a one year update…
If you follow my posts you’ve probably noticed I’m sporting quite a distinct “ombre’” hair color. But it’s been a while since I gave an official update on my transition to gray hair. This is a slow process and it’s not for weenies. In this post, I’m sharing up close progress pictures, my current feelings on growing out natural hair color as well as the hair products I’m currently using.
It’s been just over a year since I had my last, unintentional full hair color. Unintentional means, the hair-colorist was not supposed to be touching any of the new hair growth with dye or bleach. But alas, I walked out with a full head of highlights and permanent color used as a toner. Ack! I was pretty sick-at-my-stomach over it for a while, but there was nothing I could do but start over growing it out again. When I think how much further along I’d be if I would have left it alone after my last purposed root touch-up in January of 2018… But, NO! I just can’t go there.
See my progress at the six-month mark
The lightened ends are pretty yellow and I use purple shampoo, conditioner, and masks on occasion, which I’ll talk about more later. But I think I’m passed the point where I feel like a
skank girl who highlighted her hair and can’t afford to keep it up or cover it up as it grows out. 😉
The Choice To Transition to Gray Hair is Personal
Coloring or not coloring your hair is a personal choice. The time felt right for me to give it a try. If continuing to dye your hair until you’re 90 years-old makes you feel good, then, by all means, keep at it. But, if you’re on the fence and want some incentive to start or keep it growing or you’re just curious as to how this process has been, read on.
This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing items from these links will result in dimples on my WHAT? earning a commission. The use of affiliate links does not influence the price you pay. I purchase all my own clothes and products that I write about unless otherwise noted. My biggest pet peeves are Liars, Cheats, Sneaks & Fakes! You can be assured that ALL opinions expressed herein are my own. 😉
What I’m Loving About Not Dying My Hair
Time and Money Honey – The cost of coloring my hair in both time and money was quite a pill to swallow and I love having a little more of both.
Healthier Hair – Other than trying to keep the ends from getting too dried out from heat styling and wear-and-tear, my hair feels amazing.
The White Streak – I started parting my hair on the opposite side in order to reveal the white patch in my bangs. I think it may be the singular feature that keeps this grow-out looking intentional.
Compliments – Honestly, people complimented me on my hair before I started growing out my natural hair color. But it’s somehow nicer to know that now they’re complimenting something about me that’s totally natural and not something I enhanced or changed about myself. Like if somebody tells you that they love your eyelashes but they’re extensions. The admiration is more about your ability to “style yourself” rather than a compliment on a God-given trait.
Thinking of going gray? You might be Also like – Gray or Nay?
What I Miss About Dying My Hair
Shine – Hands down, I miss that freshly dyed shine the most!
Body – Hair dye and highlights give hair more body and texture, two things my natural hair has little of.
That’s it for what I miss about coloring my hair. But, I think those are pretty small tradeoffs for what liberation I’m gaining in return.
What I Would Do Differently
Oh Hindsight, you have a way of making me feel foolish like I should have known better. Isn’t it always the way?
If I could get a do-over (and I sort of did) I wouldn’t have bleached out my hair to try and blend it in with the new growth. There was no way it was going to mimic or match my natural hair color or growth pattern. Because I’m not a blonde, and my natural hair is a mix of natural darks and lights I ended up having the dreaded demarcation line anyway.
I might have been better off choosing a mushroom brown color.
Best Products For Transitioning to Gray Hair
I need to keep the frazzled, chemically treated ends as healthy as possible and from getting too brassy. And if you already have silver hair, you know keeping white hair white takes a little help too. I haven’t found any products I’m CRAZY about but here’s what I’m currently using or have gone back to after trying out some not so good ones.
Condition, Condition, & Repeat
Conditioner – I’m currently using up the rest of previously purchased Olaplex No. 4 and No 5 for a regular shampoo and conditioner. But since my hair is half virgin and half chemically processed, I won’t need products for colored hair much longer. Every other wash or so I use one of these deep conditioners on the dry ends:
Purple or bluing shampoos, conditioners, and masks are what keep white hair from getting too brassy. I don’t use these all of the time because they are “color depositing” products which can build up on the hair and weigh it down or dry it out. I’ve tried lots of these and even turned my hair purple, like REALLY purple (and not the “her purple hair is so cool” kind of purple) with one. But here’s a list of several of my top rated purple picks:
- Amika Bust Your Brass Shampoo and Conditioner *
- Amika Bust Your Brass Mousse *
- Matrix Total Results Brass Off Color Neutralization Mask *
- Fanola No Yellow Shampoo
- Fanola No Orange Shampoo
(* denotes products I’m currently using)
Plan for Progress
A big ol’ hair chop roughly two months ago took off a lot of the fried ends and overall my hair feels and looks healthier. I’ll keep it trimmed to about this length for the summer because I can just about get it into a teeny-tiny ponytail if I need to for the hot summer months.
