Dear Scott: I am 63 and have had my hair professionally colored for years. My natural color hair was a dark brown with auburn undertones and I’ve had it dyed red for about 10 years.
I’ve noticed that my hair is duller than it used to be despite using moisturizing treatments to create luster. And, in order to keep my roots from being too conspicuous, I have to have it colored every three weeks.
I notice that my roots have a good deal of gray and a bit of silver. I asked my hairdresser if she could dye my hair a pretty silver so that my roots wouldn’t be so noticeable and I could extend my color treatments to every four or five weeks.
She said that it couldn’t be done; I would have to have a very short cut, let all the gray grow in, and then have it highlighted with silver or platinum.
This seems extreme and sounds like a very ugly alternative to getting my hair to look healthier and more suitable for my age.
Do you have any suggestions for what I could do?
Answer: To some extent the hair decides what you can have done. It has its limitations unless you want to take it home in a bag.
It isn’t possible to have your gray hair back without it getting a little unsightly in the process. Peroxide alters the cuticle layer making it impossible to remove all traces of previous permanent hair dye. Toners for platinum effects will quickly fade leaving behind unwanted undertones.
You don’t say how long your hair is, but it sounds like you aren’t very fond of having a short cut. The idea that you have described – gray hair with platinum highlights – will give you a salt-and-pepper appearance bringing upkeep to a minimum.
If silver-gray or platinum blonde is your goal, growing your hair out to its natural gray color can take a long time.
The process can be made simpler with the suggestion that your hairdresser has offered of cutting the hair shorter. If it sounds like an ugly alternative, then don’t go there yet.
You are many years away from being an age that requires you to adorn gray hair.
Three-week touchups may sound like a lot, but it’s actually not unusual.
There isn’t any reason to go gray before your time just because touchups have become bothersome.
You do have a few other options for color choices:
• Change the color to brown instead of red. Brown is closer to the color of gray. Re-growth will be less noticeable.
• Try adding multiple-colored foils of lights and darks with your natural color mixed throughout. The variations will help confuse the eye instead of viewing a solid line of growth. You can start this process with the color you are wearing right now.
• Change the base color to a dishwater blonde. Add foil lights of honey blonde to give a tow-head appearance. The dishwater color will be closer to that of your natural gray, making re-growth practically undetectable. This, and some patience, will offer you a way to gracefully go gray.
Scott Terwilliger is an Aiken salon owner and Master Colorist. He can be reached at email@example.com for questions and comments.