I’m Getting Older. Should I Lighten My Hair?

Almost every magazine article or beauty book I’ve ever read on the subject of hair coloring as a woman matures has advised women to lighten their hair or at the very least….to add highlights. It would seem that it’s some kind of golden rule that applies to all women. But my experience as a color consultant has shown me that this is not a rule that should be followed by ALL women. Those who have coloring that is defined by the sharp contrast between their dark hair and light skin color seem to lose their impact when the hair is lightened. Granted, their skin will suddenly look a bit darker, less pale by comparison when their hair is lightened, but the end result is not always an improvement and I believe that women with darker hair and light skin should not blindly follow this rule.  I think there is a tipping point. A point where the woman of contrast has about 75% gray in her natural color where lightening the hair will be a necessary step. Attempting to keep dark a head of hair that is primarily light (gray) will become a difficult challenge as root grow out will be very pronounced.

An excellent example of this is Elizabeth Taylor. When Liz decided to go blonde the results were less than flattering. That being said, I do think that the woman of high value contrast and in fact ALL women should be extremely careful not to darken their hair as they age. Not even a little bit. And that can happen even when she attempts to simply maintain her natural color. A buildup of hair color can unintentionally result in a darker shade. Salons using Aveda hair color products will often avoid this calamity by using a colorless shine product on the ends of hair to avoid coloring hair that has already been colored. The problems start when hair color is “pulled through” to the ends during the last phase of the color process depositing color on top of already colored hair. This is only necessary if the ends have bleached out somehow. Perhaps by spending 2 weeks on the beach in Cancun with no sun hat on.

Remember, my opinion that a woman should not necessarily lighten her hair with age is confined to the high contrast woman. She has dark hair and light skin. And this warning to avoid lightening is not indefinite. There will be a point when her natural color has become predominantly gray and at that time a light hair color will become more compatible with her changing skin tone.

The best highlight for a high contrast woman is a high contrast highlight. I leave you with this picture of Liz as an example.


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