Today I want to tackle a subject that many of you in your 40’s and beyond are probably dealing with…grey hair. Premature grey runs in my family. My mother and grandmother both had grey hair at an early age (late 20’s and 30’s). I started to notice the greys in my early 30’s, though they were not prominent enough to cover up. Now at 52, some areas of my hair are almost entirely grey! Embracing grey hair is not something I thought I would ever do, but I recently re-thought the whole idea.
As the author of a style blog, I’m obviously a girl who likes to look her best and aging gracefully is a top priority. I am learning, however, that in midlife it is best to reassess all aspects of my physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing on a regular basis.
What used to work in my 30’s and 40’s may not be the best option in my 50’s. There are no absolutes and I once swore I would never have grey hair! I no longer say “never” to things, but instead just think about what works best for me in this current stage of life.
So the most practical reason as to why would I embrace grey hair is because it seems like the most reasonable and possibly flattering option. Yes, grey hair can be quite flattering! Also as I have matured the dark brunette seemed a little harsh on me.
My grandmother was proof. She had beautiful cool toned silver hair and never looked her age. People would always comment on how youthful she was. My mom is the same and looks much younger than she actually is. The photo above was taken at my sister’s wedding back in 2016. My grandmother is on the end and my mom next to her.
When I was younger, I changed my hair all the time. If I was having a bad mental day, surely a new haircut would make everything better! I learned the hard way that was not always the case. I thought it might be entertaining to take a look at how I got to where I am now with the evolution of my hair. Don’t laugh too hard!
The problem with being a brunette (my natural shade before grey) and going grey is the transition. Some women go cold turkey and just stop coloring their roots. This pathway requires either being okay with several inches of two toned hair or cutting your hair very short and basically starting over.
Personally, I would not be happy with either one of those scenarios so I had to think it through a little more. With the help of a professional colorist/stylist, we came up with a plan that I think might work for me.
Notice I say, “might”. This is a journey…a step by step process and if I don’t like it or need to alter the plan that’s okay! Never feel locked into a commitment of embracing grey hair. There is no fail if you decide grey is not for you.
The photo above (courtesy of Pinterest) is one of many that I showed my stylist so she could get a visual on what I was going for.
So, after looking at some photos and discussing the options, my stylist and I came up with a plan.
This would need to happen in several stages to avoid the catastrophe that I experienced several years ago with the damaged and broken hair.
Back in February, step 1 was completed. The photo above was taken after I left the salon. She applied highlights to my whole head, a lighter base color to cover greys, and a toner to correct as much brassiness as possible.
As the hair lifts from darker to lighter levels, you must go through the red/orange stage. Even with a toner, my hair is still too warm. This is part of the process and I have to be patient.
Last week my stylist repeated the same process from step 1. The only difference is she used a lighter and semi-permanent base color. She instructed me not to cover my roots at home if at all possible! This will not advance the process. She did say I could use a temporary root cover spray and I like this one.
This is how my hair looks now, and as you can see it is several shades lighter. I’m using a deep conditioner and blue/purple toning shampoos as well. It is still a little brassy, but we are making progress!
The next step will be another full head of highlights and more toning. My next appointment is in about 8 weeks. I will keep an eye on the health of my hair and I can always extend the next appointment if I feel my hair needs to rest a while longer.
At this point, it’s too soon to know how many more highlighting sessions I will need. Probably one or two. The key is low and slow to keep the hair as healthy as possible.
Once my hair is light enough to tone to an ashy cool blonde, it should blend much easier with the natural grey hair. At this point I can decide how much blending the grey needs with highlights or low lights.
I can stay here for as long as I want, or stop coloring all together and embrace the grey completely. Who knows what I will do, but I’m excited to see where this journey leads.
If you are local to the Canton, Woodstock, or North Atlanta area, my stylist is Rachel Durham at Rachel’s Hair Salon. You can find her over on Instagram. She has been fabulous to work with and she really knows what she is doing!
If you think this might be a process that would work for embracing your grey hair, I highly recommend finding a talented color specialist. Don’t try to do this at home yourself or you may end up with damaged hair, and trust me…that’s no fun. Pay for the process now and then you will be potentially free from hair coloring for years to come.
Embracing grey hair is a highly individual decision. If you choose to go the blonde route, there are some products you may want to consider to keep your hair healthy and toned to minimize warm brassy tones.
If you don’t have a wet brush, I would recommend getting one. Lightened hair is more prone to breakage and a wet brush is more gentle on your hair.
Use heat tools with adjustable heat settings. Of course no heat styling at all is optimal, but in my case that’s not realistic. Use a blow dryer or other heat styling tools on low heat (no more than 350 degress. I like the T3 blow dryer and the T3 curling iron. Also the new Revlon One Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer has adjustable heat settings.
My stylist told me to use a hair mask every time I wash my hair. I like this one by Amika.
Wash your hair as little as possible. I’m really enjoying the Madison Reed line of shampoos, conditioners, and toners. I have linked some favorites down below.
Speaking of toners, you will want to use a blue shampoo to tone brunette hair, and purple to tone blonde hair. Here are some of my favorites.
Highlighted hair will be more porous and dry. Using a hair oil like this one – particularly on the ends is helpful.
If you are considering embracing your grey hair, I hope you found this post helpful. I will keep you updated on my progress!