How Tarla Went Silver the Easy Way – Using Wigs!
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Inside: My interview with Tarla M. all about how she went silver in secret using wigs!
I first met Tarla in my favorite Facebook Group Silver Revolution, where she mentioned in passing that she used wigs to help her transition to silver hair.
Intrigued, I invited her to sit down for an interview so she could explain how (and why) she did it!
Below is our video interview, but make sure to keep scrolling for the blog post as it contains additional information not contained in the video.
Why Tarla Ditched Hair Dye
Like many women, I always wanted to dye my hair. Everyone was like, “Oh, don’t go gray. It’s going to make you look old”…and I never had any intention of doing that, so I would never have guessed that I’d be sitting here talking to you about this situation.
My natural hair was a dark brunette – almost black.
So I dyed my hair black, and as soon as the gray would come in, it was like white against black and it was so noticeable!
I went from dyeing every four weeks to every three weeks, then every two weeks, until I ended up finally having to dye it myself every Saturday…doing my roots.
Eventually, my body reacted to the toxicity of the dye.
One time when I was dyeing my hair a rash started spreading up my legs, which scared the hell out of me.
Another time, I literally broke out in head-to-toe hives. So that was the beginning.
That’s why I decided to go gray – because I wasn’t going to risk my life and have my throat close up just so that I could be vain and have dark hair (even though that was initially my preference).
I had reactions to the dye (burning and itching) myself for about two years before I decided to stop dyeing. I often ask myself why I didn’t just STOP right then and there! Did they ever find out what in the dye you were allergic to, or did you decide just to stop?
I’m assuming it’s PPD. That’s the toxin that creates color.
I’m a researcher… and during my research, I found out that blonde dye has the least amount of PPD (that’s the toxin that creates the color).
I thought, “Well, I don’t know for sure that I’m allergic to PPD – I just know I’m allergic to something, so I’ll just try that.”
I dyed my hair blonde for about a year, and then the same thing started happening. It was the itching, and I’ve seen a lot of women have that reaction. They think they’re just itching, but it’s actually an allergic reaction.
So I stopped that, and the next step was that I tried henna. And to go brown (henna is orange) you have to use indigo. And I started itching with the indigo, too!
Indigo has mold spores in it and a lot of people are allergic to mold. So I had no choice – I had to be gray unless I wanted to be on Benadryl every day and risk my life.
Obviously, I’m not going to do that.
Why She Decided to Transition to Gray Using Wigs
How long did it take you to go fully silver, and what method did you use?
I went gray cold turkey, and it took about 1 1/2 to 2 years.
I’m an online entrepreneur and I have to do Facebook Live videos frequently, and I personally didn’t feel comfortable having that demarcation line.
When you have black hair and you have light gray growth like this, it’s very, very obvious.
There was no way for me to really masquerade it, and… I hate to say it, but I felt embarrassed because I thought, “Well, how am I going to go on there and feel professional when my hair is two different colors?”
Even though I totally love that women do that, just for me personally, I didn’t feel comfortable.
I started researching how to fix the situation, and eventually just decided, “I’m going to get a wig.”
Did you consider trying another method, like The Dye Strip?
Yeah, and I think I’d seen that somewhere, maybe through your blog or somewhere else. That was interesting, too.
But, for me, this was the easiest solution.
I mean, literally, I had dark hair one day, and then two years later, people see me on video with gray hair. It’s like it’s all done.
The Types of Wigs She Chose
I went to a wig shop in Hollywood to look for wigs and I felt really uncomfortable even trying on the wigs.
I thought, “Oh my God, this is going to look like a wig. People are going to know I’m wearing a wig.”
I had long, dark hair so I decided to buy a wig that looked just like my dark hair so nobody would know that I was going gray underneath the wig.
It would look like my hair… but perhaps a little thicker; I figured maybe they would think I had extensions…but they wouldn’t really know what happened.
I spent $2,000 on my first wig, so it was a huge investment (it’s real hair).
There are different levels of wigs. I think Eastern European is supposed to be known as the nicest hair, and those are between $3000-$5000.
The one I got, I believe, was Indian hair. It’s really pretty, and I felt more confident, honestly than with my own hair because we all have bad hair days.
Then I started getting more wigs with different colors so people would know, “Oh, she’s wearing a wig,” when my hair’s pink. I figured, “Well, maybe now they’ll think my other one’s a wig, but they won’t know.”
It was kind of like my own kind of funny secret that nobody knew except my real friends offline.
I think that’s a great idea. Just as we can do with makeup, it sounds like a fun way to make yourself look completely different! Which wig shop did you go to?
It’s called The Wig Shop. Aside from selling wigs, they’ll also wash the wig for you and they’ll style it with a flat iron.
With the more expensive wig, I’m scared to wash that myself, because obviously, it was an investment, so they need to wash it for me.
I forget what I pay (about $60 or something). You bring it in and they’ll wash it, flat iron it, and style it for you and they’ll part it – in the center, off to the side, however you want it.
