What if I were to colour my hair?

I've been enjoying the lively discussion on IK's thread about colouring grey hair (http://youlookfab.com/welookfa.....appearance). In that thread I was mentioned among others as someone who wears the natural look well (thank you ladies!).

Out of curiousity (and because I have a bit of time today) I'd be curious to know what you would think if I were to decide to colour my hair? would I automatically look younger? would it change my style? For the record, before the grey started to creep in, my natural hair colour is pitch black but I used to colour it a dark auburn.

BTW - I am NOT thinking of colouring my hair. This is a hypothetical situation only.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Astrid replied 7 years ago

    I don't think you would automatically look younger. I personally think grey hair looks only 'older' to us anyway because most women dye their hair as soon as it starts to go grey. We don't have any real concept anymore when most women normally go grey and how that looks. And normally you can see someone is older anyway, even when they have dyed hair, when you talk with them and see them up close (which is not a bad thing at all!). It might change your style a bit, I guess every change in appearance does that. Like when you get new specs and find you wear a bit different looks now, or you cut your hair and suddenly wear different jewelry.

  • lynne replied 7 years ago

    It would completely depend upon how the color looks with your skin tone. If the color is done poorly or the color choice is wrong, that just looks sad to me. A well done gray is always better than a desperation dye job.

  • Caro in Oz replied 7 years ago

    What lynne said - so time consuming to keep it looking great (not to mention expensive).

  • Mochi replied 7 years ago

    Wow, Shannon, pitch black hair is not so usual, is it? You're not partly Asian, are you? Anyway, I think your current hair color just looks so natural and perfect for you. And yeah, I'm biased in favor of brunettes :)

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    Astrid - great point about it only looking older because women start to dye right away. I guess if women were to let their hair naturally grey as it comes in, we would become accustomed to it and no longer associate it with a particular age.

    Lynne - I totally agree that a poor dye job can make you look worse than any natural looking colour!

    Caro - yes, I remember those $150 every 4 weeks appointments....

    Mochi - it is definitely unusual. In fact, when I was a young girl and had long straight hair down to my backside, the hairdresser I went to then used to call it "Raven's hair" because it literally looked the blue-black colour of a Raven. And yet my sister and brother are both naturally curly red heads - go figure!

  • O replied 7 years ago

    Still need to catch up on IK's thread, I don't know what's been said there. But! I think your hair looks so fab on you and in fact, as gray as it is, I cannot imagine any other color on you that would make you look younger (or in any other sense better, for that matter). Only the opposite. The natural changes in pigmentation in your hair and skin are in harmony, and you are lucky your gray WORKS.

    Any dark color would be too harsh on you, anything colorful perhaps a bit juvenile, anything blonde-ish and you'd look too washed out. Just my 2 cents, but I think you are one of those lucky ladies who is blessed with looking best with what's given, so I am at liberty of being very open when asking you to not touch what's not broken.

  • replied 7 years ago

    If I recall correctly from genetics class, black and red are close analogues genetically -- for example a man I used to see around town had black hair and a red beard!

  • biscuitsmom replied 7 years ago

    I love your look and style the way it is.... if you were bored, or not happy with your look I would suggest it, but 'you look fab' the way it is! You are an inspiration to the over 40 group here....I just wish I looked half as good!

  • fern replied 7 years ago

    Do you have a picture with black or auburn hair for us to see?
    I admire your haircut so much - so fitting for you - but of course a new color would change things, like when Sveta accidentally went darker.
    Did you find "your colors" changed when you went gray?

  • shevia replied 7 years ago

    Hey Shannon I just responded to IK's thread and you are one of my main hair role models. I also had nearly black hair as a kid, and I think my hair will be similar to yours (but less pepper and more salt) if I stop coloring it.

    I do think the absolutely perfect color can look great, but I think it tends to be more likely to make someone look more youthful if it is blonde. I am sure there are exceptions, but that is my general impression. Coloring your hair auburn (as I do) can sometimes look harsh against the skin. Or at least that is what I am telling myself!

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    Just to clarify, I am not considering colouring my hair I was just curious to hear if you thought a different colour would make me appear younger or change my style.

    Ornella and BM - wow, thank you so much!

  • Janet replied 7 years ago

    Shannon, it's hard to picture since we've only seen you as we see you here!

