Many people are choosing to embrace life as it develops—grey hair and all. There are plenty of reasons to do so: beautiful grey coloring, no hassle, no plucking, and free from the expense of covering up the greys and the touch-ups.
Whether you're rocking a silver streak or two, or are in that awkward transitional phase where you're letting your greys grow in, it takes a bit of work to help grey hair look its best. I reached out to some of the grey-haired curlies in the community, and in today’s blog, they share their personal stories and grey hair care tips.
1. Sandi @theversatilityofawoman
My grey hair started coming in, fast and furiously nearly six years ago. Prior to the six-year mark, I continued to grapple with allowing the grey to fully grow out, so I continued to color for many years monthly, until one day I thought, "Why am I continuing to color my natural grey hair while so many younger ladies were dyeing their hair grey for aesthetic purposes?" That is when I began to embrace my natural locks.
Unfortunately, there is a fear or apprehension in going grey for many women because we are so concerned with beauty and how we will be perceived by others, especially men. My personal perception was that it would make me look less attractive and make me look older, but once I decided to go fully grey, I had to have a plan of action in place. Part of the difficulty in my eyes was how would I wear my hair since I no longer permanently straightened my hair nor color. Prior to coloring, I wore a lot of protective styles, which included weaves and wigs. Not because I needed to for lack of hair length or thickness, but because it was easier than trying to manage or style every day.
I am 56 years old, and around 50 is when this all started to get real, but I see some women my age and older who are still fighting the process but yet they are tired of trying to keep it together. Many tell me how beautiful my hair is and how they wish they could do it, and I always share with them how it started for me and encourage them to just try. What helped me initially to transition was finding a curly grey three-quarter wig where I could blend the front perimeter of my hair in with the wig to make it look natural. That gave me that extra added confidence I needed. Boy, was that a great help to me. I can understand the feeling, of course, because I was there. I think what helped me was that I am a licensed cosmetologist, and naturally, we can be kind of bold with changing things up. To me, hair is just an extension of fashion; It is our hat, so to speak, that we can change up at any time.
I have had to learn along the way, by trial and error, that grey hair can have some challenges with dryness and sometimes undisciplined hair strands. Some strands lose the springiness of the medulla that lies under the cuticle and cortex of the hair, and that is just due to aging; this is where moisturization of the cuticle and hydration of the cortex is especially important. Don't forget the scalp too. I failed to keep up with that early on because I kept my hair either in an afro puff, mostly, or under a protective style. Now I know that it is required everyday whether I wear my own hair or wear a protective style. This can be achieved by using moisturizing shampoos, monthly deep conditioning using heat, and other hydrating styling aids, including leave-in conditioners. Because I have transitioned into a healthier lifestyle with the types of foods I eat and no longer eat, the same has happened with what I feed my hair. Although, I cannot necessarily give a particular product to use because I can go from one product to another depending on what's in it. Many times, I find products at TJ Max that are specialty items that I cannot find anywhere else unless maybe, going online to search. I can tell you that I look for products that will supply not only the hydration and moisture that I need, but I look for products that also have natural ingredients without parabens and sulfates (SLS) that can dry out hair and are toxic. If there is alcohol in the product, it is better if it is further down the ingredient list than at the top or limits its use due to possible breakage. Whatever ingredients are at the top means the product has more of a percentage than the other ingredients.
Just remember that this is a journey, so you will have to do homework in learning how to manage your hair with a proper diet and nutrition that will not only feed your body but your beautiful locks. Learn to appreciate you and what God has naturally given. Your grey is your crown of glory and a sign of wisdom.
2. Kristina Collins @__kristina.renee__
I've always had big curly hair but not always known what to do with it. When I was young, people used to tell me that I looked like Shirley Temple and would begin to sing "on the good ship, lollypop." When I became a pre-teen, I tried to look like Farrah Fossett, still not really sure how I felt about my hair. I finally came to love my hair at eighteen, and only because someone taught me how to make my curls look good. Knowledge is power!
I started to grey at sixteen. I only had a few here and there. In my twenties, I started to color my hair. In my thirties, I had to color my hair. When I was thirty-six, I started to feel the pull to go natural. Finally, at forty, I made the plunge. My hair length was just past my shoulders. I thought the way forward was to cut it short. I started with a bob and continued to cut my hair until I ended up with a pixie. I will never forget the day when all the final dye was cut off; I felt liberated.
I then had to adjust, and I also grieved a little because I now had to embrace this change. For me, there was no going back. I cut all my beautiful curls off. I was afraid I would look older, and if I grew my hair long with the grey, it would make me look like a witch character from a movie, but I pushed past the fears and fell in love with my new look.
My husband said he missed my curls, so I have been growing my silver out since, and I have no regrets. I'm forty-nine now. My grey curly hair is a part of me, and I love all of me!
My favorite product is Tweak'D by Nature. I love to use Chiuri Butter; it doesn't weigh my hair down. It gives my curls a light, bouncy feeling, and the volume of my hair is amazing!!! When I'm not using that, I use IGK curly hair products.
3. Jordana @curlysilverlox
My mother found my first silver when I was in 4th grade. Then in high school, I remember having people find them and pull them out for me - at that time, I was horrified by the silvers. College began my long relationship with hair dye. The problem was, early on, that I developed an allergy to dye and had to find a natural alternative without Ammonia. So, I transitioned to Natural hair dye, but then, after 22 years, my scalp started to react -- UGH, it was happening again. I tried one last-ditch effort to stay dark and curly with a natural pigment dye experiment. Total FAIL - it made my hair black, and my silvers turned dark silver. Yeah, it was time for me to transition!
1 year and 5 months ago, I had my final dye job. I was lucky to have an amazing stylist, Alenka Cotignola, in Santa Monica, who helped my transition. We did 2 rounds of highlights to help blend my silvers. The first round was simple, and 3 months later, we did an entire head of highlights where she actually followed my grey pattern. The grow out from there was sooooo easy and such a fun transition. I look back and can see my skin tone fighting my dyed dark hair. Our bodies are ready when we are! Our skin is born to transition with our silvers. For me, the leap was freedom. I was dying my hair every 3 weeks, and I never have to think about it again.
I'm on a beautiful journey now discovering my new silver curly texture. My silver curls have a different porosity, and that has changed my entire line-up for my curly hair routine. Everything that I used on my dyed curls no longer applies. So I started my IG page @curlysilverlox to document my discoveries and ended up finding the most inspirational community of Curlies! I owe so many of my discoveries to the strong and fierce women of color who came before me. Their innovation, dedication, and passion laid the foundation of an entire world embracing their curls. I'm in awe of the companies I've started depending on for products.
My main companies for products have been: Shea Moisture, Cachos Brazil Haircare, AG Hair, Design Essentials, Inhasi Naturals, and Lus Brand. My silvers demand protein and moisture, so I've added in a rice water rinse followed by a deep condition with SheaMoisture's Jamaican Black Castor Oil Masque about 1 time per month. I learned that my silvers cannot stand Aloe, and that was huge as so many products use aloe for moisture. So I cut all Aloe, Sulfates, and Silicones. Moisture/Protein balance is big for my silvers, and I make sure that my products have an even combo. I love SheaMoisture's Coconut and Hibiscus Conditioner (protein), and I use it every time I wet my curls. I added in the L.O.C. method: Leave-In - Cachos Brazil Combing Creme (no protein) / Oil - Cachos Brazil High Porosity Oil / Creme - AG Hair Recoil (protein).
Styling products wise, I discovered my love of creating my own flaxseed gel. It is easy, cheap, and it gives the best definition and shine that I have found to date for my silvers. Hint…I love adding in essential oils for scent and scalp health. Styling methods will often include gel/mousse/gel, and I add in the Design Essentials Almond and Avocado Foam with my Flaxseed Gel. Then I usually use my Denman Brush for definition - my silvers are of their own mind, so the brush really helps for clumping. I love a silk scarf (ANNAHMOL offers the best "up-cycled" scarves 30x30) to pineapple my curls during the day. My favorite one is my "Under Construction" Scarf by fellow curly LD Curlee - created with our silver transitions in mind!
