Full Life Reflections

Striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world

NOTE:  I have done more recent updates on my gray hair transition HERE and HERE. Also, click here to view all of my posts about this topic.

 

It’s been well over a year since I last gave an update on my gray hair transition process. Although I was on a blogging hiatus for ten months during that time frame, I wasn’t in a hurry to address this topic once I started up this new blog. In truth, I have been dreading writing this post. No, I haven’t gone back to coloring my hair every four weeks like before, but I have made many mistakes along the way. At first, I wasn’t going to write about this at all and I even considered deleting my previous gray hair transition posts. However, I ultimately decided to write this difficult update in the hope that I might potentially save even one woman from going through what I have.

do's and don'ts for gray hair transition

I have done more don’ts that do’s during my gray hair transition…

I’m publishing this post on the two-year anniversary of the last time I colored my roots. I should be done or almost done with the transition process by this time (hair grows an average of half an inch per month), but I’m not. The reason I’m not done transitioning stems from my not being in the right headspace to take on this journey in the first place. I wasn’t ready to fully embrace the process because I was afraid of looking bad and receiving strange looks or negative comments from others. Ironically, those fears only served to make things worse for me, as you will soon learn. The type of deep-seated insecurities I wrote about back in 2014 led to a series of missteps that have made the going gray process harder and significantly set back my progress.

In today’s post, I give a recap of the steps I have taken during my lengthy gray hair transition process. I also share some not-so-flattering photos of my hair at various points in the journey. Warning – this is a very long post that I considered breaking into two parts, but I think it works better as a single long essay. If you’re not interested in the topic of gray hair transition, feel free to skip this one, as I will be back next week with a different topic.

Painful to Write About

When my gray hair transition posts were on Recovering Shopaholic, they were among my most viewed articles. After I decided not to delete them, I moved them over to Full Life Reflections because they are a better fit for this new blog’s focus of striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment in a chaotic world. I know there are many women who are considering growing out their natural hair, so I’m going to share all that I’ve done wrong in order to potentially save them from making similar mistakes. There is no one right way to “go gray,” but I think I’ve taken just about every wrong step a person can take along this path.

Because I’m not done yet and I have many regrets, this is still a very painful thing for me to write about. I think most of the critics and trolls from my last blog haven’t followed me over here, so hopefully I won’t be raked over the coals for my stupidity, but I’m taking the risk because I wish I had read this type of post myself two years ago. I have cried many tears and although I know that it’s ultimately “just hair,” I care a lot (too much…) about what I look like. It’s been hard to go through this process, especially since I have a tendency to be extremely hard on myself and accept too much responsibility when things go wrong. If you opt to comment, please be kind, as I have already flogged myself more times than I can count for the way I have mishandled this.

There is No Easy Way to Transition

I shared the passage below in my last update and while I believed these sentiments back then, I’m even more convinced of their veracity now.

3 choices for gray hair transition

It’s not easy to transition to gray hair, no matter what you do! 

There is no easy and painless way to transition to gray hair. It’s not for the faint of heart and anyone who opts to do it will need to compromise in one way or another. Even women who aren’t particularly vain struggle with letting their natural hair grow out. After all, our hair is like an accessory that we never take off and it either complements or detracts from every single outfit we wear. “Going gray” is a big commitment no matter what and one needs to be in the right frame of mind before starting the process. I wasn’t, although I believed I was at the time. In truth, I never fully committed to this journey until quite recently, believe it or not (more on that in the sections that follow).

My First Big Mistake – Highlights

The last time I did a gray hair transition update was in November 2016, when I had recently gotten a full head of highlights to try to camouflage the line of demarcation, aka the “skunk stripe.” That was my first big mistake. I know that some women have used highlights successfully during their transition process, but I’ve learned that it’s both risky and challenging to highlight dark dyed hair, especially hair that’s as porous as mine. The results are often much better on either natural hair (whether dark or light) or lighter dyed hair.