    Actually, your hair is very, very similar to one of my BFF's, right down to the cut and color, and your description of it when you were younger sounds just like hers too. She's 46, has had short hair ever since we were 17, and never considered dyeing it when it started to grey. She's probably about 50/50 now, and she's beautiful. She has dark eyes and olive skin, and no wrinkles. I think even with a fully grey head of hair, she would still look younger than me because my skin is aging more visibly than hers, thanks (or no thanks) to heredity.

    Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that grey alone does not make a person look older. I'm concerned in my case that it ages me because of other factors that do not work in my favor. I don't need to look 35, but I really, really don't want to look older than my 47 years.

    So would it make you look younger? I don't know, but you look fantastic and I find it difficult to pinpoint your age. Your hair does fit you the way it is, I think. You bring the sparkle and shine.

    Would it make you change your style? Possibly. Colors would be a whole new consideration. But I think you've discovered a fantastic style for your life and your body, and no hair color will change that.

  • cinnamon fern replied 7 years ago

    What if you were to dye it a completely unnatural color? Say, a nice bright magenta? Now that would certainly change your style.

  • cheryle (Dianthus) replied 7 years ago

    Let me preface my comments by saying that I think your hair suits you extremely well and looks very good on you.

    It would be denying the truth to not accept that there are physical signs associated with aging. Greying hair is one of the most obvious so it follows that grey hair is a sign of age. I guess the question that comes to mind for me is why do we want to appear younger than we are? Is it not okay to look like a fit, healthy and vibrant 50 year old? Are we trying to fool others into believing we are younger than we are? If so, to what end?

  • lyn* replied 7 years ago

    I don't think it would make you look younger, but I guess if you dyed it bubble gum pink maybe!

  • Joy replied 7 years ago

    I like your hair as it is but if you we're to change it, I like the idea of auburn. When my hair was about as grey as yours, I used those drugstore colors that are semipermanent and gradually fade out over about 6 weeks. I used an ash blonde on my dark brown hair so that it didn't end up monotone and the roots blended with the fading ash color. It added body and shine and worked pretty well for me. Eventually I stopped using iit when a large percentage was gray. A reddish blonde might work for you.
    And it will change the colors that look best on you, maybe even your style.

  • ManidipaM replied 7 years ago

    I do think it would change your style --- bookending colours changing, for one thing! (NEVER do that to your python booties! :-D Please!) For another, you'd probably want to tone down your brights to more jewel hues with jet black; auburn might affect which whites you wear, on the other hand.

    Would it make you look younger? I rather doubt it! In fact, I suspect black especially may be *more* aging, if anything, due to the high contrast which can play up the pallor of skin and cast deeper shadows somehow.

    (Btw, agree with Ceit on the alliance of black and red somehow. Not sure how or why, but several women on my mother's side of the family, especially my mom and grandma, had dark hair that gradually changed to chestnut and then auburn as they aged, even as they went grey on the side! And this was true of their eye colour as well --- there was a point when my gran's was a peculiar almost-burgundy and mom's has gone visibly from a very dark black-brown to a lighter reddish brown.)

  • Janet replied 7 years ago

    Manidipa, interesting point about dark hair possibly aging someone. A person who shall remain unknown (although I love them dearly) told my husband that they did not like my most recent hairstyle. They are worried that the dark color (which, except for the burgundy streak, is quite close to my natural color) will not look good as I get older. They seem to subscribe to the notion that aging women look best when they lighten the color of their hair. I think that idea led to the big trend some years back in everyone and their mother getting highlights.

    So, not to hijack Shannon's thread, but it's something to ponder too. Is a deliberately dark color potentially aging? Perhaps on someone with my fair skin it's a consideration. But I've done the lighter thing and I didn't love it on me.

    Like so many aspects of style, it's all a balancing act. All the more reason to have a stylist you like and trust. I asked my stylist once about my hypothetically letting the gray grow out, and he said, "Nope. You're not ready for that for a long while." I think part of his reasoning is the percentage of grey I currently have, and part of it is that he knows my style and personality and doesn't think it would fit.

    I love and admire the ladies here rocking their silver, grey, and white hair. I actually envy it because I think it takes a level of confidence I don't have.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    I think darker than your normal colour can potentially be aging - for example, your hair is dark brown Janet but if you were to colour it black, I suspect that may not be as flattering. I personally love your cut and colour BTW!

