Why and How to Go Gray with Long Hair
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Going gray with long hair can be fun as well as challenging. Here are some tips to prepare yourself.
If you are a woman who is transitioning to gray hair, you already have to deal with strangers, friends, and family members who question your decision.
If you are a woman who is over 40 and you are growing out your gray hair AND keeping it long, you get the double-whammy of being questioned by the anti-gray crowd as well as the “women over a certain age should cut their hair short” crowd.
Add going gray cold turkey to that equation, and WHAMMO – prepare to get a TON of unsolicited advice! ?
Which begs the question: Why do so many people feel free to give us their opinions about our hair?
WHY KEEP YOUR HAIR LONG WHILE GOING GRAY?
On social media, I often get asked why I don’t cut my hair short.
I have been told it will hasten my gray hair transition, enhance my self-esteem and free me from worrying about satisfying the sexist desires of the men in my life.
However, none of those scenarios apply to me.
I have a healthy amount of self-esteem, I have a supportive husband who loves me no matter what type of hair I choose to wear, and I don’t want to hasten my gray hair transition because I am loving every slow minute of it!
So why DO I wear my hair long? Let me explain.
For most of my childhood, I had short hair. Really short hair. We’re talking male-pattern baldness short. Imagine Paul Simon in the 1970s and you’ll get the picture.
My best friend, Suzy, had long, golden curls. She had Jan Brady-style blonde hair (clipped back with a barrette, and ringlets coming down on each side).
I envied her hair and wished that we could somehow trade hair. I wanted long hair badly enough that I would parade around my house with a bath towel on my head and pretend that it was my long hair.
Imagine my excitement when I found a lovely red hippie wig at a garage sale.
It was the most beautiful copperish-auburn color, and it was the perfect early 1970s hairdo – long, straight, and parted in the middle. I bought it for 25 cents and don’t remember much about that wig except that I LOVED it.
I also remember scaring the crap out of my parents one morning on our way to church.
They looked in the rearview mirror, expecting to see their little brunette Paul Simon-ish daughter, but instead saw a REALLY short redheaded hippie girl in the back seat.
It’s a miracle they didn’t crash the car!
Years went by, and as I got older, I finally grew the long hair I desired. It was gorgeous, and I adored it. I felt like “me” in my long hair.
So, there’s no deep psychological meaning behind my choice to keep my hair long. Like most women, my hair length is simply a matter of personal preference.
And those old rules about cutting your hair short if you are over a certain age?
I throw those old rules in the trash, where they belong. Who needs ’em?
BUT…WHY GO GRAY COLD TURKEY WITH LONG HAIR?
When I made up my mind to go gray back in February 2018, I researched different ways to go gray. As I’ve said before, I was a brunette for 50 years and knowing myself pretty darn well, I knew that I needed time to shed that identity.
I knew that if I went from being a long-haired brunette to a short-haired silver sister overnight, it would be very traumatic for me. (Some women love the quick transition, but for me and others, it would be super jarring.)
I also knew that I was simply done doing any sorts of coloring or chemical treatments. I’d had a bad experience bleaching a small (thankfully) portion of my hair in college (it turned bright orange and was very damaged).
Therefore, I chose to do a cold-turkey grow out, which basically means not doing any more salon treatments on my hair except for an occasional trim.
Here are some more thoughts on the cold turkey long hair grow out from two of my Instagram silver sisters:
Had a ponder…why cold turkey? Because I’m essentially lazy? First thought, then…no. The@cathrynstruecolours
growoutis a kind of raspberry to all the years of perfectionism and constant dye related stress. And its teaching me to trust more, to accept the seemingly endless waiting, to focus more on other things. It is incredibly liberating once you get used to it. It becomes the new norm
It took me a long time to decide to go gray and stop dyeing but I felt like if a woman had the right to say, “I want to keep dyeing my hair”, then I had the right to say “I don’t want short hair” if I ever did stop.
My dark hair was my identity. So I clung to my dark tresses and when I started to go grey I covered it up for years until it just became a hassle. Every two weeks a white halo appeared.
I researched it watched YouTube videos etc. and finally made the decision with one stipulation; that I would not cut it off but I would go through the process and give myself time to get used to the new hue of color around my face.@girl_gone_gray
I knew it would be hard and people would share their opinions but I need the daily transformation to learn to love my new self and whatever color my hair decides to become.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU KEEP YOUR HAIR LONG WHILE YOU GO GRAY?
Let’s be honest here… going gray cold turkey with long hair is NOT for the faint of heart!
Why? Because, depending on the color of your dyed hair, you can expect to go through a bunch of wild variations of hair color over a period of many months as you grow out your silver roots!
For example, here I am at 17 months dye-free. Before I got to this point, I went through a long “skunk stripe” phase (dark with white roots), which eventually morphed into “calico” (dark brown, light brown, orange, and gray hair), which sometimes ventured into crazy “African Wild Dog” territory!
Now I’m at what some have called the “Salt, Pepper and Paprika” phase of the grow out. My hair is mainly white, with dark brown/black underneath, and a smattering of faded, orangey brunette dye on the ends.
(If you are going gray from blonde or light red hair, I assume you will not go through as many wild variations as us dark brunettes. Or do you? Let me know in the comments!!).
HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR DEMARCATION LINE
Many women are afraid of the demarcation line (the obvious line between your dyed hair and your gray roots).
There are two main ways to deal with this fear:
You can fade your hair dye or learn to love your demarcation line. Or you can do both at the same time, like me!
METHOD #1: FADE YOUR HAIR DYE
There are a few articles out there about how to fade your hair dye, but I haven’t tried many of them myself yet, so I’m not comfortable recommending many methods.
