5 Going Gray Don’ts

June 30, 2020

Taking a look back over the past three years and pulling out some of the pitfalls that trip people up when going gray. Set yourself up for success by avoiding these 5 going gray don’ts. And don’t forget to check out more of my going gray guides below!

1. Don’t use blue or green shampoo

First of all, you may not even need a toning shampoo at all BUT if you notice your gray hair turning a bit yellow or brassy, a purple shampoo will help remedy that.

Purple shampoo is definitely the best toner to use when it comes to gray hair because it neutralizes the brassiness. Yellow is opposite from purple on the color wheel indicating these two tones cancel each other out. For more, check out how purple shampoo works and my top natural purple shampoo picks.

In that same vein, we know that yellow + red make orange and we know that red + blue make purple etc….so when someone with yellow-y gray hair uses a blue shampoo, guess what color you are going to get? That’s right. GREEN! Blue shampoo is not designed to be used on gray hair, its function is to neutralize orange tones in brown hair.

collage of pictures showing different shades of hair from darkest black to lightest blonde
Madison Reed hair level chart

Lastly, purple shampoo will only work for gray hair that is a level 8 or higher so if you have darker gray hair or dark hair with just a few grays, purple shampoo may not work for you.

2. Don’t start until you are ready

It seems a bit counterintuitive for me to be encouraging you not to go gray but seriously, don’t start until you are ready. How do you know you are ready? YOU WILL KNOW.

Sometimes this knowing will arrive via a slow build over time or sometimes it strikes via a “straw that breaks the camel’s back” moment. This could be someone glancing at your roots (AGAIN), or an unsupportive hairdresser telling you not to go gray, a boiling frustration with having to schedule a hair appointment every three weeks or even seeing another beautiful woman rockin’ her grays. It will be like lightening and and it will be just that push that you need.

When you are ready, your inner voice will sound something like, “That’s it. I’m not going dyeing my hair anymore.” (Or something a little louder with a couple trash-mouth swears thrown in). And that’s when you will know it’s time.

My inner dialogue convinced me to dye my hair again just ONE MORE TIME which you can read all about in my Going Gray: Before and After Pictures post.

If your inner dialogue still sounds like, “I want to go gray but I’m not sure.” Or “I will go gray…just not yet.” Or “It looks great on you but I could never.” Don’t force it friend. Give yourself some more time to build the confidence and desire to jump in. Find inspiration in other women, find other women’s going gray stories, read going gray books, search Pinterest or join a going gray group like The Gray Book. This will help you build confidence; I promise.

Then, at some point, something will happen and you will feel your inner voice getting louder and louder. And when it starts screaming words like, SCREW THIS!, that drive, that commitment, those feelings of being fed up will propel your experience forward and give you more strength and more tenacity to ride the ups and downs to come.

For me it was deciding to go gray and then immediately chickening out. The moment I announced I was going gray, I made a hair appointment to get my hair dyed. I didn’t even last a week – haha! But going to the salon, sitting in that chair, looking at myself going through the motions one last time really gave me the closure I needed to move on. I often equate this last hair appointment with “breakup sex”. I needed that one last rendezvous to be sure – and it ended up being just what I needed to move forward.

3. Don’t go gray alone

One of the most major keys to my success was having support. My husband was super supportive and he really gave me the guts to start. Then as I starting talking about the process publicly, I started getting words of encouragement from readers and even random people around town and it was just so….helpful.

I wish I could say I had the strength to do this alone but to be honest, there were several times along this journey that I needed to hear; “Your hair looks good.” These words of encouragement and this external affirmation really TRULY helped me continue on.

So, seek out support from friends and family because it will make such a difference. I also realize that not everyone’s friends and family are supportive so I started a Facebook group for women to convene, exchange stories, support and identify in each other, grow, lead, follow….all of it. You will find support here. Come join us!

4. Don’t limit your options

There’s no one way to go gray! I personally went cold turkey even though I begged my hairdresser every time to give me some highlights or lowlights or a gloss…SOMETHING to take the edge off. She never agreed because my hair is naturally so dark and she said it would just take too much processing to lighten it to where we would want to get it. She said she did that for a client once and it made the client’s hair so weak that when she put her hair up in a bun at the beach, her bun fell off. And…that’s what convinced me to just wait it out.

But there are so many different things you can do during the grow out like getting highlights, lowlights, ombre blonde or gray, a cute pixie, a shaved head…I’ve seen so many creative approaches.

I especially love this one woman’s approach who told me she grew out her grays in her early 40s and then decided to start dyeing it again when she turned 45 and now, a couple of years later, she’s growing it out for a second time.

There’s no rules ladies! Have fun with it.

5. Don’t listen to naysayers

Don’t listen to people who tell you not to do this. It can really change our trajectory when our mom or our dad looks us in the eye and says, “Don’t do this.” Or, “You’re too young to go gray.”