I started out with dyed dark auburn hair and the highlights left me with brassy, orange-ish hair that clashed with my cool complexion and cool-toned clothing. It wasn’t at all the effect that I desired or was expecting. The line of demarcation was definitely less noticeable, but I soon learned that there are worse hair looks than a “skunk stripe.” Not only did my newly bleached hair clash with both my complexion and clothing, it didn’t harmonize at all with my salt and pepper outgrowth.

before and after my first round of highlights

Before and after my first round of highlights – brassy even with toner

The stylist who did the highlights said that the brassiness was there because she couldn’t bleach my hair light enough the first time, for fear of my hair breaking off (which is a real danger, as vividly illustrated in this video). Even though she used a breakthrough product called Olaplex to dramatically reduce damage from bleaching, it was still risky to use as many foils (close to 100!) as she did. She told me that I would need one or two more rounds of highlights in order to eliminate the brassiness.

My Second Big Mistake – More Highlights

I didn’t know what to do at that point. I was already eight months into the process and had spent quite a bit of money on the highlights. I was extremely unhappy with how my hair looked and I wondered if I should just dye it as close to my natural (non-gray) color as possible and start over. In retrospect, that would have been a better way to go, but instead I opted to get a second full head of highlights in December 2016. The end result was lighter, but still a far cry from an ash blonde shade that would complement my outgrowth. Sadly, it still looked very warm-toned, especially after the short-lived toner applied after the highlights washed out. I went back in for more toner, but it never lasted more than one or two shampoos, so I gave up on both toning the highlights and that particular hairstylist.

after my second highlight and two weeks later

After my second round of highlights and two weeks later – toner didn’t last

As time went on, my hair got brassier and brassier. In February 2017, I was referred to a color correction specialist for a consultation about fixing my hair. Sadly, he told me that all of the processing had left my hair too damaged to do what was necessary (more highlights, as well as lowlights) to produce a more pleasing result. My hair just couldn’t handle any more bleaching at that point. Unsure what else to do, I tried to just keep letting it grow out, but I hated the brassy color with a fervent passion.

brassy highlights - February 2017

By February 2017, my highlights had gotten very brassy and looked quite orange! 

My Third Big Mistake – “Toning”

By April 2017, I couldn’t stand my “orange hair” any longer, so I visited a stylist who uses organic color to see if there was anything she could do for me. She tested a toner blend on the colored portions of my hair and it did a great job of neutralizing the brassiness. Because it was a darker toner than that used after the highlights, I thought it might have some staying power. I loved the effect, but sadly it only lasted until the next time I washed my hair. The expensive and time-consuming process was washed down the drain and the brass was back. I returned to the stylist and she toned my hair using what she called permanent color, but it didn’t last either and I was left with the warm tones once again.

 

before and after toner

Toner helped to eliminate the brassy, orange color of my hair.

toner faded after just one wash

Unfortunately, the toner quickly faded – this is before and after just one wash!

Not long after these disappointing processes, I was contacted by a former stylist out of the blue on Facebook. I told her about the problems I was experiencing with my brassy highlights and she offered to help me. She tested a few formulas on my hair and found one that worked well and would last for at least a few weeks. In order to save me money, she applied the “toner” at the shampoo bowl and I left the salon with wet hair. I liked the way my hair looked after this process and my plan at the time was to continue doing it until my hair grew out enough to cut off the brassy highlights.

Why Not Just Cut it Short?

You may wonder why I didn’t just cut my hair short to get rid of the orange. It may have been the “lesser evil,” but I didn’t think so at the time. While it isn’t obvious in my photos, I have very difficult and unruly hair. It behaves better with some length and weight to it. It’s not curly enough to look good worn “natural” and I have a lot of frizz, so it works best to wash it infrequently and flat-iron it straight. I shuddered to think about how unmanageable my hair might be during a pixie grow-out process.

Also, having long hair is a big part of my identity and I was already struggling a lot with self-esteem issues related to life transitions and menopause. I thought that adding short, gray hair to the mix might have been too much for me to handle along with aging, body changes, and hormonal weight gain. That may not have actually been true, but that was my thought process at the time. In retrospect, I should have been more willing to compromise and at least cut the brassiest bottom portion of my hair off. But as is often said, hindsight is 20/20.

