Lifestyle & Retirement

How to go gray

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Thinking about going gray? Stylist and salon owner Ron Booth of Studio Booth is also a top colorist who suggests several ways to ease the transition so there isn't a white stripe down the middle of your head. Great results can be achieved by bleaching the hair and then using a pale platinum dye to give it some warmth. “It's a softer look and easy to wear because the line of demarcation will be minimal,” Mr. Booth says.

Some women prefer to go completely gray or white, a trendy look at the moment for younger women such as Lady Gaga and Kelly Osbourne. Just back from seminars in New York, Mr. Booth says a new take on gray is to use pastel pink and lavender washes.

Less drastic is adding highlights or lowlights, which are especially effective on salt and pepper hair. Using a process known as balayage creates natural-looking streaks that help to blend the colors. The proportion can change as you gray. Mr. Booth likes to leave the hair around the face natural and add highlights to the rest so new growth requires no maintenance.

Once you do go gray, Mr. Booth says there are ways to enhance and brighten the color so it doesn't look drab. Coarse, dull gray hair can have a flat look. A good conditioning treatment followed by a clear glaze will close the hair cuticle and make it shiny. White and gray hair can yellow because of chemicals and minerals in tap water. He suggests using a clarifying shampoo once a week to get rid of any discoloration. For regular shampoos he suggests several products that have a violet base, such as Phyto's Phytargent and Subtil Gloss Shampoo in Platine. They deposit a hint of color on the hair, which neutralizes the yellow and subtly brightens.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” says Mr. Booth, who admits he thinks coloring hair can take 10 years off a woman's appearance. “Some people don't mind the gray. If it works for you, go with it. If it doesn't, cover it up.”

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(c) The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  

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