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.
By the way, if you click on a link and then make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!
If you click on a link and then make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!
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!
If you’re wondering about any other downsides to going gray, take a peek at this well-written and oh-so-true post written by gray hair expert Katie, from Katie Goes Platinum.
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:
1 | 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.
2 | 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.
3 | 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!
4 | 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 three years after my experience of going gray quickly. I also decided to let my natural curls reign about six months ago, another milestone. And I love it!
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35 thoughts on “How to Go Gray Quickly – My Experience Going Gray in a Day”
I went gray in a different way. Because I was already getting my hair dyed a blonder color due to the amount of gray I had, I took it ever lighter. Then my hairstylist got hurt and couldn’t do my hair for a couple of months. I wasn’t working at the time so I decided to let the roots grown in and when she was feeling better, I had her cut off all my hair. That was the most dramatic part about it, going from long hair to short hair.
Now that it’s been a couple of years, I’m actually ready to go back. I’ve never been one to keep a style or a color for very long and I’m getting antsy. I’ve already done the pink and purple route, so time to add a more normal-looking color back into my hair. lol.
Yes, Jennifer, you definitely took a more drastic approach by cutting your hair short! I think we should do whatever makes us feel good, and who knows? Maybe I’ll change my mind about the gray at some point, too. 🙂
Love the cut. I wasn’t going gray I was going white and with medium brown hair it was obvious I went cold turkey and stopped coloring altogether. It took almost two years and I looked weird before it all grew out.
Same reasons I read how women were starting to get allergic reactions to hair color, it was getting expensive and if it’s so toxic you have to wear gloves what is it doing to me
I know, Anita, I definitely felt some uncertainty after I learned more about hair color and the possible impact it could have. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Hi Candi, This will be a helpful post for those that don’t know how to manage a hair color transition. I’ll pin it. Love the cut and think you look well in your new color. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL. I have natural salt and pepper colored hair. The health advantages to not coloring hair is why I wouldn’t do it, plus I am relieved I don’t have to take the time or expense required to color my hair. Have a beautiful day.
Thanks so much for sharing, Nancy. And you’re right – I hope that my experience will help other women who are considering making this change to their natural color.
I love your new colour Candi and it is softer and very flattering. I am more white than grey but still have darker hair so trying to transition is definitely difficult. My hair stylist has found a colour that is more natural and blends well with my white. I’m not adverse to going grey but I think whatmakes women hesitant is the ‘growing out’ phase. You have helped solve this problem. A new colour and cut always makes me feel 110% better and you are looking lovely. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL and have a beautiful weekend. xx
Hi Sue, thanks so much for the compliments, and I’m glad I’ve given you a little bit of inspiration for your own lovely hair. xo
I’m intrigued. Your process is interesting and the outcome is very flattering. Your stylist is very talented. I, too, am very interested in eliminating unnecessary and unnatural chemicals from my life…but I’m not sure if I am there yet with my hair.
My son is getting married in the spring…maybe after that…
Hi Nancy, thanks for the compliment and yes, my stylist did a wonderful job of taking my natural colors and blending them in an interesting way. It is a very personal decision, if and when, to go natural. You’ll feel it when the time comes. 🙂
It looks fantastic Candi – I think you’ve done it in a way that skipped the awful ‘salt and pepper’ look that I always associate with grey hair. I don’t have much grey in mine, so I’ll continue to have foils and hilights until the grey takes over and then I’ll reassess. I like that yours has a funky edge to it and I think you look younger than when you were a redhead.
Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂
Well thank you, Leann, I really appreciate the compliment! I agree that blending in with highlights and lowlights really helps with the transition. Thank you for sharing!
The new hair color is lovely, Candi, and I think you were smart to keep the style that frames your face. I have a lot of respect for you for living your life naturally.
Hi Candi! You look fabulous! I love it. I’m not quite there yet, the gray, but the post information is awesome. Thanks!
Hi Sabrina, thank you so much! And I appreciate you stopping by for a read. We’re all unique and for some of us, it’s never the right time. If and when you get there, you’ll know it.
Thanks so much, Christina, I appreciate your support! Thanks, as always, for taking the time to read and comment. It means a lot to me. 🙂
You look great. The new mix of colors is very soft and flattering on you.
