The recent trend to dye your hair silver is still popular – but thousands of women who have grey hair feel that they can’t embrace it and fret over their colour so much that they are touching up their roots almost every week. But it doesn’t have to be that way says Lorraine Massey, author of Silver Hair: A Handbook.
As a hairdresser she knows that people tend to panic when they start to see grey strands peeking through at their roots. But instead of seeing grey hair as a bad thing, she’s encouraging everyone to ditch the expensive colouring appointments and celebrate those silver hairs. “Think about it: silver is a precious metal. It’s a treasure, just like your genuine hair colour!” she explains.
By the age of 30 most women will have at least a few grey hairs and on average by 50 most will be 50% grey. Hair looks grey when normally pigmented hairs are mixed with white hairs. Hair turns white when the cells responsible for colour stop being produced by the body. In most cases the age you go grey is genetic – if your parents went white early then it’s likely you will follow suit. But stress, nutritional and other factors can also make a difference.
If you have never dyed your hair before you are at an advantage as you won’t have a harsh line from the dye. Over time your new colour will gently come through. If you are a fan of highlights or colouring, then you can still go cold turkey. “The most obvious method [to go grey] is to just stop colouring and allow the silver to edge its way out,” says Lorraine. “Doing this requires a dye-free vision of yourself, a big dose of determination and a lot of patience.”
Depending how long or wavy your hair is the process could take years. But as it grows longer it will look more deliberate rather than a careless forgetfulness to get your roots touched up. If you have curly hair, it’s worth allowing the curls to expand to their natural full shape at the roots rather than straightening them as this will soften the colour contrast.
This method of going grey can be more obvious if you have dark hair but Lorraine urges that it’s important to remember you are on a journey and not throw in the towel if you can help it. “Be positive about your decision to go all silver,” she advises. “Keep your vision of your future hair as you let go of the hue that may not be serving you anymore.”
It’s also worth remembering that although the first couple of months can seem hard and make you feel exposed, gradually the colour of the rest of your hair will start to fade, as you won’t be adding to the build-up, and the so the root-ends line will soften.
In the meantime, it can be helpful to make sure you don’t have a blunt parting as this will make it more obvious. Also think about using wash out products like sprays, mascaras and coloured dry shampoo to mask the line until it softens.
It’s tricky to avoid a harsh regrowth line if you’re going from dark all-over dye to grey, so lightening your hair with highlights can help you achieve that middle ground – the grey is less obvious, and you can gradually decrease the highlights as more of your natural colour comes through.
You can also use a shade closer to the colour you currently choose but use a foil process with several hues so again a harsh line is avoided. If you repeat this process around every eight weeks, after a few times you should find the line of regrowth is eased and softer.
You may well find that your current haircut just doesn’t work with grey hair. It could be you need something a bit more cutting edge to make sure you still look youthful with a colour that is commonly associated with ageing. “Having a contemporary style also helps to keep your hair looking good while growing in your grey,” Josh Wood, Redken’s global creative colour director says. Take the tip from pixie cut grey lady Jamie Lee Curtis, who stated: “My stylist keeps my cut edgy and contemporary—otherwise I can go Bea Arthur very quickly.”
And it could also help speed up the going grey process. “The shorter you go the more any existing colour you are using will be cut out, thus exposing more of the natural colour and grey,” he adds. So, if the length you have left to go out seems insurmountable maybe it’s time to make friends with the scissors.
Grey comes in many shades and can sometimes look a little yellow or brassy. Counteract this with a purple or blue tinted shampoo and conditioner so the silver tone shines through. Grey hair also brings with it a change in texture, it tends to be dry and course in texture. Make sure that your hair treatments are moisturising. The change in texture could make you more prone to frizz than usual so look out for styling aids to calm and smooth too.