You only need to wash a wig about once every 30 times that you wear it, so it’s not like normal hair. You don’t wash it frequently as it can damage it.
Update: Tarla now washes this human hair wig herself. And to her surprise – as it air dries like any other human hair – she was pleasantly surprised to discover this one has naturally beautiful beach wave curls. Now she wears it without flat ironing which gives it an even more natural look.
And I don’t wear my wigs often. I basically wear them pretty much just to go live on social media, or if it’s Christmas and I’m going to someone’s house (or out somewhere) for an event.
But I don’t wear them around town, like to go to the grocery store.
How many wigs did you end up buying in total?
I have eight total (as of November 2022).
I bought a long gray one, kind of like your color, a little bit lighter, because I figured, “I’ll just try this gray look out early.”
And I have a blonde one…and I have pink, a lavender one, and one that’s my own hair color.
And I have another blonde one with dark roots.
And one that is more of a caramel with a darker root, then it gets lighter, a little bit more blonde towards the ends, and that one’s straight, too.
And I just bought another wig – so now I have 8!
I just prefer the straight ones. It just looks more natural.
Now that you’re talking about this, I kind of want to go out and buy a wig. It sounds like fun.
I think every woman should have a wig!
It’s kind of like makeup or clothing. It’s fashion, so you can just kind of switch up your look. It’s fun.
Out of curiosity, did you ever try using hairpieces (instead of full wigs)?
I just found those ponytails, for me … they didn’t work out. I found them really hard to work with.
First of all, they’re very heavy. They were giving me headaches, and they’re hard to maneuver with your hair underneath.
A wig is so much easier. You literally throw it on your head, and you’re done!
How to Go Gray Using Wigs
If the idea of using wigs to transition to gray hair intrigues you, make sure to check out my step-by-step tutorial. It lists all the pros and cons so you can decide whether going gray this way is right for you!
How Long Tarla Wore the Wigs Before Revealing Her Silver Hair
Did you, from the minute you started letting your hair go gray, start wearing the wigs?
Not exactly. I was a master at hiding the gray, so prior to [getting the wigs], I started with headbands.
I wore a thick headband that I could use to push my hair back and hide the gray roots underneath.
Then it progressed to where I would wear hats.
I did Facebook Lives wearing baseball caps. My baseball caps would cover the gray and then I’d put little braids in, so nobody had any idea.
I had quite a bit of gray before I said, “Now I can’t fool people anymore. Now they’re going to know pretty soon. I’m running out of time and luck so I’m going to have to do something,” and that’s when I went to go get the wigs.
How Tarla Takes Care of Her Wigs
How do you store your wigs so they don’t get damaged? Do you have those little heads like we always see in the movies?
Well, I have one of the heads for this expensive wig that I mentioned, but it takes up a lot of room.
I’ve kept the cheaper ones totally fine in the boxes they arrived in. I don’t have room for eight heads along with clothes and everything.
In an ideal world, yes, but I’m not too worried about these because these [synthetic wigs] are more … I would call them disposable wigs. They’re $80, $130… they’re not going to last forever.
With the synthetic wigs, do you have to do any maintenance on those? I know you said with the more expensive one, you take it in to the wig store to get washed and flat ironed, but for the cheap wigs, do you just put them in the box and they’re pretty much okay?
They need to be washed. You want to be careful when you’re washing wigs not to be aggressive in washing the hair. It’s more like swirling it in soapy water and letting it soak.
These are lace front wigs, which means that they have a little bit of lace, so as to mimic a natural root hair pattern at the front. So with lace, it’s delicate.
You can buy special wig shampoo to increase the longevity of the wig, but I have had luck using Johnson’s tear-free baby shampoo .
Conditioner is also important – and a huge amount of it. This makes a significant difference in softness.
You typically want to keep conditioner away from the cap and lace front and only focus on the ends when it comes to human hair wigs because this is where the knots are tied.
But I use conditioner all over the synthetic wigs. I use a plastic wig stand with a hollow design to air dry the wigs after I rinse them well.
The best part is no styling is needed for synthetic wigs. They air dry exactly back to how they were dry! With human hair wigs, you need styling but as I mentioned mine dries so beautifully, I don’t have to do anything.
A Few Drawbacks to Using Wigs
I always worried that if I had a wig, I would get hot. Do you get hot wearing them?
It’s funny you say that, because I watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta, and it’s so hot over there. I think, “How are these women wearing wigs in the summer? I don’t even understand.”
I have to say, wigs are amazing for the winter. It’s cold outside and you have that extra heat.
But in the summer, they’re hot for sure. I don’t like the feeling of sweating underneath.
I always wear a nylon stocking over my hair when I’m wearing a wig. You put this nylon stocking cap on, and then you put the wig over. And so, they can be warm.
I feel like the more expensive ones are not as warm, and the cheaper ones are warmer.
