Grey, Be Gone! | Review of the Defy Grey Haircare Range by John Frieda

January 1, 2020

DISCLOSURE: AD / This post contains gifted product from JOHN FRIEDA.  All words, images & opinion expressed is my own.

Going grey is one of life’s quirks I could happily go without. It serves no purpose other to remind me that time’s getting on – I’m getting old – and even though that message has been coming through since my early twenties, it’s never hit harder than now. I don’t like having grey hair, I just don’t have the patience or sanity to deal with it. If I could just wave a wand and become ‘brunette me’, I’d do it. Maybe I’d look a little less broken.

I’ve been dyeing my hair – mainly to keep on top of my greys – for more years than I can remember. I was somewhere in my late teens when hair colouring was done for fun and feeling ‘grown up’ rather than necessity. But recently I grew tired of the upkeep in maintaining a look of youthfulness and perfection I was far from feeling, so I gave up on the dye.

This past year my anxiety disorder has been visibly taking its toll. My appearance is more ‘can’t be arsed stressed mum’ rather than a preened yummy-mummy and while it is what it is, I’m not particularly happy about it. I may not be well but is it too much to ask to not look it?

After I first wrote about my grey hair quandary, I chanced upon a new haircare range by John Frieda, and it was quite the miraculous discovery. Torn between colouring and not colouring, I realised there was a mid ground solution I needed to give a go, and to my surprise the lovely folk at John Frieda agreed.

John Frieda’s latest game changer comes in the guise of the new Defy Grey haircare system. A range of home use products comprising a shampoo, conditioner and blow dry foam, Defy Grey promises noticeable results after a single wash, thanks to its revolutionary blending coffee extract formula.

Having received the three products in the post, I was really keen to try it out. I was apprehensive though – I wasn’t completely silver headed but I had a lot of grey going on. So before I headed for the bathroom, I made sure to get some quick snaps of my current hair so I had something to compare to. (See these further down.)

The three product system is a quick and simple procedure to follow, it just takes several minutes longer than my usual shampoo and conditioner. Simply, the shampoo is applied to wet hair, lathered up and left on the head for 3-5 minutes, followed by the conditioner, again leaving on for 3-5 minutes to properly work. And after a towel dry, the blow dry foam is applied through the lengths before hair-drying. Not too long to do and definitely quicker than the process of dye.

Both the shampoo and conditioner smell amazing to use. Not too dissimilar to a premium fragrance, the divine scent creates a luxurious experience from what could be a mundane task. The silky texture of the chestnut shade shampoo feels lovely too and it lathers into a rich foam easily, and even though the product is coloured, it doesn’t leave a mark on my hands.

The conditioner, however, is slightly different. It smells just as beautiful as the shampoo and glides through my hair feeling super soft and silky, but I have to be quick to wash my hands right after. The coffee brown pigment in the product quickly stains my fingers and fingernails but a thorough hand wash rids me of anything permanent, thank goodness.

Lastly there’s the blow dry foam: a light, bubbly mousse to finish off the process and lock in the glow. Five pumps gives you a satsuma size ball of foam, which you just run through your towel dried hair before heat drying off. It’s easy to use and dissolves quickly, feeling much the same as a styling mousse, but it was too tempting to over apply and it tends to make my hair feel crispy and dry. I’ve used the three step system together each time I’ve washed my hair, but I’d probably miss the foam out in future, especially the days when I want my natural curl and won’t be using my hair dryer.

I’ve been curious about the shampoo, conditioner and the foam: why is it only the conditioner that stains my hands so quickly? It’s lead me to wonder whether the conditioner is the better product of the three, if it’s the product that does the leg work. It’s just interesting how the shampoo and foam don’t leave any mark – how are they working so differently?

It’s difficult to tell whether the products have worked when you’re looking at wet hair, so I had to dry it off to see properly. I could see some obvious greys still, around my ears mainly and then some wispy strands along the top. I guessed I probably didn’t apply it so well or washed it away in the process. But interestingly, it seemed not to look so grey. It wasn’t an obvious change, but I was sure something was different.

I don’t wash my hair all that much – once a week, or twice if I’m particularly enthusiastic about my self care. So over the following month (and several washes) my regular hair care was replaced by the Defy Grey.

Amazingly it didn’t take long for me to notice a change in my look – definitely after the second wash, my greys were no longer silver but warming to a soft caramel. The sharp metallic glint that best resembled sparkly lametta on a Christmas tree was now gone; in its place, an interesting colour palette of textured browns.

I grew to quite like this new ‘streaked’ look. It wasn’t a perfect set of highlights but I was free of the grey. It just probably wasn’t the drastic change I was imagining. For some reason, I dreamt the grey would turn chocolatey, and that the whitened patches would reappear in full colour, but it didn’t quite work that way. While the grey had warmed to a softer shade of milky coffee, I craved a more vibrant result. I still had the pale hair around my ears, the faded strands beneath my ponytail and the streaks running from my crown. I just didn’t feel polished.

Two days before Christmas Day I got the urge to give in and I did – I went out and bought two packs of boxed dye and did the deed. An hour later the streaks and all hints of grey were gone. And I felt… strange.

The journey from those first greys appearing to the full on silver strands had taken me from a dark brunette to someone whose hair just felt lifeless and scruffy. I disliked what I saw in the mirror, and I felt the answer was to remove all signs of the fact my hair wasn’t ‘perfect’. So I tried Defy Grey. I liked the warm tones the system gave me, but I wanted more. So I stuck on the box dye and felt satisfied by the immediate result of a uniform colour. What surprised me was the small, niggling feeling of deflation, and the realisation that I actually felt a little bit sad. Now I think my hair looks quite boring, plain and unexciting, and not really, genuinely ‘me’. And I think I miss my streaks.

What have I learnt? That John Frieda’s Defy Grey is the most genuine way to embrace your changing hair colour, without going all out grey and allowing you the full control over your natural look. The range seems best suited to less grey hair, where strands are more isolated and peppered rather than patchy like mine. But it definitely works, even on more obvious greying hair like mine. I really dislike my greys – especially around the ears, that just drives me nuts – but as long as I can tone down the silver, even with a latte glow, I might just let the streaks creep back in.

Are you fed up with dying your grey hair but still want to hide it? Or do you think it’d be easier to embrace the natural colour change and let the grey shine? I’d love to hear what you’re thinking about your hair.


  1. Susannah

    April 10, 2023 at 3:57 pm

    Omg thank you so much for this review! I have never dyed my hair, and everyone loves my color. But I have a reunion in two months and want to look my best.

  2. Jessica

    April 15, 2024 at 9:30 am

    Hi there
    Do you know anything about the range’s future? Clicks is promoting the products, but stock is an issue (even online!)
    Please share information if you have!

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