How to Grow Out Gray Hair with Confidence: Sara’s Story

sara
Why I chose to grow out my natural gray hair…

When I was 22 years old, my hair turned from its original black color to about 75% silver, almost overnight. This drastic change happened in response to a very traumatic time in my life, and I remember feeling absolutely horrified as I peered at my roots in the mirror and saw the silver color I associated much more with my mother than myself. My mom had also gone gray early, and often had an unhappy relationship with her hair, lacking the money to color it regularly and feeling ashamed of her silver locks. Sometimes she simply wouldn’t raise her head in public, despite the objective fact that she was/is quite beautiful inside and out.

Determined not to suffer a similar fate, I began coloring my hair every two to three weeks.

My hair grows extremely fast, and in order to keep up with the roots, I spent a great deal of time feeling ashamed, covering my head with hats and headbands to conceal either the ring of black dye left on my skin after coloring, or the annoying gray that became visible almost as soon as I could “get rid” of it. And so it continued, for about 15 years, through college, graduate school, my professional life, a marriage, and two children. This “secret” I was always trying to keep was so much a part of my everyday existence that the negative emotions I associated with it became almost subliminal. There were times that I turned down invitations from friends because my roots were showing or, like my mother, could not raise my head or look others squarely in the eye because I was ashamed of my gray.

As I entered my 30’s, I started to look around and notice that many, many others were harboring the same “secret”.

It was no longer the case that I represented the anomaly of a very young woman with gray hair. As a got older, I grew into the norm. At that point, it suddenly occurred to me how strange it is that so many of us feel that we must color our hair to feel beautiful or accepted by society. It is one thing to choose to color, but it is another to feel less than OK for choosing not to. I was starting to ask the question: what is so wrong with my gray that I must continuously cover it? The layers of shame and unprocessed emotion associated with my hair began to surface, and as I “unpacked” these layers, I was delighted to arrive at the following revelation: There was nothing at all “wrong” with me or my hair!

I started to see my shiny silver roots as pretty, not ugly or shameful at all.

The next trick, though, was to figure out how I was going to get through the transition. I approached several hairdressers with the idea of growing out my gray hair, and to my surprise they tried to dissuade me, and a couple of them flat-out refused to help. After my second child’s birth (when I was 36), the abstract notion of growing out my gray roots soon enough became a reality, as I was so busy caring for my toddler and newborn that visiting the hairdresser was simply not an option. And coloring my hair myself was about the last thing on planet Earth I cared about as I fell into bed thoroughly worn-out each night.

I realized that this was my chance to go for it.

I was already well into the “awkward” stage and there was no point, not to mention no time, to color it again. Most importantly, I wanted to be a champion of other women and to validate their authentic beauty by confidently representing my own, and that desire to empower others drove my decision more than anything.

how to grow out gray hairThe photos I’ve included here demonstrate that my transition was not without its challenges. The first few months, in particular, were difficult as my hair was about as two-toned as it gets. At this time, I returned to my favorite hairdresser who is also a dear friend, even though it meant traveling farther from my home. She was very emotionally supportive and helped my transition enormously by removing much of my former black color and giving me great shorter cuts to speed the process.

Throughout the process, I chose to simply be OK with each and every stage, to place my focus on my beautiful family and the many blessings in my life, to surround myself with loving people, and to keep breathing. Perhaps most importantly, I chose to look in the mirror and say to myself, “you are beautiful,” even when society’s interpretation of my reflection was likely to the contrary.

The outcome of my year-long transition is a deep, true self-love and sense of confidence that I had never experienced before.

I stopped looking at myself and all my “flaws” with harsh judgment – which I wasn’t even fully consciously aware of doing in the first place – and instead, began to look at myself with softer, more accepting gaze. This new self-acceptance applied not only to my hair, but also to the sum total of myself. I realized that holding myself to the standard of society’s version of “beauty” (or the way I interpreted that standard) had been holding me back from developing and stepping out with other parts of myself – my intellect, my compassion, my wisdom. “Freeing” my gray hair was an important key to freeing myself – and it’s a decision I’m so, so grateful to have made. I hope my story will also inspire other women to see and embrace their unique, one-of-a-kind beauty – for beauty truly does come from within.

Like what you just read?
Join our community
and get our free ebook
"15 Fabulous Tips for Rocking the Silver or Gray" 

Comments

  1. Ann says

    Well…..my story is so similar to yours. And now I have been gray/white since 1998 and I LOVE LOVE LOVE my white hair and everybody else does too. I find it incredibly liberating and I'm about to be 62 years old!

