Is grey the new blonde?

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I spend A LOT of time in the salon chair in the quest for a hair colour that vaguely resembles that of my childhood.

I still grow some blonde hair at the front (apparently) but the rest? It’s more meh and mousey than any shade of marvellous.

So, I get my hair colourist/stylist to work her magic.

I don’t have grey hair up there as yet (don’t ask about “down there” … that’s a whole other blog post) but if I did I suspect I’d be doing the same thing as I’m doing with the mousey … colouring that sh*t up.

Which is why I did a double take last night when watching The Project, when they rattled off a whole host of young women (Lady Gaga, Kate Moss, Kelly Osbourne) who are out and proud, card-carrying greys.

Closer to home, television personality Yumi Stynes said her grey streaks were less about following a trend and more about a lack of time to do something about it.

“It’s really that I just can’t be bothered,” she said. “Who’s got the time to try to pretend to be something they’re not? I’m getting older. I’m getting wrinkles too.”

yumi-stynes The Daily Telegraph

Snaps to Yumi. She’s one very switched on and sassi chick and she’s not afraid to let a few grey hairs get in the way of that sassiness.

Someone with equal amount of sass and style is British Vogue’s Sarah Harris (pictured at top).

Check out her gorgeous hair … that’s seriously something a colourist would be hard pushed recreating and on her it looks all kinds of wonderful, don’t you think?

Now, some burning questions for you …

  • If you’ve got grey hair, when did it first set up camp on your head?
  • How often to you go to your hairdresser or crack open an at-home colour kit to kiss goodbye to your greys?
  • Or do you let the greys shine through and embrace them for all their glory?
  • Is grey the new, more sophisticated blonde?

PS. If you haven’t got time to comment here or on our Facebook wall, just hit that like button!

PPS. Over on my Styling You blog today, I’m ending the week with some funnies. Head over for a laugh.

  • Frankly Feisty

    I want, so badly, to go grey. BUT, have been dying mine away for some years now.
    Home dying, very successfully. My favourite product was Wella Soft Colour, it gave true, non-orangey-in-the-light, ash brunette and was a semi that actually covered greys.
    But they went and discontinued it…how wrong is that?!
    I have found nothing that comes near it since.
    The trouble is, I have no idea how to tackle it from here on in.
    I do not want to cut my hair.
    Anyone got any tips?
    Or can you recommend a brilliant colourist who specialises in the transition from Brunette to Grey, in Melbourne?

    • Nikki Parkinson

      I don’t have any recommendations for Melbourne but will put it out on Facebook for you. And yes, I don’t like it at all when a fave beauty product is discontinued. Why do they do that?

    • Nikki Parkinson

      This is one recommendation that came in on Twitter:

    • Nikki Parkinson

      And another from Twitter: “I’d highly recommend Rokk Ebony, they have salons across Melbourne & consistently win colourist awards. I go there & love them!”

    • Nikki Parkinson

      Another one from Twitter: @randallandspy in St Kilda – great colourist and stylists

  • suburbansider

    My first grey hair appeared when I was 21 and preggers!!!
    I don’t like them, I feel like at 37 I am too young for grey but Sarah Harris’s look is stunning.
    As I get greyer and greyer I often wonder what it would look like if I let it go sans dye but I am
    too scared to try!
    It’s very expensive to keep up with {single mum, 6 weekly colour is not in the budget! } so my sister does it at home for me { a couple of lovely hairstylists kindly recommended some great products for us to use} – she does a great job!

    • Nikki Parkinson

      It would be a huge step to take, definitely and as Frankly Fiesty above says, you’d want to make the transition with some advice and skill. Great work getting your sister to help at home with it!

  • Reannon Hope

    I started going grey at 23 when I was pregnant with bub number 2. To say I was not pleased is an UNDERSTATEMENT!!!!! Even before that I used to colour my hair ( Im naturally very dark brown & have always been trying to throw some colour in there!). Now I am so grey at the front, (cant see the back so Im not sure), I colour my hair every 6-8 wks!!! I HATE it & at ( nearly) 33 I feel too young to be grey…..

    I have been watching Fashion Police on E where Kelly Osbourne has had grey hair for a while & I think it looks HORRIBLE! I dont think its a fashion trend that will catch on with every day people but I guess celebs can get away with stuff most of us cant…..

