The Going Grey Experiment- stripping colour dye from my hair

Once upon a time there was a blonde girl who was unhappy with the natural colour of her hair. After years of being a sun kissed light blonde she decided that her hair was mousier than she liked and one day she went out and bought a box of home hair dye.

Yes dear reader that foolish girl was me and since that first box of dye about 15 years ago I have been trapped in a cycle of dyeing, terrified that the natural colour underneath might be darker than I'd like, or even - gasp- grey.

Recently as a more confident woman in my 40's (come say hi during the post40blogger table talk if you are at #BritmumsLive on Saturday) I felt more able to face the reality of what grows naturally from my scalp and decided to have a go at going grey gracefully.

Well graceful isn't a word most people would use about me. Neither is the word patient so those of you who know me in real life will not be surprised to learn I researched online how to ditch the dye as quickly as possible.
madmumof7 and son #4
Hair dyed to match my children's natural colour.

I started slightly cautiously by buying purple tinted shampoo and conditioner to get rid of the brassy tint my dyed hair always ends up with after even a bit of sun. While buying this shampoo I perused the dye aisle thinking I could stop using permanent dye and switch to semi-permanent to lessen the dreaded root line.

I discovered grey dye! Ooh, I thought,  maybe I could go suddenly an dramatically grey! I looked at pictures of glam grey women young and old but more research revealed you had to bleach your hair as light as possible to get this look. However the internet seemed to imply that using a grey (purple based) toner on my hair would make the transition to natural grey easier by cooling the blonde tones in my hair.

Typically all this occurred while I was staying in a budget hotel miles from home but undeterred I headed into the hotel bathroom to wash my hair in purple shampoo then added grey toner. Rinsing showed my hair to be.....still blonde. A cooler shade granted but not really what I was hoping for.

More research revealed that chemically stripping my hair of dye was not as scary as I'd thought with many products designed to be as gentle as possible. Apparently I could even re-colour my hair with a semi immediately after stripping.

Ok so even if it was a disaster I could hide the damage with toner. My husband who was by now sick to death of hanging around the hair colour aisle would have agreed to me shaving the whole lot off by this point so product purchased we headed home.

Now colour stripping takes time and you have to really carefully follow the instructions. Even the odd ones that say cover your head in cling film rendering your entire family helpless with laughter.

Make sure that if you follow my lead you read the entire box BEFORE you buy and don't be tempted to take short cuts. Or you might end up at the nearest hairdressers asking for a short cut. A really short cut.

The whole process was a total faff, took around 2 hours and at the end my "natural" colour was revealed as.......blonde.

To be fair the box said old and repeated dyes might take a while and more treatments to completely strip out but with my hair already feeling quite dry I decided it was good enough and I would continue with my plan to add a grey (conditioning) toner to my hair every week while the last of the dye grew out.

I certainly think the stripping process has made my roots look less dramatic and hopefully will make me less likely to despair of the dodgy badger look and re-dye with a permanent colour.

I like being a bottle blonde but the shrinking gap between colouring sessions which were a hassle and expensive and the fact I am much more comfortable with my age (46) means I will be happy if I never have to colour again.

Having said that if the hair growing through is truly grim I reserve the right to hit the bottle again and keep dying til I die.