A silver lining

Updated: 17 February, 2020 09:21 IST | Anindita Paul | Mumbai

Hollywood legend Jane Fonda wowed the audience with her silver pixie look at the Oscars. Four Mumbaikars across ages share their stories of going grey by choice

Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda

When Jane Fonda stepped on the Oscar's stage to give away the final award for the night, all eyes turned to the diva's trademark mane — gone were the iconic blonde waves and in their place was an icy silver pixie. Writing about the jaw-dropping transformation, Fonda's colourist said that the move was sparked by the re-growth of salt-and-pepper roots, which the 82-year-old actor was now ready to embrace. Her sentiments are reminiscent of a growing breed of men and women across the globe who are ditching their monthly colour touch-ups in favour of sporting their silvers with pride. Fonda isn't the first celebrity to buck to this trend — at the 2018 Golden Globes Jessica Biel walked the red carpet with grey strands, too. When model Chrissy Teigen tweeted her love for grey, thousands of women responded with enthusiasm about how they've grown to accept their own greys. Closer to home, stars such as Nafisa Ali, Waheeda Rehman and Ratna Pathak Shah continue to flaunt their silver manes with ease.

The growing popularity of Instagram accounts such as @grombre (which celebrates women who show off their new grey growth) and its namesake hashtag and others such as #silverfox and #greyhairdontcare, are indicative of the tremendous support that those who transition to their natural locks receive. This hair revolution is much more than a fad — in the world of hair care, chasing away each grey strand can be as futile, expensive and frustrating. The burden of 'covering up' also often falls squarely on women, adding to the list of beauty standards that women are expected to conform to.

Here's how four Mumbaikars keep their silver-greys in top form.

When in doubt, go natural

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My mother was my inspiration to go grey. I was born when she was in her mid-thirties and grew up observing her salt-and-pepper hair. Like her, I started greying quite early. In my case, there was some pressure to cover up my grey locks, as my mother-in-law would dye her hair. But I stood my ground. While I did use mehendi when my hair was more pepper than salt, I stopped that once I began to grey. I steer clear of using too many chemicals on my hair — I swear by all-natural products and will often boil soap nut (reetha) and use that as shampoo.

Sharmila Sinha, 60, writer and home chef

Pay attention to after-care

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I see hair as an extension of my personality and a canvas to express myself. I've been platinum blonde for a couple years, had red hair in college, while being a natural brunette. I decided to colour my hair silver to challenge the notion that grey or silver hair is for seniors. My hair has been cut and coloured for the past decade by Avani Yashwin, a dear friend and owner of Happy In The Head. Since going grey, I don't style my wardrobe or my hair any differently. In fact, I flaunt my mane as comfortably in a saree as with jeans and a tee. My dressing style is minimal and understated, my hair styling routine is nothing more complicated than regular air-drying.

It's important to understand that many lighter colours, including silver, are semi-permanent, which means they will not lighten your hair colour but only deposit colour. This means that your hair colour needs to be very light — it will need to be bleached, which can cause a lot of damage to the strands. It is important to take a few precautions such as washing your hair with cool water instead of hot, using an appropriate conditioner each time you wash your hair, deep conditioning once a week and going for an olaplex treatment at regular intervals. I also massage my scalp with coconut oil before every wash, use a lot of conditioner and leave it on for longer periods of time. I also use argan oil after every wash. If my hair starts to feel dry or frizzy, I re-apply argan oil. Occasionally, I will use a hair mask (a thicker version of a conditioner) and let my hair soak it up for a couple hours. It helps to go back to your stylist every six months for some toning for colour maintenance (I let my hair grow out a lot and don't go back to touch up my roots) and a quick evaluation of hair health.

Pooja Ramachandran, 38, genetic counsellor and stand up comedian

Have fun with your greys

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My decision to go grey was quite spontaneous, although it had possibly been at the back of my mind for a while. I like to describe my own personality as a little funky and sporty and find that this works best with my silver hair, especially since I have a youthful face to add contrast. I've found that short and trendy hairstyles work best for silver hair. Of course, having a hairstylist who understands my hair and style helps a lot. For me, one of the biggest changes to my hair care routine was to not have to colour my hair every seven days. However, I do take measures to smoothen and moisturise my hair, since grey hair can get wiry. I am also quite regular with my haircuts to make sure my style stays intact.

Once you've made the decision to go grey, the transition period can be a little difficult. This meant a year of my hair looking terrible! I'd suggest that others understand that the decision to go grey is not a physical but also an emotional journey. You must be willing to let go of the societal standard that equates grey hair with ageing. I've grown to enjoy my grey hair and have fun with it. Even my son loves it on me and has told me to keep it this way.

Alisha Chauhan, 41, entrepreneur

Choose the right shampoo

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I started greying around the age of 23-24. I never bothered to colour it because I found that the salt-and-pepper look accentuated my style. I have been blogging for the past 10 years and found that silver hair has become a signature style statement. Through my social media presence, I urge followers to embrace their natural hair colour and to not be pressured by societal standards. Of course, this doesn't mean that you cannot colour your hair at all. I like to switch up my colour every three months and experiment with my look. However, I invariably go back to my greys.

I like to play up my greys with youthful, sporty clothes that add a sense of visual contrast. At the same time, I find that the best way to rock your greys is with a tailored suit. I don't find that my strands make me look older and have never coloured my hair for that reason. When it comes to maintenance, most commonly available shampoos have chemicals that react with silver hair and turn them yellow or brassy. Many brands are now bringing out silver shampoos (also called purple shampoos) that accentuate silver hair. I do take care to moisturise my hair to maintain the texture.

Riaan George, 37,grooming specialist and luxury blogger

Style with care

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  1. A good haircut is a must. Regular trims are also important as grey hair can get frizzy at the ends
  2. Use a good hydrating shampoo and a blue or violet-hued shampoo at least once a week. This is important as sunlight can make hair yellow-ish. Follow this with a good conditioner that has antioxidants
  3. Set your hair with anti-frizz shine spray. Avoid serums, waxes or any other products that make your hair look hair clumpy or dull
  4. Cool-toned makeup works much better with grey hair than warmer tones
  5. Blush and highlighter can make your skin look flush and radiant. Choose cream blushes over power formulas
  6. Avoid caked or excessively layered make-up, which can add years to your face. The key to rocking silver hair is by contrasting it with a youthful countenance.

Natasha Nyss, celebrity hair and makeup artist

Dress it up

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  1. Short spiky cuts or bohemian layers work best with silver strands
  2. Layering your clothes right can play an important role — darker jackets paired with vibrant undertones such as royal blue, fuchsia and white will make heads turn this season
  3. Silver and rose jewellery work much better with silver hair, as compared to gold tones. Choose minimal yet impactful pieces
  4. Avoid grey, rust and caramel tones

Ashna Makhijani Shah, celebrity stylist

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First Published: 17 February, 2020 08:37 IST

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