Seven Best Tips & Tricks for Successfully Growing Out Your Gray Hair!
by BTW Co.
3 months ago
Do you want to be known as a silver Fox!?
Or maybe even..... you want to be like me: The Gray Goose! HONK!
(Wait, do geese quack?)
Are you tired of having to dye or henna your grays every few weeks? Do you have an allergic reaction each time that you color your hair? Perhaps you'd like to avoid the not-so-great chemicals in many of the dyes out there. (
Has coloring you hair been expensive, messy and time consuming? Or, are you just simply curious to see what you'd look like in your "authentic" color!?
WHATEVER your reasons may be, deciding to go gray is a BIG decision, and an EMOTIONAL one at that! Choosing to show the world your gray grow can be scary, frustrating and honestly, a bit of a downer at times. BUT......I can PROMISE you, in the end, it will be
SO worth it !!!!!!
I've met THOUSANDS of the most lovely, wonderful, encouraging Silver Sisters over the years, and if there is one thing I know, it's that we're here for each other! Through all of the emotional struggles and the triumphant celebrations. So if it's something that you're ready to do, PLEASE JOIN US!
Hooray! Hooray! Can you imagine not having to worry about whether your roots are showing? Or taking all of that time and money that you usually put into coloring, and using it on something new and truly enjoyable? If you take small, easy steps to care for and condition your hair, you just might find it to be even SOFTER and much HEALTHIER than before you stopped coloring! Really!
As difficult it is to face the world (and our society) with your gray, it can be rewarding in so many different ways too. Believe me, not only will you learn how to redefine your self-image, authenticity and what constitutes beauty, but you'll also learn about being comfortable in your own skin!
Who knows, you might even help pave the way for others. It's hard enough in our culture right now, for women to "make the grade" in the looks department. Even one person wearing showing their grays helps to start a discussion towards the acceptance of all different ways to look and be in this world.
Are you ready? Let's go! Here are my SEVEN BEST TIPS AND TRICKS to help you make growing out your gray as easy as possible!
1) Think About It This Way Instead - What if the gray was your best feature!?
There was a vintage advertisement floating around recently, and I am so angry that I didn't stop to pin and save it. The ad showed a beautiful young woman, with perfectly coiffed gray hair! Oddly, back then, manufacturers sold colorant that actually helped to highlight your gray! The slogan across the photos was something to the effect" "What If The Gray Was Your Best Feature"?
Guess what? It just might be!
Really, no offense at all to your lovely smile or your beautiful eyes. It's just that, you might be as shocked as I was to find that your silver hair grabs a lot of (positive) attention! In fact, if your experience is anything like mine, you will find yourself receiving infinitely more kind compliments and questions on your hair color than you ever have before. Of course, some of the attention can be good and some uncomfortable (like stares), but the point is, re-think the negative connotation to gray. It can actually be one of the most interesting and pretty points about you!
While certainly not everyone finds gray hair on women to be a positive, I will be open with you and say that I never received compliments on my hair before growing out the gray. Now nearly a day does not a day goes by without a random person stopping to say: "I like your hair." Your new color can be your new, most individual and interesting exterior part of you!
It can be fun too. You get to play around with new colors of clothing, make-up and accessories to wear. Your hair can be a conversation starter, or something that says: "I'm an individual!" It's really all about what angle you look at it with. So, re-think the way you think about gray, and you've won half the battle!
2) Find Your Gray Goddess Inspiration!
This is an old, old still from a film of my Grandma Esther. Isn't she glamorous in her white gloves? Grandma Esther is my Gray Goddess inspiration, and you should have one too.
We all need role models, teachers and mentors to learn on and look up to from time to time. People who have been there, done that, lived through the hard parts. People who inspire us! They give us the motivation to keep going and remind us that growing out our gray is possible.
I wish that my Grandma Esther was still here. I'd ask her questions about her own gray hair, and why she chose not to dye it. I'm curious! The story is that my Grandmother, like me, started going gray at a young age, and that she was "salt and pepper," as I am, for as long as my father can remember. In fact, when I was recently watching old 8mm home movies that my Grandpa Harry took in the early sixties, I could see that I even have a similar white-ish streak in the front just like my Grandma!
Once you choose your inspiration, remember to think about them often, especially in the long days, mid-grow out. Just remember, if they can do it, so can you!
To find some inspiration, I recommend Googling "Pretty gray hair on women" or phrases similar to that. There are thousands of pictures at your fingertips. Also, for my readers on Pinterest, that is my personal favorite place to find visual inspiration for gray hair everything!
Who will be your gray goddess?
3) Pick The Right Timing for YOU!
