Ask a Beauty Editor: How to Transition to Natural Gray Hair
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Reader question: What is the best step-by-step way to go gray? —Mary Fouladi
As more women make the decision to go gray, a silver-laden style is getting sexier by the minute. But the problem with embracing gray hair lies in the fact that it doesn't happen overnight. It starts with a pigment-deprived strand or two, or worse, the dreaded demarcation line (i.e., exclusively gray roots in particular sections of your head), making it all the more challenging to commit to the natural process.
First, let's clear up a common myth about how gray hair works. Hair doesn't actually "turn" gray—once a hair follicle produces hair, the color is set. That means that a strand is never going to change color unless you color your hair. However, since our hair follicles naturally produce less color as they age, they can grow in gray (which you should never pluck, BTW).
In other words, growing out gray hair is a process—and not a fast one. And while you can choose to dye the rest of your hair gray, that comes with its own set of problems. "As time passes, your silver hair shows itself sooner and sooner because full-coverage color and highlights do not adhere or look as vibrant as they used to," says Lorraine Massey, creator of the Curly Girl Method, owner of Spiral, founder of CurlyWorld, and author of Curly Girl: The Handbook and Silver Hair: The Handbook. "This means you have to color more often, and this starts to become an exhausting (and unsustainable) time and money drain that never ends with healthy hair. Remember that unhealthy hair can often age you more than the color itself."
But there is an alternative—and that is going gray the natural way. To make the transition period a little easier, here's what the process will entail—in addition to some helpful tips—when converting to gray hair.