How to go Grey: Stage 1

Grey HairWalking around the streets of Dalston I’m surrounded by beautiful grey hair and mostly on young girls. This ever growing trend was started by uber hip hair salon Bleach, who initially set up in the back of cult nail salon Wah on a remote part of the Kingsland road. The savvy girls behind the both Wah and Bleach helped put Dalston on the map and the once almost derelict row of shops where they started out, is now home to one of the best new restaurants in London, Rotorino.

The girls behind Bleach – twins Sam and Lou Teesdale (Lou is now Harry Styles stylist) – pioneered dip dye and pastel hair and are masters at colour, particularly strange greyed colour. Their method of stripping out all of the hairs natural colour with bleach and then adding grey and pastel tints is (in my opinion) stunning.

Seeing all these grey haired beauties on my daily bike rides past Bleach has inspired me to try make a commitment to going grey naturally despite the pain involved. Having dyed and highlighted my hair for the last few years, I’ve decided that enough is enough and there are only so many hours you can waste sitting in a hairdressers chair.

I am of course aware that I won’t look like the gorgeous young girls with waist length graphite hair, as they are 20 something and I’m 50 something, but if I can achieve even a tiny bit of the sophistication the women below have, I will be super happy.

older grey hairSo the first and most painful part of the process is under way and I’m not going to lie, isn’t pretty. I have horrible growing out highlights and strange grey wirey pube-like fly away hairs springing out of the top of my head. But I intend to persevere and document my journey here on the blog. I’m hoping it’s only a matter of time before it’s long and lush and beautifully all over grey. Or alternatively I may make a visit to Bleach – watch this space.

Going grey

Not a lover of a selfie – but needs must!



  • Becky says:

    How exciting. I can’t wait to see how you progress. I am definitely going to do this in the not too distant future. I hate going to the hairdressers and I hate the money it costs so I promise myself that soon I will just let it go – my two boys have been nagging me not to dye my hair for ages, but they are only small and don’t understand the pain of the process !! I am really looking forward to seeing how you get on with this – good luck x

  • nix says:

    I am 8 month in. My son’s friend thought i was his grandmother. My daughters friend is mystified by my 3 tone hair – particularly the pubes. My husband say “Don’t embrace it”.
    I am richer, stuck on style and rather aghast on bad hair day.

  • Jane says:

    haha Nix and Becky – my daughter is the same, she texted me the other day that she “was seriously worried about my hair” and men just don’t get it!!
    I’ve tried before but couldn’t bear – it. Im determined this time.

    J x

  • amanda says:

    Could someone please make salt+pepper hair a trend? then we’d be sorted. Ax

  • sarah says:

    I have never regretted going grey AND long. But, be aware that the texture of grey hair is more coarse and it needs care to keep it white (not yellow) and shiny.
    I think it probably is ageing because of the association with old age, but I don’t care, I’ve earned this cloak of silver hair.

  • Rosemary says:

    Stick with it! Growing out the colour isn’t much fun, but I’m so glad I did it (abt 3 years ago now). Bucking the trend, I grew my hair at the same time from the crop I’d had for decades to jaw length & am loving this new look. Condition is key tho, as is grooming – any hint of bedragglement & we’re in bag lady territory. Good luck & keep us posted.

  • steffi says:

    Clearly my own husband is a total weirdo as he has always ALWAYS begged me to go grey, from the first year I met him when I was about 21…the words Anne Bancroft and fetish spring to mind. Never one to be pushed into a decision, especially not by the husband, I do feel I would rather LOVE any of the long grey looks above. During my last visit to the salon I even asked my hairdresser if she could dye my hair a wonderful grey melange not unlike picture 1 and 3. She shook her head and told me there’s no way to recreate grey hair. I am not totally convinced as I am sure BLEACH could sort it, but will be letting my greys show and grow from now on. Deffo.
    Looking forward to following your progress and your lead. X

  • claire says:

    I’ve never really dyed my hair and am going grey at seems a rapidly increasing rate. Have been thinking recently that I would go get it dyed (after a lecture from my 9 year old niece that I should get my hair dyed as if I don’t people will think I am old!). But you’ve inspired me to stick to my guns and keep it natural. I am growing it though as I do fancy longish grey hair. It looks fabulous in those photos. Not sure I’ll go that long but we shall see!

