Michelle Ray, author of Go Gray Your Way, is an active member of the Los Angeles silver sister community, so I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with her. She is even lovelier in real life! Instagram: @silvergirl_michellero
MY GRAY HAIR TRANSITION STORY
I found my first gray hairs at around age 21, as a senior in college. I wasn’t that surprised, but I was upset. My grandmother had a full head of white hair by age 30, so I knew my hair might gray early.
I didn’t tell anyone! I went to a salon soon after finding the gray and had my hair colored.
For a while, it was fun. There was very little gray and my hair was very thick and curly.
I only went every 3 months or so, and in my mid-twenties began to experiment with other colors.
I’d always found darker hair dramatic and somehow exotic, so my mousy brown hair went darker, then redder, and once I moved to LA to work in the music business, it was a dark magenta color.
I loved it!
Ten years later, I really didn’t know how much gray I had, but it still looked and felt fine to color. But at around age 40, I felt trapped by the constant need to color. Yet, I still did not even consider stopping.
I was single, I was dating, I looked and felt younger than 40 and was not about to reveal one gray hair!
None of my boyfriends knew I colored. Even my Ayurvedic doctor was shocked when, at the end of a 3 week intensive daily treatment, I mentioned I was eager to dye my hair again (as it was not allowed during the treatment).
He innocently asked, Why do you color your hair? “Because I am too young to be gray!” I replied…
Soon after, concerned about the health risks of long-term chemical use, I asked my next stylist if I might go partly natural. More than one said “No way!” They basically all said I would look a lot older, and that I was attractive and youthful with brown hair but would not look good gray.
So I waited even longer.
Fast forward to 2016: Living in LA again, working in luxury real estate sales, I realized my colored hair did NOT look natural, pretty or flattering. The color looked brassy, fake and just “off.”
It was fine for a week post-salon, but then it wasn’t.
It was so dry, even though I was using quality products and little heat. Even worse, my skin looked wrong too — even though I have clear, healthy skin.
So I googled “women with gray hair” and suddenly this whole new world opened up.
I saw beautiful women of all ages and styles with white, silver, gray or salt and pepper hair. Armed with lots of photos and an Oprah magazine article on gray hair, I asked my 50+ male stylist if I could let some of my natural hair grow in.
He only hesitated for a second, then said “Of course.”
I’ll never forget the sense of relief I felt when the shampoo girl washed my hair after he did highlights. Instead of solid brown, I had many tiny ash blond “lights.”
I felt softer, brighter and even prettier. I didn’t know if I would look older, but I felt better.
The process took 2 years and 3 months, as I didn’t want to go short. I did highlights, then lowlights, occasional toners, and 2 rounds of balayage.
I had planned to keep adding lowlights so not to be “too light” on top, but realized I loved the bright silver-white color!
By January 2019 I had a full head of natural hair. Silver white on top, brown underneath with some blonde mixed in. I love my hair again. It’s shiny, long, healthy, and very soft.
Best of all, it is 100% unique.
In 2017, one year in, I felt so inspired by my process that I wrote an e-book entitled “Go Gray Your Way” to help other women.
I also started blogging about cruelty-free skin care, which is one of my passions and has been my career for the past decade.
In 2018, I walked in my first fashion show and quit my dead-end job. I also got engaged for the first time! This year, I signed with a top agency for commercial acting and am pursuing a modeling career.
Please note that this article may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure at the bottom of the page.
MICHELLE’S FAVORITE HAIR PRODUCTS
I only use cruelty-free skin and hair products. I avoid heat, and wash my hair once every three days.
Everyone’s hair is so different, but these are the products that work for me.
Giovanni Smooth as Silk — gentle, affordable, and clean.
Aveda Blue Malva conditioner — it’s good for yellowing, but not super hydrating.
Oribe Silverati was excellent, but unfortunately, I found out that it is NOT cruelty free.
I honestly feel more beautiful with my “real” hair.
Going gray may not be for everyone, and I have no judgment for those who color, use Botox or get plastic surgery — but for me, I feel happy and at peace with aging and grateful for the new opportunities that show up as we mature.
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