How to do gray hair right: 10 tips for going gray beautifully Most Liked Hot Conversation

What does gray hair mean to you?

To award-winning beauty and style editor Lois Joy Johnson, “Gray hair is a silvery Rolls Royce or smoky Bentley gleaming with class. It’s silver Elsa Peretti jewelry shining in the cases at Tiffany & Co.”

Grey hair after 50: 7 keys to styling, coloring, and caring for grey hair whether you choose to cover or embrace it

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Across the Vibrant Nation community, many members agree. We know that, done right, gray hair is anything but dowdy. Rather, it’s a flattering and stylish expression of a woman’s beauty and experience after 50. But we also know that going gray stylishly can be tricky. The key, Lois Joy Johnson says, is to to go gray with the same strategic approach and maintenance as any other color.

If you decide to stop dyeing your hair, use these ten tips from Lois and other members of the Vibrant Nation community to go gray beautifully.

How to do gray hair right: 13 tips

  1. Do prepare for a long transition.
    According to Lois Joy Johnson, “It usually takes anywhere from four to eight months to go from coloring your hair to a natural state of gray; a year to a year and a half if you have longer hair.” If you do decide to go gray, be prepared to be patient.”
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  1. Work with your colorist through the stages to silver.
    “The key to the transition,” says Lois Joy Johnson, “is to not retouch until you have enough root showing. You may need to skip a month if you’ve been on an every four to six week coloring schedule. Have your colorist step down your coloring procedure as naturally as possible by adding lowlights. Don’t retouch your base color at all but keep getting frequent trims at the ends.

    Vibrant Nation blogger Jaki – fiftyfab.com found a gradual approach helpful as well:

    • I started out dirty blond with a few grays tucked in but mostly unseen.
    • Then I went streaked blond to blend in the gray when it was more abundant.
    • As the gray increased, I went to the salon and had my hair backlit. I had at least four colors going in my hair at the same time. But it worked, it looked very natural and all the while the gray was growing.
    • When my temples went white, I took the leap and stopped dyeing altogether. That was 15 years ago. I forgot to mark it on the calendar, but if I had only known it would be the day my courage began, I would have marked it!
Grey hair after 50: 7 keys to styling, coloring, and caring for grey hair whether you choose to cover or embrace it

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  1. Trim strategically.
    A lot of women get to a certain length of re-growth and then cut their hair to speed up the process. This allows you to slowly ease into gray without a lot of drama or obvious lines of color demarcation where the old and the new meet.
  2. Highlight along the way.
    VN member nellie says, “My hair dresser suggested growing out the color as much as I could stand, then having highlights put in and getting as short of a cut as I could tolerate. It took about a year to completely rid myself of the colored hair. I have never looked back! I get lots and lots of compliments – at least twice a week, from both men and women!”
  3. Invest in a great haircut.
    Once you’ve made your transition to gray, invest in the services of a talented stylist to make sure your haircut flatters your face. As VN blogger Tamara2 says, “The right haircut can make all the difference between looking sharp and looking frumpy!”
  4. Condition to keep your hair soft.
    Some women fear that that as their hair turns gray, it will become coarse in texture. This is not necessarily the case, but why take chances? VN blogger Jaki – fiftyfab.com keeps her hair soft by using a high quality conditioner at home. She also recommends a deep conditioning treatment either at home or at the salon every few months.

    To fight dryness, VN member Carol Scooter has cut back on frequency of shampoos. Instead, she brushes her gray hair more often. Result: “The natural oils have come along and made it smooth, shiny, and full of body!”

  5. Protect your silver from tarnishing: Use the right shampoo.
    VN blogger Jaki – fiftyfab.com believes the secret to fresh-looking gray is “a blue shampoo that keeps the gray silvery and protects from the brassiness that sun can cause.” Here are the shampoos recommended by silver-haired members of Vibrant Nation:

