My Wardrobe, Myself

The intersection of clothing, emotions, and life

NOTE:  I have done a more recent update on my gray hair transition HERE. Also, click here to view all of my posts about this topic.


It’s been almost six months since I last posted about my gray hair transition, but that post remains the most viewed article on this site, and my other gray hair posts are frequently accessed as well. Clearly, a lot of women are interested in this topic, and it seems that “going gray” is becoming more and more popular these days. Many women post about their gray hair transitions on Instagram and YouTube, and there are many groups on Facebook dedicated to supporting women who are going through the process.

Recently, there has been a wave of YouTube videos called “The Gray Hair Tag,” in which women who have either gone gray or are on that journey have answered ten key questions and “tagged” other YouTubers to follow suit. Since I don’t have a YouTube channel (maybe one day…), I was not tagged, but I thought it might be fun to answer the questions in a blog post, so that’s what I’m doing today.

gray hair tag intro

This isn’t me, but I hope to be this happy and peaceful about my gray hair very soon…

How old were you when you started going gray?

I’m not entirely sure when the gray hairs first began to show up, as I started dyeing my hair at a pretty young age for the sake of fun and variety, but I think it was in my early to mid-thirties. Once the gray hairs popped up, they multiplied fairly rapidly and I soon had to graduate from highlights and semi/demi permanent color to the wonderful world (she says sarcastically…) of permanent color. For a number of years, I had my roots touched up every six to eight weeks and didn’t think too much of it. It was only when I had to start doing it more and more often that it became a problem. More on that in the next question…

How old were you when you decided to transition?

By my mid-forties, I started to have to color my hair every five weeks, and soon it was every four weeks.  Not only did I have to spend several hours at a hair salon each month, but I became increasingly unhappy with the results. Even though I was ostensibly having my hair dyed the same color each time, it didn’t always look the same when I left the salon. Sometimes it was darker, sometimes lighter, sometimes redder, and occasionally I would end up with darker patches on parts of my head. Additionally, my hair had become more and more damaged and started to break and split. My previously long and lustrous hair didn’t look all that pretty anymore and I had to have it layered and cut shorter to mitigate the damage.

It was when the damage occurred and when every four weeks didn’t seem to be often enough (I saw the “skunk stripe” after two weeks or less) that I started to consider ditching the dye. I was also having more and more health problems and worried about the negative impact of putting chemicals on my head each month. Because of all of these reasons, I thought it might be nearing the time for me to stop the dye. I joined a gray hair transition group on Facebook and was inspired by the women I saw there who were embracing their natural color. At age forty-eight, I seriously considered taking the plunge and broached the subject with my hairstylist. Unfortunately, she didn’t think it was a good idea. She told me I was too young to go gray and that I would look “terrible” during the process and would hate it.

Deflated and discouraged, I opted to continue with the dye for a while longer, but I revisited the idea a year later after I stopped going to that stylist. I was approaching fifty at the time and thought that would be a good time to make the change.

Did you go to your hairdresser to help with the transition or did you just go “cold turkey”? What did your hairdresser do to help if you went to one?

At first I thought I would dye my hair back to its original medium brown color prior to transitioning, as my hair was dyed a dark auburn when I decided to go gray. I thought that would make the transition easier, but the organic colorist I consulted with thought that I should just go “cold turkey” and let it grow out. I wish I would have gone with my original plan because the contrast between my salt and pepper roots and the rest of my deep and warm-toned dyed hair was stark and I hated it. I used root powder to camouflage the “skunk stripe” for far longer than was prudent, almost six months, but eventually it wasn’t feasible anymore and didn’t look very good either.

It was then that I found myself between a rock and a hard place. I didn’t think I had the emotional fortitude to withstand the gradual progression of the skunk stripe down my head and I didn’t want to go the pixie route due to my unruly hair texture (the straight hair in my pictures is all flat-ironing). I also didn’t want to go back to the every four week dyeing, so at the six month mark, I proceeded down the ill-advised path of trying to blur the line of demarcation via highlights.

I won’t outline the fiasco that the next year involved, as it’s all spelled out step by step (along with many unflattering photos) in this post. But suffice it to say that I wish I would have stuck with going “cold turkey,” parted with some length, and rocked hats, headbands, and scarves as my hair grew out. That would have saved me a ton of money, time, and heartache, plus I would be done by now instead of still fighting the brassy ends that have been my nemesis for longer than I care to think about at this point.

What was the reaction of your friends and family?

I didn’t tell most people I knew for a long time, as I was using root cover powder to camouflage the gray roots, so I looked pretty much the same as I always did. I wasn’t 100% convinced that I was going to stay the course, so I decided to mostly keep it to myself at first. I did, however, write about going gray on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic (I later moved those posts to this blog and you can read them all HERE). I received mostly positive feedback on those posts. Most readers were supportive of my decision even if they intended to keep coloring their own hair forever.

