by Alison Goodman
To grey or not to grey. That has become the question.
During four long months in Melbourne lockdown, I saw my meticulously dyed long red hair—a trademark look for me¬—sprout a parting of silvery grey. My first reaction was ‘good grief, hand me the root spray’. Yet, slowly, as the silver grew wider, a revolutionary idea took hold. What if I didn’t dye it again? What if I embraced the grey?
Let’s not beat around the bush: embracing the grey is an act of insurrection for a woman. Unlike males with grey hair—commonly known as the silver fox—female grey hair is not associated with many positives: old, unattractive, and ‘giving up’ are just some of the pejoratives that surround the idea.
Recently, however, a fashion for dyed grey hair swept across young fashionables. It became cool to be grey or, at least, not so firmly placed as the hair colour of the crone. I began to research grey hair and before long I found a worldwide community of women thumbing their noses at societal expectations and joyously allowing their natural silver to emerge. They were saving money, saving time, avoiding chemicals and ending up with dramatic and elegant new looks. Grey could be gorgeous!
Did I dare thumb my nose too? It would be hard to give up the genius of my colourist. Long red hair has been ‘my look’ for years and, at 54, I am constantly told it is far too early to go grey and ‘look old’. And I have to admit, I do fear looking prematurely old and not ‘myself’. I am also worried that all the hard work I have done in 7 Steps will be ruined. At the moment I am a spicy, high colour contrast, medium value contrast gal. My style recipe is elegant boho with a touch of theatrical drama. Will cool grey hair mean I have to abandon my beloved and hard won spicy wardrobe? Will I feel the need to change my style?
Nevertheless, it is time for change. And so I have decided to start my journey to silver foxette—a grand experiment that may blow up in my face (in which case I will creep back to my colourist) or be the best hair move I have ever made.
My research has offered three pathways to going grey:
1. the ‘for Pete’s sake just cut the damn dye out’ pixie cut that removes all of the colour and leaves the grey for an instant transition.
2. the ‘cut some of the grey out and slowly grow out the rest of the colour’ method which comes with the risk of hitting a ‘feral calico cat’ stage.
3. The ‘I want to keep all my hair’ look that involves blending in the existing dye job with a grey dye job. This can be both expensive and injurious to the hair since it would probably involve bleaching and re-dying. It does, however, avoid feral cat territory and the shock of the short. A grey toner can also be used to create more of a blend.
As you can see from the photo of my first ‘pathway to grey’ haircut (with thanks to John at Foxy Vixen in Albert Park), I have chosen method 2 with the possibility of method 3 if I reach ‘calico cat’. So far, I love my shorter style with its silvery ‘highlights’.
My hair grows quickly, so over the next 6 months I will check in here to show you how things are progressing. And when I am at full metal silver, Imogen will redrape me and we will show you how embracing the grey has changed, or not changed, my colours and style.
Viva la silver foxette!
About Alison Goodman
Alison Goodman is a New York Times bestselling author. She has published seven novels, the latest of which is Lady Helen and the Dark Days Deceit, the third and final book in her Lady Helen regency adventure series.