Having finished my book Grey Hair & You – and seen it released on Amazon and distributed in various book stores – I came to the realisation that the greatest prejudice against grey hair in women comes from women themselves.

Grey Hair Penelope WhiteThere is an incredible number of women who believe they look younger with dark hair. I have yet to figure out why that is. In reality, dying your hair can be too harsh once you’re past a certain age.

These same women believe, along with many of their sisters, that grey hair makes them look older. This is true for some women because they fail to consider the two most important factors in dealing with the challenge of grey hair.

 
 

There are just two considerations – yes, only two.

Your One Shade of Grey

White-looking hair is fabulous; scaffold-grey is not. Simple, really.

Of course, white hair isn’t white; it’s clear in colour. The difference between the white and the grey hair is caused by the pigments eumelanin (dark) and pheomelanin (light).

More often than not, you will find both eumelanin and pheomelanin in hair. In grey hair, though, that’s largely unlikely as eumelanin is the more common.

The range of colours produced by melanin is limited to shades of yellow, brown, red and black. Grey hairs contain only a few melanin granules spread throughout the hair, and those granules are likely to be eumelanin.

White hairs contain no melanin at all: their whiteness is an optical effect, due to the way in which they reflect the light.

Make-Up Changes

Silver or grey hair is an excellent backdrop for a complete make-over in the make-up department. Since grey hair can make you look washed out, using warmer tones in your make-up will make you look and feel brighter!

This is the perfect time to have fun in some of the major department stores. Also, remember that in this instance, less isn’t always more. You can afford to be a little heavier handed when you have grey hair but please, do not forget to use blusher-without-sparkle – you want to look brighter not like a Christmas Tree.

In Grey Hair & You we have included an entire chapter on Make-up Tips For Looking Great With Grey Hair. We’ve also added a chapter with Tips for Colouring Grey Eyebrows, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Steel Grey

A colour always deserving of special mention, steel grey is often reminiscent of scaffolding! Loved or loathed, trying to colour any hair that is predominantly non-pigmented usually results in a flat-looking colour.

Since grey hair is technically hair that has no pigmentation, a natural look calls for some variation in the shades – as it does with any hair colour. This can be achieved by using translucent dyes which leave the hair’s true colour variations visible under the added shades.

If you actually want steel grey hair, you can achieve it with foils – small, random strands throughout the hair – and a dye which will provide you with steel grey. Your best bet is to consult a professional colourist who can recommend the right colour application.

Instant Santa-White Hair

Snow-white hair is almost impossible to achieve unless you’re prepared for some torture. Really, it’s best to wait and hope your genes do the right thing.

In reality, you can’t make the snowy white colour of Santa’s hair because he is 100% grey. His hair lacks any pigmentation whatsoever and is therefore slightly translucent.

To get somewhat similar results, you may be able to lighten your hair to the lightest possible hue, and then tint it using a platinum blonde tint. Also, you will have to use a toner (which is purple but doesn’t look purple).

However, the operative word here is may: the effect you accomplish largely depends on the colour of your natural hair. So, you should definitely see a colourist!

We recently conducted a survey on our site and would love to know how you, the readers of Sixty and Me feel about going grey!

Does grey hair make you feel invisible? Have you changed your make-up to go with your grey hair? Do you see grey hair as an opportunity to re-style and re-invent your look and even, to some extent, your persona? Please join the conversation!

Penelope Jane WhiteleyPenelope Whiteley is a coach and mentor. Her lifestyle blog for women over 50, focuses on beauty, fitness and fashion and travel for the solo woman, as well as lifestyle and anti-aging.

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