You may have heard it referred to before as ‘steely,’ ‘salt and pepper,’ or even ‘silver fox’ but how do you deal with going grey when it starts happening to you before you are ready and how does it affect your personal style?
I had just finished high school and was travelling around NZ over the summer when I found my first grey hair. Actually, it wasn’t me who found it, but a friend giving me a head massage! I was happy to let him pull it out, thinking that was the end of that, but over the next decade, one turned into many and by my late 20s, I no longer wanted to wear my hair half up. That’s when I had to make a decision: To dye or not to dye?
A conversation with my father revealed that most of his dark-haired brothers had gone grey early. I have since learned that science backs up my Dad and going grey is mostly genetic but diet and medical conditions can also play a role. The simple explanation is that your hair follicles are coloured by melanin (okay it is actually a combination of eumelanin and phaeomelanin if you want to be fancy). Once your body stops generating the pigment, the paint palette dries up and presents as either grey, white or silver. Interestingly, this happens earlier in Europeans than other ethnicities (thanks ancestors!).
You may have good genes that meant you only started dealing with greys later in life or perhaps you are naturally fair and haven’t noticed, but whenever it does start happening, it can be quite depressing, making you feel old and irrelevant because we do, after all, live in an ageist society that has the attention span of a tweet. Never fear, there is a reason that Wisemen called grey hairs ‘a crown of splendour.’ By the time you’re done reading this article, you will be excited about how you can use your greys to express your personal style better than ever before.
Since there is not much you can do to change your genetics, you have to decide how to meet this new hair that is growing from your very head. Some people just surrender, letting their hair get whiter and whiter, whilst others continue to dye it regularly and fight the regular regrowth, others still use it as an excuse to try something new. The best approach is going to be one that works for you, your lifestyle and your personality. Personally, I have continued to dye my hair my natural colour for a good decade now for a few reasons: I like the colour, the impact & vibrancy I get from my dark locks and I am not ready to admit defeat just yet, however, I do have an exit strategy planned because let’s face it, there comes a time in your life where enough is enough. You may not realise it, but there are many women who are young, stylish and grey, (just take a stroll down this link #youngandgrey), the thing they all have in common is that they have a strategy, which is exactly what you need so you can stay in front of the grey curve and feel empowered in your decision making instead deflated. So let me share some of the amazing hairstyles and colour techniques that I have found, that actually work with your greys (points for guessing which one I plan to go with).
When Meryl Streep played Miranda Priestly in ‘The Devil wears Prada”, there was a spike in women asking their hairdressers how to nail amazing grey hair. Needless to say, if you want to transition to greyer with style and ease, it is so important to involve your trusted hairstylist in the process. Discuss your options, some of which are listed here:
- Lighten your hair overall to reduce the impact of the greys.
- Ask for strategically placed silver strands throughout the head and focussed around the face for a glamorous sheen.
- Add highlights, either fine strands that add a hint of colour and shine or bold and bright ones to add contrast.
- Use a rinse to change the undertone of your greys ( works well if your greys appear golden or ‘dirty’).
- Try a radical colour that completely overrides the greys (warning, high maintenance).
- Go for a shorter cut, blunt fringe or shaved style.
- Allow your greys to grow out naturally whilst using brightening shampoos/leave-in conditioners to keep healthy.
With so many amazing options to choose from, how to decide which one is for you? Leaving the usual hairstyle considerations aside such as your colouring and face shape, there are 2 main factors to consider how to embrace your greys:
- LIFESTYLE: It really depends on the amount of time and money you are willing to invest in upkeep. If you struggle to blow dry your hair now, it’s unlikely that you will pull off an all-over colour or precision cut. Likewise, if money is tight, you probably want only minimal interference and some at-home treatments; and
- PERSONALITY: What type of energy do you have? Do you like a strong impact? How do you prefer to come across? If you are not sure of your style personality, take our free quiz here.
The dramatic woman will always go for high impact. Since you are used to relying on your high contrast (dark and light), it is important to keep your edge with sharp lines or colour variation to keep your intensity. Check out these takes ongoing grey: Two-toned blunt bob; Cheeky coif; Pixie crop with highlights; Shaved asymmetrical cut.
For women who are more relaxed, gracefully growing out colour can work. If you want to go cold turkey and just stop dying your hair, it can be extreme so think about either going shorter or going a little lighter on top with some foils until the roots are grown out. Also, remember that grey hair becomes more brittle with time so leave-in conditioners can really help ease you into a healthy, vibrant look.
For the classic or elegant woman, you might want to use a tonal colour or rinse as you ease into the neutrals. A touch of caramel or rose can really take the harsh edges off your grey. You are going to want to keep your hair shaped in a polished, timeless style.
For creatives and rebels, I am sure you will embrace bright colours, dip dyes and edgier styles like undercuts, shaves and fauxhawks to spruce up your locks. Really, there is no end to the options when you throw out the rule book (If you ever had one!). Just consider the maintenance schedule of each variation.
For the feminine woman, the challenge is to decide whether to say goodbye to those long locks. If you insist on keeping them, a beautiful blowout or barrel curls can soften the look rather than au naturale, which tends to look quite scruffy in grey. Perhaps also consider some highlights and lowlights to blend the grey.
I bet you didn’t realise how many options there were, did you?
I know it can seem overwhelming but the take-home message here is that you are in control, there is a style that will work for you, you don’t need to sacrifice confidence or style to embrace your new hair and you have never been more valuable than you are now. Women get more formidable and capable over the course of their life not less! So take your time and make your decision according to your values, lifestyle and personality.
So some quick take-home tips before we go.
You can also try doing some of your own research by seeing what some of these insta-fabulous silver foxes did with their grey hair: