Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas Into Discoveries – Help for Hair Woes

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Here, tips for taming the transition to gray and minimize the thinning


Q. In my 20s I used to sit on my hair it was so long and straight. In my 40s I started doing the deadly perms at the hairdresser. My hair has a red tinge to it which I tried to hide by colouring it. I am now 66 and my hair is thinning, plus I’m stuck with colouring it every six weeks. I’m hoping for suggestions on how to minimize the thinning – and break the routine of colouring my hair without that awful year of growing it out! — Charlotte, Sicamous, B.C.


A. I’m afraid letting your hair go gray is a classic case of no pain, no gain. There’s just no easy way to do it, although you can take steps with the help of a professional to make a more gradual transition to minimize the discomfort. The thinning factor, however, is much harder to deal with.

“Thinning is often caused by genetic factors and while there are products that can help strengthen hair, to grow it back is almost impossible,” says Phillipe Fiorio, a stylist with 20 years experience at Toronto-based Fiorio Salons. “Science is working at ways to re-create hair follicles but that’s way down the road.”

If you’ve been colouring your hair a darker colour the transition to grey is going to be that much more difficult. Phillipe suggests you consider some low lights to avoid that wide strip of contrasting grey or white where the part is. “If you have 25 to 30 per cent grey, the transition isn’t as bad as it is if your hair is 75 per cent grey or more,” he says. “The trouble is, people who’ve been colouring their hair for years have no idea how much grey they actually have. A true professional will be able to take that band where you part your hair and camouflage some of it so it doesn’t look so severe.”

But ultimately, there’s going to be a period where you might just want to avoid mirrors. “There’s some pain involved for sure,” says Philippe. “Anybody who’s grown out their bangs knows there’s that transition period when it’s not working and once you get past that point it’s a whole lot easier again.”

And be prepared for a change in texture once the grey is exposed. Colouring your hair adds pigment, which adds weight and shine and makes your hair smoother, thicker and shinier. Grey hair has a tendency to be drier and sometimes more prone to frizziness, says Philippe. “We see some beautiful grey hair and you can help it along with a bit of treatment or conditioning, plus styling techniques that will help keep the hair under control. There are a lot of options out there, especially with today’s products and technology.”

Philippe also recommends having a goal in mind – like having shorter, edgier grey hair, for example. And bring along pictures of hair styles you like when you go see a professional. “A good stylist will give you the transitions and the steps to help get you there.”


Send Diane a brief description of your dilemma, along with your first name and where you live, to [email protected]

A professional journalist for more than 25 years, Diane Sewell has written for some of the top newspapers and magazines in Canada and is a baby boomer herself. Her new blog “Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas into Discoveries” is interactive with readers and focuses on life issues – like aging, dating, second marriages, sex, death, family and fashion. Diane will use her expertise to find the right expert to help solve your predicament, unearthing kernels of truth and quickly getting to the heart of the issue.