I Dyed My Hair Gray But Things Didn't Work Out Quite As I'd Planned

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Alyssa
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I've had a love affair with gray hair for a long time now, but whenever I brought it up with my (very blonde) mom she'd say something like, "You think gray is pretty, but wait till you're old! It's hideous!" Though I've had numerous shades of silver, white, and pastel hues over the years, her words have somehow managed to make me shy away from gray. Well, until now.

gray bob cut

Gray hair don't care. 

I've been going through a lot of change lately, and my hair has reflected that more than ever. As I’ve been transitioning from couple to single, freelance to 9 to 5, and all sorts of other crazy insane shifts, my hair has been white, blonde, green, blue, purple, pink, and who even knows what else. For a little while there my hair was literally a different color every week.

Though I love having the ability to change my hair as a form of self-expression, even I can admit that this time I went too far. A couple of weeks ago I started noticing all sorts of breakage and damage that I had been working hard to ward off for years, and I decided that my next hair move would be a healthy one. 

After a bit of Pinterest skimming and a chat with one of my favorite hairstylist friends, I decided it was time to go gray. My logic was this: If I bleached my roots one last time, then went a darker shade of steel gray, I could let my roots grow in for much longer than usual, and maybe even just tone them with a low volume developer to create an ombré effect until summer arrived. 

It was the perfect plan, even if it would make my mother shudder, and I promptly booked an appointment at Good Day Hairshop to kick off project “save my poor hair.”

gray ombre hair

Surprise! I didn't stick with the plan. 

At the adorable new salon, one thing led to another and I somehow changed my mind on the whole grow-out and tone plan. I walked out with freshly bleached roots, silvery locks, and purple ends, a look that I loved but later realized didn’t exactly work with my rescue mission. So when the purple had faded after a couple of washes, I  picked up Aveda Black Malva Shampoo and Conditioner, from a line created to cancel out brassiness and add cool tones to brown and black hair.

aveda black malva shampoo

On bleached or silver hair, the effect is a little more drastic--after one wash and a quick “mask” made up of 50 percent black malva conditioner and 50 percent normal conditioner that I applied in the shower, my hair had turned a perfectly steel shade of old lady blue-gray.

gray hair closeup

After using Black Malva. 

gray bob cut

A word of caution: if you don’t want your hair to appear blue in certain lighting, do NOT try this method. Though my hair is currently the ideal shade of gray in daylight, certain yellow lighting does make it look much bluer than I'd planned, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my book.

I still don’t know exactly where my gray-toned bleach break is going to take me, but I’ll be sure to share the progress and results here with all of you. 

  • In the meantime, do you have any tips to boost my gray? 
  • What products should I try?