04/28/2014 12:18 pm ET Updated Jun 28, 2014

There's No Rush: Deciding to Go Gray

Our first gray hair is more a cause for curiosity than dread. We're still pretty young and, after all, it's just one gray hair. Twist it around a finger and "bye, bye!"

Finding several, though, evenly distributed among our roots is more than just a sign that it's time to color our hair again. Suddenly, anxiety swoops and we're on the watch. This obsession rarely produces good news, but most of us successfully fight the tide for decades.

Some women do gray hair beautifully, and maybe that's a good place to start: Gray hair can be very, very attractive, especially when it is healthy, full and soft with a lovely sheen. Paired with a beautiful smile, healthy skin and confidence, that silvery-platinum hair become more about self-determination and sophistication than fading youth. We choose this color, like we choose anything.

Youth is wonderful, but as the saying goes, it is wasted on the young, because kids usually don't know how best to live 'the gift.' Silver hair, on the right woman, can be about joyful illumination, an understanding of what she wants and the ability to get it. She knows how to live life really well in every way.

Having said that, most of us don't feel comfortable with 'graying' hair, especially when we look and feel so young otherwise. Also, in the early stages of graying hair, it is incredibly easy to cover and so many of us color our hair regardless. "We're just coloring our hair, right?" Rich, deep reds in the winter, warm, lighter shades in the summer, endless variations, streaks and feathers of fuchsia and blue which, by the way, can look just great in silver hair!

Then a day comes when maybe we ask ourselves whether we should let our hair go gray. We wonder what we would look like. We're tired of the treatments and the ritual and the cost. The color looks fantastic when it's fresh but then the roots begin to show, again. What to do?

Here is my advice: take it slowly. And do not make the move all at once. You can do this gradually, and that allows you some options, including the decision to turn back. To summarize my advice: gradually 'color' your hair gray. Transition with shades of blond, light brown and highlights of bronze or platinum. This can easily take a year or more, and that's fine. Why not? This isn't something that happens overnight anyway.

If you are the one behind the chair, the stylist, and your client raises the possibility, suggest the gradual change, reach for a magazine with a picture of a beautiful woman with gray hair and then a number of photos that illustrate the multitude of possibilities. As always, support your client, be a great listener. Be cautious of your own resistance. You may look at your clients stunningly beautiful hair, the product of your expertise and artistry and think, "are you crazy?" But don't say it -- that's more about you than her.

On the other hand, she may want you to say, "no, you're beautiful this way." This is another great reason to advocate the gradual approach. Maybe your client is afraid that she's about to fall off a cliff, and it's not that way at all. Or maybe her decision is hinged entirely on something else in her life -- so much of our self-image is expressed in our hair. I say this so often: a tremendous part of our business is about relationships.

As always, be open to change.