Women beginning to embrace silver hair

Hairdresser Judy Atkinson says as long as she has an ounce of strength in her body, a grey hair will never be seen growing out of her head.

And she might be onto something - at least for herself. The attractive hairstylist looks at least 10 years younger than her 69 years.

"As long as I can reach up here," Atkinson says as she brings both hands up to her scalp, "I'll never be grey."

Many Hollywood celebrities aren't so adamant. In fact, some young actors have gone voluntarily grey. Kate Moss, 39, Kelly Osbourne, 28, Mary Kate Olsen, 26, and Pink, 33, have all been seen in varying shades of grey, with Osbourne sporting a striking almost lavender tint at the recent Golden Globes ceremony.

So we're not talking a dull grey. New techniques and products can make sterling, pewter and pearl tones glimmer and shine.

The topic of "owning, not hiding your grey hair" seems to trend every couple of years but should reach a crescendo as the thundering herd of baby boomers overtakes the majority of the population.

Grey is certainly no longer synonymous with grandma - 71 per cent of respondents in a prevention.com poll say women with grey hair can be sexy and 78 per cent say men can.

Atkinson says only about 25 per cent of her clients who are grey actually stay grey, and those are usually older clients. That hasn't changed much in the 52 years she has been a hairdresser.

Questioning the need to colour happens especially to clients who have been colouring their hair for decades.

And hair tinting is becoming routine, with many girls starting to get highlights or lowlights before they are in their teens.

Kathy Wise, 51, who was getting her own grey touched up in a salon recently, is a stock trader who maintains that if you want to get a job, you've got to get rid of the grey.

"On the trading floor in Chicago there were thousands of women and none of them had grey hair," Wise says. "Women don't want to look old. People don't want to hire you."

One thing's for certain: It's no longer a matter of have-to dye; it's a matter of want-to dye.

Even if the boomers decide grey is for them and the world is topped with silver for the next 10 or 20 years, it could be the last time that ever has to happen.

The hair-colour giant L'Oreal has spent years working on a grey-prevention pill, expected to come out in 2015. It will contain an undisclosed fruit extract that mimics the chemical tyrosinase-related protein or TRP-2, an enzyme that protects pigmentation production, the company said last year.

"We intend for people to take it in the same way as a dietary supplement," L'Oreal spokesman Bruno Bernard said. 

AAP

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