In the beginning, of my transition to gray hair I scoured the internet, Pinterest, and Facebook looking for women who had posted about their full transition to gray hair. At that time, there really wasn’t much out there. I loaded boards up on Pinterest of gray haired beauties like Yazemeenah, Cindy Joseph, Linda Rodin, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
If you are anything like me, you have a lot of questions about how to begin this gray hair journey.
How long does transitioning from dyed hair to gray hair take?
On average, for mid length to long hair ‘cold turkey’ grow-out, it takes about 20 months. If you choose to go short, you can cut that time down tremendously. From there if you choose to use the help of a Supportive Stylist, it will depend on the processes you choose for your comfort zone.
How do I transition from dyed hair to my natural gray hair?
You have many options from highlights and low-lights to pixie cuts. You can read a more complete list on that on the blog post: How Do You Transition from Dyed Hair to Your Natural Grey Hair
What does the full transition to gray hair look like?
This question is one many have and need an answer to that is a visual representation so they can see what start to finish looks like. Several of my silver sisters, who have been through the full transition, graciously offered up their transition collages so you could see.
I asked each of these glorious women to offer up any Words of Wisdom on going gray; they all had their own unique and silvery advice. Enjoy!
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For my 40th birthday I decided to go grey. I had been coloring my hair every 3 weeks for over a decade. It was a vicious and messy cycle. I knew at some point I would have to do “the big chop” so I started with it. 3 years ago I did what many of my friends thought was crazy and foolish. In those 3 years, I’ve learned that nothing about who I am has changed. I’m still sexy, funny, powerful, and most of all I’m still me.
I believe if one knows themselves, has self-confidence, it makes the transition easier when outside noise tries to interfere. Now, that’s the key, am I right? Not everyone has self-confidence, but it is attainable to us all.
For example, I have self-confidence *most* of the time, but that wasn’t always true.
I was taught from the very beginning of my life that I was a “nobody.” “Won’t amount to shit!” “Dumb!” “Stupid!” I believed those things, so doors were left open for even worse abuses to come my way.
Now, I’m not telling you this looking for sympathy, I tell you this because somewhere along my journey through this rollercoaster of life I felt that what I’d been taught all those years ago just couldn’t be true. I could feeeeeel that I wasn’t “that girl.” I went on a great adventure to find myself. When I finally found ME, I was both confused and ecstatic! Confused because I wasn’t “that girl” at all! And ecstatic because I wasn’t “that girl at all!”
I started to build my own self-worth, my own self-confidence, based on the person I found out I was. I started meditating, reprogramming my brain by giving myself daily affirmations, helping others in ways I’d never thought of before, reading more and more and more!
I filled my head with knowledge and my heart with self-love.
And it changed my life!!!
My point in all this is, this “hair journey” can be about more than hair. In fact, it IS about more than hair, and if you’ve not found your confidence or self-worth or don’t fully know who you are yet, take this time as you grow out your natural locks to also explore who you are. Who you want to be, and what you want to put out into this universe. I promise you, once you know those things, the negativity of the world may still sting sometimes, but it can’t break you.
Head up darlings, or your crown slips. 👑
I stopped dyeing my hair in September 2017, after thinking about it for several years. Once I started, I found it very exciting to see my natural colors emerge. It took me 9 months to be done with several big chops. The last picture is at 17 months dye free. I love my shiny, healthy, one of a kind hair now!~Sheryl T.
Veronica’s Silver Hair Transition [before and after photos] Why I stopped dyeing my hair
This became so much more than a journey about hair! It became and is about…discovery, patience, courage, confidence, personal connections, and loving friendships made near and far!
Once upon a time, I swore I would dye ‘till I died. What changed? A light-bulb moment! One evening, I was on FB, and a page popped up, Going Gray, Looking Great. So many gorgeous greys!
It was literally; WTF am I doing??!! And that was it. I was done! Truly the most liberating thing I have ever done. Be prepared to take more selfies than you have ever done! Honestly, it’s a thing! 5 years dye free and happy to be me.
I started growing out my gray at age 44. I’d developed an allergic reaction to dye after dyeing it every 2.5 to 3 weeks for countless years. I knew I was ready and I did it ‘cold turkey’. I patiently waited for it to grow, while keeping the overall length. It took me 20 months, and I was done just before my 46th birthday. I have absolutely no regrets. I can honestly say that I LOVE my gray hair, and that’s something I never said when it was dyed.
Words of wisdom…OWN it! Rock it! And don’t give a f#ck what other people think.
If I were going to give words of wisdom, I’d say to wrap your brain around WHY you want to do this. Hair is much more than just hair. Ask anyone who lost it from cancer treatment or who was losing it in handfuls from autoimmune disorders. Gray hair is just a color. We’ve been conditioned and brainwashed to believe that the gray looks ‘old’, ‘bad’, ‘witchy’, or ‘unprofessional’ so that we’ll be either buying box dye each month or so that we visit our stylists. Research the ways to do this ‘transition’ and learn as much about each of them as you can. If getting it cut short or if you use chemicals on it, research and research to find the right stylist to help you. There is nothing as discouraging as putting your trust in the wrong person.
