How To Go Gray: Before and After Pictures

August 31, 2020 (updated September 19, 2021)

Growing my hair out gray has been one of the scariest and most rewarding experiences. Documenting the first 18 months with photos, products I used and more!

going gray 18 months
18 months since my last dye: Look at that transition!

By: Lisa Fennessy

One day I caught myself fantasizing about going gray. Not in the sense that it was a utopic scenario. More like, I caught myself wondering what I would look like gray.

Keep reading for more of my going gray story or jump to my going gray before and after pictures here!


I have always been obsessed with my gray hair since I started growing them in at 19-years-old…and not in a good way.

I used to pluck them all out with my Tweezerman’s but when I couldn’t keep up, I started hitting the salon every 2 months, which turned into 6 weeks which eventually turned into every 4 weeks as the years passed.

Over the past 20 years, I figure I’ve spent almost $17,000 and just about 30 entire DAYS in the chair getting my hair dyed. And I was a die-hard. Let me tell you, with the conviction of a thousand men and in my deepest heart of hearts I just knew I would NEVER stop dying my hair. NEVER.

These are just two of the benefits I’ve discovered while transitioning to gray hair but I’ve detailed out 18 more in this video!

Then one day, I saw this beautiful woman in a restaurant in Hingham, MA. (Stars on the harbor to be exact – for all my South Shore, Massachusetts friends).

The day I decided to go gray naturally

Anyways, she struck me because her face looked so young and her hair looked so…gray. And she was… BEAUTIFUL! Beautiful skin, a joyful smile, cute sassy curly hair – and she seemed, happy. She was enjoying a bottle of wine, dinner, and a few laughs with her hubs.

In that moment, she kinda blew my world open.

And then something came over me. I couldn’t help myself. My legs got up and started walking right toward her.

The next thing I knew I heard myself say, “Hi! My name is Lisa. Your hair is gorgeous. How did you do it? Was it hard? Did you have to cut your hair? How about hats? What did your friends say and HOW OLD ARE YOU!?”

She was 45, it was hard at first but then it got easier. Her kids didn’t like it but now they are indifferent. And it’s been 3 years and the best thing she ever did.

This woman changed my life. It took my curiosity from back seat to turn up the music, put it in cruise control and roll down the windows because MAMA’S DRIVING!

This woman had such an impact on me and she will never know it. After I saw her, my thoughts started changing and instead of thinking “I wonder….” I started deliberately thinking; “What if?” and “When?”

And just as thoughts get louder and louder the longer you sit with them, it got to the point where I couldn’t turn it off. So one day I casually mentioned to my husband, “Maybe I’ll stop dying my hair.”

I’ll never forget what he said because it was the final push I needed. He looked me right in the eye and said, “You should totally do it.”

So the following month I made a hair appointment and…dyed my hair. Hahaha!

I don’t know why I did that. I think I just needed one last time. It’s like the boyfriend you broke up with but you get together with that one last time just to kind of make it all final.

I think I needed it to really solidify that I made the right decision. To give myself the opportunity to officially say goodbye. It’s was almost like I wanted to create and opportunity to commemorate the experience, really give is space, honor every part of it.

And then let it go.

Photo of a woman with hair dye applied to her head, dying her hair for the last time.
April 2017, the last time I dyed my hair.

And then…I let the growth begin.

How long does it take?

For anyone planning on growing out gray hair or for anyone wondering how long it will take, I would say to plan on a solid 2 years for the grays to grow past your chin. This will give you a long bob type of hairstyle.

But that being said, it’s not 2 years of hats, scarves and hiding. I would say it’s a solid 9 months to 1 year of “making due” and then another year of just waiting it out.

I documented the cut I got at the 2 year mark in the video below. I call this my “final cut” because it’s where I cut off all the remaining dyed bits of my hair marking the first time in over 20 years that my hair was 100% it’s natural color. Check it out…

My daily nontoxic haircare staples

It’s been a lot of trial and error to see what products work with my gray hair and my new gray hair needs. After three years of caring for my grays, these are the top 5 products I keep going back to and they are what I recommend for anyone going gray.

  1. BRUNS purple shampoo is the most natural purple shampoo on the market formulated with nourishing hair ingredients and no nasties! Read my full review here.

