A New Way to Transition Gray Hair

Remember recoiling from the mirror in shock the first time you spotted a grey hair on your head? Perhaps you were in your 30s or 40s and thought, “Too Young! I’m not ready to go grey.” Perhaps you took action and yanked it out from the root. No matter your approach, grey hair insists, eventually, upon having its way. But, the transition to grey hair can be a gradual one, thanks to a technique called grey blending.

The “Root” of the Problem

Before we dive into the miracle that is grey blending, let’s learn a bit more about grey hair. It generally starts appearing in both men and women between the ages of 34 and 44. Your hair’s colour is determined by the type of Melanin – a naturally occurring pigment – that the cells in your hair follicles produce. Once your body’s production of melanin in these cells slows, your hair begins to turn silver, grey or white. Take note of what dermatologists call the 50-50-50 rule: 50 per cent of the population has 50 per cent gray hair by age 50.

Grey hair is a natural occurrence, although whether it happens sooner or later is due to genetics so don’t panic and don’t pluck. You may risk inflammation or your hair may look thinner, because new hair can form with a thin edge. Instead, it’s time to consider grey blending.

Grey Blending Explained

So, what is grey blending? Grey blending is a subtle way of handling your greying hair. It is an approach that blends the grey with colours similar to your natural hair tone. It’s an option that allows you to embrace and enhance your greying hair, rather than hiding it. Your natural hair colour is the inspiration for the final effect.

Usually, your colourist will blend your greying hair with a mix of highlights and lowlights designed to give your colour dimension and frame your face attractively. Lowlights turn your hair darker than your natural colour, while highlights add shades that are lighter. They will give your hair a multi-tonal look that mixes in the strands of grey so they don’t stand out.

Most grey blending is similar to balayage in the sections of light and shade it creates throughout your hair; the difference is that you can request tones that focus on the grey or blend it away. Your colourist will use the same technique, starting the colour a few centimetres below the roots so it grows out naturally.

What About Glossing Grey Hair?

Glossing is another strategy for blending the grey in your hair. A gloss is a treatment that adds shine to your hair and can enter the hair cuticles to deposit colour, allowing grey to blend naturally. This semi-permanent treatment is applied to your hair and rinsed out; it usually lasts four weeks or more.

Is Grey Blending for You?

More and more people – both men and women – are embracing grey hair and making it part of their style. Only you can decide if grey blending is the approach you want to take, but here are some of the reasons to adopt this strategy:

  • You’re not ready to go completely grey;
  • You don’t want to completely cover the grey;
  • Your natural grey colour is appealing, but you want more dimension to the colour;
  • You’re seeking something more natural in appearance than full colour; or
  • You want a lower maintenance colour regimen.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Grey Blending?

If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, but still aren’t sure, consider some of the pros and cons of this on-trend approach:

Pros of Grey Blending

  • Less grey covered than with all-over colour;
  • Fewer touch-ups;
  • Creates movement and contrast, as well as shine and depth; and
  • Less noticeable as it grows out

Cons of Grey Blending

  • Blending doesn’t cover grey; it just disguises it; and
  • It might require multiple sessions to transition to a grey blended look if you're used to regular all-over color treatments.

Bowing to the Trend

Grey blending is also an ideal way to accustom yourself to the idea that your hair is changing with age. You may initially choose overall colour, rather than a blend, instead of acknowledging that your hair is turning grey, because Western society is very focused on youth, and it’s hard to admit to growing older. However, during the recent pandemic lockdowns, many women were unable to visit salons regularly for treatment, so they opted to let the grey appear. Now, more women have begun to realize that greying hair can still look chic.

Even once your hair is primarily grey, it is possible to add work with your colourist to obtain a multi-tonal effect that frames your face. Think of film star Jamie Lee Curtis or Canadian journalist Lisa LaFlamme and you’ll realize that there’s colour in your future. Undoubtedly, the possibilities allow for 50 shades of grey!