The method I used to fade my dye was very simple: Once a week, I washed my hair with a clarifying shampoo. Clarifying shampoo can be VERY drying for your hair, so I always followed it up with a deep conditioner.
Did it work? Yes! My dye faded fairly quickly from a dark brunette to a light orangey-brown (aka “blorange.”)
Would I do it again? I don’t know. Yes, the faded dye made my demarcation less visible but I sometimes wonder if my clarifying routine is the reason my dyed brunette ends turned very orange.
I had to wash my hair once a week with blue shampoo to tone down the brassiness. By the time I passed the 14th month of my transition, blue shampoo did not work as well and I just gave up trying to cover the blorange.
By that point, I’d gotten used to the orange and it didn’t really bother me.
Hot tip: If I were to start this whole grow-out over again, I think I might do what my friend Jonie did: She kept dyeing her ends (not the gray roots) a dark brunette color, to avoid the whole “blorange” problem.
If you go this route, make sure to find a gray-friendly hairdresser who won’t “accidentally” cover your gray roots!
METHOD #2: LEARN TO LOVE YOUR DEMARCATION LINE
Everyone is so damn afraid of the “skunk stripe”. But I ask you – what’s wrong with skunks? They are so darn cute!
I mean, seriously, look at that face:
If you are interested in going gray cold turkey, the easiest thing for you to do is learn to find the beauty in transitioning hair. Embrace your skunk line!
BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLES OF TRANSITIONING-TO-GRAY HAIR
Take a peek at the following photos, and maybe you’ll appreciate how unique and interesting the demarcation line can be!
There is so much negativity around the concept of growing out your gray roots, but once you start the process, I bet you will find it not only easier to deal with your demarcation line, but you’ll also be able to find the beauty in it!
Going Gray? Make Sure to Read:
10 Transition Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs
In this post, I share the 10 most common gray hair transition mistakes to avoid so you can have a smooth and successful journey to naturally silver hair.
LONG GRAY HAIRSTYLES
Another advantage to the long gray hair growout is the versatility of hairstyles. Don’t like your hair down? Pull it into a ponytail, high bun, or braid!
When gray hair and dyed hair blend together in a braid, the result is gorgeous, as evidenced by silver sister Nikki:
Carla, aka @silvergirlmx, is a great account to follow on Instagram if you want examples of beautiful long gray hairstyles:
There’s something about braided silver hair (and braided gray/dyed hair) that is super-beautiful, don’t you agree?
VIDEO: How to Go Gray Cold Turkey With Long Hair
ALTERNATIVES TO THE LONG GRAY COLD TURKEY GROWOUT
Don’t want to go gray cold turkey with long hair? You have alternatives!
If you want to keep your hair long but not go through the long calico phase, you can always look into salon processes for going gray from dyed hair.
There are a few possible downsides to this route:
- You will need frequent visits to the salon, so it can get expensive.
- Depending on the color of your hair, it may need to get bleached, which can be damaging.
- You’ll miss out on what some of us consider a really fun aspect of going gray the long way: it gives you a lot of time for introspection and self-reflection!
There’s nothing like going out in public with long gray roots and calico ends to force you to face your fears, trust me! I found it super-freeing and being liberated from the fear of aging changed other aspects of my life as well.
But, many women have gone the salon route with long hair and are very happy with the results. Just make sure you find a salon that specializes in gray blending.
And, of course, if you are being driven crazy by your long calico hair and just want to be done with the transition, you can always chop it all off!
Check out my Silver Hair Transition Stories for women who went the pixie route. They have great tips and rock their shorter hair!
Dye Strip Method
If you don’t want to cut your hair short, but you don’t want to sport a demarcation line and you aren’t keen on the risk of damage presented by the salon transition, then the dye strip technique would be a great way for you to go gray.
Finally, if you can’t use dyes (because of an allergy, or because you are simply DONE with the idea of using any dyes on your scalp, but you ALSO don’t want to cut your hair short or get a salon transition, the using wigs to go gray is an excellent (and easy) way to keep your hair long AND go gray “gracefully” at the same time.
PROS AND CONS OF GOING GRAY COLD TURKEY WITH LONG HAIR
- Prolongs the gray hair transition, so you have time to get used to the “new you”
- Avoids the damage caused by toning, bleaching or blending
- Long hair can easily be put up into a ponytail, bun or braid if you want to change up your look
- Saves money as you only need occasional trims
- You will get a lot of comments/suggestions to just “cut your hair off” to hasten the transition
- Your gray hair transition could take a year or two, depending on the length of your hair
How about you?
Long gray hair or short gray hair? Let me know why in the comments!
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!
Check out my Amazon Shop for all your gray hair needs!
Sherry’s Luscious Long Gray Hair
Transition Story: Bek
Terry’s Lovely Long Gray Hair
Joli’s Silver Hair Journey
I’m almost 9 months into my gray grow out from platinum bleached blonde hair. I’m pushing 54 & my hair was almost to my waist. I had 6 inches chopped off because it was so damaged that it wouldn’t stay brushed. I was also shedding like a dog so I kissed it goodbye in December. last week I had another 3-4 inches chopped off & added bangs & long layers. I went from hating my hair to loving it.. gray/blonde and all. My husband doesn’t really like it but I think it’s a him problem. I’m getting tons of compliments on it since tge second cut. I’m almost full white in the front 3rd & it transitions to almost full brown in the back. Now my hair feels better, stays brushed & looks soft & healthy. I don’t ever see myself returning to being an over processed blonde again.
Please explain the dye strip method!
Whoops! Didn’t realize the link wasn’t in the blog post. I just added it, but you can also click here.
Hi, I’m 55yrs.old and undecided about my transition I’ve started the gray roots but go back to color but I’ve said soon my birthday is coming up in a few months and I’ll decide then Thanks for your introduction.
