What do Maheen Khan, Richard Gere, George Clooney and Diane Keaton have in common? They rock their naturally greying hair. While most us of approach the first few strands of grey/silver hair with a sense of trepidation and the fear of premature aging, going grey is a natural process that all hair goes through. Hair colour is produced by melanocyte cells and once these start losing steam and producing less melanin (the colour pigment) your hair starts to lose its original colour vibrancy and begins transitioning into silver, white or grey. There’s a lot of it connected to your genes as well; premature greying has been closely linked with genetics, so if your parents ended up losing their hair colour early, chances are you will too.
With the inevitability of grey hair established, it’s only a matter of time before you face the dreaded question: to dye or not to dye. There are a lot of factors involved that need consideration ranging from age, hair length and the extent of greying among a plethora of others. And if it helps you own your silvery locks with greater pizzazz, grey is the unlikely champion trend of the season. Colourists internationally are talking about the growing phenomenon of clients requesting everything from pale, pastel grey to darker charcoal shades or even silver, with a frequency only reserved for blondes. It’s also enjoying a moment thanks to the rising rainbow hair trend which is made more accessible by toning down the crazy bright hues to pastel versions. Without further ado, let’s break down the nitty-gritty of going grey.
When to embrace grey
If you have uneven grey patches, visibly greying roots with dyed hair or salt and pepper locks you might have to consider taking the plunge. It’s easier to work with the changes that are taking place in your body instead of working against them after a certain point. If you have short or cropped hair it does make the transition easier as compared to those who have longer tresses. With uneven patches or salt and pepper hair, it would be much more convenient and chic to simply add strategic highlights that help blend the colour better. It is also easier to maintain grey hair in a bob or a shorter cut, so if you’re thinking about letting your grey take over, consider getting a cut to match as well.
Taking the chemical route
If you have frizzy or long hair and a warm complexion you might have to stick to colouring. Grey hair tends to be drier and more wiry than normal hair, which means that if your hair texture is naturally coarse it will get worse with greying. Grey is a cool tone so if you’re slightly darker or have olive skin, think twice before going down this road since the cool hair will clash against your warm skin. You might want to consider investing in a heavy duty conditioner to protect your locks. It is also more advisable to keep colouring your hair if it’s thin or superfine since the light shade tends to give the illusion of sparse hair. However, cutting it short does make a difference in how healthy and thick your hair looks so even a headful of superfine grey hair will work better in a pixie cut or short bob as opposed being kept longer.
Going grey isn’t just about letting your hair naturally lose all its colour pigment. In order to carry the look off well there’s a lot of effort required – in fact stylists claim that maintaining grey hair is harder than even platinum blonde. Since grey isn’t available straight off the dye tube and has to be created mixing blues, greens and purples, it can look terrible when the colour is fading out or going brassy. Regular colour toning is required as is a proper hair regime which involves using a sulphate-free, hydrating and specially designed for silver or grey hair shampoo (these tend to contain lavender or blue colour pigment which is deposited on the hair during wash to keep the colour looking fresh). Your hair and colour will also thank you if you opt for masks or repair treatments that help deal with the colouring damage or frizz.
So whether you’re going grey naturally or are toying with the idea of switching to charcoal hair, think about how much you’re willing to invest in terms of care, maintenance and salon touch-ups but most importantly, don’t be afraid to wear your hair with confidence.