2. EVOLVh’s SuperFinish Polishing Balm defrizzes, adds moisture, softness, shine, strength, prevents breakage, splitting and is a UV protectant that helps avoid hair yellowing. More here!

3. Innersense Hydrating Hair Masque to keep my hair conditioned, strong and hydrated.

4. Josh Rosebrook Hairspray to hold down the flyaways.

5. Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer for the fastest hair dry. Less drying time = less damage.

How to grow out gray hair that is colored

There are SEVERAL ways you can grow our your colored hair to your natural gray hair. Some of these approaches include:

1. Bypassing the entire grow-out by either shaving your head or getting a cute shortie or pixie cut.

short gray hair style
Photo courtesy of Twyla Jackson via Pinterest

2. You can dye all of your colored hair gray to blend in with your gray roots. This is more of an option for lighter-haired people. I tried to look into this but my colored hair was too dark to lift to gray. My hairdresser said we would have to lifts my hair so much it would turn brittle and break off so…I took her word for it.

woman with gray hair and highlights
Photo courtesy of Lisa Callow

3. Try low-lighting or highlighting your hair to blend in your new growth with your existing hair color.

Woman with gray hair and overtone
Photo courtesy of Susan Mello

4. You can try Balayage which is lightening your ends. This will help that demarcation line seem less stark.

Woman wearing highlights and gray hair
Photo courtesy of Lisa Parker Gresham

5. If you have wavy or curly hair, rock it! I have wavy hair and I chose not to blow my hair out straight during most of my grow out to help make the demarcation line appear less prominent.

woman with gray wavy hairstyle
Photo courtesy of Kristi Ellis Harris

6. And then there is the “cold turkey” method which I personally chose to do. Cold turkey is when you simply do nothing and grow out your colored hair to it’s natural gray. This “sit and wait it out” method worked well for me.

Woman with gray hair going cold turkey
Photo courtesy of Julianne Statnick

RELATED: For more, check out 10 Ways to Grow Out Gray Hair

The scoop on going gray cold turkey…

Overall I would say months 2-5 are probably the hardest because you walk around looking like you missed a hair appointment. It’s like being pregnant in your first trimester where you just feel fat but you don’t look pregnant yet.

I was really emotional at this stage which you can see documented in this video. I had a lot of thoughts to work through as I tried to make sense of this time in my life. Maybe you can relate.

But once my grays grew in long enough to where I could almost tuck them behind my ears (around 6 months) it starts to look intentional rather than questionable and at that point it all started to get a bit easier.

Of course you can wear cute hats, scarves and headbands. Braids, pony’s and buns are super cute too. But really the hard work is just waiting.

While you are waiting be sure avoid these common pitfalls while going gray. There’s not a lot of rules when it comes to growing out your dyed hair to gray but these are 5 things NOT to do for sure.

The hardest part about going gray

The hardest part about going gray for me personally was deciding to go for it. Once I made up my mind that I was going to go gray, I just had to lean into perseverance after that.

Perseverance got me through the first 5 months or so and then it was less about perseverance and more of a waiting game.

Honestly, once you decide to go gray and you get through the first 6 months or so, it gets so much easier!

That being said, the best thing you can do to help ensure your success is find some support. This can be your sister, mom, friend, husband, wife or finding anyone else who is going gray to connect with.

If you don’t have any of that, consider joining The Gray Book. This is a private Facebook group designed to inspire, create community, share insights, spark conversation and provide solidarity. Thousands of women have found success in this positive and supportive community, we would love to have you join us!

More info on transitioning to gray hair

Now I can say that going gray and loving it is a reality. For more information on going gray naturally, you can follow along here where I’ve journaled about my experience along they way.

I thought I was just growing my hair out but little did I know I was growing and changing on the inside too. This has been a true transformation both inside and out.

Going gray before and after pictures (and every stage in between)

Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 1
month into the graying process.
1 month
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 2
months into the graying process
2 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 3
months into the graying process
3 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 4
months into the graying process
4 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 5
months into the graying process
5 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 6
months into the graying process
6 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 7
months into the graying process
7 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 8
months into the graying process
8 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 9
months into the graying process
9 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 10
months into the graying process
10 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 11
months into the graying process
11 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 12
months into the graying process
12 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 13
months into the graying process
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 18
months into the graying process
18 months
Photo of a woman who
is growing her hair out to be gray. This photo shows what the hair color looks like 2 years into the graying process
2 years! (the final cut)

View my “final cut” video here!

