Gray Hair Blog / November 12, 2019

What Colors Look Best with Gray Hair?

Are you curious about what colors look best with gray hair? Read on for some tips and inspiration!

Before I decided to transition, I really worried about how my pale skin would look with gray hair.

I have lost a lot of color in my face as I’ve gotten older, and I pictured myself melting away into nothingness if I had white hair, white skin, white lips…all that would be left would be dark eyebrows floating in mid-air, like an even weirder version of the Cheshire Cat!

I should have known better.  Mother Nature is one smart cookie and she knew what she was doing when she blessed people with silver hair.  The silvers have brightened up my complexion considerably!

** Please Note:  This post contains affiliate links.  I only link to products that I personally like or that have been recommended to me by my silver sisters.  You can see my full policy here.**

But a strange thing happened….

Since my hair dye has faded, and my gray roots take up about 1/3 of my head, I find that I can no longer wear neutral colors (like taupe or beige) next to my face. 

When I wear them, it’s like the life has gone out of my face – all the color is gone.  I start fading away, as I had feared.  But when I wear bright colors like hot pink or red, I look vibrant!

This got me wondering about what colors look best with gray hair.  So I’ve spent the past few weeks reading all about it online and in books like Anne Kreamer’s “Going Gray.” 

WHY AND HOW TO FIND YOUR UNDERTONE

There is a general consensus that bright, “jewel-like” colors are best with gray hair and that silver sisters should avoid warm (autumn-like) tones.

But I find that a bit simplistic. After all, we all have different skin tones, so it’s not JUST the color of our hair that affects how we look in colors, it’s also the undertones in our skin.

Here’s a great way to find out if you have a cool or warm undertone:

Look at the inside of your wrist.  
Do your veins look blue or green?
If they look more on the blue side, you are likely to be cool toned.
If they are more on the green side, you are likely to be warm toned (because blue veins underneath a yellowish skin tone make the veins look green.)
What were you- cool or warm?

Now find a piece of jewelry, one in silver and another in gold?
What looks best next to your skin?
One is likely to look cheap and the other will look expensive and lovely.  Do you get more compliments when you wear silver or gold jewelry?
If you suit gold, you are more likely to be warm and if you suit silver, you are more likely to be cool.

from Silver-Style-Life

If you really want to dive into it, you can have your colors analyzed by a professional color consultant.

Back in the 1980s, when Color Me a Season was a Big Deal, I had my colors done and found out that, with my pale skin with pink undertones and with my dark brunette hair, I was a “Winter.” 

This meant that I would look great in “jewel-like” tones like sapphire blue, ruby red, and emerald green.  (Being a rebellious teenager in the mid-1980s, and an art student in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I, of course, ditched those colors and only wore black.  For freakin’ decades!)

Since going silver, I have finally started embracing the jewel-like colors the experts recommended to me, and WOW – they do make my silver hair sparklier and my complexion brighter!

And even if I do wear taupe or beige, as long as I wear bright lipstick – I stop fading away!

POPULAR COLORS TO WEAR WITH GRAY HAIR

Let’s take a peek at some of my silver sisters who were kind enough to share their photos with me and see how great they look in various colors (whether clothing, lipstick, or jewelry). 

Please note that the colors represented below turned up most often in their Instagram posts, so that does tell us that women with gray hair seem to gravitate towards these colors in particular.

PINK

Pink is one of those colors that works really beautifully with gray hair. Hot pink, dusky rose, light pink – try them out and see how you like them!



PURPLE

Violet, plum, aubergine… there are a number of variations to try!




BLUE

Sapphire blue looks especially striking with white or gray hair, but navy, light, and bright blue are also very lovely.




RED

What color makes more of a statement than red? Whether it’s red clothing, red glasses frames, or red lipstick, give it a shot!




GRAY

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE gray hair with gray, charcoal or black clothing.  I think it’s striking!




GREEN

Nobody can beat Monique Parent for looking gorgeous in green (or in any color – she is a knockout)!

image of beautiful woman green dress gray hair
@moniqueparent

Would you like to see my own experiment with trying on different colors? I took a shopping expedition to my favorite local boutique and made this video all about choosing colors to complement your gray hair.

YELLOW

This is not a color that is supposed to complement gray, but I love the way these ladies look in it!