I’ve seen semi-permanent dye suggested as a way to soften the demarcation line, but nowhere have I found using semi-permanent dye throughout the growing out process. That is what I’m doing. I’m about 8 months in. the semi-permanent dye claims to wash out in 28 shampoos. Since I use the dye every 8 weeks and only wash my hair twice a week, I never get to 28 shampoos, so I don’t know for a fact that it washes out completely. Some people say it does; some people say it doesn’t. My hair is a little longer than shoulder length, and once the last of the permanent dye is cut off, I plan to let the semi-permanent dye wash out in 28 shampoos. Has anyone tried this? Why don’t I ever see this technique mentioned when I read lengthy articles about the many ways of going gray?
Hi, Stephanie! The reason that you don’t hear it mentioned is because it’s very difficult to keep the semi-permanent dye from staining your silver hair. Anything with the word “permanent” in it – EVEN if it’s “semi” permanent – has the potential to dye your silver hair and it will not wash out (it will just fade gradually until it eventually gets cut off). So, it’s not recommended to do it this way, but if it’s working for you, keep going and let me know how it went when you’re done. Best of luck to you!
I’m 53, with textured latina graying hair down to my waist. Never dyed it. I get mocked constantly by people of all ages. The older I get, the less I care about unsolicited advice, especially since I don’t give advice on other people’s looks myself. If you don’t like how I look, turn your head and check out that stylish young lady to your left. Mind your business.
I get so many compliments on my long naturally graying hair. So many women want to do it but are scared of society. They make it seem like you are crazy not wanting to cover the gray.
So many men(young and old) love my hair and I even had someone tell me I could be a hair model. Lol.
I love seeing other women enjoying life and not falling into the money pit. I started in 2016 and my gray/silver looks like I highlighted my hair. I can totally relate to all the things about other peoples options on cutting it too. Who gives them the right?
Thanks for sharing!❤️
You’re welcome, Lisa! So glad you enjoyed it!
My sister in 64 and her sister in law who is mid 40ties has decided she wants to stop dying her long dark hair and go natural grey. She does not like the chemical etc . It has been just over a year and every single time my sister visits this woman she talks about her grey hair bitterly for weeks. I just do not get it. I actually think grey hair looks lovely.
I also wanted to say that your child hood pic is almost an exact replica of my childhood pic. My mother is obsessed with short hair. If I grow my hair past my chin the comments start about how it makes me look like an old witch. I am 56. I do not understand where this nonsense of cutting the hair once we get older comes from. I listened to my Mother for years and always keep my hair above my chin even though I wanted it long. This yea I grew it out and the comments from her never stop. I plan to stop dying it and do the salon grey match system.
Hi, Dianne: I’m sorry you have to keep hearing flak from your Mom about your hair. It’s YOUR hair and your choice, period. I bet it looks lovely!
Hello, I just turned 41 and decided to let my grays shine back in November. I did have long hair (dark brown) but cut it shoulder length. I kind of wish I would have kept it longer so I could pick it up in different styles such as braids but oh well. Letting it grow out now for the summer time. I’ve also decided to go cold turkey. I sometimes use blue or purple shampoo but not too much since it dries out hair. I’ll be honest, growing out my grays has been an emotional roller coaster, but I’m sticking with it. Luckily, my husband and kids are supportive of my decision, but other family members aren’t on board and have made comments. Good thing I can care less for what their thoughts are and know that I am making the right decision for me. One thing that helps is reading about others transitions such as yours. Thank you so much for sharing your story with the world. ? You are helping woman like me to be brave and feel beautiful with my gray hair.
If you can, ask her who tells her how to wear her hair, and why their opinion of her hair means so much to her that she transfers it to you?
Someone’s opinion DOESN’T mean it’s right for you.
Or ask her if she’d just be NICE?
The old rule, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” really needs to be invoked here!
Sounds like our mothers went to the same daughter-parenting school. I never had long hair throughout school, college, etc. the longest I grew it then was shoulder length in college. She always got on my case about it, telling me long hair is not becoming. I finally started growing it long after she passed an. It is fairly long now. However, I’m gorging my grey out so it looks funky lol. I was going to do the grey blending but I’ve heard from many it is costly so I’ll just let it grow until I’m comfortable with the length before I see a stylist to cut the excess dyed hair off. Until then I will enjoy the sometimes odd-looking journey and wish you and P.S. #1 the best on yours.
Growing up, I always had mousy brown medium length hair. I started to dye it auburn at 22. The older I got, the shorter it got. At 52, I had it cut into a cute pixie and loved it. I stopped coloring it at 55 and started to receive compliments every single day! People thought I dyed it silver intentionally. I had no choice but to grow it out when the covid-19 pandemic hit and I couldn’t see my hairdresser. A year later I’m still getting compliments so maybe I’ll let it grow to shoulder length. Who knows!
Update: My salt and pepper bob is now just below my shoulders. I still get a lot of positive comments on it. Some of my friends have told me that I have inspired them to stop coloring their hair! I do warn them that grey hair is a different texture and to switch to a silk or satin pillowcase. It really does help. Silver Sisters unite!
go for it
Great to find this site. I have been staring in the mirror this AM wondering what to do. I am a natural blond and just turned 76. Yes, long hair. I have white at the temple area and recently noticed a patch of gray in the back. also a strange streak of deep golden blond (never had that color) from my center prt. No idea what either the gray or this streak is about. I decided not to cut my hair and just go with it. I cnd arrange my hair, pinned up so it doesn’t look so patchy. Not going many places during this virus, so the rest of the time I will deal with it being mostly down. I am considering the sjpray silver idea for a few spots, it I can locate some on line. Have fun ladies, I will.
I want to go grey gracefully ?
