Aug 30 2015 /The Times of India (Bangalore)
A growing number of women is giving the hair colour brush a miss and confidently flaunting the silver fox look

It probably took a Rihanna to colour her hair silver for wom en, young and old, to wake up to the fact that the grey-haired look -in all its shades -was one to be flaunted. In fact, early April this year, #grannyhair was a trending topic on social media with young things, some in their early 20s, posting selfies of the `silver fox' look. Grey hair is certainly having its moment and grannies the world over are happy that the world is finally catching up to them.

“Deciding to go grey was the most liberating feeling ever,“ exclaims Mala Dhawan, co-founder of not-for-profit trust A Hundred Hands. While heredity ensured that she had to come to terms with premature greying quite early , “I had a shock of grey hair even while I was in college,“ rapidly greying hair during the 30s found her too dependent on hair colours.“There was a point in time when I used to colour my hair but after a while it became too much of a nuisance because I would find myself doing touch ups every two weeks -not an easy thing to juggle when you are a working woman. If you miss it once, you find yourself worrying about roots showing, not to mention the harmful effects that colours have on your hair,“ says Dhawan about what finally drove her to consciously stay grey.

Writing for Time magazine in 2007 on the topic of going grey, writer Anne Kreamer says, “choosing not to dye has become a statement rather than a casual stylistic choice,“ underlining how for all its seeming flippancy, embracing one's greying hair is still a fraught decision for women. Because for every George Clooney whose salt and pepper look is considered leadman-sexy, you have a Jamie Lee Curtis getting relegated to onscreen mother roles because, well, the `silver is showing, dear'.

When writer Sheila Kumar decided to stay off hair dyes and let the greys be, the reactions her decision elicited were anything but normal.“I realised I was giving tress trauma to most people I came in contact with. I had turned into Dita Von Teese, fully clothed but with a (lewd) streak of silver somewhere about me. The looks I could and did ignore. The comments were hard-hitting and mostly far from praise."

`Too young to dye,' some friends lamented. 
`My god, you look so...different.' 
`Oooer, this is radical.' 
`Well, with your personality , maybe you can carry this off, too...I think',“ reads a blog post she'd written about the experience. 
The most virulent reaction comes from her maid who cried, `Colour podu, ma,'. 

Quiz Kumar about which gender reacts more to her `radical' look and she says,“Women (and I'm tempted to add `of course,' here!). The reactions range from resentment (We are a peer group and I still colour my hair!), appreciation (I wouldn't do it but it looks cool on you!) to dismay (Must you?!). 

“Women may be CEOs, Cabinet officers and TV news anchors and may openly indulge their sexual appetites -but only if they appear eternally youthful. And a main requirement is a hair color other than gray or white,“ writes Kremer who has authored a book, Going Gray, on this very subject.

“People, particularly kids, are more respectful because I sport grey ,“ admits Dinah Khan, a technical manager who chose to grey gracefully some 10 years back. “I had reservations about colours and their effects, so, I simply refrained from dyeing,“ says Khan without a tinge of regret. “The only drawback about this look could be that it doesn't allow you to experiment too much with the colours you can dress up in,“ she says but that's not a huge concern for Khan.“I see some people who are well into their 60s trying to carry off coloured hair, and they do it quite unsuccessfully. I feel that after a certain age, people should just stop trying too hard to look young and embrace their age.“

“I personally love experimenting with colours but am sure that I am going to go grey after a few years,“ admits make-up artiste Gauri Kapur. Her only advice to women who are caught between the decision to `grey or not' is simple: Do what makes you happy . It is a personal choice and so, if you want to colour your hair, do it because you like it, and not because you need to cover the greys.“

Dhawan has the last word on how self-affirming the decision is.“I love being noticed as one who is confidently grey. Somehow, it truly gives one a deep sense of confidence. Maybe from making a choice that pointedly moved away from the trend. I love the freedom of breaking away from a society that is superficial and driven by what is seen on the surface than skin deep.But most of all I love knowing, I'm worth it“.

Going grey doesn't mean that women have to just let themselves go. Or hide their locks under a bandana or a scarf. Admitting to the slowly growing trend of women going grey, Preeti Singh, salon director, Rock Paper Scissors doles out some hair care advice.

 “One essential tip that women who have partially or completely greyed would do well to follow is to start using silver shampoo. That is because hard water tends to turn hair yellow, silver shampoo helps retain the grey. Also, it adds sheen to the hair,“ explains Singh. 

And for women who are in the inbetween stages, where the hair is only grey in the roots, she says, “During this phase, where they are waiting for their hair to completely grow out, women could choose to colour their hair. They should choose a colour that is really light so that when the roots begin to show, the colour disparity isn't glaring.“ Finally, when it comes to choosing an appropriate hairstyle, she says, 

“Choosing to go short or long really depends on the quality of one's hair but it is also true that women in their 40s and 50s prefer shorter hairstyles because it is easier to manage and helps reduce hairfall.“

Labels: , , , ,