The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Grey vs Not Grey

I’ve blogged about this before, but this site had a great list of those who look better (or at least as good) as they did with their natural color.  And they’re right.

Who could argue with some of their selections:

But even here there’s some cheating:

Carole King’s hair is not a real grey.  Yes, she’s turned grey, but she put a warm toner on it to keep her hair from colliding with her more natural ruddy complexion.

No one could misconstrue this to mean that she’s avoiding grey (and therefore a subliminal message that she’s avoiding growing older and older-looking), but at the same time she’s taken great care to make sure that her grey is as natural and complementary color as possible.

For some stark examples, redheads are the ones who have to particularly be careful of this:

bonnieEven in natural like Bonnie Raitt’s white streak is toned down to complement her natural red hair.


And it doesn’t matter who you are – if you’re a redhead, you have to be care and make sure that the grey doesn’t tone too much on the cool side of the color wheel.

Grey, technically, is a value (value being the intensity) of black. And black, especially when you are painting with it, contains blue to make it more black.  Artists know this for when you drop a little black into yellow, you get a green – a muddy olive green, but a green nonetheless, because when yellow meets blue you get green.  Yellow is just showing that blue in the black.

It’s that blue that is such an enemy the redhead when he/she turns grey.  I watched my dad turn grey and the blending of his ruddy complexion with his auburn hair and the streaks of grey, drained all the color from his face, and really made him look ill – even though he wasn’t.


For me, there’s no question.  As I turn more and more grey, it will take on a blonder, warmer tone.  I’ll use that to my advantage, and probably look more like Carole King than Emilylou Harris.

I’m not averse to turning grey, it’s just the tone of the color and I want to make sure that it complements me.  In the same way I can not wear grey colored clothing, I can’t wear grey hair, or at lease without a little help!


  1. So, it’s not that it’s grey, it’s that it’s a cool tone instead of a warm tone color. This made a lot of sense! I never thought about it that way. Thank you

    • Chris – you got it! If turning “grey” meant that you ended up with auburn colored hair, then those blue-tinted folks would look horrible. It’s the tint of that grey – and if you can tone it a little warmer for he ruddy or warm-color complexion, then it looks excellent!

  2. I’m very lucky. I started growing out my gray a few years ago and I LOVE how it looks. I really had no idea what it would look like, since my mother had dyed her hair all her life. I get compliments all the time and highly recommend it to women. I do have to take care to keep it styled and throw on some lipstick every now and then yet. There’s a fine line between bohemian and crazy old witch!

    • I think grey on a peaches and cream or porcelain or sallow or just blueish tiny complexion looks spectacular. And on Bohemian vs Crazy Ole Witch – sometimes it’s great to be both – at the same time! Keeps ’em guessing!

  3. This is great insight for my red hair and fair complexion. I would nave never considered this. THANK YOU!

    • Yeah – not many people think about the shades of grey – if you can tone it to a warmer color, then in looks great on ruddy complected folks!

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