Fighting The (50 Shades Of) Grey

Covering grey hairFinding your first grey hair can be pretty distressing – especially if it happens before you’ve even hit your 30s. Yet premature greyness is getting more common – in fact almost a third of women under 30 in the UK have already started going grey. Even J-Lo admits she spotted her first greys at 23! But whatever your age, and whether you decide to just let nature take its course or fight until your last breath to cover every millimetre of grey, it’s important to know the facts when it comes to grey hair.

Sian Quinn, a senior artistic team member at Headmasters in Soho specialising in hair colour for women, says maintenance is key. “You need to put more work and money into maintaining your hair once it goes grey. It’s a lot harder to make it look luxe as the condition is affected, so find a good stylist and be prepared to spend a bit more than before”. Here are the key points to remember:

“Grey hair doesn’t have the same protection as your pre-grey hair”.
“It tends to be quite dry and can even stick straight up off the head. So good condition is all about getting the moisture back in,” says Sian. Use moisture products every day to make hair less unruly. Sian recommends oils like Pureology Hydrate Shine Max, Mythic Oil by L’Oreal and Elixir Ultime by Kerastase.

“Sadly there is no miracle cure”
“Clients ask me how to stop their hair going grey.”  says Sian. Some scientists believe it is governed by our genes, but premature greyness has also been linked to stress. Whatever the cause, ignoring it is not really an option. “If you decide to grey gracefully, I’d recommend a semi-permanent colour wash to brighten the grey up and make it look fresher, as silver hair can tarnish due to pollution and minerals in water, says Sian.

Highlights and lowlights are an excellent way of blending the grey into your hair.
“It’s best to have a mix of shades, making it look as multi-tonal as possible. Adding dimension to hair helps create the illusion of less grey,” says Sian. But classical foil highlights can look too bold and re-growth looks less natural. “Tissue lights and ballayage techniques will blend in with the root for as long as possible,” says Sian.

If you go blonde, make sure it’s a soft tone.
“Too light is as bad as too dark if you are over a certain age,” says Sian. “Golden tones tend to be more flattering in general, as they reflect light and create more of a shine to the hair. Discuss with your colourist the best tones to suit your colouring. At Headmasters we do ‘contouring,’ drawing attention to features by lightening, and adding shadowing to take attention away”.

If you’re over 35 your skin’s also changing tone.
So even if your hair was naturally dark before, that colour may not suit you anymore. “If you prefer to have a darker base colour, make sure you have lighter tones around your face, to illuminate the skin. Dark hair by your face will create shadows and draw more attention to fine lines and wrinkles,” says Sian.

More than seven million British women colour their hair at home, but as you go grey it might be wiser to seek help from the professionals. Colour-wise, find the right commitment level for you. Lighter colours blend out better so you can get away with having the highlights done less frequently. With darker colours you need your regrowth touched up every four or five weeks.

You may also find your hair is thinning.
In fact almost 40 percent of women will experience some degree of hair loss by the age of 35. Try a Nioxyn scalp treatment, or Kerastase Masque Intense to help keep your hair looking full and thick. “Head massage is also good for stimulating your hair follicles and encouraging growth,” says Sian.

Having thinning hair may mean changing hairstyles.
“But you don’t have to hack it all off,” says Sian.  “Styles that sit round the collar bone and under the jaw tend to be most flattering”.

Marina Gask

Ever since her years of interviewing pop stars for Just Seventeen, and being editor of Sugar, More! and Top Sante magazines, Marina’s always loved a louche night-spot and a teetering stiletto heel. Now happily freelancing for the media and working with entrepreneurs on their media profiles (, she will find any excuse to ‘have a meeting’ somewhere glam, preferably Paris where she once lived another lifetime ago. That’s when she’s not living in an episode of Outnumbered with her two teenage sons, and counting her blessings that she had the sense to marry a chef.

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