I’d planned to go on like this for a year, then flip the part and go with a really short asymmertical cut to. I also considered bleaching the dyed strip and going blue, just for fun, but I didn’t end up doing that because about the time I hit a year we had a stay-at-home order and I missed two hair appointments. By the time I got in for a cut (I was there the week they opened) I’d already flipped to part and decided just to keep with what I had.

    1. Hi Rose!
      I love that you figured out this technique on your own. I have met so many women who did this technique to help them embrace their gray and did not realize it was a technique.

  17. Lucy Adams says:

    ?? I have just bought my fave semi permanent dye to do the whole head but just found your secret section tip, amazing! My only problem is that my greys also frame my face so should I do a kind of T-section of dyeing? Thanks for your advice!

    1. Diana (from the blog) says:

      Great question, Lucy. I see what you’re saying and I have lots of gray at my temples as well. During the transition, I used a temporary root spray some days and other days I left it alone depending how I wore my hair.

      1. Kendra Schwindt says:

        Another option for those grays around the face is eye shadow. Just a stiffer makeup brush and “slather” that eye shadow over the grays and blend. Is a nice way to use up eye shadow you might not use regularly AND keep those grays blended in!

    2. Hi Lucy,
      I have gray around my fade and temples as well but it didn’t bother me. If you do like the look I would suggest using a root spray around your face. If you dye it there is no easy way to hide the grow it out. Good luck and have fun!

  18. Genius idea! I am doing it! Heading to my hairdresser this week and asking her to do the dye strip technique! Thank you!

    1. Diana (from the blog) says:

      Hi Sheila! I’m so glad you want to use this technique to transition to gray. How did your hairdresser respond to the request for the dye strip technique?

  19. Should you use a Demi permanent so,it will wash out when you are done with the transition ?

    1. Diana (from the blog) says:

      Hi Terry! I would be very careful with semi/demi permanent hair color. It does not always wash out completely. If you decide to use it, just know that you may still have to flip the part and wait for it to grow out. Good luck!

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