Monday, September 24, 2012

Everyday Eva: Don't go gray until you read this!

 “Hair is one thing you have control over as you get older,” says Eva Scrivo, highly-acclaimed hair and makeup artist--and wise woman. “Unlike skin and your figure, hair is the easiest thing to control.” As we age, as we well know, physical changes occur. “Just like our face loses collagen and fluid so does your hair,” explains Eva. "The result is a lack of shine and dullness." And, perhaps more significantly, she continues, "Women lose color as they get older."  You're telling me . . .

Eva knows a thing or two about hair color. At age 11 in Detroit, Michigan where she grew up, she was already coloring the roots of her model mother’s red hair. Today she has built “a beauty empire” including two New York City salons (think uptown/downtown), a radio show, TV appearances, and an award-winning beauty book.  She is also the “color ambassador” for L’Oreal Professional, and she travels the globe training  colorists in the company’s elite academies. (She has even trained hairdressers in India who as their country modernizes are moving beyond henna.) She has a talent and affection for connecting with women-- and iconoclastic views 
about beauty and aging.  Here's what she has to say:

“Beauty doesn’t go away. It changes and shifts. Whatever your age, achieving beauty is within the grasp of every woman. 
It’s a learned skill just like the right diet and exercise,” says Eva. "You just need the right professionals."  She continues:  "There’s nothing wrong with looking different (than when you were young).” The problem is that some “women give up on themselves. Life chips away at our faces—not the years--but life. How we process sadness and change has the power to affect how we move through the world. "

But back to hair. Our "ambassador of color" doesn’t see the world thru rose-colored glasses. And, she doesn't mince words: “Gray hair is aging. Every woman looks 10 to 15 years older. You have to be emotionally and psychologically ready to accept gray. Gray is a cool toned color. If you go gray, you need to add more warmth to your makeup." Or, you will look washed out. ( On 
Wednesday at Second Lives Club, Eva is going to talk about makeup. We're here to help in every way.)

Even if youthink you are ready to go gray, don’t expect our youth-obsessed culture to support  your decision. In commenting on our previous post,  Big Little Wolf at Daily Plate of Crazy said: “The reality is - if you don't have a 'regular' job (i.e., even reasonably secure employment relationships), going gray is not a good idea. If you're on the dating market as a woman of a certain age, once again, going gray is not a good idea. I realize this will depend on individual circumstances, but for most of us who are relatively 'ordinary' looking women with ordinary bodies (interpret that as non-spectacular and sufficiently distracting from hair of any color) - silver or gray hair will age us, and appearing 'older' is still problematic when you're on the market - professionally or personally."

We couldn't agree more.  And so does The Silver Bunny who relates 
a real-life experience in her comment: “Same thing when you're a teacher ! At the end of the first lesson of the year with new students, my young but grey-haired colleague asked : 'Any questions ?' and one of the students said :"Yes, ever heard of hair dye?" True story !!"

You can’t get a much wider spectrum than a Bunny and a Wolf. And then, of course, there is Katie Couric (a fox?), who last Wednesday during her show on women's obsession with hair, interviewed Anne Kreamer, an attractive gray-haired woman who at age 49 decided to stop coloring her hair and wrote about it in her 
book, Going Gray. Katie complimented Anne on her hair (and makeup) but admitted at 55  she wasn' t ready to go gray herself, to take one for the team, if you will.

Despite Katie's reluctance to crash the gray ceiling, things may be beginning to change. I was surprised and encouraged when I googled “women with gray hair” for this post and saw what came up: The banner of women of varying ages (above top)! They are evidence of what Eva says: “Beauty doesn’t fade.” 

Are you ready to go gray? Will you? Or, won’t you? Forget your hairdresser; only you know for sure.  And, I know what I am going to do, (and you may want to do the same, Carolyn Dorset, another who wrote on our site that her hair is beginning to change color, and she's not sure what to do this fall.) The best way to go gray this fall is to buy a beautiful sweater in a silvery hue. 

Tuesday : Eva will help Caryl—and you--determine what is the best color at this stage of life. 
This one is for you, Judith Ross who commented on our last post: “My formerly bright red hair (it was the color of a new penny when I was a girl -- I have the saved lock to prove it!) is now fading, with white at the temples. I adore my hairdresser but she doesn't think I should color it."  Stay tuned.

And, thank you so much to all our readers for sharing the conversation at Second Lives Club.  We so like (actually love) reading your comments.  Speaking of "likes" we are only 18 away from 300 on Facebook. Please help us get there by scrolling back up to the top of this page and clicking "like" on the right.  Thanks again. 


  1. You have my attention. I look forward to tomorrow's post. Thanks for the shout-out!

  2. To "go grey" or to color is one of the most charged discussions women can engage in, right up there with whether to cut hair short, I think. While some women with grey hair look terrific, and some look washed out and bleak, I honestly believe it's more about the whole package. What one wears, how one engages with the world, defines us more as defeatist or au courant.