    I do agree that the percentage of grey is a huge factor in whether or not your hair will look good naturally. My stylist insists on hair being a minimum of 30% grey before deciding to grow it out. He feels that anything less than that just looks like you couldn't get to your hairdresser's instead of it being a deliberate style choice.

  • Sona replied 7 years ago

    My personal experience: I do think grey hair can be aging. Case in point: my husband went prematurely grey in his early 30's. He would color it but had a horrendous barbershop haircut when we met. I found him a stylist in his city ( a female one) and wow with cut and color he looked hot and much younger. Although he was doing at home coloring - having it done professionally made him look much younger. So much so that 18 yr old co-eds started hitting on him in the gym ( He wa a 35 yr old assistant professor at the time.). But he chose to stop coloring after bebe was born because as a researcher the more grey hair you have apprently the smarter/ older/ more experienced you are? or appear to be.
    Although he no longer colors his hair, he still sports a fab do because he still has a fantastic stylist : women still sometimes drop their jaw to tell me what a hottie he is.
    So I would say cut triumphs color.
    And I must say my chest almost swells from its 36D to 36GG dimensions when they say that ( about hubby) because after all I'm the one that has found him his perfect stylist every city we've lived in!!


    ETA: He is 50/50 black/grey

  • Claudia replied 7 years ago

    Shannon, you wrote: "I do agree that the percentage of grey is a huge factor in whether or not your hair will look good naturally. My stylist insists on hair being a minimum of 30% grey before deciding to grow it out. He feels that anything less than that just looks like you couldn't get to your hairdresser's instead of it being a deliberate style choice."

    Doesn't this statement by the stylist reinforce the stereotype that undyed gray hair looks unkempt, and answers Ironkurtin's question to the affirmative? "Undyed gray - do you assume "She doesn't care about her appearance?":

    "Because I have a lot of gray hairs poinging out of my VERY dark hair all of a sudden and man, dying them seems like a race I'll never win.

    If I just leave them, do I send the message that I don't care about my appearance? Because it's not that I don't care how I look, just that I choose to age gracefully."

    So a woman looks unkempt and neglectful of her appearance until more than 1/3 of her hair turns gray? Then after she crosses that threshold the perception of neglect instantly changes?

    Man, it's tough to be a gal.

    ETA: Realistically, isn't the one who looks like they couldn't get to the hairdressers the one with the roots showing, and not the one who hasn't dyed their hair to begin with?

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    I'm not sure Claudia - He firmly supports and appreciates my salt-n-pepper hair and has never pressured me one bit to go back to colouring it. I suppose he wants his clients to look their best when they leave his salon and simply feels that there is a certain stage at which the grey looks better.

  • Claudia replied 7 years ago

    I also suppose that asking a hairdresser if you should color your hair is maybe a bit like asking a plastic surgeon if you could use a bit of botox. You can place money on the odds of what the answer will be. And I am thinking the slow and early grayers are much better for his bottom line than those that turn quickly and get to that magic 1/3 mark fast.

    I appear to be a slow grayer, so to look my best and not come across as unkempt and uncaring, I could, by this logic, be dying my hair for decades before it's safe and stylish to come out of the closet.

    Still seems like an ugly stereotype of sexism and ageism to me, no matter how it's rephrased. I can accept the gray hairs being seen as more aging in a culture where women feel the need to run out at the first gray hairs to cover them up and we forget what real hair looks like across a spectrum of ages, but the unkempt/neglect/not caring about how one looks really rubs me the wrong way, and that is clearly implied here.

  • Janet replied 7 years ago

    Claudia, I totally get what you're saying, and I agree, it's an unfair association.

    As for stylists steering their clients towards coloring in the interest of their bottom line, I think a good stylist is like a truly good sales person: if they are interested in your business in the long term, they want to see you happy with the choices you make with their guidance.

    My sister owned a salon for many years. I'm sure there are some pushy stylists out there who just want to make more money off their clients, but most of the ones I know take their clients' needs, personalities, lifestyles, etc., into account and don't encourage treatments that are against the client's grain. That's a quick way to lose business.

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    Dear Claudia, perhaps you read my last comment on yesterdays thread. I hope it makes you feel better:

    "My original comment back to Claudia was one of *complete* respect for her feelings about the way she views the subject - which is why I said that if you feel that way about it, there is closure and nothing further to be said about leaving your hair grey. It was not meant as a criticism because I respect the personal choice".