I still am not sure on all natural gray, but love your new look.
Hi Susanne, so good to hear from you! Thanks for the compliment, I agree that it’s a softer look. I’m glad my hair has some contrast in it, to keep it interesting. I don’t think I’d want bland. 🙂
Send me up some sunshine in a bottle, ok? It’s getting cold here! xo
Looks great!! I had to deal with a stylist that didn’t want me to go gray, even told me she couldn’t help me as there was no gray/silver color!! What a lie as I told her I’d seen young women with such color. I was then told that it would make me look old and washed out. Won’t go into the story here (I need to write a post about it) but I have people complimenting me just about every time I go out in public with my natural dark hair with pretty streaks of silver!!
Hi Dee, what a shame that you had an unfortunate experience with a stylist. It’s your hair and you should do what you want with it. I think it would make an informative and helpful post for others. Thanks for stopping by and for the compliment!
Visiting again! Thanks so much for linking up at the #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 7. Shared.
Love the transformation – both the colour and cut. Both very flattering on you with the softer look really suiting your gorgeous skin.
Thank you so much, Alison. 🙂
Congrats! Your post is FEATURED at the #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 8.
Well, thank you so much, Dee, I’m very honored! xo
Thank you for sharing this. I really enjoyed your video. I last colored my hair around 3/1/20. With the pandemic and working remotely I just stopped coloring it even though I had a box of color at home. I’ve been thinking about going gray the past few years and now seemed like the perfect opportunity to just do it. I love it when I see a woman with a chic hairstyle and silver hair. So striking and classy. I consulted with a stylist about 3 weeks ago and I think I’m going to use the same process you did. I can’t stop looking at pictures of women with salt and pepper hair. Looking forward to my new look and freedom. I’ve already found that choosing to go gray gives me more mental and physical energy. It’s freeing in so many ways.
Hi Cindy, I’m glad you found my video and experience helpful in making your decision. I will never go back to coloring my hair, and agree with you that it’s very freeing. Have fun and enjoy the ‘new’ you!
Your hair looks lovely and I enjoyed learning about your process, thanks for the information. I was born a red head and now have about 80% grey which I color myself about every 5 weeks, color looks good but unfortunately is now starting to fall out which may be due to my thyroid condition but at age 72 it maybe simply down to my age. Anyway I do not want to grow it out and like the idea of going grey in as short a time as possible so your post has been very encouraging and informative
Hi Maureen, I’m so glad that you found my experience helpful and encouraging. It’s a big decision, but I am thrilled I made the change!
The problem is, not everyone has lovely silver tresses coming through. Some of us (me included!) might have a combination of colours to deal with. Everyone seems to think that being blonde (whether natural or coloured) is an easier transition. Not for me it isn’t! I have left my roots for 4 months now, after having coloured my hair blonde for years – and it looks awful! Some hair’s coming though mid-grey/silvery but some of my natural brown is still there, which makes for a ‘muddy’ appearance in places and unfortunately, I have a darker section right at the front! It’s a mess – and I can’t get to the hairdresser’s for ages, as I am still shielding/vulnerable. Maybe eventually I’ll get some white highlights at the front, which may improve my odd combo!
Hi Janie, it can be very frustrating to see the natural hair coming in and not be thrilled with what you see. I am fortunate to have the white natural highlights at the front, but the back of my hair is very dark. When you are able to get back to a hairdresser, seek out their opinion. It’s possible that you could have some highlights/lowlights done to blend the different hair colors, particularly at the front. It was really helpful for me to do this at first. Good luck, and try to be patient and work with it you can!
I’m starting the going gray during quarantine and had my hairdresser go from medium brown to very light brown, blonde with gray over wash. It looks a lot like your after pictures. I think you look younger with the lighter hair. Good luck!
Hi Andrea, thanks for your kind words. I still love my hair and the decision I made to go natural. I hope you feel the same with the decision about your hair!
I dye my hair platinum, I have alot of natural grey hair, but still some brown in it, why can’t I just dye it a grey color of my choosing and then let it grow out to it’s natural color, sounds like an easier transition.
Hi Jane, I think the plan you choose should be the one that works for you. My suggestion would be to talk it over with your stylist to get their input in choosing the gray hair coloring. Good luck with your transition!