How to Choose a Hair Colour as You Age

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Question:  In one of your posts, you talked about our coloring changing as we age. This is true for me, when considering covering my newly multiplying grey hairs I put some streaks in my hair but now even the streaks aren’t giving the blended coverage I was hoping for. so it is time to tint my hair. What considerations should I make in selecting a hair color, should I go a little warmer (some people suggest warmer colors are more flattering as we age), or stick to my natural color ( some people say to go lighter to soften your appearance). What tips can you give us?

 

Always Stick with Your Natural Undertone

Yes you’ll read that you should go warm with age, but if you have cool skin, don’t!  I have no idea why that information is out there, but it really doesn’t work and can make you look pink and flushed.

Make sure whatever colour you choose works with your undertone.  If you have had a recent personal colour analysis and have a colour swatch, then make sure the colour you’re proposing goes with it.  If it doesn’t it won’t look good next to your face!

 

Lighten up

As hair greys and goes whiter, it’s lightening up, so rather than dying it really dark, which can look “witchy” and harsh, instead start lightening the colour up.

Highlights work better on those with warm undertones.

Cools look better with a block cool colour as it’s very hard to maintain cool highlights without them going brassy and warm.  If you don’t want to block colour, then maybe it’s time to rock the silver!

 how to choose a hair colour as you age

Consider Your Eyebrows

If your eyebrows are still dark – then you’re most likely to still suit a darker hair colour.  You may want to lighten up your hair colour a shade or two, but keep it darker.

If you have a warm undertone, you can start adding highlights to blend the grey away at any stage you like.

If you have a cool undertone, it’s very hard to dye hair that is less than 80% silver to a good cool light blonde.

If your eyebrows have faded, this could be a good indicator that it’s time to embrace the fair side.

 

Use Hair Colour Samples to See How they Look On Your Skin

Watch the demonstration in the video – it’s easy to see just what does and doesn’t look good on your skin, and it’s really important, as your hair surrounds your face, an unflattering colour will either wash you out or make you look ruddy, or will just look like a bad wig.  I’m sure you’re not keen on any of these outcomes.

Place the hair colour swatches against your forehead and see if they look natural or unrelated to your face.  You ideally don’t want a colour that is the focus, but something that harmonises.

More Tips on Choosing Hair Colours

Choosing the right blonde

Tips for going grey

How to know if your hair colour is wrong

How to decide if you should have block colour or highlights

Choosing hair colours and hair styles

How to choose a flattering hair colour

You can read about my transformation from brunette to blonde part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4

 

7 steps to colour and style

 

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9 Comments

  • Hi Imogen,
    This is a great post, full of useful information as usual.
    At some stage, could you please do a post on how you should deal with your hair going silver or white when it comes to your wardrobe? Since my own colouring has moved to lighter, cooler and softer, I have struggled with getting my contrast and colours right. In particular, how to create interesting outfits that flatter my new light dominated colouring without looking washed out.
    Most colour advice seems to be that as you age you should embrace the smokier tones of your palette colours, but I find tints look better with my new silver/ash/white hair. Could you please talk a little about how to use tints and emphasise lighter colours in your wardrobe in a sophisticated way. I don’t want to end up looking like a ‘nanna’ dressed only in lavender and baby blue!
    Many thanks, Jenny.

    • If your hair is more white – then go more with tints, if it’s more grey, then go with the smokier tones. This is where getting a new colour analysis can come into the picture as skin may also have an influence on this as well.

  • Hi Imogen
    In my case I’ve had white for years – and to cover them up I use henna. One every 3 or 4 weeks I mix powder henna and water or sometimes oil, let it sit and then apply it. The henna covers only my whites so it works and most people compliment me on the red highlights 😉 The only downside is that henna will dry your hair. Mine is oily so its not that bad.

  • Hi Imogen,
    How does contrast change when hair that once was black turn white in a 60% but the eyebrows remain black? my skin is a light beige and when I was young there was a good contrast between hair and skin. Now due to the whitening I decided to try highlights, yet I am not sure about the colours that look better on me now.
    Thanks a lot,
    Alex

    • Alex – absolutely contrast changes, it gets lower as hair goes white, so you need to start lowering down your value contrast. Note everyone looks better with highlights – if you feel that you don’t, then I’d avoid them!

  • I live in a big city and ride the subway to work. I am therefore able to observe thousands of women every day — and I use the time to try to figure out what truly looks good as we age, in particular, how to best change or accommodate our hair. I appreciate your comment about hair that is dyed too dark looking “witchy” and harsh. The truth is, I have yet to see anyone who dyes her hair a very dark shade who isn’t completely obvious about it. We’re not fooling anyone, esp as there are so many other clues about our age, including our skin, posture, eyes, and musculature. I’ve become a fan of aging gracefully, which includes keeping our gray hair gray. I believe the silver threads are gorgeous on everyone I’ve seen!

  • Hi Imogen, What a great post. It was really helpful. I don’t have many whites, but I’m definitely saving these tips for when I’ll have them. Can you give me some advice on how to maintain the colour? Angel

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