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How to go grey gracefully

How to go grey gracefully

If you’re here, chances are you’ve just set sail to grey town or you’re well and truly settled on ivory island. Either way, you should think of your ‘salt and pepper’ situation as exactly that: seasoning. Salt and pepper can enhance and improve, and in the hair world it implies maturity, experience, and even wisdom. You’ve only got to turn to Hollywood’s silver foxes to know it’s true – just look at George Clooney, Steve Carrell and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Is it just coincidence that Steve Carrell’s transition from comedic to dramatic actor coincided with his new greys? 

Now, we’re not implying that you should turn over a new a leaf in life just because your hair colour is changing but, when it happens, there’s only one thing for it: firstly, embrace it, and secondly, make your newfound seasoning work to your advantage with the right hair care and style consideration. 

Take care of your greys

You may notice a difference in the texture of your hair as it begins to lose its colour. This is because, as we age, we produce less melanin and sebum, resulting in pigment-free, white strands that tend to be finer, drier, and more wiry. Because of the change in colour and texture, you’ll need to make a few changes to your haircare and maybe even switch up your hairstyle. Maintaining the ultimate silver fox look takes a little bit of behind-the-scenes effort, we’re afraid.

To counteract any dryness, you’ll want to replace your natural oils with products that provide a good amount of moisture. “Use a milder shampoo and make sure you always condition to keep those grey hairs more supple and malleable,” says Nick Campbell from award-winning London barber shop Ruffians. “Our Hair Cream and Matt Clay are both really hydrating and nourishing.”

Because white hair is more susceptible to UV damage, it’s even more important to use UV-protective styling products that are specifically made for white hair, according to Anabel Kingsley, Consultant Trichologist & Brand President at Philip Kingsley. “To help prevent white hair from becoming yellow and discoloured from pollution, use products with violet hues and optical brighteners, like Philip Kingsley’s Pure Silver Shampoo and Conditioner,” Anabel advises. These types of shampoo are specially formulated for white hair to offset any dull strands with a new (and shiny) lease of life.

Lastly, due to its wiry texture, you might find your whites stick out a bit more – both on your head hair and on your face. “Through personal experience, I’ve found that using a military hairbrush and Murdock Vintage Pomade to keep the hair in place will aid styling and pull the hair closer to the scalp to reduce any rogue hairs sticking out,” says Sam Hickey, Head Barber at Murdock London

Adapt your cut and style

Because of the aforementioned wiriness, most barbers recommend keeping grey hair short and well-maintained. “Keeping your hair sharp, trimmed and regularly shaped is the best way to ease towards a whiter style without looking dishevelled,” Nick says. 

So your man bun days may be over – but your options are still vast. Sam’s clientele have a varied catalogue of looks that suit grey hair. “My clients go for super high and tight on the back and sides with a slick back on top (think Arthur Shelby from “Peaky Blinders”), slightly longer hair which allows texture to flow through (like Brad Pitt’s most recent longer style), or even military short,” Sam says. “If you’ve got a beard, avoid looking like Gandalf the Grey by ensuring it’s kept in shape.”

Get some new threads

To complement your new greys, you may be considering a new look – potentially one that pushes you in a more mature, distinguished direction. “There’s no need to make drastic changes. Just because you’ve got some greys doesn’t mean you need to overhaul your wardrobe,” says Thread stylist Mille Rich. “But take this opportunity to wear items that you may have felt too ‘young’ to pull off previously (like derby shoes or pocket squares) and chuck out any bits you’ve grown out of.” 

Imbue your outfits with a more classic, timeless feel by turning to heritage pieces as a base and adding in contemporary touches in the form of workwear instead of sportswear. And finally, take your lack of pigment up top as a go-ahead to introduce more colour into your clothing. Jewel tones, especially, will look great against your greys.

Step aside, Clooney – there’s a new silver fox in town. 

Words: Ashiana Pradhan
Illustration: Calum Heath