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Going Grey at 25??

Khush Singh from Khush Singh-Celebrity & Indian Bridal Makeup Artist

That first silver strand is a defining moment – and used to signal the start of middle age. But new research reveals a worrying trend...

For a woman, it’s one of the most defining moments of getting older — that day when you peer into the mirror and spot your very first silver strand of hair.

In the past, this grey day may have arrived in their late 30s or early 40s. But the alarming news for women today is that we are losing our natural colouring much earlier.

In fact, according to a new study that’s been made exclusively available to Life & Style, almost a third (32 per cent) of British women under the age of 30 have already started to go grey, and two-thirds of them blame it on stress. 

Silver strands: Stress is making more women under 30 go grey early

Silver strands show the strain: Stress is making more women under 30 go grey

Just 20 years ago, the proportion of women who spotted their first grey hair before the age of 30 was just 18 per cent.

John Frieda, the haircare brand that carried out the research, thinks it’s so significant that it has come up with a name for this new consumer demographic — GHOSTS — Grey Haired Over Stressed Twenty Somethings.

‘More than seven million British women colour their hair at home,’ says Claire Peake, senior product manager at the company.

‘While we knew that, broadly speaking, the reason most women colour their hair is to cover grey, we’d always assumed that younger women use home hair colourants as a fashion accessory. However, increasingly it’s about covering grey hair. 

‘We wanted to find out whether women are actually going grey younger, so we commissioned the research.’

One person who wasn’t surprised by the appearance of GHOSTS is Nicola Clarke, creative colour director for John Frieda. ‘In recent years, I’ve definitely noticed an increase in younger clients coming into the salon asking for colour to cover their grey. 

‘It’s not unusual for me to see a client aged 25 with grey hair, and frequently they do put it down to stress.’

Michela Colling, 28, an interiors stylist from North London, is one example. She started going grey when she was 25, at around the same time she moved home and started her own company. She is convinced the two things are connected.

‘Being self-employed is stressful — you never know when the next job is coming in, and when I am working there’s a lot of time pressure,’ she says.

‘This last year has been busy and the amount of grey in my hair has progressed rapidly, too. Of all my friends, I’m also the one who worries the most about things — I can’t help but think there’s some connection between stress and grey hair.’

Michela is one of those seven million women using home hair dye kits to disguise her grey strands. Ask her why and she’ll tell you it’s because she thinks it makes her look old.

Trichologist Philip Kingsley hears this a lot. ‘Greying hair is synonymous with ageing and in our modern “youthful” culture, we delay the appearance of ageing as much as we can,’ he says.

He’s absolutely right. 

Au naturelle: Writer Sarah Harris began going 'silver' at 16 and doesn't want to hide her locks

Au naturelle: Writer Sarah Harris began going 'silver' at 16 and doesn't want to hide her locks

While men get given the silver fox sobriquet when they start to show signs of salt and pepper, when it comes to women grey equals grandma. From society’s perspective, a woman with grey hair is over the hill and has reached the end of her reproductive life.

What an irony, then, that the same generation that is deferring motherhood until they are far older than their own mothers were paradoxically appear to be going greyer far younger than their mothers did.

They may be attributing this to stress, but does this really cause us to go grey or is this just an old wives’ tale?

Grey hair is actually hair that has no pigment and is the result of the melanocytes — the cells that produce pigment — becoming damaged or dyeing. This happens naturally as we get older, and some scientists argue that exactly when is governed by your genes, rather than by your lifestyle.

'Grey for men equals silver fox. For a woman, it means you're over the hill'

‘The major risk factor for greying is age, with everyone succumbing with time,’ says Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists.

‘Earlier onset of greying is usually genetically determined, with little in the way of environmental relevance.

‘For the majority of people, greying hair is not down to something you’ve done, but to genetic factors beyond your control. Generally, lifestyle does not greatly impact on when your hair loses its colour.’

However, other experts argue that there’s an increasing body of information that points towards the idea that premature greying is, in fact, the result of stress. In his book The Hair Bible, Philip Kingsley talks about the way that stress can affect the body.

‘We know that stress uses up vitamin B, and experiments with black rats deprived of B vitamins resulted in their hair going white,’ he says.

