Beauty Column – Going Gray With Grace: To Color or Not to Color? By Erin Cook

LVWJ Revised Head Shot_JuneHappy Summer to all – And, welcome back to our “Inspired By Beauty” column!  I hope that you have enjoyed the last three articles that I have shared with you, as it has been a true pleasure sharing my passion and voice with the Lehigh Valley Woman’s Journal reading community!  Sending my gratitude to all for this opportunity!  In this month’s article, I will be addressing one of the most common areas of concern for women; whether or not to go gray, color options and what the best strategy for allowing your gray to grow in – Gracefully.

Also, as a friendly reminder, we would love to extend an interactive approach to our beauty column by offering an “Ask Erin” feature.  Simply email your beauty questions or respective areas of interest to and we will do our best to address each email on an individual basis in the following month’s column.  I would love to hear from you!

I would love to share with you a story, of one of my current clients, and her experience with “Going Gray”.  Her story seems to fit the mold for most women’s concern when it comes to whether or not to allow the gray, cover it up and how to transition it out, if that is your choice.

Shortly after opening my Studio about 6 years ago, I had a woman walk in and ask our opinion on her color.  She was currently coloring her hair, however, she was contemplating allowing her “natural” color to grow in, which was partially gray.  She simply wanted to try it out – See how it would look with some of the gray exposed.  Let’s call her “Mary”, for the sake of this story.  “Mary” had discussed this idea with her current hair stylist, who she has been trusting in for years – her stylist told her that it wasn’t going to look good because they would just have to let it grow out.  Which, would, in fact, not look so good as the line of demarcation would be noticeable and it would appear that “Mary’s” hair was unkept.  “Mary”, however, is a very professional woman, that keeps up with her hair and overall appearance.  This option didn’t appeal to her.  When she walked in that day, I discussed the options of allowing her color to grow out with the use of lowlighting and transitioning the existing color out, while welcoming in her natural color.  This option allows a “kept” approach to this transition and it is exactly what we ended up doing to “Mary’s” hair.  After several months of decreasing the amount of lowlights, her hair was, in fact, all natural and about 25% gray.  Mary enjoyed her natural color for a couple of years, however, did eventually go back to all over color.  Both of which, looked perfectly lovely on her – It just came down to her personal preference.  But, now she is aware that if she would choose to allow her natural color to grow back in – there is an option available to her that will allow her to do so with grace!

So ladies, let’s talk about “Going Gray with Grace” – And the options that are available to you.  First, we must address that this is completely a preference based decision.  Most women are afraid that allowing the gray to be visible, that they are going to “look older”.  In most cases, this is not necessarily the case.  A lot of women do not currently color their hair, so the thought of all over color, makes them feel a bit uncomfortable because they prefer their “natural” color, minus the gray.  And for some women, they welcome the gray with much ease and acceptance.  Usually, it comes down to the percentage of gray, as well as the tone of the gray.  “Gray” hair is usually one of the following tones and usually has a huge part in a woman’s decision to color or not to color; the “gray” tones usually range from a true gray color, to silver, white, or a yellowish tone of each of the previous colors.  Depending on your natural color, one of these tones may compliment your natural color and actually give it a slight “pop”, almost creating a “highlighted” appearance.  While in other cases, depending on the tone, it may actually “dull out” your color – in this case, most women describe their hair as “drab”, “dull” or “frumpy”.  Nine times out of ten, these women will eventually add an element of color to cover or camouflage their gray.  Most women, however, with silver gray and sometimes white gray, often enjoy the “classic” appearance that their gray offers to their look!

The following options are the most common once you begin noticing gray:

Embrace it.  There is no rule that says you must cover or camouflage your gray locks!  If it doesn’t bother you, embrace it.  Often times, this option allows a very classy look to a woman’s appearance.  We have many clients that embrace their gray and it looks beautiful on each of them!  If, at any point, you would like to make a change by adding some color, please refer to the option list below.  For now, “Go Gray with Grace”!

All over color.  With this option you may choose an “all over” color, which will offer you full coverage of your gray.  This may also be an excellent opportunity to experiment with some new colors!  Or, you may “color match” to your natural hair color.  Either way, this option can be as natural or vibrant, and playful, as you wish.  One misconception, however, is that you must go lighter as you get older.  This is simply not true.  Not to say that a lighter color won’t look nice on you, I’m sure it will.  However, it is not the only option – or the best option.  Typically, if you were a brunette the majority of your life, now lightening out due to gray hair, you are most likely going to look your best with a deeper tone – a color that offers you a richness, just as your natural color offered you.  In the majority of cases, your eye and skin color will look best with a comparable depth level to your natural hair color.  Another option to “Go Gray with Grace”!

High/Lowlighting.  Adding a highlight and/or lowlight to your natural or existing color allows a soft, natural look that will camouflage gray.  Typically, a highlight is a lightner, which will not cover gray, however, it will lighten the pigment around the gray, offering a camouflaged look.  Lowlights are actual color that is added in utilizing a highlighting technique, this hair will be pigmented and the gray will be covered.  Highlighting and/or lowlighting is a very useful technique in transitioning color-treated hair to a more natural tone, allowing some gray to show.  In cases where women are looking to completely grow out their color-treated hair, this option can be gradually modified each appointment, decreasing the amount of highlights/lowlights are added – eventually leaving the natural color.  All options with allow you to “Go Gray with Grace”!

I hope that you have found the information shared, to be helpful in your decision to color, not to color, or partially color!  As always, I do recommend discussing these options with your Stylist.  There are many options available that will offer you comfort on all levels, and that will assist you in achieving your desired look – allowing you to go gray gracefully.  Also, as always, if you are in need of assistance with your hair and are in need of a Stylist – We are more than happy to offer you a complimentary consultation at Inspired By You LifeStyle Studio.  “Where average service is not good enough and extraordinary service is just the beginning.”  We are located at 50 East Broad Street in Bethlehem, PA.  Please feel free to contact us at 610.419.8819 or email us at  We would love to hear from you!

Well, ladies, I hope you have found this month’s article informational and inspiring to embrace your beautiful gray locks!  If you have any questions or need assistance, I’m always happy to assist you.  Email the Lehigh Valley Woman’s Journal directly at and direct your question to the “Ask Erin” feature of our “Inspired By Beauty” Column.

As always, it has been a pleasure sharing my passion with you all and I’m looking forward to next month! Be well and enjoy the warmth and sunshine.

Warm Regards, 
Erin Cook                                                   
Master Stylist/Owner
Inspired By You LifeStyle Studio

Missed last month’s column? Read it now.

June: Beauty Column: Calling All Curly-Haired Ladies: This One’s For You! By Erin Cook

May: Beauty Column: Styling Techniques & Product Knowledge: Tips for Effortless Beauty

April: Beauty Column: What is the Current Trend in Hairstyling? Embrace Your Individuality