Prepare to see your greys in a whole new light; whether man-made or from Mother Nature, it’s fast-becoming the hair colour of the moment
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Whether natural or via a bottle, it seems the attitude towards grey hair could finally be changing. A beauty double-standard that’s seemed to favour our male counterparts considerably more in the past, prehistoric perceptions about going grey could be on the cusp of receiving a much-needed makeover. I started going grey when I was around 28 - well, white technically - with each strand standing out like a lightening-struck antenna against my raven black hair. I was mortified and instinctively, my first response was to pluck the rotters out - such was the impact people’s running commentary about them was having on my self-confidence.
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However, the words of Samantha from Sex and the City ran on repeat in my head - “If you pluck it, six more will come to its funeral.” Whether true or not, I decided to part ways with my tweezers and instead shift my trusty centre parting a few inches to the left to cover my stripes up. Six months later, I started dying my hair - first in patches and more recently, all over because as it turns out, lightening does in fact strike twice. In fact, several times and like wildfire, the blighters had no predictable forecast as to where they would hit next.
To be honest, I find the whole exercise of root touch-ups and restrictive grey hair masking hairstyles exhausting, as is catering to a need to cover up what is essentially perfectly natural. Isn’t it time we started to embrace it? The good news is that the wheels are already in motion with a roster of industry pros and celebrities starting to view grey, white and silver hair in a whole new light and hairdressers offering services to both try out the trend and to allow women the option to go grey as gracefully as possible too...
Blogger Victoria of @InTheFrow
Going grey naturally...
In an industry obsessed with youth, 50-year-old supermodel Kristen McMenamy is one of the leaders of the grey hair comeback. “You’ve got to keep moving forward,” the former redhead once told Vogue and the mother-of-three hasn’t looked back, gracing its cover and hitting the Chanel runway in 2011 with a beautiful mane of silver locks in tow.
Beauty and fashion industry experts such as Anna-Marie Solowij, co-founder of BeautyMART , Sarah Harris, Fashion Features Director at British Vogue and Linda Rodin, founder of Rodin Olio Lusso are also paving the way when it comes to letting nature take its course and slowly but surely, the stigma attached to embracing our changing tresses is gradually starting to lose its sting.
Sarah Harris, Vogue's Fashion Features Director
However, the decision to go grey isn’t an easy one. “It took me nearly 10 years to embrace my grey hair,” says Anna-Marie Solowij. “I remember when I'd recently started at Vogue in 2002, chatting to Josh Wood and him saying I should let it go grey because it would look great and me resisting - strongly! I felt I needed to look a certain way to be the Beauty Director of Vogue."
For Anna-Marie, it was a gradual process helped by employing the skill sets of two hair colour experts. “When I left Vogue, six years later, it didn't take me long to let the grey grow through. Louise Galvin had been gradually helping me to lighten it so that in the end, it was easy. I just let the roots come in and carried on growing out the lengths. Josh helped by working his magic, tweaking the colour every now and then to blur the transition.”
Thankfully with the support of hair industry pros and an increasing number of options to cater for the entire colour spectrum, making the transition is becoming a less difficult one to undertake both physically and mentally. “I think that Josh has made it more than ok to be grey - I view grey as a fashion colour choice, just like I would if I was thinking of going red or blonde. I love his vocabulary around grey: he talks of primrose, linen, dove, oyster, chinchilla - colours that are desirable,” says Anna.
“On a practical note, it suits my lazy approach to hair maintenance. Over the eight years I've been greying, I've probably saved weeks’ worth of time and an awful lot of money on not having to have the roots re-touched every four weeks. I now see Josh once a year for a colour refresh.
“I certainly get noticed more now with grey hair than I did when I was even much younger with dark hair. I think people still can't quite work it out - they see someone who doesn't look like an old lady but with a hair colour that they associate with their granny. I don't care - I quite enjoy seeing them struggle to stereotype me.”
With women starting to wear their natural greys with pride, there are also those who are opting to hit the bottle to completely transition hair colours to find their preferred shade of silver. “Having grey hair is now ‘in’ and many young girls are dying their hair - kind of funny really,” says Linda Rodin. “I don't think of myself as having grey hair. I prefer silver hair. And I've always loved silver and gold.
“I started going grey at about 35 and I must say, it never ever occurred to me to dye my hair. Not once. It came in slowly and evenly and I guess I never saw it as ageing or something to hide,” she adds.
Linda Rodin, Founder of Rodin Olio Lusso
How to go grey on purpose...
More recently top hair colourist Josh Wood , (and Anna-Marie’s and Kristen McMenamy’s go-to man) has certainly started to see a noticeable grey hair trend. “This is a slow one for clients to adopt, but there is a new way of looking at and thinking about grey hair. This isn't about growing out a colour and going natural, it’s about purposefully colouring hair to look grey and adding platinum highlights to give dull grey that extra sparkle. Grey is becoming more acceptable as long as it looks chic and in impeccable condition. There are more and more role models that make grey look cool - even the younger generations bleaching and toning their hair grey allows for a more accepting view.”
With influencers such as Rihanna, Kylie Jenner, Nicole Ritchie, Rita Ora and successful blogger Inthefrow having gone grey on purpose, the hair colour has enjoyed a hugely popular resurgence as of late. “Going grey from a single process colour is never easy; the lighter your hair is at the time, the easier it is, but if you are going from brunette to grey it’s a bit of a painful process,” says Josh Wood. “Don't be put off though, as with a good colourist holding your hand through the process and great treatments for home use, you will be fine.”
So how does the process begin? “I always start by adding a few fine bleached highlights on the temples and along the front hairline to give the appearance of a natural greying process, then it’s a case of growing out the tint and adding more and more grey each visit to the salon.”
As for maintenance, Josh recommends a mixture of products to keep hair in tip top condition. “Extreme length and extreme colour need extreme care. I always put a care regime together for all my clients - I like a combination of products that hydrate and products that strengthen. I include my Radiant Shine Treatment Oil , £12.50, on all colour clients. With quinoa proteins, it really helps to keep colour and give hair gloss. Shampoos are very much reliant on the hair texture one is working with. Always choose something for coloured hair but also that can help with texture and volume.
"Color Save Mask by Wella , £21.50, is a great way to ensure hair doesn’t fade. I have also developed the first ever electrical hair treatment with my ColourLoc Treatment Iron , £120, that imparts a vapour of vitamins, minerals and UV protection deep into the cortex of the hair to give it the feeling of virgin hair.”
After hearing from some of the ladies themselves and receiving Josh's advice on the topic, it appears clear that the impact of the ‘grey hair comeback’ transcends the world of trends. Their journeys and expertise emphasise the importance of making decisions about hair colour on our terms rather than anyone else's. Who knows, after writing this feature, even I might start wearing my stripes with pride too. If it can help bust one of the last remaining beauty taboos in some small way, then it indeed seems there could be a silver lining to my prematurely greying locks.