  • esmeralda says:

    <> That’s the whole point. Instead of letting someone else paint you by numbers, you’ll be uniquely yourself.

    I didn’t realise I was going grey at first. I looked in the mirror and thought, “these blonde highlights are lasting well”. Then the penny dropped, so I stopped paying for streaks and grew my own. From being a mousey sort of dirty blonde, now I just look blonder and they grow in dramatic stripes – especially two wings above the ears, the ones that make men look “distinguished”. The whole lot goes up in a messy bun, so the colours are mixed again on top. I am extremely happy to be me. Mr E thinks I look lovely. And, as I have always hated hairdressers, am saving money and annoyance.

    I don’t want to offend anyone, or make rules. Everyone should be free to present themselves as they choose. But for me, if I dyed my hair I’d be saying that I am ashamed of being me, of being 56, that I’m afraid someone might find me out. And I’m not. Let’s Reclaim The White.

  • esmeralda says:

    Sorry – those brackets above should have contained: “there’s no way to recreate grey hair” but they mysteriously swallowed the quote.

  • Kate says:

    I am about 10 months in and its hard – have about 2 inches of dark brown and white/silver/grey regrowth and the remaining 3 or 4 inches are a dyed red/brown so I am at that stage where it looks a bit yuck. I have thought about shaving it all off on more than one occasion…..I’m 42 and wonder whether it will make me look older?

  • Sue says:

    I have just caved in after 6 – 7 months and had my hair dyed again. In that period, I was determined to stick it out, but I just felt increasingly miserable. I also asked my colourist to dye the lot grey, but was told it was not possible. At the end, I had (very expensive and time consuming) highlights added, which I loathed and which finally prompted the capitulation. Maybe in another couple of years…Obviously, lots of people are interested in this topic today, judging by the number of comments.

  • Sarah says:

    A few years ago I followed Linda Kelsey’s (mag ed.) articles on her journey to go grey, hoping to be inspired enough to follow suit but after 6 months or so she caved and reached for the chemicals. I would love to ditch the dye but my own mother who is 70 still has lovely brown locks (courtesy of L’Oreal – or whoever, but you get the picture), and to be grey before her feels wrong. If only there was a way we could cut out the long boring and soul destroying growing out phase, at least in winter hats are an option. Good luck, you are blazing a trail.
    ps I saw Tracey Ullman (remember her?) walking down Park lane last week – she looked great with her greying hair, tanned skin and red lippy.

  • steffi says:

    I think it helps if you can embrace the whole “going grey” thing as a Look rather than associating it with the age factor – it’s a proper look and has to be maintained and celebrated as such and just as much as a hair colour or highlights would be. Easier said than done, I’m sure, but this approach would probably give me the confidence to tackle it with more ease!

  • Kate Evans says:

    Go for it Jane, I think it’s worth persevering. having let my blondish hair grey, I then had a toner put in to make it greyer as I thought, and it went mid brown which I hated and then realised, I had got used to the grey – it took another 6 months for that to fade properly so I intend to stick with the greying blonde. I’ve also discovered that brighter lipstick is definitely a winner with greying hair.

  • amanda says:


  • Aileen says:

    Jane – weird timing – I have recently decided exactly the same thing. My strategy was: (1) switch from permanent to semi-permanent colour 6 months ago, (2) get my hair cut shorter than usual, (3) go on holiday and get a bit of colour on my face to counter the washed out look (4) enjoy the new hairdo complete with salt and pepper look. So far so good, but I’m still waiting to see where it goes …

  • Jane says:

    Feeling the grey love – thanks for all your encouraging comments. Next post on make up for greying hair I think.
    J x

  • Monix says:

    I think your hair colour now looks beautiful Jane, loving the different textures and colours. So agree with Rosemary that grey(ing) hair needs higher grooming standards so as not to look like the old lady no one wants to sit next to on the bus. Please keep us updated – would love to know how you get on with it.