This is a classic example of “result” and “intention” clash. People who say that genuinely MEAN WELL. They truly think they are doing you a favor by “telling you something you don’t know.” They think they are enlightening you, bringing you out of the dark. Sharing knowledge. Helping you.

The reality is, it’s just really hurtful, unsupportive and it makes us feel less-than and alone. That’s not the intent of their words but it’s the effect.

I wish every woman could have a picture like this of themselves before starting out…

two side by side images of Lisa that show her transition from dyed hair to naturally gray hair
Three years later…

A gray hair crystal ball if you will. I used to pull and pry at my roots while covering my dyed hair with my hands to see; Am I gray enough? Will it look too mousy? Do I hate it? Do I love it? What will this all look like in the end?!

This is me a little over three years into my journey. And I would choose this route every time. Again and again and again. And I think other people would be supportive from the beginning as well if they knew this was my outcome.

These types of comments come from fear, inexperience, ignorance and love. Until we have more women walking this earth with their natural grays glowing, we will continue to have our loved ones respond this way. They want the best for us and their idea of “best” is shaped by history and societal norms.

Change starts with you and change starts with me. But first we have to get there so FIND SUPPORT along the way.

Looking for a go-to going gray guide? For more on going gray check out:

Xo, lisa

By Lisa

Lisa is the founder of This Organic Girl. Passionate about clean beauty, organic eats and nontoxic lifestyle, Lisa writes to create awareness. Conscious consumerism and informed decisions will impact the marketplace, our health and THE WORLD!

20 Comments

  1. Reply

    Sandra B

    My mother in-law (83, still colouring her hair a soft light brown and she looks great!) is my negative voice. With the kindest of intentions, she keeps advising me not to go through with this. She’s the only one, and so far I’ve been able to quiet her voice in my head.

    My question for you is, did you have anyone who was negative in the beginning, but has done a full 360 now that you’re fully transitioned to your gorgeous natural silver? I’d love to hear the story. I’m wondering if my mother in-law will eventually see things differently.

    1. Reply

      Lisa

      Hi Sandra! Oh my gosh – TOTALLY!!!! Everyone was really quiet at the beginning. I had one family member tell me, “Don’t do it”. But in the end, even that one person came around and said…”I’ll be honest, I didn’t think it was going to look good but it looks great!” This is not only a huge change for us as women but for all the people around us too. They need time as well. I love them for that ; ) You’ve got this!

  2. Reply

    Heidi Young

    Hi 🙂 I just happened to find your blog when I was searching for natural hair dyes, and saw your post on hair print. But now I’m feeling really confident about growing out my hair, which I’ve thought about before but never seriously considered until now.

    Thank you so much for your wealth of information!! I’ve been spending probably way too much time over the last week learning about transitioning to gray hair.

    I know you mentioned not everyone will need a purple shampoo, but I’m wondering if during the process, I do start to notice yellowing, should I try to just use purple shampoo on just my gray hair? Will it be bad for my dark hair? I have dark brown hair and about an inch of growth so far, but I have a LOT of gray hair at the roots, at least 50 %.

    Thanks again!
    Heidi

    1. Reply

      Lisa

      Hi Heidi! That’s exactly what purple shampoo is for! Yes, if you are noticing any yellowing or brassiness, try a purple shampoo – it will help cancel that yellow color out. It wont harm your brown hair at all ; ) xo, Lisa

  3. Reply

    Sylvia

    This is amazing and encouraging. It has been 6 months since I colored my hair. Thanks for the encouraging words.

    1. Reply

      Lisa

      So glad this was helpful! Thanks for reading!

  4. Reply

    RWC

    I went grey during Covid quarantine in New York City . I had shoulderlength curls. I used to get my roots done every six-eight weeks, had highlights /balayage. I really was getting tired of the routine and the expense.

    Then got COVID March and sick in bed for 7 weeks and quarantined at home, 3 inches of gray growth and then like many people who recover from COVID I started having hair loss called Telogen Effluvium what I learned it’s common from the high fever and stress of a virus .

    As soon as I was out of quarantine and completely better and salons opened. I went straight to the salon and I got a pixie cut, so now I have gray hair and a cute short short haircut!! And so happy to take the plunge cut it off.
    It was fast cure for the dreaded root when going grey. No turning back now .
    I need something to brighten the grey now that my hair stopped falling out.
    Will be trying the Bruns products.
    Thanks for your very informative articles .

