As a woman without a thread of grey (yet – I stress!) hidden beneath a punctual wash of color, a forever diligent rinse – writing this feels a touch Carrie Bradshaw. So I thought to myself what if grey strands weren’t the only thing making us feel strand-ed?
But stress indeed is often the cause of uninvited color, pigment-loss, whatever you want to name it. And before these discussions with the ineffable women herein, I hadn’t considered my path to grey at all. Naively I figured I would go on dyeing forever more, keeping my hair salon afloat for many moons and bad bangs to come. Alas there’s a feature-length loading with Miss Manolo, so let us focus our attention instead on the women who’ve been there, grey-ed that.
Speaking to Shari Siadat founder of the forever glittery Tood Beauty and recent grey-haired vixen, she candidly admits the shift was a direct result of the C-word (you know the one). “It came out of this force, right? Like, no one wanted to do it, but it was looking at yourself on Zoom… is this worth it? Is it worth my life? Is it worth my kids? Like, it’s not – is it?”
A movement however situational that’s seen many embrace the rogue-coloration, willingly or not. To grey or not to grey is most often a question of lineage. We turn to the similarly faded photos of our grandparents as if detectives scavenging for crumbs to our future. Will my grandma’s familiar smile bend in the same way as mine with age? Is all that SPF and eye cream I’m slathering on in place of mere sorbolene enough to make me supple forever and always? (It better be.) Will grey hairs slither into my part before I’m ready?
Existing as a pigmentation or lack of melanin in the strand, when we turn grey varies well beyond our control – a difficult fact to wrestle with in the moment and the seed for a perfectly rooted idea from Arey Grey. French for stop, the brains behind the brand share a vision to treat grey at the root cause rather than dyeing it or building out a superfluous collection of hats to hide a peppered crown forever.
Jay Small, hairstylist and co-founder of Arey Grey notes of their tact, “You have dry lips, you’re gonna drink water. The body often is telling us that it needs something through that, and I’ve seen it through a couple of clients that have had sporadic hair loss and typically, hair loss is one that will go right to the doctor, and we’ll say, okay, what’s going on? But with grey, we don’t see it the same way. As we started to research more, we found that only 30% was genetically linked and 70% was your lifestyle. It was what you weren’t eating, or what you were consuming, that was potentially causing the decision.”
And the supplement to stave away greys was born by way of Not Today, Grey. A capsule blend of vitamins, minerals and proprietary herbs to help support ageing hair beyond the scalp. Allison Conrad, co-founder of Arey Grey, sees their offering as a fusion of health and choice, “When I went grey, I was not happy about it at all…hopefully, this gives people – at least it has for me – more a feeling of control and less panicky about the whole situation. We’re all going to age, it’s inevitable, but if we can feel like we have a little bit of a say in it. I think that’s really empowering.”
And often the inertia in going grey (aka dunking newly adorned head in the proverbial Hamptons sand) can worsen your hair condition overall, Jay notes, “The hair that’s next to that grey hair, the brown hair needs to be shampoo just as regularly but the grey hair does not. And so that’s where coarseness really comes in. When people do start to see grey hair, they almost want to formulate their shampooing method relative to the grey hair and not to their, their coloured brown hair. That’s where it could have become coarser and even feel worse”.
This not so linear pathway as Jocelyne Beaudoin, set designer by day and now model by grey shares, the transition can be a tip-toe. Her strawberry blonde fading into the tousled silver moment it is now, addressing it fondly as a sparkle of sorts. And she sees that vitality at the heart of her confidence, saying “The hair color matters very little. For me, it’s a lot more important to have healthy, shiny, bouncy hair of whatever color than dried out and dull ‘not grey’ hair… I have women commenting favorably on my hair regularly. And I became a model AFTER going grey.”
Where our male counterparts gather silver like casino chips, a sign of virtue, wisdom, refinement. Women instead enjoy a dutiful spiral to existential wondering and a fast tracked ride on the aging-roller-coaster. Or so we’re told in the narratives of television spinsters, but speaking to these sparkling women I’ve found the contrary. Something we’ve been taught to dart away from our whole lives is quite often the redirection into a life made more magic. Reclaiming ideals tossed away as ugly, as moments of beauty to be owned.
What was once maligned as the clock striking twelve at the midnight of life, a curtain call on the party of youth, is now a moment of self embrace. Shari has faced this before in letting her unibrow flourish in the face of beauty norms, opening the door to radical acceptance as she did. The grey incumbents being the next step into a whole new woman. “The unibrow allowed me to deal with the grace to allow me to also deal with my weight. Which was kind of tied to COVID. And then also that opened up how much it impacted my sense of self and my desirability in the world… But what I do know from a place of acceptance and also for my sexuality, I’ve never felt freer, more empowered, there is a zero fucks aspect to having grey hair, because I’m going against the grain.”
Adult candy maker of Sweet Saba, Maayan Zilberman let the greys creep post pandemic-pause on dye and agrees with Shari, “I like to think of age not so much as being linear as much as being elastic. In that you can feel old one day and young another day, you can bounce back-and-forth and you end up in the middle when you’re calm. I love to explore the polarities and play with traditional notions of age, femininity, and beauty. It’s just so boring to leave any of it as-is.”
We peel away textured skin with P50 and scuff away any marks of fun from decades past, accepting that our hair is changing too isn’t as easy as it seems. How it manifests, be it struck by lightning or a dullness taking over determining the mood. Welcoming grey is less about the color and more so about the carriage it rides into your life on, stress-induced, trauma-defined or at a moment of change so grand you welcome it with open-arms. Control over our bodies, down to every last hair on our head as women often feels intangible. And staving off the forbidden hue for however long offers a single serve of that, but as these brilliant women have shown too – it’s no invisibility cloak, it’s just the beginning.
Take it from Shari who’s initial concern over her desirability has been thrown to the wind, “It’s a little bit more popular having grey hair, but it’s still shocking to people that I have grey hair, I get more attention for my grey hair now than I’ve ever had in my life. I can’t even tell you how many people stop me all the time and say, “I’m obsessed with your hair or you’re so hot, I mean 20 year old boys are just like dying.”
An awakening, a shunning of the turnstile of hair appointments in favor of free-flowing, foil-free highlights. Whether you’re supported by a perfectly-curated pill to keep the incursions at your part stemmed, a beloved Mason Pearson brush, superb shampoo routine or the radical appreciation of your best self yet – the path to grey is only as bleak as you pave it to be.