ADVICE FOR WOMEN WITH WARM SKIN TONES AND GRAY HAIR

Many warm-toned women have written to me and explained that their gray hair has profoundly changed their relationship to color. The colors that they wore before (the “Autumn” palette) no longer looked great on them since they went gray.

Carole Jackson, founder of Color Me Beautiful offers this advice in her Letter to Gray-Haired Autumns:

Dear Silver or Gray-Haired Autumn,

If you choose not to color your hair in favor of letting it stay natural, you will find that a few of your Autumn colors may not look as harmonious as they were with your brown, dark blonde or red hair.  Guess what!  You may now add some Winter and Spring colors to make up for the colors you eliminate.
 
Eliminate Beige, Mustard, Pumpkin and any color near your face that you feel does not look great with your hair.  You may add the colors listed below as guidelines for additional colors.
 
Be sure you wear lipstick colors that are a tad brighter or deeper than before since gray hair has less contrast with your skin and you don’t want to look “washed out”.
 
The colors below will be complemented by your normal Autumn makeup.  You may now add lip and cheek colors in Mocha, Salmon and Brown-Burgundy.
 
If your hair is silver, white, or mostly gray, you will find that silver or pewter jewelry will now look great.  In fact, your gold earrings may clash with your hair.  Two-tone gray hair (with lots of brown or red still mixed in) can wear gold or silver.  Earrings of mixed gold and silver are a good investment as silver will pick up the new tones in your hair, while the gold allows you to wear gold bracelets, buttons or other gold accessories.  Enjoy the new you!

Carole Jackson, Letter to Gray-Haired Autumns

Terry suggests trying muted or darker tones (darker blue, darker red, etc.) if you are a warm-toned silver sister:

EXPERIMENT WITH COLOR

It’s all a bit confusing, as they say that hair color shouldn’t affect your clothing choices as much as skin tone, but in some cases, it apparently can, judging by the volume of mail I receive on the subject of warm skin tones/gray hair!

What if you hate restrictions or rules and just want to wear whatever color suits your mood, whatever your undertone or hair color? Go for it! 

I don’t believe in restricting yourself. My only advice on color would be to hold colors up against your face and see how your skin reacts to that color. Have fun and experiment!

Marci did a great color experiment using bandanas.  These little bursts of color really complement her silver hair!

CONCLUSION

Let’s all try a little experiment and add some new colors into our wardrobe and see how they work with our silver (or transitioning to silver) hair. 

If you are on Instagram, tag me @katiegoesplatinum and use the hashtag #kgpcolorpop

I’m planning to do more posts on this topic, so if you have any specific questions on color that you’d like me to address, please comment below.  You can also follow my new Pinterest board, Colors to Wear with Gray Hair.

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media, as it helps me grow my audience and spread the word about our Silver Revolution!  And remember to subscribe to my YouTube Channel and Pinterest Feed for more gray hair tips and product recommendations. Thanks!

All of the Instagram and other photos on this site are used with permission.

Check out my shop on Amazon for all your gray hair needs: 
Katie Goes Platinum Storefront

Did you enjoy this post? If so, you might also like:

Lipstick Love Affair

How to Make Your Cold Turkey Gray Hair Transition Fun

To Hell with Going Gray Gracefully!

What Does It Mean to Be a Silver Sister?

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32 Comments

  1. Janet

    I was a warm autumn with red hair and green eyes forever. Colors were easy. Now my skin is still warm but has faded some. My white hair is a vanilla color and I no longer use the blue/purple shampoos everyone seemed to recommend because I’ve decided nature really does know best: a warm vanilla white is much better on me than a silver white! In clothing black is more of a no-go now than it was when I had red hair. Many greens don’t work as well as they once did but surprisingly some khaki and deep warm beiges are fine – they make my hair seem almost blonde. The rest is a work in progress and I’m finding experimentation (a la bandanas) working better than hard and fast rules.

    06 . Aug . 2019 Reply
    • Patti

      I am on the verge of going gray, silver or whatever it will be. I am a Spring – pale peach skin that is more washed out now, green eyes, dyed copper blonde red that I do myself using salon formula. I am SICK of dyeing it. Top roots are silver, lower down seems more mousey brown gray. I just grew it to shoulder length from a pixie (18m mo) so not excited to pixie it again. My biggest fear is my hair is very thin and will it look worse silver or gray showing my pink scalp and looking even thinner, flater. Seems like everyone here has thick and/or dark hair. My hair is wavy, silky fine, thinner after menopause. I wish I could find someone who has similar hair and coloring to advise me!! I am 72 but look 55 (good genes).n Help!!

