Home » The Gray Hair Journey » Transitioning to Gray Hair » How to Go Gray from Colored Hair

How to Go Gray from Colored Hair

Inside: Tips on how to go gray from colored hair.

Are you thinking about ditching the dye and growing out your gray hair?

There are various ways to transition to gray hair from dyed hair, and all of them have advantages and disadvantages.


I see many women in the Facebook Gray Hair support groups fretting about “not going gray the right way.”

It’s often the women who transitioned to gray hair with highlights (or other salon methods) who worry that they have somehow cheated.

But there is no wrong way to go gray. You have to do what works best for you: for your pocketbook, for your emotional well-being, and for your health.

Obviously, the easiest way to transition to gray is to never dye your hair, but, for many of us, it’s too late to go that route, right? According to some statistics, 75% of women dye their hair, leaving only 25% who never color.

The advantage to never dyeing is that you don’t have to go through the gray hair grow-out process. It’s also free!

I can’t think of any disadvantages, except that you would miss out on the fun of coloring your hair.

And it must be said – when you’re coloring your hair to express your personality, it is fun. When you are coloring your hair every two weeks to cover your gray roots? Not so much.

image of invite to facebook group about gray hair


All of the methods have advantages and disadvantages. Some are free, and some are expensive. Some are faster than others.

My best advice? Choose the method that best suits your temperament. 


What does it mean to go gray cold turkey? It means just letting your gray hair grow in, and (except for the occasional haircut) leaving it alone.

Going gray cold turkey is cheap, chemical-free, and is the preferred route for many dark brunettes (like myself) because it avoids the damage associated with highlights/lowlights or other salon methods that involve bleaching the hair.

It is also the method that freaks a lot of women out because we’ve been conditioned our whole lives to cover gray hair (thanks, ad agencies!).

Walking around in PUBLIC with several inches of gray roots showing can seem daunting at first, to say the least.

Going gray cold turkey with medium-length hair can take a while. The average length of time seems to be around 20 months. So you have to decide: are you willing to wait that long, or do you want to have a quicker transition?


The fastest way to transition to gray hair? Get a buzz cut!

I have seen some very beautiful buzz cuts on silver-haired women. One of my favorites is Theonita’s. She buzzed all her hair off to go gray… and after a while, she grew it long again.

If you want to see a great video of a buzz cut transition, check out Naturally Grayceful on YouTube!

Buzzing your hair off is a dramatic way to go, but if it suits your personality, go for it! The only disadvantage I can picture is that it might be a shock to “go gray” overnight.


If you want a quick cold-turkey transition, but don’t want to buzz off your hair, consider getting a pixie cut.

You could be done with your gray hair transition in 3-6 months, depending on how short you go! Many women are happy to transition with a pixie.

The only con I’ve ever heard is that, if you want to grow your hair long again, the grow-out can be a bit awkward.

image of woman gray pixie how to go gray from dark hair

If you do not like yourself in short hair, or if you would freak out going gray too quickly (that’s me!), you can totally keep your hair long!  


Personally, I really was invested in my identity as a green-eyed, pale brunette. I could not IMAGINE myself with light hair. So, I colored my hair for 25+ years.

Cutting my hair short and going gray quickly would have been very traumatic for me. So, I chose to go gray cold turkey with longish hair.

I was worried about looking nutty with multi-colored hair, but I got over that quickly.  It has actually been fun watching my hair turn all different colors, and I now see the beauty in transitioning hair.

Going gray with long hair is also a good route to go if you find that you are really enjoying the gray hair transition. It’s fun to watch your hair change color over time, and it’s a really good exercise in patience and introspection.

image of pretty woman sunglass gray roots



  • If you stop dyeing altogether, you will save a TON of money. Obviously, you will save more money if you were going to the salon rather than using box dye, but in any case, won’t it be nice to have more money in your pocket?
  • You will have more time at your disposal. I was wasting 3 hours on a lovely Saturday once a month getting my hair dyed at the salon. And if I dyed it at home, it still took about an hour to dye my hair (and even more time to clean the bathroom afterward).
  • You will no longer pour harsh chemicals on your head every month. A lot of us don’t consider how dangerous hair dye can be to our health. Knowing what I know now, I wish I hadn’t started using it.