My Fourth Big Mistake – Lubricity

Now we come to the final mistake I made with my gray hair transition. I mentioned above that I have unruly and frizzy hair. I have tried various chemical straightening treatments over the years and they either didn’t work well or caused an allergic reaction. I was hesitant to try anything like that again, but last summer I heard about Lubricity, a new naturally-derived system that a chemist in Louisiana had developed for his young daughter’s unmanageable hair. I investigated this product further and asked my hairstylist if she thought it might be a good option for me. We agreed to try it in late August at my next toning appointment.

But before I get into this, here are some photos of how my hair looked in July/August 2017, when I was still getting toner every three weeks. You can see that I have a lot of nice outgrowth on the top of my head and underneath. The side view shows how long my roots had grown out, although the color is somewhat obscured by the presence of toner. The ends were still quite brassy, though, and I wish I would have been more willing to cut those off and sacrifice some length. That way, I could have had the toner done less frequently or stopped it altogether.

my hair in July 2017

This is what my hair looked like in July 2017 – pulled back and wearing a hat. 

august 2017 front and side views

Here I am in August 2017 – you can see the outgrowth more clearly in the side view.

A lot of things went wrong with the Lubricity process. First, the stylist applied my toner after the Lubricity instead of before it as was recommended. She said she did this to be cautious, but after blow-drying my hair at home, I noticed that it had a light purple tinge to it! The stylist offered to fix it for free a week later (to give my hair some time to “rest” between processes), but it ended up looking worse after that. She got rid of the purple, but my hair was left looking almost completely reddish-brown, with only a few inches of gray roots on the top of my head instead of the eight to nine inches of regrowth I should have had by that time. Like she’d done previously even after I had asked her not to, the stylist applied the toner too high into my outgrowth. I was concerned because it looked like the toner wasn’t completely washing out or fading between my appointments (as you can see in the August side view above). The stylist assured me that it did indeed wash out with the “detox shampoo” she used at the shampoo bowl, but I never saw that effect myself.

The Lubricity did make my hair more smooth and manageable, but I also had an adverse reaction to it with a sore throat and severe congestion. Although those symptoms passed after several days, the “toner” did not fade as I washed my hair over the following weeks. I started to panic and tried using clarifying shampoo, dandruff shampoo, and even dishwashing detergent, but nothing removed that color.  I tried to get to the bottom of it, but neither the stylist nor Lubricity accepted responsibility for the result I got (although Lubricity did refund my money). My gray hair transition process was set back by many months and there was nothing I could do about it except cry, which I did many times.

Needless to say, I was very angry at that stylist and am no longer going to her, but the damage was done. I continued to try to get the color out of my hair for months, to no avail. All that happened was that it faded from brown to red to orange to gold. I stopped taking pictures of my gray hair transition process and considered aborting the whole journey over a year and a half into it. But I ultimately didn’t want to go back to coloring, so I had to cut my losses, dry my tears, and carry on. You have no idea how much I wish I could turn back the clock and avoid getting Lubricity and the supposed color “fix.” I deeply regret doing those processes, as well as both rounds of highlights and the toners that either didn’t last long or were supposed to wash out but didn’t. I also regret trusting multiple hairstylists who I thought were helping me but often ended up making things worse (even though that wasn’t their intent). And finally, I regret trying to use color to aid in my journey to stop coloring. I should have known that was a bad idea from the start.

At the Two Year Mark…

So here I am today at the two year mark, roughly eight months after the Lubricity fiasco, and I’m carrying on with my journey. If I pull back the top section of my hair, it looks pretty good, as the staining was mostly confined to that layer (probably because that’s the most porous part). I have had three haircuts in the past eight months and have gotten a lot of the brassiest parts cut off. My hair is shorter than I’d like it to be at present, but I’m finally willing to make some compromises I wasn’t willing for earlier on.

If I put my hair in a ponytail, it looks very “salt and peppery” now. Last month, I went to a kiosk at the mall to try to buy extensions that match my hair to help ease the process. They tried a few variations on me, but I didn’t think they matched my outgrowth well enough to buy them. I’m actually not as gray as I thought I was when I first started growing my hair out. I did ask them to take photos, though, so I’m including those below (I’m not sure I’d want to wear that puffy of a “messy bun” anyway…).

trying out extensions in March 2018

I tried to find extensions in March 2018, but nothing matched very well. 

