Everyone knows someone who sports a striking shade of sterling—to say nothing of Diane Keaton and the rest of the silver all-stars. And these gorgeous women don't lack for sex appeal (71% of respondents in a Prevention poll say women with grey hair can be sexy, whereas 78% say the same for men). But even though many of us admire grey hair on others, we're often averse to trying out the look ourselves.

Many experts are wondering why: "Women can do so much to keep their faces and bodies looking young—there's no need to think grey hair will necessarily make you look older," says salon owner Rita Hazan.

And everyone can pull off the look, says Diana Lewis Jewell, founder of Going Gray, Looking Great. "Women often tell me why they think grey hair won't work with their eye colour or skin tone. But the fact is, for every one of those preconceived notions, there's an example to the contrary of someone who looks fabulous grey," she says.

Read on for some inspiration—and a little education—that will help you answer the question of the ages for yourself: To grey or not to grey?

Why Hair Changes

"The process of going grey—which occurs as follicles stop producing melanin—is determined by DNA, not diet or other factors," says Dr David Bank. Although research on mice shows exercise may stave off the loss of hair pigment, while stress may speed up the process, these findings haven't been replicated in humans. So even though it seems as if every president goes grey after a few months in office, there's no proof (yet) that stress is the cause. Even the seemingly accelerated speed at which certain sections go grey (temples first for some, the crown area for others) and the exact shade of grey you get (white, charcoal, or any of the other variations) are genetically predetermined. "Your head has roughly 100,000 hair follicles, and each functions autonomously," Bank explains. "If one runs out of melanin, even if you pluck the resulting grey hair, there will be no impact on surrounding follicles—nor is your lifestyle likely to affect the colour."

How To Style Grey Hair

Photo by Patrik Giardino/Getty Images

Ready to embrace your silver side? Follow these tips:

1. Transition to all grey.
If you dye your hair, the transition to grey can be awkward. To make it smoother, ask a pro for guidance. They may suggest colouring your grey roots as they grow in with a semi-permanent dye. Once you're ready for the reveal, you just let the dye wash out.

2. Polish your silver. 
Grey strands are usually drier than pigmented hairs, so they have a tendency to frizz and can easily look dull if you're not vigilant about upkeep. Try these tricks for a smooth, chic look—and perennial shine:

  • Use the right shampoos for grey hair. Use blue-hued shampoos and conditioners only once or twice a month to prevent your hair from taking on a violet cast. And because grey hair can take on a yellowish cast, lathering a couple times a month with a silver-specific shampoo can help counteract any yellow tone. 
     
  • Stay sharp. Get a modern cut with clean edges, suggests Yvette Gonzalez, senior stylist and makeup artist. "Ask your stylist not to use a razor, because it can cause the ends to fray, making your whole style seem untidy," she says. Whatever cut you choose, be sure that you get a trim every 6 to 8 weeks. "Grey hair can start to look unruly if it's not trimmed frequently enough," says Gonzalez. 
     
  • Protect your assets. Environmental pollutants and UV light can make any hair colour—including barely pigmented greys—look dull. So wash at least every other day (to prevent buildup) with a hydrating shampoo and conditioner containing antioxidants, which help protect against UV and environmental damage.
     
  • Lighten up. Skip heavy pomades, waxes and oily serums. "They can coat grey hair and make it look dusty," says colourist Kathy Galotti. 

3. Wear grey-flattering clothing and makeup. 
Accent your hair with the right clothes and makeup and watch the compliments roll in. "When you see a really attractive grey-haired woman, she's often wearing charcoal and silver clothing, which makes her grey hair even more striking," says Galotti. You don't need to restrict your wardrobe to that colour family, but black, white, shades of grey, and jewel tones (ruby red, sapphire blue, and deep purples) are your best bets. Avoid earth tones such as beige and olive, which can wash you out. 

If you're going to commit to grey, the labour you save colouring your hair should be switched to putting on makeup, since grey hair tends to make your complexion appear dull. The best place to start? Blush. "Go for shades like apricot, peach and rose—not beigy or tawny colors," suggests Gonzalez. "They make your skin tone look muddy next to grey hair." Use a liquid or cream blush for a youthful glow, rather than a powder kind that can leave skin looking dull. Most important of all: Groom your brows. Trim wayward hairs (greys tend to be wiry), and define your arches with a taupe pencil so they don't disappear.

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