  • It can take a long time if you want to keep your hair long.  I’ve seen women in my Facebook groups who have taken anywhere from 1-3 years to get rid of all the dye, depending on the length of their hair.
  • The first 2-3 months of your transition, you will have a demarcation line where the dye meets the gray hair. However, your dye will fade and the line will be less obvious as time goes on.
  • If you have darker hair, you might end up with calico hair for a bit.  I don’t see this as a con, but many ladies do!

If you decide to go the cold turkey route, check out my post How to Make Your Cold Turkey Hair Transition Fun!” for tips & tricks.


Getting a salon treatment to help you transition to gray hair is a great option for a lot of women because it is faster than the cold turkey method, it hides your demarcation line, and it can make your transition seem seamless.

A salon transition can also be a welcome alternative for women with careers in the public eye (politician, lawyer, actress, etc.). Many women in these fields feel uncomfortable coming to work with two-toned hair (or are told outright by their bosses that it is inappropriate).

A salon transition is often quicker than a cold-turkey transition, depending on the length of your hair.

There are downsides to the salon transition. For one, it can be quite expensive. If your hair is long, you could look at several months (or more) of pricey services to get your grays to blend.

Of course, just as in hair dyeing, chemicals are involved. If you have fragile hair (or very dark brunette hair that requires a lot of treatments), your hair can become damaged.

The favored salon transitioning routes seem to be: Balayage, Highlights and/or Lowlights, or Grey Blending. If you choose one of these routes, try to get recommendations so you can make sure to find a salon that has experience with these methods.



  • It’s much faster than the cold turkey method. Depending on the length of your hair, you can be your full silver self in a fairly short amount of time!
  • You can avoid the awkward stages of the gray grow out. No harsh demarcation line or calico hair for you!
  • You won’t have to cut your hair to get rid of your old dye. Many women want to keep their hair long, but don’t want to sport the calico look. Blending your grays at the salon will allow you to keep your hair long without sporting a two- or three-tone head of hair.


  • It’s expensive. Unless your hair is very short, expect to go to the salon fairly frequently for highlights, toners, etc. Depending on what state you live in, this can add up quickly.
  • It involves harsh chemicals and can be damaging to your hair. Some women do fine with salon transitions, but others end up with very damaged hair. Make sure to consult with a high-quality salon to find out if your hair can withstand the treatments.
  • It’s time-consuming. If you’re tired of spending time in a salon chair, you will need to wait a while longer.

Check out these Silver Hair Transition Stories of women who have used salon methods to go gray (or a combination of cold-turkey and salon treatments).

image woman gray roots blonde ends transition to grey with highlights


I only heard about the dye strip technique recently, and it’s a great solution for women who want to go gray without a demarcation line, do not want to cut their hair short, and do not want to risk potential damage to their hair from salon transition treatments (such as bleaching).

Adherents to the dye strip technique call it “going gray in secret” because your gray hair grows out underneath a layer of longer hair.

It’s a great solution for many women, but it’s not a great solution for women who need to avoid hair dye for medical or other reasons, as it requires you to continue use dye for a little while longer.


The easiest and fastest way to go gray is to get your hair buzzed very short. If that’s too drastic for you, a pixie cut is the preferred route for many women.

Please note that this article may contain affiliate links.  You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.


Please take a look at Lorraine Massey’s book Silver Hair: A Handbook – my BFF gave me it to me as a gift once I announced my intention to gray.  Massey’s book has excellent tips & advice, plus a lot of inspirational photos.

For help with salon methods of going gray, check out these two excellent posts by my fellow silver sister bloggers:

Gray Hair Transition: Don’t Do What I Did!
by Debbie Roes

How do you Transition from Dyed Hair to Your Natural Grey?
by Joli Campbell

And this one, from the Huffington Post:

10 Expert Tips on How to Take The Leap and Go Gray

And to see how other silver sisters feel about the gray hair transition, check out this post: The Surprising Truth About Going Gray

Just remember, in the end, it is up to you:


Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

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!