I also shared my transition with members of an online community I belong to and they were all very supportive. A few of them also decided to take the plunge and we periodically updated each other on how we were doing with the process. Three of them had a much smoother transition than I’ve had and have been done for quite a while now (they all have much shorter hair than I do, but I’ve also had some major “detours” along the way…). One woman ended up going back to coloring, but she is considering starting to transition again now.

When it came time to share the process with people from my “real life,” I was worried about four specific people who I thought would respond negatively (the most important person – my husband – has always been extremely supportive and encouraging). I was pleasantly surprised that none of them were harsh or rude about it and one person was actually complimentary about my transition. Two of them haven’t really said much at all, which I guess is better than making a negative comment. I get the sense that they don’t approve, but that was to be expected since they are both women who will likely color their hair until the day they die. The fourth person has been a bit passive aggressive in her reaction to my hair changes. Instead of saying that she hates the way my hair looks now, she has reminisced about my “lovely long auburn hair that looked so nice on me.” I mostly don’t say anything when she makes such comments, as I think she’s another “dye till I die” devotee.

I know it shouldn’t matter what other people have to say about my hair, but because I’m not happy with how it looks myself, it’s much harder for me to hear any criticism. Part of the reason I initially opted to keep the transition to myself was that I feared I might “cave” in the face of negative reactions. Thus, I wanted to be “incognito” about going gray until I was far enough along that I’d be less likely to go back to coloring. In hindsight, I think I should have been more open about it, as that would have helped me to commit to the process more fully. Because I hid it for so long and then tried to use color to eliminate the visual effect of transitioning, I didn’t experience the type of personal empowerment and liberation that other women have written about in terms of their gray hair transition. My fear of “looking bad” has only prolonged my process, so I would do things much differently if I had it to do over again.

Favorite thing about being gray?

I love the fact that I no longer have to “chase roots” or worry about unpredictable coloring results. I also like that the condition of my hair is much better now than it was before. It’s softer, doesn’t break and split much anymore, and I don’t lose nearly as much hair as I did previously (I used to lose tons of hair in the shower). I also think the lighter, cooler toned hair looks much better with my complexion and coordinates better with the clothes I wear. Of course, I’m only talking about the gray outgrowth here and not the brassy ends, but I feel confident that I’ll be happy when my hair is all natural and back to my preferred length (mid-back and long enough to wear in a braid over my shoulder).

Another thing I’m happy about is that I’m no longer putting harsh chemicals on my scalp every month. There are mixed reports about the toxicity of hair dye, but a lot of research has shown that the darker dyes can have adverse health effects. As someone who is already struggling with multiple health conditions, I wasn’t doing myself a favor by adding to my toxic burden with the hair dye. Since I have become increasingly chemically sensitive in recent years, it may have also been just a matter of time before I suffered a severe allergic reaction to hair dye, which can happen even if a woman has been using the same products for many years. I was probably a ticking time bomb, so I’m grateful that I was able to avoid such a scary situation, especially since I already suffered a major adverse reaction to a hair straightening treatment back in 2009 (which I wrote about in this post – I need to re-read it regularly and recommit to the vows I made at the end).

Least favorite thing about being gray?

By far, my least favorite thing has been the transition process and the fact that dyed hair has a tendency to turn brassy and orange when one stops applying color on a regular basis. This has been termed “blorange” in the gray transition community and it seems to affect some women a lot worse than others. I think that because I started with dyed auburn hair and got two heavy highlights, my blorange has been among the worst I’ve ever seen (you can see for yourself in my April post – I’m not exaggerating).

In addition to the blorange effect, having two-toned hair has been very difficult for me to deal with, especially since the contrast between my natural color and the dyed portion is so stark. My natural hair is “salt and pepper” but very cool-toned, whereas my dyed portions are extremely warm-toned and clash severely with the outgrowth. Additionally, the brassy dye looks terrible against my skin tone as well as the cool-toned clothing I like to wear (which fortunately looks great with my natural hair, so that’s a positive).

The average rate of hair growth is half an inch per month, so the transition process can take a very long time for someone with medium length or long hair. There are some women I’ve seen on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube whose hair seems to grow like a weed, but that’s not me and the hair vitamins I tried taking didn’t agree with my stomach and I had to stop them. Even though my hair doesn’t grow very fast, I would still be done by now if I hadn’t messed around. Therefore, I would say that my very least favorite part of this process is all the mistakes I’ve made along the way that set me back more than a year in my progress.