When my hair is down, it doesn’t look all that different from the photos above from last July/August, but the ends are now more gold than red/orange. Of course, my hair should look a lot different than it did eight months ago, so I have to make up for quite a bit of time. I’m upset and demoralized about this, but what can I do? Eventually I will be done transitioning, but it’s going to take much longer than I thought.

The Goal in Mind

At Christmas time, I asked my stepson to Photoshop a picture of me to show what I’ll look like when this long, arduous process is finally over with. This photo isn’t a perfect rendition, but it has been helpful, as it allows me to visualize the end goal and keep my eye on the prize.

what I will look like when it's all grown out

The end result in mind (my stepson’s Chinese Crested is on my lap)

I think I will look great when it’s done – and I can’t wait!  At this point, I’m planning to keep doing small cuts until all of the remaining color is gone, but I’m not sure how long that will take. Then I will start growing my hair long enough to have a gray braid that cascades over my shoulder (kind of like this). It may take me until late 2019 or 2020 to accomplish that goal, but it will happen!

The Bottom Line – What I Would Do Differently

I would do many things differently if I had this to do over again. If I were to offer any advice, I would recommend the following:

  • Don’t do highlights, especially if you have dark dyed hair or highly porous hair (here’s how to tell if your hair is porous).
  • Low-lights to help break up the line of demarcation early in the process might be helpful, but just do this once or twice and then stop using color altogether.
  • Cut off as much as you’re comfortable with as soon as possible. If you struggle with losing length, just do small trims every couple of months as your hair grows out – those little bits add up over time!
  • If you like short hair or are willing to experiment, this is probably the best way to make the transition, as you will be done much sooner. I have read about some people who ended up loving the short hair look and kept it for a while.

Many women try more than once to grow out their natural hair and that’s okay. Sometimes we think we’re ready and we’re really not. If you want to keep coloring your hair until the day you die and you have no adverse effects from it, then more power to you. This is an individual choice that each of us has to make for ourselves. I’m still glad I decided to do it, even though I’ve done so many things wrong. I’m still proud of myself for taking this step and I think my health has benefited from not putting harsh chemicals on my scalp every four weeks. My nerve pain has dramatically improved and because I’m chemically sensitive, I think not coloring my hair anymore is the best choice for me. Yes, I have continued to use color during this process, but I haven’t put it on my scalp for two years now, which is at least one thing I’ve done right.

I’m going to try not to beat myself up for this anymore and I’m going to try to forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made as well. I know I also need to forgive the hairstylists who I still harbor anger and resentment towards. Actually, my next post will be on the topic of forgiveness, so stay tuned. Hopefully, it won’t be quite as long as this essay!

142 thoughts on “Gray Hair Transition – Don’t Do What I Did!

  1. Marilyn says:

    Well today I stepped into the same disaster. I am upset beyond belief. I had highlights initially and really loved them. My grey was coming in and I loved it. My stylist convinced me against my better judgment ( having read your blog earlier) to integrate the front grey. I said NO nothing on the grey in front because i love it as is…but somehow she did it anyway. I don’t even know what color to call it its so incredibly ugly. I am not ready to cut my hair off and so I think I’m just going to have to live this one out and not let anyone touch my hair with color again no matter how ugly the fading is. I am so mad at myself for ignoring my instincts and for allowing this person to cross the line when my instinct against it was so very strong. Hats, scarfs and who the hell knows what else. Oh yes, self compassion. What else to do right?

    1. Naomi says:

      It’s amazing isn’t it, when you are sat in that hairdresser’s chair you suddenly seem to lose all your power and go with what they want to do and not what you want. I am growing out henna, which is a bit of a blessing because as soon as I tell them the red bits are henna they just say: Oh, yeah… gonna have to let that grow out. (Henna is great for your hair but does not play well with others! – and most hairdressers are only aware of henna with compounds, not body-art completely-natural henna, which folks have been using for thousands of years) – but I feel so bad for you. It’s probably not as bad as you think it is (lookswise) but it’s that anger you feel at having been pushed into something you knew you didn’t want. After going shorter and shorter, I had a pixie-cut today (and still lots of red – it’s taking ages to grow out) but feel like I’m over the hump now (5 months since last henna application) – hopefully by March I can start the regrowing phase. Long silk scarves (wound round my head) and big earrings have been my friends though! Good luck. You’ll get there. Big virtual hugs from a fellow going-grey-er !

