How to go back to gray after gray hair was dyed brown

Updated February 21, 2017

Millions of women and men dye their hair each year to cover the grey. If you've been dying your hair brown and now want to return it to its natural state, there are methods to achieve this. By choosing to stop dying your hair, you'll save money and time, not to mention the mess and smell that accompany dying your hair. You'll also enjoy healthy new growth that is no longer damaged by chemical processing.

As soon as you've made the decision to go grey, stop dying your hair.

Allow your grey hair to grow in naturally. Hair dye usually fades over time and your grey hair will emerge as time passes.

Get your hair cut regularly to remove the brown hair and to allow the grey to dominate. Consider a new, shorter style to remove a considerable amount of the dyed hair.

Purchase a highlighting kit from a drugstore or beauty supply store.

Choose a shade that is between the shade of your dyed hair and the colour of your grey.

Prepare the bleach per the instructions on the package.

Apply the dye in thin strips evenly throughout clean, dry hair. You can apply the highlights strategically, heavier nearer your face and lighter away from it, if you choose, for a more natural look.

Wait the amount of time indicated on the package.

Wash all bleach out of your hair and then condition, dry and style as usual.

Purchase a dye kit from a drugstore or beauty supply store. Choose a shade that is darker than your grey but lighter than the brown you've been using. This is a good option if you have a noticeable contrast between grey hair and dyed hair.

Mix the dye per the instructions included in the kit. Usually a small bottle of tint is poured into a larger application bottle.

Snip the tip off of the application bottle and apply dye evenly to your hair. Make sure each strand is covered.

Leave dye on for the time indicated in the instructions.

Wash dye out, condition hair, dry and style as usual.


Remember that natural grey hair often gives women a softer look that rivals the appearance of artificially dyed hair. Be sure to condition your hair regularly. Gray hair is often coarser than darker hair but a frizz-reducing shampoo and a quality conditioner can make grey hair softer and more manageable.


Dye stripping is an option if you do not want to wait for your hair to grow out. Dye stripping is a chemical process that removes dye from your hair follicle and is appropriate for lighter coloured hair that has been dyed a darker shade. This is hard on your hair and should only be done by a qualified professional. You will need to deep condition your hair regularly after this process.

Things You'll Need

  • A highlighting kit or dye kit
  • Shampoo
  • Hair conditioner
  • Towels
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About the Author

Amie Taylor has been a writer since 2000. Book reviews, gardening and outdoor lawn equipment repair articles and short fiction account for a handful of her published works. Taylor gained her gardening and outdoor equipment repair experience from working in the landscaping and lawn-care business she and her husband own and operate.