Coloured Hair or Silver?
March 31, 2013 by Christine Scaman
I wrote this back in The Emmas Are True Springs Part 2.
Besides covering grey, I canâ€™t think of a time when chemistry improves base hair colour from what Nature gives us. Thatâ€™s the colour we had at 25, before we darkened with maturity. Itâ€™s the most believable, flattering, low maintenance colour we can wear.
I don’t agree with the first sentence, or how I said it. I am thankful that it was pointed out to me. I still agree with the second sentence, having not been given better evidence to the contrary. Like this entire website, I await and welcome all evidence to the contrary of anything I write to help me find truth. Maybe that why Winters are so often colour analysts, because we’re so convinced about our own judgments. Not necessarily a good thing but very willing to change my mind.
Kate* saw two issues with my words:
1. Improvement? Says who?
2. 25? Why 25?
For some women, the result of a colour analysis doesn’t come as a big surprise. Â It didn’t for Kate. She had figured it out herself and just needed to join the ends on her entire palette by understanding what all of her colours and her colouring have in common. As all women with their natural hair colour, the road to wearing her colours and bringing the whole picture together will be shorter and easier.
When hair colour needs adjusting, as it did for me, the road gets longer. There’s this crazy thing going on where your brain can’t believe what your eyes just saw, you’re pretty sure you look like a clown in the makeup, being a Winter, you’re ignoring what everybody around you says, you know You best, and after all, your colourist is a colour expert, it can’t be, it can’t be, and yet, there is your phone in your hand with your finger dialing the hair salon before you’re out of the colour analyst’s driveway. Your colourist fits you in, miraculously gets the colour right the first time, but you can’t see that either yet, you’re questioning the whole deal now. Your husband is trying to help, he sees your Feng Shui is in a mess, but he can’t remember the words Feng Shui, he knows it’s not Shih Tzu because he said that one time and you laughed at him for days, so he tries again, “Don’t let your hair screw up your Shit Zing, you look gorgeous to me.”, and you want to drive your fingers into his eyes and rip off his nose. Useless, he’s just useless. You ask your friends even though you know there’s an element of performing for each other, which as a Winter, you resist, but such are life and compliments. They’re swept up in making you feel better, I could go on for pages because this does go on for months, do you send your analyst an email? will she be pissed? she might as well be because you sure are, so you see, it’s easier to start off with easy hair.
Meeting a Soft Summer who recognizes the perfection and specialness of her inherently dusty hair colour is always such a pleasure. This hair is as special as Bright Season hair in being misunderstood, under-appreciated, and difficult to get right from a bottle. Without that dusty quality in the hair, the harmony of the whole image is elusive. Kate’s hair had a few silver strands. Not only were they hard to see, once you did notice them, they absolutely added to the perfection of her own colouring, as if she’d reached a higher level of her colours, not just Lavender Smoke, but Lavender Silver Smoke.
Kate said to me,
It feels like everything you say flows organically/logically from the Sci/Art system, except these conclusions about grey/silver hair, and that your best base colour is when you were 25. Â I know you state in different ways that our nature-given colouring is never less than perfect, the genetic paint box is the same for skin, hair and eyes. That makes total sense to me â€“ but seems to be contradicted by a statement that the hair colour we had at 25 is the most perfect? How can that be? The genetic coding that determines our paint box also determines our hair silvering pattern/tone/rate, and as well, the softening of our skin colour as we age, no? So, provided our hair and we are healthy, and the colour is not artificially affected by chlorine/sun/ hot iron damage etc, would not our current natural hair colour at whatever age, truly be our most perfect hair colour for us?Â I think itâ€™s the casual/automatic assumption that covering grey is an improvement, as a fact, that is the most problematic for me. Â If we could see how young many people are when get silvers, we really would lose that association.
It’s important to me to be exact in the words I choose. In no way do I believe that covering gray is always:
A. More flattering – Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. Many (like me) are not ready for partial gray because the white hair is obvious on the dark background. Transitions are not always easy. On lighter heads, the white hair virtually disappears and hair colour would gain the woman nothing.Â To my eye, it absolutely does look younger and more exciting to have the right hair colour on about half the women who colour. On the other half, no colour, even their own at 25, would look better on them than gray.
B. Necessary – My statement above, “Besides covering gray, I can’t think of a time when chemistry improves base hair colour from what Nature gave us…” should be followed by, “…if you don’t want gray”. In that case, chemical colour is an improvement on base hair colour, as in the case of me, because it’s getting me something I want. My situation is therefore improved, if not my hair’s colour.
Summers gray very easily. But nothing applies equally to all women, not even within a Season. Women need advice they can use because they’re going to colour their hair anyhow. I sure am, whether my natural hair colour is theoretically perfect for my genetic colouring or not. Â I lift my face with makeup and I’m going to lift my hair. I can fully agree that it should not matter to me, that I should welcome the gray, and that many real people gray quite early in life. But the fact is that I am not willing to put my money where my mouth is on that topic. I should be glad to have one lipstick when women in Africa don’t have food. Yes, but I don’t live in Africa. I buy a box of $5.99 colour and invest 20 minutes every few weeks. The payoff outweighs the inputs. If 3 hours and $120 every month were my only option, I’d rethink it, I promise you.
I may not be the right person to talk about the silvering of hair. There are topics about which Â I feel more strongly. On hair colour, whatever rings your bell as long as it’s a good colour for you. Â If I ever sound defensive, the women I’m (over)reacting for are those for whom silver hair, or silver in hair, would not be the best choice. Â For instance, the woman who had children in her 40s and is tired of being asked if she’s their grandmother. To her, leaving her hairÂ silver is someone else’s crusade. To the woman who had an illness after which her hair came back gray/silver, who felt that she’s missed a decade of her life in illness, silver hair makes her feel like she’s missed two. When life spins you too hard, hair colour, like tattoos, is a way of saying, “This one thing, this one part of my own flesh, I still control.”
