Transitioning to Gray Hair with Highlights and Lowlights | Methods & Tips

If you have begun noticing strands of gray hair popping up amongst your natural or colored hair, your first reaction might be to get hair coloring and send the gray back into hiding. However, you might also decide to embrace the change and go gray for all its worth.

Although going gray sounds scary to many people, it is actually one of the trendiest hair colors right now. Many persons are joining the movement of accepting their gray hair and age beautifully. You could be one of them!

Let’s face it; it’s not easy to grow out your gray hair, especially if you have been coloring it for a long time. The demarcation in color might become so obvious that it doesn’t sit well with you. 

However, with the right steps and hair care, you can transition to gray hair smoothly and beautifully. Let us explore how highlights and lowlights can help you to achieve a beautiful transitioning process.

Transitioning to Gray Hair with Highlights

If you want to quicken the transition process or you are anxious as to how your hair will look when the roots begin to grow out, it might be best to blend your gray hair with highlights.

The purpose is just to ensure that you can make a transition little by little without a major change in your appearance. 

3 Different Methods to Transition to Gray Hair with Highlights

From babylights to balayage, several techniques exist to help you apply highlights to your gray hair. Every technique leaves a flattering effect on your hair, whether they disguise the gray totally or to an extent. Here are a few methods to try.

1. Balayage and Hair painting 

Hair painting and balayage are two highlighting processes that involve the stylist freely painting hair strands to create natural-looking gray strands.

With a balayage or hair painting technique, you can highlight your hair from the root down to the tips.

Balayage and Hair painting for transitioning to gray hair

You can choose to customize your highlights in any way you want to create a unique look.

2. Babylights

If you have light gray hair, babylights are the best way to go with highlighting.

Babylights entail brushing blonde highlights throughout your hair strands, leaving it looking sun-kissed.

babylights for transitioning to gray hair

The reason for using blonde highlights is that they will brighten your light gray strands and give you a more youthful appearance. 

3. Foilage

From the name, you might have guessed that this is a variation of balayage.

Foilyage comprises the same process as balayage, where you freely paint the hair strands for a more natural look.

However, it entails using foils in the process.

foilage - transitioning to gray hair

When carrying out the foilyage technique, paint your highlights on the hair wherever they are needed, and then wrap each strand you highlighted in foil paper.

The foil paper intensifies the effect by sealing the heat, giving you an intense look after taking it off. 

L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Permanent Hair Color, 9N Light Natural Blonde is a great highlighting product for your hair, regardless of the technique you opt for.

Important Tips to Maintain Hair after Transitioning to Gray Hair with Highlights

Your highlighted gray hair needs all the maintenance that it can get, just like other colored hairs need care. With the right treatments, methods, and products, you can care for your highlights and make them look shiny, natural, and beautiful.

Here are some maintenance tips to uphold:

1. Change your Shampoo

One thing to bear in mind is that you cannot use your regular shampoo for highlighted hair. It is best to get a shampoo suitable for colored locks because it will keep your highlights strong and radiant for longer.

For extra protection, get a ColorMotion+ Color Protection shampoo that contains special antioxidants to protect your hair from free radicals.

Redken Color Extend Graydiant Shampoo is a great shampoo option as it contains all the nutrients and antioxidants your hair needs.

2. Reduce Heat styling 

Heat styling makes artificial hair color fade faster, and we don’t want that for your gray highlights.

It is best to avoid heat styling, but if you must use a curling iron or hairdryer, use heat protection on your hair before taking it through heat. Get a lightweight styling mist that you can apply from the root to the tip of your hair for heat protection.

3. Explore Deeper hair treatment 

Most persons see their gray locks becoming coarse and brittle in texture. This situation is often caused by the reduction in oil production on a person’s scalp as they age. 

If you find that your hair is dryer than usual, you might also have to swap your hair conditioner for a hair mask. Look for a ColorMotion+ Structure+ Mask for highlighted hair; it will give you the best results. 

