Going Gray? Here are the facts.

Are you considering a transition to your natural gray hair?

Perhaps you have made the decision to let your silvers shine on, but you aren't sure how to get there.

I seriously know how you feel! Been there, done that, as they say. And after a 12 month journey and lots of research I have so much to tell you!

We are going to discuss the 3 Main Ways to Go Gray along with their Pro's and Con's, so get ready to have your questions answered right now...

Episode 3 - Going Gray

Going Gray? Here are the facts.

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"Am I ready to go gray?"

going gray blog- Michelle Fox

So let's chat about this...

The topic is near and dear to my heart, because I debated the question of whether or not to go gray for at least three years, and fully researched the topic for another year before I decided to become a "silver sister" in July of 2021. I was on that journey for a full 12 months and then made a radical decision that you will hear about at the end of the blog.

Before we talk about the 3 ways to go gray, I'd like to discuss the reasons why so many women are choosing to do it.

Of course every woman has her own reasons, but among them are the desire to be free from the constant gerbil wheel of "getting your roots done"; to be done with the added cost and time commitment of going to the salon every 2 to 4 weeks; concerns about the chemicals that we are exposed to; problems with hair loss, scalp tenderness and itchiness from the hair dye; desiring healthy, soft shiny hair instead of the brittle feel of processed hair; embracing our natural color as an asset and not something undesirable; letting go of the idea that gray equals old; changing the narrative where men get sexy with silver but women are "letting themselves go".  

Am I missing any, ladies? Please add more in the comments! (or send me a message!)

If you are looking for support before or during your journey, there are several groups on Facebook that you will consider a true God-send. (More are listed during the video)

Now, on to your options...

3 Ways to Return to Your Natural Hair Color:

Cut it
Leave it
Blend it
Going Gray blog - Michelle Fox

Let's break each one down:

Cut it

Perhaps the quickest and simplest way to get to your natural color is to cut your hair very short in a style referred to as a "pixie" cut

Some women discover that they really enjoy having short hair. The look is vogue, the upkeep is minimal and the style can be quite flattering on the right face shape. 

But for many women, having long (or longish) hair is a significant part of their feminine identity and cutting it is not an option. For me, I know that I cannot pull-off a very short hair style. The longer length slims my face and it gives me more style options. 

Pro's of Cutting your hair to go gray:

Easy to maintain
Pixie cut - Michelle Fox Blog

Con's of Cutting your hair to go gray:

The style may not be flattering
Regrowth takes a long time
Your styling options are limited

Leave it

Another simple, but definitely not quick method, is to leave it alone. Let your hair grow out without doing anything at all.

This will most definitely mean sporting the "skunk stripe", a term for the demarcation line between your natural outgrowth and the remaining colored hair. This conspicuous focal point is unpalatable for most women but if you are a rebel who doesn't give a fig about other people's opinion, this could be the method for you! Letting your natural hair grow out naturally is, well, very natural! So the downsides are few.

my skunk stripe

Pro's of Letting your hair grow out naturally:

No damage done to your hair
No costs are incurred
Nothing changes in your routine

Con's of Letting your hair grow out naturally:

Unattractive line of demarcation
Unkind remarks from others
Feeling conspicuous

Blend It

Many women choose to have an ongoing salon treatment called gray blending.  Gray blending is a combination of balayage, highlights, lowlights and semi-permanent color used to hide the demarcation line, mimic the pattern of your outgrowth and make the process of going natural as unnoticeable and therefore as painless as possible. 

This is what I can relate to because it's the route I chose to take for the past 12 months. 

While the idea sounds simple, the process is far from it. All of the treatments mentioned involved complex chemical processes that are damaging to your already fragile hair, and require extensive knowledge by your colorist. Before moving forward with this option, be sure to find someone who has experience specifically in gray blending (or transitioning) and when you find someone you trust fully, make a decision to let him or her lead the way. You will have moments of frustration where you want to do things more quickly or take an extreme measure to get to the end result faster, but the professional you are working with knows all of the factors to consider and listening to that advice is imperative!

This is the only one of the three options that is actually damaging your hair in order to get it to a healthy state, so during the process you will need to make a few adjustments.

Yup, these are all me!

Michelle Fox
Michelle Fox
Michelle Fox
Michelle Fox

Suggested adjustments during gray blending:

Use moisturizing shampoo and conditioner for chemically treated hair
Add a deep conditioning treatment periodically
Try purple shampoo if you have problems with brassiness
Do not use hot tools (curling iron, flat iron, curling wand) if you can avoid them
Use your blow dryer on a low setting or let your hair air dry
Wash your hair with warm, not hot, water and rinse with cool water
Avoid direct sun if you have problems with highlights getting brassy
Switch your cotton pillowcase to a satin pillowcase
Use microfiber hair turbans instead of cotton towels
Comb your hair with a wide tooth comb or brush

Click HERE for a list of recommended products!

Pro's of Gray Blending:

The blending process makes the transition less noticeable
You don't have to cut your hair
You have time to adjust to the gradual change in your hair color

Con's of Gray Blending:

It's expensive
The treatments damage your hair
You have to make a lot of adjustments to accommodate your fragile hair

Why Can't I go gray in a day?

What about the option of going gray all at once? Can someone go from a bottled color to a full-head of gray in one session? The answer is, maybe, but probably not.

Jack Martin

One name is front and center when it comes to the complex process of going gray in a day. Jack Martin. He is a renowned colorist in Tustin, California with a huge following on Instagram because of his jaw dropping before and after videos. A worldwide collection of stylists watch and follow in awe as he works his magic. But he is truly one of a kind. 

The process involves several steps:

lifting the previous color (very damaging and dangerous; most won't do this)
lightening your hair all over (as in bleach; again... very risky)
Adjusting the color to match your natural gray roots (complicated & lengthy)
Adding highlights & lowlights for dimension (that sounds familiar)

An appointment with Jack Martin costs thousands of dollars, requires that you have about six inches of outgrowth so he can see your gray pattern, involves a wait list of several months, and then about 8 or 9 hours in his chair on the day of your appointment. And even then, the issues of brassiness, damaged and delicate hair are just as real as if you did it over time. There is no golden ticket to getting to gray.

Final Thoughts

So what are your thoughts? Are you considering going gray? Have you already made the transition? How did you do it? Any advice? 

Keep in mind that this decision goes beyond appearance and finances and time in the stylist's chair. It's a very personal matter and it requires the support of the people around you.

So let's give one another the grace and space to explore and ask questions without fear of repercussions. 

To find out the radical decision I made after 12 months of gray blending, you have to watch the video!

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Michelle Fox
Michelle Fox

I hope you enjoyed this post. I love sharing new tips and thoughts on "all things beauty", specifically designed to help women over 40 look and feel their beautiful best. Please share any content ideas that you have for this blog in the comments. I appreciate you!