    We will always find ourselves swimming against the tide at some point - and that's with all things in life, not just fashion and style. It's understandable that hairdressers want to cover grey hair, as you mentioned. It's understandable that stereotypes about grey hair exist. I'm not condoning the behaviour - it just is what it is. We are living in a fashion world that is more accepting than it used to be, and that's a lot! Hold your head up high, wear your greying hair proudly. This is what you believe is the right thing to do with all your heart - so stick with it. Laugh the rest off :)

    Shannon, don't you dye your gorgeous salt and pepper hair!! But to answer your HYPOTHETICAL question, I vote black with burgundy highlights.

  • Claudia replied 7 years ago

    Janet, I agree, but I think that also once you start coloring your hair, it makes it much harder to just stop for several reasons. No doubt it's good for business to hook someone early!

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    HAH! We posted at the same time, Claudia. Always cracks me up :)

  • Claudia replied 7 years ago

    Hugs, Angie. I do know for sure, 100%, that your heart is always in the right place and that you care and respect humanity in all its forms. I also agree 100% with what you just wrote.

    We are all sisters in this together.

  • Transcona Shannon replied 7 years ago

    Angie - when I was 17, I actually had a lime green brush cut (yes...the cut like the men in the army) with a pitch black fringe in the front - LOVED that haircut and colour. My Mom? Not so much - lol!

  • Classically Casual replied 7 years ago

    As I was approaching my 50th BD, I became somewhat obsessed with my increasing grey hair. My hair stylist was out of town for awhile, so I made a haircut appt. with a large salon, telling them this was a one time visit. I intended to quiz the stylist about color thinking I would get a truthful answer. As I was leaving home for the appt., the phone rang. It was a cold call from a cemetery, wanting to sell me a plot! My 50th was the only difficult BD. And I have kept my hair it's natural color. Good luck, ladies!

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    Hugs back to you, Claudia. You made my day with your comment. THANK YOU _

    CC, crazy story!

    And Shannon, CRAZY HAIR!!!

  • rachylou replied 7 years ago

    Interesting. I was going to say I believe you'd look awful, scary, and back-from-the-grave ancient. But, I have to admit, I imagined every color but black. If you did a really really high-cost dark brunette, that wasn't all the same color (which natural hair isn't), it would probably look good.

    Weird, but good.

    Copper-penny red could also possibly be stylish, depending on how that actually went with your complexion. But that would be a matter of being so fake, it's punk.

  • DonnaF replied 7 years ago

    My stylist doesn't color, so he has no bottom line motivation. When I told him I was going to stop coloring, he didn't try to discourage me or urge me to go to a professional which it needs at this stage of gray. I do think he colors his hair, however!

  • krishnidoux replied 7 years ago

    Shannon, you are very lucky to sport the salt-and-pepper so well naturally. I don't think we are all made equal in this department, and even if it's unfair and ageist, some women will look a little "better" (fresher, rested) with some colour to cover the gray. I agree with Claudia, though, it shouldn't be that way that we feel pressure to look prettier, more refreshed or more rested, at any age. Do we insist this of men? But sadly, women are judged by their appearance in a lot of circumstances. It is superficial yet for a lot of people it determines how the rest of the relationship goes. I'm thinking about superficial, temporary relationships such as clients, co-workers, people you deal with but do not know personally in daily life.

    Bottom line in this world and day and age, if it makes you feel better to cover your gray, then you should; if it feels imposed, then reconsider. But one shouldn't feel bad for covering their grays if it makes them feel better.

    Also, Shannon, your teenage hairdo: ouch! Hard to imagine you like this! :-)

  • Mander replied 7 years ago

    In a hypothetical situation, I'd think a nice punky unnatural color would be fun -- a dark purple or burgundy, or perhaps just some bright blue streaks?

    I always said that if my hair turns white I'll dye it some kind of crazy improbable color, just for the fun of it.

  • Janet replied 7 years ago

    Mander, one of my friends recently dyed her dark hair in an ombre dip-dye -- turquoise and bright green! I'm kind of jealous -- I think it would be so fun. Granted, she's 15+ years younger than I am. I don't think I could ever pull it off, even when I was 25. Maybe when I'm 85. ;-)

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