How to Grow Out Gray Hair without Going Insane

19 Months Dye-Free – YAY, for Gray!

19 months transition to gray hair || tips to make the transition to gray easier

I’m 19 months bleach and dye-free, and though the journey has been long, I’m loving it. I’m almost fully transitioned! And, I’ve learned a thing or two about How to Grow Out Your Gray Hair without Going Insane. Whether you’re just starting to think about ditching the dye or bleach, you’re in-process, or your new year’s resolution is to grow out your gray but you’re dreading those awkward, ugly days, I got you Girl. You can do this and I can help!

GRAY – The Color of Liberation

Growing out my natural gray hair has been one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done, followed closely by having my breast implants removed. Maybe because each event has allowed me the opportunity to more fully accept and love the outside of the woman God created me to be

Inwardly, I have found a level of comfort in my own skin (and hair) 😉 that I’ve never known before, and I think it shows. My husband recently commented that I get more compliments on my hair now that I ever have.

In fact, just today at my grandsons preschool two different women commented on it and one was a young mother hoping her hair would come in gray like mine!

I wonder if it has as much to do with a vibe of genuine confidence as it does with my hair color? 

That being said, the transition process isn’t all “good hair days” and compliments. It can get ugly, and your resolve might wobble, but I have a few tips that might help you through the hard days.

19 month transition to gray hair || Tips for growing out your gray without going insane || YAY, for GRAY! #grayhair #transitiontograyhair

To Cut or Not to Cut

When it comes to coloring your hair to help lessen the transition, you have several choices, and there’s no wrong one, it’s just what works for you. See how I did it here. The same holds true for cutting your hair during the process.  

The Big Chop 

Regardless if you choose to leave your hair long, go for a major chop, or shave it off, it’s a bold move. Leaving it long means you’ll have a demarcation line for longer, but you won’t have a new style to get used to. 

I chose to keep my hair long during part of this process, and then recently, we started cutting it shorter. Even with the lightening process, I was going to have a demarcation line, whether it was longer or just above my shoulders (the shortest length for me), so I just waited to cut it until it was nearing that mark. 

And while cutting it short or shaving your head is a short-cut (no pun intended) to all-natural hair color, it’s not always the best choice for our frame of mind. This leads us to “Which is the best choice for you?“. 

the times I have been the most depressed about my transitioning hair color were when I had a haircut or bang length that I did not find flattering to me.

Transition to gray hair || How to go gray and not loose your mind || #grayhair

Make sure you get a haircut you love

This process hasn’t been as harrowing as I thought it would be. However, the times I have been the most depressed about my transitioning hair color were when I had a haircut or bang length that I did not find flattering to me. If you have the features for a short “do” go for the chop. If not, keep or get a hairstyle that you love and which flatters you.

Regular Trims

No matter what length hair you decide on, keep those ends trimmed and fresh looking, no razor cuts or shattered ends. Your hair will look healthier because nobody wants to look like a old mangy dog. 😉

*You might also like to see my one-year progress.


Patience and Perseverance

Transitioning to gray hair is a long process depending on how long your hair is, and you can’t lock yourself in your house for the duration. You will surely have a social event or two, and even if you’re not a blogger, there will be events when you have your photo taken. It won’t always be easy to keep going, and you may have social or life events when you are tempted to reach for the bottle again. Let me encourage you – Have PERSEVERANCE!

Grow out your gray hair  ||  Gray hair on purpose  ||  19 months dye free  ||  #grayhair #ditchthedye

Commit and Don’t Waver

My first major social event was a family wedding 5 months into the transition process. I was a little worried about what people would think, but it was more worrying about photos of my “streak” in someone’s wedding album – FOREVER. 

But then I realized that nobody was going to fixate about me and my hair. Do you look at your wedding album much? 

