15 Gorgeous Gray Hairstyles for Women of All Ages

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When You Want to Go Gray Naturally

Emmylou Harris
Emmylou Harris. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

While many women spend hours at a salon or in their bathroom trying to cover up gray hair, others embrace it. Gray hair can be gorgeous and natural gray is a color you simply can't get with dye.

If you're at the stage where you're thinking about going natural, you're in luck. There are many beautiful women who can offer inspiration that gray is beautiful. Whether you want to liven up your natural gray, cover it up, or go with your streaks, let's explore some stunning gray-haired looks and tips for keeping your hair looking great.

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Going Gray Very Young

sarah-harris-british-vogue.jpg
Sarah Harris's hair started turning silver when she was a teenager. Timur Emek for Getty Images

It may not take long to notice gray hair. Some women are genetically predisposed to it and will begin to go gray at a very young age.

British Vogue editor Sarah Harris, pictured here, tells the blog Into the Gloss that her hair started turning silver in her late teens. Her mother had also gone silver early and dyed her hair for years before she gave up and just let it do its natural thing.

Harris leaves her hair natural and gets tons of compliments on it. She tells Into the Gloss, "So often I have young girls come up to me in the street and they’re like, 'Who’s your hairdresser? What dye do you use?' I’m like, 'What dye?!' And not many people believe me—unless it’s a hairdresser who’s like, 'Yeah, you can’t get that color out of a bottle.'"

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A Natural Stripe of Gray

Stacy London. Michael Buckner for Getty

Stacy London is a reality TV host who specializes in women's makeovers. She is also well-known for her trademark gray stripe, which she has had since she was a child. She opts not to dye it to match the rest of her hair.

It's a fabulous touch of color that can frame the face. Many women notice that their gray comes in streaky as well and it's something that you can totally work into your style.

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A Gorgeous Stripe of Gray

Millicent Shelton. Charley Gallay // Getty Images

Whether it's natural or added with dyes, there is something fascinating, and a little wild, about a gray streak. It offers some fabulous styling options as well, including a very clean and classy updo.

When you go gray, you might notice that more attention is brought to your eyebrows. They may go gray as well, which can make them look a little thin. One option you have is to dye your brows to match your former base color or go just a bit darker than your hair.

The alternative is to use an eyebrow pencil to fill in sparse areas and darken a light brow. For the most natural look, draw in short lines that look like hair.

You can soften your hand-painted brows by layering in a powdered shadow of the same color as the brow pencil or your hair. Keep your brows in place by spraying hairspray on your finger and brushing your finger over your brows.

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Gray Highlights Around the Face

Gloria Steinem. Frederick M. Brown

Hints of gray can be very flattering as Gloria Steinham shows. While she may color the rest of her hair brown, she chose to leave the natural gray streaks. It gives a whole new meaning to "face-framing," a look many women go for with layers or highlights. Nonetheless, it's quite striking.

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A Sexy Gray Bob

Linda Fargo. Ilya S. Savenok for Getty

A classy look, it's hard to beat a sleek bob with gray hair. If your hair is naturally straight, this is definitely a look to consider.

With gray hair, you may want to choose makeup that adds warmth to your face. You can do this with sweeps of bronzer, pops of blush on your cheeks, and by smudging your eyes with a bit of brown eyeliner. Don't forget lipstick or a colored gloss, either. A pretty rose or pink will look gorgeous with gray and help bring out your lips.

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Super-Short, Super Sporty 'Do

Jamie Lee Curtis. Frazer Harrison for Getty

Short cuts are very popular among older women and they can take on a lot of different looks to fit your personality. Whether it's a sporty cut or a softer pixie with waves and curls, there are plenty of styles that look fabulous.

As your grays grow in, you will notice that it has a wiry texture. To keep your hair as soft and smooth as possible, New York City stylist and author of "Eva Scrivo on Beauty," Eva Scrivo recommends brushing hair every night for several minutes. Regular brushing helps distribute the oils from the scalp to the rest of the hair, while keeping your scalp healthy.

