Does She or Doesn’t She…

September 9, 2010

Do you remember that Clairol advertisement?  “Does she or doesn’t she?  Only her hairdresser knows for sure!” If you remember that, chances are good that you’re old enough to have considered the dilemma of whether to dye your hair or let it go naturally gray.  (And, if you are someone who is over 50 and only has a handful of gray hairs then count yourself lucky!  You’re off the hook from making this decision (and you just saved countless dollars and hours at the hairdresser!))

I’ve known women (and men (my youngest brother, for one)) who have started graying in their late teens or early 20’s, and I know women (my partner, actually) who even in their mid-fifties and beyond only have a smattering of grays – most of which are nearly imperceptible.  And, then I have many clients and friends who ask me regularly over months or years if it is time to start coloring their hair (they trust me to tell them).  (I’m a big proponent of keeping your natural hair color as long as possible…and sometimes forever.)

Because we live in an in-your-face, youth-obsessed culture, it is no surprise that whether to go gray or not is a question many of us do not take lightly. We’ve all heard about how gray hair “ages” a woman but a man looks “distinguished.”  No wonder women’s confidence and self-esteem often suffer as she gets older!

I, on the other hand, pretty much nixed the idea of graying about 40 years ago while still in my mid-teens.  My sister (who is also a redhead) and I made a pact, after seeing my redheaded grandmother turn a blah, faded shade of yellow for a long time before it turned pure white, that we would always be redheads. That’s easier said than done when it comes to red hair (just think how many pink or lavender haired ladies you’ve seen out there!).  Thankfully, I have a fabulous colorist who keeps my hair from turning unnatural shades of red.

So all this is leading up to the point that gray hair can be strikingly beautiful, and it can also be extremely aging.  The key is to treat it as a fashion accessory (which our hair actually is) from day one.

If your goal is to let your hair gray naturally, and you still want to feel fresh, youthful and stylish (whatever that means to you), then there are 3 things to keep in mind:

  1. Get a fabulous haircut. No straggly ends, and no blah, non-descript styles.  I find that a lot of women who let their hair go salt and pepper have thick, coarse, wavy hair and for sure that helps right off the bat.  But, if yours is none of those things you can still have fabulous gray hair just be sure you keep it well-shaped and well-groomed.
  2. Only wear your best colors. I am a color fanatic (I’m referring here to the color clothing you wear) no matter what age you are.  And, with good reason…as we get older it becomes even more important since color is extremely powerful.  Unflattering colors can make you look pale or faded, overwhelm you, or highlight lines and shadows (not usually our preference).  When you let your hair go gray it is even more important that you wear colors (and no, they are not the same colors you could wear 20 years ago!) that absolutely support your natural coloring including your gray hair.  Without exception, it makes a huge, huge difference.
  3. Dress your personality not your age. This, again, is something I work with all my clients on no matter what their age (that’s the aligning inner and outer beauty part of all my programs), but it becomes even more valuable the older we get.  Too many women give up and dress for “comfort” alone.  This often means shapeless, unflattering styles.  No, no, no!  While it might take a tad more focus to find what you want to wear to feel terrific, it is out there.  I have clients who are 75-80+ years old who have fabulous wardrobes and look beautiful (and comfortable!) every day.  It is a matter of learning about yourself, your body, your lifestyle and resources that will support all of that.

Can I add one more thing?  Stop comparing yourself to women who are 25 or 30 years old (even if you are 25 or 30 years old!!) (and count yourself lucky if this has never been a concern for you).  We have a tendency to look at other women and see how we measure up in comparison.  Believe me, I know (I can remember sitting on the beach as a very young woman wishing I had the nice straight, tanned legs of the other women walking by).  It’s a no-win and too often leaves you feeling less-than!

Embrace your individuality – that wonderful spark inside you that makes you who you are.  Perhaps part of what makes you YOU is your decision to go gray.  If so, rejoice and enjoy it!

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