Going grey gracefully
Going grey is something which comes to us all and is a natural part of the ageing process. It’s often the first visible sign of ageing and that’s probably why we tend to react with dismay when we spot our first grey hairs. How does that old song go? “…silver threads among the gold…”? But instead of reaching for the hair dye, maybe it’s time to wear our grey hair with pride as a mark of self-acceptance, wisdom and experience. After all, grey could be the new black, brown, blonde…
If it’s good enough for them…
If you’re thinking of chucking away the hair dye, you’d be in good company, as in recent years many people, including famous actors and singers have gone public about not dyeing their hair. Most people might automatically think of George Clooney, who has never dyed his hair and has said he never will. Then there’s Tom Jones (now 74), who surprised his fans back in 2009 by saying he was no longer going to dye his hair.
But it’s not just men. Just look at Meryl Street, Dame Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, who sport glamorous heads of grey and silver hair. And it’s not just about being a ‘Silver Fox’ or a ‘Glamorous Grey’ beauty – how about 94-year old international style icon Iris Apfel, the subject of a documentary film coming out this year?
Grey role models
A Saga report into consumer spending among the over-50s found that in 2012, this age group accounted for £320 billion (47.6%) of all UK household spending. Perhaps it isn’t surprising, then, that models aged 60+ are becoming increasingly common as retailers chase the ‘silver pound’.
One great example is Pam Lucas, now 66, ( seen in the picture above, courtesy of the Daily Mail), who has been in increasing demand since she turned 60! Pam is tall and has stunning, long, silver hair. She has become a familiar face in the British fashion scene. She has appeared in Vogue, walked the catwalk at London Fashion Week and is regularly featured modelling clothes in the Guardian newspaper’s Weekend magazine. Pam had always wanted to model but after raising a child and then doing office work, she signed with Ugly – an agency specialising in character models – when she was 51. Once she turned 60, the high fashion jobs started flooding in.
In an interview with The Daily Mail last year, she said:
“It’s only recently that I’ve earned enough to give up my day job. I don’t make a fortune — usually £250 for a job, though some campaigns are more lucrative. But I don’t do it for the money. The best part is encouraging other women. So many tell me they love what I’m doing and that I’m showing women over a certain age don’t have to hide.”More importantly, perhaps, it means people of a certain age are becoming less ‘invisible’ in this predominantly youth-obsessed world.”
#grannyhair – bang on trend
In an odd reversal of the norm, earlier this year the media started to report on a growing trend for young women to dye their hair grey and silver. British actress and model Cara Delevingne was one of thousands of young women going grey and using the hashtag #grannyhair to show her new look on Instagram. While undoubtedly a fad, it’s interesting to think such crazes might give older people the confidence to go grey naturally.
What makes hair go grey?
It might surprise you to know that the age you are when you get your first grey hair is mostly determined by genetics, rather than stress or serious illness. So whatever age your parents and grandparents were when they started to turn grey will probably be the age at which you notice your first ‘silver threads’.
The rate at which this ‘greying’ proceeds will then vary according to your diet, lifestyle and any underlying health issues you might have. Smoking, anaemia, poor nutrition, vitamin B deficiency, and untreated thyroid conditions and autoimmune diseases are all known to speed up the rate of greying.
Some perfectly healthy people start to go grey in the 20s. In fact The Daily Mail reported last year that one survey had found nearly a third of British women under 30 had started to go grey. Although it won’t happen overnight, as commonly believed, extreme shock or stress can also cause cause premature greying
Colour change in hair is controlled by a pigment called melanin , which is also responsible for tanning your skin. Hair follicles contain pigment cells called melanocytes, which in turn produce eumelanin, black or dark brown, and pheomelanin, which is reddish-yellow. The melanin is then passed to the cells which produce keratin, the chief protein in hair.
The melanocytes gradually become less active and less pigment is included in the hair, which starts to appear lighter in appearance. Eventually, all the melanocytes die off and no more colour can be produced.
Ways to make the most of your grey hair
If you’re thinking about making the change and letting your silver threads shine through, here are a few tips to help:
- Invest in a good cut: Whether you have long or short hair, it’s important to make sure it is cut well. This will enhance the effect of your lovely silver hair.
- Treat yourself to some good quality hair products: Keeping your hair in great condition will help to control texture and improve shine.
- Avoid direct sunlight: Too much sunlight can dry out the hair and even induce a yellow tinge. Wearing a hat in summer will help to avoid this.
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