Creme of Nature Argan Oil Intensive Conditioning Treatment is an amazing hair treatment option for your transitioning hair.

Transitioning to Gray hair with Lowlights

Like highlights, you can also transition to gray hair with lowlights. Lowlights will quiet down the gray strands rather than embolden them.

In simple terms, lowlight refers to dyeing some sections of your hair darker than your base color to add dimension and depth to the appearance.

Most people opt for lowlights because they worry about the contrast between the gray strands and their natural or artificial hair color. It is easy to understand why someone with red hair will want to use lowlights on their gray strands. 

Unlike highlights that use bleach, lowlights use dye to darken and diffuse the hair color.

Different Methods to Transition to Gray Hair with Lowlights

Lowlights are about toning down the color of your hair or some strands therein, so the focus is on hair dyes that can darken your hair in a few shades. Let’s explore the processes involved with transitioning using lowlight.

1. Basic foil lowlighting

Similar to foilyage for highlights, using foil to separate and wrap the dyed hair strands is one of the most popular low light techniques.

Foils are customizable and allow you to use lowlights on some sections of your hair without soiling the rest.

foil lowlights - transitioning to gray hair

Get your hairstylist to section your hair and separate the strands you want to dye. You can weave the other parts to keep them away or simply place the foil paper under the hair to be lowlighted. 

After applying lowlights on the strands of choice, wrap the foil paper around the hair to prevent it from messing up the others and help it to produce the best results in a few hours.

2. Balayage Lowlights

Balayage lowlight technique has been around since the 1980s and we don’t see it leaving the scene anytime soon. For this lowlight technique, the hairstylist will color or paint the dye on your hair in a creative manner. 

Balayage lowlight will give your hair a subtle and natural look, removing visible demarcation lines. 

Because this process is highly creative, it is best to visit an experienced hairstylist for this lowlight technique. Otherwise, you might go home with messed up and poorly dyed hair. 

One important thing to note when transitioning with lowlights is that your hair dye should be one or two shades darker than your current color. So, if your hair is dark-gray, go with black lowlights to make your naturally gray hair look like highlights.

For brownish-gray hair, dark-brown hair dye is the best option for your lowlights. 

Remember that if you explore with a color that is too dark, your hair will look unnatural and stark. It might bring about an adverse result than what you hoped.

Important Tips to Maintain Hair after Transitioning to Gray Hair with Lowlights

Below are some of the tips to safeguard the gray hair transitioned with lowlights:

1. Get a Color-safe shampoo 

To prevent your hair from fading, get a color-safe shampoo and conditioner. This shampoo will also protect your hair from dryness and nourish it.

L’ANZA Healing Colorcare is an amazing choice for transitioning gray hair and offers all the protection your hair needs.

2. Choose a Cool Shower over Hot

Hot water can further dry your lowlights and prevent your hair from embracing moisture. It is best to use cooler rather than hotter water when you shower because it is softer on your hair and moisturizes it better.

3. Add extra moisture/hydration 

Get a hydrating hair mask for colored hair and use it once or twice a week for your hair. Apply the hair mask instead of a hair conditioner after using your color-safe shampoo. Leave it on for a few minutes depending on the directive and wash it out. 

Arvazallia Fortifying Protein Hair Mask is one of the best hair masks for your transitioning hair.

4. Apply Touch Ups frequently 

Depending on how fast your hair grows, you might be adding half an inch every month and these new strands might need some touch-ups.

However, it would depend on how well you did your previous lowlight job and how long your hair grows. You can also get touch-ups every 6 weeks. 

Feria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Permanent Coloring, Smokey Silver is great for touch-ups.

5. Reduce Heat styling 

Use styling methods that don’t need heat to protect your hair from getting brittle and dry. The aim is to improve hydration as much as possible and heat styling will do more harm than good.

However, if you must use heat styling, apply protective creams and lotion on your hair before styling