To Gray Hair or Not?

post by Sharon 

Recently, I had an opportunity to wear a gray wig for a rap music video promoting a potential TV show about older women. (I know, weird things come across my path often!)

It had me thinking about how stylish gray hair is now. It seems our generation in their 50s, 60s, 70s are going pink and the kids are going gray for a whole new look. Here's the in's and out's of whether to gray or not and how to make the gray your own!

Men have it pretty easy - let the temples go gray and then the rest follows. So far as beards and mustaches, that is a personal preference, but it can age a man greatly as well as appear a bit Santa Claus. The issue then becomes whether to go bare-faced and all men look younger with bare faces.

Try gray on first virtually just to see. You'd be surprised how good a neutral light palette can be.

For the ladies, there are way too many options. Gray isn't like it was for our moms. It's a purposeful statement now and considered one of the hottest hair colors. Adding semipermanent rinses in pastel tones is also the rage.

The transition to gray can be rugged. No one wants gray roots. What to do?

*You can do the root coverup by using semipermanent rinses on the roots to blend in with the rest of the hair until it grows out.

*You can cut the hair short.

*You can have highlights added in to help blend the lighter with the darker. 

*You can go for a total bleaching and coloring in a silvery gray so roots don't contrast. 

*Wear a gray wig for a year or so. 

I've had some fun with semipermanent coloring in pastel tones. I cannot way to go full silver so I can try out bare hints of pastel tones. Silver hair is a great neutral ground to apply semipermanent.

I used Arctic Fox in Sunset Orange. I took about 2 tsps and mixed with my regular hair conditioner - about 3/4 c. I washed my hair and when it was about halfway dry, I ran this through with a comb. I left it on for an hour. I have red hair, but it tends to go more blond. This brought the red back in a wonderfully ginger way.

For use on gray hair, I'd suggest you use a tsp to 3/4 c. conditioner, leave it on 30 mins. See if you like the barely there tint. It will last up to 4-6 shampoos usually and I only shampoo my dry hair every 3 days. If you find you need it to have more staying power but you like the color, leave it on an hour. If you thought it was barely noticeable, do 2 tsps. Test on some hair underneath if you want or simply commit to a stripe underneath.

When will I go silver? I think I'd like to do it in my mid 60s (I'm turning 57 in a month and a half). I enjoy having my childhood color, but red hair on an older face can look rather cartoonish, as does black hair which can be real harsh as you lose some skin color.

If your lifestyle suits short hair because you're very active or you don't want the maintenance of long hair, maybe you have a gamine face and are petite and it looks good on you, go for it. Jamie Lee Curtis totally owns it.

We grew up in a generation that loved long hair. Don't let age make you think you have to whack if off like mom did. I know that in a decade, I'll be that silver long-haired grandma in the garden.

There are so many good examples out there of how to gray.  The hottest hair color is gray. 

I think there's a reason why gray is in. Over 50% of our population is over 38 now.  I remember when I was modeling in my youth and everything was about youth because youth was the major population - baby boomers in their teens to 30s. Following that same huge buying market, baby boomers once again are setting a trend for our age group as our numbers are immense.

It's not our mama's aging. We were born and raised in a time that allowed us to rebel, stand out, find our own way, figure out our own priorities, fight for what we believed in, expressing ourselves in fashion, music, and art.

We still have the influences of a love of blue jeans and sandals, but we make it our own as we have evolved.

There is something liberating about not dyeing your hair any longer, just being natural, keeping it simple. We were, after all, of a generation of girls who wore their hair long and hippie'ish, as natural as can be. 

What tone of gray is best for you?

I worry sometimes, as a redhead with apricot skin tones that silvery/bluish gray is going to clash horribly on me. I won't know how to wear my makeup and my skin will look clownish with it. This is a valid concern, as makeup for gray hair and gray hair color tones are critical for natural balance.

LINK:  Gray hair color for light skin tones Opt for a creamy pale yellow or pure white gray tone to play off your skin’s natural coloring. Too much gold, however, is not flattering, so stick with a paler yellow shade. Gray hair color for medium skin tones You have more versatility here. Creamy white or steely gray tones in your hair are beautiful. If you’re not 100 percent gray and much of your hair is dark, go more dramatic with bright silver tones. People with red undertones in their skin shouldn’t opt for an extremely white hue as it will bring out this red even more.  Gray hair color for dark skin tones If you have darker skin tones, you can pull off a blond salt-and-pepper look by adding some dark lowlights with brighter white pieces around the face. Be cautious of yellow though as this shade can make your skin look drab and unhealthy.

Makeup for gray hair

Skin tones tend to get washed out with age, so blush is one of your best options to look dewy and healthy. I like to use cream blush - a cream blush stick. It looks natural, lasts long and gives you a dewy glow. Our skin tends to get a bit flaky and dull so you want more of a stain and less of a powder on its surface. I tend to go with lighter peach for me, but lighter pink is also good for most. Bronzers can look real weird, so avoid if you can. You generally don't want the powerful colors of your youth. Take it up a shade.

Lips  - do not go pale. We liked frosted pale lipstick in the 1970s, then strong red in the 1980s, but at this point with the pale face, I suggest not going nude. Do give yourself color but just not as strong as a full-out red. Try tones like coral and flamingo pink. Think in terms of 3/4 color. If nude is 0 and bright red is 4, go for the three-quarters point.

Old-fashioned full-out eyeliner pencil may be used less, as we don't want our eyes to be pinpoints, but a nice black line at the top lash line can help fill in where thinning eyelashes are leaving us lame. I like to do this and then use eyeshadow powder under the eye in a fun soft pastel like aquamarine or lavender. It has a way of making the eye look bright and youthful.

A good exfoliated face that is nicely moisturized is one of your best friends. If you had to have 3 makeup items on a natural face, consider lip color, cheek color and mascara. And, you may be tired of gray hairs in your brows, but don't let them go completely gray. Consider using an eyebrow powder rather than dyeing them as that can be rather dangerous if you do it yourself. Keep them a shade darker than the hair, whether you go light brown or blond.