As hairstylists go, Lorraine Massey is something of a rabble-rouser.
With her first book, 2001’s “Curly Girl,” the British-born stylist shattered the long-held beauty myth that only straight hair is “good hair.” Now Massey, the founder of the New York’s Devachan salons and co-founder of the DevaCurl line of products, is at it again.
In “Silver Hair, a Handbook” (Workman Publishing, $16.95), the curly hair evangelist has trained her sights on gray hair — why we fear it and hide it, and why we should embrace our true colors and “discover the power of silver.”
Her sassy how-to (“Say Goodbye to the Dye and Let Your Natural Light Shine” is the subtitle) makes a darned good argument. In addition to brief, focused cameos of women of all ages who have made the transition, Massey’s book includes a quiz to help you decide if you’re ready to “uncolor,” the science of silver hair and recipes for homemade hair cleansers, tonics and conditioners.
If the energetic, quip-filled writing doesn’t convince you to “see the silver lining,” the before-and-after photos just might.
Massey will be at Uptown Curl (2006 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-326-4792, uptowncurl.com) on 2 p.m. Saturday to give a demonstration and sign copies of her book.
Q: Why are you celebrating gray?
A: It’s the trendiest color right now. Look, it’s coveted in the world of fashion. Women — young women — are dyeing their hair silver. And then all these women are running around with fabulous color naturally and they’re hiding it.
Q: I’m curious about the timing of the book. Is this directed toward baby boomers?
A: I’ve wanted to do this for years, back when I realized that my friends who had silver hair had a color more beautiful than what you could get out of a box.
Q: Then why do so many women — old and young — try to hide their gray?
A: For years, the color industry has been making billions by convincing women they don’t look good the way they are. And we’ve gotten caught in a cycle. We see a little silver and we dye it. When it starts to grow out, it doesn’t look so good, so we keep dyeing it.
And the age thing comes up a lot. The truth is, you don’t look older when your hair is silver. You look different. You look like you.
Q: Lots of women (I’m one of them) say they’d go gray if their hair were a “pretty” gray.
A: Exactly! But if you’ve been coloring your silver, you don’t know what it really looks like. And you can’t really tell when you have an inch of silver next to dyed hair.
Q: But letting yourself go gray isn’t easy, is it?
A: No, it’s difficult because it’s so visible. Our hair is so apparent. This is stripping down a little, getting naked.
And women sometimes get pushback when they go gray. Their stylist, their friends, their husband may dissuade them. It seems like we need permission to go silver. We don’t.
Q: Is that what you call “graying out loud”?
A: Yes. I mean, your natural color has to grow out. Your roots are going to be silver or white. You’re in a transition and you’re not apologizing. You have to get on with it.
That’s why I say if you want to uncolor, you need a guiding light, someone to encourage them to enjoy the transition.
Q: Aside from learning to enjoy it, is there another way to ease the transition?
A: Yes. You can bring in highlights and lowlights in the hair that’s growing out. And you can cut off your colored hair, but most women aren’t willing to do that.
I write that you have to have patience and self-compassion. We’re in an age of instant gratification. We want it all and we want it now. But we’ve become so disconnected from nature, from our own hair. We’ve turned it over to other people.
I’ve always had an immense interest in and respect for what happens on your head. Going silver is a way to reconnect.
Q: In your book and your conversation, you use the term “silver” rather than “gray.” Why?
A: I’m rebranding it. Terminology is powerful and gray has gotten a bad rap. I’m turning that positive.
Q: You encourage women to “let go” but not “let yourself go,” which means not giving up your unique sense of style, right?
A: Yes, yes. You need a great haircut. That’s imperative. But a haircut that’s tailored for you, not what’s in the magazines. It has to be personalized.
Q: Are you a rebel?
A: Well, I don’t want to offend anyone. But I fight against the one-size-fits-all approach to beauty. Our hair is dynamic. It’s always changing. It’s a part of who we are. We need to understand it and live it.
Q: Right now, you’re touring internationally with your book. What’s next?
A: I’m working on an update of my “Curly Girl” book, which will be out in 2020. I’m also working on a musical based on a hair school. It’s really about beauty and what we think beauty is. I’m going to turn that on its head!
Connie Nelson • 612-673-7087