Gray hair doesn’t just magically appear overnight. So when you think about how to go gray quickly it’s going to be a process that requires some very specific expertise.
That was my conclusion anyway when I decided that removing hair color to go grey was the way to go for my transition.
Most of us start to experience the joys of going gray in our 40’s, although for some it happens much earlier. Going gray gracefully is something that we define as individuals – it’s a very personal choice – and my feeling is that there is never a right or wrong decision. It’s whatever makes you feel good about yourself.
So that was my approach to the concept of embracing my gray hair. I didn’t want any part of embracing it for years and actually have put some type of lightener or hair color on my little head since I was a teenager in the 60’s with a bottle of Sun-In in my hand. Yes…it is still available. 🙂
Why the change of heart and decision to embrace my natural gray (or grey…you choose!) hair?
For me, it plays a part in my desire to lead a life that is healthy and natural in all ways, or at least in those that I can control:
- Natural aging – with no artificial means of keeping my face (and body) looking younger. My natural face lift works amazingly well!
- Clean eating – I do my best, and although not every food I consume has been freshly picked from the garden or organically grown, I read labels, stay away from fast food and make the effort to pay attention to what I consume.
- Skincare – using products that are good for my skin, good for the planet and are produced without harming any other living thing are a priority for me.
- Makeup – similar to my skincare choices, I actively search for and purchase makeup that is cruelty-free and environmentally friendly. I pay more for it but am trying to stay committed to the goal.
- Exercise – I’ve been exercising in some way for almost 40 years, and I really feel that the commitment has helped me stay physically healthy, within a reasonable weight range and looking pretty doggone good.
- Household cleaning products – I’ve been a member of Grove Collaborative this year and enjoy using their proprietary brand as well as other earth-friendly products.
And I’ll be honest, I want to look my best and certainly not like an old lady. I don’t want to dress old, act old, or look old. So working within my commitment to keeping it all natural, the question of how let go of the dyed hair and embrace my gray hair in an afternoon was answered in the following way.
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Why Does Our Hair Turn Gray?
Why are we even having this converstion? Why does our hair turn gray, anyway?
Well, let’s clarify that. The hair on our head doesn’t actually turn from it’s color to gray. It grows in that way. As you age and acquire new hair, it is more likely to be white.
When does that start happening? You know…you look in the mirror one day and see a couple of stray grays mixed in with your current color. Or, they might be sticking straight up, away from your head. Here are a few reasons why our hair turns gray:
- our age, of course, plays a role in the appearance of gray hair. Hair changes as we age, naturally, and by the time we’re age 50, about 50% of us have some gray hair.
- stress in our life, including health issues, can result in a loss of hair, or more gray hair
- our life choices can cause more gray hair. Do you smoke? It stresses your skin and hair, and can result in more gray. So quit smoking, please, for this and many other health-related reasons.
- as we age, the hydrogen peroxide that naturally occurs in our hair follicles builds up and blocks the production of melanin, which is our hair’s pigment. Thus, the white/gray hair growth.
So for some of us (my little paw is raised high) the ultimate conclusion is to take action to embrace our natural color, including the glorious gray, and do it quickly. Like, in a day. But there are always two perspectives to consider…
Pros and Cons: Removing Hair Color to go Grey in a Day
Why would you want to consider making the switch, literally, in a day? Here are some reasons to take the plunge, or not:
- no need to wait for the natural, gray hair to grow in, which could take a year or two
- see an immediate result
- begin this ‘new phase’ of your life right now
- no blending of potentially dramatic differences between current hair color and natural gray hair
- the process can be costly
- your hair is put through several chemical processes
- some highlights/lowlights are probably going to be necessary at first
- uncertain result, which can become even more stressful if your stylist isn’t experienced
Ultimately, there is no black and white, right or wrong decision when considering how to go gray quickly, or if you should wait and let the process happen naturally. For me, it was decided to take the shorter route, and you’ll see how things worked out for me below!
How to go Gray Quickly
Here is my personal experience with taking my hair from auburn to natural gray, in a period of about four hours:
Set a plan to go natural with your hair
I didn’t just walk into the hair salon on a whim one afternoon and magically walk out with my natural gray. No, girlfriend. It didn’t happen quite like that. We’re talking about how to go gray quickly, but there were definitely some steps leading up to the actual event.
I’d been pondering the whole hair color thing for a while, learned about the effects of putting hair color on your head over a period of time, and considered how I was making the effort to live my life naturally. How did the hair color fit in with that objective?
