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The Old Grey Matter

April 18, 2019

The Old Grey Matter

Going grey.

Remember those lines of ladies in salons all getting their purple rinse once their hair had gone grey?  Well in midlife it comes to us all.  Not necessarily the purple rinse, although many of us do seem to be going for a bit more pink these days, but the choice of whether to embrace grey or deny it the light of day and keep going with the full on colour.

The thoughts came to a head (no pun intended) with me when a neighbour told me how thrilled she was with going grey.  "I can't believe I haven't done this before!" she said, "No colour fees, no chemicals, it's fantastic!"

Indeed it was, except that the grey now made her look a lot older - not true for everyone, I grant you, but it did her.  Likewise, the wiry texture of her hair made her hair look unkempt and not in any real style.  I'm sorry, I know how mean this sounds, but there you are.

In Chichester, I'm lucky enough to have the Rush salon owned by Chris Williams, who is International Colour Director at Rush and his salon is multi award-winning, as is he.  He's been my colourist for years so on my latest visit we chatted about midlife hair.

"The challenge with midlife hair isn't so much the colour loss to grey, it's the texture. Hair gets a lot more wiry and this really needs keeping under control if you want to look groomed.  We recommend using not only professional shampoos and conditioners, but a product such as L'Oreal's Smart Bond, which helps repair the broken bonds and make hair smoother.  It's not a conditioner as such, but a repair product that you use once each week."

Ok, so what about colour?

"I would absolutely tell a woman to not go to grey, but then you might think I would because of my job.  Not so.  Think about it, your hair surrounds your face and the colour of your hair will reflect into your skin.  If you have warm, golden tones in your hair your skin looks healthy but if your skin is reflecting off grey hair then it's going to look washed out and sallow.  If you go for grey rethink your make up so that you can bump up the warmth to counteract this."

What about if we go platinum?

"Well, that doesn't suit everyone but again, rethink your make up.  White is pretty unforgiving so be sure before you do it.  Remember all hair in midlife needs a bonding product to help smooth, but otherwise choose colour or not, but remember to rethink you make up."

What about the chemicals?

"Yes, the chemicals do go into the skin, but you have to think about the dosage.  It's not on long, gets washed out and there hasn't been a single case of cancer that has been linked back to hair dye.  Not ever."

That told me.

So what were the purple rinses around (I actually saw one yesterday) in our youth about?

"Funnily enough, purple rinses were an accidental thing.  The setting lotions used in the seventies to create and hold styles with rollers used to get into grey hair and, over time, the hair took the purple colour.  Women then thought it was a thing so started asking for it at their salon.  These days, colour can be much wilder with women asking for all sorts, but warm colours always look best with skin."

What about roots?

"There are loads of touch up products to get through to your next appointment without having grey roots give you away.  L'Oreal do a great range of aerosols, but there are many powders as well, just pick something darker than your colour as hair dark roots will look better than lighter roots."

So, there you have it from one of the UK's top colourists.  If you're in our neck of the woods do go and see him, he's one of the most chilled men I know and a great hair colourist.  Except for the time I went orange.  None of us thought that a good look....

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