Andie MacDowell on Why Embracing Her Gray Hair is The Ultimate Power Move

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

It's no secret that Andie MacDowell caused something of a sensation at Cannes Film Festival earlier this month. When the 63-year-old actress, model, and mother of three hit the red carpet at the premiere of Annette, she had onlookers both IRL and virtuallydelighting in her newly salt-and-pepper strands. Amid lockdown, after years of toying with the idea, MacDowell decided to not only stop coloring her signature mane of brunette curls (immortalized forever in films like Four Weddings and a Funeral), but make silver her new calling card.

For MacDowell, bucking an antiquated taboo and joining the burgeoning gray hair movement marks the beginning of a thrilling new chapter in her life and career and she doesn't care what anyone else had to say about it. Here, the legendary star opens up about going gray, aging as a woman in Hollywood, and what she hopes for the future.

ishonest: When did you decide to start embracing your silver hair?

Andie MacDowell: At the very beginning of quarantine, my hair started growing and every time my kids would see me, they kept telling me I looked badass with my gray hair. When I pulled it up in a bun, all you could see was the salt and pepper, which is what I am, you know, dark and silver. I like to compare myself to George Clooney because why not? I've been saying for a while now it was time for me, personally, to make that transition because I felt like it was appropriate for my personality and just who I am. During lockdown, I had a lot of downtime and became obsessed with Jack Martin, who did Jane Fonda's hair. I shared those pictures with a lot of people going, Hey, I want to do this.' I got a job and very quickly I had to make up my mind about what I was going to do. My managers had actually said to me, It's not time. And I said, I think you're wrong and I'm going to be more powerful if I embrace where I am right now. It's time because in two years, I'm going to be 65. If I don't do it now, I won't have the chance to be salt and pepper. I always wanted to be salt and pepper!

Even after you made up your mind to go gray, did you have any apprehensions?

At first. I was so cautious because I didn't want anybody to be upset and I was trying to figure out how I could wear wigs to please people. But then once I did it, it was just so clear to me that my instincts were right because I've never felt more powerful. I feel more honest. I feel like I'm not pretending. I feel like I'm embracing right where I am. I feel really comfortable. And in a lot of ways, I think it's more striking on my face. I just feel like it suits me.

In terms of inspiration, did you have a specific look or person in mind?

I did Google actors with salt-and-pepper hair. There's lots of men that do it! One person had said that when they saw themselves with colored hair, that it just looked like they were trying to look younger. I think that's what started to happen to me. I think the age on my face, to me, in my personal opinion, no longer matched. I somehow feel like I look younger because it looks more natural. It's not like I'm trying to hide something. I think that it's a power move and that's what I kept telling my managers. It's exactly what I need to be doing right here.

What products are you using to keep your silver bright and vivid?

You have to use a lot of silver hair color products. I cautiously use purple shampoos on my hair because they're drying. I use a lot more products that boost color, like foams or purple conditioners. I use a lot of purple conditioners to make it look silver and it's amazing how they work. I love L'Oreal's different purple products.

Needless to say, Hollywood is pretty notorious for its emphasis on youth. How did that factor into things?

In terms of opportunities for work, I think it's more interesting to see me like this. I suffered in this business as an actress always having people wanting me to look younger. For me, it kind of hurts my heart that I can't embrace where I am because, honestly, I feel like I am enough right where I am. I'm in great shape. I exercise all the time. I can pretty much keep up with the kids. I feel valuable where I am. I don't want people to have the expectation that I need to look younger to have value, or to be beautiful or desirable. We don't do that to men! We love an older man. We love men as they age. I would love the same expectation for women and we're getting thereyou know, baby steps.

How do you hope to inspire other womenand maybe even fellow actorsby going gray?

I don't judge anybody for the choices they make. It's not like I'm saying everybody has to make this choice. But what I would like for all of us to do is to stop and consider how we think about mature men and how we think about mature women and really start gauging what we say and what we project. We need to! There are changes that need to be made for my generation of women and the next...I just want people to reflect on it is all.

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