How to Go Gray With Grace

Go ahead, show off that hard-earned silver.

There was a time when going gray was something only the rare Southern woman would brave. Coloring gray roots came as natural to her as swiping on red lipstick in the drive-thru line or wearing her pearls to the grocery store. But in our humble opinion, naturally, gray hair just hasn't been given its due credit. Silver strands mark a Southern woman who has seen, done, and cooked it all—with superb style and etiquette to boot.

Then suddenly, silver strands began popping up on crowns that weren't old enough to naturally turn the hue (or even, perhaps, to rent a car), and gray hair became a bonafide trend. From ash blondes and smoky brunettes, this new hair hue made going gray a youthful and fresh experience, so if there's ever a time to transition to gray naturally and stylishly, it's now.

Contrary to popular belief, going gray takes more work than canceling your next salon appointment for a monthly root touch-up. (If it were that easy, who wouldn't jump on that time-saving, penny-wise, and hassle-free style?) There are a few essential tips when embracing the gray that make sure the transition from color-treated to completely natural occurs without any doubt or discomfort. Check out the four best tricks you need to go gray with grace when you decide it's time to give up the permanent color.

Start With a Consultation

The first step in transitioning to your natural color is meeting with your stylist for a consultation. You might find that your hair is less gray than you think—meaning it could be gray toward your hairline and the rich, chocolate brown of your youth toward the back. Your hairstylist will be able to right-size your expectations while providing a game plan to help you achieve your gray goals. She will likely be able to help you avoid stark gray roots and a lengthy, awkward grow-out phase with strategically placed highlights and toning treatments. We like to refer to this practice as graylighting, affectionately.

Make the Chop—At Least at First

One thing is for sure: Going from colored hair to natural gray requires a transition stage that can be slightly less noticeable by getting a chop. A short haircut will keep your hair from pointing out the natural color in your hair. Your stylist will be able to consult on the best cut for your face shape and your path to gray, so be sure to take full advantage of her expertise. You'll love the low-maintenance styling that a short haircut needs as you initially embrace the gray.

Use the Right Shampoo

Whenever hair is dyed or highlighted, using the proper toning shampoo helps keep brassiness at bay. Similar to the toner that your stylist might apply at the salon to help supercharge your journey on the "road to silver," a toning shampoo can help keep things cool or warm, depending on your objective.

For colored blondes, violet shampoo keeps every shade vivid and balanced. For colored brunettes, blue shampoo keeps those caramel highlights rich and warm. Similarly, gray and white hair can skew yellow or look dull quickly—due to pigment loss—when not kept in tip-top condition with the right shampoo. Invest in a shampoo formulated for gray and white hair to avoid dull, yellow, or brassy strands. For most, a violet-tinted shampoo will work wonders when used just once or twice a week. (Use an ultra-hydrating shampoo formula for the rest of your weekly washes.)

Start Masking Regularly

Gray hair tends to be coarse or dry. The best way to make your gray hair look softer, shinier, and healthier is to use hydrating and smoothing hair masks regularly. Try a conditioning mask for curly hair to leave curls incredibly soft and hydrated. A restorative mask works some serious repair wonders for damaged hair. For your everyday hair mask, rely on replenishing moisture or an antiaging mask.

Have you thought about letting your high-maintenance butter blonde or brown chestnut venture into its natural gray state? These tricks will help you get the healthiest and most gorgeous gray hair from start to finish.

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