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What To Do If You Hate Your Gray Hair

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!

image of pinterest pin

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:

image of gray hair growout
© Katie Goes Platinum

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.

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

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!

image of shouting woman gray hair

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:

image of balayage highlights on gray hair
Balayage Highlights
Photo © kristaswaby_hair
Used with permission

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.

image of woman with lowlights on white hair
Lowlights
Photo © kristaswaby_hair
Used with permission
image of lowlights on gray hair by jack martin
Lowlights
Photo © jackmartincolorist
Used with Permission from
Jack Martin

Option 2: Manic Panic

Monique Parent used Manic Panic to make her white hair look more silver. It’s a beautiful, must-see result!

Going Gray 2: Silver & Steel - How to Enhance Your Gray Hair the Easy Way
Watch this video on YouTube.

Products used:
Manic Panic Pastelizer
Manic Panic Blue Steel
Brush

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:

image of ombre hair gray and pink

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?

FINAL THOUGHTS

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!

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15 Comments

  1. Vicki Beltramo says:

    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!!!

    1. Thank YOU, Vicky! So glad you liked it. I feel the same way – my hair was so damaged, and now it’s SO healthY!

  2. Hi Katie
    Your updates are always inspiring.
    Thank you for all your support.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

  5. 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!

    1. You’re welcome, Jennifer! And thanks for letting me know 🙂

  6. Thank you – like great haircut comment

  7. 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 🙂

  8. 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!

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