7 Gorgeous Gray Hair Makeovers
Writer and administrator at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City
First gray sighting: "I was in my mid-40s. It started to come in around my temples and ears."
Her reaction: "It amused me."
After the amusement, what she did about it: "I dyed it. I thought that was what I was supposed to do."
And she changed her mind about dying because: "I've always loved gray hair. I think it's elegant, smart, and sexy. So I quit dyeing and got black lowlights to kick up the contrast between my natural color and the gray. It keeps me from looking faded as more gray comes in. My hair is very thick and healthy, and I want to keep it that way. And I don't like to follow the crowd, so wearing my hair long is my way of showing independence."
Her favorite expression: "'Gray is the new black.' You remember when it wasn't considered appropriate to wear black? Then it became fashionable. I think it's going to be the same with gray hair."
Rita Hazan's solution: "The contrast between the gray and the black in Alicia's hair was too stark; the color needed to be better blended. So I wove black lowlights evenly around her temples and gave her a clear gloss to boost shine."
Problem: Severe cut
Real estate agent and model
First gray sighting: "In my early 30s my hairdresser handed me a mirror, showed me the back of my head, and said, 'Did you know you're going gray?'"
Her reaction: "I just let it happen. About 10 years later, I was divorced and getting very salt-and-pepper. My hairdresser kept telling me to dye my hair because it was making me look old. Finally I said, 'If you ever say that to me again, I'm not coming back.' He stopped. I thought my hair was beautiful. I still do. Instead of dark chocolate hair, I have this elegant silver mane."
She'll consider dyeing her hair when: Hell freezes over. "I've never dyed it, and I never will."
Juan Carlos Maciques' solution: "Gray hair can look harsh with a severe cut. A few layers around her face would soften her look. I used large hot rollers to give her body and waves, which bring out her beautiful cheekbones."
First gray sighting: "By the time I was 15, I already had an inch-wide streak in the front."
Her reaction: "I always thought it was cool. It never occurred to me to dye it. But it occurred to everyone else. I can't tell you how many times people looked at my hair and said, 'You should do something about that.'"
When she went completely gray: "In my late 20s, the love of my life dropped dead. I turned gray very fast after that."
Why she'll never dye it: "When my daughter was younger, she told me she was ashamed to be seen with me because of my hair. So I used a shampoo-in color, and it turned a hideous eggplant. It took me a year to grow it out; I just kept cutting it off till I was all gray again. I love it natural. It's who I am. I love being in my 50s and looking my age and being in great shape."
Juan Carlos' solution: "Yamuna's hair has a coarse texture, so she needs to use a daily leave-in conditioner and then apply a serum or spray that controls frizz and adds shine. She should use a deep conditioning treatment once a week, leaving it on for as long as possible, or even overnight."
Musician and production consultant
First gray sighting: "About 12 years ago. My hair is fine, but the gray was an entirely different texture, wiry and coarse."
Her reaction: "I tried covering it by combing my hair differently. That didn't work very well. So I started getting blonde highlights every six months or so."
Her haircolor ambition: "Eventually, I want to go all gray. But for now, I wouldn't mind being a little blonder."
Rita's solution: "There was no contrast between Helen's ashy haircolor and her complexion, so she looked completely washed-out. I gave her a warm, gold allover base color, with baby blonde, honey, and gold highlights to add dimension."
First gray sighting: "I was 17. My boyfriend's mother saw the gray first. Then in my late 20s I started getting it around my temples and in the front. It looked as if my hair was frosted, with lots of colors—brown, gray, white. By the time I was 45, it was all white."
Her reaction: "It never bothered me in any way. My grandfather was totally white at 30."
Her favorite thing about being gray: "At least twice a day, every day, I get stopped on the street by someone telling me they love my hair. Twenty-year-old boys, men, and women my own age, hairstylists. I think I look good because I'm comfortable with who I am; that's powerful."
Juan Carlos' solution: "Cathy's hair was heavy and limp. A slightly layered style—shorter at the cheekbone—and body-enhancing products give her hair a fuller, face-framing texture."
First gray sighting: "I was in my 30s. Gray hair has a way of making itself known: It was wiry and stuck up along my part."
Her reaction: "I dyed it brown. Sometimes I dyed it red. I liked dyeing it different colors; it was fun."
When dyeing stopped being fun: "About four years ago, the gray hairs started changing color; they got orangey. And then my husband said to me, 'Just go gray.' So with his encouragement, I cut off all the color and let my hair grow in naturally."
Why she won't commit to gray forever: "I've never been a platinum blonde!"
Rita's solution: "Regina's color—a drab brown—can get yellowish and dull when it starts to turn gray. I used a violet shampoo to remove dull yellow and enhance the silver. Then I applied a clear gloss to add shine."
Executive assistant; writer
First gray sighting: Yvette says, "I was 17. I couldn't really see it; it was underneath the top layer." Yvonne says, "I was 26 years old, and I saw a strand in the front near my face."
Their reaction: "We figured we were going to be like Mother, with a beautiful gray streak."
Why Yvonne stopped dyeing: "The mascara I used to touch up the haircolor around my face came off on my boyfriend's jacket. That was it for me."
Why Yvette didn't stop: "When Yvonne and I went out to dinner, people would ask if she was my mother. I thought, 'Well, that's what happens when you let yourself go!'"
But then she did stop because: "My hair was breaking off from the coloring and the straightening. It was just very unhealthy. So I'm letting it grow out. It's about half grown out now, and I try to cover up the different colors with a headband, or at least by wearing it slicked back."
And now she knows what Yvonne already knew: "I get more attention from men. I think they like it."
Rita's solution: "I would have liked to lighten Yvette's ends a bit to decrease the contrast between them and her growing-in gray, but because she's afraid of exposing her hair to more processing, I simply used a violet shampoo and a clear gloss on her [and Yvonne]. The shampoo brightens the gray and reduces yellow, and the gloss gives their hair a healthy shine."
Might that brazen route be right for you? Get the right makeup to amp up your gray!