How to Grow Out Graying Hair
Read this if you're ready to embrace the process.
Despite the fact that going gray is a natural part of life, it hasn't always been in vogue. Rightfully, that's no longer the case—these days, silver- and even white-toned hair is a sought-after trend. In many ways, this is a sign that we have begun to embrace the graying process, as opposed to trying to hide it with root touch-ups or coloring appointments, notes Andrew Fitzsimons, a celebrity hairstylist. "It is allowing people to feel the most beautiful in their most natural state. When you grow out graying hair, the hydrogen peroxide that naturally exists in the hair follicles begins to build-up and block the production of melanin, which is our hair's pigment," Fitzsimons explains. "So technically, our hair doesn't just turn gray—it really grows out gray."
This process is much easier on virgin hair (or hair that has never been colored), since all you need to do is let time take its course. However, it is still doable for hair that has been dyed for years or even decades. "Stopping your coloring appointments altogether and allowing your gray hair to grow out will cause a line of demarcation (two-tone hair), which is what we want to avoid," continues Fitzsimons. "In order to maintain the health of your hair, opt for a glaze, which will help blur the lines between the two tones, or a balayage, which can gently assist in creating highlights that build dimension." If you're looking for more ways to successfully go gray, here are some key steps to follow, according to professional hair stylists.
Seek out a colorist who specializes in gray hair.
Especially if you are growing out your gray for the first time, Fitzsimmons recommends doing some research to ensure the hairstylist responsible for transitioning your color is a true expert. "They can help you through this process and ensure you maintain healthy hair without harming your natural color," he says. When you do find the right colorist, Kristina Tabb, the co-founder of Los Angeles salon Tabb & Sparks, recommends bringing pictures of your ideal look to make sure that you are both on the same page. "Words can get lost in translation. Pictures paint the picture without having to describe the color with words like, warmth, tone, golden, red, white," she offers.
Give them enough root to work with.
Tabb recommends giving your colorist at least eight to 12 weeks of regrowth should you want to go gray; this allows your base color to grow out, leaving your true hue behind. "They need as much natural root as possible to match the color, and for the old color to fade out without having to use chemicals," she notes.
Continue using color-safe products.
Any sort of lightening process comes with quicker oxidation rates, warns Fitzsimmons, so he recommends using purple shampoos and conditioners to counteract any sort of brassiness that may arise. "Purple shampoos will keep your color bright and cool throughout this process," he says. "There are a number of great affordable options, like Kristin Ess The One Purple Shampoo ($12.79, target.com)."
Don't skimp on trims.
For any growing out cycle, Fitzsimons recommends getting bi-monthly trims to help not only maintain your ends, but also speed up the timeline altogether. "Longer hair usually prolongs the growing out process. Cutting it shorter can also help to get rid of any leftover artificial dyes that could counteract your new gray coloring and growth," he says.