How to go to grey from coloured hair without looking old

The transition from coloured hair to grey hair is one that has challenged our generation of women. I share my tips for going gray without looking old – that’s our greatest fear right?

I recently asked my Facebook Group members what they would like me to blog about, and there was a strong call for a post on going grey gracefully without feeling old. I dug into this a little more, and did some extra research on the web and found that the major reason seems to be fear of looking older, and indeed looking like our mothers/grandmothers. Added to of course by the pressure to stay forever young, and not wanting to acknowledge that we are indeed ageing. And that is perhaps the biggest issue of all; our unfounded and somewhat ridiculous notion of being forever young. The truth is we are ageing, so why not step into that and have some fun with it,

Add to that a fear of how we will look in the transition stage and a belief that the only way to transition is to go short.

Well, I’m here to say that from my personal experience, and from my watching of many other women who have or are going grey, that none of those beliefs (that’s what they are) really stack up any more. Harsh, maybe, but let me explain. I should add that I whilst I am an advocate for going grey I don’t want you to feel bullied by me; you willl find your own time and process. However I do want to challenge some of the perceived limitations.

You are not your Mother or your Grandmother

Our generation is so different to previous generations of women. Many of us have had careers and been out in the world in ways past generations wouldn’t have dreamed of. We have travelled, we have worn jeans and mini skirts, we vote according to our own beliefs rather than those of our husbands; we are strong individuals who have carved our own way in the world.

You don’t have to look like this just because you are letting your hair go grey

You most likely wouldn’t choose to dress like your grandmother so what makes you think that if you went grey you would suddenly be heading to the salon for a regular tight perm?

But when I asked my Instagram followers to tell me why they would or wouldn’t choose to go grey, I was shocked at the responses from those who wouldn’t contemplate the change. Some of the reasons given were:

  • For me I think going grey makes me look older than I feel
  • I was all for doing that until one of my friends let her hair go grey – she looked at least ten years older
  • I like dying my hair as it keeps me looking younger I don’t like grey hair
  • It’s ugly (this one floored me because this woman follows me and my grey hair and I wondered if she finds me ugly?)

There are valid reasons for not going straight to grey, and I certainly transitioned using highlights. I totally empathise with the reasons that were given:

  • Because my grey is a really really dull grey-brown (yech) – her words not mine
  • My hair is only grey on top and as my hair is past my shoulders it would look odd
  • Not enough greys and my hair is really dark
  • I have my dad’s genes and he never went fully grey just had a bit here and there. I would prefer to go fully grey but not just sprinkles with my colouring.

It’s time to change your preconceptions of what going grey looks like.

Good reasons to transition to grey hair

Note I said transition, because for most of us that is the reality. Having said that, some women do go ‘cold turkey’ and I admire them, it isn’t something I could have done.

But let’s have a look at the reasons I was given for making that transition to grey hair (also from my social media followers)

  • I think grey is softer for an older complexion – I have embraced my grey and no chemicals
  • Love it! Beautiful silver streaks! Why? Needed to colour every 3 weeks and that was ridiculous
  • I made the choice because I am 70 and my hot pink hair doesn’t cut it at my age. Taken me over a year to get used to it. I have a black streak to make it more interesting
  • I am 52 and went grey at 48. I made the choice because I was sick of dying it. Now it’s so easy
  • I just thought “why can’t women be themselves”
  • So so liberating. Nothing more beautiful than natural healthy hair (this from a beautiful professional model)
  • Love it… done with paying $$ to colour my hair
  • Liberating! I was tired of damaged hair from colouring. I am so glad I let that go.
  • Too much maintenance. My hair grows quickly

My top tips for how to go grey without looking old

I made a gradual transition to grey. I had some grey hairs from quite young and for many years either had a full colour or highlights. When I chose to go grey I continued with the foils but added more lowlights rather than highlights. I also played with other colours in my hair – think pink and blue – but they looked ridiculous on me. I finally settled on the way my hair is now – natural white with a black streak which has become my signature look. I went through a long period where my hair was quite salt and pepper and that’s where highlights then lowlights helped. It finally went white almost overnight after a particularly stressful period of my life – not the ideal way but I am very happy with the result.

My black streak and a sassy cut have overcome any concerns about ‘looking old’

To ease the transition to grey I recommend you consider the following.

Get your support team onside

If you raise your transition plans with a hairdresser and they try to talk you out of it, it might be time to find a new hairdresser. What could their motivation possibly be – are they concerned about loss of income? Similarly bring your family onboard and don’t for a minute tolerate issues raised by a partner or a child, or indeed a friend. If they are male they have probably already gone grey – you know it’s distinguished in a male (insert eye roll). Another belief to be challlenged – why are grey haired men considered distinguished and grey hair women considered old?

Get sassy

Spend some time researching the looks of women who have already transitioned to grey, or are transitioning. Look for inspiration on Instagram via the hashtags #silverhair and #silversisters. You willl find loads of inspiration from women with beautiful hair long and short. Also on Pinterest search for ‘grey hair transformation‘ for more illumination. Sassy can be a short style but it can also be a long style. I definitely recommend that you take the opportunity to freshen up your style as part of your transition – that’s where having a great hairdresser comes in. And seriously, if you feel that the only way to go grey gracefully is to cut your hair short, then why not do that – it will grow back!

Reconsider your make up and wardrobe colours

I have definitely found that I need to wear stronger colours, particularly on my lips. Partly because my skin tone has changed as I have aged, but also because paler hair needs more contrast. I have also found that doing my (almost non-existent) eyebrows makes a huge difference and lifts my entire face.

Similarly you may find that clothes that once worked well for you are not as great as you transition to grey – particularly colours that are close to your face. That doesn’t mean you need to head off for a colour consultation, but just watch in the mirror as you hold a garment up to your face; if your face lights up it’s a good choice. This makes for a great opportunity for a wardrobe refresh.

If you wear glasses reconsider them as well

Going grey is a great opportunity to consider new colours and new frames for your spectacles – be bold

Another aspect of my personal style that has changed as I have aged and gone grey, is my choice of spectacle frames; like my lipstick I find that bright colours and stronger frames suit me better and smaller paler frames make me look washed out.

Focus on staying young in other ways

There’s much more to staying young than the colour of yofur hair. Keep your attitudes fresh, spend time with young people, challenge your perceptions about ageing.

Looking on the bright side

I would be the first to admit that I am fortunate that my hair is now a lovely silver/white – a colour a hairdresser once told me that younger women want to have their hair dyed, how ironic is that? But don’t assume that is was always thus, I too have gone through the transition.

I’m no expert on hair health but I think most of us would agree that pouring chemicals onto our heads probably isn’t the best idea for our health.

Consider the cost and possible health implications of dying your hair

And of course there are enormous cost and time savings associated with no longer turning up every 4-6 weeks for a complete hair colour. One motivation might be to put those financial savings into an account for travel, or your wardrobe – some way to reward yourself for your decision.

I’m also a big fan of body positivity and being a positive influence for future generations – consider what you are saying to your daughters and granddaughers if you are, even subtly, suggesting that natural is not OK?

Some final thoughts on going grey

I hope this post has at least provided some food for thought and maybe challenged some of your preconceptions. I follow a lot of women on Instagram, grey haired anod otherwise, and of those who have commenced or made the transition, I am only aware of one who has gone back to dyed hair.

Let me reiterate that nothing in this post is designed to make you feel bullied, but it is designed to have you think about how you might happily go grey.

Older and Wiser