There comes a time, for most women anyway, when the dyeing and highlighting and lowlighting and root touch-ups become too much of a chore. So what's wrong with going grey? Well, nothing as it happens. Grey is the colour of the moment. Grey is cool. And with a swathe of powerful and inspirational women in the public eye choosing to go au naturel and letting their real colour come through, more and more women are ditching the dye and embracing the grey.
But how do you go about it? Unfortunately, there's no quick fix as there will inevitably be a period of 'in-between' when your grey comes in and your colour grows out. But there are a number of ways to minimise the zebra effect - here are just a few.
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"I kept my hair quite short when I started to transition to silver grey hair, and it soon lightened all over. Start with a really good haircut that will accommodate the silver growth. You won't have any regrets."
Choosing to let go of some length in favour of short grey hair may be a big step, but it'll drastically speed up the growing out period of your existing colour. Check with your stylist which styles would suit you, but go for a defined one. The combination of short and grey can be ageing with a wishy-washy cut. There are lots of very fashionable short hairstyles around, from the lob (long bob) to the ever-popular pixie cut. It's just a matter of choosing the right one for you.
In summary, a stylish cut - or, indeed, any style at all - is key to making sure your hair is more chic than granny. As one gransnetter rightly points out, "You can get away with a lot with a good cut." Do look at current hair trends if you need some extra inspiration too.
When transitioning to grey or white hair, primarily if your hair is dyed, there will usually be a line of demarcation. In the haircare world, this is where two textures meet - the texture of the newly grown hair and the texture of the dyed hair. Your natural hair will inevitably be stronger than the dyed hair so you may experience damaged ends and some hair breakage.
It can also apply to colour, where two hair colours meet (sometimes quite harshly) to leave an unusual two-toned look that, nine times out of ten, you'd really rather avoid.
There are a couple of ways that you can deal with this. The first is to go for a big chop (see above) to cut off any damaged hair and to help you avoid, where possible, the awkward transition phase. Some women also find this the easier and more manageable option. The second is to tidy up any split ends before taking care of the weaker strands using conditioner or other haircare products, such as oils. The third is to...
"The only thing I don't like are the dark roots showing through, but I don't mind keeping them touched up."
This is an especially useful tip if you're waiting for a semi-permanent or permanent hair dye to fade to reveal the existing silver underneath. No one likes obvious roots, so, while the overall colour fades, disguise them with a root mascara, spray or powder.
Luckily, we've tested a range of high-street root fix options, so you can get the low-down without having to splash out unnecessarily. Our favourite is the root cover-up powder for both colour match and easy application. You're welcome.
"If you opt for fine streaks in silver, gold and light ash brown, it can take two or three months before the grey is noticeable."
If your hair colour is naturally blonde, this is going to be a smoother grey hair transition and it may well be unnecessary to do anything except watch your grey grow in (lucky you).
Do you have mid-brown hair? It might be worth lifting the colour of your hair so that the highlights start to blend in with the emerging grey to produce grey blonde hair. The lighter it is, the less noticeable the transition will be. Opt for ombré (the blending of one hue into another, light to dark) as an alternative.
If you have dyed hair and currently dye your hair considerably darker, stop right now and switch to a semi-permanent hair dye. As the colour fades each time, go a shade lighter. The contrast between the lighter hair and the new grey will be less noticeable and, again, highlights are your friend in this instance.
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"I had dark hair and started having light highlights in my 50s to disguise the grey, but about a year ago I decided to embrace my natural colour. I gradually stopped colouring, had a few highlights then had it cut short and let the grey be my natural colour. I love it and feel liberated."
When is the ideal time to embrace your grey? Well, it entirely depends on you, of course, as your natural colour can take some time to get used to, particularly if it takes on a dull or flat tone. External factors also play a part, i.e. the amount of money spent on colouring your hair every few weeks. Those regular trips to the hairdresser may be a treat, but they can also become costly.
So, if the root touch-ups and highlights sound like too much effort, especially when those pesky pigment cells in our hair follicles keep getting fewer and fewer, it may be worth letting nature take its course. Unless your hair is white or grey all over, underneath your current dye you're more likely to acquire some great-looking white streaks or grey tones for a start. After all, if George Clooney can sport the salt and pepper look, why shouldn't we?
But that doesn't mean that you have to stick to grey from here on out. It might also be a fun idea to experiment with temporary colours if ever you fancy a small change. This will give you some freedom to play with colour while ensuring that your natural grey isn't affected: "I'm now grey, but I play around with temporary fun colours. My hair is currently pastel pink, and I have pale purple already lined up!"
The grey hair colour that's right for you will also depend on your skin tone - warmer tones will usually suit a variety of grey colours well, whereas women with cooler skin tones will typically opt for darker shades of grey.
"When I finally went grey I was disappointed at how draining and patchy the colour was - I have very sallow skin. Now I have silver highlights and use a silver shampoo, conditioner and mousse."
Once you've completed the transition, it's time to get used to taking care of your silver, white or grey locks. This means investing in a shampoo and conditioner specially formulated for your hair. We like White Hot Hair's range, which includes a shampoo, conditioner, hair mask and an oil. And this is just one range - there are more and more products for grey or silver hair appearing all the time.
Heat can also have an odd effect on grey hair, sometimes giving it a brassy hue. Avoid baking it in the sun wherever possible - wear a hat on holiday and invest in a good heat protectant spray and use it religiously.
Embracing your natural grey colour is a big step in itself, so it's a great time to re-evaluate and update your style. We're not talking a personal shopper and a bankruptcy-inducing trip to Selfridges here, just a few minimal changes, like using colour to complement your grey or silver hair, or making more style-conscious decisions when it comes to clothes and accessories.
Lipstick: Adding a bright swipe of colour will complement the grey once it's fully grown in. Try a coral colour like L'Oreal's Colour Riche Lipstick in Magnetic Coral.
Ditch the old frames: There's no better time to invest in a pair of new glasses. Find out once and for all which style of frame really suits you and your face shape, and then choose a modern, stylish option.
Accessorise: Make a statement with colours that contrast with your hair and compliment your skin tone. Choose a bright necklace, like a long bead necklace from John Lewis, a pair of drop earrings or even a colourful scarf.
"Never in all my life did anyone ever say anything nice about my hair until I started to let it go grey. Now I get compliments on a regular basis and, believe me, it does wonders for your self-esteem at 60."
If you're in need of hairstyle inspiration now that you've embraced your grey, we've got you covered. From beautiful long layers to short choppy crops, there are loads of styles to choose from to suit your hair colour and personality. Why not give one of these cuts a try?
1. Long layers with a side fringe
2. Curly crop
3. Mid-length lob
4. Gentle curls
5. Crop with shorter layers
6. Choppy pixie cut