You've got maintenance fatigue. You're tired of battling the incoming grays — waiting the requisite 3–4 weeks between coloring, scrambling to cover roots — and have finally decided to really go gray all the way.
My friend Suzanne McGee is frequently caught with a wide stripe of gray surrounding the center part of her thick brown hair.
A recent Facebook update had her lamenting that it would take two years for her to grow out her gray hair completely, so she gave up and gave in to getting yet another dye job.
This is additionally frustrating for her because she's about to start an intense round of interviews and appearances for her new book, Chasing Goldman Sachs: How the Masters of the Universe Melted Wall Street Down…And Why They'll Take Us to the Brink Again (Crown Publishing), out next month.
But hang on. Why so difficult? Just go gray if you want to.
Ah, but it's not that easy, she explained. Or so it was explained to her. Her hairdresser delineated her rather paltry options:
- strip the color out of the hair, which is difficult, time-consuming and the hair ends up a rather unpleasant color; "an icky yellowish tone," according to Suzanne.
- let the gray grow out which means being two-toned for some time — not an option given her book tour. And also, let's face it, who wants to conjure up images of Cruella De Vil while on the way to naturally gray?
- chop it all off.
This last was not appealing to Suzanne either. Although it did explain to me why you see so many gray-haired women with pixie cuts.
"I got my first gray hair at 16," Suzanne said wearily," and I've been actively covering the gray since 30." She now estimates that, at 48, her hair is "roughly 85% gray if left to it's own devices," and she admits to being "fed up with the maintenance."
I turned to hairdresser Philip Pelusi for confirmation of the seemingly insurmountable problem.
Not so, said he! His solution:
Highlighting selected areas of the dyed hair, lifting it to gray tones, while adding darker 'low-lights' to the incoming gray.Thus the line of demarcation is softened, and the process can be continued gradually, until the transformation is complete."
Pelusi stresses that allover gray doesn't look good on everyone. Cool skin tones with blue eyes look great — that's Suzanne!
He also notes that lightening up with blond hues can be a good option for certain coloring, to cope with increasing incoming gray. "'Mousy' browns and faded redheads will benefit from what we call a demi rinse," Pelusi explains. "Somewhere between a stain and rinse; this stains the gray hair blond, almost like you'd use highlights at the crown and around the face." This is especially good for brown-eyed, warm-complected women.
And contrary to popular belief, gray hair for women of color also varies with the tone of their skin, Pelusi says. "Some have ash tones and some warmer tones. Gray hair generally looks better with ash skin tones."
Regarding the pixie cut, he advises caution; it can look quite severe on some people, especially larger women, he notes. Neck size, face structure and body shape all need to be considered. "Sometimes when solving a hair problem, we forget there's a person attached — their individual traits must be taken into account." A short bob can work, he suggests, leaving the hair longer and softer.
If you're bent on going gray, there's always a way — just choose the best way for you.