If you’re thinking about growing out gray hair, here’s lesson numero uno: There’s no “right way” to go gray. Learn this one upfront and, sister, it just makes everything easier.
By: Lisa Fennessy
Also, while we are at it, let’s call out the other elephant in the room: Going gray is really hard. Full stop.
But guess what? Going gray is also not necessarily a linear experience.
For some women, it’s highlights and lowlights. For others, it’s a big chop and for others still, it’s fun accessories, extensions or playing with color.
All ways of going gray are valid and beautiful
It’s important that women support each other during this very personal experience—no matter what path each woman takes (including the path of choosing to dye or not to dye).
Growing out gray is not a place where “right and wrong,” “black and white” or judgmental thinking thrives.
Thriving here means finding the strength to move forward, and finding acceptance within yourself. It’s about taking risks and fostering growth. It’s about seeing (actually seeing!) the beauty that lives inside and out.
So, in the name of empowering women, changing our collective mindset and opening up possibilities for each other; here are 10 ways to go gray.
10 ways to grow hair out gray
Highlights and lowlights are a fun way to transition. They soften the grow-out line and they provide an “ease-into-it” approach. This typically works better for women with light brown or blonde hair.
Jackie Schindler Moffatt explains how this method helped soften the line between gray hair and dyed hair. “The first time I went in after deciding [to let my hair grow in gray], my stylist suggested instead of a full color we just do some blending. Just did a few strands, no color since, and I feel like that has made a subtle difference in how my hair has grown out. It helped blend that demarcation line.”
Lisa Callow says, “How fabulous is my hair?!! My absolutely amazing hairdresser and friend wove silver highlights through my existing blonde to brighten my hair!! It feels so silky smooth!! I’m obsessed!!”
2. Shave your head
Yeah, we just went there. And we did it in style too.
Kiva Sherr shares how it felt after shaving her head to expedite the growing out gray process. “Two weeks of growth! It’s been interesting and wonderful. The biggest challenge is my whole sense of self and style changing. I’ve been standing taller and allowing myself to feel all the feelings this has inspired. No hiding behind hair anymore.”
Eleanor Ensing Verkoeyen agrees: “I couldn’t handle the bronzy color growing out with my natural color showing more and more clearly underneath. I love my natural color and I love the buzzed look, not at all regretful!”
3. The big chop
You can also do a big chop without bringing it down to a number 1 all around.
4. Try extensions
Throw in some extensions and call it a day. Like, why not? If you’ve never had extensions, you know you always secretly wanted to anyway.
Sabine Simon adds, “I wanted to keep my hair long but I also didn’t want to have grey roots for a long time. I thought about it for a while and this idea hit me one day. The braids are my first step for going grey and I’m excited for what’s to come.”
In the midst of the pandemic, Carol Love says, “I’m kinda over the DIY hair-at-home situation. But these twists have saved my sanity.”
Why not take the reins back like and see which end gets there first with some on-trend balayage?
We love the look of dying hair at the bottom gray for a couple of reasons. First, it’s edgy and fun. And second, it draws the eye away from “work in progress” roots and anchors it on those intentional ends.
Lisa Parker Gresham muses, “I was on the fence about whether or not I should just cold turkey stop all hair coloring or if I should just do fun balayage hair with toners while the gray comes in.”
RELATED: How To Go Gray
6. Cold turkey
And then there is the grin-and-bare-it method that most women “in the biz” refer to as going “cold turkey.” Some consider this the hardest way to transition, but we think it’s one that will surprise you the most.
Cindy Verrett is rocking her grow out like the best of ‘em! And Julianne Statnick screams it from the rooftops like, “Almost 19 months growout! I LOVE this journey!!! Smooth sailing from here!!!!”
7. Braid it
Braids just make everything better. Dimension and depth shine through in ways we never knew possible. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.
And while you’re at it, why not throw in some purple extensions like stunning, 52-year-old Kateřina Kortusová. 😍
8. Try a toner
Whether it’s an at-home toner like Overtone or one from the salon, this is a great way to bridge the grow out gap. A toner provides an overall wash of color making hair look more gray/silver as well as softening (if not erasing) that pesky “line of demarcation.”
Susan Mello is all-in explaining, “This is my second highlight and third toner.” She says she anticipates needing one more highlight in about 4 months and then she’ll be done!
9. Rock some accessories—obvi
Whether it’s some fresh new glasses, red lipstick, a matching headband or a fun hat….just do it girl.
Tari Walsh-Kelley could have written the book, “Winter Fashionista! Hats, scarves, thigh-high boots, leggings, leather gloves (or matching knit gloves) and berets.”
Irina Duncan says, “Thank God for hats!” while running errands.
Gabrielle Bass is rocking those glasses AND pearls. Get it, girl!
Shyanne Hall is celebrating a snow day in style.
And Barbara Mariani looks dope all around from cut to glasses to accessories. Yes girl. YASSSS.
RELATED: 5 Going Gray Don’ts
10. Wear it wavy
A great way to blend new growth with dyed hair is to put some bend in it!
Kristi Ellis Harris, Alicia Vander Kooi, and Nikki Soward Corey know what’s up!
For more inspiration, support, friendship, and solidarity around all things going gray, be sure to join The Gray Book on Facebook!