I have known of Jane for quite a few years, as we are both part of the same forum, but I have really got to know her in the last few months as we have both been commenting on a thread about going grey. I really admire her wisdom, class and attitude to ageing. Lucky for me she agreed to interview for the forum. Enjoy – it’s a great read.
How old are you? I’m 63 – when did that happen?
When did you first start going grey? I found my first grey hair when I was 16. It’s a genetic thing. My gran was completely white at 30, my grandad on the other side of the family had a thick head of white hair – we didn’t stand a chance! My brother had a lot of silver at 21.
What made you decide to stop dyeing your hair and go fully grey? Was it a difficult decision? How did it work logistically? How have people responded? I’d been dyeing for decades and I had a lot of fun with different colours over the years. I had aubergine at one point but my favourite was blue. My hair was mainly dark at that point with a white streak, so it went navy with electric blue at the front. A little boy said to his mum one day “look at that lady’s pretty hair”. That was lovely.
In my early 40s I realised that I hadn’t seen my natural colour for so long that I had no idea what it was any more so I decided to find out. My hairdresser was appalled. I had very short hair at that stage and I just stopped colouring, went even shorter – think Annie Lennox – and had it cut very often. The dye was all gone in about six months. It was painful but worth it.
One of my colleagues said she loved it but couldn’t do it herself. A couple of my friends hated it, so did my mum! I loved it. So did a LOT of men. My husband said it was stunning the first time we met.
Now, 20 years on, I get lots of compliments, including from people in the beauty industry, beauty counter sales assistants often comment on it – and when Sali Hughes admired my hair I walked on air for days!
How has having grey hair changed your makeup/wardrobe, if at all? I used to wear a lot of black but I’ve softened it up with grey and navy. I wear a lot of blue these days, more because I’ve got blue eyes than because of my hair. It’s easy to look frumpy. I can’t wear granny chic because it would look as if I was taking it seriously. My look tends towards the casual – rolled trousers with tops or dresses, leather jacket, boots and flat shoes. Always a scarf unless it’s really hot and I really like striking and unusual jewellery.
I have no noticeable eyebrows any more so pencil those on – I look like a plucked chicken without them. I need plenty of blusher now and I ALWAYS wear bright lipstick, it brings my face to life. I think most of that’s an age thing rather than because of my hair.
The really crucial thing with grey hair is cut. I love long grey hair but it’s not my style at all. A really sharp cut is essential or you can look quite “mumsy”. And the colour can yellow so a purple shampoo and conditioner are helpful. And I use a toner every now and then.
What do you think that going grey means to women vs. men? I think a lot of women think going grey would make them look older. I find the reverse. So many women my age have obviously dyed hair which fools nobody and can look really hard, especially as your skin gets paler as your hair turns.
I was the only woman of my age I knew with grey hair when I first stopped dyeing and I’m still a rarity. It’s lovely to see models with grey or white hair now – and very depressing to read some of the nasty, spiteful things in the below the line comments.
Attitudes seem completely different to men with grey hair. Nobody seems to suggest that men should dye. In fact grey hair is seen to lend men gravitas. And they do look great – take George Clooney and Richard Gere – gorgeous men whose hair only enhances their attractiveness.
Having had grey hair for almost a third of my life now, I’ve never been tempted to start dyeing it again. For years it was seen as a statement and still is to a degree. I think it speaks of confidence and feeling comfortable in your own skin. I like who am being right out there.