From Lady Gaga and Salma Hayek to Ariana Grande, grey hair is officially on trend. But how do you recreate the grey look or make the most of it if you are going grey? Vogue speaks to the experts about how best to maintain grey hair
Society has historically put a premium on youth. Going grey was a symbol of advanced age and “letting go”, but now the stigma that comes with silver strands is rapidly fading away—and embracing a natural pewter palette no longer implies that someone has “given up”, but instead is making a statement of confidence and ownership. “Growing up, my grandma used to go have her hair shampooed and set every week, and every four weeks she’d have her hair coloured,” Josh Wood, founder and CEO of Josh Wood Colour and Redken global colour creative director tells Vogue. “It became almost like a utility to her, this idea of covering grey hair. I think today that is such an old-fashioned concept. The idea of completely blanketing out the grey hair denies one’s personality.”
The natural process of “greying” is down to genetics. Genes determine the speed of melanin production—the pigment that colours hair—in the body. Although melanin production generally slows down with age, going grey can happen at any time. The rise in inclusive and age-positive casting across the beauty and fashion industries has seen more individuals embracing their natural grey like never before. Recall Jan de Villeneuve rocking her natural silver tones on the London Fashion Week catwalks in February 2017, or Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons SS19 show which included a lineup of grey-haired models. Add to that the popularity of ashy tones on the red carpet, with more and more individuals adopting the colour as a striking beauty statement—think Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, various Kardashians, and big- and small-screen heroines, like Salma Hayek in The Hummingbird Project and Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones.
Then there’s the rise of social media, where women of all ages can proudly share their silver stories. On Instagram, #greyhair has 1.7m posts and #silverhair has 1.6m posts. Pinterest, too, reported an 879 per cent increase in searches for “going grey”, citing a surge in users who are growing out their natural grey hair and “letting their silver shine through”, rather than covering it up with dyes and touch-ups. “Social media has definitely played a role in the rise of grey hair,” says Tracey Cunningham, Redken brand ambassador and celebrity hair colourist to the likes of Charlize Theron, Drew Barrymore and Jessica Biel. “I also think we have seen so many platinum blondes lately, so grey was the next trend for people to easily play with.” Siobhan Jones, L’Oréal Professionnel guest artist and Rose & Wild Hair owner and creative director, agrees. “Social media is huge and I think we’re more aware of trends from all around the globe today,” she says, citing hair colour as a method of control in the current uneasy political and economic climate. “People want to push the boundaries more today than they did a few years ago. I think now people are definitely open to change and [willing to] play around with tone more.” L’Oréal even named silver hair colour of the year for 2019. Whether you are embracing your natural hair colour or diving into 2019’s biggest hair colour trend, Vogue gets the insider tips on going grey.
“Grey doesn’t suit everyone,” warns Wood for a start. “Some people can’t wear grey clothes because it makes them look dead. It’s the same with hair.” If grey isn’t a colour that you are comfortable with wearing as part of your wardrobe, you perhaps should not consider it for your hair either. “If you’re naturally going grey and want to embrace it, I require that my clients grow out their existing hair colour to a certain extent before committing to the look all over, so they must be OK with this transition period,” says Cunningham.