I recently saw photos of a friend who had been transitioning to gray hair but gave in and colored it for her daughter’s wedding. Okay, I know this is a big EVENT. However, I hated to see her months of patience and progress undid for a one-day event, but everyone has to do what feels right to them. If you want to maintain your transition progress during significant life and photographic events, here are some ideas for you.

How to go gray without loosing your mind || Gray hair transitions

Tips for Staying the Course during Major Life & Social Events

Hats – Think like royalty and try a cute hat if it fits your social event, like a wedding or party. Of course, going into the fall and winter, we have all sorts of choices to wear hats every day if we want. 

Alter Your Hairstyle – A curly or wavy hairstyle helps break up the demarcation line and can also make your ends look like a trendy balayage color.

Updo your “do” – Have a stylist create a flattering updo to take the emphasis off your part area.

Hide it with a headband – If you only have a small amount of outgrowth, a headband can be effective at concealing it. 

Consider a good wig – For some reason, most of us don’t think of wigs as an option during our transition. But for not much more than what you would pay to have your hair dyed for the event, you could have a very flattering and realistic wig. It won’t take you back to square one, and you’ll have it for other activities, or maybe you can pass it on to someone who needs it for medical reasons.

If you’re still on the fence about growing out your gray hair or if you’re somewhere in the middle of the process and you’re just not sure you can handle it, here are a couple of thoughts that might help you stay the course. 

you won’t really know if you like your gray hair until you are fully transitioned for six-months or so

Tips for growing gray without giving into the bottle || Transition to go gray hair #grayhair

It’s Mostly Mindset and Time

I read somewhere that you won’t really know if you like your gray hair until you are fully transitioned for six-months or so. That might be because we need to give our hair the time to grow into a style we really love, especially if we’ve cut it shorter than we prefer in the transitioning process. We also need to get used to our natural hair texture and how it will or won’t perform. 

I’m probably a hair-trim or two away from being fully transitioned. However, the majority of my hair is all-natural, virgin hair. While I’m loving it, I’m having to learn how to style it all over again. So I’ll end with a few tips, tricks, and products for styling natural gray, white or silver hair.

How to Grow Out Your Gray Hair without Loosing Your Mind || Tips for making it through the hard days of growing out your gray || #grayhair #transitiontograyhair

A few things to keep in mind about silver/gray hair

Texture.

The hardest thing about having hair untouched by the dye is that you have to get used to your hair’s natural texture. Some may find it wiry and uncontrollable, while others, like me, will have little to no natural body. 

Color

Gray or silver-white hair is porous and very susceptible to chemical, heat tools, and environmental stressors, which is what causes it to yellow very quickly. 

Products and Styling Tools for Gray or White Hair

Because of these changes in the color and texture of your hair, you’ll likely find the products you previously used are no longer effective or even safe for your hair. 

Products 

It’s best to find gentle products and those that don’t contain sulfates and harsh chemicals. 

Purple shampoos and masks are great at keeping your silver hair from looking yellow. But because they deposit tint onto the hair, they can build up on your hair, so I don’t use them every time I wash. You also might find they work a little better if you use a gentle clarifying shampoo first.

Everyone will favor different products based on their hair health, texture, and length. But I’ve included a list of the shampoos, conditioners, purple toning products that have made the cut and are currently in the front row in my bathroom cabinet. I’m still on the lookout for favorites though.

Cleansing and Conditioning

Styling Products

Limit the amount of time you spend using heat tools. If this isn’t an option, at the very least, turn down the temperature. (I’ve turned mine down, but it still might be causing the yellow cast on my hair because of overuse.) And always use a good heat protectant. 

Tools


Before or After?

Growing out my gray hair was one of the most liberating things I've ever done. I feel more like the "me" I'm supposed to be.   ||  Here's how to grow out your natural gray hair without going crazy or avoiding the camera for a year.   ||: before and after transitioning from dye to natural gray hair || dimplesonmywhat.com
Before and after – Lighter! Brighter! Real-er!