I want you to have the best chance of success, and so should you. That's why, doing a little bit of pre-planning will REALLY pay-off in the end. First you need to ask yourself: "Are there any SUPER important events coming up this year that I need to look my best for?" You must be honest, but also reasonable with yourself. For example, I was asked to chair a very large, formal fundraising auction the year that I had started growing out my gray hair . I knew that I would be up on a stage in front of 350+ people, and because I was also aware that I might have my photo taken for some newspapers or local magazines, I knew for me, this was a deal- breaker. I had to wait until after the auction was over to grow out my hair, so re-colored and decided to wait.
NOW............ there was another time, before even the notion of chairing an auction was on my plate, that I began growing out my gray. I knew that my brother-in-law was getting married in New York several months ahead. OF COURSE I wanted to look my best, especially in the family photographs that will last forever.....BUT.....I needed to ask myself, was this REALLY an event that warranted pushing my growing out back another six months? The honest answer was "No, not really", and I'll tell you why. It wasn't my wedding, and I wasn't going to be, nor should I be, the center of anyone's attention. It wasn't MY day to look my absolute 110% greatest ever. If I had to get creative with camouflaging the gray, I was willing to give it my very best shot. You really need to weigh things out when finding the best timing to jump in. Try to hold back on the worrying, and only delay the growing out process if it's something where you'll truly be in the spotlight. Besides, if I did end up with terrible, terrible hair right before the wedding, I knew I could always re-henna or re-dye and start again after. There are so many things that can stop us from taking the leap. Sometimes holding our nose and hopping in is the best thing to do.
By the way - here's my wedding hair. I think it worked out fine enough, don't you!? Also, at some point after this photo was taken, I went into the lady's room for an instant root touch up, and so can you!
NOW I'LL TEACH YOU YOU HOW............. :)
4) Getting Started - Hiding the dreaded "skunk stripe!"
I'm going to be honest with you. One of the hardest things, maybe the ONLY difficult thing for some people about growing out their gray hair is the dreaded "skunk stripe." The line of demarcation, that ever-widening stripe of white that begins at your roots, and cascades ever so sloooooowly down as the months go by. Here is an example:
Behold, the completely embarrassing "skunk stripe", back when my hair was extra-strange red from years of henna. Do you know how many times this photo has been taken from my site and used in anti-gray hair color ads??? :(
There are two ways to look at the skunk stripe, one positive way, one negative. I suggest the positive.
On the one hand, negatively, the skunk strip is glaring and a force to be reckoned with. It's MUCH more obvious than for the people who's gray grows in strand by random strand. In this sense, skunk stripes are seriously the worst.
On a positive note, although the skunk stripe is a little "In-Your-Face," you'll be over and done with growing your hair out to more consistent color, faster than your friends who only have strands slowly coming in.
Strands or a skunk stripe, both have their pros and cons, and both have a bunch of great ways to ease the transition for you as they grow! If you can have fun and learn some neat ways to lessen the contrasting gray's impact, why not! You'll be much happier and more likely to stick with it while growing out your grays!
Skunky Tip #1. - For a while, it's all about HIDE, HIDE, HIDE!
5) Now What? Half a Head of Gray. Let's Distract and cover!
Ok, I'm going to tell you a great secret about growing out your hair and leaving the dyes, rinses, foams, powders and sticks behind..... THERE ARE FEW THINGS AS LIBERATING AS NOT HAVING TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR HAIR COLOR ANYMORE!
I really really mean this. Once your hair starts to grow out far enough, and using the cover tools is not so much an option, here are a few tactics that helped me with my transition. It was so nice to stop with the chemicals, the perfumed products, the whole mess and hassle.
I'll started with the oddest thing that I did. I guess it does include a tiny bit of root touch-up stick, but not much more. I FULLY ADMIT THE FOLLOWING MIGHT SEEM CRAZY.
There comes a time in every prematurely gray girl's life, when she just wants to look young again. When she feels discouraged, like her hair will never be one color. So, she goes out and buys a......Fall. Yes, a fall, as in, a mini-wig! I'm embarrassed to say this because it seems so extreme, and some people have medical necessities and must wear wigs. I feel badly about that. They're not comfortable. Most people don't choose to wear wigs. I was feeling desperate, I didn't know how to hide my half-a-head of white hair anymore. The stares were getting to me. So, I went to our local beauty supply store, and came across these headbands with synthetic or human hair attached to them. They looked so long and pretty and youthful, and the shop owner took pity on my strange, half white, half dark brown locks, by readily offering up a discount. I came home that day with long, brown hair.....that wasn't mine!
I know this photos doesn't really show much, but I'm wearing the fall here. I tied one of my scarves around the headband part to cover more of my gray hair in the front. Then, using a touch-up stick, I colored any remaining hair brown. A perfect solution? No. Helpful on the hard days? Yes. I know I must have looked odd, especially to those who knew me, but out in public, at least it was a way to avoid some of the surprised stares.