    • VN member Kathy Sommers loves Matrix Essentials Solutionist So Silver. “I had lots of problems with yellowing for my very thick, long white/silver hair. Then my daughter found this great shampoo where she is a stylist. Now I love my hair!”
    • Deanie says, “I use ShiKai Color Reflect Shampoo for platinum. So far it’s the best thing I’ve found.”
    • VN member Lark says, “Pantene makes a shampoo and conditioner I like called Silver Expressions. They make my hair very shiny.”
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  1. VN blogger Tamara loves Aveda’s Blue Malva shampoo and conditioner. “Smells wonderful, leaves my gray hair soft and smooth and shiny.” VN blogger Jaki – fiftyfab.com likes Blue Malva as well. Jaki also recommends Clairol Shimmer Lights. “These shampoos are especially made for gray or white hair.”
  2. Mary McDowell likes Prosante Revitalizing Shampoo and Prosante Lightweight Conditioner, available from Shaklee distributors.
  3. cnelson2007 says, “Jhirmack’s silver brightening shampoo works for me. I don’t end up with blue hair and it takes out the yellow.”
  4. Maggie Rose likes Abba Pure Moisture shampoo. “It’s wonderful, and has not yellowed my hair at all.”
  5. VN member lisaforman avoids “products that contain sodium laurel sulfate or its derivatives, which have been linked to Alzheimer’s.” Instead, she looks for shampoos and conditioners at organic, healthy food stores. She likes brands like Kiss My Face or Nature’s Gate. “I have long gray hair and these natural products are perfect for keeping it smooth, shiny, and elegant.”
  6. When using shampoos for gray hair, VN member LissaB cautions, “Graduate your way up to the ‘leave in’ time suggested by the label. A couple of years ago, I left in a new shampoo as directed and left the shower with distinctly amethyst-hued hair. It only lasted a couple of days, but still!” Blogger Jaki – fiftyfab.com agrees: “Leave the shampoo on for just one minute or so – not too long or you end up looking like a blue haired granny. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!)”

Grey hair after 50: 7 keys to styling, coloring, and caring for grey hair whether you choose to cover or embrace it

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  1. Consider sunscreen for your hair.
    Another way to protect silvery hair from tarnishing: sunscreen. Jaki – fiftyfab.com recommends using a sunscreen specially formulated for hair called Miss Oops Block Your Locks.
  2. Resist the urge to match your brows to your hair.
    Lois Joy Johnson, author of the new Vibrant Nation Beauty Guide Great Hair After 50, advises: “Don’t do gray brows even if your hair is gray. Most women need the definition and eye-framing shape that distinctive brows offer.” Lois’ suggestion: A tinted brow gel. “It’s the best way to blend in gray brows and groom wiry coarse hairs for a fresher, more open eye.” Lois loves Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel, available in a range of colors: caramel, brunette, espresso, and granite.

    VN blogger Jaki – fiftyfab.com loves being a “silver fox,” but like Lois, she agrees that, “I just need to have a facial expression – and penciled-in brows make me shudder.” So, Jaki gets her brows dyed. “I resisted dyeing my brows for a long time, then did it once and was hooked. It only costs $10. Just get it done when you get your hair trimmed every 6-8 weeks.”

  3. Find the best styling products for gray hair.
    Here are some of the styling products that silver-haired members of Vibrant Nation recommend:

    • VN member Mary McDowell keeps her styling routine simple (“Just shampoo, conditioner, hair spray and sometimes a gel – I do not have any yellowing in my hair.”) She loves “Dep Sport Endurance Styling Gel 11 from Walgreens and Walmart.”
    • Mary also likes Prosante Hair Spray, by Shaklee.
    • VN member Maggie Rose uses Bumble & Bumble Grooming Creme “applied when my hair is wet, and then again a little bit after it’s dry.”
  4. Dress for silver success.
    VN member RJane finds that gray hair gives her ultimate flexibility in terms of wardrobe choices: “Having white hair is like being a blank canvas, I can wear so many bright, vibrant colors that all seem to go well with my hair.”

    But you may find that your new look can be even further enhanced with the right clothes. Since going gray, Jaki – fiftyfab.com has created whole new wardrobe in gray tones that flatter her new haircolor. Her silver-fox wardrobe tips:

    • Gray hair tends to look great with gray and also blue clothes. (This rule of thumb may depend on eye color.)
    • Short skirts and high fashion combine well with gray hair. “When you are gray and keep on top of the styles and/or boldly display your own style, it makes for a very interesting look. I think people see you and go ‘She may be older, but wow, she sure looks great.’ Now that’s my favorite message to send!”

    For career women and job hunters, gray hair can be an asset as well. Lois Joy Johnson, author of author of the VN Beauty Guide, Great Hair After 50, says, “Keep the look contemporary and pulled together, and gray hair can be fashionable and project experience and confidence even in corporate or government settings. Look at Ann Livermore, vice president of Hewlett Packard’s Technology Solutions Group, or Kathleen Sebelius, our Health & Human Services Secretary.”

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  1. Update your makeup.
    According to Lois Joy Johnson, “Going gray may require warming up your makeup to compensate for the cooler frame against your skin. A peachy pink or golden peach blush is all you need.
  2. Embrace your gray.
    The right attitude goes a long way towards selling your new look, so learn to love your gray. Jaki – fiftyfab.com says, “I think natural hair color can help women look better. Yes, gray hair may signal a “certain age,” but I think there is nothing more beautiful than an older woman, gray at the temples, wrinkled and maybe even a little bent – but clearly confident and comfortable in her own skin. Have you ever noticed the radiance in the eyes of such a woman shining under her platinum crown?”