    • Nikki Parkinson

      I think they can to a certain point – because they just look like celebs. But it’s a big step for us. I do like Yumi’s and Sarah Harris’ above but wondering how it would look with your skin tone would worry me.

  • bellasquee

    I’ve fought with myself over this for months. I love the sophisticated look of shiny silvery hair. I think it looks fabulous on so many people! I trained as a hair dresser in a previous life (that’s how long ago it feels!) and I’m aware though that my skin is that olive tone that does not often look as nice with the silver. That is just technical detail though … I’m annoyed with myself because (deep breath) I’m terrified that with grey hair I’ll completely disappear. I already notice it if I go out with no makeup and ‘ordinary’ clothes on … weird invisibility to most people … and I don’t like it! I don’t like it one bit! I don’t want to have to do the makeup and drama just to be treated as a human being …. and I don’t like this. I don’t like the connotations I’m buying in to. Anyone else? :(

    • Nikki Parkinson

      I really get it. I do. I think more than anything our hair is so tied up with who we are. The phrase “good hair day” did not come from nowhere. I don’t have a solution … just an empathetic ear xx

  • JackieCupcake

    I’m 32 with brown hair, and aside from teenage bright colours and some highlights about 10 years ago, I’ve never dyed my hair.

    I have had some greys coming through, especially at the front, for about 5 years. I leave them. Like the awesome Yumi Stynes, I simply can’t be bothered doing anything about them.

    Interestingly, I have a patch of skin on the back of my head the size of a ten cent coin that lacks pigment, so that patch of hair has been WHITE all my life. It freaks hairdressers out the first time they see it, and they often suggest that I dye it to match the rest of my hair. I’ve never bothered, but when I dyed my hair bright red as a teenager, the patch went fluro pink. It was awesome.

    • Nikki Parkinson

      Oh, Jackie … I’m thinking a fluoro pink patch would be totally rad!

  • Mez

    I started going grey in my forties, as many women do. I went from home colour to salon colour. As time went on the colour became foils, which grew in number, frequency and especially cost!!

    After my 50th birthday, I started searching the internet about going grey. I was tired of battling the re-growth and paying a fortune. I found an excellent web site about an American woman who decided to go grey. She has written a book and has a web site which supports women in making a decision whether to go grey and gives lots of advice on ‘transitioning”.

    My long time hairdresser did not support my decision to go grey (I suspected he made too much from colouring), so I found a new hairdresser who did support me through the transitioning stage. I’m now happily salt n pepper, and have been for 2 years. I was chuffed when at the hairdressers on two separate occasions have had other women tell my hairdresser they want my colour – only to be told it was not possible at mine was natural!!! I believe I have earned my ‘silver streaks’ and have found the whole process very empowering.

    • Nikki Parkinson

      Wow Mez … that is some transition. And I believe it’s really the way to go – finding someone who’s prepared to work with you for your long term vision. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • fromthekiwigirl

    Greys..yeah i’ve got a few. Started on my right temple and migrated…slowly to the left side and definitively in the middle and they are in a league of their own, spirals of steelo pad gone wrong..spasticated.
    I colour, using Garnier Nutrisse ‘Chocolate’ but the latest dousing was violet and then foils on top of that…yes i know…. WILD!
    Started noticing them about the age of 35 or 36 and last year was proudly wearing them out for all to see. My hairdresser wants to shade it a chocolate/violet..we will see.
    I have a friend who has chosen the ala naturale and when we discussing such womanly topics, she has leave the colour on for an hour!
    I think I left the violet for too long as well because I had an unusual skunk punk strip down where I part my hair…ooopps :)

    • Nikki Parkinson

      Go you wild thing!!!

  • Kateling

    This is a long one, but here goes:

    I am process of going from dyed brown to grey right now… it is hard in the in-between period which i started in winter with a lot of berets covering the regrowth and then when it was getting warmer and more unmanageable to hide under a hat i went to great salon who stripped the dye out to an almost blonde plus did a lot of highlights in grey to blend old darker section (now almost blonde) with the grey. I cut a bit off but i dont look good with really short hair or i would od that and be finished with it. however I cannot wait til it is all grey!

    I am 47 and started having a little grey when i was late 30s, the amount of grey has continued to increase and I have fought a running battle for almost a decade. My hair grows fast and there is a noticeable grey stripe after only 2.5- 3 weeks so finding time/dosh to keep colouring was getting impossible. Was also hard when travelling. I was in Turkey a year ago for 6 weeks and communicating in a small southern town what colour i wanted (ended up dark dark brown as that seemed to be main colour available) then regrowth was even more noticeable. Same thing happened a few years before in Spain…grey is freedom.

