Tips on how to take the leap and go grey

grey hair

Are you thinking about letting your hair grow it’s natural colour…grey? Are you ready to take the leap? Whether you’re cutting, colouring, or letting your silvers come in naturally, has the ultimate how-to-go-grey guide will help ease the transition.

1. Face your fears.

Going grey is big decision, and many, if not most, women freely admit they’re afraid of looking old, or that people will treat them differently because of their salt-and-pepper tresses. Some will even confess to seeing it as the first step towards mortality. Needless to say, this must change. “There has always been a fascination with youth and preserving youth,” says Grace Ilasco, co-owner of the Color Lounge, in Burbank, California. “We need to change that by highlighting natural beauty, and that includes accepting the natural process of our greying hair.”

If that doesn’t quite cut it, consider this: Grey hair is actually on trend right now. “[Young women] look up to new characters like Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones and Storm from X-Men, who sport silver and grey hair as if it was a mystical creation of some powers,” says Ilasco. “You might as well jump on the bandwagon.”

2. Discuss options with your hairdresser.

“When going grey, you have to first think about if you want to keep the grey, blend it, or cover it up completely,” says Stephanie Johnson, a Dallas-based hairstylist and beauty educator who runs It’s a good idea to bring your stylist into the dialogue early, since he or she can work with you to find a shade, cut, and method that you’re comfortable with. “That desired-result conversation is most important,” she says. “We have so many ways that we can make the transition an easier one. Be willing to talk with a pro about all of the options out there.”

3. Consider one big chop (or two or three smaller ones).



If you’ve never dyed your hair, you’re in luck—you don’t have to grow out your roots. If you do dye your hair, you pretty much have two choices for going grey: colouring or haircuts. Haircuts can go one of two ways says AJ Lordet, Senior Colorist at Pierre Michel Salon in New York City:

  • “Cut your hair as often as possible to remove the old dye from the ends.”
  • “Grow the grey roots long enough and get a short haircut so you can go directly to grey hair that way.”

The advantage to cutting versus coloring? “No real prepping is needed,” she says, “[but] prepare for the tortuous roots that never seem to grow.” Note that long, severe roots may not be fantastic for business environments, either.

4. Pick a modern haircut based on your look and lifestyle.

However you choose to transition, you should keep your haircut fairly up-to-date, to both complement your new hue and keep you from looking elderly—a real negative of old-fashioned silver styles. Take it from iconic grey lady Jamie Lee Curtis, who told Marie Claire: “My stylist keeps my cut edgy and contemporary—otherwise I can go Bea Arthur very quickly.”

While we’d love to suggest a grey ‘do that looks great on one and all, it simply doesn’t exist. “There is no one haircut for everyone,” says Ilasco. “A style that will suit you is determined by your face shape, hair texture, density, personality, and style.”

So, before you hit the salon, do a little research. “Look in magazines or online for pictures of styles that you love,” suggests Marian Rothschild, a Certified Personal Image Consultant and the author of style handbook Look Good Now and Always. “Bring them to your hairstylist and ask if that style will work for your hair.”

5. Hit the salon.

Instead of chopping their dyed locks off, some women decide on a professional color job when switching to grey. The main drawback: It can be pricier than other options. The main benefit: It can look amazing. (See photo.)

And the process? At Ilasco’s Color Lounge salon, “We try to replicate the dark hairs by depositing dark grey or almost-black hair colour on them while lifting the other hairs to a pale blonde—almost white—depending on the integrity of the hair. We do this while following the natural growth pattern of your hair. Sometimes, we make new patterns to add style, depth, or highlight the hair in ways that suite to be more flattering to the client.”

As for the time it takes: “We can transition clients to grey in one day,” says Ilasco. “However, you can opt to do it in sessions or several processes. This saves the client from having to live through the grow-out of her hair colour and from having to cut her hair very short to [get rid of] coloured hairs.”

Whatever you do…

6. Skip the boxed dyes.

If you’re tempted to save a bundle by using home colouring kits, step back and run—don’t walk—to the exit. “I plead with people daily to leave the chemicals to the professional,” says Johnson. “[I’ve] had to fix many ladies who try to go the budget route. This is a journey left to the pros who are passionate about hair.”

And while not many home colours are great for your hair, she cautions against one type of product in particular, even for men: “Avoid gradual grey coverage dyes. [They’re] awful for your hair and, when you want to fix the problems that it can bring into your life, professional grade products (or even your own hard water) can cause reactions that leave you with no hair.”

7. Choose hair care products wisely.



“Hair colour has to be maintained and can turn colours overtime from exposure to the environment,” says Ilasco. Light grey and silver hair, in particular, is prone to yellowing and brassiness. “Once the [colouring] process is done, clients will need to maintain their grey/silver hair colour with purple shampoo, conditioner, and sometimes purple rinses,” she says. Popular products include Pantene Silver Expressions Shampoo and Klorene Silver Highlights Shampoo.

“If you don’t colour your hair and you feel your grey isn’t a ‘pretty’ grey,” says Dallas stylist Johnson, “you can get a violet shampoo—a shampoo or conditioner that is tinted with a violet blue colour like Blue Malva by Aveda or Pure Light by Pravana—to counteract any yellowing your lighter pieces may be doing. It makes it more silver in tone.”

8. Fight the frizz.

The #1 problem with grey hair? Dryness. Whether you’re still colouring or you switched to your natural hue, keeping your locks nourished should take priority over all. “Moisturising and sulfate-free hair care is a big thing here because grey hair is more coarse and dry,” says Johnson. “If you’re colouring it, it’s going to be even [drier], so invest in quality products.”

Whatever you do: “Get rid of frizz,” says Ilasco. “This is the one [quality] that can make your hair look old, regardless if you have gray or not. Use anti-frizz products, blow dry your hair, curl your hair, style your hair … a keratin treatment, anything to get rid of that unwanted frizz. A sleek style is classy and goes a long way.” For a good example of frizz management, check out the transitioning style of singer/songwriter Carole King (pictured), whose curly hair has been prone to flyaways over the years.

9. Recalibrate your makeup.

Unless you’re one of the lucky souls with strong, defined facial features, “now that your hair is grey—basically colourless—you must compensate for colour in other ways,” says Ilasco. “Wear make up. It doesn’t have to be the whole shebang, but a little bit of lip or cheek color doesn’t hurt.”

Think of it as an opportunity to play with your look, says image consultant Rothschild. “Now is the time to wear a bright, bold lip color,” she says. “Your face will need more accent around the eyes, and definitely a deep pink or bluish-red lip to stay looking feminine, vital and energetic.”

10. Revamp your clothes.

Another big drawback to silver locks: If you’re not careful, your wardrobe can make you look washed out. “Wear some colour in your clothes whether it be your top or your bottom, but don’t wear grey or black unless you are going to spice it up,” says Ilasco.

So, if black, white, charcoal, or heather are your fallback fashion hues, switch to cool and jewel tones. “Look for blue-greys, lavender, and periwinkle for tops and accessories,” suggests image consultant Rothschild. Be aware of your jewellery, too: “Your metal colour will definitely now be silver rather than yellow gold or rose gold.”

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Alana Lowes
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