The only saving grace is that I’ve been able to prevent other women from making those same mistakes, which is why I wrote my last gray hair transition post. Every time I receive a comment or email from a woman who tells me she’s grateful for my honesty in sharing my pitfalls, it brings tears to my eyes. I’m happy to be able to save others from spending hundreds or thousands of dollars chasing the dream of not having to either cut their hair super short or brave the line of demarcation for a year or more. Yes, using color to help transition can work out for some, but I think they are more the exception than the rule. Even if they don’t experience the tremendous brassiness I did, their hair is likely to become highly damaged and they’ll also need to spend a lot of time and money maintaining a silver color since hair dye always skews warm-toned. Just remember that those Pinterest and Instagram photos are usually taken at the salon and most silver toners don’t last beyond a few washes and then you’re right back to yellow or orange tones.

Do you receive a lot of criticism for your gray hair? If so, how do you deal?

Fortunately, I’ve received very little criticism, but I also don’t have a very active social life and I spend a large portion of my time at home.  I’ve read in the Facebook gray transition groups about women who have been approached by strangers with negative comments about their hair. One woman even recounted that her own mother had stopped speaking to her just because she had opted to go gray! Some people I know may not approve of my hair change, but I’m happy that they have mostly kept their feelings to themselves.

Because I am admittedly quite insecure, I think it would be hard for me to weather harsh criticism, which is part of why I tried to hide the line of demarcation for so long.  I wish I had a thicker skin and I also know that if I was happier with how my hair looked, it would be easier to deal with the criticism of others. I really admire the women who are just out there with the “skunk stripe” and wear it like a badge of honor. I wish I could be that strong, but I’m not…  Still, I feel proud of myself for taking on this journey and staying the course despite my many difficulties along the way. It has definitely been challenging, especially since I’m so attached to the way I look and identify too deeply with it, but it has also forced me to grow in many ways (which I will share more about in a future post).

What is your favorite compliment that you have received about your hair?

A lot of people have told me that my eyes stand out more now that I don’t have a curtain of dark hair as the primary focus of people’s attention. I have also been complimented more on my skin than I ever was before. A few times, women have thought my hair was a sort of “reverse ombre” on purpose, which I enjoyed. That happened more when I was using “toner” (in quotes because it didn’t wash out) last year, but it’s nice to receive any sort of compliment on my hair because I’m so self-conscious of it.

Just recently, I had my teeth cleaned by a new dental hygienist who is in her early-thirties. She said, “This may be a weird thing to compliment you about, but I love your hair.” I think I would have hugged her right there on the spot if her hands weren’t in my mouth when she said it! I’m just so ready to be done with this seemingly interminable process that I’m thrilled when I receive any positive feedback. I’m just trying to keep the faith and trust that it will look great in the end, so it’s always an ego boost when I receive a compliment, especially from a stranger who doesn’t feel any sense of obligation to say something nice.

What is your biggest piece of advice to anyone looking to start the process?

I’ve said this before and I will repeat it now… Don’t use color to transition to not coloring, especially if your hair is dyed dark! The results are super unpredictable and you may end up spending tons of money only to be less happy with your hair than you were before. In my opinion, the best way to transition is to go “cold turkey” and cut the dyed parts off as quickly as you can. If you’re willing to go short, that’s really the easiest way to do it, but I totally understand not being open to doing that. It can be a huge shock to change both your color and your style at once, plus some of us have difficult hair that doesn’t work well when it’s short.

If you have light dyed hair, highlighting may work, but since your line of demarcation is already fainter, it’s still better not to risk it. Use a root cover spray or powder for the first few months and then use headbands, scarves, hats, and creative styling to obscure or blur the line. After a while, the line will become less pronounced, as hair grows at different rates and the line won’t be so straight and precise anymore. I’ve seen pictures of hundreds of women in Facebook groups and their transition always looks much better around the six to eight month mark no matter how dark or long their hair was to begin with. I wish I would have stayed the course and waited until my dye faded more (it always does over time) and the line was less stark.

Speaking of the Facebook groups, they can be helpful, but they are also a mixed blessing. Although it was encouraging to be among other women who are on the same journey and to see lots of positive end results, it was also difficult to feel like my hair looked worse than almost anyone else I saw there. I also felt that I received a lot of mixed advice when I asked for help, which made it more confusing to decide what to do next. I guess my advice would be to join the groups for inspiration and support but not to spend too much time there (I think it’s best not to spend too much time on Facebook in general, as I wrote about here). If you find that it’s doing you more harm than good, either step away for a while or leave the groups altogether. We’re all different and need varying types of support. Also, there are many gray transition groups on Facebook, so it can be helpful to try a few to see which one(s) work best for you.

I guess my biggest piece of advice is to fully embrace the process once you decide to do it. Don’t have one foot in and one foot out like I did. Own the fact that you’re making a big change and go for it.  Decide that you’re going to learn and grow from your gray transition journey and perhaps keep a journal of what you’re noticing along the way. Don’t let the opinions of others sway you from doing what you believe is the right thing for you. I have read about many women who went back to coloring their hair because their husband, daughter, friend, or mother didn’t like it, only to regret doing so and then having to start all over again. Do it for you and if you decide down the line that it’s not for you after all, it’s okay to change your mind. You may think the time is right when it’s really not; that happens and it’s fine.

