Monday, April 13, 2009

Time for a New Style?

What is it about spring? We clean and put in gardens, we vow to lose weight and go shopping for bright colors. We clean out our closets and have garage sales. And we change our hairstyles.

I'm dying, dying I tell you, for a new cut. I'm even ready to quit--shh!--coloring!! But I'm feeling my age, more than ever, limiting the styles I'm considering. I like this one on the left, but I wonder if it wouldn't involve too much putzing, not to mention make me look older.

For most of my childhood, I had long hair. I could show you some chilling pics of me with my hair in braids, but we won't go there. After my senior high photo, I chopped my hair to my shoulders and from then on it kept getting shorter and shorter and shorter. By the time I had my first job out of college, my hair was, at best, a few inches long.

I kept it short for many, many years. Through the young mother stage of my life it seemed the easiest thing to do. Then, when my kids were older and less time-consuming, it finally dawned on me that I'd probably have short hair as an old lady (How many 80 year olds have you seen with nice long tresses?) and since I wasn't getting any younger it was time to grow it out a bit. Coloring helped too, giving my fine hair more texture.

But it's been long long enough! I'm ready for a change. And I'm seriously ready to stop coloring. I'm going au naturele. Really. I swear. After my high school reunion this summer, that is!

So I started looking into new styles for gray hair and I ran across these tips for graying hair from the Prevention website (although I think the tips can be used with any dramatic change in appearance):

Step 1: Go Gradually
Wait until your roots are at least 60% silver before giving up your dye job, so your new gray hair hue will look symmetrical and natural as it grows in, suggests colorist Jennifer J., owner of Juan Juan Salons in Beverly Hills, CA. But don't give up color altogether just yet. "The contrast in texture and tone as your hair grows can look unkempt," she notes. During this phase, which can last up to a year, get a do-it-yourself highlighting kit or ask your colorist to weave in a few fine highlights or lowlights (darker streaks) to add dimension and blend in roots.

Step 2: Consider a New Cut
Cropping your hair above your collarbone during the in-between period will lessen the contrast between silver and pigmented strands. Layers can also help camouflage multiple hues. "A choppy cut looks youthful and helps hide your roots," says Jonathan Gale, a colorist at the John Frieda Salon in Los Angeles. When your gray has grown out, don't regress to a matronly 'do. "For gray to look glamorous and chic, your cut should be contemporary," says Mark DeVincenzo, creative director at the Frédéric Fekkai Salon in New York City. To enhance silver strands, which absorb light, making your mane look dull, style hair straight (use a flatiron or a dryer and a round brush) to promote shine. Once your hair is completely white, talk to your stylist about adopting an above-the-shoulder, layered style that provides movement and softly frames your face.

Step 3: Pick Silver-Specific Products
When hair turns gray, the protective cuticle thins out, which can make strands coarse and prone to breakage. Keep tresses soft and healthy by doing the following:

  • Choose a moisturizing shampoo to soften and smooth gray hair and make it appear more lustrous.
  • Wash hair with a formula geared for gray once a week to counteract yellowing caused by sun, pollutants, hard water, and smoke. But don't overdo it: Many of these products contain a blue tint that can cause a purplish cast.
  • Apply a clear gloss or glaze monthly on gray hair to coat the cuticle and boost shine.
  • Opt for gels and mousses that are clear: The dyes in colored stylers can tarnish gray hair.

So what do you think, good tips or not? I don't think I'm yet 60% gray, so this has me reconsidering. And here's a pic of Blythe Danner at 60+, nary a gray hair, and she looks gorgeous.

Does/should age limit the hair styles women choose? What's your favorite style? Is there a hair style you wish you could wear, but for whatever reason can't? Ever go for a really drastic change? Did it turn into a disaster or the best thing ever?


Kathleen said...

I have been contemplating doing somthing different with the cut and colour of my hair. Your comments have come in very handy. I went grey at an early age and it was not too bad, but just the other day as I was walking through the mall, some teenagers moved aside for me. As I approched them, one teenager said, "Oh wait a minute and let this elderly person by". Well I was feeling all of my 52 years and then some that day, but now I am galvanized into action. This hair is getting hightlights and cut asap. I where my hair short, because I am not good with styling my hair. So I try to keep in cute but simpley styled. My hairdresser is away right now, but I will be going toher as soon as she can fit me in and look like I did many moons ago.
When my hair looks good, I look and feel good!!!!

Cindy Gerard said...

