At the beginning of 2018, I started feeling a tug to go back to a natural hair color. I got my first set of highlights at age 16 and have spent over a decade experimenting with highlights and lowlights, and I even went brunette at one point. Eventually, the bleach, daily heat styling, and hair color appointment costs started to take a toll.
From having to stock up on expensive shampoos and conditioners for color-treated hair to feeling like my blonde was getting a little too blonde, I was ready to give the bleach a breather. Even though I knew it was time, I had concerns: Would I have a harsh line of demarcation from the grow out? Would my hair look weird without highlights? What even was my natural hair color?
With the help of my hair stylist, I’m happy to say that I’ve reached the other side of the journey going back to my natural hair color (see here and here for a recent shots)! Whether you have colored hair and want to grow out your natural color or are curious about the process, I’m sharing all my best tips for going back to your natural hair color below.
1. Decide Why You’re Going Natural
The signals that it’s time to go back to your natural color can be obvious or subtle. For me, they were both. Here’s a shortlist of signs it’s time to relax with the coloring and go natural for a while:
Personal Reasons to Go Natural
• Your yearly salon bills are piling up, and you’re tired of it.
• You’re bored with your current color.
• You don’t have the time or energy required to maintain your current shade.
• You don’t know what your natural hair color is and want the refreshing feeling of growing it out.
• You’re going through a life transition and need a change of pace.
Hair Health-Related Reasons to Go Natural
• Your hair’s health has taken a beating (dry ends, very porous, etc.).
• Your hair was damaged in a previous coloring appointment.
• Your hair no longer compliments your skin tone or eyebrows.
• Your hair color generally looks fake (too platinum, etc.).
2. Ask Your Stylist for a Plan
Most people are able to identify that they’re ready to return to their natural color on their own but don’t know where to go from there. Once you’ve made the decision, I highly recommend that you speak to a hair professional.
My stylist made me feel more comfortable about the grow out and came up with a plan for returning to my natural hue that I trusted wouldn’t leave me with a harsh grow out line, damage my hair, or be crazy expensive.
3. Be Strategic with Your Last Coloring
It may sound counter-intuitive, but coloring your hair one last time before you decide to stop coloring is crucial. Confused? Here’s why.
The reason I decided to stop coloring my hair altogether is that my last full highlight (which was by a local stylist I’d never seen) left my hair over-processed and seriously damaged. Rather than do a color correction, I decided to grow it out.
I went crawling back to my original stylist for a fix, and she recommended one last strategic coloring to encourage the growth to look as natural as possible. Here’s what she did:
1. Light, Well-Placed Balayage: Strategically break up some of the chunky highlights around my face with 5 to 10 subtle foils at my next appointment.
2. Leave It Alone: After that, it was cuts only (no color) for 8+ months.
Because I did this, my new, darker roots faded seamlessly into my colored hair’s ends. This allowed me to completely grow out my hair without touch ups.
3. Use High-Quality Products
If you’re going natural, your haircare regimen should be a lot like your skincare regimen: simple, consistent, and results-oriented. See this as a chance to nourish hair that’s been over-processed, treated harshly, or neglected.
Here’s the “capsule” of products and routines I recommend while growing out your natural hair color:
• Apply a weekly mask to improve hair strength, shine, and softness.
To learn more about what I use, do, and don’t do to keep my strands healthy, read my 7 tips and tricks for long, healthy hair.
Shop My Healthy Hair Essentials
4. Accept the Growth or Chop It Off
When I started having my photograph taken every week for the blog, I noticed the grow out more than ever. While bothersome, I knew that summer was right around the corner and my hair would naturally lighten up.
It pays to be patient rather than get back into the same old cycle of coloring over and over again. For perspective, it took about 18 months for my old blonde highlights to be completely gone.
That being said, if you’re too impatient for the dye to go, you can get rid of it by simply cutting it off. Whether a cropped pixie or chin-length bob, there are plenty of flattering and chic hairstyles that are short or medium in length.
5. Take a Hair Growth Supplement
On average, hair grows about .5″ per month, but whether yours grows faster or slower is entirely genetic. My hair grows slow, so I took a hair growth supplement throughout the growout period.
6. Use Self Tanner
Self-tanner for natural hair growth? Not exactly. However, as a blonde, I promise you’ll feel better about going from highlighted blonde to your natural hair color if tanning is part of your routine.
Something about the tone of my natural hair color (which is a honey bronde tone) wasn’t too flattering against my (very pale) winter skin. To get through these long winter and early spring days when my skin didn’t have color, I used using these facial tan drops.
It’s amazing what adding a bit of tone does to improve the overall look of my hair and complexion. I shared my full list of recommendations for a natural bronze glow in this post.
Before and After Photos from my Journey
Just for fun, here are some more before and afters!
Thankfully, Natural Hair Color is in Style
Whether you’re wondering, “Should I go back to my natural hair color?” or have already decided to grow it out, here’s an encouraging note—natural hair color is actually very “in” right now!
There is tons of inspiration and motivation out there to get you excited about the process. If you’re nervous, keep in mind that color is right there if I ever decide I want to be blonde again.
If I do decide to lighten my strands, they’ll be in a much healthier place than they were 1-2 years ago—it’s a hair win-win, if you ask me!
What’s your biggest fear with going back to your natural hair color? Any questions or concerns? I’d love to help! Feel free to leave a comment or send me a direct message on Instagram with your questions. xo!