Deciding to “Go Gray” – A Matter of Personal Choice

Vicki Lawrence as “Mama”
Most women reach a point in their lives where they are faced with a decision about how to deal with graying hair. For many, there’s really nothing to think about. The’ll cover it. Others wrestle with an unwillingness to be a slave to hair color maintentance costs; a desire to be honest in their appearance; or a fear that somehow using hair color products may be unhealthy.
If gray hair makes you feel in any way “less”…..less attractive, less confident, less yourself…..then by all means color it. The only decisions you’ll need to make after that is how and what color. The easiest way is to have a salon do it for you. They can see the top and back of your head better than you can. They do the messy work and you go home with fresh color that will last you 4 to 6 weeks if you are lucky. But you will also spend anywhere from $35 to $200 every time you do it. For some that’s no problem and well worth it. For others this is an unwelcome financial burden. Even for professionals, coloring with red tones can be very challenging as your percentage of gray goes beyond 50%. The grow-out (root area) on graying dark hair is quickly very visible. There are root touch up products that can help the home colorer with that problem. There are also root touch up sticks that work reasonably well in a pinch.
Coloring your own hair has some limitations but saves a bundle of money. Today, home hair color products are essentially as good as those used in salons. For those bent on having a natural looking range of shades on their head, salon coloring is the way to go. There are drugstore kits designed to produce two toned hair but they never look quite as good as a salon job and the process is challenging to the average home colorer. Most home hair coloring that is described on the box as “permanent” will produce the same color all over the head. Home colors that are deemed “semi’permanent” can produce a variation of color because it may ‘take’ differently on your gray and colored hairs. But it is less stable than permanent color. It lightens or changes as it washes out little by little with each shampoo.
So if you’re ready to say “I’m done coloring my hair” my best advice is to make sure that you have your hair cut and styled to look very current. Avoid any style that looks too round. Does anyone remember the character played by Vicki Lawrence on the old Carol Brunette show seen in the photo above? She played Carol’s mother. Vicki’s face was so young that stylists had her wear a rounded “bubble” shaped gray wig to try to make her look older.
Long gray hair is rarely a great look although I have seen a few
exceptions. In those cases the hair was still quite thick. Long thin gray hair is aging. If yours is not thick, look for a mid to short length style that looks fresh and contemporary. Possibly even a bit avant garde like an asymetrical or spikey cut. Or wear a classic all-one-length ‘bob’ if your hair is smooth and your head well shaped. While this is not necessarily a modern look, it never looks dated because it is a timeless classic.
Gray hair need not make you look or feel old and deciding to go gray can be a liberating step. Deciding to go gray after coloring for many years will likely require you to adjust your wardrobe and makeup colors. Your palette will need to be tweaked once you have made the transition. Some colors that worked well for you before won’t be as good with your gray hair. Other colors may be added to your palette. The whole palette may require a shift in temperature or intensity. You will want to wear the colors because they will show your new gray hair color in a positive beautiful light.


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