There is no right or wrong age to go gray. People may tell you you’re too young, but one woman I know wisely said, “If it’s coming out of my head, clearly I’m not too young for gray hair.” This same woman bravely cut her hair super short after a few months of growing it out, started rocking a gray pixie, and owned it. She decided she liked how it looked and went on with her life. We are not our hair, just like we are not our body shapes, sizes, or weights. What we look like is not who we are. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to internalize those words and even though I know them to be true, it’s still a challenge to live in accordance with them. Going through menopause and transitioning to gray hair at the same time has been a trial by fire for me and I’ve had a rough time of it.  It hasn’t been easy for me to gain weight, lose muscle tone, and deal with multiple symptoms, all while sporting brassy, two-toned hair. Clearly, I still have lessons to learn, but I’m going to keep on keeping on, as I know that I have a lot of life left in me and more contributions to make to the world.

Who is your gray hair idol?

I don’t have just one… Pretty much anyone who has opted to buck societal trends and embrace their natural hair color is a hero in my book, but I have a special appreciation for those who have shared – or are sharing – their journey online. Below are some YouTube channels – and one blog – you might want to check out if you’re either thinking of going gray or are in the process of doing so. Some of these women used bleach during their transitions to varying levels of success (one lost half of her hair in the process!), while others just went “cold turkey” like I wish I had done, but they are all inspiring and have useful insights to share.

  • Katie Goes Platinum (Blog) – Katie is seven months into her transition and is posting about her experience, sharing other women’s transition stories, and offering helpful advice on products and more.
  • Elisa in Montreal (YouTube) – Elisa is fully transitioned now, but she has lots of videos you can watch from along the way. She did use bleach to ease the line of demarcation and her hair seemed to grow like a weed (infinitely faster than mine), but she’s a real warrior who owned the process and spoke her truth passionately.
  • Deb Arndt (YouTube) – Deb transitioned to gray by only dyeing her part for a period of time and letting the rest of her hair grow out during that time. She explains that process in this video, and has done monthly videos of her journey for over three years now (she now has lovely long silver hair).
  • Little Miss Tracy (YouTube) – Tracy lives in the UK and has been documenting her gray hair transition journey through videos over the past eighteen months. She still has some color on the ends just like I do and is considering cutting the final colored parts off soon. In her most recent video, she said that she’s in “hair limbo” – I can relate!
  • Silver Foxy (YouTube – and she also has a Facebook group by the same name) – She’s also fully transitioned and recently went for a shorter, rocker-style haircut. She has lots of videos from during her (“cold turkey”) transition process, as well as videos of other women’s transitions.
  • Erica Henry Johnston (YouTube) – She recently turned forty and finished her transition around the same time. Along the way, she did monthly videos to share her journey, as well as other informational videos to help those looking to go gray.
  • Beauty 101 by Lisa (YouTube) – Lisa is still in the process of growing out her hair and she’s the woman I referred to above who burned off half of her hair through bleaching (see this video). She has a great attitude and is very open and honest about her hair and her life in her videos.
  • Monique Parent (YouTube) – Monique is an actress who went gray several years ago and vlogs about silver hair empowerment, aging gracefully, and living a fabulous life after forty. She has an excellent video on how to survive the first year of going gray, which I highly recommend.
  • Susan Paget (YouTube) – She hasn’t posted a new video in a long time, but she has a lot of inspirational videos from when she was transitioning to gray. She also wrote a book called Gray Hair Adventure that I read and found helpful.

Other than Katie Goes Platinum, I don’t know of other women who are consistently blogging about their gray hair transition; I mostly see this content on YouTube and Instagram. If you know of any other useful blogs, YouTube channels, and other resources regarding transitioning to gray hair, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

A Few Photos and What’s Next…

As I mentioned in my April post, I stopped taking photos of my gray hair transition after what happened a year ago (the major setback) and pretty much stopped taking photos of myself altogether. I needed to do that because I felt so demoralized that it was healthy for me to focus more on other things for a while. I’m not really back to documenting my gray hair transition now (I’m just letting it happen), but I do have some recent pictures that show my progress. I attended my brother’s wedding two months ago and multiple pictures were taken of me there. To maintain other people’s privacy, I have cropped them out, but you can see a reasonable view of what my hair looks like now. My hair seems to look dramatically different depending on the lighting, but you can see the still brassy ends in the bottom two images. I have gotten about two inches cut off since then and plan to get another trim in the next couple of weeks.

gray hair transition photos

gray hair transition photos 2

I’m gradually cutting the colored parts off, but it’s not happening as fast as I’d like. My goal was to be done with my transition by the end of the year, but that may not happen unless I resort to adding lots of layers to the top portions of my hair, where most of the remaining color is located. When I’m finally done, I will post another update to celebrate the culmination of what has been a long and arduous journey (and I may post sooner as well).  At that time, I will also share my insights into what I’ve learned about myself along the way, as well as more tips for my fellow “silver sisters” – or those pondering taking the plunge. In the meantime, if you have any questions for me or thoughts you’d like to share, please feel free to do so below.

