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Jen Smith’s Silver Hair Adventure

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How Jen Smith transformed herself into @silverfox40tales, a silver-haired Instagram sensation! Jen is 46 and lives in Wisconsin, USA.

I was a sophomore in college when I first noticed my greys popping…. I looked closely at them in the mirror because I couldn’t figure out what they actually were!

image of woman with dark long hair
Jen with dark hair

Up until then, it was not a big deal for me to frequently change the color of my hair.

Just for added effect, lighter highlights for summer and darker and shinier for winter, right? 

Coloring my greys was a fun thing to do!

I was blessed with a thick head of hair and I have always received compliments on it. 

It was definitely the one thing about myself that I truly felt confident about. 

My friends never thought twice about me coloring my hair because I was diligent at keeping all those greys covered! They actually didn’t believe me when I told them how grey I was under all that color…. I guess I sure showed them, LOL!

I finally made the decision to transition to grey while I was on vacation in the Florida Keys.

Inevitably, I would book an appointment with my sister (she is my stylist) a prompt 24 hours or less before we left town, and then I’d pack a box dye to apply just in case my silvers started to peek out. 

My roots would typically show themselves one week after my root job. 

I colored every two to three weeks and used root concealer in-between.  I always said I wouldn’t let myself go grey until I was really old!!!


Like so many, I love to scan Pinterest for inspiration and then later discovered so many interesting things on Instagram

I am not sure what prompted me to begin to look for grey hair inspiration on these platforms, but once I did, I asked myself ….. “Why couldn’t I do this”? I saw people who were not grey make the choice to dye their hair grey.

At the same time, I started experiencing intense scalp itching after coloring and would even take Zyrtec or Benadryl to combat it. 

That’s when I said “enough!”


February 2018: My transition was not an easy one because, by the time I decided to quit coloring, my hair was nearly black. 

So, my sister (the stylist) and I began with some highlights to try to soften and blend the greys.  What I quickly learned is that there is no easy or quick approach to this and that my naturally dry brunette hair may not withstand lightening it to grey or white. 

image of dark haired woman
Jen and her sister – Feb. 2018

Do you know how many colors are actually in dark hair dye?  A LOT! 

So, with my sister’s blessing, I sought out a color specialist and she agreed to help me give it a go.

At my first appointment, I was in her chair for over 5 hours and she had 3 people working on my hair at the same time.  When I was done with this session my hair was mostly blonde.

image of color removing process silverfox40tales
1st color removal process
image of color removal process for dyed dark hair
2nd color removal process

Another thing I learned is the yellow dye color in the dark hair dye is virtually impossible to lift to a cool tone color which is what natural grey/silver hair is. 

image of silverfox40tales
April 2018: Embracing my greys and the spring weather with my 14 year old Corgi Rosie

I went to the color specialist religiously about every 8 weeks up until September 2018 and she continued to lighten and blend my demarcation line as it grew.  I am grateful for her help. 

As much as I did not want to at the time, now I see the value in just going cold turkey (letting the grays grow in naturally, instead of coloring to get to blend the new growth with the old dyed hair). 

Instead, I wound up having to cut most of my length off due to breakage. The lightening was so hard on my hair. 

image of silverfox40tales
“December of 2018- the big chop! I had to get rid of all my length, it was just too brittle and breaking.”

Both of my stylists were excellent and did exactly what I asked of them, but hair typically can only take so much. 

So now here I am 18 months in and about 10 months completely dye-free. I am still not completely done transitioning.  I have just a few inches, mostly in the back, of old color left hanging on for dear life. 

I always knew my hair grew fast but when you want it to grow, it seems to grow at a snail’s pace.

I am not going to lie; I had some tears along the way and frantic calls to my sister for help to find products that would help but…… I am so entirely happy that I stuck with it. 

My entire family, my husband of 23 years and my 2 kids, were incredibly supportive and often reminded me how beautiful I was throughout my transition. 

image of woman with gray braided hair
My supportive husband September 2018 after my last color and cut. After this appointment, I felt like I went backwards a bit because we were adding in color to blend but it felt like it would take even longer to be done … so I said no more blending!! I’m going completely dye and bleach free!!

Overall, I have not had too many naysayers mostly just the usual “I could never do that” type of responses. 

I cannot remember what prompted me to share my journey on Instagram, I think it had something with me not being able to back out of it, but I have found such incredible support from some wonderful people. 

I can honestly say I have had no haters and if I did…. I would give them zero energy ?


For shampoo, I use Matrix Total Results Clarifying Shampoo to strip off product buildup. I alternate that with either Matrix So Silver or, if I need to reduce brassy yellow tones, Redken Color Extend Graydiant shampoo

I use the Matrix Brass Off Mask for extra toning and I use the Amika The Kure for deep conditioning. A girl has to have options right??

I use Amika’s Bust Your Brass Violet Leave-In Treatment to help with toning the brassiness leftover from the old color.

For styling, I use Redken’s Frizz Dismiss Rebel Tame because it smooths my coarse locks and is also a great heat protectant. 

