Silver Hair Transition Stories / July 7, 2019

Michelle’s Journey to Gray Hair

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 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.

image of woman with dark brown hair and magenta coat
Michelle, 2011

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…

image of woman blue dress dark brown hair
Michelle, 2015

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

image of michelle ray with gray roots
March 2017

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.

image of michelle Ray gray hair red lips
February 2018

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.

image of gray way your way e-book by Michelle Ray
Michelle’s E-Book

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.

image of woman with gray long hair
February 2019

** 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.**

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.

image of woman with gray hair ponytal

Everyone’s hair is so different, but these are the products that work for me.

Giovanni Smooth as Silk —  gentle, affordable, and clean.

Acure Clarifying Shampoo, as recommended by Joli Campbell.

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. 

Conclusion

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.

image of woman lying down with white hair red lips
October 2018

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 shop on Amazon for all your gray hair needs: 
Katie Goes Platinum Storefront

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2 Comments

  1. Katie

    Hi, Diane! You can do what I did! I asked around on Silver Revolution and Silver Circle if anyone would be interested in meeting up, and then I created a FB group only for meetups in my area. It’s only for meetups, so if women want to get together, they can post an event in that group. Hope that helps!

    13 . Jul . 2019 Reply
  2. Diane Quigley

    Thank you!
    Love it there’s a group in LA, but what about us transplants in LV?
    Any suggestions & ideas appreciated!
    🙂

    12 . Jul . 2019 Reply

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Katie

Katie is the founder of Katie Goes Platinum. After constantly dyeing her hair for over 25 years, in 2018 Katie decided to stop the madness and embrace the gray. Since then, she’s been sharing her favorite gray hair tips, resources, and stories to empower women to feel beautiful during and after their transition to gray hair.