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Gray Hair Transition Journey: Stop Dyeing & Start Embracing It

Gray Hair Transition Journey: Stop Dyeing & Start Embracing It
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Updated: 12/2/2021 | Embracing My Gray Hair Transition

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One day my aunts gathered around the dining table and talked about their graying hair. They told me that I would also start to go gray around my mid 20’s. Like any invincible young adult, I contested and said “Not me! That could never happen to me!”

And then it happened. I began graying around 26 years old. It started with a few white hairs here and there. My friends would help pluck them out. There’s an old Asian adage that says if you pluck one white hair out, two will grow in its place. I didn’t realize my hairs were actually going to rebel against me and my race against time.

So I began to dye my hair. I remember learning to dye hair as a child. I would blend the hair dye then apply it to my aunt’s roots. It took two boxes to dye her long mane. I was experienced by the time it was my turn. I dyed my hair out of embarrassment of looking old.

Fast forward to 32, I decided to let my grays grow. I looked into natural dye options but I would still be applying it more than I wanted to. I began my gray hair transitioning journey in June of 2017. At first the transition was awful. I looked unkempt and many people stated that “my hair looked too old for my face.” Regardless of all these comments, I decided to embrace my grays 110%. I figure if I did not like it, that I could dye it again.

Check Out My going grey progression

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What 3 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

What 4 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

What 4 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

What 7 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

What 7 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

What 8 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

What 8 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

What 9 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

What 9 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

What 11 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

What 11 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

 

What 9 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like.

What 12 months of not dyeing my gray hair looks like. I also straightened my wavy hair. Happy one year anniversary!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsO3j-FgQ2S/

At 18 months!

https://www.instagram.com/p/CEhCPJthNk9/

3 years gray and dye-free! I was also featured on Grombre’s Instagram Account!!!! Go read my message about going gray!

black sand beach kona hawaii asian with gray hair

My white hair looks awesome against the black sand beach Papakolea on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Walking away from negativity with gray hair. That’s possible too!

If you’re currently dealing with a narc and looking to build the courage to walk away, read my narc abuse story.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CI0YQFShFIo/?igshid=bc45jttdigmq

alex tran gray hair transition feb 2021

before after gray hair transition asian woman schimiggy

Here is a how it started versus how it’s going post. My hair was fully grown out at 18 months.

temple of Apollo in Naxos Greece after sunset

Taking my silver hair to Naxos, Greece!

Why I Dyed My Hair

I dyed my hair to look youthful. I was in a race against time. It was also due to societal pressures about what beauty should look like. As I get older, I have become more concerned with how beauty should feel like. I’ve mostly ditched makeup and the only “cosmetic” procedure I’ve done was eyebrow microblading (read about my microblading experience) because the extent of me wearing makeup is only if I don’t have to re-apply it over and over.

I’ve also been blessed with living next to an amazing hairdresser who constantly cares for me and my hair. He even colored it with organic, add water only dyes from Thailand. As quick as the dye went on, my hair kept returning to white even quicker. I could see the real me coming out of my hair follicles.

One day I had the epiphany that I should become this person whom I was destined to grow into. Isn’t that novel? My white hairs were getting more aggressive and it was only time before they would win.

It was also around the time that platinum gray hair was becoming a trend. Everyone was doing it. What an opportune time to grow into the real Alex. And the best part? My grey hair would be FREE!

So began my boycott against hair dyes and anything that would change the course of who I was to become. Embracing my grays has been both exhilarating and challenging. It’s been a year now since I decided to ditch the dye.

Why I Stopped Dying My Hair

Here’s what I’ve learned through that process:

#1 To Have more Time and Money

I’ve regained so much time and money! It takes 1.5 hours to dye my hair and about $10 (if I self-remedy) or $60 if it’s professionally done. Oftentimes the color doesn’t stick (due to grey hair lacking cuticle that allows for color retention) and I’m stuck with a dark gray tinge. FYI: Dyes will not work well on grey hair. 

No matter what dyes I use, the color doesn’t stick as well as when I still had melanin in my hair. After a dye job, no one else sees my white hair trying to fight back unless they’re looking closely. I have often gone in for TWO applications to cover my grays, doubling the cost.

At the rate my grey hair is growing, I’d rather just save my money and time for vacations! So a big THANK YOU to my gray hair!

#2 To Become More Me

Growing Into the REAL you is a step towards acceptance of not only yourself but of also many other aspects of your life. This process has really encouraged me to change. It’s helped me realize what’s important in life and what’s trivial.

There’s still a long path to be walked, but this process has encouraged me to accept who I am. As a yogi, I am wholly listening to my body and welcoming me with wide-open arms.

The way I see it, I am not getting older. I am becoming more me!

#3 Chemical Free is the Way to Be

I am relieved of no longer being drenched in chemicals that dye the floor of my bathtub. I am relieved that my sheets and especially pillows are no longer being stained by the transfer of freshly dyed hair. I am excited that I am no longer allowing these chemicals to enter my body.

When I accepted my body without chemical adornments and enhancements, I felt liberated and 1,000 times happier.

#4 Challenge the Stigma of White Hair

By the time we’re 50 years old, 50% of the population will have noticeably gray hair. Men tend to gray at a younger age than women. For men, they start at 30 on average and women start at 35. I started my premature graying in my mid-20s.

