Published 31/10/2012 | 06:00
To dye or not to dye, that is the question as roots start to turn grey.
Blondes have more fun, brunettes do it better and redheads are famously feisty -- but what about women who are grey?
Going grey may be a sign of wisdom, but according to TV presenter Fiona Bruce, it's not wise for women to go grey.
The BBC newsreader has just confessed to dyeing her hair for the sake of her career in front of the camera.
"Age is definitely an issue for women in TV," says Bruce (48). "For instance, I have a few grey hairs. I dye them. I don't let my grey hair show when I'm reading the news.
"Of course, we wouldn't even be having this conversation if I was a 48-year-old man."
Sure enough, while Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Patrick Dempsey grow more gorgeously grey, their female co-stars -- and fans -- suffer endless expensive trips to the hair salon instead.
Hollywood sex symbol Jennifer Lopez (43) admits she's been battling against grey for two decades.
"My mum and dad both went grey at a young age and I did too -- 23," says the mother of two.
"Once I started doing movies, I started to grey. It was the stress, the pressure."
Meanwhile, Jennifer Aniston -- famous for her sun-kissed tresses, confessed that she broke down when she found her first grey in 2007.
"I found a really long grey hair and it kind of flipped me out," says Aniston (43). "I was like, 'How many others are there?' It actually brought me to tears slightly.
"My colourist has to get creative now with what I call my 'natural highlights'."
Hair goes grey when the follicle stops producing the natural pigment melanin.
Although scientists believe that if and when a person goes grey is genetic, stress, alcohol, smoking and poor diet are all thought to accelerate the process -- with the average Irish person sprouting their first grey hair at 35.
More than two million bottles of home hair dye were sold here in the past year alone, according to research by Clairol Nice 'N Easy.
"In corporate environments, where youth is such a valuable commodity, there's huge pressure to colour your hair," says Anne Kreamer, author of Going Grey: What I Learned About Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity and Everything Else That Really Matters.
"There's this idea that if you do go grey, you're giving up and simply not interested in your appearance."
"Ever since Meryl Streep donned a white wig for The Devil Wears Prada in 2006, however, 'granny chic' has been on the rise, with younger stars such as Kelly Osbourne and Pixie Geldof even joining the blue-rinse brigade.
By 2008, when Nicole Kidman walked the red carpet for the premiere of Australia with grey roots, one newspaper even declared that she had smashed the "last taboo" for women.
So is it okay to just go grey?
"Letting your hair be silver in a society that says you shouldn't expresses a certain confidence," says Diana Lewis Jewel, author of Going Grey, Looking Great!
'People are expected to be eternally young. Our 'silver sisters' are proving that grey is just a colour like any other.
"In the same way that you can be blonde, brunette or redhead, you can be ice, silver or platinum."
"It can be very hard to convince clients to let their hair go grey," admits Lorraine Browne, a hairdresser based in Dublin.
"If you do decide to go grey, though, it's important to get a sharp haircut and for the condition to be perfect.
"Naturally grey hair is more porous, making it absorb smells and tarnish more easily -- so it still needs lots of TLC to shine."