I first talked about it last September here. Then again here and then here. Then I quit talking about it because I hated having short hair and I was just in the process.
I knew it was going to be a process when I began. I really did. We first began by coloring my hair as closely as possible, to my natural color. (Previously I had partial foils of blonde, meaning the back and underside of my hair was already mostly natural.) The way we did this was by picking out as many of my highlights and coloring ONLY those. I'm not sure what it would have been like if I had been doing all over color. I'm thinking it might have been a bit painful.
At my last hair appointment, my girl did a very selective layer cut where she kind of went seeking pieces with old color out and did her best to cut and blend them in. It was instantly darker like my natural hair and I have officially trimmed off almost all of the old color. (See photo below) My hair grows extremely fast, but I really did think this process would take longer than a year.
I do have plenty of gray. It's a silvery color that blends well with all of the red and golden blonde in my natural hair, but if you're in broad daylight you'll totally see it. I've gotten many compliments from strangers which I always think is a good sign. Photos don't really show the gray well. I will tell you that a lot of the streaks that you think are blonde from afar and from a photo with questionable coloring... aren't. They are gray.
I have never had healthier, softer hair than I do now. I think all of the coloring I was doing did damage to my grays and made them seem a bit more threatening than they really were. I have tried a few different hair products but I have been using John Frieda shine products for brunettes lately. Everyone in my family is always touching my hair now, so that tells you that it's very soft compared to what it used to be. My husband says (and I quote) that he "loves it and thinks it's just gorgeous." Truthfully that's all I needed because if he hated it, I'd be in my colorists chair in a moment's notice. Now, I just plan to grow it again. Long. Lovely, long and gray-streaked. I love it and am thrilled that I did this. Not to mention the cash it has saved us over the year. I estimated about $600!
If you have any questions put them in comments and I'll do my best to answer them in comments so make sure you check back!