Silver Hair Transition Stories / April 17, 2019

Transition Story: Kim in Los Angeles

Kim, age 50

I’ll never forget it; it was my Freshman year in college and a guy sitting behind me in one of my classes pulled a hair out of my head, showed it to me and said, “Hey! Didja know you had a gray hair?”

So began the battle.

I dyed my hair regularly for the next thirty years.

That meant a seat in a salon every four weeks, and for the last week and a half I’d have to use hair mascara.

That worked great, except my pillowcases and shirt collars had brown smudges on them and when I’d come in from a run I’d have to mop my hair part to keep the mascara from running down my face. Lovely!

So then it was a visit to the salon every three weeks and when I just got so sick of spending half my Saturdays and basically all my paycheck on my damn hair, I decided to start dyeing at home.

I didn’t trust box dye from the drugstore, so I spent hours on YouTube figuring out how to mix salon quality colors with different levels of developer (apologies to people who actually went to school for this…believe me, I never was great at it!)

I bought expensive color, gloves, bowls and brushes and just started coloring at home every 2 ½ weeks.

I’d recruit my boyfriend to get the roots at the back of my head where I couldn’t reach.

This was a source of great comedy for the both of us but one day he looked at me and said, “You know, I think you should just go gray. I think it would look really cool!”

I’d like to add here that he’s 16 years younger than me and I’m so grateful for the Millennial open mind about hair color! I said thanks, but there is no way in hell that I’m going gray at 48 and kept dyeing.

But I kept thinking about it. Could I go gray?

I work in a really young industry. I date a younger man. I FEEL young! Would it mean I’d never get hired? Never be loved? What would people think?? I mean, it’s crazy, right?

This is what you do. You’re a woman in Los Angeles, you dye your hair like everyone ELSE in Los Angeles.

I figured I’d go gray about six months before I hit the grave.

So I kept dyeing. And kept on with all the crap that comes with dyeing: the monotone hair, scheduling dyes to coordinate with events and vacations, feeling gross if a little white skunk stripe showed up, spending money on supplies.

You all know the drill. Ugh!

Then a few months after I turned 50, I ran into an acquaintance of mine who was transitioning to gray. She looked amazing.

Her hair color looked great with her complexion, she looked radiant, she looked FREE!

She didn’t look like she ‘let herself go’ or look ‘old’ at all, she just looked wonderful and natural. So that was it. Something deep within me clicked and I knew I was done.

My last color was on Feb 28, 2018. Boyfriend rejoiced that he didn’t have to color my hair anymore!

** 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.**

I talked with my amazing hair stylist who was on board and cool with it.

I’d like to add what a bonus this was, having her in my camp. She told me to grow out the roots for a few weeks or so to see what colors we’re working with and she’d put in a ton of highlights and a silver toner. So we did just that.

It took hours and was expensive but I walked out of the salon with most of my old brown out and with some blending that worked a little better.

She just gave me a head FULL of foils (bleached highlights) and she used a ton of Olaplex which prevents damage.

She then used a Kevin Murphy silver toner. I went back to her a few months later for another round of highlights and toner.

The toner seriously lasted about four shampoos, not sure I’d recommend it. I’m at 7 months now and I don’t think I’ll have any more blending.

I kinda love my weird two-toned grombre hair and don’t feel self-conscious about it at all.

Kim’s Transition Photos


Kim Gray Hair at 7 Months


Here’s the thing: I *do* feel I look a little older. But I’m ok with it. I *am* older.

I mean, who was I really fooling?

I feel like I’m in a new category: before, I was a tired passing-for-youngish person just barely clinging to it, and now I’m a fresh looking older person!

It’s like I’m in a new bracket!

Really makes you think how we’ve been fed the line that as women we can’t age. Why can my male peers get older and I can’t?

When you start unraveling the bull we’ve been sold for so long you see how ridiculous it is!

I like that I’m representing change.

My friends and coworkers have been amazingly positive and supportive. Men of all ages really seem to like it!

The only guff I’ve gotten so far is from older women who still dye. And my dad, he hates it!

I’ve seen photos of me where I look pretty washed out, so I still feel I need to tweak makeup and what colors to wear, etc.

It’s fun having a new palette to play with!