I haven’t colored my hair since last year. I had highlights in March and nothing since. The highlight have long faded and lots of salt is showing. I’m thinking of getting some silver highlights for fun! My friends mom said her husband didn’t ever want her to color her hair because he thought it would make him look older. The aged at the same rate. My hubby is slightly older and has lots more gray. I’m sure I’ll catch up soon!
Okay, I’m 63 and I’m going for it! I’m the Asian with the long, dark, wavy hair that covered roots for a hundred years (well close)! I’ve been contemplating the embracement of going natural and this pandemic was the turning point. I have a great support group (Hubs and daughter). The white is shining on the very top and the salt and pepper is coming in around my face. I think I can hang with it. I’ll be doing braids and combing straight back with no part. I may hit the hair dresser but…. I think I can do this.
Thank you for the inspiration!
You’re welcome, JoAnn! And you CAN do this! It’s fun, surprisingly!
I have been considering just going grey for the past 5 years. I have an excellent hairdresser/colorist who assisted the process with toners and hilites last spring but I changed my mind. I will be 61 in September, and think I am ready to just let my own genuine natural hair shine through. The pandemic has allowed the grey to just come in and i love it. I’m going to wait this out, I believe Mother Nature knows best sometimes and we need to be grateful for all of our gifts and blessings (I consider having a head full of thick healthy hair a blessing), and this just might be the time I truly practice what I preach… lol
I turn 63 at the end of this year and thought I would always dye my hair – I was one who feared the “skunk stripe”. With this pandemic I’ve had days where I wanted to embrace the gray and days where I’ve looked in the mirror and said to myself “Just dye it already!”. However, as it has grown out more I have found I’m more “Lily Munster” than “skunk stripe” and have decided to embrace it. I have been wearing my hair long for years because of growing up with a mom who made me wear mine shorter while I had a “Jan Brady” sister. I was so happy to find this blog! Right now I am planning on doing the “cold turkey” thing and not worrying about what other people say. My husband was actually the first one to say he LIKED the gray coming in, so I have a supportive husband at least, lol. Thank you to all the women who have bravely told their stories and shared their photos to help the rest of us! <3
You go girl!
You’re Inspiring JoAnn! I know you can do it👍🏼
Wishing you all the BEST as I remain hopeful for myself with this transition.
Over the past month +, I had decided to do everything you outlined.
It was so good to see it in writing ✍🏼
I’m 62, Alaskan Native/Filipino. Very Grateful for the support of my Hubby; daughter; two great friends that have already transitioned- a childhood friend and good friend that’s like a little sister; and of course, Katie ‘Goes Platinum’!
I’m 54 and two years ago I transitioned ‘all at once’. We were tripping overseas and in Europe I discovered, much to my excitement, grey hair dye! In many different shades . We don’t have this in Australia (who knows why?) I picked the lightest silver (my roots were almost totally grey/white) and covered my very pale blonde section easily. It came out a little pale lilac for about a week, but I wash my hair every day and eventually the difference between the roots and new grey/white section was unnoticeable. Had 1000 compliments from day one. Was so much easier than waiting to grow it all out.
That’s great, Millie! What brand was it,do you know?
Thank you for showing the way. I am turning 60 and have been wondering if I should just finally let me totally grey hair grow out, using the lockdown period. The ideas and styling you have shared are very inspiring, At the end of it, whatever the colour, styling and grooming is still key to great looking hair!
You’re totally right! Styling makes all the difference.
I was actually born with a gray streak on my dark brunette mane. My mom was always adamant that I have short hair (a bob) and didn’t allow me to grow it long. Once I moved out of my house, I decided to grow it long and I started going gray around my temples on my late 20’s and I didn’t want to dye it but people kept pressuring me. I felt bad because people would actually keep criticizing my hair and took a toll on my self esteem. When I was reaching my 40’s, I decided enough was enough, I don’t have the money nor the energy to be dying my hair so often and I definitely do not want it short ever again (if I can avoid it). So…. I am 43 and I am letting it grow, it is down to my waist with a very prominent transition line, I took a pic of the back of my head and yep, it is very noticeable. Braids are my best friend, pony tails not so much because I have a lot of flyaways but no big deal. It takes a lot out of me to keep the naysayers away (my husband, he *definitely* doesn’t like my grays) but at the end of the day, IT IS MY HAIR and well, if you don’t like it, too bad. 😉
I had my hairdresser give me ash blond highlights. It helped hide the demarcation line and lightened everything up at the same time. A year later I did it again and now I think I’ll leave things be. It’s nice not to have to worry about roots showing.
The part in the hair is what creates the demarcation line. I pull my hair straight back (no part) with a head band. The gray roots are more subtly dispersed in that manner. I can temporarily use head bands and scarves to cover up the gray roots until they grow long enough to look good.
Great idea!!!! 👩🏻🦳👍👏
I am 46 and I have decided to start transitioning to gray. I cannot wait but every once in a while I think ‘what the heck am I doing?’. I think I worry more about what others will think. But my appointment is set and I am going for it!
Good for you! You might be surprised by how freeing it feels!
Hi, im Lila, I’ve had long hair forever and im a brunette. I’ve been dying my roots only for several years and im tired of doing it every 2 weeks. I’m going to bleach my hair and then dye it a color that’ll blend with my gray. Any suggestions?
I just can’t decide on my hair color, it’s got so many colors, still highlighted in areas however now at 61 I have long streaks in to middle of hair that are completely grey, I have hair just past shoulders that is curly, any ideas of what to do?
Hi, Carrie: It really depends on your temperament – are you OK with growing out that gray streak slowly, or do you want to grow it out in a subtler way? Check out my post about How to Go Gray From Colored Hair, and then check out the Silver Revolution Facebook group. I bet you’d get some great advice there!
