Howdo you feel about baring your greys? Whether you embraced them in lockdown or simply long to get off the touch-up train, there is lots of inspiration out there. Caroline, Princess of Hanover, and Salma Hayek are silvering. Andie MacDowell and Jodie Foster were glamorously grey at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and Vogue UK editor, Sarah Harris, makes it look chic every Fashion Week. Natural grey is a time and money-saver that doesn’t have to age you as much as you’d think. That colourless spread reaches us all at some point and there are easy ways to keep it looking vital.
Sean Taaffe, founder of the Sean Taaffe Hair & Beauty salon group in Kerry, says a custom approach is key. “There is a lot that can be done to make growing out your colour look good. I would always look at a client’s cut first to see if we can, for example, keep the surface layer coloured while allowing the hair underneath to go grey. We also help clients that are unhappy with their natural shade of grey by adding grey lowlights, which can be very flattering.”
There is lots of grey-specific haircare on the market but do you really need to buy new products for such a natural look? “Product needs depend on the individual’s hair texture. Grey hair is more porous and can be fluffier so you might need a neutralising purple shampoo or something a little stronger to smooth it,” says Sean. “Clients that have gone grey tend to come in for cuts more often and I usually recommend a smoothing or shine-boosting treatment, too.”
Summer can make unexpected colour changes. “There’s no such thing as truly grey hair, it’s white hair with some remaining brown pigment. In the summertime those remaining brown hairs can get bleached, giving a yellow tone to the grey that can be tricky. If you don’t want to keep your head covered in the sun, I’d advise using a purple shampoo to counteract this effect or to regularly change your parting so one area doesn’t become over-bleached. Hair oils or serums with a yellow tone can also emphasise any discolouration. I recommend a clear shine-spray as a finishing product.”
A bad hair-day with grey can look particularly messy. “All long hair needs to be cared for but long grey hair requires more careful maintenance to keep it looking good,” says Sean. “It is important to think about how much extra time you can devote to caring for and styling your long hair before making the change to grey as it can quite easily make you look like you’ve neglected yourself. A shorter, sharper haircut looks great with grey.”
Your grey hair can be as transient as a trend and the change can be as good as a rest. “If you go completely grey and decide it’s not for you, you’ll have a headful of virgin hair that will probably be in better condition that it once was and a pleasure for a colourist to work with. Don’t feel that once you try grey, there’s no going back,” says Sean.
Malahide-born Hollywood makeup artist, Kate Synnott, is a fan of grey beauty but notes that it can drain the complexion. “A few small changes can bring life into your face. I advise getting your brows and lashes tinted. This defines the face and makes us look more youthful. Make sure your foundation is colour-matched to your skin. If it is too dark it can look orange. Use a cream bronzer for a tanned effect. Bold colour on the lips is beautiful with grey hair. If you’re not a lipstick person you could dab a little on to stain the lips.”
“White hair needs more colour, specifically a good blush. I like to use mine on my cheeks, eyes and lips. Try using peachy cream blush on the apple of the cheeks and lightly drape it onto the eyelids and the bridge of the nose. This gives a beautiful, healthy look.”