Have you been thinking about transitioning to gray hair? The decision to put down the hair dye and let nature take its course is challenging. For some of us, it means a bit of soul-searching and embracing the aging process and beauty of our gray hair.
Honestly though? One of the biggest challenges when transitioning to gray hair from dyed hair is simply waiting through the process. It’s hard to know how to transition to gray hair painlessly. I think if women could snap their fingers and transition to gray hair instantly, many more would embrace going gray.
Unfortunately, letting your hair grow from dyed into a natural colour takes a long time–sometimes up to a year, depending on your hair length. It’s during this transitional time that most women give in and go back to fully dyeing their hair. No one wants their hair to look gross in the in-between hair dye stage, complete with gray roots running down the center of your head.
I put together this list of 5 helpful tips that will make you feel better about the transition to gray hair. Each gray hair transition tip will help you love your hair at every stage of growing the color out. You’ll keep your hair looking shiny and healthy throughout each stage of the process too. Remember, it isn’t the color of your hair that will make you look old and unkempt, but the condition of your hair. Keeping your hair healthy and shiny will go a long way toward boosting your confidence as you transition to gorgeous gray hair.
5 Tips to Help You Easily Transition to Gray Hair
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1. Invest in A Great Style and Cut as You Transition to Gray Hair
If you don’t want to look like an old granny with gray hair, you need to get a good haircut and a flattering style. Your hairstylist can advise you on what styles will help mask your gray, and what cuts will be the most flattering for your particular face shape and body type. Your stylist will also help you work with curly hair or straight hair, so your style is easy to maintain.
Investing in a great transitional hairstyle doesn’t mean you have to go with short hair or a pixie cut, either. But remember, if you wish to have longer hair as you make the transition to your natural hair color, it’s more important than ever to keep up with regular trims. This is especially key if you’re growing out previously dyed hair, which can be dry and damaged. The ends of your hair will be more likely to split, and regular cuts will help keep the cuticle of your hair smooth, shiny, and healthy.
Need hairstyle inspiration for your transition-to-gray look? Check out these 50 Stunning Haircuts for Gray Hair.
2. Blend Your Roots with Highlights
Depending on what color you were dyeing your hair prior to your decision to transition, you may have a very distinct line of demarcation in your hair. This “skunk stripe effect” definitely doesn’t look natural or very appealing. In fact, it’s often during this stage of the gray hair transition that most women give in and go back to dyeing their hair.
Put down the bottle! Rather than deciding to colour your hair all over again and going back to square one, there’s an easy way to seamlessly transition your hair to natural gray. What you do instead is get lowlights and/or highlights throughout your hair to soften the line as your hair transitions to gray from dyed. Your stylist can advise you on highlights that compliment your skin tones and help blend your silver strands with your natural color.
Ask your hairdresser to use super thin sections of hair so it blends with your natural color. Keep in mind, it may not be possible to do thin enough strands with foils and they may have to use a cap for your highlights. My experience is that not every salon knows how to use the cap anymore and you should call around if this is the method you wish to use. Also, don’t let the hairdresser do too many foils or pull too much hair through the cap or it will be just like you dyed your whole head again and you will be starting from the beginning of transitioning to gray. It’s important to do only thin streaks of highlights and lowlights to help blend your hair color throughout.
3. Use an Ash Toner to Prevent Brassiness
Once you begin to grow out your dyed hair color, the ends of your hair often turn brassy. Fortunately, this is an easily preventable problem. Fighting brassiness in your gray hair means applying your knowledge of complimentary colors. The opposite of orange/yellow is blue/purple. So, by applying a cooler ash tone to your hair, you’ll counteract the orangey tones.
When you go to the hair salon, request an ash toner to be put in your hair, focusing on the ends. It only needs to be applied to the previously dyed hair (which is where you’ll start to see the brassiness show up as the dyed hair ages). Once the ash toner is applied, you’ll simply need to wait for about 20 minutes. The toner won’t affect your new, natural hair (your roots) at all, only the old dyed hair. Ash toner treatment will take away the harshness of your previously dyed hair.
If you’re more of the DIY-type, you can also try to prevent brassiness at home by using this Purple Hair Repair Serum.
4. Condition Your Hair Properly to Work WITH Your New Texture
Many women who are transitioning to gray hair are frustrated or at least surprised by the new texture of their hair. It’s true, gray hair is often coarser and more wiry than non-gray hair. Growing out your dyed hair results in split ends, especially as it changes texture.
If you’re transitioning to gray hair, it’s more important than ever to use the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. I love the way Regis’ Super Silver Shampoo & Conditioner makes my gray hair look soft and shiny. The grays appear as though they’re highlights I had added. Plus, my hair feels great—soft, silky, and shiny! My hairdresser also suggested that if my ends started to look brassy, I should leave in the conditioner for half an hour as a deep conditioning treatment for gray hair. This is a great money-saving tip (that will save you from step #3 above). Basically, the silver conditioner acts as a deep conditioner and ash toner in one!
5. Change Your Pillowcase to Work with Your New Hair
It may seem like a small step as you’re transitioning to gray hair, but your pillowcase may be hurting instead of helping. Did you know that your cotton pillowcase is robbing your hair of natural oils, thus making it more brittle and coarser? Did you know that tossing and turning your head a lot during sleep or sleeping in one position all night creates more split ends where your head meets the pillow?
Split ends can really look bad as you’re transitioning to gray hair. Remember that you want your hair to look as soft, smooth, and styled as possible during the transition. You may damage your hair in your sleep without even realizing what you’re doing!
Combat sleep damage to your newly gray hair by gently turning your head when adjusting your sleep position and making sure to rotate your head position through the night. Also, never sleep with a hair band, which can lead to breakage and pulling, resulting in damaged hair. A Natural Silk Pillowcase is a great solution to help your hair stay beautiful and healthy. The silk won’t absorb the moisture from your hair, leaving it dried out and brittle. The added bonus is that a silk pillow case is also good for your skin and offers you a nice cool sensation as you rest your head.
I get so many emails from women who have followed my tips and taken the plunge to transition to gray hair. The resounding majority absolutely love how their hair looks and feels since they decided to stop coloring their hair. Most women report they wish they’d transitioned to gray hair a lot sooner!
If you are thinking about putting down the hair dye and transitioning to gray hair, I hope these tips help you feel better about your decision and about your naturally beautiful, gray hair.
If you want to know what colors you should stay clear of now that you have embraced your gray hair, click here.
If you are more salt and pepper, check out these fashion faux pas.
To check out all of the products I use on my gray hair, please visit my Amazon shop here.
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