Posted in Personal life

Glad to be Grey

It may seem perverse to begin my column this month by celebrating a shade that is absent from colourful autumnal trees and hedgerows, apart from in the glittering spiders’ webs suddenly all over our gardens.

Instead I want to talk about a colour – some might call it a non-colour – that since the start of the first lockdown has been top of mind for me, and increasingly on top of my head.

You see, for those of us of a certain age, grey is the new brunette. BC (Before Covid), every four or five weeks, I would happily pop into Hawkesbury’s hairdressing salon, Head Start Studio, for a cut and colour to keep my grey roots hidden and my ends from splitting.

This regular dose of me-time meant I genuinely had no idea what percentage of my hair would be grey if left untouched by hairdresser’s hand. Under lockdown, with the decision to dye or not to dye denied me, the truth slowly emerged.

To my surprise, growing out my grey felt strangely liberating. Ever the Pollyanna, I decided to embrace my inadvertent inverted ombre.

With the irritating zeal of a reformed smoker, I developed a radar for people who had given up their dye-jobs, kindred spirits who had also ushered in the ashen look.

By contrast, I was interested to see who swung in the opposite direction, colouring their hair ever brighter with purples, blues and pinks. I hope this trend helped compensate colourant manufacturers who had lost customers like me.

My inadvertent inverted ombre (now there’s a tongue-twister!)

A kind friend on the same path introduced me to purple shampoo. Rather than colouring your hair mauve, it promises to transform plain grey into shining silver. This counterintuitive trick reminds me of the blue bag my grandmother used in her twin tub to wash whites whiter. I didn’t understand how that worked, either, but it did.

Now I’m wondering why it took me so long to realise I should be glad to be grey. It’s a softer, more flattering look for older skin, as well as a saver of time, money and effort. My only dilemma is how to continue to support Head Start Studio while keeping my new-found natural colour. I’ve always said I go there as much for the entertainment value as for the hairdressing, always leaving with my face aching from laughing so much at Tasha and Alannah’s banter.

Then the answer came to me: I can still visit just as often, if I ask them each time to cut only half as much off as they used to.

This post was originally written for the October issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News.



English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

5 thoughts on “Glad to be Grey

  1. So nice to have you share your views and lovely picture about gray hair.I am 74 and still dyeing my hair at home by myself. The roots and scalp show in a week. Then I use a spray on root coverup. It’s messy and tiring. My hair is thin and scalp shows on the top. I’m sure the brown dye chemicals are not good for me. I’m pretty stuck and I know if I were all gray I would look 20 years older. It’s wonderful to read about your freedom. I hope I find a way. Love your books!!

    1. Hello, Marilyn! You have far more patience (and accuracy) with home dyeing than I have ever had – I only tried once or twice and near wrecked the bathroom, hence my reliance on our lovely local hairdressing salon. I’ve never thought to read the ingredients on a box of hair colour (if they even let us know what’s in there). Maybe better not to know… You may find you look younger rather than older if you skip the dye – I was pleasantly surprised to feel younger, at least! I’m sure lockdown aged me about 20 years, so I was ripe for a bit of rejuvenation! So glad you’re enjoying my books. Maybe I need to create a storyline about a hairdressing salon some time – I could have great fun with that, so thank you for the inspiration!

      1. Thanks so much for your reply!! Sounds like a fun idea for a new book. I look forward to it!!

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