In my mind, my after picture wins! To me, it feels like the way I was always supposed to look.

When I look back at myself with colored hair I think it’s pretty but it looks fake compared to my natural hair color. My lighter hair is less harsh and brightens up my face. Perhaps I look older, but I don’t mind. I’m 54 years old with 6 grandkids and I’ll never look 30 again nor do I want to.

I hope this has helped you over a rough patch during your transition to gray hair. Or maybe it has created the inspiration you needed to break-up with Miss Clairol knowing you have options to help with the awkwardness of the transition process.

Oh, and if you’re already a full-fledged Silver-Sister, do you have any tried and true products you love? This girl needs to know.


And if you need just one nudge to let the dye go…

Permanent Hair Dye and Breast Cancer

The choice to go gray is personal, and no one can dictate when you’re ready. But, if you’re thinking about it and need a push, a recent study published in the Journal of Cancer tracked 46,709 women ages 35-74 over eight years suggesting permanent hair dye is heavily associated with breast cancer. White women have an 8% increased risk. Still, the results are particularly concerning for black women with a 60% increased risk of developing breast cancer than those women who didn’t use permanent hair dye. More info here. While more testing needs to be done, with my mother’s history of breast cancer that has now metastasized I’m declaring – I’m opting out – forever! 

Transition to gray hair || My 19 month progress for growing gray
19 months into transitioning to gray hair || How to grow out your gray hair without going insane || gray hair on purpose

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

48 Comments

  1. Janice
    /

    Good for you! I have never died my dirty blond hair and now it is turning a pretty (according to friends)shade with grey highlights! I keep it in good shape with lots of trims and get many compliments on it. I think the trouble with grey hair is it is dryer and needs more moisturizer to look good. May women get perms which just drys it out further. Moisturize that grey!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      I agree with you Janice. If the ends are dry it can look really straggly really fast. There’s an overnight moisturizer from Caviar that I use on occasion and my hair always looks so much nicer afterward. That reminds me, it’s time to use it again.

      Hugs,
      Paula

  2. Cary Jo
    /

    Love your natural color and style!!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Thanks so much Cary Jo. I really like it too.

      Have a happy Christmas!
      Paula

  3. /

    It does looks very good on you! I am not ready for it yet. Lol. Hope to see you on my Fancy Friday link up party.

  4. Lisa C in Dallas
    /

    I went natural at your age. My hair is short so it only took about three months (my hair grows fast). I have never regretted it (and I have certainly learned to spend the hair color money in other places). Mine also has your color changes – it’s not just an overall solid color. I love my friend’s beautiful white hair but I also love all of the differences in color mine has – thanks, Dad!

  5. Victoria
    /

    I let my hair go gray about three years ago. I wear mine very short so it wasn’t long till I had all of the blonde grown out. At first, my hairdresser put some streaks through to blend with my gray but I got tired of spending the money and just started having my hair trimmed every three weeks. I get complimented all of the time on the color of my hair I have a lot of white in the front and it is a color that does well on me. You gray is beautiful and almost the color of mine.

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      It’s so freeing to let go of the dye. I had someone tell me recently on Instagram that it made me look older. But I’m happy to be a poster girl for breaking those social barriers that say looking young is mandatory. Plus, I am older. 😉

      Hugs,
      Paula

  6. Donna M
    /

    I started getting gray hair in my late teens and began coloring it in my mid-twenties. And finally, began letting go of the dyeing process almost two years ago. I’m 63, which means I had MANY years of overprocessed, dried hair that I began to hate. I decided to “let go and let God” and just see what color He had blessed me with! I found varying degrees of gray there, from almost white to a darker steel gray. And I love it all! Every one of my friends has said they love the color now and that I’ve given them confidence to stay true to their natural, God-given color. Which makes me feel proud that I finally had the courage to say, “no more dyeing!!” I wear my hair short and a bit spikey, because although I may be almost 64, I’m not too old to be a little bit “out there”!!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      I love your hair Donna! I too have many colors including caramel and steel. Maybe that will be the name of my next blog. 😉

      Hugs and Happy New Year,
      Paula

  7. Joan
    /

    You’re hair isn’t is amazing! So cute. Great cut. I’m 66 and have spent the year trying to grow it out from dark brown and it was torture. I didn’t like the line of demarcation and colored it again. Now to start all over.

