The Significance of White Hair

Not so long ago, finding that first grey or white hair was cause for hysteria, frantic attempts to pull it out, followed by the panicked bulk buying of hair dye. But, over the past few years, white and grey hair have become increasingly popular shades to dye natural hair. Instead of dying over white hair, women (especially those in their teens and twenties) are queuing up at hair salons to embrace the grey.

Celebrities have certainly helped with the increase in the popularity of silvery grey hair, or ‘Granny Chic’ as it is sometimes known. In the last few years there have been many style icon celebrities that have gone grey by choice, including: Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Pink, Kylie Jenner, and Cara Delevingne.


Grey hair has been the more popular of the two shades, but in 2017 it seems like white hair is going to be the one more on trend. It was seen on the runways of the likes of Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler and Eckhaus Latta. Grey and white hair is now cooler than ever before, but has the attitude towards white hair always been so positive?

Changing Attitudes

An unfavorable attitude towards grey hair goes back a very long way. Evidence has shown that ancient Egyptians would cover their grey hair with henna dyes, as well as by wearing wigs. Ancient Greeks and Romans used plant extracts to cover their grey hairs.

Taking a jump forward to the 1600s when women and men would darken their grey hair, by combing with a lead comb. Many suffered to cover the grey, as they were poisoned by the lead, some even fatally. Saffron was also used to lighten the hair, and pastel powders could transform white hair.

In the 1700s, grey and white hair became popular for a while, but only when it came on powdered wigs. These wigs were tremendously heavy, could be infested with many creepy crawlies or even mice, and they were rather expensive too. Vanity was a painful and costly endeavour in those days. However, grey hair fell out of fashion favoritism when a tax on hair powder made the trend out of most people’s price range.

A century or so ago, white hair had different significance for men and women. For men having white hair was a sign of distinction, hinted at nobility, and was even a sign of virility. It couldn’t have been more different for women. It was a sign of their deterioration with age, and the end of their fertility.

In the 1940 and 50’s hair dye companies would prey on women’s insecurities about getting older. According to advertisements from Clairol at the time, claimed that grey hair could leave women “buried beneath dull, drab color” and could be “the ruination of romance”. But, that wasn’t the worst to come from Clairol, they also claimed that grey hair was “The Heartless Dictator” — there isn’t anything much more negative than that. This claim struck fear into the hearts of many women.


Over the following decades, the number of women who were dying over their grey and white hair steadily increased, with women feeling that it was almost a requirement. This attitude towards grey hair has remained until very recently, which seems slightly ironic, as women can dye their hair any color of the rainbow and beyond from the comfort of their own bathroom.

Where grey and white hair was once a color that made women invisible, and marked as a certain age. Now they are colors that make a woman stand out for all the right reasons, whether they are shades you pick for yourself, or nature picks it for you.

It’s Good To Be Grey

It can only be a good thing, that white, silver and grey hair has become something to covet, looked upon as stylish and chic. Women like the beautiful and vibrant Helen Mirren, the youthful Jamie Lee Curtis, and the talented Diane Keaton, have embraced their natural silver locks with such confidence, it has encouraged others to do the same. The fashion world has also been embracing natural grey and white haired beauties, with many models over the age of 60 landing high profile ad campaigns, including: Linda Rodin for Karen Walker, Joni Mitchell for Saint Laurent, and Iris Apfel (now in her nineties and as fabulous as ever) for Alexis Bittar.


There is nothing old about grey or white hair these days, so if you are going grey naturally, or going grey by choice, we hope you love it. And why wouldn’t you? Grey hair actually suits most skin tones, which can make you appear more youthful than the harsher dark or blond hair dyes, than can age the skin.

However, if you are planning on dying your hair grey or white, you should be aware that for a really good job you should get it done at a professional salon. It is likely to be expensive, and be very time consuming, plus it will need to be touched up every 4 to 6 weeks to look it’s best. If you are wanting to go grey, get in touch with the Ogle School Salon to discuss your options.

About the Author

Jeff Chiarelli
Jeff Chiarelli is the Head of Marketing for Ogle School. His responsibilities include leading Ogle School's marketing and branding strategy to amplify Ogle School's passion for helping create future beauty professionals in the communities Ogle School serves.