Yes you can ditch the dye and still look chic

Hannah Betts’s Better…not younger: Yes you can ditch the dye and still look chic

  • Hannah Betts reveals that Sarah Jessica Parker, 57, has asked that the world stops referring to her as ‘brave’ for sporting (partly) grey hair
  • SJP is not the only high-profile woman who has championed a ‘grey hair, don’t care’ attitude, others include Dawn French and Andie MacDowell
  • If women can be honest about hot flushes they can be honest about their greys

Sex And The City star Sarah Jessica Parker, 57, has asked that the world stops referring to her as ‘brave’ for sporting (partly) grey hair. 

The actress remarked: ‘I can’t spend time getting base colour every two weeks. Can’t do it. Nope. Too much,’ noting that no one makes a fuss about the whole head of grey belonging to her friend Andy Cohen, a male U.S. talk show host. 

SJP is not the only high-profile woman who has championed a ‘grey hair, don’t care’ attitude. Dawn French, Andie MacDowell, Salma Hayek, Helen Mirren, Jamie Lee Curtis, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep have all released their grip on the dye bottle — and look all the more spectacular for it. 

It was baby boomers who gave society its fixation with greydodging. The post-war generation sought to be forever young, and it did so strand by faux-pigmented strand. As the late Nora Ephron wisecracked: ‘There is a reason why 40, 50 and 60 don’t look the way they used to, and it’s not because of feminism… It’s because of hair dye.’ 

High-profile woman who have championed a ‘grey hair, don’t care’ attitude include Dawn French, Andie MacDowell, Salma Hayek, Helen Mirren, Jamie Lee Curtis, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep

Now, as Gen X beds into its 50s, there is a lot more silver about. Did lockdown kill off the root touch-up? Dry-cut hairdressing genius Michael Van Clarke thinks so. 

‘The pandemic taught us that we didn’t have to hit every grey with peroxide,’ he tells me. 

‘Instead, women are starting to cultivate a more natural palette, where 50 per cent of the hair might be kept virgin, with a positive impact on texture. Ironically, embracing some grey is a lot less ageing than the old harsh blocks of colour.’

Another irony is that men appear to be dyeing more as women do it less, with both genders meeting in a middle ground of ‘blending’ rather than whole-head tinting. The colour then fades as it grows out, rather than leaving a telltale demarcation line. 

Hannah Betts, pictured, says that if women can be honest about hot flushes then they should be honest about their grey hairs 

For my money, this relaxing of our regimes has also been spurred by a greater acceptance of ageing in general, not least the menopausal years. 

If fifty-somethings can be honest about their hot flushes, then they can be honest about the salt-and-pepper streaks that come with them. 

Over at Josh Wood’s atelier, colour queen Veronica Wysocka tells me: ‘We’re having this conversation in the salon on a daily basis. It’s no longer even about whether grey is cool or not, but why we as women feel we have to colour. We’ve been sold a line that hiding your grey is about not giving up on yourself, not letting yourself go. But it takes huge time and effort, while regrowth can make you look bald.’ 

These days, it’s 50/50 as to whether Josh Wood’s clients want to conceal their silver — and that’s at a salon globally renowned for its colour. 

A lot of blondes are doing an SJP and adding highlights but not a base tint, ending up ‘gronde’, or grey – blonde. In the case of brunettes, they tend not to fake their former shade, as this often results in blocky bands of regrowth and stark contrast at the roots. 

Rather, they’ll go a bit lighter, then work in highlights and lowlights (a darker base colour) to create a natural-looking range of hues, with an element of silver included. 

Both methods for each hair colour are designed to grow out and evolve. 

This will always give you a fresher look than if you cling to the past, like some retro drag act of one’s younger self. 

Grey hair can feel parched. ‘Without pigment, the analogy would be an empty straw,’ says Veronica. Moisture is key to looking luxe. 

She rates the Redken Color Extend Graydiant Shampoo (now £17.55 for 300ml, look fantastic.com) and Conditioner (now £19.35 for 300ml), which neutralises yellow undertones. 

She also loves the Josh Wood range, telling me: ‘[Ultra luxe haircare brand] Oribe is good if you want an expensive treat, such as Oribe Gold Lust Repair And Restore Shampoo (£50 for 250ml, spacenk.com). But, genuinely, I’m happier using our Josh Wood Colour Miracle Mask (£19, boots.com) and Blonde Gloss (£19), in Champagne for warm tones and Icy Blonde for cool.’ 

I may not be a silver sophisticate yet, but these days I’m actively looking forward.

RACE YOU TO IT 

Jessica Alba, 41, posted a photo online of her face covered in dots of Honest Beauty Creme Cheek Blush (£17, lookfantastic.com), a blendable, two-in-one cheek and lip colour, causing sales to go wild. The actress raved: ‘Not only is it quick ’n’ easy, but the final natural and dewy look is a vibe.’ It comes in four punchy shades. 

lookfantastic.com 

MY ICON OF THE WEEK

SUSANNA REID  

Susanna Reid, 51, (pictured) rates Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturiser SPF 30 and Lancome mascara 

The 51-year-old news anchor has a weekly spray tan and a root touch-up every fortnight. Make-up is her TV ‘armour’, and she rates Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturiser SPF 30 (£30, boots.com) and Lancome mascara (from £23, lancome.co.uk). She also gave up drinking in 2019 to improve her skin. 

FIVE BEST BEAUTY OILS

De Mamiel has season-specific oils. This one calms irritation and protects against heat and light. 

demamiel.com 

This powerful, shine-inducing formula is designed for hair that is finer or lighter. 

moroccanoil.com 

Repair dry skin with this oat and jojoba oil spray. It’s rich in lipids and fatty acids to restore the skin barrier. 

boots.com 

Cult shimmery dry oil with a summery orange blossom, rose, lily and vanilla aroma. 

lookfantastic.com 

This oil reduces ingrown hairs, scars, stretch marks and dark spots. It’s gentle enough for use on post-wax bikini areas, too. 

unfabled.co 

COSMETIC CRAVING 

There are women who crave the scent of coconut and glimmer of gold on bare skin come summer. 

Well, the Glossybox x The Flat Lay Co. Summer Bag (£35 for subscribers; £45 for non-subscribers, glossybox.co.uk) — a palmprint bag with 12 summer hits worth more than £125 — is sure to please them. It features products by the likes of Lancaster, Laura Mercier, Bondi Sands, Hawaiian Tropic, Glamglow, Manucurist, Frank Body and Forest Essentials. 

I’m loving experimenting with its Pro White Teeth Kits Whitening Pen, too. 

glossybox.co.uk 

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