I’m bit addicted to Sexy Hair Smooth Smooth and Seal – it gives beautiful shine

I haven’t yet explored switching over to more natural hair products but I am entirely open to that and hope to continue to learn about it.

image of silverfox40tales

I have tried a lot of different products and I am excited to share that I can now direct followers where to get the same products on Amazon as I am an #amazoninfluencer (NO WAY!!) ….that still seems crazy to me!

Alongside this journey, I have decided to try to begin to reduce chemicals in other areas of my life, and this is when I discovered Beauty Counter.  I have since been exploring and using their products so I decided to sign on as a consultant. 

I love their investment in the idea that beauty should not be harmful to you. 


I am so grateful for all the love and support I have received from the community of silver sisters on Instagram.

I do believe that this process is a very personal choice and I would never judge anyone else who makes the decision to dye their hair or is just not ready to go grey. 

I love finding and providing inspiration to anyone who needs it, either to support their decision on going grey or to help them through the process. 

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:

Frankie Goes Grey

Michelle’s Transition to Gray Hair

Young and Gray in India: Anjana’s Story

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  1. Margie watts says:

    Hello , I am 50 almost 51 and I started my transition two years ago I also had dark hair and colored for many years . I had breast cancer when my hair grew back was all gray so colored like you every three weeks cost a lot and in between needed to use root touch up I worked at college and nursing home at that time , The college kids were great never said anything when roots were gray but my clients at nursing home would say man you need to get your hair done lol! I have thick hair wavy hair a lot like yours ! So I stared the same way some highlights then hair was so bad cut off short and covid came so just let it go ! Haven’t cut or colored everyone thinks I put some sliver color in it all I use is purple shampoo the problem is my hair looks purple instead of sliver but it gets yellow like I smoke if I do not do every so often not sure what else to do for it when get the little yellow ! If I use any heat it turns yellow in spots ! So I feel like I can do nothing with my hair it has gotten so long and I look terrible because it is just long and nothing g great ! I do have to say I get a lot of compliments a lot of people say hey you look like Paul Dean lol just wondering if it normal to get yellow around face and ends and what can I do to help and is this just what is the new am I doing something to cause this .
    Thank you for all the help Margie

    1. Hi, Margie! You definitely can avoid yellowing AND try various ways to remove the yellowing you already have. Check out my yellowing grey hair post here for tips & tricks. Best of luck to you!

  2. Laurie Gelinas says:

    I too am so tired of coloring my hair! At 63 I really feel that it’s time. My hairdresser is very supportive. My hair has been thinning these last few years and I’m afraid all the chemicals have really done their damage. My roots are WHITE as snow, but with COVID I’ve decided to take the plunge and I hope my hair gets thicker like it was when I was 30. Thank you for your amazing inspiration!

    1. Wonderful, Laurie! I bet you’ll be so much happier! My hair has gotten so much thicker since I ditched the dye.

  3. Thank you for your story! You look beautiful. I decided in January2020 to stop colouring my hair. Just like you every time I went (every 5 weeks) my scalp would be so itchy, I knew I had to change something. Well I’m 9 months in now, and honestly struggling lately…..I have an amazing stylist , and she has help blend my hair so I don’t have that dreaded skunk stripe. I only wish someone has told me HOW long this process is. I’m determined to stick it out, and I have only had positive feedback. This process is for sure a test of patience.

  4. I’ve got to say, even though you were beautiful with your dark hair; this gray/silver on you makes your eyes pop and sparkle.. I will be 50 next year and I’m ready to make the transfer to no dying my hair… my mom was in her late 30s/early 40s when she stopped coloring it-when she passed away at age 73, her salt n pepper hair was gorgeous. Thank you for sharing your journey with us ?

  5. Jennifer Turko says:

    OMG you look so beatiful and seeing your hair is making me excited about starting this journey! I turned 50 this year and I’ve been wanting to do this for years. During quarantine, I thought this was the perfect time to get started. I’m about 3 months in and my white and gray strands are ~2 inches. My hair is also wavy, so I love seeing your waves! I’ve been considering the bleaching route, but after reading your post I think I’m going to go cold turkey and live with two toned hair for the next year+ unless you have words of wisdom to share related to this process. Thanks for your inspiration!

  6. Hi. I know this is post is a few months old, but I thought I would still respond. Thanks for the article. I am 53 and only a couple of months into embracing my strands of silver. I’ve noticed that you have wavy hair, just like mine, and thought I might comment on what has worked for me. I have been using natural sulfate and silicone free shampoos/conditioners for a few years already, and I have continued to use them. I have also found success using some of the Curly Girls methods such as squish to condish and plopping (there is a lot of info online about these methods). But the biggest game changer for me has been adding DIY Flaxseed gel right before I plop my hair (for about 10 min). I wait until my hair is completely dry and then scrunch to crunch them out. It has enhanced my wavy hair, adding shine and softness, and has reduced the gray fly away ones. I know that everyone’s hair is different, but it has worked for me. Anyhow, thanks again for sharing. It is encouraging to hear from those who have already made the journey. Blessings.