The final game changer for me has been SLEEP PROTECTION. I use a hair buff and a silk pillowcase. This allows my curls to stay intact for days! Add in a damp refresh with Cachos Brazil Combing creme and flaxseed gel, and I get a week out of those curls - mind blown. It's an honor to be a part of this community, and I just want us all to celebrate our curls and our silvers in the ways that make us feel spectacular and unique.
4. Chloe @chloes_silver_waves
My name is Chloë, and I'm 46 years old. I embraced my curls in January 2017, and was shocked to discover that what I thought were frizzy waves, were actually curls! I'd straightened my hair my entire adult life and never liked my curls, though I came to love them once I learned to care for them.
I found my first gray hair at the age of 21, and began covering the gray with dye at 34 to feel more confident. But as I got older and more gray, dye began to feel like a burden. Embracing my silver hair is a natural extension of embracing my curls. My transformative experience in loving my curls made me wonder if I might love my silver too.
When I turned 45, I began plotting my grow-out. I followed women on Instagram, who were mid-transition. There's an amazingly supportive community of radiantly beautiful silver sisters there. I bought Lorraine Massey's book, Silver Hair: A Handbook. And I planned my final dye for just before a black-tie event, six months later.
I began a cold-turkey grow-out (no transition coloring) after my last dye on November 2, 2019. About three months in, I transformed my chin-length bob into an asymmetrical cut as short as a pixie in parts, but with enough length to keep some curls. I knew I'd miss my curls if I cut them off completely! I loved the new style, and it made my transition easier.
I never had doubts in embracing my gray; this is unusual, but it makes sense considering how tough the natural curl transition is. My hair was damaged, and the learning curve steep, so it was about a year before my curls began looking great. This experience helped me develop a thicker skin and patience; those lessons also ease the silver journey. Very little "how-to" learning is required, which made my silver transition less draining.
My silver pattern is more beautiful than expected, with highlights and streaks. I was concerned I'd look washed out, but I don't. And I have less gray on parts of my head than I'd guessed. The truth is, there's no way to know until you start.
Curls appear to take longer to grow out due to shrinkage, but the line of demarcation between natural hair and dye is also less noticeable with curly hair. I'm ten months in and I think it'll be another year before the dye is completely gone. I've come to love the contrast between my silver and the dye, and I'll be a bit sad when the transition ends. I've heard the silver transition described as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, and indeed it does feel that powerful.
The products used to care for natural curls are well-suited for gray hair. Grays can be coarse and wiry, but they were that way when I was dyeing them too. New hair growth occurred when I stopped dyeing, and my scalp is healthier. Without dye, I believe my curl pattern will continue to improve. I can tell the porosity of my hair is changing, and I'll need to continually adjust my products.
My favorite hair products are below. I did an audit recently to ensure I was purchasing from Black-owned businesses and was pleased that many of my favorites were already in that category.
- MopTop Bamboo Gentle Shampoo
- Inahsi Soothing Mint Moisturizing Conditioner
- Uncle Funky's Daughter Good Hair
- Alikay Naturals Lemongrass Leave-In
- Uncle Funky's Daughter Curly Magic Curl Stimulator
- Jessicurl Spiralicious Gel
- Curls Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Jelly
- Giovanni Hair Styling Foam
- Uncle Funky's Daughter Defunk Hair Refresher Tonic
- Alikay Naturals Honey and Sage Deep Conditioner
Products for itchy, dry scalp:
- Alikay Naturals Hair and Scalp Balm
- As I Am Olive & Tea Tree Oil Co-wash
- Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal + Tea Tree Scalp Treatment
- Mielle Mint Almond Oil
Are you embracing your grey hair? Share your story with us in the comments!