Afraid to Go Grey? Tips for Embracing and Caring for Grey Hair

2/07/2022

Beauty

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The choice to embrace your white hair is individual and there is no right or wrong in the journey or process. I want to share my journey to help anyone out there who might be struggling with the transition or has questions, as well as to share a few tips on caring for grey hair that I have learned over the last 2 decades.

How to Transition to Grey HairLast week, I shared a poll on IG to get some insight on the reasons women are reluctant to go grey.  Here are some of the most common responses:

  • Tired of maintaining but terrified of looking old
  • Transition and grow-out phase is too daunting
  • Too young for white hair 
  • Outside negativity from friends and family 
  • Not sure how to manage (e.g. texture, yellowing, etc.)

My Brief White Hair Story

I must have a thing with being in the minority:  Female, Black woman, teenage mother,  In 40’s with career in social media, refuse to wear my hair straight (EVER!), oh and yeah I’ve been going grey for 20 years…and ROCKING IT!!  Like WHOA my cover story is all about going against the norm.  Maybe that’s a part of me embracing my white strands at such a young age.  What I do know is, I have felt the full spectrum of emotions when it comes to seeing my hair turn white. Frustration. Embarrassment. Ugly. Less confident. Unique. Liberated. Back to frustration. Beautiful. And LOVE!! (Read more about my Natural Hair Journey)

I am 43 and at 23 my first white hairs sprouted up and I was not havin’ it!  I actually plucked them out…now I do not recommend it but yeah I was embarrassed so I had to conceal the stubborn white hairs somehow.  As time marched on so did the white hairs!!  I couldn’t pluck them fast enough, there were too many!! DAMN THEM!!  Let’s take this to the next level, hair dye.  Well if you had tried 20 years ago to cover white hair at home with dye you would know that those little bastards didn’t take color easily.  So the dying thing lasted for like a minute. There was nothing left for me to do.  Either I ruin my naturally curly hair by continuously dying it or I could take the road less traveled, and let my hair do it’s thing.  

So in the span of I wanna say 2-3 years I had a come to Jesus with my hair and literally said this white hair thing is happening, so deal!!  Side note, my Grandmother on my Dad’s side had brilliant white hair as long as I knew her.  I loved my Grandma Rose to pieces, she could do no wrong in my eyes.  I’m 1000% sure I get my premature white hair from her and I LOVE that!!

THE GROWING OUT PHASE:

This is by far the highest polled concern.  As you babes know I have naturally curly hair.  If I am being honest that worked in my favor because the white hairs blend in easier. Like I mentioned, it was a gradual process for myself, it was not overnight.  I had the benefit of seeing a slow progression of my hair color changing.  I don’t even see my hair color anymore, it’s been turning white most of my adult life. It’s my normal.  In addition, this allowed other people to see the journey with me, so my white hair is also very normal to my loved ones.  

Texture:

Yes, the early sprouts can have a stubborn wiry texture.  The great news is they do begin to get with it, meaning they eventually take on your natural hair texture.  May, my oldest daughter is 25 and she has loads of white hair.  Like her Mommy, she has chosen to embrace it. But let me tell you she was not happy with the white wires that would literally stand up on her head!! I told her to be patient, give them time and they will soften.  And ya know what they have!!  I wanna say it took like a year for her to see the change. It’s been so long for myself I kinda don’t remember my own timeline on the transformation from wires to “softer.” 

Tips to Transitioning from Dyed Hair to Grey Hair: 

If you’ve been dying your hair for years, the idea of suddenly stopping can be daunting. Truly, the ultimate key to this process is patience and kindness. But here are a few tips that can help you ditch the dye and transition to grey hair:

  • Get a short haircut. This can be drastic for some, but if you’re willing to rock a short hairstyle this will be the easiest and quickest way to let your white hair grow in naturally. 
  • Add highlights or lowlights that will blend with your grey and make the transition more subtle. 
  • Jump all in and dye your hair platinum, grey or even a blonde color. Since bleaching your hair can be damaging, consider lightening your hair in stages to minimize damage. I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone who already has damaged hair. And of course, do your research and work with a professional colorist who has experience in this area.
  • Use a washable root touch up spray to hide the awkward beginning stage. Once enough grey grows in, the grombre (grey ombre) effect can look pretty cool. Need inspiration? Check out @grombre for hundreds of beautiful women embracing their greys. 

