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How to transition to grey hair with ease

grey hair

There comes a time, for most women anyway, when the dyeing and highlighting and lowlighting and root touch-ups become too much of a chore. So what's wrong with going grey? Well, nothing as it happens. Grey is the colour of the moment. Grey is cool. And with a swathe of powerful and inspirational women in the public eye choosing to go au naturel and let their real colour come through, more and more women are ditching the dye and embracing the grey.

But how you go about it? Unfortunately, there's no quick fix as there will inevitably be a period of 'in-between' time when your grey comes in and your colour grows out. But there are a number of ways to minimise the zebra effect. Here are just a few.

 

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1. Choose a shorter cut

"I kept my hair quite short when I started to transition to silver grey hair, and it soon lightened all over. Start with a really good haircut that will accommodate the silver growth. You won't have any regrets."

short grey hair

Choosing to let go of some length in favour of short grey hair may be a big step, but it'll drastically quicken the growing out period of your existing colour. Check with your stylist as to which styles would suit you, but go for a definite one. The combination of short and grey can be ageing with a wishy-washy cut. 

There are lots of very fashionable short hairstyles around, from the lob (long bob) to the ever-popular pixie cut. It's just a matter of choosing the right one for you. In summary, a stylish cut - or, indeed, any style at all - is key to making sure your hair is more chic than granny. As one gransnetter rightly points out, "You can get away with a lot with a good cut."

 

2. Minimise the demarcation line

transition to grey hair

When transitioning to grey or white hair, primarily if your hair is dyed, there will usually be a line of demarcation. In the haircare world, this is where two textures meet - the texture of the newly grown hair and the texture of the dyed hair. Your natural hair will inevitably be stronger than the dyed hair so you may experience damaged ends and some hair breakage. 

It can also apply to colour, where two hair colours meet (sometimes quite harshly) to leave an usual two-toned look that, nine times out of 10, you'd really rather avoid.

There are a couple of ways that you can deal with this. The first is to go for a big chop (see above) to cut off any damaged hair and to help you avoid, where possible, the awkward transition phase. Some women also find this the easier and more manageable option. The second is to tidy up any split ends before taking care of the weaker strands using conditioner or other haircare products, such as oils. The third is to...

 

3. Cover up your roots

"The only thing I don't like are the dark roots showing through, but I don't mind keeping them touched up."

 grey hair root cover-up products

This is an especially useful tip if you're waiting for a semi-permanent or permanent hair dye to fade in order to reveal the existing grey streaks or silver strands underneath. No one likes obvious roots, so, while the overall colour fades, disguise them with a root mascara, spray or powder. Luckily, we've tested a range of high-street root fix options, so you can get the low-down without having to splash out unnecessarily. You're welcome.

 

4. Blend in some highlights

"If you opt for fine streaks in silver, gold and light ash brown, it can take two or three months before the grey is noticeable."

grey blonde hair

If your hair colour is naturally blonde, this is going to be a smoother transition and it may well be unnecessary to do anything except watch your grey hair grow in <lucky you>.

Do you have mid-brown hair? It might be worth considering lifting the colour of your hair so that the highlights start to blend in with the emerging grey to produce grey blonde hair. The lighter it is, the less noticeable the transition will be. Opt for ombré (the blending of one hue into another, light to dark) as an alternative.

If you have dyed hair and currently dye your hair considerably darker, stop right now (thank you very much) and switch to a semi-permanent hair dye. As the colour fades each time, go a shade lighter. The contrast between the lighter hair and the new grey will be less noticeable and, again, highlights are your friend in this instance. 

 

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5. Embrace the transition to grey hair and let it be 

"I had dark hair and started having light highlights in my 50s to disguise the grey, but about a year ago I decided to embrace my natural colour. I gradually stopped colouring, had a few highlights then had it cut short and let the grey be my natural colour. I love it and feel liberated."

transition to grey hair

When is the ideal time to go grey? And what is the best age to stop colouring your hair? There is, unsurprisingly no appropriate age to transition to grey hair as it entirely depends on your personal preference, hair texture and if you're willing to embrace the change - grey hair can take time to get used to, particularly if your natural colour takes on a dull or flat tone. External factors also play a part, i.e. the amount of money spent on colouring your hair every few weeks.

If the root touch-ups and highlights sound like too much effort, it may be worth letting nature take its course. Unless your hair is white or grey all over, underneath your current dye, you're more likely to acquire some great-looking white streaks or grey tones for a start. After all, if George Clooney can sport the salt and pepper look, why shouldn't we?

But that doesn't mean that you have to stick to grey from here on out. It might also be a fun idea to experiment with temporary colours if ever you fancy a small change. This will give you some freedom to play with colour while ensuring that your natural grey isn't affected: "I'm now grey, but I play around with temporary fun colours. My hair is currently pastel pink, and I have pale purple already lined up!"

The grey hair colour that's right for you will also depend on your skin tone - warmer tones will usually suit a variety of grey colours well, whereas women with cooler skin tones will typically opt for darker shades of grey. 

 

6. Keep your hair in good condition

"When I finally went grey I was disappointed at how draining and patchy the colour was - I have very sallow skin. Now I have silver highlights and use a silver shampoo, conditioner and mousse."

 shampoo for grey hair

Once you've completed the transition, it's time to get used to taking care of your silver, white or grey locks. This means investing in a shampoo and conditioner specially formulated for your hair. We like White Hot Hair's range, which includes a shampoo, conditioner, hair mask and an oil. And this is just one range - there are more and more products for grey or silver hair appearing all the time.

Heat can also have an odd effect on grey hair, sometimes giving it a brassy hue. Avoid baking it in the sun wherever possible - wear a hat on holiday and invest in a good heat protectant spray and use it religiously.

 

7. Update your style 

grey hair

Embracing your natural grey colour is a big step in itself, so it's a great time to re-evaluate and update your style. We're not talking a personal shopper and a bankruptcy-inducing trip to Selfridges here, just a few minimal changes, like using colour to complement your grey or silver hair, or making more style-conscious decisions when it comes to clothes and accessories. 

Lipstick: Adding a bright swipe of colour will complement the grey once it's fully grown in. Try a coral colour like L'Oreal's Colour Riche Lipstick in Magnetic Coral.

Ditch the old frames: There's no better time to invest in a pair of new glasses. Find out once and for all which style of frame really suits you and your face shape, and then choose a modern, stylish option.

Accessorise: Make a statement with colours that contrast with your hair and compliment your skin tone. Choose a bright necklace, like a long bead necklace from John Lewis, a pair of drop earrings or even a colourful scarf.

 

6 grey hairstyles to grow into

"Never in all my life did anyone ever say anything nice about my hair until I started to let it go grey. Now I get compliments on a regular basis and, believe you me, it does wonders for your self-esteem at 60."

If you're in need of hairstyle inspiration, now that you've embraced your grey, we've got you covered. From beautiful long layers to short choppy crops, there are a myriad of styles to choose from to suit your hair colour and personality. Why not give one of these cuts a try? 

 

ombre grey

1. Long layers with a side fringe

short grey hair

2. Curly crop

cool grey hair

3. Mid-length lob

noelle bee smith

4. Gentle curls

halfway

5. Crop with shorter layers

 

cool white

6. Choppy pixie cut

For more on all things beauty, including first-hand advice from other women over 50, head over to our beauty index and our forums.

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