It's always all about the hair, isn't it? Too old for long hair? What is age appropriate? I struggle with this too. And I'm rely on my hairdresser to let me know if I need to go short. So far, she says we're good. I'm blessed with good genes. To date I have only a little gray at my temples where most of my friends are gray. I don't color all over but I do get highlights. I'm ready for a change too but I'm also at the 'devil you know' stage. I'm afraid to go short - I know, it will grow back if I don't like it but what a hassle.
Bottom line - Helen, you would look good bald so were I you I'd go for that change. I have no doubt you'll look amazing.

Michele Hauf said...

Ah, Helen, the gray debate. As you know I let it all go last year. I let my gray grow out. To do so I cut it short, because I would have looked horrid if I'd left it long, and it would have taken forever to grow out. I think it took about four months to completely grow out (again, it was short). I kept that gray hair for a year. It looked pretty good. It was nicely silver in the front with salt and pepper in the back. People would comment "It's pretty" and "you're brave!" The brave comment threw me. Really? So I was doing something that I shouldn't? Hmm...
I loved the no care factor associated with short gray hair. But one day I looked in the mirror and decided I'm just not that old! Just last week I went to the salon and got my first official permenant hair color, which is a dark brown with lots of red in it. Love it. Hate having to dye my hair. But will continue to do so for another decade at least.
I'm not that old!

Keri Ford said...

My first hairdresser had this poster on the wall. The woman was advertising hair products (of course), but I've never forgotten her hair. It long, but had the wavy curls that looked 'beached tossed'. ALWAYS wanted her hair, but mine's too thin.

I do like that hair do in the first picture. I think as long as you feel good and great and sexy and all that, then the hairstyle will fit you.

Helen Brenna said...

Kathleen, you're so right. When the hair works, everything works! You go, girl!!

Cindy, I'm relying on my hairdresser too. If you can't trust her, who can you trust. And you don't need to go short (as the pinching in Spain proves!!). You look gorgeous and I still can't believe all you do is highlight! You're like my mom. She's 84 and not even 30% gray.

Helen Brenna said...

Michele, your gray was a pretty color, but I meant to mention at the meeting last weekend that I like the new color too. It goes with your skin tone beautifully.

4 months, huh? Ugh.

Helen Brenna said...

Keri, I think you're right. It's all about how we feel.

Kylie said...

Helen I am completely biased on the issue and you're talking to someone who was getting *loads* of gray strands at 26. My hairstylist started highlighting it and I was completely shocked at 35 when she casually mentioned it was 75% gray! Who knew, LOL!

But count me as one of those who adds ten years to a person's estimated age if they have gray hair. I'm notoriously unobservant, so the hair is the first thing that goes into that impression. I will never be gray. Okay maybe at 80 but not until then!

I love the first style too and it all depends on the hair, doesn't it? I don't have enough hair to wear mine that way but I would sure be envious if you could, LOL!

I'm getting to the point when my hair gets to a certain length it feels straggly to me. But that's just because I wasn't blessed with thick hair. If I were, I'd wear mine longer.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Helen, have you been a fly on my wall lately? You've just rehashed my dilemma of late.

I went in for color last week. Couldn't get in to colorist and stylist on the same day, and I was desperate for color. I have white temples, but overall the gray is sparse. I don't enjoy going to the hairdresser, but I don't enjoy looking haggard either. I'm cheap, and I hate what they charge for a foil, but that's what I do. Highlights and low lights both. I made an appt for this week for a cut, but I canceled it because I kinda had fun with the hot rollers after I got some color. I'll be looking for inspiration on a cut as well.

Kathleen Eagle said...

You know, it's all about the texture and the basic color of your hair, your skin tone, and the way you gray. Mousey brown hair like mine looks really dull and yucky when it grays. Hubby's black hair went s&p and then white--really nice. He thought it made him look old and he tried having it dyed, but it came back so fast he said the hell with it. But I always thought he was graying gracefully. In his family they either go silver beautifully or they hardly gray at all. Me, I'm having a bad hair life. I want to come back as Blythe Danner.

Helen Brenna said...

Kylie, I do the same thing. Usually. But there's a woman I know, in her 50s who wears her hair long and completely gray and she looks gorgeous. She's gotten me to thinking about it.

Mine, though, is feeling straggly these days. I think that first cut looks so pretty 'cause they use one of these new irons on it. Cost a fortune, but are supposed to give hair a nice body.

Me look like that first photo? In my dreams. I wouldn't have the patience. If I have to do anything other than spritz and blow dry, I'm in trouble.

Helen Brenna said...

Kathy, LOL. A bad hair life? Whatever you did at the meeting last Saturday looked gorgeous!

