Embracing the grey

Grey hair is beautiful ...

Whether you call it salt and pepper, silver, pewter or charcoal, grey hair happens to all of us. Of course some people go grey in their 20s while others don’t see the first sign of silver until they are over 50. Plenty choose to cover up grey by colouring their hair, but a new round of female celebrities are urging us to stop the bother. Bron Maxabella explains ...

By Bron Maxabella

Suddenly it’s cool to be grey

Of course, men have been doing it for years. George Clooney, Patrick Dempsey, Idris Elba and Richard Gere have long been known as ‘silver foxes’, thanks to the double standard that says men with grey hair are sexy but women with grey hair are just old.

That’s all about to change, however, because lately the vixens are deciding what beauty is and that means they’re letting their salt-and-pepper hair down.

Dame Helen Mirren, Andie MacDowell, Allison Janney and Salma Hayek are recent converts. Meryl Streep, Charlize Theron, Jamie Lee Curtis and Justine Bateman have been doing it for years. Or, rather, not doing it.

It seems saying no to the dye and leaving your locks to shine silver is the new big thing, especially if you scroll Instagram.

Every month there seems to be a fresh celebrity rocking the natural look and for very good reason: as Allison Janney told The Drew Barrymore Show. “I cannot tell you how amazing it is to feel free. Free from hair colour and hair extensions and hair tapes and blah blah blah…”

“I’ve never felt more powerful. I feel more honest. I feel like I’m not pretending. I feel like I’m embracing right where I am. I feel really comfortable,” Andie MacDowell recently told Vogue. “And in a lot of ways, I think it’s more striking on my face. I just feel like it suits me.”

While the celebrity endorsement is welcome, it can still feel daunting to set your own grey hair free. The big fear is that grey hair will make you look old and ‘washed out’. With so much emphasis on hair as a sign of youthful beauty, this is a natural thing to worry about.

“I would never go back to colouring,” says Tessa White, who stopped dyeing her hair once she turned 40. “I get compliments on the daily.”

At the time she made the change, Tessa was home-dyeing as a way to cut back on salon costs, but she was still sick of paying out time and money every couple of weeks just to turn her hair a different colour. “Then when the young kids started paying to have their blonde tresses turned grey, I thought’ ‘this is my moment’,” Tessa says.

The ‘granny trend’ for hair began in the 2010s and has been picking up speed ever since. Ariana Grande, Lourdes and Lady Gaga were among the young stars who purposely went grey and women everywhere soon followed suit. Many added a hint of pastel balayage to the ends to keep things fresh. It’s a seamless way to go grey because eventually your natural hair colour simply takes over.

That said, if you’re not up for bleaching and dyeing your hair completely grey all over, choosing to grow out your existing dye can be a real challenge. “No one ever said anything,” Tessa says, “[but] the grow-out stage is obviously not gorgeous to look at. But I just cut it into a bob and chopped it every few months.”

Tessa White explains how to embrace the grey

Tessa recommends using hairbands, bandanas and hats to hide the awkward in-between stage, but another way to tackle it is “grey blending”. This style of in-salon colouring incorporates your greys into your natural hair colour using tonal highlights. So you get a subtle, blended look that’s a gentler move towards your natural hair colour.

Eventually, your natural hair colour will be left shining. “It’s so healthy and soft,” notes Tessa, instantly dispelling the myth that grey hair equals ‘steel wool’. Your natural hair will be much better for it without the constant bleach and chemicals of dyeing. If you're looking for strong, healthy locks, incorporating vitamins for luscious hair or adopting a mediterranean diet can also help.

She also loves how much the bright colours she wears pop against the grey. Women who wear makeup enjoy experimenting with brighter shades of lipstick and eyeshadow for this same reason.

If you’re almost sold but looking for further inspiration, you can’t beat the #silversisters Instagram hashtag. It’s a supportive community of women happily growing into their grey. One look at the bright, fresh faces on the ‘top posts’ page will instantly dispel any notion that going grey is ageing. Rather, going grey is fashionable, freeing and altogether fabulous.

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