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40 thoughts on “Answering the “Gray Hair Tag” Questions

  1. Claudette says:

    What lovely photos , looks like intentional reverse ombré…looking elegantly glamorous!!!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much, Claudette! I’ll take “elegantly glamorous” any day 🙂

  2. -s says:

    But but but … you look fantastic! Your natural color looks terrific and makes your skin absolutely glow. I’m sorry it’s been such a tough journey for you, but truly, it looks wonderful.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words! The compliments on my skin have been especially nice and encouraging as a 50+ woman.

  3. Julia says:

    It has certainly been a difficult journey for you, but it has been so worth it in the end – you look absolutely amazing. You have the skin tone and eyes which are so enhanced by grey hair and you have the wardrobe too! Poor me, with what is commonly called ‘salt and pepper’ grey and a skin tone which grey makes me look as though I have been exhumed! So I shall probably continue with the dye for a little longer….

    I follow a wonderful knitwear designer in Scotland – Kate Davies Designs – who has recently done the journey. She had long dark hair worn up and always wore headwraps in photographs on her blog. She looked so great I thought the headwraps were just part of her style. A little while ago she mentioned she had a surprise in store – which turned out to be away with the headwraps and a very, very short hair cut, totally grey. Like you, she also looks totally amazing.

    Regarding criticism from others, I find it very sad that in 2018 certain women feel they have the right to be critical about whatever other women choose to do with their hair. Don’t we have enough problems with certain men in this world for heaven’s sake!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I appreciate your kind words, Julia! Regarding your gray hair, it may look a lot different than you think when it’s not just a very small stripe of outgrowth. I thought I had a lot more gray than I actually do and I thought my “pepper” would also be darker than it is. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but we all have to wait until the time is right for us, and sometimes it’s never the right time for some… I love your story about Kate Davies Design and I will look her up! How wonderful that she integrated the headwraps into her style during her transition. I agree with you about criticism and women being mean to each other. We really need to band together and support each other rather than knock each other down!

  4. Jenn says:

    You look great, Debbie! I’m pushing sixty and still having my hair dyed. I’d be about 50% gray if I didn’t. My hair is a bit unruly also, but I scrunch it to encourage the waves. The puffiness helps hide my skunk stripe, so I can go 6-7 weeks. But I’m sure I’ll let it go gray someday. I appreciate the advice you’ve offered here and will keep it as a reference.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you, Jenn. I’m glad you found this post interesting and helpful even though you’re not planning to go gray anytime soon. I actually thought I had MORE gray hair than I do, but I guess it just looked that way against the super dark backdrop I had previously. It’s great that your hairstyle allows you to go longer between touch-ups. I probably would have waited longer to go gray if I didn’t have to dye it so often and if the dye worked out better than it did towards the end. My mom has puffy hair, too, and is still dyeing every 5 weeks at age 74. She tried to go gray about a year ago, but ultimately went back to coloring. I’ve read that the average woman has 3 attempts before actually transitioning. I don’t know what to count mine as… I never went back to coloring my roots, but because I had color mishaps, there have been stops and starts along the way.

  5. Katrina B says:

    I am so happy that more and more women are not only making this journey, but documenting it to help others. I wish it wasn’t so painful for some, but when something is a part of our identity and femininity, it’s a very individual process. And knowing that there is a whole community out there really helps. I have had an interesting experience with my IRL friends. They were fine with my gray transition but now tell me I should not have long hair! I’m thankful for the vast online community of gray, silver, and white-haired women who wear it any way they want.

    I actually came to it from the opposite direction: from the age of 16, when my blonde hair started to darken, I wanted it to be light. I was in the salon every 2 months for 40 years lightening the roots — how much bleach does that add up to? My hair could have been white for decades, but it wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I noticed my roots were white instead of brown. I asked my stylist, but she discouraged me from transitioning, just as yours did. But it only took me a few days to consider her comment that it would make me look older. Older than what? Do I care? Does anybody care? No.

    That was my last haircoloring, February 2016. Two and a half years to grow below my shoulders, and yes, quite awkward looking at times. I pulled it back when the line bothered me too much. I was disappointed to find out that my beautiful pure white hair is only in the front, but it does make a nice frame for my face. The rest is medium brown with white salted through it. I am a 58-year-old woman with a lot of white in her hair. That seems very good and natural to me.

