What To Do If You Hate Your Gray Hair
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Inside: Hate your gray hair? Here are some tips that will help you love it!
Many of us are pleasantly surprised to find, after years of dyeing, that we LOVE our newly gray hair. What a relief!
But not everybody feels that way. And there’s no shame in that.
If you don’t want to go back to dyeing, for whatever reason, you’ll need a game plan to help you love the gray hair that Mother Nature gave you.
So, take a deep breath and relax – I’m here to help!
HATE THE GRAY COMING IN?
PATIENCE IS KEY
Are you still in the process of growing out your dyed hair?
Do you look at the top of your head and say to yourself, “Ugh! I hate my shade of gray. I wish it was a beautiful silver color like the women I’ve seen on Instagram!”
Stop right there!
It’s simply not possible for you to look at your transitioning hair and have ANY idea what your final shade of gray hair will be.
You can’t predict what your gray hair will really look like until ALL the dye has been cut out.
It took me 2 1/2 years of a long hair, cold turkey growout to get all of my dye cut out. Towards the end of my transition, I only had about 1 inch of dye on the ends and it STILL affected my perception of my shade.
Why? Because gray hair isn’t really “gray” – it’s translucent. It’s hair without pigment.
That translucent hair reflects off the colors surrounding it. So that leftover dye is affecting your perception of what color your gray hair actually is.
Check out this mind-blowing image for a fantastic illustration of what I’m talking about:
For a real-life example, check out this photo of my transition:
See that apprehensive look on my face in the 3-month picture? That’s me wondering what in God’s name my gray hair was going to look like.
Judging by that selfie, I thought my grays would be patchy, dry, and unruly. But now that I’m fully transitioned, my hair is almost uniformly silver on top and black underneath. I love it!
So, trust me – wait until all of your dye is cut off to decide if you truly dislike your naturally gray hair.
DONE TRANSITIONING BUT HATE YOUR GRAY HAIR?
But what do you do if you have already gone gray and aren’t happy with the results?
Personally, I think all shades of gray hair are beautiful! The vast majority of the time, Mother Nature gives you the most flattering shade to complement your complexion.
Yet every so often I hear from women who are disappointed in their natural gray hair shade but don’t want to return to full-coverage hair dye.
If this sounds like you, take heart. Sometimes it takes a while to adjust to your newly gray hair.
There’s a chance that you simply haven’t gotten used to seeing yourself fully gray and maybe, after a few months, you’ll come to love your new hair color.
But, if that’s not the case, and you are really unhappy with the way your hair looks, don’t worry – you aren’t consigned to a hair color that you hate for all eternity!
There are things you can do to make your gray hair look the way you want it to.
Some of these methods require the assistance of a hairdresser. If you are trying to reduce your reliance on chemicals, don’t worry – just skip further down the page for more natural ways to help you love your gray hair.
Also, for the methods that DO require a stylist, make sure to check out my Gray-Friendly Salon Directory – it’s important that you have a stylist who is not only supportive but also has experience working with gray hair.
READ THIS FIRST
Before you continue, make sure to take a moment to stop and think about why you gave up dyeing in the first place.
Was it financial? Were you tired of spending hours in the salon chair? Are you trying to lead a more natural, chemical-free lifestyle? Are you tired of conforming to society’s rules about how women should look?
There are a million different reasons women give up the dye, and once you come up with your “why” you can concentrate on the “how” to start loving your gray hair again!
MY GRAY HAIR IS TOO DARK / TOO SPARSE
Some women feel that their gray hair is too dark, too “gunmetal-gray” – while others stop dyeing and are shocked to find that they don’t have as much gray hair as they’d assumed.
It’s ironic, isn’t it, after years of dyeing to feel disappointed that you don’t have enough gray hair? After being told for years that you had to cover it?
But if that’s how you feel, and you are looking for solutions, here are two options:
Option 1: Highlights
Highlights (where the hairdresser lightens sections of your hair) are one way to add silver sparkles, but just keep in mind that if your hair is very dark, you run the risk of damage due to the bleaching process.
Highlights are also notorious for turning brassy over time.
But if you are willing to take those risks, it is an option that’s available to you, for sure! And it’s easier to grow out than a full head of dye if you decide to keep your grays.
