Silver hair has become fashionable for everyone except women who have it naturally. So why do so many of us keep hitting the bottle?
Almost 15 years ago, Anne Kreamer looked at a picture of herself, didnt like her brown helmet, and stopped colouring her hair. She was a 46-year-old businesswoman working in the US. Her subsequent book was the chirpily titled Going Gray: How to Embrace Your Authentic Self With Grace and Style; she says its been liberating in every aspect of her life. There are so many myths about going grey that, when you get through the undeniably difficult growing-out phase, you realise are total hogwash, she says. About how youll look old. About how youll look as if youve let yourself go. About how you can never have long hair again. About how youre invisible. About how youll kill your career. Its simply not true.
My own revelation came between custard and pasta. Five minutes earlier, during my weekly shop, I had been trying to work out which magic box of hair colour to shove in the trolley. Sod it, I thought, Ill get it another time. By the time I reached the till, I had made a decision to ditch the dye and let my hair grow naturally. At 43, I knew my hair wasnt dark any more, hence the three-weekly sessions over the bath done in a bid to remind myself I was a brunette. It was smelly, ruining my hair, costing me time and money and wasnt fooling anyone that I was still 23.
Why do so many of us keep hitting the bottle? Our hair how it looks and what it says about us remains a significant statement. In the UK, we spend 7.2bn a year at the hairdressers, and average nearly 90 on a cut and colour, according to the National Hairdressers Federation. Skinflints like me do the colour bit at home, maintaining a sector worth 322m in 2015.
Grey as a colour as seen on Rihanna, Cara Delevingne and Lady Gaga, and all over social media has been big for nearly two years. Roshida Khanom, of market researchers Mintel, says: Its acceptable now to have hair of pretty much any colour. But going grey artificially is quite a procedure, involving multiple bleaches, a purple toner to strip any warmth from the hair, followed by a grey dye all taking time and money. Its not something to try at home, says Khanom, which means the industry has a whole new revenue stream to tap into.