When It’s Time to Grow Out the Gray

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Last year about this time when I found out I was pregnant with Zeke, I knew that I may potentially be done with ever dyeing my hair again. I considered dyeing it with an ammonia-free dye after my first trimester when they say it's safe to do so, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I think I was tired… tired of dyeing it, tired of the fumes, tired of it fading within such a short time. To put it simply, I was over it. I started to question then whether or not I should grow out the gray.

A little back story on the gray…

My first gray hair showed up when I was 16. It held back, for the most part, until I reached my early 30's when I started dyeing. The dye would last only a few weeks; then the gray was back with a vengeance. For awhile, I had this skunk stripe goin' on; I'd sometimes try to cover it up with my eyeliner pencil (works like a charm, by the way), and every so often, I'd dye it again. At one point, I had a hairstylist tell me that if I continued dyeing it at home, my hair would eventually be the texture of a horse's mane. Call me vain, but I didn't care at the time… All I knew was that I didn't want a head full of gray.

Eventually while expecting Zeke, the gray grew out long enough that it was no longer just a few roots showing. It was literally taking over my world. 

I felt like the gray made me look tired and old. Ironically, that's when the compliments started to come. A friend told me the silvery color was beautiful, which was when I realized that it was quite silvery vs. a duller gray. Then my dad (who normally teased me about my gray hair) came along and shared my grandma's story with me and how she had a head full of white hair at my age (38). It's a true family trait, written in my DNA. And then there was Dan, who encouraged me time and again to keep the gray, telling me over and over how much he loved my silvery hair.

The wheels in my silver streaked head began to turn, and I began to think that maybe I was looking at this all wrong.

I still hadn't made a decision when I decided that I'd just find a good hairstylist and have her help me. And by help, I meant HELP! What do I do with this mess? I hadn't had a haircut in over a year, bless her heart. The day before my appointment, I was really trying to make up my mind… Do I dye it? Do I grow out the gray? Should I cut it short? What should I do? Laugh if you will, but it was a really serious thing for me to grow out the gray at this “young” an age.

It's a beautiful sisterhood thing, this whole grow out the gray process…

And that's when I found a whole sisterhood of silver sisters. One of the first sites I came upon was How Bourgeois. First of all, I was drawn in by her photo (she had a full head of gorgeous platinum hair); but then I began to read her posts about her own experience growing out the gray. As I Googled some more and read some more, I became more and more encouraged. Silver hair really is a beautiful thing, especially when it involves a person learning to accept and embrace themselves the way they are and the way God's made them, even if that plan involves the gift of getting your first gray hair at the ripe old age of 16.

I knew it was time to let my gray do its thing. It was time to embrace who I am, gray hair and all. It was more a heart thing than anything, this decision of mine.

The next day as I went to my salon appointment, I had to stop in and ask directions. The receptionist there, out of nowhere, just went on and on about how beautiful my silver streaks were. I hadn't even had it cut yet. And when I finally reached the salon and told my stylist that I wasn't going to be dyeing, she completely agreed with me, telling me that my gray was a silvery color that looked good with my face and complexion. I 'bout fell out of my chair when she said that. I'd NEVER had a stylist tell me to keep the gray; they'd ALWAYS tried to get me to dye it. She cut my hair in a style that works for me for awhile (just while I let the gray grow out) and encouraged me to keep going, that it'd only be a couple more cuts and we'd have it all grown out.Encouragement for anyone who might be considering or going thru the same "grow out the gray" process… My experience, my struggles, and why I chose to let the gray do its thing. Silver hair, here I come!

I've always believed that God cares about even the tiniest of things in our lives, but that day I went to the salon, it was almost as if He were speaking directly to me through those women and confirming that I'd made the right choice, that He cared about this tiny decision of mine.

A little encouragement for anyone else who might be considering or going thru the same “grow out the gray” process… 

I've had a few friends reach out with their own stories of dyeing for years and their fears of going gray. When it's time to let go, you'll know. Don't let fear stop you from being who you are, both inside and out. You're NOT ugly, old, and tired just because of a few gray hairs. If anything, you're on trend (did you know gray hair was trendy?). You've earned every single one of those gray hairs. I like to think with gray hair comes wisdom. If it's a family trait, embrace and carry that trait with pride.

When it's time, you'll have a peace about it, you'll accept it, and you won't look back.

Encouragement for anyone who might be considering or going thru the same "grow out the gray" process… My experience, my struggles, and why I chose to let the gray do its thing. Silver hair, here I come!

And a HUGE plus? You'll never have to dye again, meaning you'll likely save a ton of money.

My mission now: To tame these wiry grays and make them softer than ever. Stay tuned for more grow out the gray adventures!

If you've been thinking about jumping ship on dyeing, you've got this! Email me or leave me a comment. I'd love to encourage you on your journey to growing out your gray.

26 thoughts on “When It’s Time to Grow Out the Gray”

  1. Hi Mel,
    I just came across this post and I’m so glad I did.
    I’ve been going back and forth since this time last year about what to do with my gray hair becoming more more difficult to cover. I’ve always colored or highlighted my hair and while it looks good for the first couple weeks, it soon loses its luster and looks damaged at the ends (using a flat iron or curling iron doesn’t help the situation).
    After going through the COVID-19 lock downs and not being able to get to the hairdresser, I opted to use a box dye that turned into a hot mess. My stylist later corrected it by adding baby highlights, but my hair became dry and brittle. For the past 10 weeks I’ve not applied any color or used heating tools and I have also been using olaplaex 4,5 & 6 (which has done wonders). I need to do something as I have about 3 inches of grays now showing. But now that’s it becoming healthier, I don’t want to color or highlight any longer.
    Your reference to embracing ourselves the way God made us really spoke to me! God is obviously using your journey to reach others, so while your article is about “gray hair” it’s really about so much more!
    Thank you for taking time to share. I plan to book an appointment with my hairdresser to begin my own journey of embracing my gray hair.


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