Looking to add extra voltage to your look for the holidays and beyond? Regardless of your age, consider adding some stylish “fashion tones” to your hair, Crystal Small, owner of the Deja’Vu Salon and Studio in Bangor, suggests.
Edgy hair colors of purple, blue, green, red and pink are familiar in younger women — and some men — Small said. But increasingly, women age 50 and older are adopting the trend as well.
“We really started seeing it back in the early 2000s, when Sharon Osbourne was on ‘The View,’” Small said of the English television host, businesswoman and wife of rocker Ozzy Osbourne who formerly co-hosted the daytime talk show. Sharon Osbourne’s signature deep-mahogany-colored hair often sparkles with hints of purple and blue.
Small said aging gray hair absorbs the bright pigments easily, and she assures the timid that even the brightest colors wash out in a couple of weeks unless a client opts to “lock” them in longer with a special glaze. And in a pinch, modern salon techniques can quickly and safely remove unwanted color, she said, so there’s little reason to fret.
Retired middle school teacher Victoria McLean, 56 of Bangor normally brightens her long, light brown hair with golden streaks. But one day, when she went in for a regular appointment, her stylist was sporting shades of blue and purple in her own black hair. “I saw her hair and I thought, ‘How fun! I can do that hair! No, I can’t do that hair!’” McLean recalled, laughing.
In the end, she asked for light pink and lavender highlights to be worked into only the underlayers of her hair, where they’re easy to hide. This way, McLean can decide when and where to show her colors.
“I can wear my hair straight down, put on a business suit and go into a bank, ” she said. “Or I can wear it up in a ponytail or a clip and be more colorful and daring.”
These days, she’s liking the ponytail option, she said.
“My husband was a tad skeptical when I told him I was going to do it,” she said. “But when he saw it, he said, ‘Oh, my God, it’s you!’”
Choices range from subtle silvers to dramatic drenches
Even modest pastels aren’t for everyone, Small said. Many graying clients are opting to actually add more gray to their hair. Younger woman in their teens and 20s also are following the popular, all-over-silver trend that Small calls “granny gray.” But older women often adopt a version that is edgy and cool.
Wanda White-Ouellette of Bangor was tired of dying her dark brown, shoulder-length hair to disguise the encroaching gray. After consulting with her stylist, “I decided to embrace the gray,” the 58-year-old nurse said. Now she’s got wide, silvery streaks that offset her enhanced natural color and incorporate the inevitable gray as it grows in.
She can wear it down “or sweep it up with little clips and spray the heck out of it,” White-Ouellette said. “I always get compliments.”
At the other end of the color spectrum is 59-year-old Brenda McLeary of Bradley, a licensed massage therapist who also teaches Middle Eastern dance at the University of Maine.
McLeary retired in 1998 from an Air Force career — an environment that demanded a conservative appearance at all times, she said.
“After I retired I put a stripe of purple in my hair, but I was working as a legal secretary, so I still couldn’t go all out,” she said.
But more recently, she opened her massage practice at the Options Day Spa and Salon in Brewer and felt free to adopt a more expressive appearance. In addition to her hair, which during a recent interview was drenched in deep purples and blues, McLeary sports a small silver nose ring, a bellybutton ring and several strategic tattoos.
She enjoys modeling her creative self-expression to younger women and girls.
“It’s a way for me to show them that you don’t have to fit anybody’s image of what you should look like,” she said.