Durban - I watched a friend of mine colour in the few grey strands near her hairline with mascara recently. They were a blight on her otherwise shiny black mane.
However you choose to look at it, hair is important to women – it’s a powerful indicator of our identity and we will obsess over it.
The first sign of greying hair has for generations been associated with getting older and in the ageist society in which we live, no one wants to admit that.
But it’s more than that. Many of the women who haul themselves to the salon each week for root touch-ups, do so out of vanity.
I know women with fabulous grey hair that makes a fashion statement, but my friend could not be one of them. It simply wouldn’t suit her.
What I know is that we all age and what I’ve learnt from the many amazing women around me is that doing so gracefully is different for different people.
If you know who you are and what looks good on you, then chances are you already know that grey is just another hair colour.
The Barnyard’s Debbie Davidson started going grey at 17.
“I lived on a farm, had long hair and had never been to a hairdresser. I was admittedly very out of touch with fashion.
“My parents were both grey for as long as I could remember and it imparted a very distinguished air. My mother eventually went the route of colouring her hair until finally, in her late forties, she succumbed to her natural colour.
“Once the process started, my hair went grey very quickly. In my mid-twenties highlights were all the rage and so people assumed this is what they were. It’s funny, even now people think I am naturally blonde and colour my hair grey.”
“I must reluctantly confess that I did once have my hair coloured and it was such a disaster that it cured the urge forever,” says Davidson.
“By the time I got to 30 people became increasingly intrigued with my hair colour and with all the favourable comments I knew that I had made the right decision embracing my greyness. I am stopped on a regular basis by women saying that they wish they had the ‘courage’ to go grey.
“For me it is not courage.
“When I embraced my hair colour, I found my sense of style and the two worked hand in glove.”
Davidson, who was voted one of the 10 best dressed women in South Africa in 1998, still regards her hair as her crowning glory and over the years has tweaked the style and always ensured that it is cut every six weeks.
She says she is constantly bemused by the many women who love the grey but are so afraid that it will age them.
She says, and has proved, that “it’s not about the colour, but about how you package yourself.”
Fay Abdullah of Hoi Polloi in Musgrave, an expert in colour, agrees.
She says: “Many of the women who wear grey take care of their hair well.
“Contrary to popular belief, not everyone can go grey gracefully. My own hair only greys at the hairline, while some women are stuck between grey and their natural colour.
“For them, taking semi-grey hair to complete grey isn’t simple. The process requires bleach, sometimes more than once, and even then the hair won’t necessarily go grey. I’ve seen it go orange in some instances.”
Her advice to women wanting that platinum look is to ensure their hair is in good shape first as bleach will take a toll.
If it happens naturally great, but getting the colour is a process.
Style-wise, she says purple shampoo helps with the upkeep of silver hair, while in some instances adding a black streak or low lights can have dramatic effect.
She says key to this look is getting an edgy cut that is regularly updated to ensure a youthful look. - The Mercury