STYLE

Why It'll Never Be Glam To Go Grey

30/03/2011 14:43 | Updated 22 May 2015

Just a few months ago, dying your hair grey was tipped to be the latest celebrity trend. Kate Moss did it, Lady Gaga worked it and Kelly Osbourne and Pixie Geldof jumped on the bandwagon too.

Then former supermodel Kristen McMenamy was photographed for Italian Vogue showing off her waist length naturally silver tresses and admitted that she'd stopped dying her hair six years ago.

But I can't see the average 30-something woman ever embracing the idea that going grey can be glamorous; unless you're so young that you don't worry about looking old, or you have Kate or Kristen's supermodel looks, the automatic – and expensive – response is to reach for the hair dye.

According to new research from hairdressing brand John Frieda, it's increasingly common to find those first grey hairs in your 20s.

It seems that almost a third (32 per cent) of British women under the age of 30 have already started going grey, and two thirds of them blame it on stress. Twenty years ago, only 18 per cent of women of the same age had found their first grey hair.

There's even a name for women who go prematurely grey – GHOSTS – Grey Haired Over Stressed Twenty Somethings.

As it's still unusual to see a woman in her 30s or 40s who is grey and proud, it's obvious that the majority of us are covering it up.

I noticed my first grey hairs back in my mid 20s – and I've been dying it, roughly every six weeks, ever since.

I've no idea quite how grey I'd be if I gave up my dye habit, but every time I step into a mirrored lift with harsh lighting it's impossible to ignore that my silvery roots are multiplying at an alarming rate.

And I can't help being self-conscious about the1cm wide 'salt and pepper' stripe that appears around a month after my last touch-up.

After I've spent a couple of hours in the salon having my hair restored to it's 'natural' colour, I feel well-groomed and glossy: without it I think I look – and I certainly feel – old.

Given that more than seven million British women colour their hair at home, I know I'm not the only one who feels this way – and my hairdresser says that business stayed brisk throughout the recession, simply because women make it a priority to keep the grey at bay.

That's not to say that I think grey hair looks bad – I think it can look fantastic. Just look at Dame Judi Dench, Helen Mirren (or my mum) if you don't believe me.

But it takes a brave and confident woman to fade to grey before she hits her 50s or 60s.

That's partly because we automatically associate grey hair with old age, and in our youth-obsessed culture none of us wants to give into the aging process without a fight.

And then there's the fact that grey hair tends to be dry and unruly and it can make you look washed out. Most 30-and-40-something women who are busy juggling a career and young children, already worry that they look tired and old – and a head-full of wiry grey hair serves to confirm the suspicion that you're well and truly past it.

I'm pretty sure that one day I'll give into the grey – after all, there comes a time when hair dye starts to look unnatural and ageing and, although I respect the dedication of those women who maintain their raven locks well into their 70s, I doubt I'll be one of them.

But until that day comes, I'll continue to hand over my hard-earned cash for the privilege of spending a couple of hours in a salon chair with foul-smelling paste smeared all over my scalp.

Yes, it's messy, inconvenient and expensive but, for now, it beats going grey.

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