Related Posts:

3 Reasons Why Going Gray is a Big Deal

How to Deal with Yellowing Gray Hair

How to Embrace Your Gray Hair When You Have No Choice

Gray Hair: Before and After

Similar Posts


  1. Fanciful Roux Rinse on a cotton ball applied only to four inch gray roots (top and front) to help diminish the demarcation line, plus trimming the ends regularly, is my preferred method as I stay on this journey to becoming fully gray. This makes it an easy transition for me.

  2. Barbara Kleege says:

    I am debating. Just turned 71. 100% Irish, petite with blue eyes . Always had strawberry blond reddish wavy/curly hair which started turning a bit gray/white in my late 30’s. Have continued dyeing it a strawberry blond for many years now with my sister every five weeks or so. It looks so natural and we always get compliments but I am contemplating letting it grow out. Pretty sure it will be white and perhaps a bit dingy in the back. Shall I get brave? Worried that I will look very pale but getting lazy and would love not having to keep coloring it. My hair is just below chin length right now, so going a bit shorter would be okay with me. I hate seeing the white roots which are about 1/2 inch right now. Tea party coloring date is next week with my sister. Please help me make a decision!

  3. Hello ladies, what inspiring comments! I’m in my late 50s, have been dying my hair dark brown for decades now. I started having gray in my 20s. I have lots of gray –I should say, lots of white. If I didn’t color my hair, it would probably look like Eva’s. But unlike Eva, my hair is on the thin side, so although I am so tired of dying my hair (and I have been doing it myself because I cannot afford the salon thing), and have gone through phases of semi-bravery and let my roots grow to almost 3 inches, I eventually chicken out and cover them. And lately my scalp doesn’t really like the hair dye– as if it’s telling me, “stop, for crying out loud, stop!” Do you think the ‘doing the strip’ would be a workable option for me? [I imagine, the covering of the crown part might work as a transition.] Do you have photos, or stories of women with thin hair who went gray (transitioning from dark brown to gray/white)? I have long hair, by the way. Sorry for this long post and comment.

  4. I am 69 and soon to be 70 in May. I have been bleaching and dying my hair for at least 45 years. In Octobet 2020 I decided that I was going to embrace my true hair color no matter what it was! I decided that I was tired of damaging my hair and spending the money every month to touch up my roots. In October my hair was long with dark brown dye over bleach. Since my hair had been falling out so bad, i made the decision to get a short pixie hair cut. It was somewhat drastic but since I was going gray “cold turkey” I thought this would be easier. Each week more and more of the dark brown dye is lifting and my gray roots are really growing now. Since my hair is so thick, yoi cannot see the gray unless you move my hair. Today I noticed that the gray is starting to show on the sides and some on the top. I do not seem to have much gray in the nack of my head. I feel like I am on an adventure and can’t wait to see what I will look like when my gray hair is finally grown out. My plan to tk have a shoulder length gray bob within 24 months. I have been reading posts like yours to encourage me on my journey. I have found your post to be inspirational and enlightening, Thank you for sharing!

    1. You’re welcome, Pat! So nice to hear! And I bet you will be happy with your hair – it’s going to be SO healthy compared to when it was bleached! By the time I stopped dyeing my hair, my dyed hair felt like straw. Now that it’s all silver, it feels so smooth and thick. I love it and I bet you will, too!

  5. I just came across this article Katie. I’ve been thinking for quite awhile about letting my dark brown hair with lots of auburn highlights go naturally grey. My problem, as I see it, is, I have very dry skin & inherited my mom’s early wrinkled face. I’ve not seen one picture of a woman who has gone grey with wrinkles on her face & a “turkey neck” in your post. I’m 65 & have two friends who don’t have a wrinkle anywhere in sight, so guess who I compare myself to? I’m also afraid I’ll have “mousy” grey hair like my mom did. I’ve heard that women with dark hair who dye it are at a higher risk for bladder cancer. Oh, decisions, decisions. Any advice?

  6. Hi, I have been dying my hair for as long as I can remember and am now going to embrace the natural gray, my question is top half is grey and bottom dark brown, what type of hair shampoo and conditioner should I be using to try and keep my hair healthy thank you

    1. Hi, Theresa – you can use your regular shampoos and conditioner unless you start seeing a problem (like yellowing) in your gray hair. Check out my product list for more info on products that target specific issues in the meantime. Good luck!