You covered a lot of ground with this fine column! In it, you mentioned your friend just kept dying her ends during the transition. Would it work to use WOW, do you think?
Thanks! I think you can use Color Wow for as long as you want on the roots. The only reason to dye the ends is to keep them from going brassy. If your hair won’t go brassy, I don’t think you’d need to go that route.
What I am looking for is a brunette highlighted hair topper that would cover the thinning while it grows out. I can’t find one anywhere. I’d love to stay medium brown and have a brown/highighted gray topper to go on top to cover the thinning, and then when I get a lot of gray wa-la…remove the topper. If anyone knows where I can find a brunette topper with highlights of gray, please email me. or post
Hi, loved this article. My mother went grey about 5 years ago. She just turned 70 and the grey hair makes her look 10 years younger. She wears hers short. I’m 32, I’m very low maintenance, ie, lazy! I never dye my hair. Its naturally very dark brunette, almost black. I dont have any grey roots as such, but I seem to have some full length blond/grey strands. I dont want to start dying it just because I’m getting a few greys and I’m seriously considering just letting it go!
Any tips, advice for a woman in her 30s for going from natural dark to natural gray? My hair is extremely thick and heavy and naturally kinky! I wear it long but it’s always tied in a pony
Hi, Nanette – you can find a lot on Amazon. Here is one that says it’s grey/blonde but it certainly looks gray/brown to me.
I let my gray start growing in — it’s about an inch now — and was wondering whether to give up, but this article inspired me! I am going to keep going. I’ve got somewhat medium-long light brownish blonde hair. I don’t mind the color coming in and I liked the color I had; they just don’t look great together. But it is do-able, and I probably only have another 9 months or so to go. The pictures of all the different phases of women growing theirs out at different stages and different original colors were really helpful. Thanks for writing this.
I am excited to have found this blog and the Facebook silver support groups. For years I told myself that if/when I lost weight, I would stop coloring my hair. Well, I’ve lost a couple of sizes and have stopped coloring. The line is about 1.5 inches, but my hair is pretty long (it’s about halfway down my back in the back) so is going to take awhile to grow out. Reading your blog also made me realize I need to find a new shampoo and conditioner — I’ve always loved the one I use because it’s so great with color-treated hair and keeps the color from fading — exactly what I DON’T want now! Thanks for sharing your experience!
You’re welcome, Robyn! So glad you found the blog and the Facebook groups. It helps to have that support!
Hi Katie: Really enjoyed your story. I guess I’m the opposite of you; I’ve had short hair for more years than I can remember. In our family the women just don’t gray very much. I have a lovely patch of silver at each temple and the front is just starting to turn. That would be great if I was 40, I could just be patient and watch it turn. However I just had my 65th birthday. I’m kind of fortunate because our women don’t wrinkle either. Other than a few forehead lines (I’ve had since my 30s) I have a few tiny lines around my eyes. Back to the hair. I hoped that I’d be different, that my hair would go all over silver. No luck. So with the fashion being for gray or silver hair, I decided to help nature out. My daughter and I (she went to cosmotology school some years ago) got some products and started in. It’s a work in progress because we’re having to buy our product on-line and the first batch didn’t give what I wanted. Due to the really generous advice of a top colorist named Jack Martin from California I think we’ve got what we need and the second try should do it. Of course keeping it up will be time consuming but well worth it if I can have gorgeous silver white hair. My husband? He doesn’t care. He’s 81, already has had silver hair for 40 years and says I’ll look great however. He’s great!
I have been transitioning my hair to gray for about 14 months. I had mid shoulder length hair that was dyed chocolate brown for over 25 years. I have a hard time with change so going slow and let it grow was the best step for me. It, like you, gave me a chance to get use to the person in the mirror. I fell and broke my wrist in June which made caring for long hair a real challenge. To gain more independence, I had my hair cut a more manageable shoulder length long bob. This is resulted in having all gray except about 2 inches on the end. I LOVE My HAIR!!! I get daily positive comments. My husband has always called me “Mother Nature”. He says my hair makes me even more natural looking and even more lovely ( his words). I feel free, confident and excited. I enjoyed the transition period. Each day made the change easier. I think my key to going gray was just accepting the natural me . Cold Turkey for 95% of the process was the right choice for me. Now with wrist healing, my mission is to regain those lost 6 inches of hair ( in Gray this time). I loved your post! It’s great to hear how other travel this road. Your are an inspiration!
Thanks, Lori! And your hair sounds GORGEOUS!
Hi Katie! I am just starting my transition. I am a natural redhead who started going gray/white in my early 40’s… I’ve fought it hard by dying my hair, a bright, medium auburn shade, every 4-6 weeks.. with long hair (mid back) it was getting to be too much to keep up with dying it myself, and I’m not one to spend money at a salon on hair dying. I will be 50 y/o this October and made the decision three months ago to stop the insanity. My husband isn’t thrilled with my decision as he thinks it will make me “look old” and he has always loved my red hair. But after seeing the beautiful pictures of “silver foxes” on Pinterest I am determined to stay the course AND keep my long tresses in the process! I am worried about using any clarifying shampoos to “hurry the process”.. because I don’t want orange hair!! So any advice you can give me regarding growing my gray/white out gracefully would be great!! My bangs have faded a lot, and mixed with the gray coming in on top, and the beautiful white coming in at the temples and sides, the color is now a dirty strawberry blonde darkening to a fading med. auburn.. not terribly horrible, since I wear my hair in a bun most of the time for work, my concern is how bad it looks when I wear it down. I should add that I am also in the process of growing out my bangs that Ive had for over 30 years.. I think that is harder for me than deciding to grow out my gray!! You dont see hardly any pictures of red heads growing out their gray, so it’s so hard to gage how it’s going to look mid-point, or get advice on products that will help the transition. Any advice you can give me would be wonderful!! Thank You!!