If growing out the dye is something you want to do, I’d make sure your current dye color is close to your actual hair color and make sure it has little or no ‘red tones’. Take a few months to be prepared physically and mentally. It’s all about faking it until you make it. Have you ever been somewhere that you were not supposed to be? If you have, you know that if you look insecure or nervous or out of place, someone will ask you what you are doing. However, if you walk along as if you OWN the place, people will not even think twice to question you being there. This is ALL about confidence. Take a few months to get your confidence at the level that will deter those who want to tell you that you’re insane, that gray will age you, that this ‘just isn’t done’. Do not ASK anyone what they think. Instead, TELL them what you are doing and gush about how excited you are. Make sure you feel strong enough to deter the most negative comments. I’m hardheaded, so when I make up my mind to do something, it’s going to happen. I was just SOOOO done with the cycle that I did not want to prolong it another day. Use Pinterest to create gray boards of women whose hair you admire. Look at the different Facebook groups (Instagram too) and do whatever you need to work up the enthusiasm to get you through. To grow out my hair, I stopped dyeing in July 2014, and the last of my dye was cut off in January 2016. My only regret is that I didn’t stop dyeing it sooner. In my collage, you can see that I tended to straighten my ‘frizzy’ wavy hair. My hair was actually curlier than I knew, but years of dye had damaged my hair. Once I stopped dyeing my hair, it became healthy and curly.
It happened 6 years ago, I was 42. A decision was made. I was ready to take the plunge. I was tired of covering up. I was longing to be what I was meant to be, both inside and out. The cry for authenticity came from deep within. I strongly felt like shedding everything that wasn’t truly me.
I had always had long dark hair, and I was so desperate to keep it that way. The truth was that the dark brown had turned grey a long time ago, it started turning gray in my late teens. It felt ridiculous to continue another 20 years of dye.
I had 7 children, and the oldest 3 were in their late teens.
Obviously, time has passed, I’ve grown older and wiser and I’ve earned a crown of glory that had been dyed over, time and time again.
How sad that instead of celebrating what time has done in our lives, instead of appreciating the beauty that can only be earned by time, we try to stay stuck in the past, in our youth. Was I happier then? Was I more beautiful then? Would I want to go back there? No, no, and no.
I had an epiphany. Why in the world do I want to look like I’m in my twenties?
I’m not. I’m still young looking, but I’m in my forties now. Why would I not want to look my age? What is so bad about that? I felt rebellious. I felt like I want to rebel against anything that inauthentic.
Long story short, I went to my stylist and I explained to her that I would like to stop dyeing my hair and I’d like to grow my greys out.
She was awesome and very helpful. We decided on a bob that was chin length. She lifted the dark hair colour in three appointments, and after that, we regularly trimmed the fake colour off to get to my real hair.
While removing the old dye made the skunk line not so visible, it did drag out the process. I was sooo impatient, I just couldn’t wait to see the real me. It felt like it was going to take forever and I was never going to get there. But I did. It took about 2 years and I was fully transitioned. It was absolutely thrilling. I felt so free!
In the grocery store, I just love to pass the aisle with the hair dyes, and feel so thrilled I am done spending my time and money looking for the perfect colour every 2 or 3 weeks. I had the perfect colour all along.
At first, I started to get the stares. I had people walking up to me, asking me if my hair was real. I had women coming up to me asking me who my stylist was because they wanted the same unique colour. I live in a very small town in Montana, and now that a few years have passed, I see women my age that stopped dyeing their hair and it is wonderful to see!
For me, deciding to go grey was the outward manifestation of deciding to be real. I made some other, heart wrenching, difficult decisions at the same time. I cut ties with people and places that have not been serving me. Ties that were not authentic and honest, but damaging and unhealthy. These past few years were simultaneously the most difficult, most scary, most rewarding, and most freeing of all.
I’m a new person now, and now more than ever my outer life is a reflection of my inner life.
I still remember how very scary the concept of grey hair was to me. It was absolutely terrifying. I was so scared that I would look like a witch…one of those on a broomstick. I was horrified. Looking back now, it seems funny how exaggerated those fears were. The thing that really helped was browsing pictures of other brave women who took the step and let their silver shine. I truly appreciate the beautiful sisterhood I found on this journey. I love being part of changing the world by changing the way we women look at ourselves. I love promoting the beauty of ageing. I love wisdom of the sages. Who knew that our real beauty is only acquired through time and that grey hair is a crown of glory?
Here are some of my photos: I really didn’t have much of the actual transition, as I cut it and had the dye lifted.