Xo, lisa

Commonly asked questions about going gray

Should I use blue or purple shampoo on gray hair?Β 

Depending on your hair type, it will probably take aboutΒ 2 years for gray hair to grow past your chin. Check out my first 18 months here.Β Β 

When is the best time to go gray?

The hardest part about going gray was actually deciding to go gray in the first place, committingΒ to the process, and just starting. Groups like The Gray Book helped so much providing support and inspiration.

Β What’s the best shampoo for gray hair?Β 

There are many ways to go gray including getting a cute pixie, blending grays with lowlights and/or highlights, shaving your head, getting extensionsΒ or going cold turkey. More ideas here! Β 

By Lisa Fennessy

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!


  1. Reply


    Hi. Thank you for sharing your grey journey. You look amazing, I love it. I’m turning 49 in less than a month and have dyed my hair with box dyes since at least my early 30s to cover my grey. I thought about stopping last year and didn’t have the courage. Than the world changed with COVID19 and most of us did with it. Last time I dyed my hair was 8 weeks ago and I am already falling in love with my silver. I look at my roots and fall in love with the color more and more each day. I look forward to my big haircut too in about 2 years from now. I am a strong believer in making lemonade when you are handed lemons, and that is exactly what I’m doing with the current pause we are all in, I’ve made the decision to go grey and not turn back. Sharing your own journey has given me even more courage to do so.

    1. Reply


      Hi Tracy! I’m so glad! Keep me posted on how it’s going. If you are on Facebook, come join us at The Gray Book for all things inspiration, connection and solidarity during the going gray process! xo! Lisa

  2. Reply


    Hi Lisa,
    I too am in the middle of converting to gray, thanks to Covid-19. I’m 63, and in the advertising business so appearing ten years younger than I actually am has always been my reason for coloring. But now that I see it coming in, I kind of like it. My husband has been wanting me to do this for so long. With no other options, I think the time is now. Thanks for the inspo!

    1. Reply


      Hi M! This is so awesome! I love that you got a sneak peek and are digging it – best of luck! You’ve got this! xo, Lisa

  3. Reply


    Lisa, you are so beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have decided to go grey, also. To tired of hair dyes and stuff. Turning 51 in October. My hair it’s been through a lot since we moved to Costa Rica. Heat, sun and humidity.
    I hope that I would look as good as you.
    Pura Vida!!

    1. Reply


      Hi Carmen! So exciting! Good luck on your grow out. Also, I hear Costa Rica has remained mostly untouched by COVID_19 – stay safe! xo

  4. Reply


    Thank you for sharing! The photos of the process were especially helpful. I’m 36, but almost fully silver at my roots, and due to Covid, it’s now been 3 months since I last dyed my hair and I can really see the beautiful silver coming in. In some ways, it’s the perfect time to go through the growing process since I’m not seeing many people right now.

    1. Reply


      I agree! The perfect time! xo, Lisa

  5. Reply


    Hi. Could you share some of your favorite bright lipsticks that you wear. I find we have similar coloring and hair color and love the brights I see on this website. Thanks

    1. Reply


      Hi Andrea! Yes! I linked two of my faves in this post: Clove + Hallow’s Lip Velvet in Roadtrip and also OLIO E OSSO’s Lip Crema in Ibisco! I am actually publishing a post in June with my top lipstick picks for gray hair so stay tuned! xo, Lisa

  6. Reply


    You look amazing! I haven’t colored my hair since February and debated about doing once covid restrictions were lifted. Tomorrow I’ll be getting a haircut finally but nothing else. Thank you for sharing your story. πŸ™‚

    1. Reply


      That’s so exciting Emily! Enjoy your haircut (only) – a day that marks the start of a new you! Keep us posted! xo, Lisa

  7. Reply


    I’m also growing out my hair during Covid-19. I wear hats a lot, but my baseball caps didn’t cover all the gray so I ended up buying a lot of hats from, which is a company for sells wigs, hats for cancer patients. I do have a question about the yellow that is showing up in the gray. How do I make that go away? I wash my hair once a week using charcoal shampoo, but I think I need to try something else to clean and get rid of the yellow. Any suggestions PS. I also signed up for your FB group.

    1. Reply


      Hi Pam! Awesome! One of the best ways to counteract that is by using a purple shampoo. I detail out three natural options here!

