Donna Kim-Brand

Going gray is usually a natural process that comes along with healthy aging coupled with a genetic predisposition towards gray. Other factors that can lead to someone going gray early or going gray even if they weren’t otherwise likely to are certain types of trauma, illness or a vitamin deficiency.

Whatever the reason, at whatever the age, some of us are just not ready to sport the look of a ’Distinguished Professor’, ‘Silver Fox‘ or ‘Granny Hair’, even if it happens to be the hip new hair color now. Why? Perhaps it’s the illusion (or reality!) of aging we want to hold off a little longer either for vanity reasons or to prevent ageist treatment in the workplace. Or, as in my case, not only does the mousy gray peeking through not look attractive on me with my fair skin tones, but I still feel a whole lot more like the vibrant redhead I have been most of my life.

Since hair is so much part of how we express who we are, how we show up with our hair (or lack of it) matters. Just be aware that changing one element of your looks, like going gray, will affect other aspects of your image, so be sure to update the total package: lipstick color, shades of eyeshadow, even clothing colors or styles. You might consider booking an appointment with an image consultant for professional advice on your makeover.

Aside from hiding your new gray growth for several months with updo’s or hats, the first response is usually to ‘grow it out’. Well, sure, but what about the telltale roots meanwhile? Since gray is actually unpigmented hair, you can’t easily color it gray. In the past, attemps tended to turn out more purple or blue, though nowadays one hears advertisements for true gray color treatments. Or, you can use a temporary gray-cover up with specialized pencils, mascara, crayons or spray-on powders which will wash out with each shampoo.

You can also try out ‘low-lights’, instead of ‘highlights’, by applying your base color to a smattering of strands rather than all over your head. The salt and pepper effect will ease yourself and everyone else into seeing some gray peeking out a little at a time.

Of course, you can shorten the time frame of easing into gray by cutting your hair shorter so less of it has to grow out. Meanwhile you’re introducing a new look, so people can get used to one change at a time.

An odd fact of nature is that gray hair tends to come in a slightly courser texture with a matte finish, so you will want to be sure to use additional conditioners and hair shine revitilizers. And update your style to fit the new look and feel of your hair.

Over all, ‘going gray’, at least for those who have colored for a long time, is ultimately a liberating process. Since this is a process that requires transitioning over time, be smart about when you choose to go through the change-over. You probably won’t want to be in the middle of this transition when you have a big event like a wedding, key presentation or job interview coming up. In terms of going relatively unnoticed, perhaps winter months work for you since you always wear a hat. For others, summer might be perfect since you are gone traveling for a few months, allowing you to leave minimally gray and return wholly gray!

Going gray is an outward expression of internal change. You can embrace it and ease into being gray. Or maybe you will choose instead to take a more drastic approach. My plan, as of now for when I make the leap, is to shave my head before attending a yoga detox retreat. Then, whatever grows in will be the hair color I live with. Then again, you’ve heard that quote about the ‘best paid plans…”

Finally, remember that gray as a hair color (or lack of color) runs the spectrum from ash blond-gray to bronze-gray to purple-gray to mousy brown-gray to salt and pepper, to silver to pure white, each of which responds differently to specific hair care products. Give yourself time to know which shade of gray yours will be before you write it off altogether. You just might like the new you!

Be Sociable, Share!