Inside: How to Embrace Your Grays When You Have No Choice
I happily ditched hair dye two years ago.
I’d been thinking about letting my natural gray hair grow out for years, and finally took the plunge when the time felt right.
But you might not have the luxury to decide if and when you will grow out your gray hair.
Instead, like a lot of women, you might be forced to grow out your hair dye for a variety of reasons that make it impossible to keep coloring your hair.
I polled women in my gray hair Facebook groups about their experiences having to gray against their will, and I’m including them below, along with some blog posts and product suggestions that will help you get through this.
If dyeing your hair again is not an option, I hope that these stories will give you a little peace about what it’s like to embrace your grays even if (at first) you weren’t ready.
Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
REASONS TO STOP DYEING YOUR HAIR
After the roots were a little over an inch, I was surprised to see the beautiful variety of greys, silver, platinum and white hair that I was naturally blessed with.
I always had dark brown hair and this was entirely new to me. I don’t know what it was but the more the silvers filled in, the more radiant I felt, and the more anxious I was for it to fully grow in.
Carol: I did not plan on ditching the dye at all. I was laid off and was unable to get a job so, for financial reasons, I began this wonderful journey. Honestly, there were a few times early in this journey that I would have dyed my hair back if I had the money.
In the early stages, temporary root spray, caps, hats and scarves helped me with the adjustment.
I felt liberated and free from the shackles of what society dictates a woman should do to look attractive. I would never go back to dyeing my hair…ever!!
ALLERGIES TO HAIR DYE
Kelly: I had been living with a red, hot, painful scalp for years. Found out last October that it was contact dermatitis and that it was caused by using any product with linalool in it, and that includes anything with a fragrance.
So I’m not allergic to dye, but to that one ingredient that’s found in nearly everything. I can’t use any toners either.
My last color was Sept 24. I was surprised by how much healthier my hair looked and that after a couple of months, it didn’t bother me at all to have a demarcation line.
I’m 6 months dye (and fragrance) free and I would never dye again. I like the color and I like the freedom.
Looking back at old photos, I realize the dye looked fake. I turned 50 last November.
Sandi: Been fighting the allergy thing for almost 2 years. The itching after dyeing was maddening and I developed sores the last time I dyed.
Silver Revolution has been an amazing source of inspiration and information!!! The beautiful pictures help me envision how I might look when I finish this long transition.
Maria: I had cataract surgery and was advised not to dye my hair for 6 months nor use any makeup. My first eye surgery was on April 2019 and the other eye on July 2019.
I decided to chop it off instead of transitioning. I had planned to do this after age 55 or so but am not turning back.
My hair returned to being silky and I love the salt and pepper look.
Tracey: I stopped dyeing because I was becoming allergic/burning scalp, and losing hair it seemed. Finances were part of it as well. I would never go back to coloring again.
Carole: I lost my hair in July 2019 whilst on chemo. I’m 58 and have dyed my hair for over 40 years so I only remember myself with blonde hair.
It started growing back mid-December and it was pure white.
I thought maybe the chemo had messed with the pigment but it’s almost April and still quite white. I don’t think I will dye it again. I quite like the way it looks.
Kimberly: I went through chemo ten years ago and lost all my hair. As it started to grow back, I realized it was almost all grey. My doctor didn’t want me to color it at that time and, to tell you the truth, it wasn’t a priority with me.
As I started to feel better and knew I was in remission, I just wanted to feel like myself again, so once I got the go-ahead I had it colored.
I wish now I hadn’t but going through cancer and chemo changes your perspective. Everyone knows when it’s the right time to give up the dye.
Colleen: Cancer was a wake-up call to remove as many chemicals as I could. Knowing it was for my health was a great motivator.
I was also able to cut my hair super short and people just thought it was for treatment so I didn’t have to grow the color out for months.
I was surprised at how nice of a silver it is (once my sisters saw it they all stopped colouring too)! I’ll never dye again.
Marianne: I lost my hair to chemo at 43. I dyed it when it was an inch long and never stopped.
Now I’m 55 and wish I hadn’t done that! The grow-out phase is going to be long! I think about shaving my head and starting over or at least going super short. I will wait until the grow-out is a bit more before deciding.
Deborah: I lost all my hair in November due to cancer. Been dyeing it dark brown for years. It has started to grow back now, but it is mostly white.
I’m in my 40s and not sure I am ready to embrace it.
But I also no longer want to put chemicals on my scalp every 3 weeks like I have been doing for the last 20 years.
Kim: I was seriously thinking about ditching the dye (my cousin inspired me), but then I was diagnosed with breast cancer which made up my mind.
I don’t have to have chemo, but there was something about that diagnosis that put me in the no more dye mindset.
I’m 4 months in and love it. Wish it would grow faster. And wish I did this sooner.