  • Mary says:

    A very timely post. Realised I was staring down at years to be spent in the salon chair! Six months in and wavering. Am compromising by getting a few lightsh streaks in my naturally mousy blonde hair. Peri menopause was also affecting hair so have also embraced the no poo/ lo pio trend and hair has never felt so healthy! But oh, those sliver roots that wave out at you….

  • Tiffany says:

    I went grey at the beginning of this year – my hair is a super-short pixie, so only took about two cuts to get it 100%. I have to say that I a) love not wasting time and money at the hairdresser, but make sure I get it cut at least every 4-5 weeks; b) love wearing the lighter colours that never looked good on me with darker hair; c) don’t love people automatically adding 10 years to my age (I started going grey at 19); d) like the fact that I now ‘need’ (loaded, I know, but for MY satisfaction) a wee bit more effort on makeup – defined eyes and lippy at least … I’m never going to have those gorgeous grey tresses but at least I no longer hate my hair. And I’ve had nothing but compliments since I ‘came out’ grey.

  • Shin Ae says:

    This is very exciting! I can’t wait to read your post on make up for gray hair, and also I wonder if you would consider sharing which products you use to keep it looking healthy and groomed.

  • Jane says:

    You have all inspired me to keep going and I will be sharing make-up, products etc along the way. Thanks everyone and watch this space JX

  • Victoria says:

    Sorry, late to the conversation, but love this post and the comments! I’m 43 and super grey, but still going to the hairdressers all the bloody time! Drives me nuts as I have been covering it since I was 28, and would like to think of myself as low maintenance… Last time, fed up with being turned lighter and lighter brown by the colourist (I’ve had dark brown hair all my life so going blonde just feels all wrong to me; also, my hair was the colour of a dead ferret) I’ve gone back to darkish brown on the bulk of it, but semi permanent instead of permanent, with a grey streak at the front to get myself used to having grey around my face. ‘Hmm very Caitlin Moran’ said my husband when I got home, but I love it. Hair feels funkier than it has done for ages. My plan is to leave out more and more grey until I’m ready to go the whole way. I know – such a cowardly way to do it! Really looking to seeing how you get on!

  • Osnat says:

    I admire your bravery Jane and will follow your fascinating journey with much interest. As for myself from around the age of 35 I have been dyeing my hair eventually becoming a blond as it was easier to maintain. I actually like going to the hairdresser the one I have now is a biker chick my age with tattoos and piercing and a crazy streak so it is fun! I would like to have perhaps one day grey highlights because I love the combination of blond and grey but I think I’m too scared to go all the way! So good on you girl…go for it!

  • Mary says:

    Victoria, I completely relate and think that compromises are sensible. My concession to only have streaks done several times a year instead of full head dyeing is still saving me time and cash. It’s terrible when you feel that you have lost your connection to your own hair because of the hairdressers own prejudices and it’s great that you have found a unique compromise.

  • Sian says:

    I stopped colouring my hair about 3 years ago, I had dark hair and was fed up with the solid heavy weird shade of reddish brown it was going when I home coloured and I used to feel almost ashamed of my grey roots when they started showing, a visible sign of my general ineptitude when it comes to grooming! Now I have completely natural hair (for the first time in over 30 years!) and I love it, wish it was more grey. I think my natural colour is more flattering for my skin tone. It’s really liberating not feeling like you have to colour your hair and I feel more comfortable in myself. I admit it was tricky at first during the transition stage and I did start by having colour but leaving some grey streaks but couldn’t be bothered with that for long! Jane I think your transition will be fine, I think fair hair going grey is less extreme and your hair looks lovely in your photos. Now I get more compliments about my hair colour than I’ve ever had (ok I admit I never really got any compliments before!), mind you my husband wasn’t keen but I think he kind of likes it now and my teenage sons like it.

  • celia says:

    I think grey long hair on older women is horrendous, there are many light and pale blondes that complement older women, they look glamorous and healthy. older women’s skin goes paler, plus long grey hair, adds up to a witch look, and adds years to your age..Nevr will anyone convince me it looks good.

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