Just when you thought you knew your hair, it turns on you. Gray happens, and the style you always favored, and the colors you wore, suddenly need rethinking. Even your hair’s texture can change. But disconcerting as those first gray hairs may be, graying can be an opportunity to fashion a whole new you.
As silver strands increase, your appearance is changing. What direction do you want to go in? And what will your decision mean in terms of ongoing hair care and your personal image? The options are many, says Canyon Ranch hairstylist David Zaragoza, and the good news is that you have more choices for lovely locks than ever before.
Is color right for me?
Many people – men as well as women – prefer to color their hair because it’s more flattering or they simply don’t want to look older, says David. Others elect to go gray naturally. If you’re undecided, go to a stylist for a consultation. Some people who decide to go with color prefer to leave a little gray for a more natural look, he says.
One way to determine how your coiffure would look au naturel is to try on wigs in the same shade as your gray strands. Take into account your skin and eye color. Gray may set them off in a whole new way, or it may tend to wash you out. Platinum can be flattering with most skin types, even at an early age, says David. On the other hand, “A dull gray can be very unflattering no matter what your age.”
As your body chemistry changes with age, your hair’s behavior and texture may alter too. It may become duller, thinner, or even wavier. “Graying hair changes texture because it loses its pigment,” says David. “It may coarsen, or become more unruly.”
Dye coats the hair, and may actually make it more manageable. “Fine hair may even become fuller, as the hair color penetrates the hair shaft, plumping up the hair.”
Is your natural hair color dark or light? Either way, you have several coloring choices, says David. For naturally dark hair, “If you don’t have much gray, having your stylist weave in more of the natural color with foil to cover some or all of the gray is a good option; and it has the advantage that it leaves no line of demarcation.” People with naturally blond hair can blend in some of the gray with highlights, or cover it by weaving in some lowlights.
If you have more gray and want to keep your natural look, try covering it up completely using a semi-permanent color that’s close to your natural look. “Usually your stylist will recommend using a permanent color only if the semi-permanent product is no longer covering the gray” says David. “Be guided by a professional – every situation is different.”
Safer than ever
oday’s hair color is safe and more environmentally friendly than it was 15 to 20 years ago, he says. “In the past, hair coloring products contained a high volume of peroxide mixed with ammonia, which damages hair and can adversely affect the lungs when breathed in frequently. They also contained bleach, which is known to damage the hair and dry the scalp. Now, most salons, including Canyon Ranch, are committed to using products that are safe.”
It’s preferable to leave hair coloring to an experienced stylist, David advises. “Attempting to color your own hair can be a catastrophe waiting to happen.” For instance, he says, “putting brown on blond hair can result in an ash-green effect.”
Going lighter than your natural color is a harsher process than darkening it, so if you do go blonde, ask your stylist to recommend a reconstructor to counteract the loss of protein and moisture from your hair. Whatever your color choice, keep hair healthy by using a good, acid-balanced shampoo and a conditioner between treatments.
Be adventurous. Brightening your brown hair to a coppery shade may lend a more vibrant look – you might shop for sweaters or blouses in colors, such as teal or gorgeous greens, to complement your new look. If you decide instead to embrace the gray, revel in a whole new range of color choices to set off your chic silver mane. This is a good time to experiment with new styles – maybe a sleek bob or a terrific crop. So make way for the new you; you’ll feel better than ever – and look mah-vellous!