That makes sense, synthetic hair is probably heavier than real hair. And what about headaches?
Oh my gosh, I can’t even believe I’m telling you this, but when I was driving home when I first got the wig from The Wig Shop… it was not properly fitted on my head. It was too tight.
I had to turn around and go back to them. But they made it fit me.
Now I’m thinking I maybe could have bought a size up because it’s tight. It’s tighter than my synthetic ones so that sometimes I can get a headache.
I mean, what is the saying? Beauty is pain?
How Tarla Felt About Her Gray Hair Back in 2021
Back in 2021, I asked Tarla how she felt about her gray hair (shortly after she’d fully revealed her naturally silver hair to the world), and here’s what she had to say:
I feel really confident in wigs. But I’m still developing confidence with the gray hair.
I feel pretty confident, but… it’s difficult, for me at least, to style gray hair because of the heat tools and not being able to use them as much.
When your hair is gray, you might like it looking different than when you had your dyed hair.
With the dark hair, I preferred wearing it straight with some curls sometimes and the beachy waves.
But I prefer some wave in my hair when it’s gray versus straight, because of the color. It’s more of a champagne taupe. It’s not that silvery silver that I love.
So I’m still in the discovery phase. This is not my perfect phase yet, but we’re getting there.
I’m not going to lie and say I’m 100% comfortable yet. I feel pretty comfortable, but it’s something to get used to.
For a lot of women, it’s a struggle at first. Some people really embrace it and some people have more of a struggle. And for me, it’s still a little bit of a struggle because I never saw myself going gray this early.
It’s not something I ever would have done if I didn’t have an allergy. But everything happens for a reason, and it’s a good thing.
I did [show my natural gray hair] a couple of weeks ago during a Facebook Live and I thought, “Oh my gosh, now everyone’s going to know.”
And so I just went on there, and I think it’s the day that you saw me with the red lipstick… I feel really confident with the red lipstick on with the gray hair because it really does make your gray hair pop.
And so I just went on and said, “I’m gray, hello.”
I have an email list, and I wrote to my subscribers and I even said: “Hi, look at my gray hair.” That was the subject line. It’s one of my most opened emails!
I love it. I hope the next generation of people will feel more comfortable with their gray hair because they’ll see it’s just a different shade of hair color. Gray hair doesn’t necessarily mean you’re old…a lot of us go gray very young!
And what age you go gray largely depends on your ethnic background and genetics.
We’ve been conditioned to think that going gray at a younger age is something nobody does, so it does take a little while to get used to it.
But hopefully, you’ll eventually be happy with your gray hair and you’ll feel confident with it.
I do for the most part. I think now, it’s not even the color so much. The issue for me is the styling part.
I feel like I don’t have the control that I had before.
You have control when you can dye your hair, so it’s a loss of control there, right? And you have control when you can style your hair, so that’s also a loss of control. So I feel like that is really the main thing.
I’m still addicted to those hot tools and I’m frustrated. It’s just a little bit of a frustration, but I’ll figure it out as I go.
I mean, we’re lucky that we have hair to begin with, no matter what color it is, so I’m happy that I have good hair still.
Update: How Tarla Feels About Her Gray Hair Now
In September 2022, I did a follow-up interview with Tarla to see if she was feeling more confident with her gray hair and how to style it:
Last time we talked you were having some issues figuring out how to style your gray hair, especially since you have to be careful of heat tools. So have you discovered anything that makes it easier for you to enjoy styling your gray hair now?
Well, I haven’t made too much progress in terms of the heat tools, as I’m still nervous about trying them.
And regarding my desire for the idyllic silver color…, I don’t want to say I gave up, but I gave up!
I was like, you know what? It’s okay. My hair doesn’t have to be this perfect silver. It is my hair and it’s kind of cool anyway.
So I just go with it.
I loved my brunette hair straight, but I prefer some curl in my silver hair.
I literally go to bed with wet hair and wake up like this. So I do nothing to my hair. I just air-dry it.
I don’t use the blow dryer except very rarely.
I sleep on my hair wet. Sometimes I put it in one of those turban towels that are specially made to not cause frizz, but I don’t do that all the time.
I have a natural curl, a natural wave. Today it looks curlier, some days it looks wavier. I mean these are natural little curls that happen on their own. So, why not?
Tarla’s Favorite Products
Prose Shampoo & Conditioner: I love them. They’re really perfect for someone with silver-gray hair because they customize their products exactly to your hair. So it’s a formula based on you and the texture of YOUR hair.
Oribe Silverati: I haven’t used this in a while, but when I do, my hair looks like it’s more silvery. My hair is lighter in person than on-camera, and the Silverati makes my hair look almost too white sometimes. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t need it all the time.
Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Cream
Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat & UV Protective Primer
I hope you enjoyed Tarla’s transition story as much as I did! And for further reading, make sure to check out my tutorial post: How to Go Gray with Wigs.