There is always, always room around these parts to embrace your grays. Whether you choose to do it all naturally, or you have a little help, never forget that aging is a blessing: You’re still here, you’ve got the hair to prove it, and it still looks damn good to boot. And there’s something especially magical about short gray hair. We love a close-cropped cut that draws attention to the face. But when you add a cute little cropped cut to the mix, it takes things to a whole ‘nother level. “The shorter hair combination with gray color keeps the hair playful and fun,” says Cherin Choi, a Beverly Hills-based hair colorist and stylist.
These days, gray dye jobs like herringbone highlights and gray ombré have been trending more among a variety of age groups. From Amandla Stenberg to Jane Fonda, gray hair proves to be a versatile color to try different hairstyles with. Mark DeBolt, a New York City-based colorist and co-owner of Mark Ryan Salon, reminds us that going gray is a beautiful thing. “It can communicate this feeling of experience, confidence, and natural beauty,” that is, whether or not it’s natural.
“For some, letting their gray hair grow out can allow their hair to become healthier depending on what type of coloring was done prior,” says Guy Tang, a Los Angeles-based colorist, and creator of #Mydentity. “Instead of focusing on coloring their hair, they can embrace their natural color and focus on the health of it to ensure it remains strong and shiny.” More perks: saving time, energy, and money with fewer visits to the salon for touch-ups.
That said, do what makes you feel most comfortable. Whether you choose to rock gray strands, white-streaked hair, or dye it all over, we’ve got you covered with inspo for cool hairstyles for short, gray hair.
1. Icy Gray Buzz Cut
DJ Shai’s icy gray buzz cut is low-maintenance on the styling tip, but lends some high contrast to her overall look, thanks to its super light color. “The cool tone of the color complements her skin tone very well,” says Tang. It pairs beautifully with bold makeup and/or outfits (like a pink power suit) without competing for attention.
2. Silver Vixen Pixie
No matter which angle you’re looking at social media star Grece Ghanem’s hair, it’s on point. “It’s an elevated, effortless look emphasizing her natural gray with some fine-tuning to make it feel polished,” Valdes explains.
One thing to note about this color: it ain’t for everybody. “I wouldn’t recommend attempting to color it this shade of gray since it will need to be very light starting,” says Valdes. Instead, “it works best with someone with mostly white-gray hair already.”
3. Metallic Pin Curls
Take a close look and you’ll see that singer Ciara’s hair is styled with matching silver pins. The metallic shade is high on shine and adds a modern feel to an old-school style. Choi says, “The bright silver shine really pops against her skin tone.”
4. Icy Platinum Pixie With Long Fringe
Glenn Close’s ice platinum pixie has just the right amount of gray and white to give it dimension while the long fringe frames her face. Daniel Sanchez, a New York City-based senior colorist at Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa, points out that the cooler color palette of Close’s hair allows freedom to play with complementing makeup like soft pink lipstick and smoky blue eyeshadow.
5. Silver-Purple Power
Singer Anne-Marie looks straight-up cool with her blunt bob cut just above her shoulders. If your hair is this length, you can achieve the length by bending your ends with a flatiron — be sure to turn the iron inward to create this effect. Color-wise, “It’s a light silver-gray with a cast of purple hue,” says Lorena M. Valdes, a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. Her tip on maintaining the color at home: wash your hair with a purple shampoo.
6. Ice Gray Pixie
Jamie Lee Curtis’s ice gray pixie is as iconic as her roles on screen. “The gamine style complements her face shape and silhouette,” says Sanchez. “For those with yellow undertones, the key is to keep the style short with color light and bright. This look can be paired with both warm tone and cool tone makeup for maximum versatility.”
7. Snow White Lob
You can’t go wrong with adding a hair accessory like a turban as Aki Swee Ang so perfectly demonstrates. The snow-white hair color is, as Valdes says, “A perfect balance of brightness and coolness.” She adds, “using her hair as a statement piece allows her to bring all the attention to her eyes and clothes to make a bold statement while leaving the rest simple and chic.”
8. Stardust Platinum Short Cut
This backstage snapshot of a model backstage at Milan Fashion Week in 2022 is similar to a bowl cut but shorter. “It brings attention to the eyes and gives an iridescent glow making it feel almost unreal,” says Valdes, who says the color is a very light silver without an overcast of blue or purple. “It benefits from being so short since getting hair color this light is prone to breakage.”
9. Creamy Vanilla Crop
Model Dilone’s shade of gray hair here veers towards the blonder side which Diana Mildice, a colorist at Chicago’s Maxine Salon, says “complements her bright golden skin tone. This is a perfect length of hair to try something bold with color.”
10. Sleek Shiny Slate
Looking to make a statement with your gray? Take inspo from actress Nafessa Williams who nails it with her “sleek shiny slate” hue, as Mildice calls it. “This grey has a depth and brightness at the same time and works beautifully with a simple mid-length bob,” she says. It’s lent a little texture here to give it an effortless, “just-ran-some-water-through-my-hair” vibe.
11. Platinum Butter White-Blonde
Model and actress Carmen Dell’Orefice’s platinum butter blonde hair here is just long enough to tie into a mini ponytail. The length gives that versatility for a variety of hairstyles. As for the color, it’s “an easy way to transition for someone who has natural gray already and needs to enhance the color,” says Mildice.
12. Blue-Gray Whimsical Bob
Actress Lucy Boynton’s 2019 Met Gala whimsical hairstyle is still one we’re dreaming about. “The dimensional blend of these soft blue- and green-gray tones along with her natural color gives this look depth and contrast,” says Mildice. “This is a playful approach to being part of the gray family.”
13. Glossy Gray Glamour
Journalist Sibley Scoles looks like a silver screen star with her glossy gray hair at the 2021 51st NAACP Image Awards. On one side of her face, you’ll find a sculpted Old Hollywood moment. The other side is a modern-looking buzz cut. The balance between the styles gives off a refreshing take on both looks and we’re here for it.
14. Gray and Black Bowl Cut
Hair chameleon Keke Palmer pulls off yet another daring look. She’s sported many styles and colors over the years yet this bowl cut’s worth noting again. If you’re looking for a picture of black hair with silver highlights to take to your colorist, this one’s for you.
15. Gray Bob and Bangs
The gray hair color adds to the drama of the bangs and bob combo as seen on this guest at Vietnam International Fashion Week in 2019. Cherin Choi, a Beverly Hills-based hair colorist and stylist, says it’s a “solid grey tone that does not have dimension but is fun.” Since the color is pretty flat, add some soft waves with a flatiron to give it more dimension as you see bove.
16. Silver Ombré Long Bob
The 2016 Met Gala theme was “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,” and model Jourdan Dunn went for an overall bionic look in a glittering silver sequin gown and matching silver ombré long bob. Four years later and the look is still the moment. The mix of dimensions creates a “smooth blend with a wearable feel,” Choi says.
17. Gray Triangular Lob
Okay, so Amandla Stenberg’s hair is on the longer side, but it’s still overall pretty short — and too good not to mention. “The solid gray color works with their natural root for a fun color feel,” says Choi. As for her cut, she adds, “Their hair frames her face in a triangular shape giving the silver color life.”
18. Boldly Spiked
Go ultra-short and edgy with this can’t-miss hairstyle seen on a Paris Fashion Week attendee in 2022. The look blends in silver hair at the front with light blonde strands and darker roots towards the back. The spikes throughout give personality and serve as a reminder that going gray does not have to be an oh-so-serious endeavor.
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