      1. Debbie Roes says:

        Thanks for sharing your compassion and words of wisdom with Marilyn, Naomi. Those of us who are struggling with this process need to stick together and you gave her some excellent advice. Yes, it’s probably a blessing for you that you couldn’t apply dye over the henna in your hair, as you didn’t fall prey to bad highlights like Marilyn and I did. But I know the process is still challenging for you. Glad to hear that you’re over the hump now, though, and good for you for taking the plunge to get a pixie cut. You will be done THAT much sooner as a result. Wishing you all the best with the remainder of your transition and keep rocking the scarves and big earrings!

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      Marilyn, I’m SO sorry that you have experienced something similar to what I went through. I think a lot of stylists don’t really know how to help women navigate this process, as it’s a relative new thing to go gray (especially at a younger age). I hated the color of my hair, too, after my highlights went brassy, but like you I didn’t want to cut my hair short.

      Doing regular cuts will help (even if it’s just an inch at a time), as each time you get some of the brass cut off, you will feel a bit better. Depending on the color of your hair, either purple or blue shampoo can also help to tone down the brassiness, but it’s often necessary to leave it on longer than usual and/or to apply it to dry hair (it can also be very drying, so you’ll have to condition well afterwards). Hats and scarves are also useful tools to help you get through, and self-compassion is critical.

      It’s not your fault this happened to you! Yes, you willingly sat in the chair, but it’s natural to trust a stylist, especially if we have gone to them for years. We think they will know what to do and I don’t think they acted maliciously or wanted to leave us with a brassy mess, but it’s wrong for them to do a process that wasn’t requested, as it sounds like happened to you. Please try to forgive yourself and move on. I know full well how hard that is and how difficult the entire process is. You WILL get through it, even though it will take a while. There is peace on the other side of a gray hair transition. Wishing you strength and fortitude and an end result that you’re happy with.

    3. Kamie says:

      You just wrote my story!!! This exact thing happened to me 2 days ago – I’m literally sick to my stomach , I keep telling myself WHY!! WHY did I do that I had come so far to now being set back!! I read and read so many stories of how you can do this and how you can do that to transition to gray/silver – I going old school – I’m gonna find some cute scarves and hats ( thank goodness spring/summer are coming up) . Like you I wish I had read this article 2 days ago – I’ve cried and cried but now I have to accept what it is and move forward naturally.

      1. Debbie Roes says:

        I’m so sorry that you have had a similar experience to both Marilyn and me, Kamie. I can really identify with the sick to your stomach feeling you describe, as well as the crying. I think that going “old school” is the best approach and the scarves and hats will definitely help. I know it’s hard to accept such a rough setback. It took me a very, very long time. But the good news is that hair DOES grow and eventually you will be past this difficult time. I wish you strength along the way. Keep remembering WHY you’re doing this, as it will help you get through to the other side. Also, take things one day at a time. I know it can sound trite, but that’s really how I made it through.