    I was motivated to give it up by several things…time being one, i don’t mind natural greys running through hair but HATE the look of silver strip of regrowth with dark hair. And i am busy enough in life but to find 2-3 hours to be in chair every 3 weeks is ridiculous. Also all the dye started to aggravate my scalp. If your hair is slow growing and you only need a touch up every 8 weeks then that may not be so bad but 16 times a year is a lot more than 6! The money was a secondary issue but i did feel bad forking out 200 for cut/colour/dry and only sending 100 a month to oxfam.
    A small consideration was that I don’t really have the complexion to go blonde as many do. I also read about the lady who wrote the book on going grey and even looked at all these great folicles which inspired me.

    Sisterhood and desire to be different came into it a little – not one of the “of the 16 female U.S. Senators — the highest number ever — who range in age from 46 to 74, not a single one has visible gray hair. Of the 70 female members of the House, only seven have gray hair” (,8599,1658058,00.html#ixzz1jL0gndER) yet most of the men do so i found this double standard really ridiculous. I read the speaker of house, Nancy Pelosi at 70+ is getting dyed every fortnight to maintain the appearance of no greys. Seriously the speaker doesn’t have better things to do? Including just relax? A few people have been shocked and commented on my new almost grey locks (are you going to go blonde? i think you’ll be brunette again in a year) but no one has ever said a word to my partner in 8 years of him being a silver fox.

    I have a colleague who thinks nothing of spending 300 a month (3600 per annum) on hair cut/colour yet would say she cant afford a holiday (that is a week or two in france right there) and hasn’t had a dental crown fixed that she needs- where are our priorities at?

    Lastly environmental concerns were part of it – they are becoming an increasing part of my resolve to succeed and stick with being grey. With around 60% of women regularly dyeing their hair i was shocked at the amount of toxic sludge that was being generated around the planet every month. I mean I go out of my way to recycle, get green-eggs etc and then use all this goop which goes down the sink and does god knows what to waterways. Even the thought of the stupid little plastic bottles/gloves/packaging etc in home-dyes i had used before has me ashamed… and i used about 16 or more a year. And to think around 50 million American women are doing this a month!

    Anyway that is my tortuous decision to go with the grey and i intend fully to set aside some of the time i used to spend at salon learning something new I have meant to do before, to commit to still getting an awesome cut, and to handing some more money over to oxfam.

    • Nikki Parkinson

      Kateling, I just found your comment in the “pending” folder – it must have got caught by our spam net. I’m REALLY glad you stopped by to share your story and share other links that helped you. When I wrote this post, I didn’t realise the amazingly personal responses it would illicit.

  • Dee

    I have serious grey hair for my age and is all hereditary. I found my first grey hair in my waist length dark brown hair in my first year of high school. It was a slow progression for a while but started dying my hair completely when I was 25. I am now 38 and visit the hairdresser every 4 weeks to mininimise the lovely white stripe effect. I often wonder whether I should shave my head to start again and see how it goes…? My husband also has grey hair, but not quite the extent I do, so our kids have little chance!

    • Nikki Parkinson

      That’s a lot of maintenance, Dee … but I think a shave down would be a little extreme?! LOL.

  • Job14

    I have also been going grey since 18 and I hate it. I have dye it every 6 weeks and it costs a lot but I don’t want to be grey because I am only 30. I just know the transition is going to be really hard and I dare say I will not do so til I am at least 50 which means a lot if $$$ ahead. My pet hate since I have been young is when people are oddly fascinated by the growth of a grey hair and are determined to point it out to you for eg ‘oh my god you have a grey hair, like seriously it’s a grey hair, I can’t believe you have a grey hair, can you see it?’ the response in my head is ‘of course I know I have a f##king grey hair that I am really self conscious about so thank you for pointing it so obviously out to me’

    • Nikki Parkinson

      Yep, stating the freaking obvious!

  • Fellicity

    Great timing Nikki.

    I’ve had what I refer to as ‘wings of wisdom’ on either side of my temples for a couple of years now but in the last couple of weeks the wings have started to fly around the rest of my scalp and I had a bit of freak out the other day at the number that have ‘landed’.

