How to Really Pull Off Going Gray, According to Top Colorists
OK, you've decided: It’s time to embrace your grays. You’re over the pricey monthly trips to the salon, and that growing white line down your part only seems to get thicker by the day. You’re in good company, too, as more women are letting their roots come in (and others like Kim Kardashian are purposefully dying their strands silver). And since going gray isn’t a one-step process, we enlisted the help of top colorists for tips on how to ease the transition.
Prepare to Commit to a Year-long Journey
Unlike women who go from dark brown to platinum after one trip to the salon, going naturally gray takes time—and a lot of patience. “If you get six months into the transformation and then have a big event, you have to just suck it up and not color your hair,” says Kali Ferrara, senior colorist at Roy Teeluck Salon in New York City. This might not be easy, especially if you’ve been dyeing your hair your whole life, but it will save you time, money and effort in the future.
Consult Your Colorist About a Plan
Depending on the condition of your hair and previous color, your transition to gray may take several processes. “Removing past dye without causing damage is a science,” says Christine Thompson, celebrity colorist and co-owner of Spoke & Weal in New York City. Which is why it’s extremely important to be honest about anything you’ve had done (like perms, highlights and even keratin treatments) previously.
This may feel strange, especially if you’ve been rocking jet black for the last decade, but most colorists agree that adding highlights is the best way to hide roots while you prep for the transition. “Gray is closer to blonde so the lighter your hair is, the better it will blend with any incoming hairs,” explains Thompson. Don’t go rogue and try this at home. Seek the help of a professional who can steer you toward the right hues.
Wait Two Months Before Your Next Trip to the Salon
By this point you should have about one or two inches of gray root, so the next step is to further blend them with the rest of your hair by adding more color. “Your colorist will now be able to add in more highlights along with a demi-permanent base color, which will pigment the strands without penetrating the cuticle,” says Ferrara.
Fake It 'Til You Make It
There are a lot of great products out there that temporarily hide your roots. “These pigmented sprays and powders mask new growth immediately and wash out easily with shampoo,” Thompson explains. “They’re good for when you’re in between salon visits and in the earlier stages of going gray, as they are not necessarily meant to be applied several inches down the hair shaft.”
Just Let It Be
Still sound like too much upkeep? You have another option: Just let your hair grow out instead. This is definitely the cheapest and easiest option, but the hardest for people to bear. Ferrara’s best advice for folks going down this route is to use a blue or violet shampoo to keep the ends looking a little more ashy and the natural grays not too yellow. Add a weekly conditioning treatment to the mix to keep things smooth and more manageable in the process.