‘Similarly, some studies in humans have shown that certain B vitamins taken in large doses can begin to reverse the process of greying.’

He’s not the only one to acknowledge a possible link between stress and going grey. Japanese research suggests that hair follicles are susceptible to the same sort of stresses that damage DNA.

This type of stress, known as oxidative stress, is caused by exposure to cigarette smoke, UV light and pollution. There is also an association between emotional stress and oxidative stress, which means that the GHOSTS blaming their grey hairs on stress might have a point.

So, what can we do about it?

Well, at the moment, your choices are pretty stark; you could dye it, or you could dare to go au naturelle.

Sarah Harris is a fashion feature writer for Vogue. She started to go grey when she was just 16. Now, aged 31, she’s adamant her silver locks are here to stay.

‘I’m proud of my silver hair — and it’s definitely silver, not grey,’ she says. ‘Grey sounds ageing. Silver is infinitely more glamorous — and besides, my hair is lighter and whiter than the ashen colour that “grey” suggests.’

Expensive solution: Dyeing your hair to cover greys can be time-consuming and costly

Expensive solution: Dyeing your hair to cover greys can be time-consuming and costly

Sarah sides with the experts who say that hair colour is the result of genetics, rather than the environment.

‘My mother has a full head of platinum hair and has had since she was 29,’ she says.

‘I remember her in her 30s dyeing it back to her natural dark brown colour. And I very clearly remember that centimetre of root regrowth you’d see coming through every six weeks which just looked terrible.

‘I think seeing her constantly going to the hairdresser, almost being a slave to the dye, put me off the idea of colouring my own hair.’

Although in her early teens she’d experimented with wash-in-wash-out shades, by the time she reached university she’d stopped dyeing her hair entirely.  ‘All the upkeep just seemed such a hassle,’ she says.

While the social implications of being grey don’t bother Sarah, or her husband (‘I first met him in my early 20s when I was noticeably silver, but he’s always said he loved my hair colour — I think it’s because it’s so unique’), she freely admits that not everyone feels the same.

 ‘My mother-in-law can’t stand it. She thinks it makes me look older. She’s in her 70s, resolutely blonde, and has never understood my refusal to dye it.’

And Sarah argues that far from making her look old, her hair is a very modern style statement.

‘In the past year or so, I’ve increasingly had girls in their 20s stopping me in the street, two or three times a week, to ask who does my hair and what dye I use. They just don’t believe it’s natural.

‘Suddenly, grey seems on trend. Maybe it’s a backlash against the ridiculously false aesthetic. After all, my hair is the absolute opposite of the dyed blonde, artificially extended mane so beloved of WAGs.

‘Whatever the reason, while I’d never say never, I can guarantee I won’t be hitting the bottle any time soon.’

In fact, if the scientists at L’Oreal have their way, none of us will have to resort to the bottle in the future.

Researchers at the beauty giant noted that while both skin and hair have melanocytes, those pigment-producing cells, skin doesn’t lose colour with age in the same way that hair does.

When they looked more closely at the two types of cell, they discovered that those in hair lacked an enzyme that was present in skin. Their theory is that it could be possible to develop a treatment that mimics the effect of this enzyme and thus keep the melanocytes producing pigment for longer.

‘The hair-whitening process is slow and progressive,’ says Dr Bruno Bernard, head of hair biology at L’Oreal in Paris. ‘But this [research] has opened up an opportunity that I believe we can use to prevent hair whitening.’

It is hoped that within ten years it might be possible to create a food supplement or a shampoo that either contains the missing enzyme or something that has a similar effect, and so either prevent or even reverse greying hair.

But until then, GHOSTS will continue to walk among us . . .

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The Look: All Gold

Khush Singh from Khush Singh-Celebrity & Indian Bridal Makeup Artist

Going for gold isn’t just a sporting term, it’s also one of the biggest wins in the beauty world too.

To get this eye look, ensure you have a good gold eyeshadow and a bold bronze eyeliner.

1.) Start off by sweeping your lids with a soft base colour that will act as a foundation for the gold shadow. We like bareMinerals Well-Rested as it provides an excellent canvas for eye make-up and assists in making you look fresh and awake.