There are different types of gray, yes. Mine, I'm afraid is going to be a mousy salt and pepper. Wish I could go white ... like Michele - yes, it's pretty!

Anonymous said...

I had LOOONNNNGGGG hair until my early thirties. The first time I really cut my hair, my hairdresser put it into a ponytail and cut off a little more than a foot of hair. She assured me it would be easier on me that watching her cut it.

I've continued to get shorter and shorter. I don't want to mess with my hair. I don't want hot rollers, or flat irons. I used to spend 45 minutes ON MY HAIR every morning. Now, I can wash it and dry it in 5-10 minutes. It fits my life style and I think that's the point. Does long hair "fit" your life style?

But I admit I hate to see long hair on older women. It does not make them look younger (as I suspect they are going for).

Color? Well as they say, only my hairdresser knows for sure! But I am getting a little gray at the temples. Plus, my real hair color is "flat"...Nick (my hairdresser) does wonderful hit and low lights that looks natural.

Hair is such a hot topic for women, isn't it? You can have on the most fabulous outfit but if your hair will not behave, you never "feel it"...all the hot, sexy look. BUT with great hair, a ratty pair of jean and a T will make you feel great. Men do not have this trouble! Not fair. :)

Michele Hauf said...

Yes, Kathy, I thought your hair looked awesome on Saturday.

Helen, you could do the gray thing starting in the fall. I did it over winter, when I'm not out and about so much. (Like I'm ever out anyway.) But less things going on. You can emerge in spring looking all silvery and special.

Helen Brenna said...

45 minutes! Cyndi! Wowser! Just think how much more time you have every day!! lol

Helen Brenna said...

All silvery and special ... I like it, Michele!

Debra Dixon said...

What a great blog, Helen. Those are great tips. Especially the one about 60% roots being gray. I would never have thought of making the decision based on nature's progress, but now I will.

I'm ready for a new style, but too tired to go look at them.

My current hairdresser tells me I can't look at hair that is blonde because it doesn't look the same when cut on brunette hair. That explains years of my twenties going so badly wrong at the hairdresser!!

So, I've finally started limiting myself to only brunettes who have hairstyles I like.

Betina Krahn said...

Chiming in late, here. . . on a favorite topic of late. My hair is longer now than it has been for decades. I'm not saying how many decades, but it's more than two. Having hair down to my shoulders is a little shocking for me. My hair is fine and straight and I do color it.

I'm wearing it this length because it's easy to put into a pony tail at the back of my neck or to put up in a twist. . . so I can cool off in the heat. Or so I tell myself.

I do have some gray, mostly around the face. But I'm still officially blond and will be for some time to come. The folks in my family don't "silver" nicely. We just get yellowy white and look tired. So when I'm ready, I'll cut it very short and let it go natural. . . whatever that is!

LindaC said...

I'm really contemplating letting my hair go and have been for the last few months. I started getting gray when I was 18 and am now 45. I've dyed my hair since I was in my late 20's. I honestly hate dyeing(sp?) it now. It's gotten tiresome. Your tips are very helpful, Helen. Thanks!


Helen Brenna said...

Deb, you have no gray hair. I'm sure of it!

Betina, you look gorgeous every which way and I get the whole ponytail thing. Been telling my stylist that for years. "As long as I can get it in a ponytail ..."

Helen Brenna said...

Hey, LindaC, you and me, babe. I can still remember plucking that first gray hair at 18 and freaking. Though I'd be totally white by now, but it's coming so gradually it's almost funny.

Barbara said...

Helen, I think that top style, the long layers, would look great on you.

I'm in the not gray-yet camp. I thought it was because I have streaks, but this winter let it grow out as I consider a new style and cut and all that (must be in the air!) and nothing. What surprises me though is how shiny that not-touched hair is. Too bad it's dishwater colored or I'd leave it natural.

Working out is the thing that causes me the most annoyance with hair. I want it all one length, maybe below shoulders, so I can braid it out of the way when at the gym or hiking. Too much trouble to wash and style twice a day!

Helen Brenna said...

Hey, Barbara - it is amazing how shiny non-treated hair really is. One of the reason's I'd like to stop coloring. And I struggle with the same issue with regard to working out. That's why whatever style I have has to be simple. Wash and wear!

Candace said...

I came into this world as a blond and, as long as I have anything to say about it, I will leave this world the same way -- no matter what it takes in the way of chemical enhancements

Aside from one disastrous haircut in my early twenties, I have always had long hair, as well. I am just not "me" with shorter hair and I don't have any skill at styling short hair. With long hair I can pull in back in a ponytail or twist it up, stick a couple of decorative sticks in it and I'm set.