    • Sara Davis-Eisenman says

      That is so awesome, Ann! I truly hope this will become a revolution of empowerment for women everywhere. It is SO liberating!

      • LiSandra says

        Thank you! Your story and your pictures have really helped me make a firm decision. I feel like I have been a slave to dying for too long I'm in my 30's already and it feels like a lifetime of dye times wasted. I could just imagine how great it feels to embrace the gray not look back!

  2. Hiedi says

    I am 33 and in the same position you were… i have a 19 month old daughter and 80% SILVER… thank you for inspiring me to go through with the transition… im a month and a half into it… thank you for sharing your story…

    • says

      That is wonderful Hiedi! Enjoy every minute with your beautiful girl and congrats on the decision to go natural! I bet it's just beautiful…When/if you feel comfortable, please post a pic on my FB website :)

  3. Audrey says

    I am so happy to see this post! I'm 33 and 90% silver, and have been kicking around the idea to grow it out. We are not alone!

  4. Susan says

    Decided to stop dying my hair after almost 39 years (I went prematurely grey at the age of 22). This has been difficult as my hair is quite long. Your story has encouraged me!!!

  5. Joanne says

    I am 56 and can longer deal with the pain and agony of being allergic to every hair dye on the planet.I used to take allergy pills to go the hairdresser and fall asleep on the chair. I stopped coloring about 4 months ago and I feel so free. Cant wait for it to grow out completely. My husband is not handling it well, he is still hoping I can find a color that I can use. (His hair is silver)

  6. Denise says

    I am so glad I found your site. I am 53 and struggling with not dying my hair anymore. The grey is going in so fast now to the point that colouring it leaves me so frustrated. I know I don't have much, but the growth at the edges makes me feel I un-attractive. I don't look my age at all which I have enjoyed for a life time, but the grey coming in is changing that for me and I don't like it. I'm hoping for support with this new revolution of ging grey. I so want to come to that place of being free with my grey and yet see my beauty!

  7. Sara says

    So fun to read all of your stories here…my advice is…keep on keeping on! And remember to extend to yourself the same unconditional love and support that you would give a close friend. The results will be beautiful! Beautiful = being happily, confidently YOURSELF. Thank you all so much for sharing your journeys!!!! – Sara Davis-Eisenman

  8. Barbara says

    You couldn't have described where I am more perfectly. Full head of grey since 25 years old now about to turn 36 and I too am done feeling ashamed and that I have to hide it. I did blond highlights over my dark brown dyed hair to start my transition. Everyone except one cousin thinks I'm nuts. Thank you for valdating how I feel!

  9. Priscilla says

    I am 2 months into the process , it is hard i am 42 and startedmgoimg gray at 26. But I feel its goig to be ok. I am so tired of dying it. I feel everybody staring at it , and feel the think i am unkept. Th truth is this whole haair thimg has made me realize how much attention I give to what people think of me. It is very revealing and think I have to do some work in there. Its very inspiring to read your story. Here my husband and son are very supportive as well as my siters and mom. Thank you

  10. says

    I got my first grey hairs at 15. Started coloring at 28 on a regular basis. Fast forward 15 years later with 5 kids, my baby being 5, i became a Grandmother. Coloring still on a regular basis, every 4-6 weeks. I loved being a Grandmother but didn't want people to think I was my 5 yr olds Grandmother instead of his Mother. I lived by the saying, "I love being a Grandmother just don't want to look like one.". The coloring has become every 3 weeks and it's not only become a chore, I've come to hate it. With 5 kids, 3 adults, 1 is 18 and my baby is now 12. I now have 6 Grandkids and a very busy Real Estate Career. 6 months ago I went blond. I feel even more fake. I can color every 6 weeks but it's still a pain and I really just want the freedom. I see Clients weekly so I don't think I should shave it. I don't think old be happy growing it out with the line. Should I have grey highlights to blend the growth and just let it. Go? I'm 51, I'm ready to embrace my grey (I think) I pray it's the beautiful white color of my grandmother. Glad I found you all. Have a feeling my family won't be very supportive. I love reading your tips so please share,Share, share!

  11. jane says

    I decided abut 3 months ago to transition to gray …. so tired of coloring my roots every 3 wks. I went with a very, very short hairstyle to make it easier. (see pics of Jamie Lee Curtis / Sharon Stone hairstyles) I am 48, my husband 49. He is very supportive of this change …. by the way, he is fully gray but shaves his head, so hair is not a big issue for him. Have gotten trims every 3 wks instead of coloring roots, so close to having all the old color off now. I am really excited to embrace this new change …. glad to see I am not the only one making the decision to go natural.