In general, I’ve been really loving what it’s been doing to how I feel inside- more mature, ready to take on the next phase of my life. And I feel like such a rebel!!

Recommended Products:

I had started using sulfate-free shampoo for about a year before I transitioned so I feel my hair was a little more healthy and ready to take the bleaching.

I love New Wash– it’s expensive but just makes my hair feel great.

I’ll use Overtone Vibrant Silver but it does make my non-gray hair darker so I think it makes the line of demarcation more visible.

My new gray is definitely coarser and drier so I’ve been using a lot of coconut oil. I like the fractionated because it’s liquid and easier to deal with.

I use purple shampoo/conditioner a few times a month to tone down the yellow and this Pravana Perfect Blonde is great. Sulfate free! 

This Kevin Murphy Easy Rider Cream is great and smooths down the gray hairs that stand straight up!

Thanks, Katie, for letting me take up some space on your blog!

And for anyone thinking about going silver…come on in, the water’s fine!

************

Katie here:  This post was originally published in the summer of 2018.  In early January 2019, I checked back with Kim to see how she was doing with her silver hair transition, and she gave me this great update:

Here are my photos from around 11 months dye free. Almost a year!

I now don’t think about/obsess over my decision to go gray every waking moment (haha!)

I still feel wonderful about my decision and love the compliments!

I recently went on vacation and then went through the holidays without once worrying about making that salon appointment so I wouldn’t have gray roots for photos – how freeing!



Related Posts:

Terry’s Lovely Long Gray Hair

Silver Hair Transition Story: Eva

To Hell with Going Gray Gracefully!

Andrea’s Transformation into a Self-Confident Silver Sister

58 Comments

  1. Judy N

    I started my transition in May of 2018 at age 69 after decades of color, so I’m about 11 months in. My hairstyle is a layered chin length bob, and it is growing in almost completely silver. I have a couple inches yet to go. My hair dresser also gave me heavy highlights to make the transition easier, and thank goodness for Olaplex (which protects from most bleach damage.) I’ve always liked a stylish cut and style, but I get complements on my color now almost every time I go anywhere. I’m a little more conscientious about makeup, especially eye makeup, and clothing colors, but I love this hair color. Just wish I’d done it sooner. I also have experimented with purple shampoos, but many of them can be drying. My favorite product is the Pravana hair mask. It really brightens my white and leaves my hair so conditioned. If you’re on the fence, my best advice is Try it! You’ll never really know what it could look like until you do.

    09 . Apr . 2019 Reply
  2. Trish

    You look amazing! I’m 51, boyfriend is 40 and has encouraged me to let my hair go grey, and I’ve resisted, same reasons as you…m thought it would show my age! But my older sister did it, and she looks great, and like you I’m tired of the time and cost of hair colouring. I take prednisone for Lupus and it makes colouring my hair hard, rejects the dyes! So enough! You’ve inspired me. My hair is naturally curly so it hides a multitude of sins!
    Thank you.

    02 . Apr . 2019 Reply
  3. GrannyDJ

    I am 18 months into my transition. I decided after our youngest graduated from high school that I would quit coloring. But, I did color a few more times. For our son’s wedding I just used spray on hair color…lol. I had gained a ton of weight after my hysterectomy so I knew long lost relatives would be staring at my fat, not my hair! It has really been easy to grow out my ‘wisdom highlights’. I have a great support group within my own family. I just need to learn to dress in different colors and styles that are age appropriate. I’m 52 now and still just live in capri’s, tshirts and sandals. Trying to get brave enough to chop off my ponytail and get rid of the old color. But, I am not a stylish person and I am more worried about styling short, straight hair than I am about going gray! Any recommendations for websites that offer help with clothing or makeup for gray haired women? Thanks for all of these stories.

    01 . Apr . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Hi, Granny DJ! I will look into this for you. I’m hoping to do more here myself about style/makeup/clothing, but there is not enough time in the day. 🙂 . I’ll look into it and drop you a line. Thanks!