I decided to go grey Feb 2018 and received alot of criticism from “friends”. They think I’m crazy and don’t care about my appearance. My husband fully supported my decision and loves it! I receive compliments from strangers as well as coworkers almost daily. It’s healthy, shiny, full and wavy. No more spending countless hours in the salon chair every 4 weeks and the money saved it unbelievable. My hairdresser supports me and coached me thru the process. There were times I wanted to dye my hair and she put her foot down sharing how beautiful my hair is. It helps having a positive support system for sure. Embracing my grey hair is liberating and the best decision ever!
Wonderful! I feel the same. xoxoxo
Thank you so much for your column. I am 45 years old and have embraced going gray in the last couple years. It has been a long journey as I started going gray at the age of 18 and colored my hair as long as I can remember. Finally transitioning to blond and platinum. Tomorrow I’m getting the last of the orangey brown taken out, fresh haircut and will rock this beautiful silver hair I have!
Congratulations! I bet it will look gorgeous 🙂
I am going gray cold turkey, but I am using a silver spray to streak into my hair. It gives a beautiful blend and doesn’t make the skunk look stand out as much. I love it!
What is the name if the spray you use? I’m looking for something like this! Thank you@
I love reading all the stories. I’m about 3/4 of my hair being gray and fighting with myself on weather I should cut the rest off. The thing is when I style my hair I love it. Then I get days where I could could cut it off. But reading the stories I’m just going to get trim and then I’ll feel better. Thanks for your stories!!
I’m 50 and I’ve been growing out my grey for around 2 years now and would describe the process as liberating. I’ve never had a negative comment and often receive compliments, especially from my hairdressers who love it. The colour I would have to describe as tartan, as it has so many shades from pure white at the crown through dark brown and ending at light brown at the tips. I have quite long hair (past my bra strap) and would not dream of chopping it off to cheat myself of the journey. I would whole heartedly encourage any woman to do the same. It is so much more interesting than any dye job I’ve ever had or seen
Long hair for me. I was also made to have short hair as a child. My mom could not deal with my knotty curly hair. I look terrible with short hair. The only negative comment I’ve heard was from my dad, who said that older women with long grey hair do not look attractive. I told him I disagreed lol I have been growing my grey for a year now. My husband is very supportive. He loves it.
I am 54 and the last time I coloured my hair was 28 November 2018. I’ve got 4 inches of regrowth and then a hideous sort of rusty red and then an even more hideous yellowy red – ugh. Anyway, I’m at that stage where it’s definitely, quite clearly, intentional – not a case of I’ve let myself go! I am a natural blonde (albeit a dirty blonde) but dyed it auburn for about 35 years. I did cut about 8 inches off recently but since it was a good 24 inches long to begin with, it’s still fairly long and I actually prefer this length as I feel a bit less Janis Jopliny (not that she wasn’t fabulous!). The only thing I find it hard to cope with … the frizz! I live in a hard water area and, oh my lord, it’s a nightmare.
Hi, Angela! Regarding the hard water (I have it, too), take a peek at my post about Avoiding Yellowing in Gray Hair. There’s are some hard water solutions there that REALLY help! I just ordered one of the shower heads for myself as hard water leaves such a buildup on your hair.
I also found the frizz to be noticeably worse once I transitioned to gray. I have very thick, “Janis Joplin-y hair” a.k.a. Type 3B wavy curls and I’ve my natural pattern was always pretty bad-looking (no cute beach waves here). I live a a very humid area (Sarasota, FL) and even before I stopped dyeing I’d have to touch up may hair 2-4 times a day with a flat iron to smooth out the frizz. After I went gray, the frizz was waaay worse and didn’t respond as well to flat ironing. I had a very poufy Bozo look and I almost went back to coloring for frizz reasons alone. But last summer I used a DIY keratin treatment (Uncurly) which totally eliminated my frizz and made it look better than at any previous point of my life. It looks good if I air-dry it (a looser wave than my natural one, and I’ve never had anything but horrible looking air-dried hair) or I can blow-dry/flat iron it into a salon-looking style and about ten times faster than it used to take. I’ve got hard water, too, because we’re on a well, but for me the main problem was definitely all the humidity and now it’s a non-issue. I’m not sure I love my natural shade of gray but I haven’t totally finished the transition so I’m waiting to see where that all ends up.
I get the frizz, too. Have you tried the John Frieda Frizz Ease products? I love them. I use the shampoo and conditioner with coconut oil in it and I love the mousse. After shampooing, I towel dry my hair, put the mousse in and give the waves a scrunch. I then let it finish drying naturally. They also make a spray product called Day 2 that is light and great for touch ups. I spray and then use my fingers like a rake so I don’t get frizzy. My daughter has short curls that can also lean towards frizz and she especially loves the mousse.
I have had long hair all my life so much so that it is a part of my personality and certainly my preference. I see short hair as being much harder to maintain the style while hair all one long length can give me multiple options on how to wear it. And, i really want to go gray! like you, i am facing people (especially my hair dresser and mother) telling me “no! not yet! you are too young and still in the working force!!” and, to an extent i get that. there is a huge issue with age discrimination and i am on the hunt for a new job. with all this being said, i have to say that your website has given me hope that, one day (hopefully in the very near future) i can go cold turkey and grow my long hair out gray!
thank you so much for your story and your support!
You’re welcome! Good luck with your transition!
Thank you so much for your story ! I’m also a silver sister and my hubby loves it! I’ve also been a hairdresser for 38 years and there are ways to transition safely, you just have to find a hairdresser that knows what they’re doing ! My is long and curly, I get a ton of compliments ! Thanks again for your story ! ?✌?❤️ P.S my husbands hair is long and silver. We are quite striking together !