  2. Gigi says:

    Thanks for documenting your journey!! It does truly help to see what others have gone through and to assist in making some decisions about your own hair. I am currently in the process of going gray. About 9 months in, I had a rinse applied. It was supposed to wash out in 8-9 weeks, but never did. It was one of those decisions I made because I was going away and really wanted to look good, but I regretted it in the end because it didn’t wash out as expected. I can see where it faded a bit, but that’s about all. So, it’s been about 6 months and I really need a haircut. The ends are dead and the bottom color is turning really light. So my plan is to go and get about 4 inches cut off and then do some low lights. I definitely do not want to that rinse again. So thanks again for the great info on what to do and not do. Oh and by the way, your hair is looking great!!!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m so glad you found this post helpful, Gigi. I’m sorry you experienced something similar to what I went through with that rinse that didn’t wash out. I think these rinses and toners will wash out of some women’s hair, but for those of us who have more porous hair, they can hang on for dear life and really set back our progress. Part of why I wrote this post was to warn women of what MIGHT occur for them. I hope that after you get your haircut and low lights (be careful not to do too many of those, as they can turn brassy for some people), you will feel better about your hair. Although some women get very “zen” about the transition process, it’s tough for a lot of us and since going gray hasn’t been very common until more recently, there isn’t a lot of consistent help and guidance out there. I hope the rest of your process will go more smoothly and that you love the finished result. Thanks for your kind words about my hair. If you’re referring to the photo at the end of this post, that was a Photoshop that my stepson did to help me see how my hair might look in the end. I posted more recent photos at the end of this post: https://fulllifereflections.com/2019/02/20/gray-hair-transition-changing-the-narrative/ It’s not as gray as I had hoped, but I’m grateful not to have to chase roots and that the brassy dye is gone now.

  3. Kelly Graham says:

    I would like to see someone that’s growing out there gray that’s not young like these women ! They all look
    To be in there 40 s and there gray or graying looks good on them !! Where are the lady’s in there 60 s like
    Me !!???

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m in my 50’s, Kelly, but thank you for saying I look like I’m in my 40’s. There are many women of all ages who are transitioning to gray hair these days. If you search for “gray hair transition” or a similar phrase on Facebook and Instagram, you will find lots of groups and accounts to follow and you’ll see lots of women over 60 as well as those of us who are a bit (or a lot) younger. Best wishes to you with your transition, if you decide to take it on.

  4. Sue says:

    Thank you for “taking one for the team” and sharing the mistakes made along the way! I’m researching options and I can’t decide if “now” is right. I turned 60 last month and I always thought my age would determine when to gray. I have dark brunette hair while my mother and two older sisters were blonde so their experiences are not very helpful. I’m going to follow your advice and do an one of two low-lights in the beginning and chop off hair from shoulder to chin length. “If you can’t be a good example then at least be a terrible warning!” Thank you again!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      You’re welcome, Sue. I’m glad that my mistakes have helped to save others from doing what I did. Yes, it’s a difficult decision to make. It took me a couple of years to be ready to make the leap, but I still didn’t know what I was really in for. It’s definitely harder for those of us with darker hair, as the contrast is far more pronounced. If you cut your hair shorter and don’t mess around with highlights or toners like I did, your transition time will be decreased. Yes, I was a “terrible warning” for sure, but now you and others won’t be and I’m grateful for that. Best wishes to you and may you have strength to see the transition through. There is peace and freedom on the other side!

    2. Rhonda says:

      I am a stylist colorist an have read this. The whole process is different for everyone depending on porosity length etc. We are now discovering ways to go grey now that is so much easier. Dont give up. Talk to a stylist that will work with you for a few weeks. It’s never something g that should be done in one day and olaplex has turned out to be the best thing to use with lightener. We have classes and new cir lines to make this process simpler and cir removers and e excellent 5 minute toners and color shampoo. This is new for hair pros too, so remember that.

      1. Debbie Roes says:

        Thanks for your comment, Rhonda. I’m glad that more stylists are learning how to help their clients successfully transition to gray hair. I worked with quite a few stylists throughout my process and none of them really knew what to do. The stylist who did my highlights used Olaplex, which helped to prevent damage to my hair, but the brassiness still happened. I wish that the porosity issue would have been brought up and discussed. My whole purpose for writing this post and my others on gray hair was to make sure women are aware of potential issues so they can make more informed decisions. I know that many women don’t have the types of issues I experienced when they used color to help them transition, but it’s important to know what CAN happen. I think that doing patch tests can help to prevent disasters, but that also adds time to the process and requires patience. I wish I would have done that, though. Live and learn… Hopefully in time, no one will have to go through what I did as stylists learn more about both techniques and potential pitfalls.