    VN member Deaone says, “It’s what you do with your gray or silver hair that counts. Make the best of it. Be honest with yourself about the changes in your hair – and then embrace the opportunity to create a new hair style that you never had before. Go for it!”

Please share your own tip on going gray stylishly by leaving a comment below.

Learn more about having great hair after 50 in one of these FREE reports from VibrantNation.com:

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Posted in hair care.

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add your responses

9 Responses

  1. Generic Image Bbeizer says

    Great info. I said I’d never go blond (I earned every gray hair!), but caved while working in a youthful, corporate culture. I retired happily at 67, and the first thing I did was to stop coloring. My hair is multi-colored, ranging from dark to light brown to gray, and it grows very slowly – about 4″ a year. I had blond highlights put in once at first, but since then have just let it grow out, getting a good cut about 3x per year. I keep my hair in a shoulder length pageboy style, and after 18 months it is still growing out. Somehow, this works ok for me, probably due to the multiple colors to begin with. My haircut guy told me most women who opt to go gray change their minds when they get there, but I LOVE my gray, and the complements I get about it, too.

    8 like

  2. Generic Image marty says

    As far as transitioning to gray goes, I found a real easy way to do it. I was in a BAD car accident and was in a coma for 6 weeks and in rehab for 6 more. They took care of my breathing and eating but NOBODY DID MY HAIR!! I wouldn’t recommend this method but it worked! I now have a great head of streaky silver hair and I love it.

    12 like

  3. Generic Image Gail Lewis says

    I cut mine very short, kept cutting and left the country for six months.
    :D

    20 like

  4. Arizona gal Arizona gal says

    When I could no longer cover the grey in the front I changed my hairstyle and let it go grey. People noticed the change in hairstyle more than the color so Yeah. Now I want to quit perms but don’t know how to gracefully go to becoming the really straight that I have. Suggestions?

    3 like

  5. Generic Image PamJ says

    There are 2 good books I’ve found to help along the way. One is ‘Going Gray Looking Great” and the other is Anne Kreamer’s
    “Going Gray”. The first is full if helpful hints and the second is about how it can really change so many aspects of your life. Both are good, and complement each other.
    I now have 10 weeks’ of silver & pewter growth in my auburn hair and am really excited to see the final, fully grown-out result.

    9 like

  6. Generic Image April Hebert says

    Last year I tried to transition to gray. My intentions were good, but as my hair grew out I realized that instead of the beautiful snow white or silvery color I expected, it was a dull pewter and just looked dirty all the time. My natural color is a boring dark ash blonde, and there wasn’t enough silver in it to brighten it up. I always try to stay chic and fashionable–having dirty gray roots made me feel unattractive and invisible. After four months I went back to the dark reddish brown color I’d had before. I’m going to try again in a few years when I hope to have more white hair!

    9 like

  7. Generic Image Anonymous says

    I know what you are saying, April.  When I started to let my gray show and it was pewter colored, I didn’t like it and still don’t think women look good with pewter colored hair (too much black).  It just seems too dull to me.  Once my gray hair got lighter I loved it.  I must confess, I helped it get lighter by spraying 6 percent hydrogen peroxide on it and then shampooing when the peroxide dried.  I have the luxury of being able to stay home and let it dry slowly. After doing this for a few times over a year’s time, my own highlights took over and luckily, I don’t have to do anything anymore.  Some people thought I was crazy to go silver because I look a lot younger otherwise (don’t have wrinkles) and so I could have carried off the brunette or blond coloring in order to continue looking younger, but I hated the health hazard and the amount of time and money that coloring takes…. and my husband likes it either way (silver or colored).

    4 like

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Gray Hair Beauty Tips | nursesbeauty.com linked to this post on October 16, 2014

    [...] How to do gray hair right – 13 tips – VibrantNation.com – What does gray hair mean to you? To award-winning beauty and style editor Lois Joy Johnson, “Gray hair is a silvery Rolls Royce or smoky Bentley gleaming with class…. [...]

    1 like

  2. [ shampoo for gray hair ] Best Web Pages | (NetizenOpinion) linked to this post on November 4, 2014 (4 weeks ago)

    [...] How to do gray hair right – 13 tips – Vibrant NationMay 30, 2013 – We know that, done right, gray hair is anything but dowdy. Rather, it’s a … Protect your silver from tarnishing: Use the right shampoo. VN blogger … http://www.vibrantnation.com/fashion-beauty/hair-care/how-to-do-gray-hair-right/ [...]

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