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“Should I Go Grey or Stay Blonde?”: Gwyneth Paltrow Challenges Attitudes Towards Grey Hair

When you think of Gwyneth Paltrow’s views on wellness, ozone therapy or the “broth diet” might come to mind, but her latest social media post is opening up a more wholesome conversation – why going grey is more than okay.

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The Hollywood star says the last few months have been hair-dye free, leading her to question whether she wants to keep dying it at all. She posited the question to fans on Instagram, with an influx of supportive comments – some from people who resonated with the Goop founder’s question.

“Are you growing into your natural grey hair?” one fan asked, to which Gwyneth responded that she hadn’t been dying her hair lately.

“I don’t know, I’ve just been lazy over the summer,” she said. “Should I?”

Photo credit: @gwynethpaltrow

While the actress didn’t say which way she’d be going, the candidness of the conversation and casual approach to the topic does a world of good in taking the shame and secrecy out of something so normal – grey hair. And she’s not alone; we’re seeing a growing number of women challenge the norms and expectations around hair, appearance and getting older.

The Movement of Women Embracing their Greys

The changing approach to grey hair marks a significant shift in societal beauty norms and perceptions of ageing – but it’s not always easy as women, especially those in the limelight, are under close scrutiny and judgement from the public. For generations, women have often felt pressured to dye their hair to conceal signs of ageing, particularly grey hair, these deep historical and cultural roots reflect broader attitudes toward femininity, beauty and age. But as celebrities and regular women alike embrace their greys, we see more people feeling comfortable in their authenticity and challenging conventional standards of attractiveness.

Let’s wind back a few years to see where these anti-grey attitudes came from – for much of history, grey hair has been associated with ageing, wisdom, and experience. However, as modern beauty standards evolved in the 20th century, the expectation for women to maintain a youthful appearance became more pronounced, and we’ve seen less emphasis on the wisdom and experience that comes with ageing, despite those developments being invaluable! Instead, the media, advertising, and societal messages promote the idea that grey hair is undesirable and needed to be concealed through hair dye. The pressure for women to dye their hair to hide grey strands has several consequences – for one, it perpetuates the idea that ageing was something to be feared or avoided, and that beauty was primarily associated with youthfulness. False and false! Helen Mirren, anyone? This expectation contributes to anxiety about getting older and negatively impact women's self-esteem – not to mention, it detracts from the true beauty of getting older and all the experiences, knowledge and new insights that come with it.

The movement of women embracing their natural grey hair challenges these societal norms. It's a statement that defies the pressure to conform to unrealistic standards and acknowledges that beauty comes in all ages – and there’s nothing wrong with grey hair, after all, it’s just another colour. In fact, grey hair was recently trending as a popular hair dye colour in South Korea, and it also made Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2021! 

But what does this mean for the beauty industry? Will it move along with these changing attitudes? Well, we’re actually seeing a shift, with companies now creating products and campaigns that cater to women with grey hair, acknowledging their presence and preferences. This shift indicates a changing cultural landscape where authentic representation is gaining importance. Remember those ads about “discreetly” hiding your greys as if there was something shameful about them? Yeah, we do too.

But not only are individuals’ views changing, corporations are too – after all, they’ve got to follow the money, right? And stars like Gwyneth have major power in swinging the pendulum. Now, there’s nothing wrong with dying your hair, but it’s also refreshing to see more people fight back against the negative attitudes towards grey hair. Here at IQS, we rather think the shine of silvery grey hair is ethereal, so let those gorgeous tresses shine!

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2 Responses

I Quit Sugar

I Quit Sugar

September 29, 2023

Hey Gail, thanks for commenting – you’re 100% right, the chemicals in hair dyes can definitely be damaging to our health, especially over time. We’ll be getting some content out on the effects and alternatives. xx The IQS Team

Gail whiffin

Gail whiffin

September 29, 2023

Your article on the recent trend to go grey, could have included the effects on health and wellbeing. We often read about the adverse effects of chemicals in skincare products and household cleaners, toxins in furniture and clothing manufacturing but very rarely does anyone cover the facts around hair dyes and the use of harmful chemicals used to create the colours we cover our scalps in every 4 – 6 weeks to become more societally attractive. Most women which go to hairdressers for cuts and styling are up sold hair colour from highlights & balayage to full head colours all of which contain harmful chemicals, due to the length of time it takes to grow colour out and the growing out stage, it becomes a part of their routine, having colour applied for some people decades.

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