    Thank you for your inspiration!

    • Joan
      /

      I meant your hair IS amazing.

      • Paula
        Author
        /

        Thanks so much Joan. I’m trying to decide if I want to grow my bangs out so that the white streak will go down the side of my face. But then they get about 1/2″ longer and they drive me crazy.

        Thanks for the love Love,
        Paula

  8. Lolly
    /

    I appreciate this blog post, particularly at the end with the mention of the hair dye and breast cancer connection. My mother was a hairdresser for about 10 – 15 years. She also colored her hair forever. She died of breast cancer in 1996. She was 56. I don’t know if hair dye killed her, but I’ve always suspected it did.
    I colored my hair from age 27 to 50. At 50, quitting the dye was an attempt to set myself free from the ridiculously dumb beauty standards and to honor my mother and be healthier. I would be kind of stupid to eat organic like I do and yet plaster my scalp with these chemical time bombs.
    Here’s to celebrating the natural look! Here in California I see all kinds of ladies sportin’ natural hair. It’s great.

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Totally agree with all that Lolly! This morning I was thinking about those dumb standards and how the younger we choose to go gray, the better chance we have of correlating gray hair color with aging. It’s just a hair color!

      Hugs my silver sister!
      Paula

  9. Dana
    /

    Your gray hair doesnt make you look older. I cant believe you are over 48. That would have been my guess.
    Im gray all over and I do touch ups myself about every 3 to 4 weeks. It is such a pain! My hair is halfway down my back. When I go without coloring, my roots are stark white. Growing out will make a line of demarcation. What’s the best way to handle going gray? I really don’t want to go to a salon for overall lightening. Im an odd creature that way; I hate getting my hair done at salons. 🤦‍♀️ Maybe when I color, I could deliberately not get all the gray? I’m thinking of making streaks spaced quite a way apart from the part down. Do you think that would work? I’m learning how people do it different ways. There’s no way I’m doing a pixie cut though. I’m pretty anal about wearing a hat while I’m outside working in my garden so summer would be a good time to start this process. Sometimes alopecia areata pops up (bc of my Crohn’s Disease and I’m immunosuppressed) so I’ve used minoxidil since 2012. It makes my hair grow 1/4″-1/2″ a week. This may not take too, too long even with my long hair. Im so glad I found your insta and blog. I’m a Hoosier, too, and live in Greenfield.

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Hi Dana! I’ve written a couple of other posts on here about the process. There are a couple of great IG accountsthat I followed as inspiration. @silverlocksshining
      and @freshbeautystudio are two good ones. The Fresh beauty just went cold turkey from a dark hair color and if I had it to do over, I would too.

      Keep inspiration before you because it will help on the hard days. And if your hair is long, embrace buns and ponytails. I kept mine longer until it go to about my ears then we started cutting it shorter to get the dead ends off. But never above my shoulders. I’m no a pixie girl either. 😘

      Going gray will lead to glowing gray. Enjoy!

      Paula

      • Sherry Lynn Yates-Amick
        /

        I went cold turkey and bought a bunch of hats until it got long enough to show that I am growing my hair and not just due for a color appointment. I am finally embracing it and can’t wait for it to be all one white color. It should only be a few more months. I am taking liquid biotin and that seems to be speeding up the hair and nail growth! Good luck just go for it it is a popular thing nowadays and yes I live in California. I notice EVERYONE with silver & grey hair and we give nods to each other like a “sisterhood club!”