So I had a chat with my stylist about three months ago, and she explained how I could go gray quickly, literally in an afternoon. That gave me something to think about and ponder. After all, I’d been an auburn-haired girl for a long, long time, and felt that was part of my personal style.
When I returned to the salon for a hair cut about 6 weeks ago, I spoke to my stylist again about the process, and at that point made an appointment 6 weeks in the future for the process (the magic!) to take place.
My stylist, Jillian, wanted to me to wait 6 weeks for several reasons:
- to let the natural color grow in a little bit more, and
- to give me time to wash my hair every day in order to wash out as much of the auburn hair color as possible
- the benefit to me to ponder this decision further and make sure I really wanted to do this!
If you prefer to take a little slower route, read more about transitioning to gray hair here.
Remove the existing color first
The first step in this transformation was to use a color pigment remover (CPR) on my hair. This process, in general, reduces permanent oxidative color pigment and metallic minerals and removes unwanted pigment without lifting natural hair color. The antioxidant vitamin complex helps preserve the integrity of the hair.
My hair was washed thoroughly, then the color pigment remover was applied and a cap put on my head. Then it was under the dryer for me, for about 40 minutes. I planned ahead and brought my kindle so I wasn’t twiddling my thumbs.
Jillian, my stylist, explained that there could be some tingling on my scalp, and some clients found the heat to be a little excessive. For me, it was not an issue at all. I didn’t feel any discomfort during the process.
My hair was washed several times after rinsing out the CPR. Then it was over to the chair to see what my hair looked like.
Next step? Some highlighting to blend with the new growth
When I looked at myself in the mirror, sans my glasses, I could still see quite a bit of red in my hair…because my natural hair color does have some gingery highlights to it. You can see it in the image above.
My stylist had explained to me in our consultation previously that she would be doing some highlighting of my hair, mostly in the crown area, to blend the newly ‘uncolored’ hair with the small amount of natural growth I had.
My goal was to have natural, gray hair that was interesting, maybe even a bit edgy, and I explained that desire to Jillian. From there, she used her artistic talents to highlight with three different colors, blending my hair with the natural growth.
First, she highlighted the area around my face with the lightest shade, as that is what my hair is doing naturally. She added a bit more of the lightest color on the front section of both sides to add some drama.
Then, she took two other highlight colors, a medium and a darker shade, to help blend the rest of my hair in with the new growth. You can see the different shades and tones in the photo at the beginning of the section. It is really cool!
The final step, some lowlights and a trim
The final step in my journey removing hair color to go grey faster was to use a toner on my hair. If I remember my facts correctly, my stylist wanted to bring out the lighter colors and minimize any yellow tones. Lowlights add dimension with strands of darker color.
Toner is a sweet little product that neutralizes brassy yellow and orange tones on bleached hair. It is usually purple-blue tinted. When applied to bleached hair, it takes it to more of an ashy, dusty, or platinum color. That means a much more natural-looking hair tone! It can also make your hair look shinier and healthier.
With apologies to any hairstylist reading these paragraphs, I think I have the general idea of what was applied to my hair to give it a beautiful result.
What will I do with my natural gray hair going forward? Well, I’m not totally sure, as this is a brand new experience for me. But I don’t plan to continue with the highlights, as the purpose of those was to blend everything together in a natural way as my hair continues to grow out.
The toner may be an ongoing, periodic process, and I’m okay with that. It is not the same as permanent hair color, and can serve to help me embrace my gray hair as time goes on.
I need to find the right shampoo for my gray hair. There are a number of brands available that provide the right hydrating, violet pigment-depositing ingredients to ensure your hair appears vibrant and not yellow.
I am very happy with the ‘new me’, although I’ve startled myself a few times when looking in the mirror. I forgot what I did! And, I hope my short tutorial on how to go gray quickly has been helpful to others.
A couple of final thoughts:
- If you are thinking of using a color pigment remover in your quest to embrace your gray hair, please have it done by a professional. Don’t mess with your hair, because you could end up with a real mess!
- Be as sure as you can be, before undergoing this process. It is a bit of a financial investment and it also can drastically alter how you look. Bottom line, you can always to back to the colored hair. But for me, after pondering it for several months, letting my hair start to grow out so I could glimpse what was in store, I went ahead and embraced my natural, gray hair.
This is my natural gray hair a year after my experience of going gray quickly. And I love it!
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