13 Jul 2021

Grey: Going, Going And Very Much Gone

Going, Going And Very Much Gone Grey on vickiarcher.com


Going grey is not a new conversation here at VA.

We have been talking about and practising the silver switch for many years.


I read yesterday how “silver influencers” are the new demographic for brands; finally they are realizing we have not only much to say but also bastions of excellent taste.  Andie McDowell wowed the press with her natural locks on the red carpet in Cannes; really is it such a surprise? She looks absolutely wonderful and at the risk of annoying the “dye-hard” camp, so much softer and more beautiful without the strong dark shades she sported before. I know, I know and I hear you – we all don’t agree – and it is a personal choice and one of comfort zone. I do understand that and acknowledge un-dyed tresses are not for everyone.


So here’s the thing.

That is if you are interested in the conversation and progressing through the somewhat time-consuming change. It’s not easy, not for anyone. Physically it requires commitment – intermittent colour and loads of cuts – and emotionally a huge amount of self-confidence must be drawn upon. Intellectually I believe you are either there or not; you either want to or you don’t. We each know when we are ready. If at all.


For me, it was all about the colour.

I couldn’t achieve the blonde I liked and was used to; my hair was changing and would not accept colour in the way it once had. Colour and I had been great friends for decades and there aren’t many shades I haven’t worn. Sadly, the brassy orange and I just didn’t click and however we tried, the wheat coloured creamy blonde I had known and loved disappeared, a little like the firm jawline and sculpted arms.

It was not for lack of trying ;)


A choice was made.

Going grey was something I was willing to try and as my hair grew out it was clear the new look was not all that different from the blonde.

(It is easier for blondes to transition, I cannot argue this and I respect the dedication and self-assuredness it takes for those with darker hair.)

The palette had changed but the overall effect was not so shocking to me. There were days I loathed the idea of my newfound hair freedom and looking in the mirror was torture; it was confronting and made me question so much more than my hair. It has taken me years to really embrace my grey, to accept the result and the reality and short of a fantastical colour for a fancy dress party I am staying put.


If I said our hair colour defines nothing: That would not be entirely true.


Hair colour, as insignificant as it is in the walk of life, speaks to so much more than its shade. For some grey hair is associated with advancing age but so are many other physical changes; grey hair is possibly the least of our future challenges. The trick is to use the silvers to our advantage and embrace our better, not younger selves. Yes, if you look as gorgeous as Andie McDowell or if the growing out is over and you are sporting a full head of silver streaks, it must be easier.  Arriving here, whoever we are, means we have all thought long and hard.

I do not believe it is easy for anyone. It’s a journey and one we embark on very differently.


Once you are there, what next?

My theory about silver hair is that it is not static.

Daily changes occur as more of the original colour wanes and the pales come in. Then there are the external influences. Air pollutants, sunshine and a host of other conditions depending on where you live will affect the colour. My hair is protected by a mild climate so the amount of silver shampoo I use is infrequent. I use the same shampoo and masque from a French brand for the last 20+ years – having first discovered them on holiday in southern France – and I still like them as much, if not more than ever.


With my extreme stages of hair colouring over the decades, I have tried so many of their products. Good products do make a difference and finding what works for a new head of hair is worth a little experimentation.



Changing the style helps.

Grey hair does not automatically mean an old-fashioned hair-do or very short hair. Embracing our silver locks means it is all possible. Once upon a time very long grey hair was a No-No. Not anymore and just as well as my hair is longer than ever.


I like the contrast between the very long and the lack of colour – it’s unpredictable and that’s how I believe grey works best. Yes, it requires a sharp cut, permanent blow-drying (I wished I had invested in the Dyson when it first came out – a game changer) and excellent condition but when my hair looks its best, I do feel more confident. I haven’t had long hair for many decades – I favoured a short bob in my blonde years – so this is a big change for me and therein lies the answer; change it up. The same can be said for a fabulous crop or layer cut – wear what suits but not what is a habit.



Enjoy the freedom.

There is freedom in leaving the colour behind. Accept the changes and champion the idea to be better, not younger. I promise it is life changing and avoiding tired assumptions is invigorating. The obvious financial reward and time benefits are there but more than that it is the feeling of being proactive about how we look, of not falling for “others opinions” and doing what we want. It is a choice as much to wear the silver, as it is to colour.


The choice is irrelevant as long as it is us who are making it. xv


See THE EDIT here


Must Haves If Going, Going And Gone Grey

shampooing au miel  ||  creme moelle de bambou   ||  masque a la orchidée  ||  travel kit for volume  || silverati shampoo no more yellow


dyson hairdryer for best blow dry ||  tail comb for volume  ||  heated rollers the old fashioned way  ||  jumbo rollers keep the bounce




this feature contains affiliate links

andie mcdowell in cannes via w magazine

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34 Comments

Judy

I love my salt & pepper hair! Letting go of coloring my hair went easily for me. I feel better with my greying hair because it is my way of fully embracing who I am today – a woman of 67, who continues to grow & experience life with awe!

