How to embrace grey hair during lockdown

— by Alyson Walsh

Photo: Claire Pepper


If I hadn’t already gone through the growing in the grey process, I’d be doing it right now. On lockdown for weeks on end with no-one (but Mr TNMA) to witness my feral eyebrows and untouched roots, I’d be going full Agnes Varda. One friend, a 60-year-old textiles teacher (who usually has half a head of highlights and lowlights in her naturally dark brown and grey hair), admits to worrying that grey hair will make her look older, but that hasn’t been my experience at all. Of course when you’re over-50, going grey is more than just a hashtag on social media – there are psychological issues and societal assumptions involved, too. Women are expected to look a certain way and so coming to terms with physical changes as we move from one life stage to the next involves a combination of self-acceptance and standing your ground. ‘What’s happening now means my priorities have shifted,’ my friend says on the phone, ‘ We rarely have this time to experiment and be creative – this is a good time to reinvent yourself.  I’m going to leave my hair and see what happens, if it looks shit, I can always dye it back.’

But then there’s video conferencing. Another friend who works at a senior level in the music industry (shortish mid- brown dyed hair, grey growing through) has daily Zoom meetings with the global team and confesses she’s concerned about her appearance. ‘ I work in an industry where it does matter – so I did buy some hair dye but then left it on the counter in a panic to get out of the shop and back to social distancing,’ she laughs, ‘ Now I’m going grey whether I like it or not.’ To dye or not to dye is a personal preference. We all have different hair, so each to their own.  Though experts recommend gritting your teeth rather than giving yourself a dodgy dye job, ‘I wouldn’t suggest attempting any home hair colouring to blend the growth in ,’ advises Jayne Mayled founder of White Hot Hair, ‘that requires real expertise to my mind.’

Fortunately, there are tons of fantastic root concealers available (if you can get hold of them): demand for Josh Wood’s selection of at-home products is 20 times pre-lockdown levels. Over the last 10 days sales of American brand Colour Wow’s Root Cover-Up have increased by 125%, while both Woods and Colour Wow are experiencing increased traffic to their instructional videos online (Josh Wood information HERE and Colour Wow videos HERE).

Last week the Telegraph commissioned me to write about my ’embracing grey hair’ experience and I had way too much information to include in the piece, so I thought I’d share some here:

Three expert tips to help you grow in the grey (get through the Badger Stripe phase) during lockdown

Be prepared. ‘ You really need to have the root concealing process mapped out before you start,’ explains Josh Wood, ‘ Make sure you have everything prepped in front of you – a dark towel, bowl, brush and hair clip – and wear an old t-shirt, you don’t want to ruin your outfit before your business meeting on Zoom.’

The two-tier technique. Woods recommends the following approach, ‘I’ve learned from our community who are concealing grey at-home that they layer up. Start with clean, just-washed hair then paint the colour on while wet; dry hair and then top up with either our tinted dry shampoo or Root Marker to take the edge off heavy roots.’

Experiment with accessories. ‘As we’re seeing very few people, it’s a great time to practice things you don’t have the time or confidence to usually try,’ advises Jayne Mayled, ‘Pinning bits of your hair back and off your face, plaiting the front section into a kind of headband, trying actual headbands and scarves and generally being much more experimental.’ On Twitter yesterday, journalist and broadcaster Joan Bakewell shared a message, ‘ Roots showing? New fashion!’

Esteemed journalist Joan Bakewell

The Bakewell Band


I found tying my hair back in a bun and not looking at the rear view in the mirror helped, too.  We’ll all be wearing face masks soon enough so whose going to notice a bit of regrowth?


*Please note affiliate links in this post may generate a commission. 


Read my Telegraph feature HERE. Listen to my podcast with Jayne Mayled of White Hot Hair HERE.


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