By Fiona Ingham, consultant of House of Color
‘Silver vixens’ has slipped into the language, describing the phenomenon of high profile women choosing to embrace their silver hair. ‘Going Gray’, Anne Kreamer’s 2006 book, noted the start of a trend where more women felt increasingly able to decide not to color gray or already fully silver hair. About time too!
Maybe times now really are a-changing, with role models such as Helen Mirren, Judy Dench, Emmylou Harris, Annie Lennox, Theresa May, Joan Baez and Condoleeza Rice embracing this trend of making the most of gray hair. Meryl Streep looked stunning with white hair in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and I certainly know several far younger women looking wonderful with natural white hair.
In her autobiography, the model Daphne Selfe describes her amazement at the increase in work offered after her hair went gray. Vogue, amongst other fashion publications, now have more fabulous models with hair ranging from iron grey to pure white and it’s noticeable that many young women are choosing to make their hair gray.
A Colour Analysis class introduces the idea that cool skin tones – Winters and Summers – however pale or dark the skin, can go silver beautifully. A school friend of mine who now knows she is a Summer, let her hair go gray from the age of seventeen, so has spent a lifetime explaining that her envied platinum locks are natural!
If cool skinned women choose to color their graying hair, it does require expertise to avoid the introduction of too much warmth – orange or yellow – because this may wash out the coloring, whereas ash brown or ash blonde tones can work well.
Keeping the hair extremely dark looks great with certain colorings as we age, but sometimes the look starts to become rather harsh. Silver around the face, contrasted with dark at the back can be a successful option for a dramatic look. Hair mascaras to touch up roots are well worth investigating if color is being added, to help with the problem of a white parting between color applications.
Over twenty years ago I had my Colors analysed and was surprised to discover that I had warm skin tones and was a soft Autumn. Later, when greyness raised its unwelcome head, I followed the excellent advice from my Color Analysis session, which was to add color, in my case a warm blonde.
Eventually when my hair changed from having a sprinkling of silver threads amongst the gold, to gray, then to white I found that expensive, time consuming highlights started to be invisible or look harsh and the Balayage technique was unsuitable for my short crop. Inexpensive wash in – wash out rinses at first gave a nice hint of gold until they began to irritate my scalp.
So unlike many warm based women who successfully choose to continue to add color, I decided enough was definitely enough, that I would ‘do a Lagarde’, save time and money and go au naturel! I’m enjoying it!
I’m increasingly aware from my own experience and working with clients that going white gracefully is about paying even more attention to a flattering, regular cut. Hair might have thinned or the texture changed so it can be an excellent time to review length and possibly consider a new style.
It can pay dividends to consider new ways to wear gray hair. The brilliant specialist products around make a huge difference to texture, volume and sheen, so are well worth checking out.
The make-up worn will also need a review. For example my warm toned peach blusher now needs to be more strongly applied and a bronzer is invaluable to add good color.
Contrast in our coloring, whatever that may be, makes us to look good and contrast tends to diminish as we grow older, so a vibrant lipstick suited to our individual skintones can be our greatest ally. This suggestion often comes as a huge surprise to clients who expect that a paler shade of lipstick will work better as they age or their hair goes grey.
A whiter shade of pale on the lips, be it pink or peach is best left to the young or maybe enjoyed at a sixties themed party! A warning! Do beware of that allegedly one size fits all, soft brownish pink, almost invisible lipstick (often given as a free sample!) which in my experience is the default choice of the British woman unsure about what truly suits them!
If you feel you look drab with silver hair it’s often just a matter of revamping the total image. How best to work our style, colors and the trends which work for us does change over time, so a wardrobe review and detox can work wonders!
If your choice is to go gorgeously gray, you have the most wonderful opportunity to have fun, project your individuality, find new ways to wear your gray hair and enjoy what works best for you in the current fashion climate.
Fiona Ingham has been a House of Colour Star Consultant since 1991, helping people identify which colours and styles of clothing flatter their individuality. Fiona’s sessions are informative, enjoyable and fun. Her philosophy is – whatever your gender, colouring, age, shape or budget, finding your personal colour and style, and developing your personal brand, will save money and time, and make you look and feel great. She’s recently become a style writer for Turkish Airlines Skylife magazine. For information about Colour Analysis and Personal style sessions contact fiona.ingham@house of colour.co.uk.