    So as I say, I came to it from the opposite direction from you, and my growout line — golden blonde to gray-brown — was probably less noticeable to me than your transition of deep auburn brunette to gray was to you. But I will add my voice to the chorus telling you that your gray looks beautiful with your features. It’s hard to look back on all the struggles you’ve had to get here, but I hope soon you can look at your beautiful hair and feel happy and peaceful with it.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      How wonderful that you have long silver hair, Katrina! That’s what I’m working towards… It’s strange that there seems to be a taboo against long hair for women “of a certain age.” It’s just agreement reality, as I think a lot of older women look great with long hair, be it colored or natural. Good for you for not taking your hairstylist’s comment to heart when you first wanted to transition and congratulations on successfully transitioning! I have more gray on the top and front than in the back and underneath, too. I was actually hoping for more gray, but I will take what I have! I appreciate your kind words and encouragement. I’m sure I will be happy and at peace with my hair once I cut the last of the dye off. I’m not as upset and fraught about it as I used to be, but I’m more than ready to be done at this point.

  6. Terra says:

    Yay! You are near the end of the journey, and your hair is lovely and you are lovely.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much, Terra! I can only hope that one day my silver hair will look as lovely as yours 🙂 I know it took you a while to transition, too, and you had your ups and downs along the way. I appreciate your encouragement with my journey!

  7. Wendy says:

    You look amazing Debbie! I admire your persistence despite your setbacks while achieving this goal. Wonderful!!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you, Wendy! It’s definitely been an exercise in patience and perseverance, that’s for sure…

  8. Cindy says:

    I love your hair. When I was 48 I made the transition from dyed dark brown hair to a lovely silver gray. Was a very difficult time for me but I persevered. I did find that hair dressers were not encouraging at all, but I get that coloring people’s hair is how they make a living. I am 61 now and get stopped constantly by young and old to discuss my hair and how much they love it.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for sharing about your journey, Cindy. I’m sure your hair looks beautiful now. I’m one of those people who stops women to compliment them on their lovely silver hair and sometimes they look surprised, but I’m guessing it’s becoming more and more common these days. I wish hairdressers would be more encouraging or at least admit that they’re not sure how to help with the transition. If I would have avoided them altogether (except for cuts), I would have saved myself a lot of money and anguish!

  9. Gail, aka Helen says:

    To me it seems dyed hair does not look natural and that would bother me. I am 72 and have never colored my now saltier than peppery hair. I am not trying to look younger, and I am admittedly lazy re appearance-related things, so this is the real me.
    Debbie, I love how your gray looks as much as I love the honesty behind it. Your personality, verbal ability, and compassionate deep thought override anything about your looks anyway, but you do look good!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Good for you for never falling into the dye trap, Gail! I think your minimalist mindset served you well with hair as well as your wardrobe. Sometimes it’s good to be lazy about our appearance. I am far too much the opposite, but going gray is one step that I’m taking to change that. I appreciate the wonderful compliments you gave me here about my hair and who I am – thank you!

  10. Katie | Katie Goes Platinum says:

    Hi, Debbie:

    Thank you for the mention! ❤️

    This article was very interesting. I know you’ve had your ups and downs with your transition, and I’m glad to see you are so close to being done! Your hair (and skin!) looks lovely.

    Your resource list is very helpful – I haven’t seen all of the ladies you mention, so I’ll definitely look them up!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m happy to share your wonderful blog, Katie! I’m not good about commenting, but I enjoy your posts and I love your positive attitude about the whole process. You’re a great example of someone who has embraced going gray, as I wish I had… Hindsight is always 20/20, though, with attitude and actions like highlights, toner, and the like… I hope you enjoy the videos of some of the women I mentioned. I admire everyone who is putting themselves out there with their gray hair transition. I’m sure there will be many more as this movement fully takes hold!

  11. Carla TePaske says:

    Thank you Debbie for your honesty. I will say you look great. Your hair and skin. I am on this journey, it is not easy. I do appreciate your post so much! Thank You!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you, Carla, for your nice compliments. I’m so glad you found this post helpful. Good luck with your gray transition process. Yes, it is definitely not easy, but I sincerely hope you will have an easier time of it than I’ve had.

  12. Claire says:

    Woo! It’s looking really cool! I love it. I hope you are able to relax back into the remainder of the process, you have truly persevered ❤

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Claire! I’m not sure I will really be able to relax until all of the color is gone, but I’m feeling less stressed about it most of the time now. Perseverance isn’t at all my greatest strength (per the VIA character strengths survey:, so I’m proud of myself for staying the course with this, especially since there have been so many ups and downs. Hopefully it’s building character!

      1. Claire says:

        Ha! Well, despite the survey you can certainly give yourself full marks for perseverance (and courage) on this one!

        Goodness, I can imagine not being able to feel quite relaxed until that color is gone, as it must be triggering as hell to still have it there. But it sounds like you are coming down the other side of the mountain, and I’m so glad it’s causing less stress. If you do decide to cut the remaining color off as you grow it out, would love to see it, if you are up to sharing the pics of course. 🙂

        And I can’t help but to reiterate again how much I love it. I find so much inspiration in the grey-haired folx I see out and about! Yes!!!!!

        1. Claire says:

          ps – but also I have to agree with whoever else said it, the reverse ombre look is killing it! Love!!!

        2. Debbie Roes says:

          I appreciate your endorsement and understanding, Claire. Yes, it’s very triggering to still have some color on my hair, but I also don’t like having shorter hair, so it’s a balancing act. I wrestle all the time with cutting more off, but I’ve committed to getting a haircut every other month and I decide each time how much I will have cut off. I’m really hoping I will have the nerve to cut the rest of the color off in late December, but we’ll see… No matter what, every time I get a haircut, I feel like I’m making progress, though, so that’s good.

          I’m glad more and more women are going gray. I may notice it more since I’m doing it myself, but this does seem to be more of a trend and I’m glad for it. I think we all should be able to choose for ourselves which path we want to take, but it’s nice to see gray being more of an accepted choice for non-senior women (and even senior women, as so many of them still color, too). Thanks for the kind words about my reverse ombre. It’s not intentional, but I’m glad it looks like a real style, at least to some people 🙂

  13. Jane says:

    This is such an inspiration. You look great!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you, Jane! I’m glad I can help to inspire 🙂

  14. RoseAG says:

    Thanks for your update Debbie. Between your shopping issues, insecurities and your hair journey I feel like you and I have a lot in common!

    I’ve been going gray since my 20s and have been coloring regularly. As I come into my 60s I’m thinking about when and how to stop but I’ve pretty much decided not to do that until I quit working. I’m a Software Engineer and there is a lot of ageism in the software business.

    With that in mind I’ve moved away from deep shades, taking my used-to-be medium brown hair towards a dark blond. As I go towards the dark blond I find that the gray streaks take the color differently from the not gray so my head isn’t an all over one tone. I’ve spent some time watching uTube videos of how to color/touch-up your hair at home and that is helpful as I can retouch the roots along my part and at my ears (a gray spot) and not do my entire head quite so frequently. I”m also big on purple or blue shampoo/creme rinse for keeping the color from getting too brassy. That will bother my scalp and I try not to do that with every shampoo and have to rinse thoroughly.

    My current plan is to keep my hair short and when I get within a year of leaving go a couple of months without touching up and then go short.

    As to your plan to layer your hair. I think getting rid of the old color will be a plus, but since you’ aren’t someone who has had a lot of layers go into it knowing that you’re probably not going to like them and will want to grow them out. However, you’ll be growing out layers that are all one color!

    I think you’re doing a great job and I appreciate your comments. Nobody puts their worst looks up on Social Media and it’s important to remember that when looking at posts about how transitions are going.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, we do seem to have a lot in common, Rose! I can imagine it would be hard to transition to gray in the business you’re in. I used to work in high-tech and I remember it being a lot of younger people (I was one of them at the time…). It’s good that you’ve been able to successfully move toward a lighter dye and that you can touch it up yourself at home. I’ve had mixed results with the purple and blue shampoos, but I finally found a purple conditioner that I’m using to successfully tone my ends – Pastel Purple Deep Treatment by Overtone – they have lots of other shades and will advise on what color to try via email). Your plan for doing your transition sounds like a good one.

      I agree with you that I will likely feel much better once I get the old color out of my hair, even if my hair is shorter than I’d like or layered. I do best with long, one-length hair, but it would be wonderful to have hair that it uniform in tone from roots to ends – finally! It’s true that most of what’s posted on social media are the highlights, not the bad and the ugly. The lovely dyed gray images are usually posted right after they have been toned and the toner usually doesn’t stick around very long. I do admire the people that are willing to show the negatives of gray transition and they helped me to be braver to share my photos on my “Don’t Do What I Did” post.

  15. Maggie says:

    Hi Debbie,
    I think that you rock the look! I think having less contrast between your hair and skin really features your face and great smile. (I think of Imogine Lamport from Inside Out style blog when she went from brunette to blonde.)

    Not that I want to be OCD about hair or anything but have you considered adding a weave or extension of grey hair? (I met someone years ago who cut her long hair short and hated it so much that she got weaves until it grew out.) Also, I saw a women with dark brown hair about your length and she had the bottom part dyed emerald green. (It wasn’t a solid block of green, it was like highlights in emerald green on the bottom. I don’t know if it was a permanent color or a spray.)

    I work part-time at a college and the students are rocking all sorts of colors. It is very inspiring.

