x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

The Beauty Spy: on hair dyes and little lies

You won't see her, but she's there, in the salons, spas and shops, and she's happy to share her secrets on dyeing grey hair.

A few weeks ago my first love showed up in town. We met for dinner at a mutual friend's house. This is a man I met when I was a teenager, fell madly in love with and then lost touch with for a couple of decades.

Over dinner he looked deeply into my eyes. "Help," I thought. "Is he about to tell me he made a terrible mistake all those years ago and has thought of little but me ever since?"

"Do you dye your hair?" he asked.

"No," I lied, before adding: "But you should dye yours."

Grey hair is hideously ageing. I know that there are some women (my mother among them) who just let it come on and don't worry about it. They can even look very elegant. I have a French friend here in Abu Dhabi who carries off the grey look with total aplomb. Helen Mirren, of course, looks totally gorgeous, as did Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.

But it's not for me. At least not for another 20 years.

Having said that, holding back the inevitable tide of grey is a constant struggle. I feel like I have no sooner left the salon with my grey hairs expertly dyed than they are plotting to reappear. And for some reason the grey hairs right at the front are the ones that appear first, like rather irritating weeds.

The sun, hair products, water, washing, straightening - just about everything I touch I'm sure is diminishing my chances of looking younger every minute that goes by.

There are some things you can do to slow down the inevitable process. First, do not wash your hair with shampoo for two days after you've had it dyed. And when you do wash it, use cool water; hair dye hates heat (so avoid hair dryers, too, if you possibly can). Use a shampoo that protects colour and also a protecting serum such as L'Oréal's Paris ELVIVE Colour-Protect Reflecting Serum. Avoid the sun and chlorine in pools (some hope at this time of year). And even before you have it dyed get it into tip-top shape by using conditioning treatments. Healthy hair stays coloured for longer, apparently.

If you are fed up with the expense of a salon, not to mention the time it takes (how do those ladies who lunch ever have time to eat?) then opt for a home hair-dye session. I like Wella's Koleston Color Crème, because it is quick, clean and simple to use. Added to which it contains a post-treatment conditioner, essential for maintaining our luscious locks.

Follow all this advice and when you meet your first love, you'll be able to lie with impunity as well.