    1. Reply

      Lisa

      Hi Ruth! So glad you are okay! And thanks for sharing your going gray story! The BRUNS is mild in cleansing power and mild in toning/color so it’s a fantastic/gentle way to treat hair. I recommend applying the shampoo to dry hair and letting it sit for 10 minutes before washing for a more dramatic effect. It sounds like it would be perfect for your type of hair! Let me know what you think if you try it! xo, Lisa

  5. Reply

    Michelle Wagenseller-Belnap

    Hey Lisa, Great article. I’m not ready to go grey yet but I just have to tell you it was such a sigh of relief to read your article. Let go of the pressure knowing its okay and normal to have grey hair. I’m 48 and started going grey at 21. I grew up with a hairdresser mother who would wouldn’t be caught dead with a grey hair showing so I have a lot of shame around aging and greying hair. I’m using Madison Reed right now but when the time is right, I’ll go grey and still feel beautiful. Thank you for writing about going grey and normalizing it.

    1. Reply

      Lisa

      Hi Michelle! You are not alone! Many women feel this way. I did too. I love that you said “when the time is right” because that is so important. Going gray is not something to feel rushed into or pressured in to doing…nothing good will come from that. It’s about showing up for yourself and doing what feels right during a moment in time which is different for all of us. xo, Lisa

  6. Reply

    Paula

    I found your advice on Pinterest. My own mum told me I would look 10 years older so I didn’t ditch the dye but now I’m just so tired of it, the chemicals, the expense, the fact that men don’t worry at all about going gray but we’re conditioned to believe getting old is just….well……. unacceptable, I’m 48, today I threw out my shampoos for coloured hair, decided to go cold turkey on transitioning and my husband who would still find me attractive with a bald head is very supportive, excited, my sister (2 year’s older) thinks I’ve “let myself go” and she’s right, I’ve let the chemicals go and feel excited (but impatient) but happier because it’s not just about “hair” it’s about how you feel about aging, women are so pressured to look younger, it’s really ridiculous, at 48 I’ve finally realised that. X

    1. Reply

      Lisa

      Hi Paula! You are absolutely right. This is less about hair and more about how you feel about yourself. So glad you are getting the support you need. I’ve found that even those who are unsupportive, with a little time, come around too. Thanks for reading! xo, Lisa

  7. Reply

    Judie

    I’d love to hear your thoughts about dealing with the texture changes that come with gray hair. I started letting my hennaed hair go gray a month before the pandemic hit. I love the color of my new silver hair, but the new silvers stick up like antennas all over my otherwise smooth, baby-fine hair. It’s the texture, not the color, that makes me feel old and crone-like.

    1. Reply

      Lisa

      Hi Judie! So glad you are loving the color of your hair. I can totally relate to the hair sticking straight up. I used hairspray to get me through that stage. Once that new growth grows in then that won’t happen any more! xo, Lisa

  8. Reply

    Judy

    I found your blog while looking for recommendations for a purple shampoo and do I really need one. I have been wanting to go grey and waited until I turned 65. Because of the lock down earlier this year I decided to try it. I happily realized I had lovely white hair surrounding my face as it decreases to a darker grey toward the back. I am also losing my hair in the front which led to my decision, the hair dye made my hair very soft and the brown color showed my hair loss evidence. Now the white is a little more coarse but it is easier to style and my hairstylist told me that my hair likes being white. My skin is pale and with my white hair my hair looks thicker. I have had a lot of compliments for the white. I will say this…the white does make me feel older and I would still like to have my brown back but having it colored every few weeks and the hair loss I believe the white looks better.

    1. Reply

      Lisa

      Hi Judy! I wonder if you have joined The Gray Book group on Facebook? You will find some wonderful inspiration, before + after pics and a ton of support. It can be done friend. 90% of it boils down to mindset. We (all of us women in the group) can help! xo, Lisa

  9. Reply

    Nicole

    Hey Lisa,
    I am a German girl who turned 50 last year and first, please excuse my English. I have been dying my hair since I was 13. Turning 22 I already had many grey hairs and as I always wanted to be a redheaded girl, I started dying with a Henna Mixturen. Over the years, red hair became my trademark for the next 30 years. Now, I am simply tired of dying and 4 weeks ago I decided to go grey. I see from the roots that around 90 percent of my hair are already grey, on the upper head even white. Of course people try to talk me out of transitioning to grey because of my trademark hair and that is the toughest thing for me. Will I lose my Identity? How to establish a new one ? Torn between I want to be free, grey, wise , a strong woman who of course will be happy with the grey outcome ( I know that I will look good and young ) and the fear of losing this red haired girl I was to me and the people around me for all of my life. But I am empowered and sooo determined to let the transition happen… So here I am: Nicole, searching for her new soul.

    1. Reply

      Lisa

      Hi Nicole! I totally hear this 100%. It’s so hard when you feel like you are losing a part of your identity. I felt the same way. That’s how I look, that’s how I’ve always looked. How am I supposed to make room for this new person? What I can offer is even though you are “losing” a part of yourself…you will still be you..just a little bit more whole. xo, Lisa

  10. Reply

    Paula

    Hi should I use blonde color on my gray hair or can I get by with just the purple shampoo?

    1. Reply

      Lisa

      Hi Paula! I would try purple shampoo and see if that helps first! xo, Lisa

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