Many of our choices are redirected from another problem. A cat is ticked at the stray that gets into the garbage Tuesday nights, so he attacks the other cat = redirected aggression.Â A person taking it out on you because they’re having a major Bad Hair Day has nothing to do with you. They’re redirecting aggression. A woman colouring her hair because illness stole part of her life isn’t making a social statement about Colour Is BetterYoungerPrettierSexier Than Silver. She’s trying to get back some time. Redirection of energy towards distant and seemingly disconnected outcomes consumes huge behaviour resources, the intention as much a mystery to the redirector as the redirectee. I guess this is what psychologists do all day. It’s not just appearance, it’s healing.
A colour analyst sees people closer to undisguised reality than many professions. You just never know someone else’s story. How much of it they want to share is their business but there is always a story, and often it’s a truly hard and heartbreaking one. Humans are vulnerable enough and carry around enough hurt. Sometimes laying the gray hair card on the table along with all the others is one card too many. I’m not defensive of my own hair colour, but the discussion does seem to spark some need to protect all these people I see. And yet, I know that nobody is even remotely attacking them. Quite the opposite.
There are online groups most of them are only too aware of their view of grey hair not too long ago, and besides, they just want women to do what makes them happy. The banding-together/sense of sisterhood comes about not because they think their way is best /only way, but rather because of the sense of being judged by society / many women who colour.
I try to speak to all sorts of women and I try to keep it real-world, no pretty or ugly, no right or wrong. I don’t judge or control your appearance, I just want you to choose from many options demanding equal time and money and be able to pick out those that will really help you.
Anna* is a True Summer in her late 30s with fine hair, a spot on her face that won’t go away, weight that won’t move despite all the work at the gym, trouble sleeping, a recent divorce, and a personal commitment to live up to her greatest potential. To run her company and appear in front of young women, to meet men, to feel like a powerful leader, she feels better with coloured hair. Right or wrong, it doesn’t matter, she looks younger, more vital, and much stronger. On that woman at that stage of her life, her life will not change for the better with thin, white hair. She’ll age visibly and she’ll age mentally. I wonder if hair can lose colour before skin. It’s only coloured by melanin, not hemoglobin or carotene. Anna’s skin is not a day over how our culture perceives 30.
June* is a True Summer with silver hair. It’s magnificent. She is magnificent with it. She’d be out of her mind to come near it with hair colour.
It’s a choice. I so often come back to this great, great question Darren asked: What is it that you want to communicate and to whom? That’s where your answer lies.
Georgette* is 18 with some early graying. Should she have the moral fiber to just wear her real hair colour, despite having heard “What a shame” once too many times, which is to say, once?Â 18 is shaky enough. If I were Mom and she wanted to colour it, I’d drive her to the store and help pick the colour.
No firm basis, except thinking it looks good on most women. Once dye came along, this 25 colour is often the last looked one that Â looked just right on most heads. It is a time when we are shown our custom-colour. Sure, our silver is our custom-colour as well, but now we circle back to the top. When women show me their grad photos, I love the colour I see. If I’m being asked for hair colour advice, I request the grad photo, and there are the hue, value, and chroma for your head. It is a specific and more interesting colour, not ‘medium to dark ash brown’. It’s a colour that stylists can use to get that woman right and happy, not wrong and even older looking.
Kate said so well, that
Any diminishing in vitality with silver hair is a perception in the eye of the beholder, driven by society. I get that many women feel differently from me, that it is a personal choice, that lots of women will colour and therefore direction on that is good, and I cherish that each woman has the choice… just so long as it’s not a choice driven by fear, to quote you about not using makeup.
To me, accuracy requires the word silver instead of grey, because each hair that loses pigment is silver/white/colourless, so the overall colour we see on the head depends on the colour(s) of the still-pigmented hairs, and % of silver. Society uses grey for everyone, but that is so not correct. I, for example will never be literally grey, as I donâ€™t have the black hair needed to add to the mix to make grey.
Q: I am curious what happens when silver sisters take off that grey cap at the end â€“ is there a sense that their hair doesnâ€™t belong, the same as many women with chemically-altered hair experience?
A: I wouldn’t say that silver haired women need to adjust after the cap comes off. They adjusted long ago. They’re just looking at a picture they’re used to. Even on True Autumns, the gray is stunning against the warmer clothes. Stunning and strong and interesting. I love these unexpected contrasts and comparisons. They are visually so inspiring.
Q: Once hair begins to silver, do the grays of the palette become better neutrals in clothing, even replacing black for those whose palette included it?
A: Depends on the person and the colour of gray. What colour are the eyes? What type of gray is the hair? A Dark Season with a strong iron gray hair and black eyes remains striking in black, with makeup that looks better than ever. Every feature is like a rhinestone. A Winter with a lighter, softer gray hair may find black too dark. She is more regal, yet still austere, in sharp gray, wearing black in smaller areas if her eyes appear black. At any age, black does define, refine, and outline the colouring and features of Winters, it’s part of how you came to be Winter in the first place, but the amount of it you wear will vary by the woman, even inside a Tone.
For the other groups of natural colouring (Seasons, Tones), for everybody, wearing your hair colour looks good. It looks organized and connected. Your clothing makes perfect sense on you. It feels good to look at. Wear more gray. Should it replace your taupes or beiges? Again, it depends. A Light Spring with creamy silver beige hair still look gorgeous in her ivory and milky peach beige.
In beauty, even within a Tone, there is no one-size-fits-all. If there were, it would mean that there are 12 types of women. Nope.