How to Go Gray As Gracefully As Possible

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The past few years have been huge for gray hair. We’ve seen silvery hues go from a stigmatized sign of aging to a trendy color choice for all ages. But for anyone embracing their naturally graying hair, you know the transition doesn’t happen overnight. Going gray takes more maintenance and dedication than simply waiting for the rest of your head to catch up to your roots. How can you make the transition to your natural gray as gracefully as possible?

Although the transition to gray takes time, there are plenty of tricks to make the most of the process. Here’s what you need to know about taking the plunge and looking your best while you go gray.

Once you’ve made the decision to go gray, stick to it

Understand that going gray takes patience. Although there might be times where you’re tempted to color your hair along the way, your best course of action is to stick it out. To properly commit to going gray, it’s helpful to have a plan. For some people, this might look like gradual roll-out with a professional colorist; for others, it could mean getting a drastic haircut so that you embrace the “no turning back now” mentality. Read on to learn which course of action best suits you.

Invest in purple shampoo

Whatever your method for going gray, you want to bring out the most flattering shade of gray possible. The proper toning shampoo helps keep the dreaded “brassy” effect under control. As anyone who has ever dyed their hair blonde can tell you, purple-pigmented shampoo is effective at neutralizing brassy and yellow tones.

Why purple? Lisa Fennessy of This Organic Girl explains how it is basic color theory: Yellow is opposite from purple on the color wheel, meaning the two shades cancel each other out. If your hair has yellow and brassy tones, a pigmented purple shampoo is going to neutralize that warmth.

Treat it like getting highlights

Naturally letting your roots grow out is no doubt the cheapest method, but you sacrifice time and style. Consider getting a consultation with a professional colorist who can help you gradually lighten your whole head, as opposed to sitting back and waiting for your roots to take over.

If you’ve never lightened your hair before, keep in mind that you could find yourself sitting in the salon for hours at a time. On top of a lengthy first session, it can take anywhere from six months to a year to fully go from color to gray, according to Good Housekeeping. You’ll be gently easing into your new gray look, but all the highlighting appointments could rack up a significant cost over time.

Go fully gray right away

This is a “rip off the Band-Aid” approach. If your roots are already gray, you might want to just dye the rest of your hair to match. Plus, as your natural gray grows in, the transition won’t be so alarming—you already headed it off.

Here’s our guide to dying and maintaining your hair. One of the biggest drawbacks to coloring your hair is constant maintenance (read: time and money). Luckily, the goal here is to achieve a color that your natural gray will eventually overtake, freeing you of the coloring process in the longterm. As mentioned above, this may involve several months of maintenance before you get to that point.

If dying your whole head is too daunting, another option is to tone your hair with temporary dyes at first.

Kick the process off with a drastic haircut

Some people dread the ombre look, in which the top of your head is naturally gray and the rest is still a different color. (Personally, I think the ombre fade looks awesome.) If you’re all in, a big chop is the easiest way to ensure your whole head goes gray all at once.

It’s important to factor in the potential emotions that come with this sort of change, though. You’ll be asking yourself adapt to two drastic changes to your look at the same time, and you’ll need to manage expectations accordingly. Don’t be rash if you’re not used to making major changes to your appearance in one fell swoop.

Keep it soft and shiny

Naturally gray hair tends to be coarse or dry. Invest in hydrating and smoothing hair masks to get your hair as soft and shiny as possible. For extra shine, experiment with rice water. You can also keep your hair healthy by getting rid of split ends yourself. 

Find inspiration online

While researching this piece, there was no shortage of blogs and Instagram accounts dedicated to the process of going gray. Not only can you find inspiration from different types of looks, but also, there’s a thriving community full of people supporting each other through this transition. Most of us grew up assuming that going gray was something to avoid at all costs. Now, you can find comfort in an online community full of gray positivity.


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