    I’d love to go grey naturally but would have preferred to have left it to my 50′s vs 40′s to do it.
    Remarks like the ones received by Job14 [mostly from close female relatives and friends] are the main reason I colour my hair but I guess if I’m really honest there’s a fair smattering of vanity in the mix too.

    Will pop back again to read further comments as this is a topic I’m truly grappling with at the moment.

    • Nikki Parkinson

      I think it’s such a personal one, Fellicity and you have to go with what YOU feel. Hair is such a personal thing. I do love your reference to wings of wisdom!

  • Name Tahnia

    I happy for grey to be considered as the new blond as long as it hasn’t got the same jokes to go with it. I have been letting my hair go grey for about a year. It takes a while and using semis help the transition. I like my hair, I like the way it looks and feels now that I’m not dying it. When I see a 40 something man who dyes his hair I must admit, I think it looks a bit sad and try hard. I don’t want to be something I’m not, I don’t want to be one of those women who hangs onto their hair colour even when their skin gives away the fact that it’s clearly not natural. I earned my grey hair and the respect that I think should go with it. I don’t dress like an old women and I don’t think my hair makes me look like one. Embrace the grey and all that it represents.

    • Nikki Parkinson

      Thanks for sharing your going grey journey and I love your philosophy!

  • Jacqui

    Im in the process of growing my grey out after colouring for about 5 years. The greys really kicked in in my late 30s after I had my daughter and a teenager asked me if I was her grandmother – straight down to the hairdressers I went! I bitterly regret that snap decision now that’s for sure! Colouring just got more and more difficult as my whites are very resistant and would go an orangey brown very rapidly. Just before Xmas I decided enough was enough and stopped. My hairdresser was great and did all sorts of streaks and toning so the process isn’t so painful and oh it’s so nice not to have to colour it anymore. Love it! And the thing that I’ve discovered is that pretty much all my friends are colouring and are going grey, and they were when I started to as well – so why did I not know that and not feel so freakish that I was going grey crazy-early? Oh that’s right, because everyone is desperately colouring! It’s a vicious circle.

    • Nikki Parkinson

      Thanks for sharing your story Jacqui. It is a vicious cycle and I’m really glad you have a hairdresser who has helped you navigate the go-to-grey process so well.

  • Pauline

    I’m mid thirties and since having children the greys seem to be coming faster (Is this coincidence or not?) I love to see women with grey hair especially if they are under 50. I think it takes a confident women to wear grey hair.  At this stage mine are mainly around one side of my temple so I’m happy to keep them. I hope I have the confidence to keep it natural as the grey spreads further. Only time will tell…..

    • Nikki Parkinson

      Probably not a coincidence – hormones must play a part!

  • Andrea

    Yes! Can’t wait to get a lot more grey hair going, impatient even! I’m even letting my hair grow after over 15 years of man-like hairdos just so I can enjoy seeing my grey hair!

    • Nikki Parkinson

      Good luck Andrea!

  • Annetta

    I don’t begrudge people coloring their hair.  What I hate is the false cultural aesthetic that has been set up for those of us who don’t.  I love the color of my greying hair which is similar in color to that of Sarah Harris in the attached photo.  I’m so tired of deflecting questions about my “grandchildren” (actually my children) and people assuming I’m older based simply on my hair color.  Thank goodness for Sarah;  she is my new sexy silver -haired icon.  

    • Nikki Parkinson

      Annetta, I’m so sorry I missed your comment here – I love this photo of you – you look fabulous and are a pin-up girl for going grey!

  • Octoberbaby45

    Do you realize there are other people in the world aside from caucasian? I am an older African American graying woman and would not want to be blonde under any circumstances. When will we be included in any of these biased surveys?

  • Melanie Lindner

    Have been developing greys since I was about 30 or maybe a bit later – so almost 9 years now. The longest I’ve allowed the ‘smokey blonde highlights’ as my husband calls them is about 10cm, so maybe 2 haircuts worth?
    This year, as my 39th birthday rapidly approaches and hot on its heels will be 40, I’m starting to ask myself why? My husband doesn’t colour his hair, and whilst he’s fairer than I he certainly has more than my amount of grey. Why do women feel compelled to cover their natural selves? I’m not frightened of ageing, I don’t care who knows how old I am, my husband says he doesn’t care if I go grey (and I know this to be true) so I can only conclude that I do it out of my own vanity.
    If Kelly Osbourne can rock my nanna’s ‘blue rinse’ then maybe I can embrace the beauty of my greys :)