Hi, Vicki! I’d love to see a picture of you and your husband! If you get a chance, send one to me. And a before and after!
I wear my hair long and about 2 years ago decided to go grey. I still have a way to go but I actually get compliments on my “reverse ombre”.
I was just contemplating whether to change my grey hair after many, many years of coloring. I have always had fairly longish hair, like many women it was a trophy for my sense of beauty. I decided to chop it all off and start anew. Boy, did I get a lot of opinions thrown my way, especially from other women. It was a huge transition but in the long run, my hair grew out and I hope to make it to shoulder length. I have days where I feel a bit washed out but overall I think it was a positive decision. It is strengthening to hear all of the women on this site tell their personal stories.
I personally love the “reverse ombre” look – it’s really grown on me this past year (literally and figuratively!)
Absolutely LOVE this article and it has given me the courage to just do it! I wish I’d read it two days ago as I just had my hair colored again yesterday but it was the last time. I’m 53 with hair past my shoulders, have gained about 40lbs in the past 3 years and separated going on 2 years after a 34 year marriage but the new ME is coming!!! Thank you! ?
I’m so glad you loved it! Good luck with your transition and the new you!!
Koryn!! I totally feel you (except I’m going on 30 years of marriage to an awesome guy in October of this year!) I’m 54, have reeeally been struggling with health crud and decided to go grey I need November 2018. I’ve also gained weight over the past 3-4 years, so all of that was creating this ‘who a man I?’ kind of deal. I’m still hanging I now there, and keep my hair up in a messy bun or braid to handle the transition. Good luck!
I had just colored my hair the day before, I woke up the next morning with a “thought” I am finished with the dye, it’s like an awakening. I never really gave it much thought before , where did this thought or idea come from, who knows. Could it be a “connection” as so many women are ditching the dye? So, it makes me think we ARE connected on this planet!
Dec 21, 2018 I started my journey on this rainbow, because I am after that pot of Silver!
I was a hairdresser previously so, I knew that I would have to do the “Cold Turkey” to keep my long hair healthy, which includes the colored hair. I made a few announcements with my family, friends, and work, everyone embraced this with excitement, except my daughter…lol. She will get over it!
Thank you Katie for your videos, as I find that they help support me when I am off my game, I just replay one… I feel recharged for the next hurdle, your advice is so welcoming and encouraging and again, Thank you for being you, love knowing that so many women are doing this ditching the dye thing! ❤?
What a great comment, thank you Teena! I’m so glad the videos help you. And I’m so glad you are on this journey with me and all the other silver sisters!
I am a “redhead” with medium length hair. I’m done with dyeing ( for almost 40 years!) I want to feel liberated. I don’t want all those chemicals in my hair anymore, especially as a 2-time cancer survivor. And the salon expense and wasted time not for me anymore. I’m ready to make the cold turkey transition now. I’m willing to have multi-colored hair for a while, whatever the color. My only concern is that I want to get back out into the dating circuit, and I am a bit concerned that my transitioning hair may be a turnoff to many men (I’m in my mid-60’s). But, I need to do this for me. Any suggestions as to handling dating while going gray?
Hi, Candace! Have you read Going Gray by Anne Kreamer? She did a lot of controlled experiments and found that gray hair on a woman didn’t affect her dating life at all. Yay! In terms of the transition, see my post about How to Make Your Cold Turkey Transition fun. A lot of women use headbands, scarves, root powder, etc. to cover the demarcation line until their dye fades and things start blending better. Good lucK!
I’m glad to see that it can be done and look good throughout.
I’ve just turned 40 and up till I was 30 I’d had short hair. So I love my long hair and so excited to see what lies under my highlift coloured hair. As a hairdresser I’m waiting for the comments lol
So glad grey is more acceptable now and in fashion!!!
I just turned 41 and have been dying my hair since I was 25. I have wanted to just let it go for about a year, but everyone seems to talk me out of it, saying I’m to young. I am tired of dying it and nervous to start my grow out. I even tried blond from my dark hair which ruined my hair and I had to chop it short.
I am glad that someone close to my age is also embracing there gray.
I am excited for this journey.
Oh. My. Gosh. I could relate to your childhood totally. I will never forget the day in elementary school when my mother took me to the salon. I had long hair. I dreamt about having hair like Farrah Fawcett. When we got to the salon I was so excited because that’s what I thought I was going to get- Farah Fawcett hair! Little did I know ….mother had already talked to the hairstylist. She cut my hair off. I mean, off. I think my father’s hair was longer. My little sister ( now age 52) still remembers it. She cried with me. Since then I have had shortish hair but I’ve always dreamed of long hair. Sometimes I literally have long hair dreams! Eight years ago I stopped coloring. My mom died last year and several months later, suddenly I thought…yes, I’m going to grow my hair. This is a healing thing for me and very personal….and I don’t care what anyone thinks anymore. And you are so right-its none of anyone’s business how we wear our hair! This is Kani from FB by the way.
Hi, Kani – so glad you could relate! That sounds traumatic. I would have loved to have had Farrah Fawcett hair, but the closest I got was the Dorothy Hamill cut :-). I think your long hair will look beautiful!
I am long haired brunette and started the transition about 4 mos ago when I could no longer handle the chemical fumes. I have COPD. It was not by choice, but so I could breathe. To me I look like an old hag. Plus I put on 100 pounds after a long illness and just feel awful. My hair is 3 colors. Dark brown from my neck down, reddish brown from years of the skunk stripe not taking the dye properly, and yellowish gray from the roots to my eyebrows.