      01 . Apr . 2019 Reply
  4. Mary Beth Hadeka

    I am 61 – Have been coloring my hair since I was 30. Switched to semi permanent color a few years ago and instantly my hair felt healthier. I made decision to transition 4 mos ago. My hairdresser doesn’t seem totally on board but is supportive. The last 2 appointments we just did a few tiny semi permanent foils to break up the color change in my part. That’s it. I am feeling pretty brave and solid these days and yes I do look at my silvers in the side view mirror when parked. Haha. Work in progress and I’ve got this ladies ! My mom is 95 beautiful and has never colored her hair. She is stunning ! I do not feel I’ve earned my silvers, I believe I am privileged to have them !

    26 . Mar . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      that’s a great attitude, Mary Beth!! Love it!

      26 . Mar . 2019 Reply
  5. Lesley

    I decided to go grey 2 years ago after colouring for 25yrs. Best decision ever! I started having very thin highlights on my dark brown hair and let the grey grow through while continuing the highlights. I have never had so many compliments and my hair is healthy and shiny.

    13 . Mar . 2019 Reply
  6. sherry

    I started my journey March 2018 and wish I’d done it sooner. I love it and am at the point I don’t care what people think. My hair is healthy and isn’t falling out anymore because I used the box stuff.

    09 . Mar . 2019 Reply
  7. E-M Abbott

    I’ve had grey since I was 18yrs, but would color my hair, blue black,red,frosted,bleached,burgandy… finally decided to go natural at 50, my husband is also younger(18yrs) he’s never had a problem with it, and now at 69, I have never been complemented so much about my hair.

    25 . Feb . 2019 Reply
  8. Sarah

    I’m 42 and fighting a full head of grey hair – I’m worried it will age me too much … what age is too early to give in to grey hair?

    24 . Feb . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Sarah, have you seen my Before & After post? Some of those women are in their 30s and I don’t think any of the women there look older than their age. Follow the @grombre account on Instagram and you’ll see women of a variety of ages.

      24 . Feb . 2019 Reply
    • Stephanie

      I am also 42 and decided about 4 months ago to start embracing truly. It’s just a new stage in life and sometimes when you take that scary first step you begin to experiment and the Caterpillar you found beautiful becomes this extraordinary butterfly you didn’t know was in you.

      28 . Feb . 2019 Reply
  9. Cheryl

    Hi, I am 67 & I have been thinking of going grey just for the convenience but I think zip will be all white if I do. I know this is going to age me big time, just not sure if that’s to big of an adjustment. I am also overweight soooooo I don’t know. Just thought I would see what anyone thinks.

    16 . Feb . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Cheryl, you should join a gray hair support group and check in with the women there. You will find lots of ladies who were worried about being overweight and going gray, and they look fabulous! I think all of us can look great with gray hair, if we keep up the other things (skincare, good haircuts, fashion). Good luck!

      16 . Feb . 2019 Reply
  10. Diane

    I am struggling with the decision to go grey. I am divorced and looking to date again. Will this deter me from finding a guy?

    03 . Feb . 2019 Reply
  11. Cathy Belanger

    It was 18 months of 2 toned hair, but I love my new salt and pepper bob. I have some rocking Cruella deVille white streaks as well. I struggled finding hair products that work, however I recently discovered Redken Graydiant shampoo and conditioner. Life changing products. My hair was always thick and course and became more course as it grew out. The Redken products actually change the texture so my hair is really shiny and manageable. Styling is much easier.

    24 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  12. SAM

    I’m several months into the process… went a shade lighter each time till I became blond… just had the first cut without color Jan 7… my hair is a lot shorter so I will just cut off the colored hair every 5 weeks till it’s gone….. looking forward to seeing the color but nervous, not gonna lie! Been coloring my hair since 1983!

    16 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  13. Lynne M. Spreen

    Loved all your insights. Like Gloria Steinem said, after fifty is a whole ‘nother country. For me, I can’t believe all the time and money I save!

    15 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  14. Caz

    Hi from Australia! I went fully grey and loved it until I was tempted by beautiful red box dye. 3 years later I’m starting the transition again. My recommendation is to cut the lengths to get rid of the colour and speed up the transition. Be honest with yourself in good daylight- what clothing and make up colours make you pop and which don’t?. I couldn’t wear any bronzer or nude brown/beige lipsticks anymore. Look at your eyebrows too. The struggle is real. Look at stylish people on pininterest and YouTube..I am not inherently stylish and found this super helpful. There is a difference between stylish and frumpy grey.

