How to Go Gray When You're Naturally Blonde, According to a Colorist

Thinking about ditching the dye and letting your grays shine? Great, we’re here to guide you through the process so the transition goes smoothly.

While there are some universal rules to going gray that apply to all hair colors, there are some specifics to take into consideration depending on your natural hue. For our natural blondes out there, Luis Pacheco, a celebrity hair colorist and founder of TO112, will share his best tips for going gray ahead. (Don’t worry, brunettes and redheads, we’ll get to you, too!)

How do you make the transition between being blonde and going gray?

“Transitioning to gray hair requires a unique coloring process, which is why I advise seeing an experienced colorist who can take the time to explore your natural color pattern with you,” says Pacheco. “For starters, the roots need to be long enough to determine the ratio of white to dark pigment in your incoming grays. From there, you can add platinum white and pewter gray highlights accordingly to get that perfect balance of salt and pepper that looks natural.”

Should you get highlights or lowlights to blend things in for a while? If so, how do you know which one to ask for?

“If you don’t want to wait for nature to take its course and let your roots come in, adding highlights and lowlights can speed up the whole process of going gray,” explains Pacheco. “Your colorist will typically add lowlights to match the natural dark patterns of the grays and highlights in a platinum shade to match the white parts, so you get a nice blend of color that’s not flat.”

What about a gloss? Will that help at all?

“Most people who color their grays have their roots done every four to six weeks. During the growing out process, you can use a similar timeframe to get a gloss instead. This will keep the overall tone of your hair cool and blended until your natural grays dominate your previous blonde,” explains Pacheco. And if you’ve had lowlights added, getting a gloss semi-regularly will help bring them back to their original color since they tend to fade over time. (Your strands will look shinier as well.)

How should I care for my grays at home?

Gray hair is naturally coarser. “This is because it's lost the collagen and keratin that once made your hair smoother and more elastic. Adding conditioning treatments to your routine is a must to keep your natural grays smooth and soft,” advises Pachecho. “Like aging skin, you want to make sure to moisturize and support your hair, so it will look its best,” he adds.

Once you’ve gone fully gray, you can try a keratin treatment if you’re concerned with frizz. “It’s a great way to infuse gray hair with the lost keratin that comes with age,” says Pachecho. And some good news for our blondes with curly or textured hair: “Textured hair is actually ideal when making the transition to gray hair because it blends better as you grow it out.”

Do I need to use a purple shampoo?

Yes, but you need to be careful when selecting a purple or blue shampoo. “Purple corrects yellow tones and blue corrects orange tones, so you must take that into account when choosing and use them accordingly,” warns Pachecho. And you don’t want to overdo it either. “Use a purple or blue shampoo only when the lowlights start to fade and reveal a more yellow or orange tone.”

Are there any haircuts or styling tips to keep in mind when you're going gray?

“Cuts are more of a face shape and personal style driven decision. However, taking a more modern or of-the-moment approach to your cut and style can help balance the aging stigma of having gray hair. Think along the lines of layers and more textured styles that will help disguise the grow-out as your full natural gray comes in,” advises Pachecho. The easiest way to do this at home is to dust off your trusty curling iron. “Now is the time to explore a wave or curl in your style vs a flat, sleek style,” he adds.

OK, last question: Is there anything to steer clear of when making a transition to gray hair?

“There are two things to steer clear of when making the transition to gray: Avoid the at-home color aisle. Trust me, this will only make the grow out process more complicated in the long run. The second most important thing to avoid is other people’s opinions. Going gray is a personal choice, so be empowered by your own decisions. Other people may try to convince you otherwise, saying you’ll ‘look old’ or ‘aged,’ but it’s beautiful and empowering to embrace your natural beauty,” shares Pachecho. To which we say, cheers.

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Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...