        Sherry

        • Paula
          Author
          /

          I love mine too Sherry. It’s all grown out now and I’m so glad.

  10. Susan
    /

    Thanks for inspiring me to make the leap. Shelter in place has been a good excuse to go for it! I even told my hair dresser to move me down in the rotation to get someone DYING to dye in first!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Yay! I’m so glad you’re going to go for it Susan. You’ll never know until you just do it. And you can always change your mind if you don’t like it, but honestly, most women love freedom.

  11. Lynette Fayant
    /

    Great post!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Thanks! Growing my bangs out has been a much more frustrating process. 😉

      Hugs,
      Paula

  12. Tracy Roche
    /

    Thank you Paula that has helped so much! You look amazing by the way… I have only just started 2 months ago but I do get nervous sometimes! My beautiful daughters are supportive and I trust their judgement, however my beloved hairdresser is not!!! So that is a struggle!
    Thank you again, your story really helped
    Kind regards
    Tracy

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Hey Tracy!
      I included a piece of advice in previous hair updates and should have probably reiterated it here… If your hair dresser isn’t supportive, you may need to consider finding one who is. I had a stylist whose own mother had recently grown hers out so at that time she was supportive. However, in the couple of years Brfire that as I started voicing my thoughts on letting it grow out, both her and my hair colorist would say, “ no, you’ll look too old.”

      I will say this, if you don’t want to change hair stylist, make sure you steel your resolve about it. 😘

  13. /

    You look beautiful! I’m 63 and due to the shut down of salons I decided to grow out my gray or white as my hair dresser predicted. Most pictures are of young women with gray hair. But seeing you looking so pretty is just the support I needed. Oh, my husband has beautiful gray hair and it’s growing out too. Lucky!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      You’re both going to love the freedom of your natural hair. And I love my white streak so much, I ready for more.

      Hugs,
      Paula

  14. /

    Yours looks so good! I’ve been growing out mine during the Pandemic. My stylist colored my very brown hair blond. Not a fan of the grey blonde ombré, but it is fine for now. I feel like me “frame” around my face has faded, but I guess that’s what happens as you get older. Also, what do you do with your eyebrows? I still fill them in with brown brow pencil, but it all comes off at the gym when I’m sweaty, so it’s a waste of time!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      The grow out is tough because the “blend” color and grombre effect aren’t always flattering. And honestly, there are days and in certain lighting I don’t live my gray but then others it’s great. Give it time. As far as eyebrows, I use a color that either is close to my darkest undertone, which for me is brown or I use taupe. ITCosmetics has a universal tint pencil and it lasts really well. But a less expensive option is NYX brown pencil and I use a blond/brown tone.

      Best of luck, you’re gonna look great!

      Paula

  15. Danielle
    /

    Hi
    I just love your story and your honesty, but still I think you did look better and younger with your dark hair. Nevertheless I do understand that you no longer wanted any chemicals on your hair, because I’m exactly in the same situation right now. My hair look tired of being dyed for more than 40 years, I’ll be 60 next March and I decided to go grey, even though in my heart, I really don’t want it and I’m pretty sure the grey hair will make me look older too
    Stay safe, greetings from Luxembourg

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Hey Danielle! Try to think of it as just another hair color, women are choosing to dye their hair silver so we’re just saving money. 😂 Honestly I really do love the freedom going gray has given me and if I look a bit older it’s because I am. 😉

      Hugs,
      Paula

      • Maria
        /

        Hi Paula. Thank you for sharing your hair journey and your pics. I think you look amazing! I always thought I’d be dying my hair dark brown till the end so at 56 surprised myself when I suggested to my daughter during one of our UK (many) lockdowns that I should let the roots grow out and see what was there (knowing that it would be very white as had to cover up from week 1 post-dye). With her encouragement I am now 10 months dye free with probably another 2-3 months till fully transitioned. I kept my hair at its usual shoulder length and the pandemic, scarves and bobble hats kept the worse demarcation marks away from public view! It didn’t look ‘ok’ till about month 6 but I am so pleased I stayed with it. Most of my friends have been very supportive and my hairdresser (who didn’t dye my hair, it was so regular it was always a box dye) has been great at keeping it at the right length but getting rid of as much as possible every 6 weeks. It really helped me reading blogs like yours and seeing pics of the growing out stages. I look back at pics of me with my dark hair, and like you, now think it looks so artificial and way too dark for my skin. Everyone has their own choice/opinion re hair but for me, it is liberating to have taken ownership of the aging process and question why we feel the need to hide the greys. I’m not naturally rebellious but this decision feels a little bit like sticking two fingers up to the world and that’s fun! And I don’t think your grey hair has aged you. As you say, you are older, that is a fact! Looking older is not just about the colour of your hair!

        • Paula
          Author
          /

          “it is liberating to have taken ownership of the aging process…” I love LOVE THAT Maria! And you’re right, it feels a little rebellious too. 😁

          Hugs,
          Paula

  16. Carole Keily
    /

    Thank you for inspiring me, Paula! I am six-and-a-half months post-hair dye and am loving the white/silver shade covering about one-third of my head. Sure would like this process to go faster, though!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      I hear ya Carole! It’s a process. But I’m currently growing my bangs out and I can now say, growing out gray was WAY EASIER. 😘

      Hugs,
      Paula

  17. JESSICA Dudley
    /

    Hi Paula,
    Thank you for you inspiration. I haven’t had my hair dyed since the start of the pandemic and after reading about your story I am still going through with it. Many thanks.

  18. Vicki Bowman
    /

    I’ve recently come across this blog post from a while back about your tradition to gray hair, so I’m not sure you will even see this comment. While I’m not ready to transition to gray yet, I love your haircut with the waves/bends. Would you mind sharing what haircut you ask for at the salon, is it layered, and do you use a straightener or curling iron to make the waves? My hairdresser just can’t seems to get the style I’m after.
    Thank you so much.

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Hi Vicki! I’m heading into the salon right now, so let me show my stylist the photo and I’ll see if she can come up with Stylist-speak to help.

      😄

      • Vicki Bowman
        /

        That’s great. Thank you so much!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Okay. She said to take the photo with you. And we believe that you would ask for a slightly angled bob with long layers. (We added the long layers to “breakup” the demarcation line of the bleached ends… Basically she just “cut into it”. It was the big chop during my transition to gray.) 😘 Hope that helps.

  19. Vicki
    /

    Thank you for asking, that is helpful. For waves did you use a straightener or curling iron? Also I enjoy your posts on IG!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      I always use a curling iron, it’s just easier for me. My hair doesn’t hold curl that well, so it ends up being “waves” even if it looks really curly to start.

      After i get the curls in. I also use Redken’s Wind Blown texturized sprayed at the roots. Then take a small amount of Kenra’s texture taffy and take it through for separation.

  20. Donise
    /

    Adorable hair and gal !! Loved this , thanks for sharing!
    Just started my journey 3 months in!!

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Good for you Donise! Even when it seems long…just keep going, it’s worth it!

  21. Gladys
    /

    I have brown/black hair, I decided to let my grey hair out. Right now the roots are grayish white. I know I am going to look like a skunk soon. The roots are little more than half an inch now. I am still working. Not sure how I am going to manage it without look weird. Help.

  22. Marlene Potts
    /

    Thank you! I’m on the fence as far as letting the gray come through. It is about an inch and 1/2 here and have been coloring for the last 25 years…had enough. I’m 64 .Time to let the Christmas tinsel be permanent. Thanks for the vote of confidence!!😉
    Marlene

    • Paula
      Author
      /

      Good for you Marlene, 🙌 I’m so excited for you! The freedom you’re about to find in this journey bid indescribable. 😘 You can do it!

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap