If you’ve got gray hair, you might worry that you’re too young to look old. Celebrity hairstylist Lorraine Massey would tell you not to. In her new book, Silver Hair: Say Goodbye To The Dye And Let Your Natural Light Shine, Massey argues that younger women can actually benefit from letting their hair grow out and turn gray naturally —and it’s not just because gray, sported by the likes of Kim Kardashian, Pink and Cara Delevigne, is trendy right now. Instead, Massey says that if you’re graying young and you go with it, you could actually enable your best hair ever to come to the fore.
Unlike older women whose hair is naturally weaker and has been subjected to years of color buildup, "Younger women’s hair is stronger and more robust," Massey, who is the also the author of Curly Girl: A Handbook and founder of the Devachan Salons and DevaCurl hair care products, tells Bustle. She says that if natural gray hair is given the chance to surface, it can be super healthy — not to mention save you a ton of cash:
"On average, women spend an average of over $50,000 over the course of 40 years to color their hair — that’s a down payment on a house or an apartment," Massey says.
Granted, it’s not easy to go gray, especially when you’re young.
“I recently ran into one of the girls in my book on the street, and when she saw me coming toward her, she actually hid,” Massey tells Bustle, “Because she’d colored her hair from gray back to blonde and she didn’t want me to see it. I told her not to feel bad, that she’s on her own hair journey and she can get to where she wants to be when she wants to be there.”
If you’ve got some gray hair and want to explore the possibility of letting it transition to fully gray, Massey has plenty of advice to help you get there. Her first tip is to reframe the idea of going gray into something positive.
“The girl who hid from me on the street...she said her hairstylist had called her hair ‘battleship gray’ and that image had traumatized her,” Massey says. “So it has a lot to do with framing: If you think of gray in terms of silver, you’ll see it as something edgier, more stunning.”
It's not just about one shade of gray, either. Massey says that adding variation to the color helps, particularly for those who are transitioning to gray slowly.
"With a little help from a trusted expert, you can use highlights and lowlights to help visually break up the line of demarcation between your regular hair and your new gray hair," she says. "I would say highlights are the best way to begin as lighter hair suits almost everyone and they are the best way to beginning uncoloring hair."
Massey suggests using toners in fun shades to color gray hair. “You can make one yourself at home by mixing food coloring with conditioner and applying it to dry hair,” she says. “Reds are always fun, blues work well for blondes. You can even apply the food coloring neat to your hair.”
She also says that when it comes to going gray, getting a cut you love — and that works with the color — is of the utmost importance.
"Getting the right cut for your gray hair is important," she says, being partial to the Michelle Williams pixie cut for younger women. But really, “I would say that any kind of wash and wear shape that isn’t blowdried and contorted into shape would work great for someone who is graying naturally.”
Her top tip, though, is all about care. Massey says that if you're going to go gray you should stop you should limit the amount you use — and when you do, opt for a shampoo without sodium laurel sulfates.
Ultimately, Massey’s takeaway is that whoever chooses to go gray — and that includes Massey herself — should only do it when they're ready, and when they're excited about the decision. "Gray hair is not only pretty," she says, "It’s also empowering and uplifting.”
If you're contemplating the decision to go gray, those words of encouragement could be just what what you need to take the plunge.