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Nicole: Journey from Dye to Gray

Nicole Andrus (@Nic_went_gray) kindly agreed to share her story about the transition from dye to gray hair. 

Young woman with gray hair

Nicole Andrus, like most other women going gray at a young age, had it really rough during her first years of being gray. This mother of 3 from Texas noticed her first gray hair when she was 9. Actually, her aunt found the strand and immediately plucked it out. Fast forward at 33 years old her front hairs became almost completely gray. “…it was as if I became rogue overnight,” Nicole says.  

The thought of having gray hair did not sit well with her. Nicole used chocolate brown to dye the hair for up to 5 years. But when it became necessary to get touch-ups every 3 weeks she decided that she had enough. 

Searching for inspirations, Nicole found a group of Grombre sisters. She admired how they all looked not just stunning but comfortable in their grays. Most of all she was appalled when she saw that most gray sisters were really young ladies. She also loved the pattern she could see in her hair. Natural high and low lights. Something that made her feel unique and she was excited to see how it would turn out. So, she made the decision to let her natural hair grow out.

Nicole’s husband and children were extremely supportive throughout her transition journey. Her son did not love her gray hair at first. But now he thinks that she looks like a character from X-men… Nicole’s husband actually became her strong support throughout the journey. And any time she felt like giving up, he would encourage her to push forward.

Her hairstylist and girlfriends were really supportive too. This strong support team she says is very vital when you decide to make major life changes. It helps keep you on track and cheers you on during the hard days, making them more manageable.

“…When I was a few months in (after my blending) an older man I worked with (gray and balding) said: “You do realize you could just go dye that and it wouldn’t be gray anymore, right?”  I laughed and said “well, have you looked in the mirror lately?  You could too!”  He said “well I’m not doing this on purpose, it just happened. You’re doing this on purpose.”  I professionally let him know how ridiculous he sounded lol”

Like everyone else transitioning to their gray hairs, Nicole’s journey wasn’t as smooth.

Her inspiration to go gray came from the many women she saw online embracing their grays and NOT looking old. Of course, money she spent on dying her hair and time to go to the salon every time was another factor. But the inspiration she got from these ladies’ pictures was the kick she needed.

Her transition journey took 3 months. She took it each day at a time. At some point she says her hair had a ‘skunk stripe’ and she considered dyeing back. But her husband kept reminding her that she had made it so far and she could make it further.

Nicole had a terrible experience with a hairstylist that damaged her hair and almost made her color it black. She says, “Once I had my grays blended (Jan 2018) It was all downhill from there.  UNTIL my stylist stopped coloring hair and I had to find a different person to do my quarterly toners.  I went to a prestigious salon and a stylist practically begged me to let her do my toner.  She had no idea what she was doing.  It was supposed to be a 45-minute trip.  She put bleach ALL over my hair.  It took about two or three months of my progress away and she fried my hair.  It was devastating.  My original stylist saw the horror unveil on my Instagram and said: “come see me now!”  She toned it and moisture treated it.  But there I was, back to where I was months before.”

Her transition to gray hair made her get invested in skincare. She would feel down about herself on days she did not have her make-up on during her transition.

So when her skin was looking good she felt good. Now Nicole describes herself as being addicted to beauty routines, masks, and serums.

And now Nicole is absolutely in love with herself and her hair. She still cannot wait for all the color on the tips of her hair to go away. But she is happy with her new look and how far she has come.

She is happy that her transition has helped inspire other people starting the journey. Nicole has received messages on her social media on people complimenting her hair or asking for advice in their transition journey. She is grateful that these people found inspiration in her. It makes her happy to know that a simple decision like deciding to be herself and not cover up who she really is inspires other people not to cover up who they are.

When she started her transition journey, many people were sure she would dye her hair. But when the silvers really started to show people started complimenting her. She would get compliments everywhere, the grocery store, at work, the gym. And she loved the attention. Something she never got when she was a brunette.

young woman with gray hair

“…One guy said, “I’m so confused, your face says 25, and your hair says 65...how old are you??”  I had to teach him that gray doesn’t mean old. “

Having gray hair does not mean you are old. And it certainly does not mean that you are letting yourself go. You can be very young and beautiful and rock gray hair.

It is such stereotypes that make people hide their grays. She says that more gray hair models should come up to encourage people that have recently started noticing their grays. It will be good for such people to see a community of beautiful ladies rocking their grays. Nicole feels that this is the only way they will understand that these stereotypes have no truths in them.

Her advice to anyone starting their transition journey is, “Throw out your color.  Be confident with your decision when someone asks you about it.  Wear scarves and hats and braids.  If you want to and can afford to, find an experienced stylist to blend the rest of your hair to match your grays.  I recommend waiting a few months at least so they can see what the natural highs and lows of your beautiful new hair will look like. Root touch up powders and sprays work for events if you need a quick temporary fix while you wait for the length to happen.”

young woman with gray hair

Nicole wishes that all people making the bold step to transition get enough courage to make the step. She has never felt more free, confident and beautiful in her life than when she decided not to cover up who she really is.  And she would like for them to experience the same freedom.


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