    14 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  15. Bev Germain

    Hi Katie,
    I too started my transition this past summer and went went back and forth about going gray. I started with the stripping of the dark color and transitioned to blonde then to my gray. Right now I am truly living it because I have more gray in the front of my hairline and it blends so naturally with the previously blonde color mixed with my natural brown. Everything you said is exactly what I went and am going through. Best of luck to you and you look great. I just turned 56 and even with the gray hair people think I’m in my early 40’s !

    12 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  16. Liz J

    I am so glad I found you! You have really inspired me. I have wanted to go grey (well, for me would be white since I was a redhead), but my hairdresser keeps saying I would be sorry and I’m too young…I haven’t been young for a long time…..I’m 62! Anyhow, I loved reading this and thank you so much for posting it. You look terrific and have given me the courage to do this!

    12 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  17. Pablita

    Hi! Thanks for sharing. I’m 56 and going back and fourth with thoughts about going all gray because my other problem is with my gray hair you can see my hair loss more.

    11 . Jan . 2019 Reply
    • Diana

      I am transitioning to gray. I purchased purador hair thinning shampoo and purador hair loss loss prevention conditioner. Purchase at cvs with the rewards 25 or 40 % coupon. Using 3 months, hair starting to grow, hairdresser said I have baby hair, it is black! My solid white now is salt pepper. Still transitioning to natural hair, purador works and hair feels soft even the gray strands.

      24 . Jan . 2019 Reply
    • ROBIN K KASPAR

      I’m transitioning now (3rd try!). I quit last time because of my pink scalp. I then started using a Hairmax red laser light device (41 light one) every other day) in May 2018, and by September 2018 my hair was amazingly thick and I began transitioning again. Hotandflashy Angie from youtube has a coupon as ahe tried it. I think this time I will make it now that at least for the first inch or so my hair is thick. Good luck!

      04 . Feb . 2019 Reply
  18. Gloria

    Are you going to cut the old color off? That’s what I’m doing. I trim my hair every 8 weeks to get rid of the dark brown…looking good!

    07 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  19. Karen

    I have transitioned my hair for 2 years. I had the white/grey hair before Kim Kardashian died her hair grey. I have had so many compliments on my hair. Everyone just loves it.

    03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      That’s great, Karen! I love grey hair – it’s so unique!

      03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  20. Beverly Reinbrecht

    I started my transition on September 5th. I know exactly how you feel. As I was reading your story I related to everything. Now I feel FREE, I am at the four month mark and I really need the toner, and one more highlight round. (I’ve had two) I think a third will make my transition perfect. The biggest drawback is my eyebrows are grey and disappearing. I do not have your beautiful brows.

    02 . Jan . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Hi, Beverly

      I’m going to do a post on eyebrows soon, so keep an eye on the blog for updates!
      Have you tried any of the Benefits products? They sell them at ULTA and Sephora, etc.
      Click here to see what they have – if you got to ULTA, they will advise you and help you figure out what you need.

      02 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  21. Cynthia Lazes

    Thank you Kim, this is just what I needed to hear! I’ve been on the fence for a year now. I’m excited about going gray after reading your story! I’m a rebel too!

    Cindy

    01 . Jan . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      That’s great, Cynthia!! Good luck to you and have fun!

      03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  22. Janice

    I stopped dying my hair a few years ago because I was tired of trying to keep up with it. My hair is light anyway any I dyed it an ash blonde so the contrast was not too bad. I get more compliments on my hair now then when I dyed it.

    28 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      I hear that a lot, Janice – so glad you are getting positive feedback!

      03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  23. Emily B

    I’m 60 yrs old and was recently laid off so I’m going to wait until I have a new job to go gray. I’m afraid age discrimination is still alive.

    27 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      I’m sorry to hear that, Emily. I hate age discrimination. My husband is going through the same thing. I”ll be thinking of you and wishing the best for you!

      03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  24. EJ

    I’m 67 & stopped coloring my hair about a year ago. I have really long hair. I love my silvers. I’m not cutting my hair so it is gonna take awhile for it to be completely silver. My husband & daughters hate it. My stylist is supportive. I’m stubborn & tend to dig my heels in so bring on the silvers!

    21 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      That’s great, EJ! Do what is best for you!