My stylist says hair grows about a ½ inch per month, so by September, I should have another 4 inches or so grown out. Depending on where the length is at that point we may do a massive restyle and cut in more layers and cut out the rest of the processed hair.
This is really a case of slow and steady wins the race. So, I guess we’ll have to wait and see!
Have you transitioned yet? If not, do you see yourself ever growing out your natural color?
And if you’ve already gone natural, what products do you love? Any good shine enhancing products I should try? Let me know!
Be cute, be comfy, & be confident,
I haven’t been dying mine for the last 4 years. So much of my grey almost looks blonde (well, at least that’s what I tell myself…ha ha). But it’s seems so freeing not to agonize over the fact that some are showing and the cost of covering it.
Hi there!! Well, I’ve successfully, unsuccessfully, grown my “gray” out to the top of my ear on 3 occasions. I felt like I wasn’t there yet as far as “good color”…..but I’m getting ever so close into really committing. Since I was a blonde in my younger years, going brown was not a great option for me. My hairdresser recommended that I go with the color of my hair as a child (I do my own). So I lightened my color and can now go nearly 5 months between coloring. I use Clairol Shimmering Lights to brighten the gray and remove the brassiness in-between my colorings. How do you think the Clairol compares to Amika? I think I might have to try that mousse!!!!!! BTW, I have a silver streak as well….and mine is also opposite of my part. I might have to make a change!!!! Maybe this will help!! Thanks for another great read!
It looks good. I grew my highlights out 2 years ago. I’m getting more gray all the time. But they look like highlights!
I am 63 and have started the change to gray. I am also loving mine. I didn’t want to pay the money any longer for the foil wraps. My hair dresser of 13 years was leaving so I thought this was a good time to go gray. My bff has had her gray for over 5 years and I love it. So far I have not started using special products in mine. I may need to look into that.
Those of us who embrace our natural hair each seem to find our “ah-ha” moment to do it. Good luck as you continue.
I love the white streak! I’m at the 6 month mark also and have the same streak. Slow and steady wins the race. 🙂
What a long process, but so worth it! Saving time and money is a real win in my book!
I just found your blog. I’m 56 and decided this is my year to go nature so we shall see. I’m excited and scared. I have been a red head for 30 yrs now. But it’s time.
It will be exciting to see what color your hair really is because it’s actually hard to tell from just the new growth between color. We think we know but until it gets out there a bit we really don’t. Good luck and be patient Sharon. I highly recommend you join the GGG- Going Gray Guide Facebook group. Lots of inspiration when you want to give up.
I have been in transition for 13 months and very happy now. I found a stylist that embraces the texture of my hair and supports going gray, which has made all the difference. In addition to growing out color I have been growing out layers. So far I have not tried any of the gray hair products. My salon recommended products based on texture, not color, and the switch has resulted in healthier hair. Keep going, you look fabulous!
Thanks Jan! You’re right, a supportive stylist is vital in this process.
Your haircut is really cute!
I started growing mine out a year ago too. I have been inspired by your transitional pics. Thyroid problems were causing a lot of hair loss and I think the highlighting was adding to it. On top of that, I was ready. It took my stylist about 3 months to go along with me on this. I also chopped my hair a few months ago and my stylist has been adding a toner that helps with the brassiness. It washesout in about 3 weeks. I also miss the texture and body that color gave me. I have almost thrown in the towel a few times but I think I might be fully natural by the end of the year. I may do another chop as I get closer. Some people like it and others don’t but I am doing what is right for my 54 year old self. My husband politely calls it platinum blonde. He loves it.
