You’re looking in the mirror. You see it. There’s no denying it. Your hair is going gray. Alas, what to do, what to do. When is the right time to go all gray or stay on the tinting train? And once you do go gray, how in the world do you keep your hair healthy? Stop stressing and relax… I will help you over this hurdle of hairy questions.
Let me just say one thing first: If you are a lover of coloring your hair, then color it! Enjoy the various shades that are available and stop thinking that just because you’ve reached a certain [arbitrary] age, that you need to stop coloring. If you love your colored tresses, then love it, unashamed! The shades you choose as you age can be discussed with your stylist to ensure your look remains contemporary and complimentary to your skin tone.
That being said, if you have made the decision to embrace your gray, your natural amount of gray should be about 60% of your total hair color. Because the objective here is to gray gracefully, you want to make sure as the gray grows out it is evenly proportioned to the rest of your hair and thus more natural looking.
But what about that awkward growing-out root thing? You can work through this stage by choosing a new stylish and shorter (ideally above the shoulders) hair style with lots of layers. Layers without a defined part, will help camouflage the gray root grow-out. To create an even more graceful transition, ask your stylist to give you highlights with some lowlights over the top and crown of your head during this growing out stage to help blur that line between your natural grow-out and the remaining color in your locks.
Now be patient and diligent in getting your hair trimmed (only a scant 1/2″ each time) every 6 to 8 weeks to slowly cut off that color and to keep your ends healthy as the gray reached the ends of your layers.
Fast forward 6 to 9 months: Now that you have made it to your all-natural, all-over gray goal, how are you to care for it? As it will become apparent, your naturally gray hair cannot hold up to the way you used to care for your pigmented hair. When you lose melanin (the natural pigment in your hair) the hair strand becomes more brittle and vulnerable to breakage. The result is quite often a look of dull, course and/or wiry hair. That is because the cuticle layer of the hair shaft becomes thinner and the strand drier. Now just hang on. Before you start thinking you’ve created yet another challenge for yourself when all you wanted was less burden, not to worry – all is not lost! The key word to save your silver locks: Moisture.
Because your gray hair is now susceptible to moisture loss, you must do all you can to replenish moisture! Whatever your cleansing habit was before, you should really now move to an every-other-day shampooing routine. Making sure the shampoo you are using has the word, “moisturizing” or “hydrating” on its labeling. No question about it, using a moisturizing conditioner each time you shampoo is equally important! In fact, it’s so important, you should really be including a deep moisturizing treatment once a week to ensure you are giving your gray the maximum amount of hydration it requires on a regular basis to keep it feeling soft and its look sleek and shiny.
Know the environment is brutal on all hair, but especially harsh on gray and white hair. Pollutants in the air, the sun’s UV rays and smoke can discolor gray hair. Leaving it dull with yellowish tones. To counteract this discoloration, once a month be sure to shampoo with a toned shampoo – often called a “purple shampoo”– to tone down the yellow appearance in your silver. Experiment with this toned shampoo when you first get it by mixing some of it with your moisturizing shampoo, until you find the right ratio to get the end results you desire. (If you put too much toned shampoo in your hair, just shampoo with a clarifying shampoo the next few times to pull out what you don’t want.) Remember when choosing your hydrating shampoo and conditioner, choose one that has UV protection in its formula.
Alcohol in your styling products is an absolute No-No when you go gray. Read the labels to make sure your volumizer, mousse, thermal protectant and hairspray has NO alcohol. Otherwise its like you are taking one step forward with moisturizing and two steps back with the drying effect of alcohol!
And finally, remember to keep a contemporary style when sporting gray. (Just because you choose to go gray, does not mean you must choose to look older than you feel!) Get your hair trimmed every 4 to 6 weeks to keep split ends and breakage under control. Note that smooth styles help light reflect on your silver strands and shiny hair means healthy-looking hair.
So that is the black and white of going gray. Keep these pointers in mind and you too will enjoy your natural beauty.
Until next time, remember to take care of you.