    I plan to go gray but I still have a lot of dark hair. When more gray comes in, I am thinking about doing a silver stripe in the front (such as Stacy London used to have on “What Not to Wear.” Her grey stripe was natural so she kept it. She could show it or hid it depending on how she styled her hair.)

    I am growing my hair long for the moment. I had it long about 8 years ago and a friend who didn’t recognize me at first told me, “Your hair is really long. You look like a young woman from the back.” This implied to me that I look like a young woman from the back and an older woman from the front so I felt uncomfortable with that and cut it. I started growing it out again over the past 2 years and I am just going to rock what the universe gave me.

    I started using Pantene Charcoal shampoo purifying root wash and Sheer Volume Foam Conditioner a month ago and my hair has never looked better.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your compliments and suggestions, Maggie! I have definitely considered gray extensions, but the problem is that there aren’t nearly as many gray extensions available as in other colors and most of them are not a good match for my hair. Apparently, I’m not gray enough! The only extensions I was able to find weren’t really what I was looking for (small messy buns that don’t cover my real hair and a curly ponytail). I also looked into the possibility of getting platinum blonde extensions and having them dyed to match my hair, but I was told that would be very difficult to do and would also be extremely expensive. This is a big bummer! If I had extensions, I would have cut the dye off a lot sooner…

      Good for you for growing your hair long since that’s what you want to do! It’s unfortunate what your friend said to you, but it’s great that you’re rocking long hair once again. I intend to do the same once I get all of the color cut off, as I like myself best with long hair and look forward to having a long braid over my shoulder on hot or humid days when my hair becomes a frizzy mess. I haven’t heard of the products you mentioned, but I will keep them in mind. It can be hard to find products that work best for us, so kudos to you for finding shampoo and conditioner that are a good match for your hair.

      1. Maggie says:

        Hi Debbie,
        I look forward to following you to to the end of your “hair journey!” By the way, I gave the wrong type of conditioner that I am using – I am using Pantene Daily Moisture Renewal Foam Conditioner. I just put it on the bottom half of my hair and it helps the ends shiny without adding weight. (As the shampoo, I read an article about detoxifying your scalp to improve the condition of your hair and it seems to work – at least a little – for me. My hair was always fine although I have a lot of it and it is getting finer with age.


  16. I’m devouring all your posts! Thank you! I’m in my early 30s and my hair is now at 60-75% gray, as per my colorist. It’s been 3months since I last colored by hair and these whites are insane! There’s got to be a better way, i think to myself. I have the same brassy issues and also can’t cut my crazy curly hair without fear of looking like a messed up brown-haired barbie 😦

    This is giving me more courage and direction.


    1. Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad my gray hair transition posts have been helpful for you, Edie. I can imagine it’s hard to have so much gray at such an early age, but I have seen quite a few younger women who have successfully transitioned and look fabulous. The hard part is getting there, of course, and you’re in one of the most difficult parts of the process at 3 months because it doesn’t look super deliberate yet. Sadly, there is no real easy way to get through this, especially for those of us with wiry hair who don’t want to cut it. It WILL get easier, though, as your hair grows out more. I wish I would have held off on doing the highlights and just wore hats and scarves until I got past the worst of it. Stay strong and you will get to a better place with your hair! Wishing you all the very best! I’m going to do another update soon…

  17. Jodi says:

    Thank you for sharing your journey. I really appreciate your favorite transitioners! You look lovely!

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you, Jodi! I plan to do another update very soon. I hope you like some of the resources I recommended. I’m glad there are a lot of people out there who are sharing their gray hair journeys.

  18. Roselie Garcia says:

    Hello, am writing because I just got my hair strip of the many tones my hair had from dark brown and 3 months of gray growing out and have been wanting to go grey for a long time age is 59.I feel good with that .I can tell you my husband is the one having a hard time I tell him he will be fine, because it is brassy red orange can you suggest something?Thank You.

    1. Debbie Roes says:

      Hi Roselie, I’m sorry that you’re dealing with brassy hair. I think that’s often what happens when one tries to strip color. A stylist did a test of color removal product on one section of my hair and it turned bright orange, so we didn’t go ahead with doing it on the rest of my hair. There’s only so much that can be done to make hair less brassy. If your color is lighter overall (in the blonde family more than the brown family), then purple shampoo will usually help, at least to some degree. If your color is more in the brown family, blue shampoo is likely to be more effective. Just be careful not to leave it on too long on your new gray outgrowth, as that part might end up with a purplish or bluish tone (which should wash out). There are lots of purple and blue shampoos and conditioners out there. The shampoos tend to have more pigment and produce a more noticeable result, but they can also be drying. You only need to use it every few shampoos. Also, do regular trims to cut off the ends, as those tend to be the brassiest. Best wishes to you. This, too, shall pass, and you will eventually have lovely silver hair.

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