I’m 50 but I’d never let anyone see my grey hairs

SCIENTISTS have confirmed that stress gives you grey hair – leaving many of us reaching for the bottle of box dye.

But some women – including stars like Helen Mirren and Tracee Ellis Ross – are embracing their new natural locks. Here, some of our Fabulous Beauty Panel debate whether or not they’ll stay grey.


Actress Andie McDowell is proudly going grey – but some women would rather stick to dyeCredit: Getty

YES – says Tracey McAlpine

“IT’S not you, it’s me,” I said to my colourist as we broke up.

I had never intended to call time on our appointments, every three weeks, when he cleverly disguised the greys appearing along my parting.

Tracey says Helen Mirren looked sensational with her white hair in Venice


Tracey says Helen Mirren looked sensational with her white hair in VeniceCredit: Getty

I’ve been dying my hair since my teens – and having just entered my sixties, I thought I was one of those women who would dye until I died.

That was until the global pandemic closed the salons and allowed women like me to see our true colours.

After trying DIY root touch-ups – only to find the harder I struggled, the worse my hair looked – I decided to go cold turkey.

And thankfully, I am far from alone.

Screen goddess Helen Mirren who looked sensational with her white hair at the Dolce & Gabbana show in Venice this week, has been flying the flag for years.

And the past 18 months have nudged other stars to embrace their natural greys.

Four Weddings And A Funeral actress Andie MacDowell debuted her untamed salt-and-pepper curls at Cannes earlier this year.

Model Erin O’Connor, singer Lily Allen and actresses Allison Janney and Tracee Ellis Ross have also showed off their greys.

And it does not take long to find a swathe of social media dedicated to #SilverSisters, where influencers such as beauty journalist Sali Hughes post photos of their transformations.

Having made the decision to let my dye grow out, I was apprehensive about the in-between stage. But we were in a national lockdown, so there would never be a better time to do it.

And if I hated the result, I could always dye it again.

But the more my hair grew, the more I liked the colour. It was softer and more flattering around my face.

It wasn’t wiry and unmanageable, like I thought it might be.

When I found more than 300,000 images on Instagram under #SilverSisters of women dispelling the myth that grey hair is ageing, I realised I was joining a revolution.

Women of all ages were not just embracing their natural colour – they were loudly and proudly making grey hair the ultimate fashion statement.

What I love most about grey hair is that it is multi-dimensional.


Unlike a straight dye job, which usually gives you a single tone all over, grey tends to grow in a variety of shades.

And each person’s grey hair is 100 per cent unique. No one else is going to have the same shade or pattern of shades.

After 18 months without dye, my hair is now “grombre”.

That is the half-and-half look as it transitions between being dyed and being natural, where the roots are lighter than the ends.

I expect that in six months’ time, I’ll be grey all over. My only regret? That I wasn’t brave enough to do it sooner.

I’ve saved a small fortune on going to the salon for dye jobs. My hair feels much healthier than when I was loading it with sulphates and silicones.

And I really love my new look.

Tracey has no regrets about going grey - apart from wishing she'd done it sooner


Tracey has no regrets about going grey – apart from wishing she’d done it sooner

Tracey’s tips

  •  Choose natural and organic products
  •  Use leave-in conditioner every other wash and alternate with a silver shampoo/conditioner
  •  Use a non-permanent colour masque every two weeks
  •  Favourite product: Maria Nila Sheer Silver shampoo, £21.95

Mum-of-two Tracey, 61, runs the Fighting Fifty blog and is a member of the Fabulous Beauty Panel

NO – says Sam Brick

I’M 50 and like to think I’m ageing naturally. I don’t bother with Botox, fillers, tweakments or fancy lotions and expensive potions. But all bets are off when it comes to my hair.

Granted, I have been lucky when it comes to my barnet. It’s only over the past year or so I’ve noticed a few greys poking through.

While silver strands might suit Tracee Ellis Ross, Sam says it makes her feel 'past it'


While silver strands might suit Tracee Ellis Ross, Sam says it makes her feel ‘past it’Credit: INSTAGRAM

But do I welcome them? Do I heck. Truth be told, I panicked when I first spotted them.

My hair colour is my identity. After discovering my first greys, I did give some thought about what I should do with them.

In the end, the answer was simple. I did not want to embrace them and I did not want to give up the dye.

I am old enough to recognise that I’m a bit vain. But also, I really like the colour.

Plus – and I hate to say this – when you let the grey come through, it suggests to the world that you have given up.

When I see women who have decided to embrace their grey, there is a part of me that admires them.

However, for me, such a move is less about being wise and more about standing back from the front row of society and saying: “I’m letting the younger generation take over.”

In 2021 we should not be having this debate. But as human beings we are hard-wired to judge strangers within seconds of meeting them.

Grey hair says “granny”. It is not difficult to hide those silvery strands. I pay less than a fiver for a box of hair colour every three months.

When you let the grey come through, it suggests to the world that you have given up.

I snip off any stray ends. I’m as low-maintenance as they come.

But grey hair pushes women like me into the “early retirees” bracket.

That bracket include things like Velcro-fastening shoes, elasticated fleeces and nylon trousers. That is not a place I want to be.

Picture Nigella Lawson, Mariella Frostrup and Ulrika Jonsson – all of them fabulous 50-plus beauties ageing gracefully . . . but not an uncovered grey hair among them.

I don’t blame them. Nothing says “past it” like a mop of wiry silver hair.

I have watched peers try going au naturel be-cause they feel they ought to, charting their progress on Instagram.

But those brave souls are soon lured back by the box of magic colour.

It’s unfair that this argument is restricted to women.

The silver foxes who keep their grey hair clipped short have it so easy. The likes of George Clooney have undoubtedly got it going on. But no one is going to claim grey-haired Theresa May as their crush, are they?

Of course, everyone should be able to express who they are – wrinkles, grey hair and all. But we do make judgments based on physical appearances.

Luckily, covering up our greys is cheap and easy. There is no need for a single bad-hair day.

Sam says covering up is cheap and easy, so she'll continue to have no bad hair days


Sam says covering up is cheap and easy, so she’ll continue to have no bad hair days

Classy colour

FAB Daily’s Beauty Editor Tara Ledden says:

  • Use a colour-safe shampoo that won’t strip your hair. Try Paul Mitchell Color Protect daily shampoo, £13.50, feelunique.co.uk
  • Use a tinted dry shampoo to cover pesky roots, or a concealer like Superdrug Colour Fix spray, £4.99
  •  Add vibrancy between salon visits with a leave-in hair mask like Josh Wood Colour Shade Shot Gloss, £19, Boots
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