Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Thought for the Day: On Being Grey

I've been meaning to write about my grey hair for a couple of weeks and how positive the decision that I made a few years back now not to colour anymore has been. This is counter to the commonly held belief that even a single grey hair is such a terrible thing that it has to be blasted into oblivion by the chemical warfare of dyeing. Then Sunday's Observer published an article, "In the world of fashion grey hair is in!..." 'Aha' I thought, 'Finally people are seeing the light'.

However the remainder of the title read '...if it isn't natural.' and my goat was well and truly 'got'. I then read the article and became incensed by the hairdresser who declared that the older you were, the less flattering grey hair became. Of course he's going to take this view as healthy profits are bolstered by his profession reinforcing this belief!

However, overall, attitudes may be changing. A few years back I 'googled' grey hair and struggled to find an article with a positive connotation. While researching today's post I was pleasantly surprised to be able to find quite a few.  And so to add  to the plus side of the argument I've come up with my own list of  personal advantages.

•If you go to a salon it saves you a packet load of money and time to revert to natural grey.
•If you dye at home it saves you a little bit less money. However don't forget to factor in replacement costs for the carpet, grout and towels that you will inevitably stain indelibly (probably the reason Mr Lovelygrey was so keen that I stopped dyeing my hair).
•You stop putting a whole host of stinky chemicals on your head on a regular basis.
•Contrary to Mr 'Know it All' (oooh bitchy moment!!) hairdresser's argument my grey hair seems to complement my skin tone much more than an artificial colour ever did. I doubt that I am in as great a minority as he predicted.
•You never have to worry about roots showing.
•I get far more positive comment about my hair than I ever did when it was dyed.
•I feel much more confident with my look which is a slightly but not excessively out of the ordinary and funky!

I found additional positive material in this book Going Gray by Anne Kreamer  that I found in the library.  Not a 'keeper' and I suspect that Ms. Kreamer did not mean her attempts to name drop to be quite so amusing to me as  I hadn't heard of any of the supposedly important people that she mentions.  However she did quantify the truly shocking amounts of money that she had spent on colouring her hair over the years, albeit in swanky US salons. Some of her investigations into attitudes of others to greying were insightful and entertaining. I also enjoyed Mr Kreamer's laid back attitude to some of his wife's more outrageous antics pursued in the name of research for her book.

I know that my viewpoint won't make a jot of difference to most people who dye their hair and that's fine. But if going 'au naturel' does appeal I hope that I've provided encouragement. Like me, you could be much more happy with your decision that you thought possible. If not, as you already know, grey hair like coloured hair does not have to be permanent!

P.S. I think the young hip and trendy 'greys' ,especially Pixie Geldof, look lovely even though they're faking it.


  1. I have just seen this post. I decided to go grey about 6 months ago after years of colouring. I now have picasa on my pc and it brought all the face pictures together, so there are photos of me for the last 10 years - scary sight - but in all of them and I do mean all, I have a band of white round my scalp where the colour is wearing out.
    My only problem now is to find a style that I am happy with. Too short is not good anymore - my face is too fat, long is not good because of the different shades. Will just have to keep experimenting
    PS I really enjoy reading your blog. you always have something interesting and different to say

  2. I too have only just seen this post! I am 47 and I used to colour my originally blonde hair back to something like it was. I used semi permanent dye so the colour would gradually fade. I felt dull without it. Then I realised that sludgy colours did not suit me and I should be wearing cool pastels and colours like strong cool lilac and purple and teal. Turquoise is my no 1 favourite and pale blue makes me look fab. I started not bothering to dye my hair and one day a good friend asked me what had I done to my hair because it looked great? Nothing, I said; I haven't dyed it for a while. she said, don't dye it, people pay good money for that colour. That gave me such confidence and I never dyed it again. Only today, someone I hadn't seen for a while commented on how good it looks! :-)