Going Gray… On Purpose

The latest hair trend is not what you might expect: Young women all over the country are dying their hair gray or silver. To those that have naturally gone gray—and perhaps tried to reverse the phenomenon by dying their hair a different shade—it might seem perplexing.

Why would young women want to go gray? I like to think of it as a mini-revolution, interpreting the trend as a stand against the notion that women should feel averse to aging, that there’s something inherently less beautiful about gray hair. By choosing to go gray, women redefine the color—and the process of aging as a whole—as something beautiful.

It’s also a matter of expressing our agency. Women can do whatever we want, whether it’s letting our hair change naturally or dying it gray—or pink, or blue, or any color we want. Women should be able to look however we want to look, embrace it, and celebrate it.

To learn more about the process of dying gray, I sat down with Katie, a stylist at Bellingham’s Vanity Hair Studio on Dupont Street.

What is the process of going from your current hair color to gray/silver?

Katie: The first thing you’ll want to do is get the hair to lift to a pale blonde. So then once you’ve lifted to the lightest possible level, which needs to be a level nine or level 10, then you go in and kind of have to personalize the color combination to get it to whatever picture [the client] showed you. The thing with doing it on brunettes is that it’s 2019—most people have colored their hair. So it usually takes at least two processes to lift it to a white blonde. So now you’re looking at going in for multiple services in order to achieve this.

What are some upkeep tips?

Katie: Something I like to recommend when people are going through a bleach process, especially multiple, is purchasing an at-home conditioning mask or coming into the salon for conditioning treatments. It’s just really good for your hair and helps it process and hold the color longer. Also, purple shampoo essentially neutralizes all those gold and yellow tones that, obviously, if you’re doing a gray, people don’t want.

What tips do you have for making naturally gray hair more vibrant?

Katie: I would probably gear a little bit more towards a really fine weave of a highlight and then tone those to try and match whatever their natural gray is. Just because a lot of people don’t go 100 percent natural gray at once, you know, they start at 30 or 40 percent, then go to 50 or 60, then eventually they’re 100 percent gray. So depending on their existing level of gray, that’s how I would go forward. Or if they desire something that’s a little more vivid, maybe then we go into it with a white and do that.

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"By choosing to go gray, women redefine the color—and the process of aging as a whole—as something beautiful."