It all starts with that one strand; the silvery grey hair deprived of the usual dark hair pigments that tell you that you've entered a new phase in your life. Most of us though, won't notice it until the grey starts spreading and suddenly, it's not just one or two but a whole army of grey hair that threatens an upheaval of your identity.
While going grey is certainly not something that happens overnight, the realization that you're getting older can be very sudden. Our first instinct? To get rid of it all by:
1) Plucking it out
Physically removing grey hair is never a smart option. Each of your follicle can only regenerate 8 to 10 times over the course of its lifetime. Plucking it out before it drops naturally will hence lead to a secondary problem: hair loss - something that is pretty hard to reverse.
2) Covering it with colour dye
The simple and relatively painless way is therefore to dye your hair every 3-4 weeks.
This however comes with its own side effects. Other than the additional time and money wasted, frequent hair colouring will also damage your hair, leaving it dry, frizzy and wiry.
Use the wrong dye and you may even find your scalp getting sensitive over time.
So what can we do then? In recent years, there has been a revolution towards accepting and even embracing grey hair. The number of young people who opt to go ash grey is certainly part of the reason why greys are getting more accepted these days.
But those of us who have grey hair will know that bleaching your hair grey is very different from not colouring grey hair.
It's fine if our hair is completely grey or white. We've seen elegant ladies blessed with all-white or grey hair that actually looks pretty good. The problem however is that most of us have hair that is only half-grey.
The grey hair pops up from nowhere and would randomly appear in a sea of black, making that strand of grey hair particularly visible. Unsurprisingly, the conspicuous strand(s) of grey hair will catch the attention of the people around us, some of whom are likely to benevolently remind us of its existence.
We know they mean well but yes - we all live in a society obsessed with youth. In this society, the norm is to take advantage of technologies to eliminate any signs of aging. Not doing so is equivalent to not taking care of ourselves.
Being reminded that we're all getting old with unsightly grey hair can therefore make people feel uncomfortable, though the hair resides on our heads.
Is there any middle ground though? Before we go full-on grey, is there anything we can do without requiring us to head back every month for touch-up and still look relatively trendy?
We posed this question to many stylists we've met and the only stylist who took up the challenge is Hidero from The Beauty Emporium at The Urban Aesthetics.
A very distinguished Japanese stylist who has trained hairstylists in the art of haircut and colour, Hidero faced the problem of greying hair for both customers and himself. You see, Hidero has chin-length hair peppered with slivers of grey. As his customers saw how he confidently pulled off his hair colour, many have in turn asked him for advice on how they could transit into embracing grey hair. His answer?
Have you heard of Grombre?
For those who haven't heard, Grombre is a mix of the two words Grey + Ombre, which signifies the latest trend of letting your dyed hair grow out and transition into your natural silver hair.
Understanding that the process can be unsightly, Hidero came up with a new technique he coined Grombre Highlights.
Grombre highlights essentially requires the stylist to correct your hair colour to be similar in tone to your natural salt-and-pepper hair with baby ash highlights over the head.
Hidero shares that this way, the grey hair wouldn't stick out so much and looks more like an intentional hair design even when it grows out. The benefits are numerous:
Unlike root retouch which require you to colour all of your hair once it grows out, grombre only require you to highlight certain sections to make it blend better with your greys. As you don't have to retouch your hair as often, Grombre highlights also end up being less damaging than usual root retouch.
Root retouch typically start from the roots and meet where your previously coloured hair was. Grombre Highlights, on the other hand, don't actually start from the roots. Stylists typically start bleaching your hair a short distance away from the roots and apply it in such a way that it looks naturally grown out.
As a result, you can expect less damage to the scalp, lowering the risk of scalp sensitivity or hair loss!
With Grombre highlights requiring a trip to the salon every 3-4 months instead of every 3 weeks, you can cheer at having saved the extra time and money.
Be ready to receive compliments from friends and people around you about riding the latest grey trend... knowing that this hair is fully yours.
It's a perfect balance between embracing natural greys and looking presentable since it blends the blacks to make the greys less obvious. While you're still colouring your hair to look sleek, this is a new way to stand up to society's beauty standards and love yourself for who you are.
Want to know how the experience is like? We follow Agent E to get her hair done by Hidero at Beauty Emporium by The Urban Aesthetics.
Hello, I'm Agent E.
Can you guess how old I am?