  5. Lauren says:

    Hi! I came across this article (and your blog) while researching my options for growing my grey hair out. I’m so glad I read this! I was planning on getting some highlights to blend into my ‘skunk stripe’ (a very white stripe, yikes!) but my hair is dry, frizzy and fragile. I’ve been dying my hair since I began going grey at age 20 – I am now 40 and am sick of keeping up with the dye and having my hair chemically treated.

    Anyway, thanks so much for the great post, and the valuable info. I am now going to just deal with my ever-growing white stripe and get trims as needed. 🙂

    1. Naomi says:

      Good for you. I wouldn’t even recommend cutting it all off – unless you know that it suits you. I went for the pixie crop (via, bob and shorter) and am now trying to deal with curly hair that is too short to curl! Solve one problem (getting rid of most of the colour) and end up with another one! Good luck with your transition :o)

      1. Rhonda says:

        Use a flat iron. It will surprise you.

        1. Naomi says:

          Hi Rhonda. Thanks for the tip – I think a flat iron is what we call straighteners here in the UK? Sadly, I can’t use those because I do Curly Girl Method – for nearly a year now, so my hair is in pristine condition (no SLS, no silicones, no heat, ditched the hairbrush etc) and one of the things keeping me going is the knowledge that I might be able to get through 2020 without the need for any trims – so hopefully I can grow the full 6 inches (12 months) – although it won’t look that long – curls = shrinkage!

    2. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you found my site, too, Lauren, and I’m happy that you found what I had to say valuable. A lot of stylists will recommend highlights, but that often results in THREE-toned hair rather than just TWO-toned hair, and the highlights will often turn brassy. My hair was also very dry, frizzy, and fragile, but it’s SO much healthier now that I’m not longer dyeing it every four weeks. I actually have much better hair than I thought I did, and you may find the same.

      I found that gradual cuts were the best way to go, like an inch or two every few months. That allows you to see progress and celebrate more dyed hair being cut off without the type of huge adjustment that Naomi mentioned. Some people are very adventurous with their hair and have no problem doing the pixie, but I knew it wasn’t for me. The color change was enough! Best wishes to you with this process. I hope you learn new things about yourself along the way and end up with lovely silver hair in the end.

  6. Libby says:

    Appreciate these tips! I have naturally ash or dark blond hair and have highlighted sometimes low lighted it for years. It’s below my shoulders. I have been noticing more brassiness in between color treatments recently – I go every 6 weeks. I brag to my adult kids “there’s no grey!”
    Well, I’ve been actually wanting it to go grey and tonight I’m officially seeing grey in my temples and a few strands! I’m 52 and with an olive complexion.Have 4 grown adults kids and 3 grand kids. My mother had gorgeous silver hair. Is it impossible for a good stylist to “transition “ me through this process?
    I always assumed I would start weaving grey/silver into my hair until it all grew out.. but are you saying even with blonds it doesn’t work that way?? Like you, my nice hair is part of my identity- Like you, cutting it short would be a disaster!! Too frizzy—
    Help what’s my next move? Highlights lowlights silver or just play it safe?

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      If you have blonde dyed hair and not a lot of gray, Libby, your transition should be relatively easy (as these things go). I don’t recommend highlights because what they usually do is add another color into the mix such that there are then THREE colors (natural gray, dyed hair, and highlighted hair) on your head instead of just two. To keep highlights light and ashy can be challenging, as they have a tendency to skew warm, just as a lot of all-over colors (single process color) do. This doesn’t happen to everyone and it happens in degrees, but it just adds more complexity to the transition process.

      There ARE talented stylists who can help women transition using color (check out Jack Martin on Instagram – he did Jane Fonda’s hair for the Oscars and has a lot of other examples in his feed), but even then, the maintenance can be challenging and expensive (not to mention the expense of the initial process, which can take 7-10 hours or more!). I think that “playing it safe” is the way to go for most women. If you’re blonde with not a lot of gray, it will be easier and there won’t be much of a line of demarcation. You don’t need to cut it short. Just do more trims than usual to get the dyed pieces cut off. Hope this helps! Good luck with making the best choice for you.

  7. Biddy says:

    You’re an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your journey, and helping women like me avoid tough and expensive pitfalls. I am off to the hairdresser this week to break the news to her that I am letting my greys grow. I vow to be strong in that chair, and hope to come away with toned down brassy bits and a choppy short bob!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Biddy, thanks for your comment and congratulations on making the choice to let your natural hair shine! I’m glad that reading about my journey (and many mistakes…) was helpful for you. It sounds like you have a good path laid out for yourself and are resolved in your decision. The fact that you’re going to go shorter with your haircut will help to make the process easier. It will still have its challenges and ups and downs, I’m sure, but before too long you will be free of hair dye and hopefully happy with your natural silver color. Best wishes!

  8. Susan D says:

    Why do we all have to go through this? I did something very similar about five years ago, and I had short hair at the time. But I really wanted to be done coloring, and to go gray. I also fell prey to a (very young) hair stylist who convinced me that it would be one long day, and it wouldn’t be GRAY, but more silvery almost blonde…and I have very dark, almost black hair. And a cool complexion with olive tones thanks to my Italian half. It was horrific. Not only did I not ask enough questions, but she gave me absolutely no tips for how to manage it and care for it. The next day I looked like I had a yellow hay bale on my head. I was completely mortified, and I had no idea what to do. The other very sad fact is that my husband HATED it. He liked me with dark hair, and preferred it long as well. We were living apart at the time due to my Army obligations, and every time we talked on the phone, he mentioned how much he disliked it. I couldn’t take it, and I caved. I had it re-colored and switched stylists. About a year later, I decided to go cold turkey, and had my stylist cut it to an extremely short pixie. It was AWESOME! I was really happy…but again, he was not. He hated the length and the gray. Alas, I caved again. I colored it for his “Christmas present”. Then I grew it out. I am now a long haired, dark haired woman turning 54 on Wednesday, and I am noticing my hair thinning, and I am pulling it out by the fistfuls. Luckily, it is very thick naturally. As I talked with him yesterday with a box of home color on my head (I can’t afford more than once a month professional), I told him that it’s super expensive, and bad for my hair, and I only do it for him. I have grown to really like my long hair, but I am thinking about going cold turkey. I am so desperately tired of coloring my hair.
    So – all that being said, thank you so much for reposting this. I think you are stunning in all your pictures, no matter what level of hell your hair has taken you to. I wanted you to know that I made the same mistakes, and am getting ready to pay the price for them yet again, with an epic skunk stripe.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      It sounds like you’ve really been through the ringer with your hair, Susan. I’m sorry you’ve struggled so much and that your husband hasn’t been very supportive of your desire to “go gray.” As for the stylists, I think they all mean well, but transitioning to gray by means of color is a tricky thing to do well, especially if one has porous hair. I never expected that my hair would turn orange and it was difficult to deal with. It would have been nice to have known that the possibility existed, as I may have (hopefully) opted against the heavy highlights. Going “cold turkey” is definitely challenging, but I’m now convinced that it’s the best path for most women to take. My hair was breaking off and falling out due to the frequent dyeing as well, and it’s now MUCH healthier than it was back then and I don’t lose nearly as much hair these days.

      Most women have stops and starts on their way to embracing their natural silver hair, so you’re not alone. Mine weren’t intentional, but I take responsibility because I sat in the chair and paid the stylists money to do what they did. I still wish I would have known better, which is why I shared my experience here. I wish you the best of luck this time around and I hope you and your husband will both be able to embrace your natural hair. It’s hard when one changes the color and the length dramatically at the same time, but hair DOES grow back and you’ll likely look stunning with long silver hair. Happy belated birthday and thank you for your kind words!

      1. Naomi says:

        I’m not sure if we are allowed to suggest other sites, but I joined Curly Silvers on facebook (there may be other sites that just cater to going grey – being curly has its own issues!) – but I’ve found so many supportive women with suggestions on styling products (for curly hair) and general sisterhood of ‘keep going, you can do it’ – it’s been really helpful

        1. Debbie Roes says:

          Naomi, Of course it’s okay to suggest other sites! I want women to have as many helpful resources as possible to assist them in their transition process. Thank you for offering this resource. It’s great that there is a specific group tailored to women who have curly silver hair, as I know that there are additional challenges for that population.

Leave a Reply to Rhonda Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.