Yep. I’m growing out my gray hair!
My hair color history
I first started coloring my hair in my 20’s, long before I had any grays. My natural color (a dark blonde I’ve often described as “wet cardboard box”) seemed drab to me and I wanted to liven things up. A good friend of mine was a hair stylist/colorist, and was very excited to dial the color up to a “new copper penny” red. (I don’t have any photos from this era…we didn’t have cameras and didn’t tend to document our lives the way we do today.)
The red suited me, I think. Lots of family on my mom’s side are redheads, and I did have some reddish tones in my natural color. When I moved to Los Angeles in my mid-30’s, I started doing the color myself with boxes purchased from grocery store shelves. I found that semi-permanent color was least damaging to my hair, and for a few years was happy with a softer red.
Still, I had a few oops experiences in my DIY years. 😱 One was a color marked “medium chestnut” on the box that went almost black on me! And then wouldn’t wash out, even long after the 30-day color life-expectancy. At that point, I decided it was time to go back to the salon.
I bounced around salons until I met my current colorist (and friend) Brian around 2006. He managed to correct my color back to a lighter, brighter red. For the next few years, I kept the red going. Then around 2013, I went blonde and never looked back.
Getting to the tipping point
For the last few years, I’ve been gray-curious. I didn’t want to go back to just a faded version of my natural color. So my stipulation was “when there’s more gray/white/silver than cardboard,” I’d go for it.
Several weeks ago, noticed that my roots growing in were…bright. As in, a lot of silver. I still have some darker bits mixed with the silver along the top of the crown and in the back. But the rest is gray enough for me to take the plunge and try growing it out.
I have to admit, I really like what I’m seeing so far. I stopped adding base color about 8 weeks ago. Four weeks ago I had Brian add a few more highlights in the already colored section to help it blend a little better. But I’ll probably still have a pretty apparent line of demarcation. At some point I may try to add some more silvery highlights and ashy lowlights to the colored part. Maybe I’ll cut it short in a few months. We’ll see.
If you’re on Instagram…
Update: for those who weren’t able to join, you can watch the whole thing here:
I don’t use a lot of products on my hair, and at this point am not planning to add anything new. I’ve been using Pureology Hydrate Shampoo & Conditioner for some years. I’ll probably keep using this for a while, as it’s gentle on the colored portion of my hair. And the shampoo is purple-tinged, so it shouldn’t add any brassiness to the gray hair. 🤞
I’m open to suggestions for what to use once I’ve finished growing out the gray.
The only downside is that hair color adds some body and texture to my fine, straight hair. I’ll probably continue to use the Oribé Dry Texturizing Spray when I want a little volume and lift.
I’m still taking the Nutrafol Women’s Balance supplements and do think they help.
A few months ago, some of you were asking about brow products for gray hair. I’ve been keeping an eye out, and finally came across some that are clean and cruelty-free. Both Kosas Brow Pop pencil and Air Brow tinted gel are available in a gray shade.
Have you grown out your gray hair, or are you thinking about it? Please share any tips, products, or processes that worked for you.