      24 . Aug . 2019 Reply
      • Ramona M Reich

        Dear Patti Buy Great Hair Day at QVC, it will change your life. It is a powder you just brush on your hair where it parts. You will have fuller looking hair and your hair will be healthy looking when you ditch the color. Give it a try Mona

        16 . Sep . 2019 Reply
  2. Caz

    Fab article. Nobody’s got time to read complex colour theory. Don’t over think it. I just hold different pieces of clothing up to my face and hair – its immediate what looks good and what doesn’t.

    29 . Jun . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Right! So easy :-). Thanks!

      30 . Jun . 2019 Reply
  3. Stephanie

    I’m inspired! The bandana experiment from Marci makes me want to try it.. and your video is great.. I am no fan of clothes shopping.. and never was even close to a fashion diva.. and black was definitely my main ‘mom color’.. because it goes with everything.. especially more black.. and is less likely to show kid spots!

    I’ve been working on a capsule wardrobe of sorts. and it’s mostly black.. with some denim, white, tan (bottoms only) and purple.. with one teal top. I think I want more variety.. but it bends my brain.. you make it look more fun. Thanks!

    29 . Jun . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Thanks, Stephanie! I like the idea of a capsule wardrobe. I’ve been trying to work on that a bit myself.

      30 . Jun . 2019 Reply
  4. Linda

    I was having trouble knowing what color to wear and found a sight that helped me dress according to my energy profile. It’s called Dressing your truth by Carol Tuttle. Check it out. There are for energy types. I’m a type four and I can wear black and pure white and they look amazing on me. I can also wear all the colors in saturated jewel tones. I feel and look fabulous with my silver hair. I love shopping I know exactly what colors to look for and don’t waste time looking at everything. I can shop retail or thrift and not waste time or money on clothing that will not be worn because I’m not in love with them. Good luck, Your friend ………Linda

    10 . Jun . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Really interesting! Thanks, Linda!

      29 . Jun . 2019 Reply
  5. Liz

    Today’s seasonal color theory is more nuanced than it was when Carole Jackson introduced it in 1980. Depending on the system, there might be 4-6 different subtypes for each season. Here’s an example:
    https://www.kettlewellcolours.co.uk/us/find-your-colours/the-quiz-intro-page

    06 . Jun . 2019 Reply
  6. Jackie Jones

    Hi Katie
    Thanks for this information…I am a warm autumn and now I’m lost!
    I think my skin is the same, but I have salt and pepper on my head.
    I just dont know what to buy, I am making up a new capsule wardrobe as I don’t think brown/ beige/ orange suits me anymore?
    Thank you x

    04 . Jun . 2019 Reply
    • Liz

      Carol Jackson, the author of “Color Me Beautiful” back in the 1980s, has revised her advice on going gray for autumns.
      https://carolejacksoncolors.com/shopping-with-your-colors-autumn/

      06 . Jun . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Hi, Jackie: I got a lot of helpful information recently from women in my silver sisters support groups. I’ll update the post soon -just keep checking back! I should have it up in the next week or so.

      08 . Jun . 2019 Reply
    • Candace

      Confidence, good posture and a smile will make your gray hair sparkle no matter what colors you wear!

      01 . Jul . 2019 Reply
  7. Diane

    As a silver sister with a warm undertone and green eyes autumn colors are my favorites. While I wear a wide range black, stark white and gray can wash me out. My hair is more of a “vanilla” color than a silvery gray which can cause it to “yellow “ next to silver.

    22 . Apr . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Interesting! That’s why I think hard and fast rules about color don’t work – we all have to see what works for our particular shade of hair and skin color. Those colors sound fabulous with your “vanilla” hair!

      22 . Apr . 2019 Reply
  8. Linda

    Monique Parent had some good tips I’ve been using to experiment with colored frames! I have black, red, and turquoise so far and it REALLY helps add color to my washed out face and light eyes. A hurdle I’m going thru now is the natural progression of losing thickness and color in my eyebrows! I’m coloring them in but not super confident yet, as I am trying not to look “overdone” for a 64 year old!