  7. I’m one of the “regretters” who wishes I’d never dyed my hair in the first place, 20+ years ago. I went the bleach route, which was quite drastic but since I teach college students and they do wild things with their hair all the time, they weren’t fazed. It’s a lot easier to let the grey grow into the platinum than the dull brown that screams ever louder “look at me! I was dyed weeks and weeks ago and I’m fading!” Then Coronavirus came along and staying at home through the worst of the ugly stage eased the transition so that I have two boxes of bleach sitting around that will never be used. Right now I’m really happy with the way the natual grey and surprising amount of dark hair is growing. I’ll be even happier when the brassy bleach of the damaged hair is gone for good.

  8. I have had past my waist long dark brown hair for most of my life. I continually dyed my roots dark brown for many years. When i decided to transition to grey, I first began dying my roots a lighter shade of brown. After about a year I let my roots grow out but I hid the color difference by using vegetable henna coloring for almost a year now. For the last three months I stopped the henna and I love my new natural colors grey, sliver and pewter. This worked out great for me. It was inexpensive and I never felt like my hair looked like a tacky grow out. The best way i have found to apply henna to growing out roots was to wear gloves and use a wooden chopstick and clean cloth that you do not mind staining up. Dip the chopstick into the henna bottle and poke it around through your hair and by the scalp. Right away use the cloth to rub the color through your hair and onto your scalp. Repeat until you are satisfied with hairs appearance. Works best with damp hair. This method is fast and cheap because you do not use much henna with the chop stick method. One bottle would last almost two months. It takes a few washings to get out the henna too, so that was also helpful with the transition. 🙂

    1. Gloria Cutter says:

      What color of henna did you use? I have very dark brown and am ready to transition. Suggestions?
      Thank you!

    2. Do you have a site or on facebook where you talk about this more in depth and the process over time. Thanks

  9. I have long dyed dark brown hair. I’ve decided to go gray. I had semi permanent color today on roots. I’m wondering if I should start using color lifting or clarifying shampoo to help the transition. Any thoughts on this as it was not mentioned in any of the going gray methods.

    1. `Hi, Kim – have you read my transition stories? I did use clarifying shampoo and reference it a lot in my own posts. It did help fade the dye, but I think it also contributed to making my brunette fade into a very brassy orange that (eventually) even blue shampoo couldn’t touch. I’m on the fence now about whether I would do it that way again or not. It probably did help blur my transition line a bit, but at the expense of orange hair. Just a warning!

  10. I went the cold turkey grow out method, but I’m blonde and I definitely think it is easier for us than for brunettes. My dye job just simply faded out and I was lucky not to have a major line of demarcation. The bottom was just a weird golden color until it got long enough to cut off. Now I love my hair and it was definitely worth the trouble to grow it out. Props to all the brunettes out there going cold turkey. I don’t know if I could do that!

  11. Just going cold turkey. I wear my hair in a bob but not been to get it cut since pandemic started.

  12. Ich bin 47 und seit dem Shutdown in der Transition. Ich fühle mich sehr wohl mit meinem Pfeffer-und-Salz-Ansatz.
    Für mich wird es ein langer Weg werden, da ich sehr lange Haare habe. Aber das finde ich gut. Ich will mich gerne langsam daran gewöhnen.


    1. Wonderful, Marion! I also went gray with long hair and it’s perfect for getting used to the idea of being all-gray. I grew my hair out for 24 months but only started to feel ready to cut of my dark roots starting around 22 months. I finally felt more like “me” as a silver-haired person! You’ll love it. Good luck!

  13. I’ve been considering letting my hair grow out for a couple of years now. I’ve been dyeing my hair for 16 years and although my stylist does a beautiful job with balayage highlights, I have been feeling that my hair looks beautiful and youthful my face not longer matches. I’m almost 3 months since my last dye and the white (and other colors) area coming in. My biggest concern is that my slightly olive skin tone will look washed out with the incoming white. My plan is to counteract that with saturated colors in my clothes. It’s time for me to do this and I’m ready.

