If You're Letting Your Hair Go Gray, Do This First, Experts Say

Here's what you need to do to make sure your new gray hair looks flawless.

It's easy to wonder if it's time to go gray. Dyeing your hair can be high-maintenance and expensive. That aside, embracing a natural gray can look very chic, especially with the right cut and style. If you're tired of heading to the salon every few weeks for a touch-up or working on your roots at home, you've come to the right place. There are just a few things you need to prepare for, and we've consulted all the appropriate experts to help. Read on to find out what you need to do before letting your hair go gray.

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Ask for a professional opinion.

hair loss
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Once you decide you're ready to give up coloring your hair, it's time to talk to your stylist to find out what your options are. Rob Peetoom master colorist Hitomi Ikeda says that you must "always ask for professional opinions" before you go gray, so you can find out what technique is best.

The New York-based stylist explains, "There will be several options for how you can go gray, including decolorizing, doing a series of highlight sessions, a major haircut, or just forgetting about it and letting it go." You'll want to know what you're getting into before making this major change.

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Decide on a timeline.

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It might be overwhelming to think about going gray because the process can take quite a while. You don't want to be caught in the in-between stage, especially if you've got big events coming up. Luckily, there are ways to rock your natural color faster

For those who don't want to spend time growing out their gray, Kevin Murphy COLOR.ME Design Director and Education Manager Kate Reid recommends talking to your colorist about your options to "make this an easy transition without any wait time."

Consider cutting your hair.

middle age woman with gray hair
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A shorter chop will also make the transition easier. Ikeda says, "Consider getting a major haircut or get mentally prepared to go through the stages of getting rid of colored parts of hair." Going gray takes less time on shorter hair. Think about getting a pixie, bob, or lob.

A new haircut can also help change your look. Hairstylist Ian Turner says, "If you're letting your hair go gray, I would recommend embracing and styling accordingly by getting a professional cut that complements your overall looks." Sometimes a fresh cut can look more youthful than long gray locks.

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Experiment with highlights.

stylish older man with gray hair
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If you're ready to embrace your natural color but aren't ready to give up dye completely, try adding subtle highlights. Turner advocates for "adding highlights or lowlights in different shades of gray to add dimension to your hair color." As he explains, "This will help make sure that it doesn't look flat all the time." You can even have fun with trends, like balayage highlights, which is a free-hand technique that looks extremely natural.

And make sure you're using the right products.

profile of smilling woman with gray hair pulled back
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock

You don't just want your new gray hair to look great—you also want it to feel great. Ikeda recommends using "good moisturizing shampoo and conditioner to maintain good hair health" during the transition process. This is especially important, since gray hair is much coarser.

You'll be saving money on visiting your hairstylist weekly, but you still need to make sure you're using the right products for your hair. "Even gray hair can get discoloration," Reid warns.

Once you talk to your colorist, buy a few moisturizing products, and make the chop, it's time for a change. Prepare to channel your inner Jane Fonda in Grace & Frankie, because you're about to look just as elegant.

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