I went natural about 3-1/2 yrs ago……. not gray… pure white! What’s unique is that my front “streak” is darker. I love all the shades and tones that you can really see as I’m growing it out. I don’t use heated tools anymore. I may occasionally throw a few electric rollers in for volume. Too much heat will cause it to go yellow as will too much hairspray. (esp if I’m going to be outside in the sun)
That’s good to know about the hairspray Charlene. I am trying to minimize heat tools like I wash at night then air dry if I’m going to use a curling iron or straightener. When I turned it purple, I found out the hard way that color stripping products will yellow it too. 😵
Hi ladies, I am 68 and have been fully transitioned for 5 or more years. I love it, so freeing and rockin’ the silver fox is great. The growing out was tedious to say the least but so worth it. I use baking soda once a week or whenever you see yellowing. About.a tablespoon and I add it the shampoo that I have in my hand. Mix it in and shampoo. And then your regular conditioner. My hair feels so soft and it is silver white. The heating devices are a big part of the problem. Don’t need the purple rinses at all.
I think you’re transition color is looking good!! We’re always our own worst critic. I stopped coloring around 3 years ago. Best. Decision. Ever!!! I don’t regret it one bit. Sometimes I see other people with their all shiny, freshly colored hair and I’m like … wow! that looks great, maybe I should color … then I do a face smack and say …. NO!! Just say no to the dye! No more long periods of time sitting in a chair every few weeks. No more expensive stylist visits 😉 I try to do minimal stuff to my hair nowadays … only blow dry. My hair is too wild child to just let it air dry :O So anyway, your’s is looking good! Keep on keeping on!!!
My last full coverage hair coloring was early January 2019. I’ve had two panic moments in which I’ve colored (Garnier #50) but I’ve rinsed after 5 minutes because ultimately, I like what’s growing in and it’s a shame to erase it.
Currently, my color is what I call rotting mushrooms. The 5-minute dye completely toned (dulled) down my emerging snow white around my face which makes me sad because it will ultimately be my best feature. On the positive side, this half-effort dye also blended the old with the new a little better. So the overall result does have some positives even though it’s a step back and it’s not a quite cold turkey. I feel like I can walk around w/out this giant silver beacon saying “HEllO!”
At the end of all this I know I’ll have colors and not just a single color. It’s coming in as swirly storm clouds with white, silver, saltnpepper, gray. I got it all. The texture is also changing too into this fuzzy yet thick cotton candy texture that needs tons of conditioner. It’s so hard to explain. A LOT of hair is growing back. It’s astounding how much hair I lost due to 4-week dye jobs.
Cheers, to gray hair and our health!
I transitioned about three years ago. I have short hair and my hair grows very fast so it was only about a three month period of ick. I used Dry Bar Blonde Ale once a week and regular shampoo the rest of the time. At first I though since I wasn’t coloring it anymore than I could use any store brand shampoo but I learned really quickly that I still need to use a “good” shampoo. After losing the body that color gave my hair, dry shampoo or texturing spray because my best best bestest friend. I even use it on clean hair. I now get a trim every five weeks (I told you – it grows FAST) and I’m in an out in 45 minutes. My dad is part Cherokee so my hair is all sorts of colors. I have had to change my wardrobe colors up a bit but I am loving the freedom that natural hair has given me.
Love your complete article on going gray. Also love the way your hair is transitioning – you look beautiful. After 30 years of coloring my hair, the third week of January this year I asked my stylist to give me a girly buzz cut. I’ve had it shaped once in five months and won’t see her again until mid-July. I love my salt and pepper hair. I love the new thicker feel and I love the ease of styling my new pixie cut. I get more compliments now than ever before. One regret? That I hadn’t done this 20 years ago. And I am enjoying adding orange, green and lavender to my wardrobe. I feel and look so cool! Hahaha
Oh WOW! I wish I had the guts to do that. And we ARE COOL!!!!
I stopped coloring my hair about a year ago. I thought it would be gray but it’s white! I have that brassy issue so I’ll definitely try one of the shampoos and conditioners. My hair texture changed at menopause, I lost most of my natural curl and now I’m having to relearn how to fix my hair. I’ll admit I wish I could go darker but within two weeks I’d have a white root line.
The changing texture is definitely something that is going to take getting used to. I just told The Hubs that I don’t think my natural hair is going to hold curl well so I’ll mostly be wearing it straight. Let me know if you like any of the products. I think someone else said they use a little backing soda once a week or so to clarify the hair. White hair is porous so it picks up all the chemical and environmental pollutants which is what makes it yellow. I might try it before the next time I use the purple shampoo.
Cheers my Silver/White Sister!
