Grey hair, oh yeah

— by Alyson Walsh

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Stella Tennant photo: Italian Vogue

At 45, Stella Tennant is the latest supermodel to vow to ditch the dye. ‘I’ve stopped dyeing my hair and I’m much greyer than I’d realised,’ she said in ES Magazine last month. ‘I’ve decided I’m going to go grey…I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not.’ Good on her. It’s too soon for the grey to really show – 15 months later, my own grey is still a work in progress, says beauty writer Vicci Bentley – but if fellow catwalker Kristen McMenamy, 51 is anything to go by, she has an even more head-turning barnet to look forward to.


Turning heads, Kristen McMenamy. Photo: Vogue

Hand on heart, going grey is the best style move I’ve made in years. What I’d failed to realise was my trademark ‘nearly black’ tint was actually draining the life out of me. Now, among the many compliments I get (some from total strangers!) are about how good my skin looks. There’s always been the ‘older, lighter’ beauty nostrum, but who knew that going grey could make you look younger, too?

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Going grey. Stella Tennant photo: Italian Vogue

I’d sort of earmarked my 65th birthday this year as D-day for the dye, but last January, I was so fed up with the roots routine that it simply felt time. Back then, no-one could have convinced me how liberating it would feel to buck the tyranny of tint. Before the ‘pro-ageing’ idea took hold, the ‘anti-ageing’ imperative has meant hiding the grey along with lines and wrinkles – and worrying you’ll be caught out. Outing yourself, however, is empowering. There’s a kind of ‘take me as I am’ confidence about flashing the silver. Although I was never what you’d call a shy violet, I have to confess the menopause took some of the wind out of my sales. I actually feel better about myself now that I’m fully expressing my age.

Of course, like Stella T, I’m in fantastic company. The granny hair trend rocketed grey up there to 2015’s Colour of The Year and a slew of products have launched to polish the silver. My current favourites are Pro:Voke’s excellent (and reasonably priced) Touch of Silver Brightening Shampoo and Conditioner, which both range from around £2 to £3 in chemists like Superdrug. Charles Worthington Colour Revive Mousse in Violet Toning, £9.99 is a leave-in conditioner that ramps up the platinum post-shampoo.

Stella T may already have realised that the ‘badger stripe’ phase is a tricky one. The wonderful brush-on Colour Wow Root Cover Up, £28.50 got me through the first two inches of regrowth, then I switched to Charles Worthington Instant Root Concealer spray £9.99 which covers larger areas faster. CW have also just brought out a brush-on Instant Root Concealer Powder, £14.99 which I haven’t tried, because when my roots started to look less like dereliction of duty and more like a declaration of intent, I stopped hiding them. I had this cunning plan to bleach the sides silver to match the roots on top, so it would all look meant to be.

It’s great to be yourself: Vicci ditches the dye

This of course, was high risk – three hours of bleaching to strip the dye left those sides bits extremely fragile. But with intensive therapy (thank you Kiehl’s classic Crème with Silk Groom, £18) they’re holding their own and the result’s a winner. The contrast of dark tint against natural silver now has an on-trend ombréd effect that people think I’ve paid a fortune for! The best part has been keeping my short bob – more flattering for me, than the default pixie chop. No, I don’t have Stella’s cheekbones, but as the woman herself says, it’s great to be yourself. Not ageing, but grey-ging….

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At 45, Stella Tennant is the latest supermodel to vow to ditch the dye. ‘I’ve stopped dyeing my hair and I’m much greyer than I’d realised,’ she said in ES Magazine last month.