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Just because you’re going gray doesn’t mean you’re about to rock a senior discount. Surprise: gray hair can grow at any age and it can be pretty stunning when you do the gray hair transition.
It is becoming more and more popular to view silver locks as a lie on their own. And that’s on top of the fact that it requires less maintenance and is far friendlier to your wallet and hair than it is to dye it. (Though coloring your hair is totally cool too!)
However, there are a few things to know before embarking on your own gray hair transition. We spoke to Cody Moorefield, a freelance hairdresser and colorist in New York City, to learn how to transition to gray hair.
The hair doesn̵
Genetics are mainly responsible for when you start to turn gray, although sometimes hair can turn gray after an illness or severe stress.
At 60, pretty much everyone has gray hair. If you have gray hair that shows up before your 30s you can call this premature graying, although if you start to get gray hair it really just depends on your genetics.
“People are only gray when they are gray,” explains Moorefield. “Some people are gray when they are teenagers, others only by the age of 40.” (See you genetics.)
How long it takes to become a silver fox – we mean, the full transition to gray hair – depends on what you’ve done with your grays in the past.
Hair grows an average of about half an inch per month, so you can expect your curls to grow about 6 inches per year.
According to Moorefield, you have pretty much two options for growing out your grays:
- Stop coloring and let it grow out on its own. Then section off the colored hair when it gets long enough.
- Keep coloring your hair as you grow your grays.
The second option is more difficult, but doable. It can “take several sessions with your colorist to be completely perfect, but it is possible,” says Moorefield.
“In either case, you usually see months of transition,” he adds. “There’s really no quick way to transition … unless you cut it all off.”
tl; dr: be patient!
When you’re ready to grow out your gray hair, there are actually a number of home and salon treatments available to help change your natural gray locks (and your cheating time).
Here’s how to make the transition a little easier while you wait.
1. Don’t pluck your grays!
Remember that episode of “Full House” where Aunt Becky told Uncle Jesse that if he plucked a gray hair, two more would grow in its place? OK, This is not true, but Aunt Becky was still right about not plucking.
When you pluck your grays, your gray hair just takes longer to transition, explains Moorefield. Once you start to turn gray, it doesn’t stop so let them grow.
2. Use purple-based shampoos
If you remember the color wheel from art class, purple is contrasted with yellow. A purple shampoo can help tame the color transition as it neutralizes yellows in hair, especially blonde hair.
When blonde hair turns gray, the grays look more yellow because the melanin has more yellow undertones, explains Moorefield.
If your hair doesn’t have yellow tones, “purple shampoo isn’t necessary,” says Moorefield. So if you have brown and black hair that has blue / purple undertones, you don’t need them to make the transition easier.
3. Treat yourself to a new shower head
Hard water basically means that the aqua in your water system is rich in dissolved minerals such as calcium. If your gray hair looks yellow, hard water can be the culprit.
With a new shower head, you can easily filter hard water. Get $ 25 to $ 30 back at the hardware store with a cheap product. You can also make a vinegar-based cleaner yourself to remove debris from your existing shower head, but your water is still hard.
4. Camouflage your grays with demi-permanent hair color
Another strategy Moorefield suggests is to camouflage grays with a less permanent hair color when they grow back. Demi-permanent hair color does not completely penetrate the strand of hair like permanent hair color and lasts for 6 to 8 weeks.
“It’s a great option for transitioning because it doesn’t have the tough growth line that permanent hair color does,” says Moorefield.
Demi-permanent colors your hair subtly and looks more like highlights (but it isn’t indeed Highlights). The idea is that your grays will grow out with less harsh lines of color and then fade away.
5. Hide grays with highlights
Highlights aren’t just meant to make your hair look like you’ve just returned from a beach vacation – they’re also light enough to mask shades of gray.
Moorefield says he has a customer whom he gives babylights (aka white blonde highlight in a permanent color) near the customer’s parts line. The babylight blends in with the customer’s gray tones so that they look more like blonde. Magic!
6. … or with lowlights
Lowlights make the hair darker, making it look darker than your natural hair color. (In other words, your natural color takes on the role of the highlight.) Getting lowlights in a permanent color that is similar to your natural color can also help camouflage shades of gray as they grow.
7. Go for an ombré
It can be a lot easier for natural blondes to embrace the gray tradition, but you can also fake it. Ombré hair looks darker to lighter. If you have blonde hair, you can do a shoulder length ombré in reverse order as you grow out your grays (think gray on top and darker blonde on the bottom).
8. Get the right cut
The right haircut can mean everything to transition to gray. This can help reduce growth time and make the transition more seamless.
There are different hairstyles and haircuts that come with going gray. But in reality, you can style your hair however you want during the transition.
When you’re ready for a new assignment, use some of these tips to make the Pinterest board for gray hair.
- Hair up. A ponytail, French braid, or just a messy bun can help detract from the harshness of the transition when you go gray without salon help.
- Classic bob. A classic bob can help cut down the growth time while still looking together.
- Shaved head. It’s not for the faint of heart, but gray hair on a shaved head can undeniably be cool. Don’t you believe us Just Google “Amber Rose Buzzcut”. Well wait
- Pixie cut. Pixies can be a lot of work as they need to be trimmed down frequently. But if you’re ready for a throwback style, this might be the easiest way to hug your grays – just keep cutting on your gray roots!
- Pony. Not ready to let go of your long locks? Bangs look bangin ‘(sorry) on their own, but they can also help turn your gray hair into a look.
When you switch to gray hair, you also need to switch your hair products – but not your frequency of washing. “Wash as much as your not gray hair,” says Moorefield.
- Shampoos for gray hair. There are many shampoos that are made specifically for gray hair. Many of these are purple shampoos and can help you maintain those grays and remove any yellowing. Also, avoid parabens and sodium sulfates in your shampoos (these can cover up your already dry hair).
- Conditioner for gray hair. Yes, there are purple conditioners to go with your purple shampoo too. You want a conditioner that locks in moisture without weighing down your strands.
- Moisturizing styling products. “Some people experience a texture change when they turn gray, so a moisturizing or straightening hair conditioner can alleviate some of the dryness or wiry texture that gray can have,” says Moorefield. He recommends using hair products that contain argan oil to soften the texture of the hair.
- Be careful with heat styling. “Gray hair can be more resistant to styling, so you may need heavier styling products or a little more warmth,” says Moorefield. Too much heat can cause yellow tones in gray hair. So go slowly and quietly.
Gray or silver hair isn’t just for grandma and grandpa. Going gray in your twenties and thirties is perfectly normal, just thanks to genetics. When you’re ready to fully embrace gray hair, you can begin the transition at home and in the salon.
Fortunately, the transition is possible – you just have to be patient!