Gray hair on women often provokes controversy. Let’s move beyond the controversial to the practical, as Sturdy Gals will, and assume everyone’s capable of making their own choices one way or another. Let’s ask, if you go gray, will you need to make other changes in your style? In particular, will you need to change your makeup once you give up what we used to call, “hair dye?”
What you find out, absent the salon, is that gray isn’t really a color. I know, rocket science! At least it’s free. While gray hair may make a personal and political statement; it’s fairly quiet in on the visual front, and you might want to tune your look.
Your three throttles, if we continue with rockets for just a little longer, are:
- A good background, AKA foundation. Even more important over-50, as the wayward skin behaviors increase. We’re prone to wrinkles, age spots, errant textures. More rocket science, and you’re very welcome.
- Feature emphasis. Although most good makeup strategies emphasize eyes or lips, and not both, graying hair lends this choice more import.
- And finally, as always but now in the context of your particular shade of gray, which colors?
These are the same throttles one revvs before graying, with somewhat more need of precision in the setting. OK. Done with rockets.
Let’s look at an example, (one that may have a side benefit of entertaining all of us, graying or not, with pretty pictures of makeup. No, I’m not going to slice up my lipsticks and artfully smear the pigment across a rock, but I thought about it.)
Here’s what I rounded up in preparation for doing my own wedding makeup next month.
Foundation, Concealer, Applicator
All I know about foundation is:
- Find a shade that matches the skin tint you do have, not the one you might want. My pretend self has porcelain, slightly pink skin. My real self is fairly olive for a WASP, high or not. As was reported to me after I spoke in front of a large-ish crowd in China, “She’s not very white, for a white woman.” OK then, Mr. Armani, hit me up with Luminous Silk #5. It’s a great formulation for slightly oily aging skin. Don’t ask me how I know.
- Do not use too much of the stuff. And I am happy to report that these sponges perform as claimed, dispensing just the right amount, exactly where you want it.
- At 50, if you’re wearing makeup at all (for it is not a requirement), you’re probably going to want some concealer. I’m sticking with Clé de Peau.
Lips Or Eyes For Gray Hair?
So, emphasis on eyes or lips? Either works, generally. One of the principles of Advanced Style seems to be the wearing of Very Red Lipstick, like Paloma Picasso, or Diana Vreeland. Showing life you’re tough, with a dark, forceful mouth. But I don’t feel tough about getting married, so I’m focusing on eyes.
I find that at 56 I’ve had to renounce eyeshadow. Whether it’s Dame Gray Hair, or her friend, Crepey Eyelids, who knows. However, I’m still a huge fan of lining the lash lid and applying mascara con brio. I thought I wanted copper eyeliner, but the nice Sephora lady talked me out of it easily. “Pinkeye,” she said. I chose soft brown eyeliner and very black waterproof mascara.
The news here is that I succumbed to an eyebrow product. I’ve never understood the eyebrow hubbub, but mine are turning gray. This pencil is powdery in the application, so it a) distributes well and more importantly b) dissipates easily. You can really work it through your eyebrows until you get the right subtle impact.
By the way, I imagine you all know the First Law Of Mascara?
- Any new tube is better than any old one. Very short half-life indeed.
And for lip color? The gray hair has rendered my beloved Giorgio Armani Pink 500, a dark brownish pink too, well, brown. Too dark. In my quest to go lighter but keep the hue, I found myself at M.A.C., buying Cremesheen Creme In My Coffee, and matching lip pencil. Turns out that the lipstick is a known My Lips But Better candidate. Perfect. It’s pinker than it looks.
I wanted to a little pink shimmer for the middle of the lips via Sheen Supreme Behave Yourself. Very sheer. I also asked for the product that got rid of what we shall politely call lip cross-hatching, but either it was out of stock or nobody’s invented it. Darn. After I complete Embrace Your Gray I plan to move on to Love Your Lip Lines. It’s the advanced course.
Of course, should you be disinclined to take on a full makeover, and not need to prepare for photo opportunities, your gray hair could get a heck of a boost out of fancy pink makeup sponges, good concealer, new black drugstore mascara, and the perfect shade of lip balm. Or a hike. Gray hair looks great on hikes. Onward, Sturdy Gals.
Products Recommended For Makeup With Gray Hair
In 2016, some products have been retired, others have won awards. Here’s an updated set of recommendations.
And also, this lipstick is great for translucent, moisturizing, highly pigmented color. You’ll need to reapply, but that’s not a hardship.