A favorite tactic of mine, that I've used for a long time, is the "half-up" hair do. If you are like me, or like many women, every single hair on your head is probably not going gray at once. This is a good thing, because it helps you look a bit "softer". As the gray roots widen and grow though, it can look a bit harsh at the line of demarcation. One way to visually soften, is by pulling your hair back, off of your face. Play around with your parts, try to figure out where your white is growing in, and how it looks best around your face. I've found that half-up hairdos and hair pulled up to one side, are nice ways to change things around.
Here is a self-admittedly, completely weird picture of myself. I have NO IDEA why I wasn't smiling, but I vaguely recall that I was just taking this photo to remind me of how I did my hair/accessory combo for the future and never intended it as a blog post. Here I used pulling my hair back, PLUS a scarf, to soften and distract.
It's clearly evident that you can't fool people at some point, you have to accept that people will readily know and see that you're growing out your white hair. These tools just that extra ounce of security and confidence. And also, it's fun to play with hairstylist and accessories!
Another thing that you can do is learn to crochet or knit! Then, go crazy and crochet (like me), or knit, a million headbands and hats!
Guys, NEVER under-estimate the power of a hat. If you need to wear a hat for a year, so be it! If that is what it takes to get you through this process, GO YOU! As I've learned to crochet, I've made many a wonky-looking hat, but that's part of the fun. This is what this is all about! It's about YOU becoming comfortable with being UNIQUE YOU! You always have the option of going back to being your old self, the more "blend in with the crowd" self. That's fine! But how nice to carry in your bag of experiences and self-beliefs, that you also like the authentic YOU too.
6) The Big Commitment Option
One thing that I came across time and time again, was that women who were growing out their gray hair were often getting short haircuts! The idea was, if you cropped your hair, there would be less contrast of colors between your dyed color and your new color.
The thought of gray AND short hair, really scared me personally. I liked having longer hair, I worried that wearing a short cut would look bad on me, and make me feel too masculine. So, first I decided to have only my fried ends trimmed off, which ended up giving me an above-the -shoulder bob. It was OK, but still, as the white stripe grew, and the summer sun turned my previously henna coated hair more and more red, I finally gave in. I wanted as much of the contrasting red hair color gone. I went back to the salon for a shorter cut. I couldn't believe it.
I suggest that you arm yourself with lots of pictures of short cuts that you like. Hair styles that you can live with. One of my favorites, that I felt would also work well with my hair's texture was Audrey Tautou's pixie cut.
And while of course I could never come out looking like beautiful Audrey, I have to say it was half-OK. Actually, I surprised myself by LOVING having short hair for a while! It was so easy in the morning, the first time in my life that I have ever been able to wash-and-go. It was also fun and different and individual. I wish that I had taken more pictures of myself with short hair, but alas, I didn't.
I will say though, sometimes when I am tired of all the blow-drying and curling and straightening and fussing with my long hair, I go back and pine for those fun, short-hair days! So if you do decide to cut your hair, enjoy it while it lasts and and even if it's not your favorite, you can count it as an experiment you've tried.
7) Go With It....
After 18 months into my personal adventure of growing out my hair, this was the state of affairs:
I look a little crazed, don't I!? This is me on four days of little sleep and a 5:30am wake-up. Jon had been out of town on a business trip, and I never sleep well when he travels. This morning, he had rolled in on a red-eye flight. I wanted to snap a hair update shot for the blog though.
This is my hair quickly dried straight. I didn't take much time to shape and de-frizz. Making it straight-ish gives you a better idea of where things are. You can see that the white part is quite disconnected from the dark brown. In reality, the contrast is a bit less, but in this photo it's pretty glaring. I could simply chop off my dark ends and be done with it, but I haven't because I really wanted some length after having short hair for such a long time. My gray extends into the dark brown (but it's difficult to see here), and when I pull my hair half-back, it actually looks fairly uniform. Phew!
I'm not a fan of these harsh layers, but they are remnants of the pixie cut. Something else to grow out....
Maybe I'll have another cut soon, maybe I won't.
The point of #7. is thatsometimes you just have to go with it. I know that this is one area of my life that I don't have much control over. I know that peripherally I can try to make things go my way. For the most part though, this is a mini-practice in going with the flow, something that many of us can always work at. Take this whole thing as a learning experience, an adventure. I know that I am. 💖
Ok my silver sisters! Now it's YOUR turn to go at it! If this is something that you REALLY want, if you feel READY and that it's RIGHT for you.......then by all means, YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm here to back you all the way, and to cheer you on! \(^-^)/
Thank you for taking the time to read these little tips. I hope that some of them can help to make a difference for you as you go along. One of our BIGGEST and BEST tools for success, in anything that we do, is the connection that we have with each other. So always remember that, you're not alone in this journey!
With Lots of Love,