      03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  25. Nicky Young

    I’m 39, almost completely grey & haven’t dyed my hair in nearly 4 years. My husband has always been completely supportive but my mum & aunt were totally horrified & made loads of comments. They’re resigned to it now but it was tough having to listen to them.

    15 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Hi, Nicky:
      I’m glad your husband has been so supportive – it makes all the difference!

      03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  26. Mary G.

    I am 64 years old and had been thinking about going grey for a few years. The constant dyeing was starting to damage my hair. I had always been a brunette. The last time I had color put on my hair was November 2018. I let it grow out naturally and kept getting haircuts about every 6 weeks. I received compliments while letting it grow out. So far I am enjoying the silver hair. Don’t plan to color my hair again. My hair is healthier and I save lots of time and money. I say go for it!

    07 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      That’s wonderful, Mary!

      03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  27. Dianne Hamm

    I’m 61 and it took me 1.5 years to go completely gray with natural dark high lights. I love not having to dye more hair every two weeks. I feel a sense of freedom. I’m still getting used to it though. My husband loves it!

    05 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Dianne, it IS such a freeing feeling, right? I’m so glad to have my time back! Glad you have a supportive husband. xoxo

      05 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Debbie

      My hair is dark but mostly gray at the roots with s smidgen of pepper. I have been letting just the front grow out for about 3 months to see how I liked it and the color against my skin. I did have it cut shorter my last appointment but tomorrow we plan to highlight. This will be interesting. Nervous.

      03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
      • Katie

        Good luck! I bet it will be beautiful!

        03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  28. Kathy Riley

    It took a year and a half but I now have silver hair and I love it. I am 67 with 17 grandchildren most of them love it. My 5 children are not lovers. I think they just don’t want to think their mother is getting older. The husband loves it. I will remain grey.

    03 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Kathy, I think it’s true that it’s hard for children to accept that their parents are getting older. It’s great that you and your husband love it, and so many of your grandchildren! It helps when you have that support. xoxox

      03 . Dec . 2018 Reply
  29. Leslie

    I’m at the end of month 9. It is growing in bright shocking white! Not a hint of gray. Started dying my hair in early 20’s when my jet black hair started to become peppered with lots of white strands. For this transition period, I have purchased a few wigs in different shades of black, brown, and dirty bond. I love them! In fact, even when I am 100% white, I may color coordinate outfits with the wigs. The white hair looks great with cool colors. The white hair is definitely aging – no doubt about it – adds about 10 years. But I love the freedom of not being a slave to the salon.

    01 . Dec . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Sounds gorgeous, Leslie! And the freedom is exhilarating, right?

      03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  30. Laurie

    So excited for you! I’m 43 and I am completely grown out, I love my gray hair. I love being free from the pressure. Also, being free from the “lie” that you look younger when you dye your hair? Do you really? I don’t think so. You look the way you look , you look your age. If you have brown hair or gray hair , your face and your eyes tell all!! The angry bitter woman looks older…. the peaceful self controlled kind woman looks younger. How “old” you look is so much more about the reflection of the inside.

    27 . Nov . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Laurie, I agree with you 100%!

      27 . Nov . 2018 Reply
  31. Deb Thorpe

    I’m 63 and have been coloring about 30 years. I’ve always been a brunette, so going very blonde to transition was shocking. Early March was my last round of highlights. I have about 2 inches left to grow out. I didn’t do toner at all. It really hasn’t been bad at all.

    19 . Nov . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Sounds like you are almost done, Deb! That’s awesome!

      03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  32. Evelyn Tedrick

    I too am trying to go gray! I am basically using the same technic, heavy highlight to begin and then toners. My problem is the toner only lasts about 2 weeks. I’m trying really hard to suffer through it and only go back for toner about every 5 weeks. I’ve made it further than ever before so fingers crossed I make it this time! You look great being gray!

    18 . Nov . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Good luck with your transition Evelyn!

      03 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  33. Shannon

    I too am 7 mo in! At 59 I can’t wait! My daughter is a hairdresser so I got all the foils and silver toner too!

    You look amazing!

    17 . Nov . 2018 Reply
    • Kim R.

      Thank you, Shannon!

      17 . Nov . 2018 Reply

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