Scrivo also recommends using a clarifying shampoo or rinsing hair with apple cider vinegar once a week or so to keep product build-up to a minimum.

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Short Silver Hair

Short Silver Hair
Digital Vision /Getty

This is simply a gorgeous hair color. Soft layers cut into a classic pixie give it dimension and allow the natural color to shine.

One problem many women with gray hair have is that it can begin to yellow from the sun, hard water, and other environmental factors. To keep this from happening, it's best to neutralize the yellow.

You can do this by washing your hair twice a week with a color-correcting violet shampoo. Make sure you keep the shampoo on your hair long enough, sometimes it even takes up to 10 minutes.

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Long, Silvery-Gray Hair

Long silvery hair
Photodisc

Long silvery gray hair is some of the most stunning you will find. It imparts a certain elegance but is fun and youthful at the same time. If you've been covering your gray, the trick is deciding when to go natural.

Keep in mind that you will likely have to endure a period of six to 12 months that might be a little awkward as your new natural hair grows in. You can cut your hair short or slowly cut off as much of the previously colored hair as possible so the new growth blends in more quickly.

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Make a Statement With Long Gray Hair

Gorgeous gray hair
Taxi // Getty Images

Long gray hair makes a statement and can project the image of being strong, confident and smart. The smartness of this look may be due in part to glasses, but the point is that your hair should reflect who you are.

Makeup artist and style guru Bobbi Brown interviewed her hairstylist Mario Diab in her book for older women called "Living Beauty." In it, he suggests different haircuts based on your personality.

If you pride yourself on your casual nature, consider a textured, short to medium haircut, he suggests. If you are classic and polished, consider a one-length bob or a medium-length cut with a few face-framing layers. If you want versatility, keep hair longer but add bangs.

Also consider your hair texture and face shape. Thick hair looks really good when it's left longer. If your hair is thin and you have precious little of it, you'll want to go shorter and have layers cut in to add body.

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Short Gray Hair

Gray hair
Riser // Getty Images

Salt and pepper hair on short cuts is another great look. Many African American women who wear their hair super short experience this period as they go natural and it can actually take a few years off. Again, there may be a transition period if you're giving up the dyes, but working with your stylist can help you look great throughout.

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Warming Up a Cool Gray

Gray hair bob
Digital Vision / Getty

Unlike warm colors like reds, browns, and blondes, gray is a cool color so it can wash out your skin tone. To compensate, consider getting highlights or lowlights along the sides of your face to help make your face pop and to give your hair dimension.

The balayage technique is great for highlights and is often preferred over foil highlights, especially if you want a subtle, natural look.

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Mask Grays With Blonde

Blythe Danner. Amanda Edwards, Getty

Many women who are almost all-gray choose to color their hair blonde or get blonde highlights. Blonde blends in better with the all-gray growth as the crown and roots grow in. 

Most colorists use permanent hair color to color gray hair. It offers much better coverage than semi-permanent dyes. If you are coloring your own hair, consider using a paintbrush to apply hair color. According to Scrivo in her book, "Applying color with the tip of the nozzle does not have the same force or friction." She prefers to use a brush to jab the color into the roots of hair.

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Go With Multi-Colored Foils

Older woman with gray hair
Digital Vision, Getty

The long bob is another fabulous look for gray hair. It's classic and has a sophisticated style that works on many women. You can give it more dimension with a little color.

For this look, ask your colorist to add a few different shades. Traditional foil highlights will add gorgeous streaks and you can also have her paint in highlights and lowlights to give the illusion of more volume. It's a great trick for straight, thin hair.

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Covering Gray Hair

Helen Mirren. Frederick M. Brown // Getty Images

When you decide to cover your gray hair, you will need to get it touched up regularly, so maintenance can be an issue. How long you can go between dye jobs depends on how gray your hair is.

If you're 100 percent gray, it's best to color your hair every three to four weeks. If you are 50 percent gray, you can make it five weeks at a time. Generally, roots will need to be touched up every eight weeks or when needed.