Most people will think that I'm in my 50s / 60s with the amount of grey hair on my head.
But the truth is that I'm only in my early 40s.
It's kind of sad but that's how things are. In fact, I'm kind of used to it by now because I've had grey hair ever since I was in Secondary School.
It's a hassle colouring my hair to cover the whites but what made it worse is the fact that my white hair doesn't take colour dye very well. Not sure if it is too damaged or wiry, I have to go to the salon to colour my hair because the DIY hair colour just doesn't go onto the hair evenly.
So I've been spending tons of money AND time at the salon to make myself look presentable at work.
Normally I opt for dark brown for hair colour because it is work-friendly but it is very obvious when my grey hair grew out. COVID-19 however allowed me to experiment with something new: embracing my natural greys.
Now that I don't have to head back to work, I dreamed of getting something daring: full-on grey. I went to a salon near my neighbourhood last December. I expected to get a grey hair colour to blend with my natural greys but guess what, it turned out an ugly violet instead.
Is it really that hard to get a colour close to my greys?
I gave up on the thought until my sister in law saw an IG story on Beauty Undercover asking for volunteers to try Grombre Highlights. Knowing how much I wanted to have highlights that blended with my natural greys, she asked me if I was keen.
I sent a DM to Agent G immediately and guess what? I got an appointment at The Beauty Emporium at The Urban Aesthetics.
This was the first time here and NGL, The place looks so posh, it made me a little intimidated to enter.
Fortunately, the receptionists and the staff were all very friendly. After verifying my appointment, the counter staff escorted me to a seat which seriously looks like this:
Very high end right?
Within a few moments, Hidero came over for a consultation. Knowing that Hidero was a Japanese stylist made me very happy; I remembered going to a Japanese stylist a few years ago who gave me a darn good haircut... something I remember till today.
My time with Hidero reminded me why I'm so in love with Japanese stylists. He didn't just suggest covering my white hair but took a step back to share about how he envisioned the entire hair makeover to be like - from the haircut to where the highlights should start and end. The level of thought and detail he puts in clearly exceeds the typical hairstylist I've tried in Singapore.
I knew I was in good hands.
Once I gave my go-ahead, I was escorted to the hair wash area for a pampering hairwash.
I love the lemongrass scent from the shampoo and was told that they use the Tokio IE Inkarami shampoo for that.
Back at the seat, Hidero towelled my hair dry before starting on the haircut.
He didn't just make sure that my hair looked neat, he sectioned my hair and gave a cut that looks good even from the back.
Do you see how the silhouette of my hair looked more voluminous now?
Once the cut was complete, Hidero proceeded with the Grombre Highlights.
He carefully selected fine sections of grey and applied lightening solution with the help of an assistant.
Even while the hair was processing, lightening solution was applied a second time to make sure that the hair was sufficiently lightened.
After about 30 minutes, my hair is done!
To kill off any yellow pigments and make my highlights last longer, the assistant used purple shampoo to wash my hair.
She then followed up with a toning colour to get my hair to the desired ash.
This new colour took another 10 minutes to process.
And finally, we're done!
Hidero helped to blow my hair dry and even taught me how to style my hair more easily.
Ready to see my transformation?
It used to be unkempt and looks like I've never gone to a salon for a long time.
But after Hidero's superb haircut and Grombre Highlights, this is how it looks like now:
The highlights made the greys look a lot more natural, even giving it a more metallic look.
On top of the colour, I also love the bob cut that looks so good on the side!
It's not often that I get the chance to doll myself up
So here's a fun selfie from me :)
Interestingly, the hair looks different in different light as well.
I went for lunch with a friend afterwards and here's how it looked.
Regardless, I'm really pleased with this colour. This was exactly what I wanted when I went to the salon last year - to get a trendy grey that wouldn't look so obvious when my hair grows out.
Curious how it looks like when my hair actually grows out?
Here's how my hair looked like 2 months later!
As you can see, the grey highlights held on well and still look as amazing as if I had just done it.
Thank you Hidero for liberating me from the monthly visits to the salon. I no longer have to be held hostage by my hair and yet am still able to emulate the current grey hair trend with the Grombre highlights.
The whole process was also pretty quick at just 2 hours plus, something I appreciate a lot during these COVID times.
I'm definitely looking forward to coming by again in a few months time! hehe... it's still looking so good now.
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