    • Katie says

      I'm going to be 50 this year and I decided to embrace my grey. I love it! I cut the color out and now it looks like Jamie lee Curtis hair style. I have never felt so liberated and confident in my life. Its like I came out of my shell, I have a smile on my face all the time. The huge test was going to work with the new change, well, it went great, there's no turning back. Thank you for sharing your journey with us all. Happily Grey

  12. CiCi says

    Sorry to sound negative, but Sarah is a beautiful brown eyed young woman with firm, lineless skin. Fact is, when we are showing our age in our faces, going gray can easily age us by ten years. I would love to go gray, but my fair skin and light eyes require hair with pigment, just so I will not look ill.

    • Marianne says

      My problem exactly CiCi! I went a dark grey earlyish (not a beautiful silver or white) and looked really ill, so began to colour to my original light brown. When I hit 70, I thought enough, and let the grey show. I am 100% Ok with showing/telling my age, but the iron grey now makes me look old and sick. I wish there was a way to lighten the grey, but I can’t find one.

  13. Coni says

    I'm 60 and don't have much grey, only on the crown of my head. My thing is that I am just so tired of coloring my hair, period. My hair is shoulder length and a dark blonde color that I have not been able to match. It goes blond on the crown only and stays the natural dark blond every where else on my head. Is a jamie lee curtis cut the only answer?

    • Sara Sophia says

      Coni, I know a lot of women with that pattern and it looks gorgeous when it’s all grown out…nature’s free highlights! What’s kind of fun is that no two heads of silver are alike. I say, go for it! If you’d like additional support around transitioning, I co-run a group on Facebook called “Go Silver, Find Sexy” that features many silver beauties in various stages of their journeys. Feel free to join us! Blessings-

  14. Jessica says

    I am 29 and more than half gray. I started finding gray in my dark brown hair when I was 14. My mom, grandmother and great grandmother passed this trait to me. My great grandmother never put a drop of color on her hair and it was beautiful. Looking at pictures and hearing how adament she was about her own color being beautiful… I am going to be the first of my mother and grand mother to let mine grow. Its been 3 months and a very ungraceful process, since half my hair is black and half is white. Thanks for sharing your story !

    • Sara Sophia says

      Jessica, I have so been there!! Good for you for embracing your beautiful natural silver! I run a group on Facebook for silver hair called “Go Silver, Find Sexy” – feel free to meet us there if you’d like additional support and community around your silver-ing. I’m sure it’ll be just gorgeous!!!! :)

  15. Leslie Plaskin says

    My hair has been gray since my thirties and I’ve always embraced it. What I did not embrace was the curls. I had always worn it straight. What I need is advice on how to care for my hair with curls. Sara has pretty curly hair. What products (shampoo, conditioner, etc.) would help? Thanks..

    • Sara Sophia says

      Thank you so much! I’ve always had a “less is more” philosophy toward my curls and I actually use organic shea butter based baby shampoo to wash, and argan oil based conditioner, and simply leave in some conditioner to style. Avoid heat (blow drying etc.) and make sure to eat plenty of healthy dietary fats for shine. Also wash infrequently so your hair’s natural oils have a chance to create shine for you. I hope this helps a little! Blessings! :)

  16. says

    Thank you, Sara, for replying! I wish I could wash my hair less frequently, but I really only have curly on the top; the sides are almost straight :(. The sides flip up. Luckily I don’t use any heat. All the research I’ve done, agrees with you on the shampoo and conditioner (thanks for the advice from someone who really has curls!). Does the argan oil smell strong–I am very sensitive to smells. Another problem I have, is finding a decent hair stylist!!

    Thanks for the advice; I really appreciate your help!!. Leslie

  17. patricia says

    I am from Argentina, so happy of having found this site!!!
    Just send a message in FB group.
    I am going through the process. What I find more challenging…to hear everything our friends and relatives have to say. It is so annoying.
    Thanks for being so supportive!!!

  18. Cricket says

    I have hid my grey hair since I was 16. I am now 42 and have decided to transition. I am only 6 weeks in to it. I am struggling, I think with acceptance from society. I can’t look in the mirror and say “I am Beautiful” I am hiding it with hats and scarfs. Last night I even wore my hat to bed because I don’t want my husband to see the transition. I think the transition will be the hardest. I look at everyone who shows off there gray hair and think “That is beautiful” I think when mine comes in, I will like it. Just getting through this tough time. I have read your story. It has helped to know that I am not alone and these feelings are normal. I feel silly at times because I think that things could be worse. Look at those dying of cancer and here I am being a baby about my hair.

