Fifty shades of grey
No longer something to dread and disguise, silver hair can put you ahead in the style stakes. Lisa Haynes investigates a growing grey area
No longer something to dread and disguise, we look at the hair world’s new silver lining.
Kelly Osbourne kicked off the trend, Lady Gaga follicly followed suit and Nicole Richie went shocking white... Seems going grey is catching on – no matter what your age. Traditionally associated with the negative effects of ageing, a sprinkling of silver has had its time in the spotlight before – way back in the 18th century when powdered ‘periwigs’ were all the rage for both men and women in Europe. But ever since a tax on hair powder led to the demise of the silver stylista, grey matter has remained the domain of vanity-eschewing grannies and grandpas only. Until now, that is.
While male stars such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt or the snowy-bearded Amitabh Bachchan have long been able to embrace their salt-and-pepper side and pass it off as ‘distinguished’, going grey has always been a no-no for leading ladies.
But the tides are a-turning. In 2010 model Kristen McMenamy featured in an issue of
sporting her naturally grey locks in what she called a “backlash to the eternal quest for anti-ageing”. Kate Moss got in on the trend with silver streaks a few months later, and the next thing we knew Jean Paul Gaultier was sending models down the runways in gorgeous grey up-dos, a trend later seen on the catwalks of Dolce and Gabbana, Blugirl and Maria Barros.
Since then everyone from Rita Ora to Rihanna has been going snowy, while this month saw Diane Keaton glowing and naturally grey at the Golden Globes, and beauty trend-spotters are predicting ‘Pearl-essence’ colours as one of the big hair trends of 2014. So does this mean the taboo has finally been lifted on embracing naturally grey hair?
Perhaps not quite yet. The average woman will spend Dh1,350 a year having their hair coloured, according to a survey by hair dye brand Nice ’n Easy. That’s almost Dh60,000 on hitting the dye bottles in an average
lifetime. “Thanks to style icons such as Kelly Osbourne, women are starting to embrace grey hair as sophisticated rather than as a sign of ageing to disguise,” says Shakira Adams, stylist at Pastels Salon in Jumeirah, Dubai. “Most of my clients aren’t yet embracing the trend fully, but they do use colour techniques such as subtle highlights to blend in their grey for a more natural look.”
Whether you want to enhance it, cover it up, or just let nature take its course, here’s the lowdown on striking the right silver note.
While some spot that first flicker of silver in their midtwenties, for others, greys don’t appear until their forties.
White or grey hair occurs when the follicle stops producing melanin pigments. Although the process can’t be prevented, beauty giants are locked in a science lab race to produce wonder pills and potions to stop grey hair – permanently.
It can come as a shock when your crowning glory starts to change colour. Over two thirds of the female population (67 per cent) aged between 26 and 60 years claim they never want to be seen with grey hair, according to a UKbased survey by home-hair-colour brand Live Salon Style. “When hair starts to grey, it’s one of the biggest challenges for women both physically and emotionally,” says Londonbased hair stylist Norris Ogario. “Women can experience a lack of confidence but also struggle with colour and texture changes too. Grey hair is usually thicker and less shiny, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have amazing hair and be proud of your silver tresses.”
Not everyone wants to spend time every six weeks sitting in the hair colourist’s chair. With grey being the fashion shade du jour, you can wear your natural colour with confidence and even enhance it. “Be confident in your look and make more of a statement with your cut, so you don’t appear out of date or mumsy,” advises Denise McAdam, celebrity hairdresser and ambassador for Nurture Replenish haircare brand. “White hair looks brilliant in a short, edgy style, or a fabulous sharp bob.”
A subtle or extreme change in texture isn’t uncommon during the grey takeover. If your hair’s feeling wiry, it’s down to the fact that greys are often coarser than pigmented hair, which can make it trickier to colour. The shape and cut of your hairstyle become all the more important, as do the products you use. A blue or purpletinted ‘silver shampoo’ will counteract brassiness, and “the hair also needs more conditioning as grey hair is stronger and coarser,” says Pastels Dubai stylist Jennie Davies. Well-conditioned, glossy hair can make all the difference between gran and glam when it comes to grey.
Forget lines and wrinkles. The majority of women who want to mask their grey hair completely do so because they believe it to be one of the most obvious signs of ageing. If you can handle the maintenance, an all-over colour will send greys packing – well, at least for four to six weeks.
“My theory is that you can wear almost any colour, but it must work with your eye colour, skin tone and complexion,” advises Christel Lundqvist, TIGI global technical director. “As you get older, it’s better not to try to recreate the original colour of your hair before you began to go grey, but to rethink the intensity.”
Nice ’n Easy colour adviser Jonathan Long recommends taking your colour a shade or two lighter as you get older: “This will give you a more youthful, illuminating look, softening the appearance of facial lines and shadows.” Shape and cut become all important. White hair looks great in a short, edgy style or a sharp bob
Young celebrities dying their hair grey has eased the way for older women in the public eye to let their naturally silver tresses shine through