It is such a chic look. And it definitely suits you because of the great hairstyle and how you have it all together. 🙂
Thanks Heather. My white streak was definitely showing off on Sunday. 😉
Chemo made the decision for me. When hair grew back, I left it gray. No awkward growing out period, but I can not recommend this method. 👩🦲😉
I hear you Gwen. My mom lost her hair yo chemo 12 years ago. I said at that time I thought I’d wait to see if I got cancer and do the same as you (weird, I know) 🤪 but I decided it was time and my mom wasn’t for it then. But now she says my natural color is prettier than what’s left of the dye.
P.S. Mom’s cancer has metastasized and she’s currently on oral chemo. So far she hasn’t started losing her yet so hopefully she won’t. 🙏
I’m only three months passed my last dye job. I’ve been dying my hair for so long didn’t remember exactly what my natural light brown color (I think it was kinda mousey) looked like. Had started off getting only highlights in my hair, but it kept progressing to more. It looked great with highlights so I’m hoping the transition will look similar as it progresses. So far I look about 50% grey, give or take a little. I had been dying my own up until about five or six years ago, then started going back to salon. Got tired of doing it. Didn’t think I wanted to go natural until maybe 70 years old. I’m 63 and ready. Besides saving money, the dye that was used seemed to make my hair have a gunky feeling, sometimes almost stiff and wouldn’t feel normal until about a month later. I’ve been using a semi-organic coconut shampoo and conditioner and my hair feels great again. I have lots of body now. Dye use to give my hair more body, but not anymore. Too much build up I think. Haven’t decided all the steps to transition completely yet, but I’m determined to keep going. New reports out on recent studies linking haircolor to cancers have helped with the decision since I already had a rare type of breast cancer 19 years ago. Got other things I’d rather spend that money on now anyway. Thank you for sharing your journey through the transition. It’s good to know the different choices and experiences that went with them.
I’m in total agreement about forgoing color because of links to breast cancer too. I mentioned it in my latest hair update post. It’s hard to tell what it will look like in the early days so keep going. You can make it through the awkward days for the reward at the end. 😉
So three and a half months since my last color. Two months since my color/highlights appointment was canceled due to shelter in place. My salon opens next week. In the past few weeks I have vacillated between embracing the gray and getting the first available appointment for color and highlights. Your post has given me the courage to continue the journey. I mean when will I ever have the opportunity to grow my hair out for 3 months I observed!
This sounds like a great plan for you Susan. Once you get it all the ay grown out, if you don’t like it, you can start fresh. But I’m betting you’ll love. While it’s not perfect, I love ❤️ mine. It’s very liberating!
🎶 Let it grow, let it grow… 😘
Your eyes are way more stunning framed by your natural hair color! You almost look more happy and renewed or something!
Thank you Victoria. I believe I am happier. Maybe it’s feeling truer to myself. 😁
Since COVID 19 lockdown started in March I have not been to my hairdresser. Therefore now is the time to let it go! Lol!! It have grown out about 4ins so far. I have light brown with blond highlights so it doesn’t look so bad. Especially when I pull it up. It sorta blends. That has been hard since I am growing out a stacked Bob. But it’s getting there. I follow Pinterest for ideas on growing out and how,I want it to look when I’m all gray. Thanks for your article! Yours looks great. I start back to school in August, I hope, so I have awhile yet to work on it. I’m 62 and catching some grief from some of my friends, but I’m determined to see it through. Fingers crossed I can do it. My 2nd graders will let me know what they think when I go back to school! Lol! They are so honest!!
Good for you Teresa! You know, I thought one or more of my 6 grandsons (ages from 9 to 2) would have something to say about my hair, but they haven’t. An quite honestly, I think when the transition is complete (if not before), as long as you keep an up-to-date style, your friends will begin to admire your confidence. In my experience, when someone has anything negative to say, it’s usually out of jealously. So our just wear proudly every step of the way!
I needed to read this today ! Thank you !! I have been growing out my grey for 4 months and my hairstylist said she would put a ‘few’ low lights in to break up the demarcation line .. all my hard work is gone !!! I felt like crying 🙁 I guess I am back to the beginning now :(. I felt so stupid so thank you for saying that happened to you too ! Well new beginning 🙂
Yep… sometimes the best lessons in patience and perseverance are learned because we WERE NOT! Now you’ll stay the course and not question yourself or let anyone talk you into anything else to “ease” the journey. You can do it Catherine, starting now. 😘