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How To Transition to Gray Hair When Your Hair Is Colored

Embrace grays with these tips.
  • Margaret Fisher
May 28, 2024

Transitioning to gray hair, like any major change, can be intimidating. But there’s a lot of good that can come out of embracing your natural hair color. Not only can gray hair colors be absolutely gorgeous (silver strands are trending for a reason), but they also tend to require less upkeep. Once your gray grows in completely, you can ease off of the salon appointments and at-home touchups. Plus, going gray may even bring about a new wave of confidence.

Of course, making this transition, especially if you’ve been coloring your gray hair, is easier said than done. No one wants to see harsh lines of demarcation as their roots start to grow, but there are ways to make the process smoother. Here, we’re sharing tips for transitioning to gray hair when you have color-treated hair, plus the best haircare products to use on a silvery mane.

How to Transition to Gray Hair

Here are 12 tips to make your transition from coloring gray hair to embracing your new, natural hue as seamless as possible.

1. Go gray for a day

If you’re not sure you’re ready to commit to gray hair permanently, take it for a test drive with the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup Temporary 1-Day Hair Color Spray in Silver. Mist the color over your mane for a shimmering, temporary silver-gray hair color. When you’re ready to part with your temporary mane makeover, simply wash the color out with your regular shampoo.

2. Let your roots grow in

If you’re looking to take the plunge and go gray, the first step is to stop coloring your roots. To avoid a harsh line of demarcation, you can head to the salon and have your colorist use the root smudging technique to blend your natural gray roots with the lengths of your hair. This will allow for a gradual transition between hues as your hair continues to grow.

3. Apply all-over permanent gray hair color

With the right at-home hair coloring kit, transitioning to gray hair is a lot easier than you’d think. All you need to do is dye your strands with an all-over gray hair color that closely matches your natural shade of gray. This way, it won’t be noticeable when your roots grow in.

Our best hair color for gray hair is the L’Oréal Paris Féria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Permanent Hair Color in Smokey Silver. The gentle, deep conditioning formula delivers gorgeous, dimensional color without being harsh or damaging on your strands.

4. Opt for highlights and lowlights

Transitioning to gray hair with highlights and lowlights is a great option for those who aren’t quite ready to part with their salon visits. Adding a mix of light and dark shades will allow your grays to blend beautifully with the rest of your hair and, as a bonus, add some brightness to your color.

5. Apply hair color with foils

Another gray hair coloring technique to consider is having your colorist apply your hair color with foils. It will be much like getting highlights, except you won’t be lightening your hair, you’ll be coloring it gray. This will help you transition between the two shades more seamlessly and naturally.

6. Try root coverup

It may sound a bit counterintuitive to cover up your grays when the whole idea is to let them shine, but hear us out. You can use temporary hair color as a quick fix to hide gray roots while you work your way towards a fully gray hair color (either with one of the coloring methods above or by waiting for your gray to completely grow in).

If your grays are still sparse, use the L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Precision Pen to cover them in a flash. It works on any hair type and texture and is the perfect size to toss in your bag for on-the-go touchups. For larger areas, reach for the L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up. The spray can conceal gray hair in seconds, and it doesn’t leave behind any sticky residue—just seamless coverage.

7. Use a hair gloss to tint light hair

At-home hair glosses are a great way to enhance your hair color and add shine. Depending on your hair color, they can also help blend your grays with the rest of your hair. Try gray hair colors from our L’Oréal Paris Le Color Gloss One Step In-Shower Toning Gloss line like Silver, Silver White, and Silver Slate. These treatments work in as little as five minutes, deep conditioning the hair while they help correct faded color. You can get shiny, vibrant strands in a single treatment—think of it like bringing the salon to your house.

8. Consult a professional

If you aren’t sure about the best option for coloring gray hair as you transition your shade, it can pay off to go to a professional. They can help determine what will work best for you. While blending hair with highlights might be best for one person, using all-over gray dye may make more sense for the next.

9. Embrace your hair texture

Gray hair tends to have a different, unique hair texture compared to other natural hair colors. It can be coarser and may even have a different curl pattern than your hair did pre-gray transition. Lean into this texture change with air-dried hairstyles like beach waves. You can also play it up with a texturizing spray.

10. Try an updo

Updos can be great for any kind of awkward transition time, whether you’re growing out bangs or gray hair. Consider a messy bun or a French braid to draw the eye away from your roots.

Editor’s tip: While you’re at it, try changing how you part your hair. This can help make new growth less noticeable.

11. Wear hair accessories and hats

An easy way to hide a distinct transition line (the point where your gray roots meet your colored strands) is with accessories. You can wear a hat to completely hide your grays as they grow in, or place a headband right at the line to create a chic two-toned look. Adding a mix of different hair clips can also be a fun option—you can use them to draw attention to or away from your new growth, depending on your preference.

12. Cut your hair

If you don’t want to wait for your hair to grow out, you can get a haircut to instantly remove the color-treated portion of your hair. You have lots of different hairstyle options to choose from, including a cropped buzz cut and a structured box bob. Just about any short style will be great for showing off your silvery hair.

How to Care for Gray Hair

As you age, your hair’s appearance goes through various changes in terms of color, thickness, and shine. To keep it looking healthy, you should upgrade your hair routine with haircare products that suit gray hair. Here are four steps to revamp your routine:

1. Use a silver haircare system

Just as there are shampoos and conditioners specifically for brunettes, blondes, and redheads, there are lines meant to care for gray hair. Using one of these can help ensure your strands get the hydration they need (as gray hair tends to be drier). Try swapping your regular formulas for the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Silver Care Shampoo, For Gray Hair and the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Silver Care Conditioner, For Gray Hair. When used together, this system intensely hydrates, strengthens, and renews silver and gray hair for a bouncy style with noticeable shine.

2. Treat your tresses to plenty of deep conditioning

Deep conditioning should be the core of any gray hair routine. This means showing your hair plenty of TLC with a nourishing hair mask is a must. We love using the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Simply Clean Elastic Fiber Masque, which wraps hair in essential moisture.

3. Pick products that can help minimize visible damage

Minimizing damage can help keep gray hair shiny and healthy-looking. Look for formulas that reduce the appearance of breakage and protect against further damage. If you heat style your hair, use the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate-Free Blow Dry Primer for 48 HR Frizz Control, which protects hair against heat up to 450oF while helping keep it looking nourished, smooth, and shiny.

4. Book (and get) regular trims

No hair color pairs well with thin, splitting ends. Keeping up with regular trims will help keep your gray hair looking its best.

How Long Does It Take to Transition to Gray Hair?

How long it takes to transition to gray hair depends on the length of your strands. Growing out just a couple of inches is going to inherently take less time than growing out long locks. For most people, hair grows about half an inch per month. Meaning, if you want to grow out a cute silver bob—a style that’s usually around eight inches long—it could take about 16 months.

It’s also important to keep in mind that transitioning to gray hair may not mean your entire head of hair goes gray. That could take much longer, as some people don’t go completely gray for many years. Going natural might just mean having a smattering of grays or a few silvery streaks.

Because transitioning to gray is so individual, the best thing you can do is be patient and not set strict expectations for yourself. It’ll all be worth it in the end!

Next Up: 10 Ideas for Gorgeous Silver and Gray Highlights

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