LOOKING OLD or LOOKING LESS BEAUTIFUL:

Aging is a beautiful thing, a gift!  Now growing old, looking or feeling old is a different thing babes.  I’m a proponent of embracing aging, but my white hair does NOT make me feel or look old.  My white hair does not define my beauty.  I choose to believe that my white hair is REDEFINING BEAUTY!!  News flash lovies, you can have dark as midnight hair and look and feel OLD!!! It’s not hair color that ages us.  It’s spirit, energy, attitude, how we approach life, how we care for ourselves daily…these are the factors that matter.   My mother-in-law is 80yrs old and looks  like a teenager!!  She is radiant, sharp as a knife, full of energy, and more youthful than women half her age!!  She has white hair and I promise you if you met her the last thing you would be thinking is “old lady”!! Caring for Grey Hair

I’m gonna be harsh on this one because frankly you need to hear it straight… IF you believe that your hair color makes you younger and more beautiful then maybe you need to do some inner evaluation.  It could be that the beauty standards seen in the world have told you white hair = old? Or maybe you flat out don’t want to age?  Because there is no person alive that can convince me that my white hair is not beautiful and ageless.

OUTSIDE NEGATIVITY:

Sigh, I REALLY do not like when people make personal comments about each other.  Like mind your own business.  I do me and you do you.  If you don’t have anything positive to say, keep that shit to yourself, PERIOD. That goes for family and friends. 

I knowwww, it’s very silly of me.  The fact is people do and will make comments.  Criticism especially from people closest to us freakin’ hurts like a mother!!! The people we love get in our heads, under our skin and break us down when they should be lifting us up.  Stepping out there to embrace your white hair may come with criticism. Be strong.  You can teach people how You want to be treated, especially when it comes to embracing your white hair.  Can you believe in all my 20yrs no one has ever said anything negative about my white hair…well to my face anyway…LOL!!  I chose to believe that it stems from my attitude about my hair.  I love it, I wear my white hair proudly and am not the person who walks around criticizing others. For anyone to contradict me, they are saying “I’m an asshole!!”  Anyone who would go out of their way to tear me down is an asshole and they can F’off!! End of story. I simply have no space for negativity at all.  Fine don’t agree,  but again, zip it…keep it to yourself. Please and thank you!! LOL!!

With that said, the reality is sometimes we need a support system that we aren’t getting from the people we love most. With all the negativity that goes on in social media, I can 1000% say that there is just as much positivity if not more. It’s all about where you choose to spend your time. Finding a support system and community on social media for just about anything is definitely one of the positive things and that goes for white hair too. If you’re reading this, then I hope my TTL community makes you feel supported, loved and beautiful as you embrace your white hair. I’m always happy to be a resource in your grey hair journey so please reach out if I can answer any questions for you – comment below or send me a DM!

TIPS FOR CARING FOR GREY HAIR

SOOOOO now that you are ready to embrace your white hair, considering it, or maybe you already rock it proudly let me share some care tips that work for me. 

How to Prevent Silver Streaks from Yellowing

Low to No Heat Styling

In my early 30’s after suffering a major hair loss I struggled to get my curls back to a healthy place.  I turned to using a curling iron to create uniformity and boy o’ boy did I ruin my white hair.  Essentially, heat destroys the hair shaft making it susceptible to environmental damage, i.e. UV exposure and pollution.  Over time this caused major yellowing in my curls. The good news is, the solution was easy for me. Once I ditched the curling iron, my hair grew out and so did the yellowed strands. I know this might be hard to hear but if you’re struggling with yellowing, you might want to ditch heat styling too, including flat irons, curling irons and even chemical relaxers. In place of the curling iron, I turned to diffusing my curls on low heat settings. 