2.) Next, take to your entire lid with a gold eyeshadow (we’re loving Bobbi Brown Shimmer Wash Eye Shadow in Gold), working it up to your brow bone, into the corner of each eye, and underneath your bottom lash line too.
3.) To intensify the colour, simply take to your lash line with a pigmented crayon that’s easy to blend. We like Vani-T Krush Minerals Eye Crayon in Bronzalicious for this.

You can also add a swipe to the brow bone and the corner of each eye if you’d like the look to be more pronounced. Just remember to blend the crayon into the gold shadow properly.

4.) For the lips, use a good lip primer, which will keep your colour in place for longer. We like Clinique All About Lips, which is hydrating and minimises fine lines.

5.) Next, take a lip brush (like Adorn’s Retractable Lip Brush) to a gold lip colour of your choice. We’re loving MAC Lipstick in Out Minxed (a light yellow gold) from its new Leopard Luxe Collection.

6.) Once you have applied one coat, wait 60 seconds for it to dry before applying a second coat. The colour shouldn’t look as bold as if you were applying a pink or red hue as gold is naturally more sheer, which means it may look more like a pigmented gloss that leaves a brilliant sheen to your pout.

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Bridal Eyes - what do you think?

Khush Singh from Khush Singh-Celebrity & Indian Bridal Makeup Artist

Bridal Makeup - Do' and Don'ts for your Wedding Photographs...

Khush Singh from Khush Singh-Celebrity & Indian Bridal Makeup Artist

Getting your make up right for the big day can feel like a massive task, even if you have entrusted yourself to the care of a professional make up artist. At times, if the make up professional goofs up, you could end up looking eeriely white faced or like a overtly pink pastry in all your photographs.

Make up for a wedding should be done keeping in mind the time of the wedding, for a morning function, keep your colours simple and natural and yet defined, you can go for the all out glam look during the day. Here are some tips that will help you look beautiful both at the wedding itself, and in the photographs you look at for years to come.

Less is More: Don’t get your face made into a mask. Too much foundation, blush and eye make up can take you to the borderline of drag. Insist the make up stays natural. Your best features need to be accentuated and your not so perfect features need to be camouflaged skilfully. Wear as much make up as you are comfortable with or you will look ill at ease in your photographs.

According to Cory Walia, make up expert, the biggest mistake most brides make is choosing blush and lip shades to match their outfits rather than their skin tones. For dusky complexions he recommends shades like caramel and coffee, cobalt and olive green which go with a dusky skin. Pinks, light blues and greens are not recommended. A medium complexion can carry off any colours. Fair complexions he says should stick to pastel shades like peach, baby pink rather than bright reds and fuchsias which can get a trifle overwhelming.

Ensure that your makeup is good for flash photography, choose foundations which have a yellow undertone, which can create a warm appearance in photographs. Judicious use of bronzer at the forehead, the high curve of your cheeks, and the bridge of your nose can create a flushed healthy look.

Use a light dusting of loose powder to set your make up, too much heavy pressed powder use can make your face look chalky and dull, and no powder will make your skin shine.

Your wedding day should have you looking classic, keep your eyeshadow colours natural like bronzes, smoky hues, charcoals, pinks and peaches rather than opt for colours like greens and blues.

Make sure your eyebrows and eyes are well defined so they show well in photographs, but do ensure the blending of shades is done well. The flash can bleach out your features so some definition is always welcome. Shimmer can look glamourous in person but if not used well can make your face look oily. Stick to the matte as far as possible.

Use shimmer as a highlighter not as an all over element in your make up.

Above all, be at ease with your look, if you feel ill at ease, it will show in your photographs. Meet your make up artiste before hand and discuss the kind of look you want with swatches from your outfit, to let them know the colours they could use to complement the outfit. The complete look should look put together seamlessly with no elements that stand out. That, and the confidence that she is looking her best, is what makes a bride look radiant and beautiful both on camera and off.
  Photo Credits:   
  Holland Photo Arts, Andrena Photography, Mili and Sid Ghosh, BinaryFlips Photography, Kumari Photo and Design, Deepika Ghumman and

Khush Singh New York New Jersey Bridal & Indian Bridal Makeup Artists

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