Recently, there has been an explosion of women that are ditching the dye and letting Mother Nature take her course. The number of Silver Sisters out there is growing by the day. What is driving this trend and how do you join in?
My Personal Journey
This topic is one that I have a personal interest in as I stopped dyeing my hair over five years ago. My reasons for this radical change were many in number and had built over years of being trapped in the never-ending cycle of dye hair, roots grow, dye hair, roots grow etc... It felt like I was climbing a greasy pole and I just finally got tired of it.
Being of Italian origin my hair is dark brown and just days after a fresh dye the white hairs would pop against the dark dye and honestly most of the time, I had root growth that I felt was impossible to stay on top of.
After fifteen years of colouring, my hair was not in the best condition and had lost its shine and all evidence of my multi tonal conker brown natural hair colour had been eroded and replaced with a dull block of colour that just left me looking drained.
I thought why not just give in to what nature intended and see how it goes? I have nothing to lose. I can always dye it again and in the meantime, I will save some money and time.
Five years later and I have not looked back, I am not going to say that the transition was without any down days. Many times, I felt insecure and felt like succumbing to buying a pack of home dye. The half dyed, half natural look was not one of my best but now I'm over the hump and I have long, thick healthy hair which I love!
Lockdown has powered the trend
A major factor in ladies 'embracing the grey', one of my favourite Instagrammers, is that over the past year due to Lockdown restrictions hair salons have been shut so people could not attend to their highlights, lowlights, roots, etc. Here was a chance to just go for it. There was no-where to go, most people were working via Zoom, so why not? Just leave it a while and see what happens. After a few months, lots of women liked the results and decided to stick with it.
The winning combination of freedom from the pressure of re-growth, money/time saved not to mention added benefits to the environment and personal health due to reduction in chemicals, were all big contributing factors to women all over the world giving up on hiding their grey hairs.
Women everywhere found the confidence to be natural and authentic, not tied to constraints and stereotypes that if you had greys showing you had let yourself go or were over the age of 65. The belief that beauty is from within was galvanised by the freedom to let go of societal norms that perpetuate that only old women have silver, grey or white hair.
In fact, surveys show that most people that have greying hair found their first white hair in their late teens or early twenties, which is also the case for me. So, we are not exactly pensioners, nor anywhere close. It is estimated that up to 80% of women colour their hair. So over time the more people that go natural this myth will be further eroded as we see that in truth lots of young people see greys in their hairlines. It is no more than a natural human process, some people will never go grey, yet others will be totally white by 25. Overall, most people fall somewhere in between the two.
Gray is the New Blond.
There is a great documentary to rent on Amazon Prime at the moment called ‘Gray is the New Blond’. It is directed by Victoria Marie, an actress and film director. She interviews loads of gorgeous silver grey hair gals about their personal journeys relating to how they have been received in the world. It explores the myths surrounding grey hair and how they are fast becoming outdated. It is worth watching if you are contemplating making the change or if you are having a down day and thinking about giving in. Seeing other women's experiences gives us all a boost to know that there are like-minded ladies on the same page.
The chart above shows what hair colour is considered ideal for men and women when thinking of beauty. The vast majority of people have no opinion on how hair colour impacts on beauty.
Why does hair go grey?
That are lots of old wives tales about why hair loses its colour. The main reason is genetics, chances are if one of your parents has white or grey hair you will too. The physiology behind it is simply that the hair follicle pigment cells, that produce melanin start to die, and the colour is gone.
A lot of people ask, 'does stress cause grey hair?' The simple answer to this is a resounding NO.
Often when the hair goes white the texture can also change. Some people's hair may thin slightly or become wirier. The best way to combat this is to use a good conditioner, I use a purple conditioner, John Frieda Shimmering Silver Conditioner is a very good option, once a week to keep my white hair bright and smooth, also now I must always blow dry my hair after washing to maintain the unruly greys that can pop up and look untidy.
Positive Reasons to Transition to Natural Hair
In my opinion there are many positive reasons to ditch the dye. To begin with, it is so time-consuming, when the white hair gets plentiful you can get into the pattern of doing your roots every six weeks or so. Then there is the cost, trips to the salon are not cheap, and even home dye kits rack up over the years.
There are health benefits, not only to the health of your hair which will be become thicker and less brittle and dry. There are also issues to consider about the chemicals you are being exposed to when using hair dye. Your skin absorbs anything that is applied to it so applying less by way of chemical hair dyes you are lessening toxicity in your body.
Most women look better with their natural colour. When surfing Insta and Facebook groups about us silver haired ladies, I like to see the before and after photos. All women look fresher and younger with their natural hair colour. After years of colouring the hair becomes so overdyed and the build-up just looks unnatural, you are left with a colour that is draining and very heavy.
The Best Ways to Transition
For my change over from dark brown dye to salt and pepper natural, I took the long road. I got a short bob and then just waited for my hair to grow and kept trimming off a couple of inches every six months. It took almost two years to fully grow out.
If you want something more instant then opt for a pixie cut, I have even seen women that have got out the clippers and done a buzz cut! Cutting your hair short will be the quickest route but if that is not for you then play around with scarves, hats or headbands to get you through the regrowth phase.
Pay your hair stylist a visit and discuss what suits you best, they can offer advice on getting some highlights or lowlights to blend in the natural strands of silver and white while you give your hair time to grow.
The main thing to remember if you do decide to embark on the journey to becoming a silver sister is patience. It takes time for your hair to grow, and it will also take some time for your mind to grow and adjust to your new hair colour and all that comes with it.
When you are bucking a trend you need to develop a bit of a thick skin. I have had many well-meaning friends and family offer their not too kind opinions on my decision to allow my hair to grey naturally. Honestly, it is no one's business but your own and there are certainly more important issues to worry about.
Social Media & Celebrities that are Celebrating the Grey.
If you need some inspiration, there are lots of people and groups on social media that are promoting women of the world to adopt a natural hair colour and tons of women are uploading their transition and gloriously grey photos. These lovely ladies are a great support, and it is so positive to read about how others have arrived at this place in their lives.
Many female celebrities are letting their silver's shine as well. Lots of glamorous actresses such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Helen Mirren, Andi McDowall, Blythe Danner, Dame Judi Dench, Myrel Streep and Diane Keaton to name a few have all rocked great silvery do's.
Lately on Instagram many younger celebrities, Lily Allen, Salma Hayek, Cate Blanchett and others have posted pics of their greys poking through. Many may not choose to keep them, but it is still a positive step that they are not feeling the need to hide the fact they exist.
To Grey or not to Grey?
If you are thinking about taking the plunge into the world of letting your natural hair shine through, then that is the first step. Many women, my past-self included, cannot even contemplate letting their roots grow out and find the thought abhorrent. That is okay, everyone has their own preferences, and allowing your hair to grey is not for everyone. However, the time has come when younger women can let their natural hair reign free and not feel obliged to dye their hair to fit an outdated beauty construct.