Back to Grey

For years, men and women everywhere start dying their hair the instant they notice grey hairs. In most cases, it’s not really the grey hair itself that frightens them — it’s the prospect of aging. It’s no secret that here at Zoomer, we have a slightly different approach to aging and view these years as some of the best of our lives. It seems many others are starting to share our philosophy. It all begins with wholly accepting ourselves and all the beautiful things that come along with getting older, such as grey hair. This poses a question for many: how can I go back to my natural grey without having to suffer through a year or two of unattractive roots? Zoomer spoke with hair professional Greg May to explore the options.

Brooke Benjamin: Recently some of our readers have expressed some interest in going back to grey after having dyed their hair dark. Do you see this scenario a lot?
Greg May: I gotta tell you, lately a lot. Maybe it’s because of you guys! But yes, recently I’ve been seeing this happen more and more.

BB: Can you explain some of the options for people in this situation?
GM: There’s several answers for this question. The most obvious way to get back to grey is to just cut your hair short and let it grow out on it’s own. This way the awkward growing-out phase, where the roots don’t match the hair, is completely eliminated. This is easiest but, of course, not everyone is prepared to cut their hair this short.
If your hair is in a bob shape, all more or less one length, what we do sometimes if there is already major rootage is a shag haircut. We put layers through the hair, which lessens the contrast and blends it a bit better.

Another thing we do a lot is highlights. Either sliced-out highlights or weaved-out highlights. In this case, where you want it to look very natural, I would probably weave it. Sometimes we call this needle and thread because you’re doing very fine weaves. You pre-lighten that hair so it’s pale yellow and then you tone the highlights with a platinum toner. So these highlights are going to actually look grey. We do that a lot. And that way you can come back every couple of months and get touched up and before you know it, you’re grey!

BB: So would you say this might be the most attractive way to do it?
GM: Definitely, especially for those not willing to change their haircut. When the hair is really dark, you need to leave it to a professional because you have to go through all the different layers of colours. Sometimes what happens is if you don’t pre-lighten the hair enough before toning, it can look a bit orangey and when you try to tone it, it just looks like you’ve had highlights and are trying to tone them instead of looking grey. You’ve really got to lift out all of the pigmentation to get the pale yellow and flatten that with toner to achieve grey.

BB: What about people who are in the process of going grey and want to have the full head of grey hair but aren’t quite there yet naturally. Do you see this a lot?
GM: It happens but not as much as the prior scenario. You have a lot of people coming in who have that beautiful white kind of grey in the front of their hair, and I always tell them it’s really hard to get that exact colour. What I do see quite often is really white in the front and really dark in the back which I personally think is quite beautiful and is the way nature intended us to be! But if they do want to add more grey to their hair, it’s actually a lot easier because when working with natural colour, the pigmentation lifts out very very easily so we do it the same way that I just mentioned. We’ve also got people who have a lot of grey and want to keep their grey but they want a little less grey. We’ll weave in really fine dark pieces and then it kind of takes them back by a few years, not too far back though.

Paul Mitchell actually has a colour which was released last season that’s marketed to men but we use it a lot on both men and women, and it’s the same type of thing. It’s called FlashBack and it covers the grey, but not all of it. It’s called FlashBack because it takes you back about five years.

BB: So that’s a way to get that ‘salt and pepper’ look then
GM: Yep! Basically what it is there’s no ammonia in it so it’s good for your hair. It contains soy protein which is obviously also good for your hair. It makes the hair super shiny as well. What it does is it shades out tone on tone so it doesn’t grow out because who wants roots? It lasts for up to 6 weeks.

But yes now that you’ve brought my attention to this, I can definitely say I am seeing more and more people who don’t want to cover everything. They’re embracing their gray hair.

BB: It’s great, and beautiful
GM: I think so too! I actually have a shampoo and conditioner as well which is geared toward gray hair; it takes out that yellow tinge and leaves your hair looking more vibrant. It’s called Greg May Ultra Violet.