  8. Reply


    Hey Lisa! I’m hitting the 9 month mark, with tight covid restrictions our salons are just now reopening. I’ve been fine and confident all along, until a saw a picture of myself from January, right after I last colored my hair…I liked it. So, now I’m struggling a bit. I really don’t want to waste the past several months of transition though, so I just need to keep coming back here and see how great your hair looks (and potentially chop off a few inches of the old dyed hair). 😊 I love the purple shampoo by the way. It really makes my gray and white hair shine!

    1. Reply


      Hi Monica! Hang in there girl! You’ve made it so far! For me, I hit the 1 year mark and I started wishing my grays would grow in faster…maybe that will happen for you too : ) Have you joined The Gray Book on Facebook yet? So many fabulous women going gray there and a ton of community and inspo! xo, Lisa

  9. Reply


    Hi Lisa
    I bought a box of hair dye and it is sitting on the bench
    I was going through some u tube videos to dye my hair and came across your story.
    I’m so glad I did . I haven’t coloured my hair for the past 7 weeks due to lock down in Melbourne , Australia.
    My daughter has always suggested for me to go grey and now I’m going to take the plunge.
    I’m so inspired by your story and I would like to thank you .

    1. Reply


      TAMARA! So glad we connected! So excited for you to start your going gray journey. You’ve got this girl. xo, Lisa

  10. Reply

    sara-marie kelley

    It’s so nice to see other women embracing the grey! I’m only 30 and have been dye free for 2 years, so since I was 28. I decided at 26 to grow out a bad dye job and once I got the length, had a shoulder length cut. Mine aren’t as prominent yet, but I have clumps of grey through the front, and silvery tinsel throughout which are confused with highlights. I’m proud to be grey! I have earned them! And each one is a little silver trophy! Looking forward to trying some of haircare recommendations!

    1. Reply


      Hi Sara-Marie! So glad you are having a successful grow out and experience! Thank you for this beautiful note! xo, Lisa

  11. Reply


    I just recently found your page and i also ordered the Bruns shampoo from your page. I am so thankful i found your page. I had attempted to let my gray grow out, once, many many years ago but i wasn’t ready. Well i have been letting it grow out now for about 2 years and it feels like forever. I have natural curly black hair and the gray is there but it hides under the curls most time. I cannot wait for it to be gray. The gray has gotten less noticeable so i ordered the shampoo you recommended and i cannot wait to see how my gray looks. I did take a picture the other day to see how the gray is growing and it is, its just taking so long. Thank you for giving me information to read. Having curly hair i have to also watch sulfates, silicone’s and i also do clean products for my body and hair so its always hard to find something that helps for all. Thank you for helping us all.

    1. Reply


      Hi Patricia! So glad this was helpful for you! Best of luck with your grow out! xo, Lisa

  12. Reply


    You are so beautiful. Thank you for being such an inspiration and role model. I found you recently after buzz cutting my hair in April 2020 to go gray. Thank you for sharing with all of us the wisdom and insights you’ve learned throughout your journey. You continue to inspire and encourage us all. I bought the Bruns shampoo & conditioner you recommended and LOVE it! Thanks again for everything you’ve done for your silver sisters.πŸ’–

    1. Reply


      Hi Lynda! So glad you love the shampoo and conditioner and also congrats on going gray too. I always wanted to try a buzz cut, I bet it feels amazing! xo, Lisa

  13. Reply

    bh ph

    You hair is beautiful; you are SO lucky that your grey seems scattered evenly, but in the video when hairdresser had it clipped up in layers, the back *appeared* ALL still dark underneath, and the grey seemed mostly on top layers. Have others noticed this pattern?

    My hair is now Covid-coloured…not dyed for ?6+ m, soooo MANY shades, eg. where the med-dark auburn dye always quickly faded to strawberry blond.
    My Mom was 100% natural pure white by 30, and i found some whites by then. Now at top and temples I have a few thick “skunk streaks”- med and large chunks of white “highlights”, but my back is still mostly dark pepper, with only a sprinkling of salt.

    I usually have had a L side part,+/- long fringe, but recent cut has my hair falling into a centre part, and now it’s quite obvious that the major thick white streak is *ALL* on right side, which even I hadn’t noticed when part was on left. Hair somewhat blended over!!
    Looking very odd !!

