It’s all white if you’ve a cut above the rest

Older women are in­creas­ingly happy to go grey but their hair will need a sharp style and the right prod­ucts to look its best, says Margaret Jen­nings

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Ageing With Attitude -

ARE you ready to ditch the dye, and go proudly grey — or in­deed not even use it in the first place? A grow­ing num­ber of women are ei­ther re­fus­ing to cover their nat­u­ral colour as they age, or are dump­ing the dye be­cause they’re fed up with the has­sle.

A sur­vey car­ried out by Bri­tish-based on­line brand White Hot Hair, which has a loyal Ir­ish fan base, found that two thirds of their fol­low­ers didn’t be­lieve be­ing grey made them look any older and a whop­ping 80% said they didn’t care.

“For a brand that has its feet — and heart, firmly in the anti ‘anti-age­ing’ camp, this is mu­sic to our ears,” says its founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Jayne Mayled, who will be cel­e­brat­ing her 60th birth­day shortly.

“Al­though we don’t have any ac­tual data about how many more women are giv­ing up us­ing dye be­cause most mar­ket statis­tics are about hair colour us­age, what we see anec­do­tally though, is that more women are talk­ing about it, toy­ing with the idea and that at­ti­tudes are grad­u­ally chang­ing.

“Cus­tomers tell us that as hair gets greyer — or to be more ac­cu­rate, loses its pig­ment — they have to colour it more of­ten to get the same ef­fect, which then turns into a regime that needs do­ing ev­ery three weeks or so.

“At the same time, the more white there is to cover, the less ‘nat­u­ral’ the brown ef­fect is, par­tic­u­larly for those with dark hair to start with, and the less flat­ter­ing the re­sult is felt to be. It’s the com­bi­na­tion of both fac­tors that trig­gers the de­sire to stop and go nat­u­ral.”

The sur­vey backed this up — 33% of women said the cost and has­sle of keep­ing up the dye was the main rea­son for stop­ping, while an­other 31% re­alised their dyed hair just didn’t look that good any more.

There is a slow shift in the way the me­dia are cov­er­ing women with grey hair, says Jayne, but it’s still of­ten “to­ken ges­tures” rather than the nor­mal­is­ing of undyed hair as just an­other colour choice.

Of course, there are some re­ally stylish older women in the celebrity world who rock a gor­geous grey look. Ac­tresses Judi Dench, 82 and 71-year-olds He­len Mir­ren and Dianne Keaton come to mind.

Less high-pro­file per­haps is ac­tress Ali MacGraw, who tugged all our heart strings in the film Love Story back in the 70s. She de­fied na­ture, wear­ing those long brunette locks, parted in the mid­dle, which she sported in the heart­break­ing love story, right up to three years ago.

“I woke up one day — I turned 75 — and I sud­denly thought, ‘Enough is enough’,” she told Oprah Win­frey on Oprah’s Su­per Soul Sun­day, an Amer­i­can day­time self-help talk show. “It looked aw­ful for a while, but now I re­ally love it.”

Not all wait over three decades though, and ac­tress Jamie Lee Cur­tis, who went grey in her 30s got fed up of colour­ing it and stopped at age 41 and now looks stunning at age 58, with her cropped steel grey locks.

The cut is very im­por­tant, says Cork hair­dresser Jo Cronin of Jo’s Edge sa­lon in Blar­ney. “I have quite a lot of clients who have stopped colour­ing for many rea­sons. It’s a big de­ci­sion and it can change the way a client feels and how they per­ceive them­selves. They need to work with their stylist and have a plan as to how to achieve a mod­ern, stylish look with­out colour.

“I find women over 50 are now happy to let their hair go grey, once it’s cut stylishly and it is a clean grey — be it steel or 100% white. Their con­fi­dence seems to grow with proper styling and good prod­ucts which are in­creas­ingly com­ing on the mar­ket to suit the trend.

“Hair with­out pig­ments can have very dif­fer­ent tex­tures and the styling will be dic­tated by this. Ap­pli­ca­tion of mousse or gel can change a style dra­mat­i­cally, trans­form­ing a short bor­ing style into a chic funky look, par­tic­u­larly if a client is will­ing to put a lit­tle work into it.”

On the anti anti-age­ing front, Jayne says: “There is a huge as­sump­tion that we are all des­per­ately try­ing to look younger and I be­lieve that many of us don’t feel that pres­sure — cer­tainly once we get into our 50s. We just want to feel vi­brant, alive, in­ter­ested in the world and we want to look good on our own terms. I of­ten say that it is not a choice be­tween ‘cling­ing and crum­bling’ and most of our cus­tomers seem to feel the same way.”

And when asked for her top five tips, here’s what she came up with:

1. Get a great hair­cut and keep it fresh and mod­ern (no fluffy, hel­met like, old-lady hair) 2. De­fine your eye­brows 3. Ex­per­i­ment with colour in your clothes (clean, jewel tones look great)

4. Look for pos­i­tive role mod­els and im­agery to coun­ter­act the “grey = old” stereo­types

5. Try spe­cial­ist hair­care prod­ucts that make a dif­fer­ence to tex­ture and yel­low­ing


Pic­ture: De­siree Navarro/WireImage

SIM­PLY SIL­VER: Now aged 58, ac­tress Jamie Lee Cur­tis went grey in her 30s and stopped dye­ing her hair at 41, putting her well ahead of the trend.

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