For the last decade, I have been dying my hair to cover my multiplying grey hairs. Last year, I decided to stop, and embrace my grey hair. So I determined to align with my holistic, organic approach to my lifestyle and quit dousing my scalp in chemicals twice a month.
I wanted to rock my greys with the elegant cool chic effortlessness of Sarah Harris and filled my Pinterest feed with gorgeous women flaunting their platinum manes.
It was a disaster!
I made a few mistakes. Upon reflection, I went about it all the wrong way and my approach was expensive, and certainly didn’t result in the silver-foxy outcome I had in mind.
But now, I think I am on the right track. So I wanted to share my lessons learned and help you if you are considering embracing your silver strands.
Go grey gradually
My biggest mistake was trying to rush the process, and my hair ended up an utter mess as a result. It has taken almost a year to remedy the hasty damage I did to my locks.
As I mentioned, I had been dying my long hair chestnut brown for over a decade. In recent years, this regimen had to be increased to fortnightly applications as my re-growth became so decidedly grey, I developed a “skunk-stripe” of silver at the roots. My hair was drenched in a decade’s worth of box-dyed pigment. Turns out, it doesn’t shift so easily.
Armed with an aspirational picture from Pinterest (above), I was on a mission to find the stylist who could make it happen. One hairstylist flat-out refused to even attempt my grey hairstyle, which was my first red flag!
The stylist who took me on bleached my entire head of hair, turning it orange and leaving me with hair that had an awful crunchy-dry-texture. The grey colour she tried to layer over the top didn’t take and I walked out of the salon almost 6 hours later, $260 poorer with a hairstyle that resembled Yahoo Serious.
Nope, don’t have a photo to share. It was that bad, certainly not Pinterest worthy!
But, the worst is, I went back a fortnight later. My stylist, convinced she could remedy the situation, bleached my hair a second time. And again, the grey silver colour she tried to apply didn’t take.
She assured me that purple shampoo was the solution to turning my now straw-yellow hair a lustrous shade of silver. Three hours, $150 dollars later, and with $80 worth of purple shampoo and conditioner in tow, I left the salon.
Perhaps I embraced it a little too enthusiastically because my hair turned a shocking shade of violet and then dulled to a brillo-pad colour and texture.
I’m not a vain person, but I admit my self-esteem took a battering! I looked downright awful but felt worse about the good money I had wasted to look so!
At this point, I made some better decisions and began to turn it around.
Find a silver-hair Sherpa!
I stalked hair salons until I found a hairstylist who had beautiful silver hair.
She listened while I explained my hair goals and she was able to fix some of the damage. More importantly, she helped me understand how to best transition to silver and how to maintain it.
She even offered up her hair for me run my fingers through, (yes, a little weird) which was lovely and silky, rather than the scratchy thatch I was sporting on my head! My confidence was restored. With a Iittle time and patience, could have the silver hair I wanted.
If you have long hair, consider a cut first.
My hair was long, and I wanted to keep it that way. But thanks to the bleaching damage, it was a terrible texture and I had a lot of breakages. I was using hydrating masks and moisturising treatments regularly, no avail. My silver-hair Sherpa salvaged what she could, but I had a dramatic cut to remove the hair that was just too damaged.
Regular trims to take off the bleached bits helped to keep it tidy. Fortunately for me, my hair grows fast and it was a relief to grow back my natural, strong healthy hair.
Silver hair Sherpa suggested some micro-foils to blend in some silver streaks, but since I hadn’t seen my own hair in ten years, I wanted to see what I had first!
Today, almost a year later, not much of the bleached bits remain and for the first time in a decade, I am wearing my natural hair colour. I’m glad I didn’t do the streaks.
I like my hair a little shorter. Because my hair is so thick, I have always had layered cuts, but these make my grey hair look unruly and add extra frizziness. So right now, I am sporting a blunt-cut longish bob and will start growing it longer.
I wish I could pull off a pixie cut. My mother-in-law rocks her much shorter hair.
But when I was 10 I had my hair cut short and was mistaken for a boy more times than I care to remember and haven’t worn it that short since.
Yes, I know that was 30 years ago. Still fresh.
Polish your silver mane!
My hair is thick, but my greys come in coarse and can be unruly. Grey hair has no melanin so if you have been using the same products forever, embracing your greys means you will probably need to go for a more moisturising regime.
Yet perhaps ironically, my usual castor and argan oil serum felt too heavy for my grey strands and seemed to dull my silver sparkle.
My grey hairs are frizzier than my brown hairs but I have discovered that my Witchhazel, Aloe and Rose Facial Spray is also great through my hair! It is not heavy or oily, but moisturises without adding weight and keeps my fly-aways in check.
I use a moisturising hair mask about once a month. Oily masks feel too heavy and leave my hair limp, so I simply slather my hair in Coconut Yoghurt with a few drops of lavender oil and relax for about 20 minutes before washing it out.
Lastly, I use purple shampoo and conditioner once a week. My favourite is Glow Lab purple shampoo and conditioner not sponsored, just recommended! I buy it at my local supermarket for a reasonable price. It takes the brassy yellow tones from my hair, to make it look shiny and less tarnished.
If you are new to purple shampoo, try a mixing equal parts with your usual shampoo when you start in case you have a violet-hued Dame Edna Experience, not the good kind!
Update your look
I was not prepared for the change in my tone and look when I went grey. My style was earthy tones and gold accessories, and with grey hair, those colours just don’t suit me anymore!
I have transitioned to white gold and silver, and have switched to pinker tones for my makeup. Black, navy, blue and jewel colours look great with silver hair. Pastels still make me look ill!
Be ready for comments
Personally, I have a rule about commenting on people’s appearance. I don’t. If someone’s shape, taste or style doesn’t match my aesthetic, I certainly don’t take it personally much less mention it.
A friend of mine swears by the rule that if they can’t fix the problem in 5 minutes, don’t speak to it. She’ll tell you you have spinach in your teeth, but won’t comment on the 5 kilos of weight you put on over winter. Bless her.
Most people are lovely and kind and thoughtful of your feelings, yet other people? Not so much.
And sometimes brutally, they may be closer than you might think.
Going grey can be confronting for partners, parents, siblings and friends as it is a clear sign of growing older and not everyone is comfortable with that fact! So if you cop a snide remark, my recommendation is to let it slide, understanding it is much more about the insecurity of the person slinging the insult than it is actually about you.
Have a healthy perspective
I decided to channel my inner-Gandalf and see my greys as a representation of a transition to greater personal power and wisdom.
For all the fuss people make about growing older and aging, I can’t help but think of the few friends who didn’t get the chance and left us far too early. Wear your greys with triumph and gratitude!
Have you been thinking of ditching the dye? What’s holding you back? Please leave a comment, I love to hear from you!