Making Waves: Silver Lining

Consider this your primer for (intentionally) going gray.
Illustration by Chloe Zola

GRAY HAIR—amen!—is hot. TikTokers showing off sexy shades of slate may have led the charge, but seeing all those trendy gray heads on the street has triggered a liberation of sorts for those who already have gray hair, but not by choice.

For so long, women (and to a much lesser extent, men) who reached the prime of life slavishly dyed every last silvery strand, but these days, they’re flaunting them. “For years, society made gray hair on women seem inappropriate or aging, but people are growing into loving themselves for who they are rather than falling into the pressure of who society thinks they should be,” says Celaithia Fuqua, owner of Salon Honey in Fountain Square. “I love seeing women rocking natural gray hair.”

Embracing gray rather than fighting it comes with easier and less expensive upkeep, and Fuqua is seeing more clients in their late 30s and early 40s willing to work with their emerging grays instead of automatically covering them up.

Until recently, many midlife women religiously attended appointments every six weeks to cover their gray roots, shares Fuqua. “Absolutely no shade to those women! I still have guests who I see every six weeks, but I’ve also gotten a lot of feedback from others who don’t want to have to come in that often.” And that’s where gray blending comes in.

Thinking of going over to the smoky side? A highly skilled colorist is a must. If there is something that will not end well in the hands of the inexperienced, it’s a gray changeover. If you’ve been dyeing your gray hair auburn, say, forever, but can’t come around to letting the gray grow in as the dyed auburn hair is gradually cut out, the solution is an all-day, expensive affair.

“It all depends on the guest, what they’re willing to go through, and what their hair can handle,” Fuqua says. “Do you want to quit coloring cold turkey? Do you want to try to remove the color in one day with a six-to-12-hour color correction, or do you want to do it in sessions to blend it in over time?”

Fuqua’s preference is to blend in the gray over as long as a year, with appointments every six to eight weeks. Her starting price for the process is $440. “It’s worth the investment, because you’ll get different looks over the course of that time,” she adds. “And preserving the integrity of your hair is most important.”

A single (very) long session to switch over to gray is commonly charged by the hour.

A salon-quality purple shampoo and conditioner is absolutely essential if you want to keep your new sultry silver bright. Those products, and the occasional salon color-gloss treatment, will tamp down any yellow or brassy tones, says Fuqua. And given Indy’s notoriously hard water, she advocates including mineral-removing hair treatments from local company Malibu C in your aftercare plan.