Beauty

How to look great with grey hair at any age by taking a leaf out of Andie MacDowell’s book

''I feel like I'm embracing right where I am.''
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You’re not alone if you spend a small fortune chasing your original colour in a salon chair. There’s a lot to be said for it.

After all, women are harshly judged for showing the physical signs of ageing, and grey roots have been a double whammy of sexism and ageism: I still remember a teacher at school referring to my dad as a ‘silver fox’.

To be fair, he is handsome. But even as a teenager, I somehow knew the same lens would not be worn for a woman with silver at her temples.

And it was only a few years ago that the Duchess of Cambridge was slammed in the British tabloids for a few shimmering, silver strands showing up against her perfectly coiffed brunette locks.

Andie MacDowell hit the Cannes Film Festival red carpet in 2021 with this gorgeous grey mane.

(Getty)

However, there are signs of a cultural shift. When 63-year-old Andie MacDowell hit the Cannes Film Festival red carpet last year with salt-and-pepper strands, she declared that it was the ultimate power move.

Apparently, her agents told her not to do it. She told Vogue at the time: “I was so cautious because I didn’t want anybody to be upset … but then once I did it, it was just so clear to me that my instincts were right because I’ve never felt more powerful.

“I feel more honest. I feel like I’m not pretending. I feel like I’m embracing right where I am.”

If you’re tempted to discover your own shade of grey, you’re not alone. Today, there are over 2.5 million posts using the hashtag #silverhair on Instagram, and Pinterest has reported an 879 per cent increase in searches for “going grey”.

On that note, here’s what you need to know about embracing the grey at any age.

All the feels

The first step isn’t an appointment at the salon … it’s deciding that you’re ready. There is an emotional element to the shift.

Stepping into grey can be, like it was for Andie, a way of embracing a new chapter.

It may also be driven by a desire for a less complicated life (and fewer pricey salon appointments), or for many, it’s liberating to accept ageing and work with it, not against it.

WATCH: What makes for gorgeous grey hair? Story continues after video.

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“Although the truth is that women become grey at all ages,” says Pete Lennon, a hair stylist at HM Division, noting that one advantage he has seen clients enjoy is the brightness that grey and silver tones bring to their complexion.

“Silver hair is like turning a light on your face,” he says. It gives you more flexibility and freedom with colour, allowing you to experiment with make-up shades you might ordinarily have shied away from.

Septuagenarian-influencer Linda Rodin admits to feeling naked without a swipe of fuchsia lipstick since going grey in her 30s.

Change management

For many, knowing what you’ll find when you grow out your natural colour is part of the hesitation. Grey hair often has a coarse texture and represents a completely different colour for women transitioning from darker shades.

During the pandemic, however, most of us didn’t have a choice but to let nature take its course. And as such, many found themselves with a few inches of silver.

Linda Rodin elevates her grey ‘do with a pop of bright lipstick.

(Instagram)

According to LA-based colourist Jack Martin (check out @jackmartincolorist for amazing transformations from roots to all over grey), this is the perfect amount for a colourist to begin the process of spotting your hair’s natural grey patterns, using colour to blend and highlight.

Jack says some clients have silver at the front and naturally darker tones at the back, so he matches the existing hair to these patterns.

He also likes to introduce “glamour streaks” (think Anne Bancroft), which are silver, face-framing pieces that not only brighten your complexion but are easy to maintain.

Care factor

There is an old-fashioned idea that when you go grey, you need to have shorter hair. This simply isn’t true. The caveat is that you may need to take extra care.

One reason a transition to full grey has become so much more achievable and covetable, according to Pete, is that beauty companies have caught up too, easing the process with excellent formulas.

Grey hair has no natural pigment so it can yellow over time. A weekly wash with a clarifying formula can help eradicate impurities.

Grey hair doesn’t have to be short – just ask Helen Mirren!

(Getty)

Investing in a silver shampoo, and using it monthly, will also help neutralise any yellowness. Dilute a blue shampoo with a regular one if you find the colour leaving an unnatural tint.

And because grey hair has higher porosity, hydrating shampoos, deep conditioners and finishing serums are game changers.

As will taking care with heat – investing in a tool like a Dyson Supersonic means you won’t fry hair when you want a smooth style.

You can read this story and many others in the February issue of The Australian Women’s Weekly – on sale now.

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