I started dyeing my hair around 20 years old. I made the decision to embrace my silver hair just after my 48th birthday. It was becoming harder to keep the line of gray covered and on top of that, my hair was starting to fall out. My hairdresser was very supportive of my decision, as was my husband. It took approximately 9 months to fully transition but it was so worth it. My hair stopped falling out, my scalp felt better, the dye was drying it out, and my hair was shinier. My advice to anyone wanting to free herself from hair dye: make a commitment to yourself and stick to it. Know that there may be some rough spots but in the end, you’ll love your natural color and the bonus is healthy hair.
I stopped coloring April 2017 at 57 yrs. young. The first photo is fresh from the salon, and the last day I colored. Look how stark that color is for my complexion! I was never really happy with that dark red color, and kept asking my hairdresser to tone it down, but she loved it with my skin tone and eyes. I was also growing tired of keeping up with the roots. See, I was never really a girly girl, and primping, and time spent doing so, just annoyed me. I saw many young girls coloring their hair grey. It was becoming a trend, and I thought it was absolutely beautiful. I asked my hairdresser, if possible, to color my hair closer to my roots, so as not to have to color it as often, and jump on that trend. She was opposed to this idea, telling me she would have to strip my hair, which is very damaging, and that the upkeep would be very difficult. I found myself looking at grey photos of women on the internet, I so loved the color. Then, I just kind of had a light-bulb moment…I probably have that grey! As I searched the internet some more, I found that natural grey looked even prettier than dyed grey. Anyway, long story short, I took the plunge, and could not be happier with the results. I have never loved my hair more. It is so healthy, and actual looks so much prettier on me than my dyed hair ever did. I must say the hardest part for me was the patience. My hair grows so slowly. Ironic since it seems to grow fast when in coloring mode. It will sound so cheesy, and others have said it, but you grow in many ways on this journey, and it is so much more than hair. I call it a finding of ‘self’ so to speak. You kind of figure out who you are, and what is important to you in life. You come out the other end more confident. It is such a freeing and empowering experience.
Silvery Words of Wisdom:
Do the Full Transition to Gray Hair your way. Color correction, cold turkey, shave your head, try a pixie.
Whatever floats your boat. Do you. Chances are, you’re going to look better and when you look better, you feel better, even happier.
“Happy girls are the prettiest.” Audrey Hepburn
In Sept 2016, I realized my colored (med. dark brown) hair just was not working. After 28 years of coloring, my hair looked dry, rough, and too brassy/warm. I was just too white on my crown to pull it off properly.
I was so tired of the monthly visits that kept my hair looking “good” for 2 weeks, only to be followed by 2 weeks with roots popping up and constant heavy conditioners to attempt to keep my hair healthy. I was even more tired of scheduling my life around my hair!
So, after looking at many, many gray-haired women on the internet I took the plunge – with the help of my supportive, skilled stylist.
We added highlights, then lowlights, for 6 months or so as I was not open to “cold turkey.”
At six months, I could see my real color was bright and pretty! I had expected to keep adding some color lowlights for contrast, but really liked my own color. So after a few more color sessions on the length only -Balayage- I was done!
I have now made the Full Transition to Gray Hair.
In this timeframe, I quit a dead end job, I got engaged, I started modeling, and now I am looking for a commercial acting agent. I get compliments often on my color! It’s mostly silver-white on top with brown and some blond underneath.
I’m still amazed at how much prettier and more unique I feel with my own color.
I would have to say that after fretting and thinking about letting my natural silver shine for over 20 years, I finally made the choice to be free at the age of 50. Once I made the decision, there was no stopping me. It was exciting to see how bright my silver was. Thanks dad.
Now that I am fully transitioned, I enjoy the freedom of truly being me. I no longer worry about what other’s think, I have fun creating sassy looks, and I have more confidence than ever before.
My most favorite feeling is when the wind blows, I no longer worry about my roots showing. Pure bliss!
Silver hair model, Manon Crespi, shares the story of why and how she made the transition from dyed black hair to her natural silver hair.
The most satisfying thing I ever did. ❤️
“My best words of wisdom for your full transition to gray hair are ones I say repeatedly: You will never know what you’ve got until you grow it out. If you get your gray hair all the way grown out and you hate it, then you can cover that gray back up anytime you want. Honestly, I have never seen Mother Nature be wrong about your hair color, she knows what she is doing and everyone I have seen make it through the gray hair transition phase looks softer, their eyes look brighter, and overall just more natural.”
Katie at Katie Goes Platinum has many full transition stories including mine on her blog.
And check out a few of the support groups on Facebook. They are a tremendous help getting you through the rough patches of this process.
Finally, there is no right or wrong way to do this Full Transition to Gray Hair; there is only your way. Whatever you need to do to feel the most comfortable…do it.
Thank you so much to all the ladies that contributed to this post. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for reading and please feel free to share.
Remember it is about so much more than the hair.
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