PEI

Island women are embracing their grey hair

Women of all ages are embracing grey hair. Some want to ditch the tyranny of dyeing to cover up grey, while others of all ages are choosing greys and silvers as a colour. 

'The beautiful thing about colour is you can go back if you want'

This beautiful blonde went to beautiful silver in Mary Coloris's chair. (Submitted by Mary Coloris)

Women of all ages are embracing grey hair. 

Some want to ditch the tyranny of dyeing to cover up grey, while others of all ages are choosing to colour grey or silver. 

"Silver is in right now," says master stylist Mary Coloris of Charlottetown. "It's a very popular tone even for young people. You see many hues of grey ... I have lots of clients who are doing it right now."

CBC asked Coloris for her tips for those who want to go grey, as well as readers on Facebook whether they are embracing or choosing grey hair.

'Tired of the white line'

Many Islanders, mostly women, commented that they are indeed following the grey-hair trend, with a few exceptions. 

'I’m letting it grow out instead of bleaching — it feels very empowering,' says Kim Bruce. (Submitted by Kim Bruce)

Pat Tupper of Montague, forever a redhead, commented "Never!" And Sue Vaughan said "Nope. My hair appointments are my time for me."

"I've just had my first haircut without dye in 15 years and I'm looking forward to swimming this summer and not caring about my colour!" commented Kim Bruce. "I'm letting it grow out instead of bleaching — it feels very empowering. My 13-year-old says grey is very cool."

"I am seriously considering it, but I am terrified at the same time. Also confused about how to do it properly," said Barb McKenna. "My hair has been coloured for years so how do you turn it grey without having it grow out ugly? ... What if I look old?"

'I didn’t like the grey but I love the white,' says Irene Harper Phillips. (Submitted by Irene Harper Phillips)

"I was tired of the white line every couple of weeks so I decided to highlight very light and let it grow, then I did a nice and easy sun-bleached color which turned it completely white," said Irene Harper Phillips, 61. "I didn't like the grey but I love the white." 

'Earned my silver crown'

"Yes! Yes! Yes! Love it!" commented Julain Molnar of Stratford, who is 53. "I dyed my hair red for 25 years and have now let it grey for the past three. I feel more authentic — I have totally earned my silver crown."

'I have totally earned my silver crown,' says Julain Molnar. (Submitted by Julain Molnar)

Michelle Blanchard said she got her first grey hair at 16 and started dyeing it soon afterwards. Her hairstylist helped her transition back to grey starting about a year ago, first dyeing it platinum blonde then cutting it and letting her "silver locks shine through." Now she is 100 per cent natural. 

"I get lots of compliments," Blanchard said. "I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would go grey gracefully. I didn't want to look like I was trying too hard to look younger. The silver is zero upkeep, although I do use a violet shampoo to keep the dreaded yellow tinge at bay."

Martha Macgougan said she loves the look of grey hair but is "well aware of the cost of transition, so am just letting grey come in and cutting about every five to six weeks. I'm almost there but it's taken about a year going dye free."

'I made a promise to myself a long time ago that I would go grey gracefully,' says Michelle Blanchard. She added a touch of temporary purple in this photo. (Submitted by Michelle Blanchard)

Gloria Wooldridge said she loves "the freedom and ease. I have fully embraced 56. (Silver since before 50)."

Jeana MacIsaac says she started the process of going grey a few months ago. "First time to the hairdresser in 18 years! I'm loving it so far."

"I've wanted to have long white hair as an older woman since I was a child," said Ariana Salvo. "Now that I'm 40 and have more and more of it coming in it has been a process of learning to love it, but so far I'm sticking to my plan and enjoying the process of watching it shift colour."

Jeana MacIsaac of Charlottetown is going grey and says she is 'loving it so far.' (Submitted by Jeana MacIsaac)

Kathleen Romans says she decided to go grey when she turned 60. 

"I started getting grey at 21 or so and have coloured my hair ever since. Tried to grow it out at 40, but it was just too big a contrast for how I felt inside so I returned to colouring. I love having the haircut and the compliments and I feel very happy to avoid the chemical stew that is haircolor."

Embrace the Grey P.E.I.

Lori MacGregor has started a Facebook group called Embrace the Grey P.E.I. where women can ask questions about going grey and support one another.

'The biggest critics were men,' says Lori MacGregor, who started the page Embrace the Grey P.E.I. (Submitted by Lori MacGregor)

"Was my grey journey easy, heck no! But so worth it," she said.

"The biggest critics were men, they would say 'What's that up there?' pointing to my roots, as they stood there with mostly a bald head and if any hair was present, it was grey. I said at least I have hair, laughed and walked away."

Candy Handrahan is one of the group's founding members and shared her transition photos.

Candy Handrahan shared these photos of her journey to grey over the last two years. (Submitted by Candy Handrahan)

"As you can see I stripped my hair of the colour which made it easier for me but so hard on my hair," she said. "Now that I have made it here I am telling you ladies if you're thinking about it go for it! The freedom of not having to colour your hair ever again is absolutely amazing."

Coloris on colouring

Mary Coloris has three different methods to help her clients go grey, but they all start the same way: A thorough consultation.

Mary Coloris is a Charlottetown-based hair stylist and colourist. (Submitted by Mary Coloris)

"Some people are a little more timid. It's a big change, especially if you are a darker tone," she said, adding "the beautiful thing about colour is you can go back if you want." 

Some clients are afraid grey hair will age them, but Coloris said that can be avoided with a fashionable haircut that complements their face. "If you have a nice style that accents your colour then you're good to go." 

3 methods

The first method is to grow out your hair but add lowlights (darker streaks) to the roots that are a similiar colour to your ends — the colour you've been dyeing it.

'We did this transformation in two sittings! We did a full colour correction and lightened all over,' says Coloris. (Submitted by Mary Coloris)

"That's just going to break up that line so it doesn't look like grey roots/dark hair." This phase is not always pretty, she said, and some women choose to spray temporary colour on their roots as they grow it out. 

The most drastic method is a colour correction, which removes all colour from the hair, aiming for a "blank canvas." Then Coloris adds in highlights to help blend hair tones. This can be hard on the hair. This method can require two to four trims with four to six weeks in between until the processed ends have grown out — so it can take a few months or several months depending on how long your hair is and how well it reacts to colour being removed and added. 

"If you want to take a little bit off the ends it's going to get you there quicker," she said.

This client decided to take her hair from dark brown to grey for fun, Coloris says. (Submitted by Mary Coloris)

The third and most popular method Coloris uses is simply adding more and more light highlights all over the head over several visits until a client's former colour is all gone. 

"I just tone it to the grey tone that's coming through the top so it looks like you have grey throughout," she said. 

Having grey hair doesn't always mean giving up having fun with hair colour and your hair stylist, she said.

This client of Coloris's had natural golden blonde hair and decided to take it platinum blonde/white. (Submitted by Mary Coloris)

"There are some women that come in and say I'm finding it a little dull, little boring — let's add some lowlights for dimension," she said. Adding darker tones "makes the silver pop" and can make hair look thicker, she said. 

Others enjoy adding funky splashes of blue, pink or purple to their grey.

"They never got to when they were younger so they're getting brave with it ... it's just a very cute, funky trend," Coloris said. 

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About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca

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