    1. Hi LK, would love to see pictures as you transition. I am almost 3 months in. I have a skunk line and keep struggling to not give in. I really want to ride this out without any blending and do this cold turkey. I would really like to not go shorter ( I have already cut my hair “myself” to a bob above my shoulders and I’m not loving it) but find myself looking at pixie styles all the time.
      I know with the Covid virus this is a good time for me to transition. Most of my family members are staying home and opted to not have family gatherings. (Arizona is a hotspot right now). So I’m really trying to stay with it. I’m 58 and have been dying my hair since I was 25.
      T Lynn

  7. Lien Lynn Dinh says:

    Your story really hit home for me, I stop colouring my hair about 5 months now and just brave enough to post it on my instagram yesterday so that I can follow through and hope to finish. Thank you for sharing your experience! You look absolutely beautiful!

  8. Mary B Rivers says:

    I’ve just decided to begin this journey. My hair is currently dark brown. I’m so fearful of the demarcation line. I hope that I can endure. I don’t want to keep coloring the roots that begin to show 2 weeks after retouch. I am 57 years old and I want to embrace my age. Coloring my hair feels like I am pretending to be younger than I am. Thank you for sharing your story!

  9. Denise Smith says:

    Thank you for your inspiring story. I am 52 y.o. and soooo tired of dying, stretching, bleaching, and everything else that I could do to hide my grays. But, I think I am at a point in my life that I feel very confident about it. At 51, I decided to go back to school and become a nurse (perfect time with kids), and I think that reading inspiring stories like yours give us, the ones that are still thinking about transitioning, more power to do. You look beautiful with natural hair, you made the right decision. (My mom at 72 still coloring her hair, and she is not a gray hair fan, but I am not my mom)
    Best wishes, Denise

  10. Yay! Way to brave into your gray! Your story and mine are very similar. I can’t believe how free I feel not being tied down to root coloring every 2-3 weeks. Have fun with your new you.

  11. Andrea Aguirre says:

    Thank you for sharing it inspires me! I started my journey 4weeks ago. I am going to try to do it cold turkey but nit sure !! I don’t want to hurt my hair. I got a cute cut to somehow mask tge current fox line and so when I look at it am like”hair looks good despite the fox line!!” Lol
    Tx you again
    Andrea A

  12. Leta Delcourt says:

    Jen, Thank you for sharing your transition story. I am 6 months into my cold turkey transition and was beginning to consider finding a colorist to do the gray blending. But you are so right, hair can only take so much and I realized that I am not willing to risk any more damage. Your hair is beautiful even with the left over dyed hair. I am thankful that I have a couple of people at work that are complimenting me as my silver and salt and pepper are coming in. My husband was not full on board with my decision at first but he tells me now that it is looking better than he thought it would. Thanks Katie for your inspiration as well!

    1. You’re welcome, Leta! I’m glad that your husband is now on board and that your coworkers are being supportive. It makes all the difference 🙂

  13. Definitely worth it. Your hair is beautiful and you look fantastic!

  14. Very inspirational! I just started my journey two days ago and donated 12 inches of hair to children with hair loss organization to make the process a little easier.

      1. I have red hair with white. I’m 55 & have been under a lot of stress the last few years & have been wanting to just go natural but am highly nervous about it & afraid I’ll look really washed out because I’m very fair. I need to do something just not sure what… Lighter highlights until it grows out more ?

        1. Hi, Kathy: If it helps you to hear this, I’m as fair/pale as they come and I’ve only gotten paler as I’ve gotten older. But for some reason, the gray hair doesn’t make me look washed out – instead, it makes my complexion glow! A lot of silver sisters have noticed this effect. I can’t advise you too much on highlights, as I haven’t had them myself. Some women have had great experiences with highlights, and others have ended up with damaged hair. You may want to find a stylist who specializes in gray hair transformations and schedule a consult. You don’t want to get highlights done by someone who isn’t familiar with doing them for gray hair.

  15. Cathy Oaks says:

    WOW!!! You look incredible! Really stunning with your gray hair. I’m beginning my journey now. It’s been only four weeks since my last salon dye job. I’m going cold turkey. My hair has natural curl, so, I know all of the processing will be horrible for it. I’m dark brown. I’m determined to make it through. Fingers crossed??. Thanks for sharing your journey!

    1. Good luck, Cathy! It’s a surprisingly fun journey.

  16. Lori Soderberg says:

    It looks amazing Jen, I love it!

  17. Carmen vinje says:

    Your beautiful my friend. Love your story and I love the grey on you. I’m heading down that path, and am hanging on right now to coloring my hair every 4 weeks. Ugh I’m so scared.

    1. Jen Smith says:

      Hey Carmen! Thanks so much❤️ You will know when the time is right for you, or you just decide and jump! It was not always easy but I am soooooo glad I stuck with it. I’m here for you if you need anything❤️

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