Beauty Clinic: Grey hair conundrum

Q. I have managed to get to 48 with naturally blonde hair but I now have some obvious grey, which is ageing. Having never coloured my hair, I think I ought to go to a salon but what do I want?  Highlights, lowlights...any lights?  Is this something I could do myself? I have heard that colouring can result in hair looking dry - any tips for this? A. We always recommend people in your situation to go to good local salons and book in for a free consultation: reputable ones will give you 10 minutes or so of a colorist’s time to advise what they would do for you. It is usually advisable to go to two or three so that you can see what they advise, how much they would charge, and – crucially – if you get on with them.

It’s a good idea to talk to friends about who they rate in your area. Also do look through some magazines for women with similar hair whose colour/styles you want to emulate.

For some more general information on colouring, do look at, under Hair colour in the Search box. You will find a feature on Cracking the Hair Colour Code, plus several Q&As on colouring your hair.

Just to clarify the terminology: highlights and lowlights add colour to strands of hair. They are a great way to start off colouring your hair for the first time as they give a subtle colour boost. (Streaks are much more noticeable.) Highlights use colours that are lighter than your natural shade while lowlights darken strands of hair: the most natural effect in your situation may be to use both. The advantage is that if lights are well done, the effect should be so subtle that it should look almost as natural as your original blonde hair.

You can choose to have a full or half head of lights, with touch-ups as and when the roots begin to show.

UNBBFinally, can you do it at home? Well, the internet has several features, some filmed, on how to do your own lights – all we can say is that it’s complicated and we wouldn't. Although the home hair-colouring products are as good as the ones used in salons, most of us don't come within miles of having the expertise necessary to choose the most flattering shade/s and apply them correctly.

In our experience, colouring your hair need not make it any more dry than it would be without colour. However, we would argue that pretty well all hair needs a weekly mask or intensive treatment to keep it looking glossy (as well as a good shampoo and conditioner, of course, and there are lots in our most recent books, The Anti-Ageing Beauty Bible and The Ultimate Natural Beauty Bible).

And click here for our award-winning Hair Masks this summer, trialled by our testers.