How to Grow Out Grey Hair – Is There an Easy Way?

Have you ever thought about going grey, but were overwhelmed about how to do it  and look good in the process? One of my readers, Kelly recently emailed to ask about this problem. She writes:

KellyHairCollage

There’s no magic solution for how to let grey hair grow out. You just do it.

Then, I came across your page on Pinterest that was all beautiful grey hair styles.  I would love to just have natural hair and no longer dye it, but what is the best way to get this change? I don’t want to sport a “half head grow out” . Can you tell me  how to grow out grey hair gracefully?  Kelly McDonough

I took Kelly’s question to our Fabulous After 40 hair expert and top stylist Chris Maclachlan to get her expert advice. Here’s what she had to say.

Hi Kelly,
I’m sorry to say that the only way to go grey is to grow it out. Because grey hair is un- pigmented you can’t color it grey (you get blue, or purpley!!)

Jamie Lee Curtis Gray hair

Jamie Lee Curtis
photo: shutterstock

 

It will mean you have to go a couple of months with no color, so the best solution is to wear your hair up and “paint” your roots with a grey coverage pencil or crayon. They are available at beauty supply stores, and they cover the grey and wash out with shampoo. A mascara will do the same thing. It can be a very drastic change but also totally liberating.

The other option for letting grey hair grow out is to have your mahogany color taken out. You will need to go to a really good colorist for a correction. A colorist will cleanse the dark from your hair with a mixture of bleach, peroxide and shampoo. Then re-color it using a lighter shade. You cannot put a lighter color over a dark one and have it remove the color.

Corrections are expensive, time consuming (a few hours) and can be hard on the hair, but a good colorist can do it with minimal damage. You could also have a shorter cut at the same time to get you ready to cut out the colour once it grows a bit. A lighter shade will make your grey less noticeable as you grow it out. If you decide to go this route please make an appointment for a consultation with a good salon’s senior colorist. This should be free and there should be no pressure to book the actual appointment.

Be clear about what you want and ask about cost and time before you book. You can also eventually get into a combination of natural color and a few blondish highlights to blend in with the grey. Looking at your pictures my advice would be to go for a much warmer colour than either the ashy blond or the brown, which in the picture looks a little flat.

Here are a few nice options when deciding how to grow out your grey hair. Good Luck.

helen-mirren cool-gray-hair[1]

 

If you have a hair question for Chris please email your photo and question to  questions@fabulousafter40.com.



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  1. At age 47 I was well over 90% grey/white. I’d been coloring to medium brown since I was in my 20s. I’d been told to color at least until I found a husband. (Really!) Last year I was changing careers, moving to a new city and decided it was time to make the change to my natural hair color. I walked into the hairstylist’s, told her to bleach my hair to blonde then cut it short. It took a few hours, the blonde wasn’t great but, overall, it was a good, fun start to the grow-out process. Over the next 4 months we just grew it and cut it, grew it and cut it. I wore fun scarves and headbands to make the off-blonde more fun, look more intentional. No color or bleach has been used since the initial bleaching. After 4 months I was done — all grey/white/natural. I love it. It’s been fun, a bit of an experiment and an experience.

  2. Robin Smith says:

    Hi Deborah and Chris,
    Great article! I took the leap of faith and went the Pixie route for three months. At first I had a solid white crown with salt ‘n pepper throughout the rest of my hair. Now a year or so later, I still have the salt ‘n pepper but the crown is starting to show odd ball streaks of that dark mousy brown color of my ‘pepper.’ Not sure why but I’m still very happy with the natural look. Nor have I wanted to let it grow long yet.
    Anyway, I life in an ultra-rural area of the US and our culinary/drinking/bath water is well water. I found if I use a good clarifying shampoo about twice a week I don’t get odd ball rust coloration to my hair. My stylist also recommended an alternate to keep the silver and white: After regular and light conditioning, make a thick paste of baking soda and water; cover the entire head; let it sit 15-20 minutes, rinse out and style as usual. Both work very well and I highly recommend either or both to your readers.
    Here’s to the Silver Mama Foxes!!
    Hugs,
    Robin

  3. Rosie guerra says:

    I cut my hair in a pixie! It took about 3 haircuts to get it all out! It’s my best hair color ever! I get compliments everyday! I’m trying to post pics of my process but I am having trouble sending pics!

  4. Robyn Reagan says:

    At 48, with my husband’s encouragement, I set a goal to return to my natural haircolor by my 50th birthday. I’d been using semipermanent home haircolor for a several years, and I was afraid to go Jamie Lee Curtis short or live through the Pepe Le Peu skunkline phase. Fortunately, I found a wonderful stylist. She mixed a demipermanent color and gave me lowlights as my hair grew out. I went to her about four times over the next 18 months, and each time was a discovery, including two dramatic white streaks in the front, (approximately where my horns would be if I were a woodland sprite). This approach fit my lifestyle as well as my budget, and at 52 I get many compliments on my natural hair. It’s very freeing, so be brave. It can be done, so go for it!

  5. My grandmother Goldie had some wisdom on gray hair: it represents the natural enlightenment that happens to your soul as you add experiences to your life! I let my dark hair go gray when I was in my early 40s and I’ve never looked back. (When I’d go have it colored, I swear I could see roots showing when I looked in the rear view mirror to back out of the hair salon. Once I colored at home, left the solution on too long and had to go to the salon for correction. The salon owner’s husband–and co-owner of the salon took one look at me and said, “What happened? You look like the lady on the can of Rosarita Refried Beans!”)

  6. Believe it or not, I’m on the other side of 55 and have never had to color my hair. It’s been tempting the last few years as more grey started to appear, but I figured I was close enough to needing to go grey I’d just let it happen naturally. I hope I Iook as good as Jamie Lee when the grey becomes predominant! :)