5 Ways to Know You're Ready to Grow Out Your Gray Hair, According to Stylists
Making the switch requires emotional and logistical planning.
There's no bigger change you can make to your hair than going gray. While dying it a funky color or giving it an unusual chop is dramatic, opting for silver strands signals a new phase of life. The decision is emotional and empowering—and can also require a great deal of planning and maintenance, so it's only natural to deliberate before making any changes. However, you don't want to hem and haw for too long. Ahead, hair stylists tell us the key ways to know you're ready to grow out your gray hair. Stunning strands await.
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You're excited about the prospect of gray hair.
The first step in ensuring you're ready to grow out your gray hair is a mental one. "Someone is emotionally ready to go gray the instant they no longer identify gray hair as a negative attribute of aging," says Jessica Shults, stylist, owner, and gray-blending specialist at Twisted Salons. "Once you see gray hair as a graceful and elegant expression of yourself as you currently exist, then it's a sure signal you're ready to go fully gray."
This shift in mindset means you might want to start experimenting with growing your roots or chatting with your stylist about blending your color into a natural gray hue.
There are grays on the back of your head.
It sounds obvious, but in order to go fully gray, you'll need to ensure you have enough gray hair growth. "Many people think they are fully grey because they see grey at the hairline, which is where it comes in fastest and most grey," says Laura Courtie, hair stylist and owner of Laura Courtie Hair. "The back, however, is the last to gray, and so when your roots at the back are grey, then you know it's time." Go ahead, grab a mirror and look.
If you color your hair, this growth might be more obvious. "You may start to notice a line in larger sections where the color stopped," says Gökhan Vayni, hair specialist at Vera Clinic. "If the roots are all growing through as gray, then this is a sign that your hair is fully gray." Now comes the fun part.
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You're happy with your shade of gray.
Once you've established that your hair is fully gray, you'll want to get a feel for its particular hue. Just like everyone's natural hair color is different, so is everyone's natural gray.
"I explain to clients their gray hair is actually a combination of black and white hair like salt and pepper," says Shults. "The more salt they have means the lighter the gray hair overall will look and vice versa for pepper. If your mix of salt and pepper creates your ideal shade of gray then you are good to go; if it's too dark or too light then you most likely will not be happy going fully gray."
Fortunately, your stylist can help you find a toning or color solution that allows you to achieve your desired hue.
You've made a plan with your stylist.
Growing your hair even an inch or two can take months. So, it's no surprise that growing an entire head of gray hair might take longer than you're willing to wait. First, Vayni suggests growing at least two inches of gray hair. "After that, it's worth discussing with your hairstylist what the best option for the smoothest transition may be."
This might include chopping your hair short to eliminate any dyed ends, highlighting your hair with an ashy hue to blend out your natural gray over time, or dying your hair to match your incoming gray roots. When chatting with your stylist, make sure to bring up your planned maintenance routine and any timeline you'd like to stick to.
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You've updated your haircare routine.
The final step in readying yourself to go gray is determining an updated haircare routine. "Gray hair has a different texture because your hair loses melanin and the hair follicle does not produce as much sebum," says Vayni. "Therefore, gray hair often feels more coarse, dry, and wiry."
However, using the right products can help. Experts recommend a hydrating hair mask once a week and sulfate-free, hydrating shampoo and conditioner with each wash.
Gray hair is also more susceptible to pollution and heat damage, which can alter its color. To keep it pristine, use a purple shampoo or toner when needed. The violet hue will cancel out any yellow tones so your strands shine like silver.