THE IRRESISTIBLE POWER OF PLATINUM
A change of hair colour without the help of the hairdresser has proved a blessing for me.
Getting older can be a rocky ride. I’m not talking about the big issues – marriage breakdown, divorce, empty nest, illness, loss – but rather the outrageous tricks time plays with our looks.
Almost overnight, it seems, the face in the mirror is no longer ours. Whether we’ve been at peace with our genetic lot or not, youth gives a certain glow, and a set of functioning glands keeps the hair silky and the skin plumped. When the fertility window closes it can be a shock to realise that our time in the spotlight is over.
For me, the real setback was losing my brunette identity. Till I was in my forties, I had dramatically dark brown hair, which informed the way I dressed, the colours I chose and, to some extent, my whole demeanour as a woman. I didn’t identify with blondes; Grace Kelly was gorgeous but, for me, the brunette beauties from the golden age of Hollywood were my pin-ups – Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Linda Darnell.
“I’m letting my silvery mane grow, and it seems to light up my face.”
I enjoyed having dark hair; it was a good foil for strong reds, rich greens, sombre blues. It allowed me to wear vivid lipstick and emphasise my eyes with smouldering shadow. It let me play at being flamboyant, mysterious, alluring, like a film noir heroine. It was fun to adopt that persona and it enhanced the workaday business of daily life.
Then the grey started invading. For a decade I fought it off with dye, but the effect became increasingly unflattering, as if my ageing body was telling me that the stark contrast of artificially dark hair was no longer appropriate. It dulled my skin and the colour of my eyes, and started looking like a disguise. Nature had dictated that my brunette days were over.
So, reluctantly I let go of the woman I had been and accepted the ageing process. The tidal wave that wanted to occupy my head was allowed to invade; I put away the dye and let the influx happen, phasing it in with silver streaks.
Two years later, I am positively enjoying my new (old) look. My ageing hair is a striking mix of grey, silver, white and dirty blonde, with some remnant slices of brown in there, too. Repudiating the older woman’s traditional go-to of short layers, I’m letting my silvery mane grow, and it seems to light up my face.
“How fortunate I am to be alive now because the older woman of 2020 still has her chance to shine and stay visible. “
Unapologetically, I am growing older, but on my terms – and there are so many good role models out there to help the transition. Older models are increasingly used in magazine and newspaper shoots, looking not superannuated but edgy and modern with their ‘blonde’ locks. Friends have asked me how much my new look cost at the salon, but it was simply time that worked the transformation, and for free.
Clothing-wise I’ve learned to love all shades of grey, a colour that did me no favours as a brunette. Black has also won back its place in my wardrobe; it’s a stark and flattering foil to silver hair, just as it is to vivid black or auburn locks. Lipstick reds, bright blues, jewel greens, plus powdery pastels like duck egg and candy pink, also seem to suit my metallic hair.
So, fashion is fun again but, more importantly, I’ve made peace with ageing and am positively enjoying the changes that the decades have brought. How fortunate I am to be alive now because, for the first time in a long time, the older woman of 2020 still has her place on the stage – her chance to shine and stay visible, her opportunity to keep contributing, learning and relishing life’s arc. Blondes may have more fun – but for me, it’s platinum all the way.
Words: Lis Johnson