Let’s face it: going gray is not easy for women. It does seem a bit unfair that no one really thinks twice about men with gray hair, but on women? It is a flashing neon sign for aging!
What to do about gray hair growth is a challenging question. To complicated matters, as our hair starts to go gray, we are also dealing with hair that is more dry, more prone to breakage, less shiny, less manageable, and thinning. Hair at this stage needs more attention.
During the global pandemic, when visits to the hair salon were disrupted, many women saw their natural hair growing in, and some decided that they were ready to go gray. As a result, going gray or “transitioning” to gray hair has gained some popularity. Most women would find it difficult to simply stop coloring altogether, and it is possible to transition to gray hair more gradually by blending in your grays as they grow out.
It is always recommended to make an appointment with a professional to figure out the best option for you. I have helped many women at different stages of going gray and would be happy to assist you in making the right choice for you.
Here are some options to consider. I have tried to provide you some of the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.
Full Gray Coverage
The traditional, tried-and-true method is to cover the grays completely with a permanent hair color. Permanent hair color also will color your non-gray hairs. You can lightening your hair with permanent hair color up to two shades lighter.
Permanent hair color is, for the most part, permanent. You will only need to cover the new growth every 4 to 5 weeks. If your color needs to be refreshed periodically, we can cover the entire length of your hair instead of just the roots.
However, be aware that new growth will be your natural color. This option may be less desirable if, for example, you have naturally dark hair, because the grays growing in will stand out quite a bit. Many people call this line of demarcation the “skunk stripe.”
Also, most permanent hair color uses harsh chemicals, such as ammonia, so you are exposing your scalp to these chemicals on a fairly regular basis. Some of my clients have become more sensitive to these chemicals as they age, making this option not one that they can use.
As most of you know, I use the ASP line of products, which provides some cutting-edge products. I am excited to try a new ammonia-free permanent dye that is coming out this year. I’ll update this post after I have had the chance to use this product.
If you do not want to use the full gray coverage option, the options below would help blend in your grays. These also work as good options for gradually growing out your grays more smoothly than going cold turkey.
Demi-permanent hair color places color just below the surface of the hair. It does not use ammonia and does not fully open up your hair cuticle, so it is much more gentle on your hair and scalp and gradually fades out over 5 to 6 weeks. You will not be able to lighten your hair with demi-permanent color; it is only for color depositing. It will not cover your grays fully, so it will make your hairs look more like highlights.
This option works well if you want a more natural and low maintenance option that will gradually fade and hence not leave you with a line of demarcation as the new hair grows in.
This method may take some trial and error. Color-resistant gray hair may not receive the demi-permanent hair color well. Sometimes, however, the second or third application may “take” better because the hair cuticle has already been somewhat opened.
Adding highlights to your hair also can blend in your grays and give you a fresh, more youthful look to your hair. If your grays come in more silver, you can even pass that off as highlights.
Highlights do a better job of blending in new hair growth than the permanent color option, so you can stretch out your salon visits to 8 to 12 weeks.
Highlighting does use chemicals to lighten your hair color, which can damage and dry out your hair. You may find your hair is more prone to breakage. You will need to take care of your highlighted hair in between salon visits using the tips below. With highlighting, after the hair is lightened, we use a semi-permanent hair color (or toner) to achieve the desired hair color. This color will last about 4 to 6 weeks, so there is some upkeep either at home or at the salon. You may also need to use a purple shampoo and/or conditioner to keep orange or yellow tints at bay.
Highlights and Lowlights
This option takes highlights up a notch and provides beautiful multi-dimensional color that can really take the focus off the grays and blend them in gracefully. We can do highlights and lowlights in one visit or alternate them.
Balayage is a similar to highlighting, but the lightener is handpainted onto the hair, and the color gradation from ends to roots is more gradual. It is a more natural look without the line of demarcation that you may get with highlighting as your hair grows out, making it possible to lengthen your time even more between salon visits. You can even target the gray hairs or areas with more gray.
Removing Old Hair Dye
Another trick is to remove past hair color using a hair color remover. Color builds up after repeated colorings. Removing old hair dye gives your hair a fresh start and can lighten your hair, helping you to blend in your grays. The remover that I use is applied like a shampoo, acts quickly, and does not damage hair.
Ideas on How to Keep Gray (Silver!) Hair at Its Best
Gray hair requires a bit more care to keep it looking healthy, shiny, and beautiful. Here are some tips to consider:
Wash your hair with lukewarm water (rather than hot water) to avoid stripping your hair of its natural oils.
Choose a professional shampoo and conditioner without any sulfates to nourish and moisturize your hair.
Use a leave-in conditioner for additional hydration and easy detangling.
A hair mask tailored to the needs of gray hair used just twice a week can help keep gray hair smooth and shiny.
To prevent silver hair from becoming brassy, use a purple shampoo to neutralize these tones.
Visit the salon for toner or glaze service to help you keep your hair bright, healthy, shiny, and without brassy or yellow tones.
Consider styling your hair without heat. For example, you can apply mousse to wet, washed hair and scrunch your hair and let it air dry.
Is your gray hair frizzy, bent, or harder to manage? Consider a keratin treatment to smooth the grays, add shine, and make the hair easy to manage.
Thanks for reading, and I hope I can help you find a solution that will bring out your best at any age!