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How to transition to 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 naturelle and let their real colour come through, more and more women are opting to ditch the dye and embrace the grey.

But how does one go about that? Unfortunately, there's no quick fix. Sorry about that... There will inevitably be a period of 'in-between' time while your grey comes in and your colour grows out. There are, however, a number of ways to minimise the zebra effect while it's running its course <hurrah>.


Choose a shorter cut

grey hair

"I kept mine quite short initially, when it started to go silvery, and it soon lightened all over. Start with a really good haircut that will accommodate the silver growth. I don't think you'll have any regrets."

Choosing to let go of some length may be a big step, but it'll drastically shorten 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 hair can be ageing with a wishy washy cut. 

There are lots of very fashionable shorter styles 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 a style at all - is key to making sure your grey hair is more chic than granny. As lettie rightly points out, "You can get away with a lot with a good cut."


Blend in some highlights

blonde highlights

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

If you're a natural 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>.

If 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. The lighter it is, the less noticeable the transition will be.

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

"I have a friend who has always had beautiful, thick, glossy hair. She is 63 now and her hair is still lovely. She used to colour it a dark-ish brown but got fed up of grey roots showing through every few weeks. Her hairdresser put a lighter colour on it and she has gradually let her hair go grey. She has it shoulder length and it looks absolutely lovely."


For more hair care tips, chat to others on our forums 


Cover up your roots

Root coverups 

This is an especially useful tip if you're waiting for a semi-permanent dye to fade in order to reveal the existing grey streaks underneath. While the overall colour fades, disguise your roots with a root mascara, spray or powder. Happily, we've tested a range of high-street root fix options, so you can get the low down without having to splash out unnecessarily.


Embrace the transition and let it be 

When is the ideal time to go grey? 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.

"After 40 years of dyeing and highlighting I just thought 'Enough! I cannot do this any more' and stopped. Yes, it did look yuck for a while but I wasn't bothered... Now I love it, and it looks shiny and healthy too." 

"I'm 69 soon and it was the biggest relief to stop with the colouring which I'd been doing for many years. My hair is now a silver grey and I love it! My life is so much simpler since I stopped."

"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 the grey. 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 from the faff of colouring and highlighting."

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, 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 playing around with temporary fun colours. My hair is currently pastel pink, and I have pale purple already lined up!"


Keep your grey in good condition

Shampoos for grey hair 

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

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 shampoo, conditioner, a hair mask and an oil. And this is just one range - there are more and more products for maintaining grey 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.


Update your style 

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.

Accessories for grey hair 

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 (pictured).

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 frames really suit you, and then choose a modern, stylish option like the above pair from Specsavers.

Accessorise: Make a statement with colours that contrast with your hair. Choose a bright necklace, like a long bead necklace from John Lewis or these Goldmajor silver and amber drop earrings.


Grey styles to grow into


ombre grey

woman with grey hair


cool grey hair

noelle bee smith



cool white


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