Silver-Streaking: How to Go Gray Gorgeously

 November 27, 2019
It's one of the toughest beauty decisions most women will ever make, but deciding to stop covering your gray hair can have a huge upside. Just think: More money in your bank account, more time to devote to something meaningful rather than sitting in that swiveling salon chair for hours on end, and, ultimately, much more confidence. 
Yes, you read that right: ditching the dye - or never using it in the first place - can make you feel fierce. 
"I love everything about my silver hair," says model Vickie Heath-Glosson. "I love the color, texture, ease of handling it. I like that at my age I still have a full head of hair and that it's healthy and beautiful. I love how my hair journey began with a silver streak 15 years ago to a layer of natural tones of rich dark brown, pearly slate gray topped with sparkles of silver all over."
Who wouldn't want to join the ranks of such empowered, silver-hued stunners as Heath-Glosson and one of her own personal hair heroes, influencer JoAni Johnson? Or how about CoverGirl Maye Musk and Oscar winner Helen Mirren for inspiration? 
If you've been hiding your gray for years, the "transitioning" process won't be easy or quick. You'll need a decent amount of patience and fortitude, and may even want to experiment with different ways of getting to full-on silver.
Here's how the options unfold.

5 Efficient Ways to Go Gray

1. Chop it all off: Calm down; we know this is radical, and not the way most women will opt to start their march toward gray. In fact, my own colorist, St. Petersburg, Florida-based Lisa Daniels, admits it's "extremely rare" that her clients take the pixie plunge. Still, going super-short at the same time you stop coloring allows all the grays underneath - trust us, there are grays underneath - to come out of hiding and mix it up with your silver roots. "I really do try to encourage clients to go shorter for a while," says Daniels. "It's so much better for the texture of the hair than all the color-removal and toning we have to do otherwise." Which leads us to our other ways of going gray - one fast and furious, three not-so...

2. Keep the length and go instantly Gaga: Consider yourself lucky, because we're living in an age when younger women - including songbirds Pink, Rihanna and Lady Gaga - color their hair gray on purpose. As Daniels points out, this is made easier by the array of really dazzling, hip gray dyes colorists now have access to. Note: this method requires stripping-out existing color first, before the gray or silver dye is applied. Like pretty much anyone who goes platinum blonde, you'll be joining the Double Process Club, which can be hard on hair. 

3. Gradually lighten + brighten: For brunettes, this method may entail lightening your base color and adding highlights. For blondes, it's mostly just a whole lot of foil action - highlight after highlight. The big idea here is to let your gray and silver strands mingle with a lightened base until they eventually take over. To keep your hair healthy during this process - which can take up to a year in some cases - your colorist will likely alternate lightening and highlighting sessions with toning. In a nutshell, toners remove brassiness and that unsightly yellow tinge from gray, silver and bleached blonde hair. "For anyone going gray," says Daniels, "toner is your best friend."

4. Use a sulfate-free clarifying shampoo 1x a month: While you were in "cover mode," there's a good chance you used color-protective cleansers to keep your dyed locks fresh and vibrant between salon sessions. Now that you're transitioning to gray, this is the last type of shampoo you need. Instead, opt for gentle "regular" shampoos without sulfates, which are notorious for making hair brittle. And once a month, swap-in a "clarifying" sudser that will help lift color. Thanks to inroads in haircare technology, brands including Pureology, Hairstory and Morrocanoil now offer sulfate-free clarifying shampoos. 

5. Commit to frequent trims and condition, condition, condition: Gray and silver hair is naturally more coarse than "pigmented" locks. So if you're choosing to "just do you" by letting your silver strands grow in on their own time-table, at least be diligent about hacking off the dead ends on a regular basis. And be sure to deep condition on a very regular basis. Twice a week would be ideal. Your new mantra: Hydrated is pretty.

 Photo: Vickie Heath-Glosson




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