Gray, the Latest (Non) Color

August 19, 2010

Gray Has Come Into Its Own, Again

There is talk of a trend these days toward gray hair. It seems our Hollywood idols are beginning to age and aren't afraid to let their locks indicate it to the world. Gray hair can be very beautiful, or not - it just depends on how it is managed and cared for, as well as how good the color (or lack of it) looks on the person wearing it. Now, if you aren't confused yet, hang on, it gets better.

Hair that has "gone gray" is hair that has lost its natural pigment. The hair actually isn't gray, or even white, but rather it is translucent. It takes its "color" from the hairs surrounding it and the amount of light shining on it. That's why the more hairs you have that are gray, the whiter your hair appears to be. Color density is created by numbers of hairs of the same pigment.

Nothing New Under The Sun

A few hundred years ago, gray or white hair was very much in vogue. Actually compared to the 18th century, what we're seeing in Hollywood and on the runways of the fashion world is merely a drop in the bucket when it comes to gray hair. Do you remember hearing the phrase, "powdered wig"? Well, that's exactly what both men and women did in the mid-1700s and early 1800s. They oiled and powdered their hair in order to make it any of a number of shades of white - truly a fashion statement. The oil was necessary to make the powder stick. If you check the shoulders of some of the art depicting individuals in that era with white hair, you might just see flecks of white on their clothing. That would be the power and oil dropping from their hair - kind of like dandruff but more obvious.

Marie Antoinette, the French queen who was decapitated at the age of 38, in 1793, was the champion of powdered hair. Any picture you see of her will feature a towering bouffant held together with fine flour and oil. Interestingly enough, she was at her peak of "hair power" during The Flour War of 1775, during which the French people found themselves starving for want of bread - and there's Marie wearing their breakfast on her head. Her willful ignorance of her country's plight did not endear her to her people as she continued to do what was necessary to create that stylish gray hair.

Trendy Then and Now

Fast forward to 2010 and gray, granite, and white hair hitting the fashion runways all over Europe. Stars like Pixie Geldof, Kelly Osbourne, Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham are all sporting the non-color of gray these days. While many of the younger women are running to their hairdressers to "go gray," those who have it naturally are still spending big bucks to cover it up. Does the trend toward gray mean that finally getting older is respectable, that the mature woman with gray hair is to be envied? Probably not. It's probably because those with natural gray hide it under color that makes it such a desirable commodity. After all, when a very young woman is sporting gray hair, one can assume it isn't because she wants to welcome those of us three times her age into the youth-obsessed public.

The Natural Beauty of Gray

For those who are naturally mature and have decided to keep their natural color, gray hair can be very beautiful, soft looking and sexy. The key is a great cut, knowing and respecting the texture of your hair, and products to keep it looking shiny and healthy. Gray hair can look dried out and weathered very easily, so creating a hair care regimen that works for you is the best way to keep your hair looking great as it grays. The other lift to gray hair is playing up your facial features. Sometimes gray hair can make you look washed out, so a little makeup can go a long way. Talk with your hairdresser to find out how best to make your gray hair look and feel lovely and hit the streets - after all, at this point in history your gray hair is very much a fashion statement.

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