I know a lot of people have gone grey in the recent months and I too am embracing my own (trying it out for a test run to see how I like it) since we had been in lockdown with hairdressers closed for over 4 months and not being able to get in to see the hairdresser for another 3 weeks after that!
Ageing softens out colours – so rather than the bright colours of youth, we gently soften down as your hair, skin and eyes lose pigment. Both warm and cool people go grey but they tend to grey in slightly different ways. Here are a couple of videos that I made with Jill Chivers talking about how colour changes with age.
Finding Your New (or Older?) Best Neutrals
Now if you totally embrace the grey, you will most likely transition palettes. This can mean that your wardrobe of clothes are in colours are no longer as flattering. When I had brown hair, brown clothes that worked really well with my hair so those darker browns and black featured as neutrals in my wardrobe. I barely wear the deep, rich browns now because there’s no brown in my colouring anymore to create harmony. I’ve replaced these browns and blacks with white and light grey, but I got to keep a lot of my colours. adjust your wardrobe for your new grey hair
Start replacing items using your new best neutrals – these are the workhorses of most wardrobes! Make them great ones and they’ll carry you through. The neutrals you choose ideally want to work with the vast majority of the colours you wear. Aligning your choice of wardrobe neutral related to your hair colour or the highlights your hair contains is an excellent strategy as you are always wearing your hair.
How to Pick the Undertone of Grey
There are few ways of making grey. The easiest way is to combine black and white. You could also combine lots of colours til you get a grey or adding a tiny bit of colour to a grey, to take it away from being that cool grey made by black and white.
This muddled up mix of colours is the reason it can be so hard to mix shades of grey together, as depending on how it’s made, it may be a green-based, blue-based, violet-based or brown-based grey.
If you have been warm, you most likely will grey in a warm manner, and suit brown and green based shades of grey. A brownish grey is often described as taupe. But that said, some people as they age change from warm to cool colouring, particularly as they go grey, they lose those warm pigments in their skin and hair and swap to the cool side of the undertone continuum.
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If you are cool, you will grey in a cool manner to a silver colour. Silver, blue and violet based shades of greys are best for those who have a cool undertone. As grey is basically a cool colour, if you have a cool undertone, you can wear most shades of grey.
If you’ve had a personal colour analysis (such as the one you get in my 7 Steps to Style program) you’ll get a palette of great colours, inside this will be a range of great neutrals. The colour palettes are a great tool to help you when you go shopping to identify the shades of greys are you really looking. This ensures that the colours you incorporate into your wardrobe are actually going to be flattering and harmonious with you and your colouring.
My Journey from Blonde to Grey
So I’ve decided to embrace my grey – see if I like it (or not) given that I’ve grown out long grey roots in lockdown.
Here are my roots – after 5 months in lockdown – with no hairdressers open. Lots of nice grey roots.
I decided to check out my “grey percentages” with this great tool that’s in the hair colour chart I use in personal colour analysis with my clients.
You can see that I’m 90% grey at the front of my head and around 60-70% grey at the back.
I asked my hairdresser to just dye the ends to match my roots, rather than dye my roots away.
The hairdresser used a combination of Ash and Iridescent tints to add that cool smoky colour (in her language double 1 and double 2). The blue and the violet combat and neutralise the orange and yellow tones pigments in blonde hair.
And here is the result – It sill looks blonde as the yellow pigments that are underneath are still showing through so stop it from looking as grey as it will down the track.
I’m liking it now – and I figure that if I stop liking it, I can always dye it back to blonde.
I really like it Imogen – I think you should stick with it. It makes your eyes pop more and looks really healthy.
It’s been really interesting to observe so many people embracing their grey this year for the same reason as you. As I only use a colour shampoo (I haven’t dyed my hair for 20 years) I haven’t had to adjust but my time will come!
I really like it on you, as well! It does blend in well with the rest of your coloring. As a dark golden blonde, I have been nervous for the time when I start to gray. Fortunately, I haven’t seen any signs yet even though I’m in my early 40s. Since you mentioned that warm grays are often referred to as taupe, and I have always enjoyed taupe as a neutral in my wardrobe for its mercurial quality and the ease with which it blends with other colors, would you be willing to do a post on the use of it with the warmer palettes? I feel like color combinations including taupe that I see most often reflect Soft Summer-like coloring and I’m more interested in how I can incorporate taupe into my Zesty colors for transitioning as I age. How do you keep from going too cool and too muted?
I also really like this new color on you, Imogen! And what better time than now to give it a try. I had my color done in July but probably won’t get it done again until the spring with things locking down again around here. I am not quite ready to embrace the gray myself, but I also am not in the mood for coloring it myself these days. So I just wear a lot of hats for now until I decide what to do! Thanks for sharing your hair color journey and linking with me.
I really like your new hair colour. I had dark hair, went blonde about 10 years ago and like you I have let it grow out during lockdown. It is growing out grey on top with dark and grey streaks on the side. Again like you I am going to continue and I can always change back later if I don’t like it. My hairdresser wants to put in some streaks this week so the growing out line is not as noticeable, but I will ask her about dying the ends as you have done.
Wow! Imogen grey certainly suits you , I read the post you put up about going blonde a few years ago and those gave my the courage to follow my personal dream and go blonde and I love it , I also know that I will go grey one day and seeing you embrace what is inevitable for most of us with style is once again very encouraging and inspirational . I hope you will keep your grey and show us the way forward by example with you own style and colours .