Reply
Phyllis

Thank you for a great series on going grey. Could you remind me of the silver shampoo you prefer. So many are drying or the colour deposits leave a different texture. Thank you.

Reply
Vicki

Thank you Phyllis, I use the Oribe Silverati when I need a silver rinse :) Very little and not too often is how I use it. I have linked it now at the bottom of the post.

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Mary

Wow Vicki, you covered everything regarding going ‘silver’ in all its shades of grey!!!!! Really a great post, and seeing Andie looking so fabulous made my day. She’s a true Southern gal and lived here in the mountains of western North Carolina for many years before moving to LA!
As for my own ‘silver journey’ during these many pandemic months, I’ve finally reached my destination and am happy with the results. It was not easy transitioning from a red-headed classic straight bob, leaving my colorist in the dust (she still cuts me every 5 weeks), and I doubt I could have done it without being in lockdown for so long with nowhere to travel. Being in my late 70’s means my hair is no longer thick so I’m better off with a short cut (longer on top, shorter baseline) especially as I now have waves which I love, and people compliment me on my new look! I have dumped all my electrical hair appliances – I shampoo, condition, add a little mousse and let my hair dry naturally – am ready to go in no time now and hair is in better condition.
Have a great week dear Vicki – your hair is gorgeous too.

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Vicki

Well done, Mary… it does feel like an achievement and it certainly does mean a re-shift! Enjoy your quick and easy… it sounds gorgeous :)

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Rena.spain

I believe it’s a huge relief but I am not ready yet going grey even at age 75 but I adore all women they are
confident to do so and look first of all gorgeous like you Vicky and many other famous and non famous ladies

Reply
Vicki

My mother never went grey, Rena… even at 101! It is not for everybody and if her eyesight had been better, she would not have liked my locks and told me to get to the hairdresser pronto… ;) ;)

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Alexandra

As our little group of women started to grow out our dyes and allow the natural to come through, there were varying levels of acceptance and success. I am blessed with silver white …. As my stylist says “Women pay hundreds to get their hair dyed this colour”. I also have gone down the route of growing my hair. Hubs adores the length and loves how striking the silver is …. He calls me his “Fairy Queen”. And it appears to draw male attention to me again which is very flattering at my age (late 50’s). I say to any woman …. Try it. You may find you love the real you!

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Vicki

I love that Alexandra… Fairy Queen… beautiful :)
I was called “Fairy Floss” as a child by a family friend… that was because my hair was so curly… :) :)

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Gina O

Dyson Air Wrap is a great investment and truly the game changer! I actually look forward to doing my hair. For a super quick blow dry use both of your hairdryers at once to get it almost dry then style with the accessories. Don’t forget to use products while wet to have more hold if you are curling your hair.

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Gina O

Also for those interested in going grey there is a fantastic French colorist who lives in Southern California. He has a healthy method in a slow color correct process for grays. You can find him on Instagram @jackmartincolorist https://www.instagram.com/jackmartincolorist/ My girl friend who lives in Provence was the one who told me about him. She wants to fly to Los Angeles to get his magic!

Reply
Anne

Thank you Vicki for your wonderful description of your own ‘going grey’ journey!! I too have embraced this journey since the first lockdown and I am really happy I’ve stuck with it. Apart from letting go of the constant hair colouring I have experienced a real sense of liberation and in the process found the real me! Gone are the ideas of someone else, gone is the awful blonde out of a bottle and instead I am enjoying this natural me at 68! ❤️ Anne

Reply
Vicki

Yay, Anne… it is about staying with it… not always easy as I found.. but worth it if you get where you want and feel liberated… and so glad you are there :)

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DD (Donna)

Great post Vicki. Actually you were responsible for me “taking the plunge” into the world of grey. I followed your lead during your journey needing the encouragement from your blog to do so! At times I certainly missed my shiny dark brown hair however now embrace my salt and pepper look. At 65 it also assisted my transition into a new phase of my life. Many comment on my pretty natural silver streaks which is always nice to hear. I had long admired the many French women I had noticed in their fifties/sixties with different shades of grey. In my view it is an elegant look as long as one indulges in maintaining it with regular professional blow drys, which I do. Merci for the guidance and nice to have you back with more regular blogs!

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Vicki

Thank you Donna…. trying to find my balance again… in more ways than one :):)

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Jeanne

I had a very short pixie during the lockdown so it was easier to allow the gray hairs to take over. I am a little torn since it is making me look washed out. The grey is not a pretty silvery one. Sitting on the fence…may go your mom’s route. The journey continues.

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Vicki

You will know Jeanne what is right for you.. and besides, nothing is forever… :)

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Liz Klebba

Thank you for sharing, Vickie! I love my grey! The freedom is fabulous. It’s more than freedom from coloring or touch-ups, it’s freedom to be seen as you are. Freedom to not be in hiding. You couldn’t pay me to color again. I might take issue with the “better, not younger” as you phrased it. I don’t think it’s an either/or! ‘ve been told I look younger and more vibrant now with my grey hair. (It better suits my softening complexion.) PS: My hair isn’t grey… It’s pewter with silver and pearl highlights. Think of all the names we have for different shades of brown, blonde or red. Why should we limit grey?

