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To gray or not to gray, that is the question

The “Granny Trend” is the latest hair fashion for summer 2015, an area hairstylist said.

The cautious gals are going with some gray streaks here and there while a few are choosing an overall look, said Haleigh Harold, a stylist at Hair We Are.

According to salon magazines and nationally-known stylists, brightening hair with silvery shades of gray is the way to go, she said.

“I like it,” Harold said. “I think it’s really pretty. I don’t think it would age someone so much as a dark gray. It’s light, like silver.”

While some clients are asking her for shades of silver over ash blonde, Harold turned a style into a “silver bob” for co-worker Amanda Elkins, 31. She figures the trend will spread as summer approaches and nationally-known stylists show their works on runways.

Checking with folks at various high schools revealed that teens are choosing to add various colors to hair, including some who are streaking blond with gray.

How the trend will grow throughout the area remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, some more mature area ladies say they vote for letting nature take its course.

Keeley Steele, 45, began turning gray as a teenager and never considered it to be a problem.

“It’s all natural,” she said of her wavy, gray hair. “I started going gray at 17, but not extensively. I had a sparkle of gray hair prematurely. I’ve colored my hair over the years but never to cover the gray. I turned it pink or blond.”

She can’t recall when it all turned a silvery white but has no desire to color it now.

She and her husband, Jonathan, have three restaurants in Charleston’s East End, including Bluegrass Kitchen, Tricky Fish and Starlings Coffee and Provisions. They are the parents of Sullivan, 14, and Quincy, 4. With so much on their plates, they schedule family time by making a point to dine together at home three nights a week and squeezing in mini getaways with the kids.

Steele said women often feel pressured to look youthful from choosing the right makeup to covering gray hair.

“We are to look as young as possible,” she said. “I don’t have time for that. I don’t have time to be at the forefront of fashion.”

She gets her hair cut every couple years and recently had about 15 inches taken off.

“I keep it up most of the time,” she said. “I’m around food. When it weighs a lot I get a headache.”

She doesn’t think much about her hair color or style.

“It’s just my hair,” she said. “My husband has never asked me to color it. We all like a little something that sets us apart. People recognize my hair. It’s the part of me that gets the most comments and they are never negative.”

Her line of work puts her in the public eye and keeps her busy. She tries to walk 10,000 steps a day and can sometimes sneak a few minutes to sit in her art studio with a glass of wine but finds no time for artwork. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Kentucky.

Her creativity is funneled into the restaurants.

“I create daily,” she said. “My chefs and I constantly talk food, menus, wall art, bathroom colors.”

She said it is surprising to find herself in the midst of a going-gray trend. On the other hand, she believes more women will take that route in light of being more health conscious and keeping chemicals away from their hair follicles.

“People are more educated about what we put into our body,” she said. “That translates into what we put on our bodies as well.”

Two sisters who covered the gray in their hair for years are no longer choosing to do so.

Anne Lane and Connie Hillenbrand like the freedom of going natural with hair color.

Lane, 63, is at the salt-and-pepper stage while Hillenbrand, 66, has white hair sprinkled with silver highlights.

“I’m very happy with my hair,” Hillenbrand said. “It behaves. It took a long time for me to look in the mirror and not be shocked.”

Lane is becoming accustomed to her dark hair becoming increasingly streaked with gray. Her hairdresser has been coloring roots and some outside layers of hair as Lane prepares to gradually go gray.

“When I see the gray it’s shocking,” Lane said. “I know it is growing underneath. I think it will be shocking when I get to the point that I am all gray.”

The ladies, who both live in Charleston, have four brothers (Tom, Gordon, John and Jim), and a 91-year-old mother, Marianne Lane, who has gray/white hair.

The ladies like the idea of letting their hair color be natural and free of chemical dyes. It is also a big money saver at the beauty shop.

“I started coloring my hair when I was 38,” Hillenbrand said. “It was dark brown, almost black. I started coloring it to cover the gray and stay with the natural color. This went on until I was 65. I gradually had it dyed lighter and lighter. It now looks white to me. I automatically get senior discounts.”

She finds her naturally light hair blends well with her skin tone and is a nice contrast with black outfits or bright-colored clothing such as the deep blue she wore on a recent day. Spending less time in the beauty shop getting her hair dyed means more time for other things.

Hillenbrand, who retired in 2002 from Verizon, has an active lifestyle. She and her husband, Ed, are the parents of Kaite Hillenbrand. Connie Hillenbrand’s hobbies include gardening, tennis, golf, biking, walking and cooking.

Lane, who is divorced, has a daughter, Katie Brown. Lane enjoys water aerobics, swimming, walking and golf. She is retired from the state Development Office and is a certified public accountant.

“I feel like I’m old enough to do this now,” she said of going gray. “I like the idea of not having to color my hair every three or four weeks. I hope it looks as good as my sister’s hair when it turns completely gray.”

Contact writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith at or 304-348-1246.

Funerals Today, Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Armstead, David - Noon, Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.

Crawford, Charles - 7:30 p.m., Andrews' residence, Belleaire at Devonshire, Scott Depot.

Duff, Catherine Ann - 11 a.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Jarrett, Shirley - 1 p.m., Mt. Juliet United Methodist Church, Belle.

Lawrentz, Deo Mansfried - 11 a.m., Koontz Cemetery, Clendenin.

McGraw, Judy Fay - 2 p.m., Jodie Missionary Baptist Church, Jodie.

Mullins, Alice Ellen (Blessing) - Noon, Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Staats, Anthony Vernon “Tony” - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.