Gray Hair Blog / September 21, 2020

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.

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?

A VIDEO GUIDE TO THE TECHNIQUE

My friend Diana introduced me to this method, and it’s ingenious. Watch our interview below to learn about the technique in Diana’s own words:

WHAT KIND OF HAIR WORKS BEST?

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?

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.

image of hair regrowth
Hair Regrowth – A great side effect!
Month 5 vs. Month 12

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

WHO SHOULD AVOID THIS 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:  This post contains affiliate links.  I only link to products that I personally like or that have been recommended to me by my silver sisters.  You can see my full policy here.**

INSTRUCTIONS

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

Supplies Needed:
Home Hair Dye Kit
Vaseline

Step 1: 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.

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 PHOTOS

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

image of woman with dark hair and baby
Last Dye
image of woman with graying hair pulled back
Month 8 – pulled back
image of lovely woman with gray hair
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.

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

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15 Comments

  1. Lisa Matta

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

    05 . Nov . 2020 Reply
  2. Ivy Sakamoto

    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.

    04 . Aug . 2020 Reply
    • Katie

      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!

      06 . Aug . 2020 Reply
  3. Stephanie

    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.

    25 . Jul . 2020 Reply
    • *Diana

      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.

      27 . Sep . 2020 Reply
  4. Annette Clark

    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 .

    14 . Jul . 2020 Reply
  5. RoseAG

    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.

    04 . Jul . 2020 Reply
    • *Diana

      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.

      27 . Sep . 2020 Reply
  6. Lucy Adams

    👋🏼 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!

    29 . Jun . 2020 Reply
    • Diana (from the blog)

      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.

      13 . Jul . 2020 Reply
    • *Diana

      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!

      27 . Sep . 2020 Reply
  7. Sheila

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

    22 . Jun . 2020 Reply
    • Diana (from the blog)

      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?

      13 . Jul . 2020 Reply
  8. Terry

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

    21 . Jun . 2020 Reply
    • Diana (from the blog)

      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!

      13 . Jul . 2020 Reply

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Katie

Katie is the founder of Katie Goes Platinum. After constantly dyeing her hair for over 25 years, in 2018 Katie decided to stop the madness and embrace the gray. Since then, she’s been sharing her favorite gray hair tips, resources, and stories to empower women to feel beautiful during and after their transition to gray hair.