Purple Shampoo: To Use or Not to Use

Purple shampoos are known to brighten or temper brassiness in white hair. For me I cannot use purple shampoo.  They are far too drying for my curls. Instead, I focus on using clean hydrating hair products that support healthy curls.  In using products that are good for my curls and avoiding heat, I have seen my white hair maintain it’s brilliance!!

Hydration: Grey Hair Needs Moisture

Frizzy or Dry 

 Babes, if you have white hair you have got to add hair mask treatments to your hair routine. I know, no one wants an added step on wash day, but it is the key to my curls. If you think my curls look soft and hydrated it is only because I do a hair mask treatment EVERY wash day.  

Scalp Care

If you ever thought the texture of your white hair is different from the rest of your hair, you’re not imagining things. That’s because as we age, our skin produces less sebum.  While we fundamentally understand this on our bodies we almost never address it on the scalp.  This decrease in sebum results in white hair that is a drier, rough texture. Scalp massages are a natural way to increase blood circulation and increase sebum oil production. There are some really lovely scalp oils, serums, shampoos, and masks out there that can help boost moisture and improve the texture of your white hair. 

Healthy Diet Promotes Healthy Grey Hair

Now I know you didn’t think we’d get to then end of this blog without talking about diet. LOL. For me, beauty always starts from the inside out and hair is no exception. There’s a reason scientists can detect your dietary habits and health by analyzing your hair. Eating a whole food plant based diet, packed with protein, biotin, antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids is important for healthy hair. Some examples of foods that promote healthy hair are avocado, nuts, olive oil, fatty fish, sweet potatoes, spinach, berries, beans, soybeans, sweet peppers, and seeds.

As you embark on the road to embracing your white hair, remember to be patient and kind to yourself. Embracing ones grey hair is the ultimate form of self-acceptance and there’s so much freedom and beauty in that. Wear your silver streaks with pride, darlings!

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  1. Sherika says:

    This blog waa so inspiring I am in my mid 30’s and have been greying for about 10 years. It’s been a struggle with dyeing my hair and so I can relate to alot of the struggles you have explained. I cut my hair to a boy-cut last year and I am embracing my hair as it is growing out as I didn’t like having just roots Grey and the ends a different color. But my edges don’t cooperate.

    Thank you once again.

  2. Susie Turner says:

    This is very helpful, Tennille, I appreciate the thought, details, energy you put into this article and the laughs!!! I love you…you are amazing!!

  3. Richelle says:

    Omg !!! Thank you for these tips . I’m so enjoying my white hair journey it’s been almost a year of not cutting anymore so I see more grey than before… I can’t wait to have more length as my hair used to be very . I’ve had grey hair strands since a teenager and so do two of my daughters…. For people who think grey hair means your old I say pray you live to grow old … I’m proud of my age and growing old gracefully…🥰

  4. Brittany says:

    I am in my mid-thirties and have been going grey for almost 10 years. After surgery 2 years ago my hair suffered from the amnesia. To be more gentle with my hair I haven’t colored it since and I never knew I’d have so many grays! I just told my girlfriends that I might learn to embrace it and not color it again. This encouraged me to do it! Thank you so much for sharing your journey!! Much love to you!

  5. Alisa Jones says:

    Thanks so much for the great advice for my grey hair that’s a little yellow, but more grey and white, people think I’ve used platinum color. No Way, I’ve been grey for many years now and I’m 57 and love it.

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I’m a clean beauty expert, a plant-based recipe guru, a fashion maven, and a mature black woman embracing my natural hair, silver streaks and all.

Welcome, I'm Tennille Murphy