I actually started my transition to gray hair at 38.
Going gray early isn’t all that uncommon anymore but when I made the decision to transition to gray hair from dyed, gray hair was not considered as chic as it is today.
In fact, when I decided to transition to gray, many around me were horrified by my decision to go gray so young and begged me not to do it. March 2010. That’s when I decided I was done dying my hair and embarked on my transition to gray. I didn’t realize the exact date until Facebook reminded me. My daughter and only child was only two years old at the time.
I was warned I would look older, become invisible, and be mistaken for my daughter’s grandmother. I knew all of this was a possibility but spending entire Saturdays in the salon every four weeks was getting old.
Also, spending hundreds of dollars on dual-process color while using box color for touch-ups in between was draining my bank account. I was over it! I knew this process would save me time and money.
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My first attempt.
I cut my hair into a pixie, which was a great idea, but as it grew in I got highlights, which turned super brassy on me (see photo above). Then I got low lowlights, which just confused things more and my hair was a damaged mess. This lasted over a year. I was still spending a lot of time in the salon, which defeated the purpose.
I finally covered my calico hair with a brown demi-permanent color and gave up. It was a setback but I still wanted to go gray and decided I would try again in the future.
My second attempt: a diagnosis prompted the process.
My decision to go gray came at a time when I was already fed up with the endless maintenance. When it became a health issue, I was ready.
Ditching the dye and going gray was already on the horizon in early 2012 when I woke up one morning, stepped out of bed, and could not put weight on my foot; it felt broken.
I took some time wiggling it and flexing until I could walk but I was in serious pain. When it went away the next day I shrugged it off as a shoe issue.
I used to love cute heels and didn’t mind sacrificing function for fashion. But when the pain kept moving through my body I knew it wasn’t my shoes.
To make a long story short, after a thorough examination, many vials of blood, tests, and a series of X-rays, I received a life-changing diagnosis: rheumatoid arthritis.
It is severe and aggressive so thankfully, my doctor took an aggressive approach as well.
I did my research and realized I could help make living well with this disease possible by making several lifestyle changes.
These changes all revolved around health and this included leaving the dye behind and going gray: it was the push I needed. You can read about my dietary changes here and my switch to safer personal care products here.
When I finally committed
I fully committed to going gray in March of 2012.
No more semi-permanent color or highlights. I didn’t need any more toxic chemicals in my bloodstream beyond the ones I was injecting to slow my disease progression.
As you can see in the series of photos below, I started by cutting my hair short again. I chopped again and went for it. I let it grow in as it is as meant to be and it went much better. People still thought I was nuts but knew I was focused on my health.
I had color and highlights at the time so frequent trims helped the transition as time went by. I had in mind what my gray would look like as it came in, but it wasn’t at all what I was expecting.
Going Gray Before and After Photos
Here are some photos to show my transition to gray hair from dyed and the grow-out process. I wish I had thought of documenting it. You can see I started with brown hair and slowly transitioned to silver.
Why I almost gave up
Interestingly, when I started the gray transition, my hair was not nearly as silver as I expected it to be.
Also, there was less than I expected! Those grays really stand out next to dyed hair at the roots, so it can be deceiving.
My stylist suggested many, many times that I wasn’t gray enough to have a successful transition and tried to steer me back to color the entire time.
I sort of agree, but looking back it actually made it easier because I didn’t have a stark demarcation line to contend with, but rather a few streaks here and there and mostly gray at the temples.
Even when fully transitioned to gray hair from dyed , while it was obvious I had gray hair streaking through, it wasn’t the bright silver I was expecting when I fought so hard to cover them up each month for so many years.
It was more of a steel gray so I had to be strategic through the process to keep it looking good.
How I went Gray for good.
Although I didn’t have a “skunk stripe” (I wish I had!) to cover because my gray wasn’t very bright, I did need a little help to make the transition go as smoothly as possible.
For instance, I:
- started by cutting it short to get most of the color off and to help blend as time went on.
- got low-tox low lights a few times. Adding darker strands helped the gray pop more and blurred the line of dyed hair grow out.
- had regular trims to continue to rid me of colored hair.
- used a toning treatment, shampoo, and conditioner regularly to help remove any brassiness.
- and relied heavily upon this classic to help my steel gray appear brighter. It was so helpful!
A few items that helped me through my transition to gray
If I could do it all over again and transition to gray hair from dyed today:
Option 1: If my color was the same as it was back then when I started I would use a safer, non-toxic semi/ demi-permanent color like this one until the gray was completely grown in then let it fade away.
Option 2: If I was as gray as I am now when I started I would pixie SUPER short and just let it grow (Man, I love pixies and the women who rock them look fabulous with short hair) or honestly, I would just let it go at any length. These are some of my favorite transitions to follow because of the clear line of silver versus color. Amazing.
I am jealous of those who have a full head of gorgeous silver coming in as they begin their gray transition. It took a few more years for my silver to show up.
Read about how I keep my gray hair from getting brassy in this article about the best purple shampoo to keep your gray as gorgeous as you are.
Safer color for your transition
Thoughts on Going Gray
My silver hair has come in pretty nicely since going gray back in 2012 and I have no regrets.
Have I been mistaken for my daughter’s grandmother? Yes, a couple of times, but we just laugh about it. I have grown to care very little about stranger’s perceptions of me.
I certainly do not feel invisible and do not feel like I look any older than I would if I was still coloring.
Age is an attitude, and my attitude is young. LOL.
Actually, I think women look younger with gray because it is the color nature intends for them at this point in time. A dark dye can look so harsh.
My Full transition to gray hair
My transition took about two years, which is pretty typical. Now that I am fully transitioned to gray hair, I’ve embraced my grays and just try to keep my silvers healthy and shining bright and have embarked on a new journey: converting my natural waves into full-blown curls!
Check out this post where I answer all of my frequently asked hair questions: gray hair, curly hair, product recommendations, and styling tips.l
I am always playing with makeup looks and love sharing what I learn. Read my Five Minute Makeup Routine post here.
I’d love to hear about your journey, too!