    16 . Mar . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Have you tried Benefit Gimme Brow? I love it! It is light, so doesn’t look fake.

      17 . Mar . 2019 Reply
  9. CoralTurquesa

    Estou feliz com seu blog…gostei de tudo…bom encontrar mulheres assim com você…Adorei as cores em cabelos grisalhos…os meus são grisalhos…vou usar as dicas…obrigada, beijos

    14 . Mar . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Thank you! I’m so glad you are enjoying it!

      14 . Mar . 2019 Reply
  10. Judi

    Thank you for this Katie! It’s very helpful. I’m transitioning from warm autumn to white. I have to call it white as that’s what my hairdresser tells me it is! And it’s a warm white at the moment which is just as well as the rest of my hair still has warmth in it. Nature getting it right again! I have medium/dark brown eyes and a skin with warm undertones (except it seems to be getting pinker so I need to check again). So all the websites have me as soft in colouring but my friends and I all prefer me in bright colours and I’ve been tearing my hair out trying to understand why. I can’t wear black as I’m too warm coloured. You winter ladies do transition so well and keep black as a good colour, lucky you! But with the help of your article I can now be much more sure of my colour choices. Thanks again.

    05 . Feb . 2019 Reply
    • Katie

      Hi, Judi – I’m so glad! I really think testing out various colors and trusting your instincts is the way to go!

      05 . Feb . 2019 Reply
    • Diane

      Judi,
      WE have a similar problem/ conflict. I spent time trying to “brighten” my hair with silver shampoos which do brighten but still leave it a warm vanilla color rather than silver. When I’m out at night most people think I’m blond because of the lighting. I love warm colors; coral, teal; Marsala, creamy white, yellow, avocado to name a few….

      22 . Apr . 2019 Reply
  11. Maria

    I really like my natural color going grey best desition ever.

    09 . Jan . 2019 Reply
  12. Alex D.

    Great post! The experiment with bandanas is a very useful one to add some colour to a neutral outfit.
    You suggest to avoid autumn colours if you are already grey, I was wondering what would you suggest while one is transitioning. I had black hair and light beige skin and I could wear bright colours because they suited me. Now only my eyes and eyebrows are still black, unfortunately bright colours do not suit me anymore :(. Any further advice?
    Thanks a lot in advance.

    11 . Nov . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Hi, Alex: You don’t have to avoid autumn colors, so if they suit you – go for it! I think the main thing to do is to just keep experimenting with clothing and lipstick colors. Have you tried black or gray outfits, too? Or navy blue? Those all seem to be colors that look great with gray hair. I think the main thing is just to keep experimenting. xoxox

      11 . Nov . 2018 Reply
  13. Joie Carol

    Great post Katie! Very informative and I love your writing style too.
    All the pictures are lovely examples too!

    21 . Oct . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Thanks, Joie! xoxo

      21 . Oct . 2018 Reply
  14. Nina

    This was great Katie👏🏼👍 I agree you have to experiment,cause we all have different preferences and skintones. We all just have to be open to trying new things. Going gray has definitely help me go out of my comfort zone even more with color.

    21 . Oct . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Thanks, Nina! I agree – it’s so easy to get into a bit of a rut and it’s kind of nice to be forced out of it. My comfort zone is what a comedian called “the bruise palette” – blacks & blues. Trying to add some color in now and it’s kinda fun!

      21 . Oct . 2018 Reply
  15. Susan Winer

    So glad I found you Katie! I’ve only just begun my transition, don’t even have any pictures yet cause I just cannot capture any good patterns of silver/gray/white strands but will hopefully see some good “natural highlights” soon! Thank you for all you do! It keeps me and I’m sure many others going on our journeys!

    21 . Oct . 2018 Reply
    • Katie

      Thanks, Susan! I bet your highlights will show up soon – mine really came through by about month 3! I’m glad to be of help. That’s why I started doing this – it’s so rare to get positive messages about gray hair online, but I think it’s finally changing!

      21 . Oct . 2018 Reply

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Katie

Katie is the founder of Katie Goes Platinum. After constantly dyeing her hair for over 25 years, in 2018 Katie decided to stop the madness and embrace the gray. Since then, she’s been sharing her favorite gray hair tips, resources, and stories to empower women to feel beautiful during and after their transition to gray hair.