Fashion & Beauty

Color Adjustments

May 26, 2020

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AS I WAGE my personal color-war battle, I can report the white team is ahead and clearly gaining over its brunette opponent. And this despite my ministrations of L’Oreal Root Concealer, alternating with generous applications of Color Wow Root Coverup. I’ve ruled against over-the-counter formulations, which in previous experience, left me with an unwelcome likeness to Morticia Addams. Salons haven’t opened yet in my neck of the woods, and when they do, it will take time to arrange an appointment. My good friend’s hairdresser is setting up shop on her patio next weekend, and she has kindly offered me an invitation to participate. I’m considering my options at the same time realizing that of all the problems to have during this horrendous pandemic, I’m lucky to have this one.

One possibility is not to decide and live with the white streaks taking over—at least for a while. My husband who usually doesn’t comment—or notice— changes in my appearance has said he likes the way my hair looks. I think longer hair appeals to him, and he overlooks the graying bits.

But while I remain in color (and cut) limbo, I conferred with Washington, D.C.-based Shauné Hayes, founder of Red Carpet Ready Makeup, for advice on tactics for adjusting to root issues. Here are her tips:

  • To counteract the washed-out effect of gray hair on your face, focus on brows because they frame the face and sharpen your features. The more gray you have, the brows will be a bigger factor. Keep your eyebrows close to your natural root color and define them to bring dimension to the face.
  • Now’s not the time to shy away from blush. Brighten your complexion by applying a touch of blush on the apples of the cheeks. She prefers cream blushes, which bring light to the face. Depending on how much gray you have, you may have to change your usual color. Stay clear of beige or tawny colors, which make your skin tone look muddy next to gray hair.
  • Apply eyeliner, at least on the upper lids. Black liner, depending on your gray color, may look harsh and be too aggressive a contrast. Consider the shape of your eyes when wearing eyeliner because well-applied eyeliner can make all the difference in your look. But no matter your eye shape, wearing liner on the top lid gives a more lifted, youthful effect in general. If you want to wear liner on the water line, consider using a lighter color than the top to give definition that is soft and flattering. Don’t get too bottom-heavy as it can drag the eye down. If you are going to do eyeshadow, choose ones appropriate for your complexion. Pink for light skin, taupe for darker. Mascara always helps.
  • The more gray you have, the bolder your lip color — in a berry color, or pinky-peach.
  • Even as your roots growing out, you want to wear makeup that plays up your best features. People look at your face rather than hair.


Hayes notes that celebs like Jamie Lee Curtis, Helen Mirren, Diane Keaton and the late Toni Morrison embraced gray hair with attitude. Still, Hayes says she’s not ready to embrace hers, which is why she’s still dyeing it. Below, eight ideas for coping with your changing hair.

—Janet Kelly

LEFT: Even if you didn’t got a good night’s sleep, look as if you did with Tarte’s Fake Awake Eyeliner ($20, Sephora). A makeup artist trick for bigger, brighter eyes, the twist-up creamy-gel eyeliner neutralizes the inner rim with matte nude pigment enriched with aloe. You can also brighten up the inner corners of the eyes and brow bone and then blend using the built-in smudger. RIGHT: A brushable, creamy wax that thickens, shapes and grooms brows, the very popular Boy Brow grooming pomade ($16, Glossier) is available in blond, brown, black and clear.


LEFT: I like how liquid eyeliner glides on; what I don’t like is the too-defined, harsh line that you get when you apply it. Charlotte Tilbury’s Rock n Kohl Eyeliner Pencil ($27, Nordstrom) goes on just as smoothly as liquid but the kohl pencil gives a softly pigmented result. It’s available in six colors. I’m a fan of the midnight blue. RIGHT: Nars’s Climax Mascara ($24, Sephora) in black came in No. 8 on the Wall Street Journal’s October 2019 ranking of the 50 best mascaras. “Even if you rub your eyes all day, it won’t crumble on you.”


LEFT: Little Bird Stephanie Cavanaugh stands by drugstore staple Wet n Wild’s Megaglow Makeup Stick Blush ($4.49, Ulta) for subtle color and contouring. On the subject of contouring, Hayes says, “The right shade of blush can slim a nose, sculpt a cheekbone and make the jaw a little less jiggly (looking). Look for a brown without any red, which looks like it’s sitting on the skin,” says Hayes. “When you want areas to recede you want a cooler shade, like taupe, which defines while looking natural. And no shimmer, which highlights.” RIGHT: Bobbi Brown’s Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks ($33, Nordstrom), packaged in a mirrored, flip-top compact, multitasks its creamy color (two shades of pink and a melon) for cheeks and lips. Blend onto the apples of your cheeks or blot on lips for a stained finish.



LEFT: The retractable, fine-tip pencil on Anastasia Beverly Hills’s Brow Wiz ($23, Ulta) creates precise, hair-like strokes to fill in sparsely populated brow areas and add dimension. Use the spooley end for grooming and blending.  RIGHT: “The tiny teeth on the wand of Serge Lutens Mascara ($65, Violet Grey) make it precise for getting ink on, lash by lash, without smudges.” Claiming the No. 1 spot in the Wall Street Journal rankings of the 50 best mascaras, it may be worth the indulgence.


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4 thoughts on “Color Adjustments

  1. Janet Kelly says:

    If Madison Reed works for you in the interim, go for it. Also, what about asking whoever colors your hair now to mix your formula and give it to you. Not the same as a pro doing it, but it’s something you may want to do until you can get to the salon.
    As far as the makeup goes, I did write a post just on eye makeup ( exactly because of the mask situation. But when we’re inside and using Zoom or Face Time, etc., you may want to put on blush and lipstick. Also, sometimes, just putting on makeup for yourself can give you a lift.

  2. cynthia tilson says:

    I love this one, Janet. My patio is indeed open for business, but I love the idea of a trim, hold the hair dye, bring on the bright lips and cheeks! Why not? It’s all about the face, anyway, and a crown of shining silver surrounding, may be just the thing to set it all off. xoxoxo

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Thanks, Cindy. In addition to makeup, think your old reliable string of pearls. They reflect light onto the face. I’ve been wearing them for a couple of days to gauge the effect. Thumbs up!

  3. bonnie casper says:

    Janet – I gave up trying to see gray as a positive. I think it has everything to do with what is your natural color and how “gracefully” the gray is growing in. I chose Madison Reed to color my hair and it worked well for a while as it is not a permanent color and didn’t overwhelm my hair. But now I need to do it again! Also a question about the makeup – with masks I do not understand why we should invest in makeup other than eye makeup? Is your consultant thinking that we will not be wearing masks?

    I have saved an enormous amount of money by coloring (not coloring) my own hair but I don’t think this is the long-term solution! And then there is the haircut!

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