Is your hair color aging you? We often think about how fine lines and pigmentation can age us, but have you ever thought about whether your hair is inadvertently adding candles to your birthday cake? We put this question to famous French colorist Christophe Robin, whose clients include Catherine Deneuve, Tilda Swinton, and Inès de La Fressange. He has worked with some of his clients for more than 30 years, so as they age, he has subtly transitioned their hair through the decades. He reveals some tried-and-true anti-aging hair color tips and tricks, whether you're dealing with one-off silver streaks or you just want to keep them up your sleeve for when the time comes.
Don't Panic and Dye It All Over
"The biggest thing that makes you look old is when you want to look young," Robin tells me. "You know, when a woman is 35 or 40 and brunette and they start to have grays so they color their whole head and it turns mahogany or brassy, that makes them look older."
Being a world-renowned colorist, Robin is, of course, pro color, but he believes that the key to great color is being strategic rather than taking a blanket approach. "If you're in your late 20s or early 30s and you start to go grey, just color those hairs—pick them up and use a mascara brush to color them. You can steal one of the brushes from the makeup counter! Mix one spoon of the color with one spoon of the peroxide developer; you can do that at home. Or, you could go to the hairdresser and ask for a few low-lights in a golden tone, just to blend the gray, but if you're naturally brunette, don't go too blonde," he warns.
Think About Tone
Unless you have a naturally warm undertone, you want to stick with cooler hair tones in your 30s and 40s. Why so? "If your freshly colored hair looks brassy, it can be a telltale sign that you dye it, and that can make you look older," says Robin. "If your hair is naturally warm, to cover the grays, go a bit strawberry or golden, which will make your complexion look healthy. In general, you should stay around your natural color, and the less you look like you have colored your hair, the younger you will look.
"As we age, our skin tone changes, especially into our 60s and 70s. We can get dark circles and pigmentation, and if the hair is too ashy, these can look more pronounced. If you make hair a little warmer at this stage, think caramel or golden, regardless of your natural undertone, it will blend better and make the pigmentation look like freckles. The rule at this stage is to go softer with your color, not darker. You should go two shades lighter. It's like when you put makeup on: It should look nude—that looks young.
"If you decide to embrace white or gray, it looks good on a blunt, sharp haircut," advises Robin.
Keep It Natural
"Women are aging so beautifully right now—look at Catherine Deneuve, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda— they are sassy. You don't have to go gray, but if you don't want to do heavy color every month, you can blend your grays with gold vegetable henna, and it will make you look blonde. "Gold hair is lovely when you have grays, and the vegetable dye is healthier for your hair. You have lots of ways to play with your hair without doing the heavy stuff!" remarks Robin.