  14. Hi.I have just started to grow out my dark brown dyed hair only about 6wks.should i go cold turkey or use semi permanent hair dye for a while …Janet x

    1. It’s totally up to you, Janet. It really depends on your temperament. What will make this easier for you?

  15. Patricia S. Braswell says:

    I have dyed my hair a dark brown/black for the past forty years, as I started turning gray very early. I’m so tired of going every four weeks and having color put on. During this pandemic, my roots are about two inches and are gray, thinking about letting it go gray, but I have noticed that I have thinning hair on the crown of my head. Would it be O.K. if I decided to get highlites or low lights done. Don’ t want any more thinning on the top, if at all. Please advise.

    1. Hi, Patricia – you’ll have to consult your hairdresser as I’m not sure how those would affect your thinning hair. In my case, once I stopped coloring altogether, my hair came in thicker and the hair loss stopped.

  16. Hi Katie, I’m 71 and have dyed my for yrs, my hair is just below my shoulders and dark brown, I have decided to go cold turkey! Do i need to start using a purple shampoo now or wait till I have more gray hair? Thanks for the help and I love the information on this blog.

    1. Thanks, Elva! You never NEED to use purple shampoo – it’s just fun to do it occasionally to brighten things up. But it can be drying. I didn’t use it until my hair was all silver, and even now I only use it once in a blue moon (and then I use the Pantene as it’s a lot less harsh than the others on the market. It really does work beautifully).

  17. I have not dyed my hair since March the top of my head is a lovely white the Back has colour still also some dark grey it’s a bob length needs a trim ,I’m 73 any advise please I have my hair done regularly also blow dryer every week on lucky my friends a hair dresser but I haven’t seen her for a few months due to I’ll health ..

  18. Sally DiPiazza says:

    Hi I am a young 69 year old fair skinned green eyes with dyed copper medium length hair – of course with this pandemic situation I am now seeing an inch of my grayish white hair – I have been reading lots of stuff about transitioning – I do have a chronic auto -immune illness so it would probably behoove me to stop with the chemicals – as you know with red hair it is daunting to think about this whole thing but I am retired and it really doesn’t matter that much – I spend most of my time at the pool doing water aerobics – any thoughts about at home stuff I could do to help my blend ay gray with my copper for social commitments?

    1. Sally!! I so relate to your comments! I have strawberry blonde with blonde highlights! 2 months of natural …… I don’t even know? I’ve been told by a hairdresser I don’t really have “the pretty grey” I’m outside playing sports & at the lake all the time! I’m 64, never used sunscreen so you can imagine what my face looks like ?I figure embracing “the whatever shows up on my head” will cause my face & haircolor to make sense?

  19. Hi
    I’m just starting the grey transition.
    I have dyed my hair black for many years and fed up with having to colour it every 4 weeks.
    I can’t afford salon prices – so any tips or advice would be grateful

  20. I had dark hair but began going gray about the same time I got pregnant with my 3rd child at age 33. Sin e I didnt want to look like I was my daughter’s grandma, I dyed it the same dark color. Eventually went to a medium ash blond as my hair continued to get more gray. Recently I asked my hair stylist to help me transition and I requested light lavendar/dark lavendar weave to detract from the grow-out. It’s exactly as I had hoped it would be!! The blue base of a purple tone offsets the gold base and the golden tones of my dyed hair. The silver is coming in and I’m excited!?

  21. For that awkward regrowing period, cut it off and buy a quality wig! I am a wig wearer due to permanent chemo induced alopecia. I have found some great grey wigs at cysterwigs.com and wigsbypattispearls.com. Long, short, and every style in between. You may not want to wear everyday, but if you have a special occasion when you don’t want striped hair, it’s a great option.

    1. Hi, Janet – I know a lot of women use a wig during the grow-out period. It’s a great idea! Makes for a seamless transition!

  22. I love how you said coloring your hair for a change is fun but the having to touch up roots so often is not! That was another sign for me that it was time to embrace my roots. You gave a great well rounded article to help silver sisters know they have options when it comes to going gray.