Option 2: Balayage
Balayage is similar to highlighting, except that it looks a bit subtler, which apparently makes it easier to grow out eventually (as there’s a reduced demarcation line).
Monique Parent, one of my favorite gray hair influencers, used balayage to lighten her gray hair and it looks luminous!
Start this video at the 17:36 minute mark to see her results.
And check out this great example of combining balayage with highlights on gray hair:
If your gray hair is sparse or not as silver/white as you were hoping, remember that your hair will most likely continue to get whiter as the years go by. That’s part of the fun of letting your hair go natural – watching it change over time!
MY GRAY HAIR IS TOO WHITE
White hair is hair without pigment. White hair is super gorgeous, IMHO, but if you’re unhappy with your all-white hair, and want to add dimension to it, here are some options:
Option 1: Lowlights
Lowlights involve depositing a darker color onto lighter strands of hair to add dimension and drama. They can be a truly stunning way to add depth to your white hair.
Option 2: Manic Panic
Monique Parent used Manic Panic to make her white hair look more silver. It’s a beautiful, must-see result!
Manic Panic Pastelizer
Manic Panic Blue Steel
MY GRAY HAIR IS BLAH
If you’re feeling blah and want to temporarily color your gray hair, how about trying something like Keracolor Clenditioner?
It’s a color depositing conditioner that comes in a variety of shades and could be a fun way to get through a period of the “blahs”. If Keracolor isn’t available near you, see if you can find Moroccanoil’s Color Depositing Mask.
If you’re wary of coloring your entire head, you can always start off by just using it on the ends of your hair, for an ombre effect:
Just keep in mind that Clenditioner and similar products (like Overtone) can stain your gray hair. If that’s OK with you, and you just need a change, give them a whirl!
If you hate the results, though, the best way to remove the color is with several applications of QuickSilverHair Clay. (I hope you won’t hate it, but if you DO, QuickSilverHair Clay is hands-down your best solution).
MY GRAY HAIR WASHES ME OUT
Before I went gray, I kept hearing that gray hair washes you out. As a very pale person, those words sent shivers down my spine and kept me dyeing my hair for decades longer than necessary.
You will probably be happily surprised to find that your gray hair actually helps brighten up your complexion and makes your skin glow.
But, if this is not your experience, there are still some things you can do:
CHANGE UP YOUR MAKEUP
The makeup colors that you used to use when you dyed your hair may no longer suit you. Schedule a consultation at a fantastic makeup counter like Nordstrom’s (or Sephora or Ulta) and get some solid advice on colors that suit your new look.
Many of us find that red lipstick creates a fantastic pop of color that works well with any shade of gray hair. Even if you’ve never tried it before, why not give a bold lipstick color a whirl?
REFRESH YOUR WARDROBE
The colors that looked great on you before your transition to gray may no longer suit you. Start going through your clothes and donate the ones that wash you out.
Try to focus on the colors that make your gray hair pop!
Jen Thoden, a color expert, has a free webinar dedicated to helping gray-haired women find their complementary colors. You can also find more information in my post about what colors look best with gray hair.
GET A FANTASTIC HAIRCUT
It’s possible that your feelings about your gray hair could be fixed with a simple haircut. If your cut is not flattering to your face or doesn’t work well with your hair texture, it will affect your feelings about your hair.
So it might not be the color that’s the problem, but the cut.
Head over to Pinterest for some gray hair inspiration and call your stylist. Try something new – what do you have to lose?
When all is said and done, you want to feel good about your choice to go gray. If you don’t like it, even after trying these options, maybe it’s just not the right time for you to gray.
There’s no harm in coloring it again and (if you feel like it), going gray a few years down the road. Or never going gray! You need to do what feels right to you.
If you have other suggestions for learning to love your grays, I’d like to hear them! Please add your comments below.
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!
I made the decision to go gray after coming across your page. it gave me the boost I needed and have not regretted my decision. I am only three months in and love the salt and pepper color that is coming in. I’m looking forward to being fully gray.
‘Bitchin’ article. I’ve decided to quit the blonde routine, thanks to you! My skin tone is…hmmm…deadness? I’m very light complected,, my hair is thin and has 0 body.(I’m a disgrace to my race. italian) Although, I was in a crash, and when I came out of the 3 month coma, my hair grew back in thick and curly. It lasted a year. It was wonderful!!
