Blog / February 7, 2019

Going Gray and Keeping Your Hair Long? Here’s What To Expect!

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 lot of unsolicited advice! 😜

Which begs the question:  Why do so many people feel free to give us their opinions about our hair?  I’m still trying to figure that out! It’s one of the great mysteries of the universe.

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. 

I’m not sure why, except that my Mom was a busy mother of 3 children.  Plus, I seem to remember that the few times that I had long hair, I either got gum stuck in it or experienced horrible tangles that would have required the assistance of the CIA to infiltrate.

image little girl red jumper
Katie at age 4…or Paul Simon?

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!

By the time I was a teenager and old enough to make my own hair decisions, New Wave was in and long hair was out. 

But in the early 1990s, I moved to North Carolina for graduate school.  The girls down South tended to be more traditionally feminine, and I started letting my hair grow… and grow.  It was BEAUTIFUL! 

I finally had gorgeous, long hair and I really felt “at home” with it.  I also appreciated the color, which was a very dark brown chestnut shade.

For the last 26 years, my hair length has ranged from as long as the middle of my back all the way to a chin-length bob.  But long hair is really what I prefer.  I feel like “myself” in longish hair.  That’s “the long and short of it” (LOL). 

There’s no deep psychological meaning to it.  It’s simply a matter of personal preference. 

And you know those old 1950s era “rules” that suggested women over 40 should cut their hair short? I think those kinds of rules are outdated and need to be discarded, don’t you agree?

Why can’t we have autonomy over our own hair, for gosh sakes?!

But why go gray cold turkey?

When I made up my mind to go gray back in February 2018, I researched different ways to go about it.  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 traumatic for me. 

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 growout is 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

@cathryngoesgray

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. 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. 

@girl_gone_gray

If you want to keep your hair long during your cold turkey gray hair transition, just keep in mind that you will go through a “calico” or “two-tone” phase.

If your hair is dyed a dark shade, like mine was, you will definitely be sporting a skunk stripe (i.e., demarcation line) for a little while.  

The skunk stripe will be noticeable at first, but you can fade your hair dye, and the skunk stripe will be less obvious after a few months. (If it really bothers you, read How to Make Your Cold Turkey Gray Hair Transition Fun! for some things you can do to cover up the demarcation line.)

image woman dark brunette dye and white roots

 

 

@flawsome_momma is at the early stages of transitioning, so the demarcation line is stronger. 

Below, you can see how much my dye has faded since I began.  The skunk stripe phase really didn’t last that long.  Once your roots grow in a couple inches, your gray grow-out will start to look intentional, and that’s when the real FUN begins!

The long hair cold turkey gray transition has its own brand of unique beauty, as evidenced by my silver sisters below:

While you are going through the two-tone phase, you might want to try experimenting with braids.  When gray hair and dyed hair blend together in a braid, the result is gorgeous, as evidenced by silver sister Nikki:

image gray hair blonde hair braids

To wrap things up, here are the Pros and Cons of keeping your hair long during your cold turkey gray hair transition.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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

If you are being driven crazy by your long hair and just want to be done with the transition, check out my Silver Hair Transition Stories for women who went the pixie route.  They have great tips and rock their shorter 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 shop on Amazon for all your gray hair needs: 
Katie Goes Platinum Storefront

Sherry’s Luscious Long Gray Hair

Transition Story: Bek

Terry’s Lovely Long Gray Hair

Joli’s Silver Hair Journey

Are you going gray cold turkey with long hair? Here is what to expect, so you can be prepared and enjoy your gray hair transition to the fullest! #grayhairtransition #goinggray #longhair

22 Comments

  1. Connie

    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.

    14 . Feb . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      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!

      14 . Feb . 2019 Reply
  2. Mary

    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!👍

    30 . Jan . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Hi, Mary:

      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 🙂
      Katie xoxox

      30 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  3. Bobbi

    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!

    Thanks Katie!

    17 . Jan . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      You’re welcome! My sentiments, exactly. Why was I so worried?!

      17 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  4. CAM

    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.

    16 . Jan . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      That sounds like a beautiful transition! Very striking.

      16 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  5. Linda

    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

    05 . Jan . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Hi, Linda:

      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!

      05 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  6. Ruthe

    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

    19 . Dec . 2018 Reply
  7. Caryn

    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.

    13 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      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

      13 . Dec . 2018 Reply
  8. Vicki

    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 🔥🎶

    10 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Vicki, you definitely sound on fire!! Who knew going gray could be so fun?!

      11 . Dec . 2018 Reply
  9. Lynda

    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!

    10 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      You’re welcome, Lynda! So glad it helped you!

      10 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      You’re welcome, Lynda! So glad it helped you!

      10 . Dec . 2018 Reply
  10. Theresa Smith

    Katie!
    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!!
    Cheers!
    Teri Smith

    10 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      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

      10 . Dec . 2018 Reply
  11. Jonie

    I love this Katie, and I won’t cut my hair!!

    09 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      I’m glad to hear it, Jonie! You have gorgeous wavy hair!

      09 . Dec . 2018 Reply

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