As to what helped me, seeing all kinds of beautiful, young-looking women rocking their silvers on Instagram… And no, I’m not tempted to dye it anymore.
Nan: I was 46 and had breast cancer.
When my hair came back it was grey and brown and I was just not ready, so dyed it as soon as I could.
Ugh! Hindsight is 20/20! Wish I had just let it grow out, but I never thought I’d ever not dye. Never say never!
I told myself that if I hated the grey I could always dye it again, but I honestly don’t think I will. I’m fascinated with watching it grow in and seeing the pattern! Lol.
Some days I feel like it makes me look old, other days I just Love it!! So, I think that’s really how I felt with dyed hair as well… some good days, some not so good days… so why ever dye it again?
OTHER HEALTH ISSUES
Shayna: In a manner of speaking the diagnosis, MCTD, was a catalyst of sorts. It shot out my hormones and thyroid which made my hair dry and thin.
When I started researching complementary medicine and found out about hair dye dangers and such I decided to stop coloring.
Now my hair is grey but thicker and healthier. Embracing my grey was part of an enormous 180 in my life.
Melody: After my third baby in the early postpartum days, my hair was falling out in chunks.
I’d had a sensitivity to hair dye before, but now with some bald patches, I decided to hold off dyeing for a while to let my hair thicken up.
I thought it would be better to let my grays show then be bald!
I really thought I would start coloring again but then I found out about Grombe and started following Katie Goes Platinum on Instagram and now I’ve been dye-free 2 years. But it started out of necessity
Jo-Ann: I had contemplated going grey for a while. Last year, on April 16 I had emergency surgery for a subdural hematoma and they shaved off one half of my hair.
After a week in the hospital I figured now was a good a time as any. I waited a few weeks until I got some growth, then cut off the other side of my shoulder-length hair.
It was dramatic but I didn’t have to go through that awkward grow-out stage and have a half-shaved head. I will never go back.
NO TIME TO COLOR
Jessica: I stopped colouring my hair as I was working full time in a very busy job whilst helping my Dad care for my mum at home (she had advanced dementia).
I had so many challenges to deal with so I dropped a lot of things to give me more time. When my Mum died, my hair had a lot of silver in it & I didn’t want to go back to the tyranny of regular dyeing.
I just cut it short to get rid off the last bits of colour & have continued to let it grow.
I’m now caring for my Dad who has cancer so I’m glad I didn’t go back to colouring it. One less job to do!
I needed to give my hair some leisure time… no dyes or heat! That was in January of 2019. In March of 2019, my curls are finally back ?.
Rosey: I had surgery and after the surgery, my hair started breaking off and falling out. My hair guy was of no help. He wanted to keep bleaching it.
So I got a bob and started growing it out. I never looked back. Would not ever dye again.
HOW TO GET THROUGH THE GRAY GROW-OUT
If you have no choice BUT to go gray, you should check out these articles to help you get through the grow-out phase.
First, How to Go Gray From Dyed Hair will show you all the options available to you. There’s no “right” way to go gray – you have options!
Feeling Stressed About Growing Out Your Gray? Read How to Make Your Cold Turkey Gray Hair Transition Fun for some tips:
Need a little inspiration? These books about gray hair can help you through the rough patches:
RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS TO USE WHEN YOU START YOUR GRAY HAIR TRANSITION
Gray (or graying) hair is NOT super high-maintenance. You can still use your regular shampoo and conditioner for the duration of your gray hair transition
However, if you are growing out your gray, your demarcation line (the line between your dyed hair and natural hair) may drive you a little crazy at first.
If that’s the case, Color WOW Root Cover-Up is a great way to temporarily touch up your roots.
Don’t like powder? You could try a root spray instead.
If you are transitioning from dark brunette hair to gray hair, you may want to buy a bottle of Joico Color Balance Blue Shampoo to reduce orange tones and brassiness as your dark dye fades.
Going gray from dyed blonde hair? I recommend Fanola No Yellow Shampoo to tone down brassiness. It also works on gray hair, so you can use this product even after your hair is all silver.
Blue and purple shampoos can be very harsh on your hair, so do not use them more than once a week at the most. Best practice? Rub them into dry hair, leave on for 5 minutes, hop in the shower, add a little water to create a lather, then rinse.
Since colored shampoos are VERY drying, always follow up with a really good deep conditioner such as Joico K-Pak Intense Hydrator.
Try to leave the deep conditioner on for at least 10 minutes. Your hair will feel fantastic!
I use fewer products on my hair since going gray because my hair is thicker, shinier and frizz-free now that it’s all-natural. (You can check out my current gray hair care routine for further information)
Advertisers would have you believe that gray hair is something to be despised, but the vast majority of women I know who have gone gray are very happy with their silvers.
So, if you find yourself in the position of having to ditch the dye against your will, just know that gray hair
Have you had to give up hair dye? I’d love to hear your comments below!
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