Any advice how to make my gray look more silver, and any non chemical way to fade the browns. I tried dandruff shampoo and vitamin C once. Didn’t do much. Any help would be appreciated. Thankyou. You look beautiful and the “color the gray” population….may be jealous at the size of your “cajones’ and the amount of self confidence you have!?
I’m so sorry to hear about your health issues! You might want to try the QuickSilverHair Clay by Joli Campbell. It really brightens the hair and helps with yellowing.
In terms of fading the browns – you definitely will have to use the dandruff shampoo or clarifying shampoo treatment more than once. I use Neutrogena Anti-residue shampoo once a week and it has REALLY faded my dye.
Other than that, it’s hard to say what could make your hair more silver – highlights/lowlights and gray blending are all out as they would have chemical fumes as well. I say try the hair clay and start using a clarifying shampoo once a week. Hope that helps!
And thanks for the sweet words 🙂
I am so pleased to be going grey! So fed up with the chemicals for me and the world’s health.
I now have the courage to stay long while I transition just because I can and because these powerful women chose to as well.
I just think of the vastly creative hairstyles out there now and I wonder, “what the heck was I worried about?.” I am going to use creative additions, styles etc. to really work with my hair. If I go short, I go short. But for now, I love my long hair and now I know that I don’t have to give it up for anyone! It’s mine. Besides, I am not my hair.
Go for it girls!
You’re welcome! My sentiments, exactly. Why was I so worried?!
I am in the middle of transitioning and enjoying the beautiful white around my face. The rest is salt and pepper. I can’t wait!
I spent $$$ at Ulta for blending that made it worse. Purple/blue shampoo are my best friends.
That sounds like a beautiful transition! Very striking.
I need advise I highlight my hair blonde to hide my grays and I have very long hair I also dye underneath red. I have no idea what my hair would look like if I let my gray grow out any advice would be appreciated
Unfortunately, the only real way to see what your gray will look like is to let it grow for a few months. But even then, it’s hard to predict what it will look like when you are fully done. Take a look at Grombre on Instagram or Facebook – or join our Silver Revolution group to see all the lovely ladies with gray hair and get inspired! If you don’t want to let your gray grow out, you can also talk to a stylist at a salon to find out if they do grey blending or other methods to help blend your natural hair as your dye grows out. Check out my salon directory for a gray-friendly salon, or follow the link at the top of that article for how to pick a gray-friendly stylist if your city is not listed. Good luck!
Hey there ladies. My story is pretty much the same as the rest of you. My hubby hates my hair being long and going through the part grey and my normal mouse like brown colour. I will never cut my hair of again. When we where we’d48 years ago I could sit on my beautiful wave long hair. Like a dutifuĺl wife I gave in and cut it all of. Biggest most stupid mistake ever. Ii can’t count how much money I have spent at the hair dresses . My last encounter was so bad and expensive I decided never again. So here I’m back with my beautiful long hair again part silver part brown but I love it and when I do cut it I will not be of this land and sòmeone will hopefully wearing my hair during the journey of cancer. Cheers ladies long is beautiful. Ruthe
I really relate to this post, still, even though my gray has completely grown out. I did cut my hair shorter near the end, but I wouldn’t call what I had a “big chop.” Since then I’ve let it grow out, back to shoulder length, and it feels more “me.” I have wavy hair and feel I need length to weigh it down a little, so it doesn’t spread out. My stylist (who I love) keeps encouraging me to cut it shorter, saying I need an “edgier” cut to avoid aging myself. I have trouble resisting her because I value her opinion, and she encouraged me in my decision to forego the dye. But I air-dry my hair and feel that more of a “style” isn’t me. I’m overdue for a trim and am going there tomorrow, but I’m unsure what to do.
Hi, Caryn: If you don’t mind my two cents, I think you should do what makes you comfortable. If you feel “off” with an edgier cut, then that would be more aging in the long run, because you wouldn’t feel like “yourself!” and that can hurt your confidence. I think confidence is a big part of beauty. xoxoxo
Transitioning to silver/white/grey hair, to me, it’s a new chapter in life.
Letting go of the old me & embracing “the best is yet to come”.
*learning to love my natural curly hair as well.
I’m full on silver now. @silver_n_curls
I feel A M A Z I N G!!!?
Girl On Fire ??
Vicki, you definitely sound on fire!! Who knew going gray could be so fun?!
Thanks for sharing, Katie. I’m a long hair person, and have cringed at the thought of cutting my hair short to transition. I’m going for a trim tomorrow and what you have said really helps me rethink cutting it short. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Lynda! So glad it helped you!
The best thing I could have done, is go gray! I am growing it longer because it is actually extremely healthy! I do love the looks I get from women! I think they envy me! Lol.
Also, what could be better than not planning your life around getting your roots touched up!
Agreed! I hated planning everything around root touch ups!
You’re welcome, Lynda! So glad it helped you!
Nice to have “met” you in the Silver support group on FB and I’m enjoying your blog so much!
At 11 months in I ALMOST CAVED!! I was hearing it from coworkers and some friends telling me GREY HAIR ISNT YOU!!! I consulted 2 stylists whom I trust about how to go about just adding super ash light highlights! But all I could feel was scared of more potential “Blorange ”!!
I went back into my silver transition groups and found the support I needed to persist!! That’s when I found ❤️YOU❤️ .
The coworkers and friends were wrong. Silver hair IS me!!! I decided then that long hair IS ME as well and even though during this transition I’ve cut a total of about 12 inches of length off my hair, I’m comfortable with going through it with long hair!
Thanks for your blog and support!!
Thanks, Teri! So glad you found the support you needed! This is such a personal decision, but it definitely helps to find other women (even online!) who understand and can cheer you on. I know it really helps me! xoxoxo
I love this Katie, and I won’t cut my hair!!
I’m glad to hear it, Jonie! You have gorgeous wavy hair!