Transitioning To Gray Hair: How To Seamlessly Go Gray And Gorgeous

Thinking Of Transitioning To Gray Hair? Here’s How To Do It Seamlessly

June 22, 2020 Updated October 13, 2020

transition to gray hair
Andreas Kuehn/Getty

For a long time, men who let their hair turn gray were thought of as “dignified,” “sophisticated,” or “silver foxes.” Women who didn’t dye their hair when it started turning gray were labeled as “giving up” or “letting themselves go.” And when we do dare not to dye, we’re told that we should be “going gray gracefully,” whatever that means. Not only is this complete sexist bullshit, it totally overlooks the fact that women look pretty great with gray hair, too. Also, gray hair happens to be trendy right now, regardless of age. (So if you’ve seen people in their teens and twenties with the most perfectly balanced gray hair, that was probably intentional.) Whether you’re considering transitioning to gray hair, or growing out gray hair that has been colored or highlighted, here’s how to do it and what you need to know about the process.

Go Back to Your Roots

If you’ve been dyeing your hair regularly, one of the first things you can do to embrace the gray is to let your roots grow in. As L’Oréal puts it: “Consider it a different take on the rooted, lived-in hair color trend.” If you’re noticing a harsh line between your roots and your dyed hair, you can ask your stylist to try the root smudging technique using a shade that matches your gray strands, to make the whole process look a little more natural.

Dye It Gray

Yes, this is completely the opposite of what we were just talking about, but if you’re impatient and don’t want to wait for your gray highlights to slowly overtake the rest of your locks, you can take matters into your own hands. (Or a salon’s hands.) Whether you opt for an at-home box dye, or seeing a professional colorist, make sure to pick the color that best matches the gray hairs you already have. That way, when your dyed hair grows out, everything will match.

But, there’s a catch: If you haven’t gone fully gray naturally, your original hair color will accompany the grays in your roots. This means you’ll probably want to keep dyeing your hair gray (or at least your roots) until the whole thing is gray. This can be just as annoying and costly as maintaining your original natural hair color. Plus it means that you’re probably going to want to invest in some products to make sure your gray hair doesn’t start looking brassy.

Try It for a Day

If you’re not sure whether you’re ready to fully commit to growing your gray hair out, you can always use a temporary dye to get a glimpse at what you’ll look like. Your best bet for this is a one-day temporary hair color spray that comes out when you wash it. And even lower-commitment option is spritzing a little extra dry shampoo on the front of your hair before rubbing it in to get a sneak peek at future-you.

Try a Reverse Gray Ombre Style

Usually, ombre styles start out dark at the roots and get lighter at the ends, but a reverse gray ombre style will incorporate your graying roots into the dyed gray and fade into a darker color at the tips, much like your hair might be looking now. This will make the difference between the roots and the rest of the hair less noticeable and more kick-ass and stylish.

Get a Great Cut

Transitioning to gray hair doesn’t mean stopping all hair care and maintenance. In fact, getting a really good haircut can work wonders. Let your stylist know that you plan on growing out your gray locks, and ask them what kind of cut they recommend based on your hair type and face shape. And no, it doesn’t necessarily mean getting anything too short: Having a solid shape at any length will help the transition to gray hair go as smoothly as possible.

A flattering new cut and style will help you feel chic as your grays grow out, a process that could take as long as a year. If you love what you see in the mirror every morning, it’ll make the long process that much easier. The waiting game is much easier for so many of us in quarantine. With no time spent in the office for much of the country, you can grow the grays out without feeling like everyone at work is looking at your untouched roots. See how this woman transitioned to silver hair, below:

Get Inspired

If you’re on the fence about going gray, you might just need a bit of inspiration from people embracing the au natural look. To that end, keep reading to hear what some of your favorite celebs have said about rocking gray locks.

“I have very fine hair, so I’ve always been quite careful not to overtreat it. I don’t normally color or dye it, I like it to grow naturally.” – Helen Mirren, The Daily Mail

“The epiphany came when I was sitting in a hair salon thinking, ‘What the eff am I doing putting chemical on my head that burns?’ What does it say that you walk into a room and not one person’s hair is her natural color? You go, ‘What?'” – Jamie Lee Curtis, Everyday Health

“Of course I have wrinkles [and] gray hair. But I genuinely love it. This is who I am.” – Gwyneth Paltrow, People