Gray hair immediately causes people to think I’m much older than I really am. I am 33 years old. I receive comments from people saying, “Wow your hair is so grey, but your face looks much younger,” or “White hair makes you look older than you really are.”

I’m hoping that by accepting who I am becoming, I can create a shift other people’s attitudes about growing older and more importantly, growing more natural. Aging is inevitable and we’re all walking the same path.

What to Expect When You Go Gray

Going gray is a gradual process. I’ve learned that it doesn’t happen overnight. My hair has been growing out white about an inch each month. I now have 10-inch streaks of white hair throughout my head. The first few months were embarrassing and that is perfectly fine to feel that way.

People will say things about your hair and it will be both positive and negative. Fortunately for me, I received mostly positive comments from friends, family and mostly from strangers! I also made connections with other go-grayers in public spaces such as airports, bus stations, while I’m running errands around town. It’s great to connect with others through my transition.

Your hair will look unique to you. Did I mention that my grays look like highlights? People are always complimenting how they’re growing in streaks and not sparsely throughout. I am really digging their natural growth into something that I am proud of and find attractive!

How to Go Gray

1. Let it grow! This is the path I took. I let my grays grow and kinda dealt with it as it grew. When I  wanted to cover my grays, I would wear a hat, headband, or beanie.

2. Allow your hair stylist to help you go gray. They may advise you to do lowlights (giving your grays a highlighted look) or a lift of color from your hair. Beware of the lift as it may cause the dyed hair to turn a tortoise gray color. They may also suggest going for a shorter cut that will allow grays to grow in naturally.

3. Use products that will soften and make dry brittle gray hair manageable. Yes – gray hair lacks cuticle and will look like wiry straw or unkempt if not styled. I was “blessed” with crazy frizzy hair, so when my grays began to come in, I literally looked like a tumbleweed. To avoid the cotton ball head look, here are some products I highly recommend to help with managing the frizz that comes with grey hair:

Related: How to Tame Flyaways and Unruly Hair

4. Join a going grey support group! I’m in several gray hair transition groups. It’s a great resource for going gray and the opportunity to connect with other silver sisters! In these groups, you can ask questions and filter through tips that will help you go gray. The women in the group are very supportive and inspiring. I believe there are some men in the group as well. I highly recommend joining even if you’re not ready to go grey yet.

Here are groups I recommend joining on Facebook:

I wish I would have just let the process happen much sooner. There are no regrets and only lessons learned.

Are you interested in letting your grays grow? If you’re moving along this similar path please let me know! I’d love to follow and hear about your experience!

Other posts you may be interested in:

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Francesca Etheart

Wednesday 25th of May 2022

Hi, I'm so grateful for your post and your group suggestions. I started going gray when I was 31 years old and tried to dye my hair once but it didn't work. Ever since then I have been growing my gray hairs naturally. Currently working on loving my grays. Your article helps tremendously. Thank you ya.

Francesca

Ava

Friday 8th of April 2022

Thank you so much for the tips for dyeing your hair. I love trying different looks for myself. The blog is really helpful. I don't know about Himani henna but will try. www. jimyusbeauty.com This article is really helpful for those who want to dye their hair by using organic products.

Jimyus Beauty

Saturday 12th of February 2022

Wowwww just wowww...I am amazed by reading this article, how much information it is. The article is really helpful!!!www.jimyusbeauty.com Thoroughly explained each area from basic ingredients used in henna to allergic reactions caused, info about henna cream. I’d say the writer perfectly knows what she is talking about, what needs to be said, and what not for the readers’ understanding; in short, perfectly summarize the topics. The best part of the article is where the writer fully explained what is actually meant by ammonia-free. This article will be beneficial for people who are interested in basic knowledge about henna.

Bonnie

Monday 2nd of August 2021

Love your story and that you are embracing the real you. I have dyed my hair for the last decade aftery son was born. 41 and almost a year without dying my hair. It is so freeing and celebrating myself everyday. I have silver highlights throughout my hair. I had my hair in a bob, and my hair is almost done transitioning. I have a lot of positive people in my life to support my decision. My hair is more healthy and stronger than ever before. I can't wait to see how the end result look is like.

Schimiggy

Wednesday 11th of August 2021

I am excited you are taking your first step on this journey! :D

Thongseng

Sunday 24th of May 2020

SO GLAD!!! I came across this post. Thank you. Although, I haven't colored my hair in 2 months, it's been only a couple of weeks that I have contemplated about going grey. Like most, I don't want to look older than I really am. At one point, even my best friend discouraged me from going grey. I explained to her how often I would color my hair, the condition of my scalp, and how thinning my hair is, and I just want to be chemical free. Her attitude quickly changed and became supportive. I am 43 and found my first grey at 18. It slowly increased then at 30, Bam! Yes, I had plucked them. Lol. I know my greys has more to do with genetics than age because unlike my best friend, who only have 20 strands of grey, my whole head is covered. I'm going to be honest, another reason why I contemplate going grey is because I don't know if it was complement my skin tone. I am Lao (Asian decent) but I am darker than most. I have seen pictures of fair-skinned Asians with grey and it looks good on them.I plan on following through and just letting it grow out so we shall see with me. Scary process but I am going to try.

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