  3. Ok I'm waiting to hear. I've been struggling with this decision for a couple of years. As naturally pale blonde my color seems to be sliding into silver and I think it does age me.

  4. DA Wolf is right. Women who don't mind the grey usually have advantages. Healthy self-regard, consciousness that enables them to genuinely opt out, and/or a level of security (via extraordinary compensating factors, money, or male company) are things that I imagine make grey OK.

    Color is my accessory, sort of a a get out of jail free. If I were grey, I'd feel obligated--and not just because the world is hostile to old ladies--to be put together. I do get that it's a manifestation of internalized oppression. But I'm not ready to be grey.

    Why is copper penny's stylist is discouraging color? Is it that she knows the original will not be reproduced? Of course she shouldn't try that.. Better to go brown (but not too ashy, it appears green) than become pink headed. Get an opinion from another colorist. One who does a lot of red.

  5. I was all ready to go grey,my hair is about 40%. Last night my husband and I tossed the yea/nea about the subject and he offered the opinion that it may make me look older (I'm 58) but not opposed. I've been in total attraction to the photographs recently of the women that have made the choice. However, my hair is fine/thin and when I do color it,it seems more thick . After reading this post I may just wait a bit longer. The thought of buying a cute Bob wig style in grey as a "try out" is something I may try soon !
    Thanks for the great post.

  6. Thank you for the mention. (I'm delighted - a bunny and a wolf... and a fox? My first chuckle of the day!)

    This post touches on so many issues that we shrug off as women. And it's no wonder, really. We all have our hands full these days as it is.

    But the very fact that "old" is a disparaging remark - and we all sense the encroaching years of being an "old lady" and therefore, to a large extent, written off as contributing, as sexual, as a "full person," most of us don't want to feel those days upon us any sooner than we have to. And those of us who pay attention to our older men and women and actually talk to them and listen to them realize they have brains, guts, and experience we could all benefit from.

    We all slow as we get older. We fade - in more ways than the shiny surface of our hair or skin. But as long as "old" remains a negative in our culture, women especially will have to deal with its social and economic consequences.

    Off my soapbox. Time to make more coffee to ratchet up the "gray matter" that I like having around the house...

  7. I think it can be easier if you are blonde than dark or auburn. I tend to blend my grey and blonde highlights for contrast. It also depends on the cut. If you have a good sharp modern cut grey can look stunning at any age.

  8. A well-known therapist and author (a woman) told me, "What women who have decided to go grey may not want to hear is that men do not like it. The man may love the woman and support her decision, but grey reminds them of their mothers or grandmothers. It is the loss of sexual potency, it is death, it is not what they want to be in bed with."

    Tough words to hear for any of us, but especially for single women going grey. If you want to be grey in the hopes of venerating age, go ahead; I admire that. And I did want to share her quote, because we are facing a great deal of unconscious programming re the grey-haired woman.

  9. I've decided to go grey (but I reserve the right to change my mind). My younger sister is nearly all grey and I love how it looks on her.

    My husband's mother never had grey hair so I'm definitely not reminding him of her.

  10. Some men may not like gray. But when you look at the beautiful pictures of some of the women who have decided to go gray, it is hard to imagine some men not liking the look and beauty of those natural-haired women. And no woman needs to please all the men (and never will anyway), so all you need to please is you (for starters) and then the RIGHT man. And based on comments from men on the Facebook sites and other articles, clearly there are some men who do like, or even prefer, the gray. Certainly, there will always be those who want the younger look. But I think as more of us go gray while still showing youthfulness (if not youth), vibrancy, health, and vitality, perhaps the mindset about gray hair will change. I think when a woman goes natural, especially when the hair is one of those pewter to silvery colors in an attractive cut, especially in a longer length (which is so unexpected), and at the same time obviously takes care of herself and is attractive, healthy, and relatively fit, it's kind of a head-turning experience. In more ways than one. It's so rare that it is so exquisite. When I see women like that with gray hair, I can't help but stare... and wonder how it would be to have such beautiful silvery gray hair and look so elegantly natural. I can't imagine I'm the only one staring... I do wonder if they notice people looking at them and if they know why, or if they get tired of having people stare at them? Next time, I will make a point to say something so they know why I am staring!

  11. My husband thinks I should go gray, but I am 51 and I dye my hair red. I so agree with the statement in the article, that hair is the one thing we have control over as we age. I can't fix my weight in a day, or the settling of my face, or anything else, really. But I can fix my hair! And I always feel better. I think going gray is a fad, and it's fine to be "natural" but it's not for everyone. Honestly, everyone I know that has gone gray looks worse (and older). Friends say they look great, and maybe they believe that. I don't. The wrong color of clothing makes their hair look yellow. Most just look drab. Sure, movie stars look good, but how much did they pay for that great haircut and are we sure they're not doing "something" to get that nice shade of silver? I'm not convinced. I keep thinking back to why I started dying my hair in the first place: fading color, loss of shine, washed out face. Hurray for those who feel good about going gray! I think I'll keep my red for awhile longer....

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