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Susan Orr

I took courage from my mom, who went abruptly grey and eventually went “ beautifully natural “, and died at a lovely glossy white at 94. My nana on my dad’s side, the side I take after, also had lovely thick healthy white hair.
For me it went well, my hair is thick still at 76. So for me the whole process was fabulous! Lots and lots of complements, mostly silver grey and a few odd streaks of white!

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Vicki

Gorgeous Susan… and the great fortune is having thick, healthy hair… it does help with the process Iam certain.

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Ann-Maree

I have followed your journey to silver from the beginning and have like many others been in admiration of your decision and the outcome. For me it’s deciding when to jump! At 59 the grey is gently showing at the front face line but not at all evident at the roots. This leaves me concerned I may end up looking like the butler from The Rocky Horror Picture show if I try to ditch the blonde highlights now as the grey progresses back across my head. I’m pretty sure you won’t ever feature The Butler alongside the beautiful Andie as an icon of envy 😔 x

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Vicki

I am meant to encourage and inspire, Ann-Maree ;) ;)
The growing out is tough but the end justifies the means.. for me .. yours sounds like it will be a very good transition :)

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anitapelayorivera

Good morning Vicki!

I now have a slight streak of silver on either side of my temples. The back of my hair is all black but here is what is changing on an almost daily, if not a weekly basis: I’m going from straight hair to wavy. It has to be a hormone surge because I’ve had straight hair all my life and now? The back of my hair, even after washing it and doing what I’ve done for years to dry it naturally (brush it out in the wind), there is this incessant wave that is such a surprise! I’m embracing it since for years I’ve complained that my hair lacks any sort of body! Who knows what will happen next with my hair but for now, I’m keeping it long (shoulder length) and I’m going to watch and see if I end up with a hair of wavy hair like my mother who said to me once that when she was younger, her hair was straight but after I was born, her hair turned curly!

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Vicki

I have heard of this change… you may be working with a hairdryer in your future, Anita :) It’s the only way I can straighten mine and have always admired those who don’t need to. Or we could embrace our waves?? I am not so good at that!

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Terri Smith

Hi Vicki,
I have been gray for years due to a reaction to hair color which left me no choice. The decision was easy, but the transition was painful. I felt unattractive for many months, but once there I loved the change and the freedom. Now I can’t imagine having it any other way. Could you please expound on why you love the Dyson dryer? Would like some more convincing before making the investment. Thank you, Terri

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Vicki

It’s the way the air blows and directs Terri… and I find it is easier to handle.. personal choice but I do like it.

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Michelle à Détroit

I dunno. I love your hair Vicki, and almost all grey hair, but I prefer grey hair when it is decidedly silver or white. Andie McDowell’s face is still lovely, but the screaming red lipstick and mousey grey hair just look mehhhh to me. The second, more natural looking photo is better. I can see that she is letting herself go grey gradually, and that’s good. I have let a couple of streaks of grey remain in my hair. I am not quite ready to go all in, but I do love those streaks!

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Vicki

It’s difficult to tell with all the different images of her at Cannes.. some are edited in one way and others another.. so her exact colour is hard to see.. I do think she looked fabulous and will only look more so over time. I do love the streaks in grey and especially when very defined.. mine are starting to disappear so who knows what I will think as my hair goes lighter and lighter… it’s on the way though!

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Michelle à Détroit

I figured out what it is about the first photo. It’s the makeup. Bright red lips, lots of blush, and lots of dramatic eye makeup. It’s just too much. I like to wear less obvious makeup as I get older. I’ll still do a dramatic eye for evening, but without blush and with a nude or pale pink lip. I finish with just a tiny bit of all over color to brighten my face.

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Alexandra

Have you seen the recent photos of Sex and the City’s SJP and CN?? They have both allowed their grey to come through for the update …. Yes, they do look their ages but in a very elegant way. I remember once standing at the Chanel counter at Neiman Marcus …. About three yards away stood two women with their backs to me …. Very slim, expensive designer gear, dark hair which was well tended. The Chanel lady whispered …. “Wait until they turn around”. When they did …. Heavy make up trying to cover lines, Botox’d heads, pulled tight face lifts …. At their best in their 70’s ….. And they looked ridiculous. There comes a point where all the work in the world is not going to make you look middle aged when you are old. I tend to view it this way …. Accept your age because you ain’t going to turn back the clock. Pick on just one fabulous asset you have that could still represent a younger version of yourself (in my case, my legs …. But maybe for another lady it could be their hair or face) and play on that but let the sophisticated older you shine in all other things. And always remember that being kind, appreciative, and supportive outshines any external thing.

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Vicki

So beautifully said, Alexandra… and my sentiments exactly… Thank you :)

Reply

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