  23. Cheryldoughten@icloud.com says:

    I have platinum hair I tired of bleaching it every 4 to 5 weeks I have a lot of gray on my sides and in front I want to put a darker color in it foil or comb thru my natural color is medium brown but when ever I color it or highlights it pulls a lot of red . I was thinking a gray color ?‍♀️

  24. I have white gray roots with natural grassy brown but have auburn red fir years do it can fade easily within months time if I go cold turkey with my long red hair im scared it will turn orange as it faded any ideas

  25. Hi, I’m starting the process. I have long dark curly hair that is course so product advice would be greatly appreciated. Also I have not found much information about white extensions to help in transition. I am thinking about clip ins to help with styling so it’s not alway a hat or head scarf day as I start out on my journey. Could you point me in the right direction?

    1. Hi, Sharon – I don’t know much about clip-ins or extensions, but I think Monique Parent would hae some great tips. Re: products, check out the Katie Goes Platinum Amazon store – there are a lot of products for silver sisters in there, and you might want to especially consider the Joico K-Pak or Shea Moisture products. I bet they’d help!

  26. I’m 37 and my regrowth is white (growing up my hair was always very dark brown, near black). Unfortunately myself and my siblings all inherited my dad’s black / brown hair AND his very very early onset grey. I went blonde for a couple of years but it did so much damage to my hair that i have gone back to dying brunette and i now have semi-healthy beautiful dark hair just past my shoulders in length. As i said though, my regrowth is now grey-white, i’m thinking i’d like to let it grow out but i have so little patience 🙁 Not too sure what to do.

    1. Hi, Elle – If you keep your hair long while growing it out, it can take close to 2 years (depending). I’m at month 17 now. It is really only hard in the beginning (in my opinion). Once the demarcation line gets down to your eyebrows, things seem to speed up! But, you have so many options – buzz cut, pixie cut, bob, transitioning in the salon (which can be hard on brunette hair, so you need to find someone who knows what they are doing! If you are willing to cut your hair short, you could be done transitioning in 2-3 months! It all depends on your temperament. Good luck!

  27. Corrine Sanborn says:

    I just bought a new 2019 L’Oreal dye kit – Soft Silver Blonde. Do you know anyone who used this to transistion. I currently use a medium ash blonde.

    1. Janet Mason says:

      I bought the soft silver blonde kit a month ago. I had been using blonde, although my natural hair is dark brown. It turned out a gunmetal gray at first but after a few washes, it looks the way the box says it should. My new growth is dark and white, so I will see how this turns out. I don’t plan to color again and will not cut my long hair. Time will tell! May have to wear a wig! LOL Personally, I think it is going to fine. Just realize it will be dark until you wash about 4 times as long as you haven’t peroxided your hair. I wore mine in a messy bun until it lightened some.

  28. Dee Geraghty says:

    All the models who have let their gray hair grow out have cool skintones & gray hair look fabulous on them. What about ordinary women with warm skintones & warm hair, who dye their hair brown because if they grow out their gray hair, it will clash with their skin tone. Gray hair is blue-based & suits cool skin tones. Please answer !
    Thanks Dee

    1. Hi, Dee: Have you checked out the post Gray Hair: Before and After? You’ll see a variety of different skin tones there. Also, check out Mireya’s transition. She has beautiful warm skin. I know a lot of women with warm skin are concerned about what colors to wear, etc. Some people say that you should go with whatever looks best with your hair color; others say whatever looks best with your skin tone. It’s confusing! I will keep looking into this for you.

  29. Alexandra V Mobley says:

    I decided on the cold turkey method … my hair is naturally VERY dark so the stripping and toning etc. of Option 3 wasn’t going to work for me; in fact my hairdresser refused to do it because he said my hair might all fall out (worse case scenario) or turn orange (best case scenario). He’s the one who convinced me to just let it grow. Option 1 certainly wasn’t happening as I first started dyeing at age 19 … in 1991 when having grey hair was even less cool than it is now! I’m surprised by how many people tell me I am brave for no longer dyeing … it is strange the things that we think are “brave.”

    1. Alexandra – my hair like yours. I found that out in the 1980s when i tried to bleach a section of it and it turned bright orange! The hairdresser said that was as light as it would ever get!

      In any case, I’m loving going cold turkey – it gives you time to get used to having silver hair!

      Re: being called “brave” – it rubs me the wrong way. It’s not like I’m a fireman!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *