Lifestyle: Fifty shades of going grey

TV personality Kelly Osbourne with white hair arriving at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles.  Matt Sayles/AP/PA Photos.
TV personality Kelly Osbourne with white hair arriving at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles. Matt Sayles/AP/PA Photos.
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No longer something to dread and disguise, silver hair is soaring up in the style stakes. Lisa Haynes investigates a (growing) grey area.

Kelly Osbourne kicked off the trend, Rihanna follicly-followed suit, and Nicole Richie went shocking white... Seems going grey is catching on - no matter what your age.

With high profile stars embracing silver tresses, the taboo has been lifted on embracing naturally grey hair. Or has it?

The average woman will spend £228.50 a year having their hair coloured, according to a survey by Nice’n Easy No Ammonia. That’s almost £10,000 on hitting the dye bottles in an average lifetime.

Whether you want to enhance it, cover it up, or just let nature take its course, here’s the lowdown on striking silver-toned hair. Time to get your head around some serious grey matter.

Going grey

While some spot that first flicker of silver in their mid-20s, for others, greys don’t appear until your40s.

White or grey hair occurs when the follicle stops producing melanin pigments.

Though the process can’t be prevented, beauty giants are locked in a science lab race to produce wonder pills and potions to stop grey hair - permanently.

It can come as a shock when your crowning glory starts to change colour. Over two thirds of the female population (67%) aged between 26-60 years claim they’d never want to be seen with grey hair, according to a survey by home hair colour brand Live Salon Style.

“When hair starts to grey, it’s one of the biggest challenges for women both physically and emotionally,” says Norris Ogario, founder and creative director of Ogario Hair Salon.

“Women can experience a lack of confidence but also struggle with colour and texture changes too. Grey hair is usually thicker and less shiny, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have amazing hair and be proud of your silver tresses.”

Embracing grey

Not everyone wants to spend six weeks religiously sitting in the hair colourist’s chair. With grey being the fashion shade du jour, you can wear your natural colour with confidence and even enhance it.

“Be confident in your look and make more of a statement with your cut, so you don’t appear out of date or mumsy,” advises Denise McAdam, celebrity hairdresser and ambassador for Nurture Replenish haircare. “White hair looks brilliant in a short, edgy style, or a fabulous sharp bob.”

A subtle or extreme change in texture isn’t uncommon during the grey takeover. If your hair’s feeling wiry, it’s down to the fact that greys are often courser than pigmented hair, which can make it trickier to colour.

McAdam adds: “Grey hair needs to be in tip-top condition to keep it looking shiny, so make sure your shampoo and conditioner are hydrating.”

Well-conditioned, glossy hair can make all the difference between gran and glam when it comes to grey.

Camouflaging grey

Forget lines and wrinkles. The majority of women who want to mask their grey hair completely, do so because they believe it to be one of the most obvious signs of ageing.

If you can handle the maintenance, an all-over colour will send greys packing, well, at least for four to six weeks.

“My theory is that you can wear almost any colour, but it must work with your eye colour, skin tone and complexion,” advises Christel Lundqvist, Tigi global technical director.

“As you get older, it’s better not to try and recreate the original colour of your hair before you began to go grey, but to re-think the intensity.”

Nice’n Easy colour advisor Jonathan Long recommends taking your colour a shade or two lighter as you get older: “This will give you a more youthful, illuminating look, softening the appearance of facial lines and shadows.”

Grey area

Go grey the right way. Norris Ogario, founder and creative director of Ogario Hair Salon (www.ogariolondon.com) has these tips for silver tresses:

n Rock a great cut - Going grey is a bold statement and you need a style to match. Sharp lines and a great shape will really give your hair impact.

n Tackle the texture - Choose products with natural emollients to help tame wiry locks. Synthetic silicones do work in the short term but can be drying over time, so look for nourishing ingredients to soften and control the hair.

n Bring back shine - Grey hair is dry and if you don’t feed it and keep it moisturised, it will look dull. Drink plenty of water and make sure you eat a balanced diet with lots of leafy greens.

n Invest in haircare - Good quality products with super-hydrating ingredients, like silk protein, can restore moisture, balance and form a protective barrier around the hair. Silk’s strength also helps improve elasticity and resilience - just what grey hair needs.

n Treat your tresses - Give your locks a weekly moisture boost with an intensive treatment for extra hydration and to keep grey hair looking glossy and healthy.