I’m going to be looking for a stylist who can work miracleness.
Again, I thank you very much for your article.
Not enjoying my gray and natural mousy light brown hair so to spruce my look I splurge using silver hairspray that locks in my S2 curl and provides shine to my hair. It’s better than silver highlights since hairdressers say those highlights don’t stay in the hair for very long and the process is more damaging than blonde highlights.
Thank you Katie for providing this forum to share our hair dilemmas and triumphs. I have found mine, loving the silver not permanent hairspray.
Well I guess it just takes one comment for me to make a change. A new “do” is the ticket for me. I loved my white hair but was getting discouraged with it and thoughts of dyeing again was creeping back in. Ugh. The cost the time and shade decisions! I don’t need that or afford it. I just need a new and different haircut. (And yes i get many compliments on my white hair)
Thanks for great advice.
I believe that gray hair for either sex Female or Male is not changing the beauty, or I would say the attraction. The stylish is the main key.
I transitioning now, and while I don’t mind the gray, I hate how frizzy and unruly it is. The gray hairs pop up all over if I don’t spray them down. I also don’t like how my scalp looks so pink where I have a lot of gray.
I have warm skin tone and I notice my cool toned gray hair looks quite harsh with my warm skin tone and dark brown eyebrows. I’ve seen a natural plant product called Cassia Obavata which is also called “Blonde Henna” that imparts a warm blond-ish tone to the white hairs. I haven’t tried it yet because I am trying to figure out if it is permanent or if it just gradually fades, because I do not want to get into the upkeep again with demarcation lines and a two week date with my hair.
Hi Katie thanks for the article. I hate my grey hair…I have been miserable with it and with all the upkeep, Olaplex and purple shampoos, it has actually cost me more than a monthly colour. I am going back to the hairdresser to ask for a brown colour to be more me again xx
Good for you, Susan! If you’re not happy with it, no reason to keep doing it! Best of luck to you.
Thank you, Katie, fir a great article. I’m only 3 months in transition and of course want to be gray NOW! I so appreciate all of your tips!!!! And thank you for creating this support group! I should have done it years ago and wouldn’t have damaged my hair over the MANY years of dying!!!
Thank YOU, Vicky! So glad you liked it. I feel the same way – my hair was so damaged, and now it’s SO healthY!
Your updates are always inspiring.
Thank you for all your support.
Thank you, Angela 🙂
It has been three years since I last had my hair dyed, and it is now a shiny silver white. I wear it in a below chin length layered bob, and it took 18 months to completely grow out. I so agree with your comment about not being able to tell how it will look until it is completely grown out. A stranger gave me that advise when I was just a few months in and it is so true. I love my hair and get complements all the time–from young and old; even when wearing a mask lol! Hang in there if you’re in the process. You may just love it.
Love your content.
I’m only 17 weeks in but I took my grow out as an excuse to finally go back to short hair. I feel incredibly chic now! I had no clue how much my shoulder length hair was contributing to my feeling of middle-aged frumpiness.
The cut refreshed my interest in makeup and love for putting together a stylish outfit. (Even if I’m just hanging around the house.)
The grow out seems like the perfect time to experiment, in whatever way that means to you.
Thanks, Leigh! And so glad you found that a new cut helped you so much! It’s amazing how one little change can compel other changes 🙂
What a great article Katie! You covered a lot of topics and I found the answers to so many questions I had about my silver transition. It has been a year since my last dye, and while this journey hasn’t always been easy, I am happy with my natural color and grateful for the options you discussed. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Jennifer! And thanks for letting me know 🙂
Thank you – like great haircut comment
You’re welcome! Glad it helped!
Thanks Katie, it is a very useful summary. I am nearly transitioned – took 2 years – and loving it. I was definitely ready at 48, and watching the natural colours come through is fun and liberating. Also the FB group “Silver Revolution” helped heaps with the process ?
I’m so glad to hear that!
I’ve been feeling very meh about my hair, but you’ve got some great ideas here – thank you. Time to start thinking more positively!
Yay! I’m glad it helped!