  19. Patricia from Spain says

    I’m writing from Spain where grey hair in women is not popular at all. I am forty eight and I stopped coloring my hair ten years ago. I realised I was wasting my money and my time and, besides that, I didn’t like the results at all! At the beginning, everybody was against my decision, except my family. After so many years there are still people who say I look older and things like that…I try to reply in the most polite way but sometimes I lose my temper. I do love my hair!

  20. Cori says

    Thank you for your story! I am 40 years old, and I am so tired of coloring my hair. It grows SO so fast, and I have to get it colored every 3 weeks. I have been toying with the idea of going grey for about 9 months now….my hairdresser doesn’t want me to do it. Since my hair grows so fast, I’m thinking of cutting it really, really short and not coloring it anymore. She doesn’t want me to do that either. She just can’t understand the time and money that I’ve been spending on my hair. I’m ready to be done and just wash and go! I need to read this story everyday to give me the courage to just go for it!

    • Cynthia says

      You can do it ! Think of how liberating this will be for you. You might need to try a new stylist if
      she is making you feel uncomfortable. You are beautiful let it shine !

    • Diana says

      Of course she doesn’t want you to stop coloring it! She loses a source of revenue! Mine told me the same thing, and I’ve stopped coloring it (last color was December 2014) after a bad reaction to the hair dye. I’ve decided to find another hairdresser.

    • Catherine says

      That’s what I did, a cute short hair cut. I wanted the fake color gone. It was mentally easier to regrow my hair than wrestle with the weird skunk streak. The short hair was a fun novelty with only a few months of an awkward growing out length phase.

  21. Cynthia says

    Thank you for your story Sara. I also find my roots beautiful and wanting to shine. I am just starting my journey to going gray or silver. A year and half ago I went to a new hairdresser in attempt to start the process but she talked me out of it. I still see her but routinely go to the girl she was training at that time. So I called my stylist and told her of my decision and not to try to talk me out of it. She remembered that I wanted to do this some time ago. So pleasantly to my surprise she said she would support me and help me on my journey. What a relief !! Plus she is really good with haircuts.
    So here we go, 16 days post last color ever.
    Cynthia

  22. angie says

    hello Sara wow what a fantastic inspiration you are to us all. Im no longer on instagram…but are you on Pinterest?

    Im only 3 months in but ive started taking pics of my journey .

    where can i see your transition pics?

    much love

    my direct email mcminnangela@yahoo.com

  23. Dragana says

    Thanks for sharing your story Sara. I just turned 39 today. I have more than 50% grey hair and I have been thinking about going natural for quite some time. I think I am not courageous enough. My hair grows really fast, I have to dye it every 3 weeks. And it’s curly and dry. If I knew that I would look as beautiful as you Sara and other inspirational women with natural grey hair I see on the net I would do it. But I think I would look much older and tired and ugly. I need support and some convincing.

    You shine inside and out. Your hair shines and it’s not making you look older, not at all, quite the opposite. I don’t know if I could pull that up.

    Much love,

    Dragana

  24. Alison Dixon says

    At 58, I decided to go natural when I retired in March 2014. Initially, the kick-ass, very short style my hairdresser created made me feel funky and very cool. That was for the first few months, but some time after that the doubts set in as I looked at Facebook pics of my former colleagues looking amazingly young for their age with their coloured tresses. I have a very proud and fashion conscious daughter and it was her comments and support that made me stick with my resolve to be the real me. We are celebrating her marriage in a few months time and I would love some advice on what color I should choose for my Mother of the Bride outfit,. I have olive skin and brown eyes and have always suited autumn tones. I am blessed with a great complexion so can probably get away with something a bit “out there” without looking ridiculous. My hair has an ombre look about it with dark undertones around the nape of my neck giving way to white around the sides and crown. Any advice your followers can provide would be much appreciated as I want to make my daughter proud on her Big Day.

  25. says

    I am turning 60 this July and am inspired by all the women out there rocking the grey hair.
    I have similar complexion and coloring as you.

    All neutral tones look very classy for the mother of the bride. I would love to see a soft grey or
    warm brown grey. Those colors look great with a tan.

    Good Luck and enjoy the day!

  26. jacque polaco says

    Girlfriend! Today is the day I decided to officially continue to grow out my glitter! Thanks to your video (so sorry for what you have been through) and what a beautiful human you are, you’ve got to be a the most beautiful model for grey hair ever! Thank you for showing all us woman how gorgeous we can look with what wev’e got! by the way I am 51 and just starting my journey from gorgeous to gorgeous! may life continue to be an adventure for you!… Jacque.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *