The Gray Experiment

Back in late February of this year, I decided to quit coloring my hair. I started going gray at age 29, and began coloring it when I was about 34. My hair grows so fast, I had to color it every four weeks to avoid the stark line that formed when my gray met the dark, warm color I got from a bottle. 

If you Google "growing out gray" you'll find an abundance of opinions on the best way to ease in to the change. But anyone who's done it knows that there often isn't a graceful way to get there. It's just going to be night and day for awhile. But I decided to be a bit more daring and become a guinea pig for what works, and what doesn't. 

Beware of any hairdresser who tells you that going from dark hair to gray, chemically speaking, is a piece of cake. I wanted to just go ahead and dye all of my hair gray so as to avoid the harsh differences between the color I'd been dyeing it for years, and the color that is growing out of my head. But my awesome girl, Stacie, told me it's not that simple. Light color doesn't deposit well over dark. It would be like trying to color over dark brown crayon with a white one. It might lighten it a little, but the brown is still going to prevail.

So the first thing we did to make the transition softer was to weave my dark "bottle" color into the gray roots (pictures here.) I wanted to start putting gray streaks in it, but Stacie said we needed to let my hair grow out a little more so we could see what color it actually is! So we did, and I was delighted to learn that it's true silver, not white. 

But then we had the harsh line again. It was time to try and put some silver streaks in, but in order to do that she had to highlight them first. 

Silver goes over blonde better than dark brunette hair. It was kind of shocking to see myself with blonde hair, but I was only bleach blonde for about an hour. 

Once she put the silver over the blonde it looked more natural.

Unfortunately, a week later, the blond was starting to peek through again.

So she did a full highlight, covered it in silver, and this is what we got. LOVED it!

Unfortunately, 10 days later the silver started fading again and the warmth returned again. My hair is not naturally warm.

As you can see, however, the root transition is looking SO much better than it did. I actually really like the way it's looking up top (especially when you compare to the photos at the top of this post.)

Stacie says we just have to keep depositing the silver until it lifts sufficiently. So she's going to experiment with different product lines and see if we can land on one that works well for my hair.  This is a helpful learning experience for her, too.

Some might argue that doing all this coloring was pointless, but I'm happy to be a test participant. If we can hit upon a process that works with really dark hair that has layers and layers of color on it, maybe more people will unleash their inner gray. Sounds trite, but in a way it really is liberating. I'm going back in the near future to take another step in this experimental process, so I'll keep you posted.