    1. Reply


      Hi! Mine is mostly gray on top yes…It looked odd at the beginning as well but evened out over time and as I got used to it. Hang in there friend! xo, Lisa

  14. Reply

    Julie Taylor

    Hi Lisa. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I am 60 and have stopped dying my hair for about 7 months. In your video you showed the annoying sticky up grey hairs. Did you do anything about them?

    1. Reply


      Hi Julie! Yes! At the beginning I used hairspray to keep them tacked down but now that it’s been years, I don’t have them anymore. It’s new growth and breakage and that goes away with time ; ) xo, Lisa

  15. Reply


    Thank you so much for posting your amazing journey! You are such an inspiration and I am so glad I found your page. You, your spirit, your generosity and your hair are all gorgeous! I have seen many beautiful women with grey hair recently and it was as if someone (my inner voice, obv!) was planting a seed, nudging me to go in this new direction. I am 51 and I have been dying my hair at home for years, so for me it is not about the cost or about COVID. And I am not one of those people who said I would never, ever stop dying my hair, but I have to admit I am a little surprised to find myself ready in my 50s instead of much later. I think one of the things that appeals most to me is opening myself up to something new and different, and having the confidence to listen to my heart, no matter how much noise is in the background, or foreground for that matter!
    So thanks so much for the great inspiration and information!!!

    1. Reply


      Jenny! Oh my gosh, you are so ready girl! This will change your life in the best way. Enjoy the experience and the thrill of discovery as you get to know YOU in a new and wonderful way! xo, Lisa

  16. Reply


    Hi Lisa,
    I love your hair!
    I am also grey, 63, but my hair is like grass.
    What products do you recommend to use for my hair?

    1. Reply


      Hi Ariana! So sorry for your frustration. I would recommend trying a hair mask as a deep conditioning treatment. Also, I would recommend trying to use less heat on it and also wearing hats when you are outside to shade it from the sun. Keep us posted! xo, Lisa

  17. Reply


    Did you highlight or enhanced your hair towards the end? The salt and pepper-look looked more even and shinier? I love the salt and pepper look. My wife is growing hers out and it looks great with her dark complexion.
    Also, I think curlier hair makes you look younger. πŸ˜‰
    Actually, curly hair makes anyone look younger, lol.

    1. Reply


      Hi William! I didn’t treat my hair at all throughout the process. I went full on “cold turkey” as they say. I think it probably got shiner over time with less chemical use…but that’s just a guess! Good luck to your wife – I’m sure she looks GEORG! xo, Lisa

  18. Reply


    I’m in my 10th month of going cold turkey and loving it although because of Covid restrictions, it’s been much easier. I’ve almost changed my mind a couple of times so reading articles from you and other women have helped me from giving in. I’m now at the stage where I want it to hurry and get more gray. Good luck ladies!

    1. Reply


      So happy this blog been a source of support for you. You’ve got this! xo, Lisa

  19. Reply


    I found you as I searched ’embracing grey hair’. I’ve spent the past 2 days watching videos and getting inspiration from other women who have done this. I will be turning 49 this spring but it’s been 7 months since I last coloured my hair (thanks, CovID!) Anyway, I am at that stage of “I want to do this but I’m totally terrified. What if I hate it? What if it makes me look older than I am?” I have always felt youthful so I hope I still will, even with all my silver. I hope that I will feel just as amazing as you do about your hair once I’ve fully transitioned! Thx for sharing your journey! xo

    1. Reply


      Hi Kristen! Girl, it’s 100% scary!!! But just trust that you will feel differently about gray hair going through this process. YOU WILL. Give yourself a chance to experience IT ALL. And if you do it and hate it, you can always turn back. Nothing is permanent when it comes to gray hair ; ) xo, Lisa

  20. Reply


    Thank you, thank you for sharing your inspiring journey and wisdom . It’s all as they say, priceless! As others have said, I ditched the dye at the beginning of the pandemic which puts me a year into the process. My grey hair has grown to the middle of my ears, and I’m so looking forward to the day when the process is complete. My husband has been my biggest supporter, and this support is what I really needed during the first six months. Mindset and determination are key ingredients in the journey and, Lisa, you truly are instrumental as well.

    1. Reply


      I agree with all of this Arlene! So glad you have a support system, that is KEY! Enjoy it all friend! xo, Lisa

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