How to achieve Dawn French's new 'gronde' hair colour

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dd - David Fisher/Shutterstock/Shutterstock
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On Sunday night, while appearing on ITV's An Audience with Adele, Dawn French reignited conversations about her grey hair transformation as she joined a star-studded audience at the London Palladium with a new look. Slick, voluminous and blonde in places, the actress and comedian's new 'do is yet another upgrade in her ongoing hair journey since growing out her greys earlier this year.

In June, the 64-year-old first shaved the underside of her hair, known as an 'undercut', to reveal her natural greys, later opting for a very short crop which made her once-signature raven bob a distant memory.

While a recent survey by L’Oréal Paris, conducted with Salon Tracker UK, revealed that 47 per cent of women are embracing their grey hair following lockdown, there is no doubt that the previous absence of our professional hairdressers during the pandemic led to a new-found appreciation for going back to our natural shade. But inspiration has also come from the flurry of A-listers, including Andie MacDowell and Sarah Jessica Parker, who like French have taken to going grey in a big way this year.

French's new style proves that even while opting for a more natural hair colour, going grey can still look fresh and youthful. The key to this with French's hair, aside from her ultra-modern quiff, is the combination of colour which gives her look a blonde-grey or 'gronde' hue.

So how do you achieve it? Harriet Muldoon, senior colourist at the Larry King salon in London offers her advice. "Sometimes when we go back to our natural shade or when we go grey, we need a touch of warmth. Instead of going for an all over warm coverage, you can achieve this by opting for a combination of highlights and lowlights, which is what Dawn French appears to have."

This 'naturalising' technique sees hairdressers weave colour through sections of the hair, so that half is treated and the other is left natural. While most of French's natural grey looks untouched, some areas appear to have been treated with lowlights, a process in which hints of your natural base colour are woven back into the hair. Think of it as adding some contour to your look, which adds depth.

Central to French's new look is the addition of creamy vanilla blonde highlights that sit within her quiff, which compliment her cool natural greys. "It's this combination of cool and warm tones, that lifts French's overall look and gives her a glow, which is especially important during the winter months," adds Muldoon.

If you're looking to go grey like French, there are a few steps to bear in mind. Victoria Thear, senior colour director at Salon64 notes that French has followed a classic greying process, this being: cutting your hair short, getting rid of the old colour, finding out how your natural grey comes through and then fine-tuning the areas that haven't caught up with the new grey growth. Rather than beginning this process yourself, visiting an expert colourist is the best way to start your natural hair journey, she says.

"When you start growing your colour out to go grey, you first need to lose as much length as possible, this will allow you to have a quicker transformation as you won't have to wait and grow out your overall colour." In French's case, the top of her hair is naturally darker, so in order to even this out with her greyer sides, she has added in creamy highlights and a grey-silver toner to give it a pearlescent finish. "Toners will lift a flat grey look, give hair extra shine and add youthfulness back into the grey," adds Thear.

Veronica Wysocka, colourist at Josh Wood also points out that, like French, adding blonde into grey hair is a popular move. "Many people ask to have blonde added to create a more youthful look and break up the grey. This method doesn't compromise the low maintenance colour that many women want after growing out their greys. The blonde can also aid in making the client look fresh whilst doing something that is stereotypically 'ageing'. Grey hair has a tendency to be more coarse so we'd recommend using weekly conditioning masks to keep the hair in the best condition possible."

Three best products to keep grey hair looking glossy

Ice Blonde Gloss £19 by Josh Wood

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This semi-permanent hair colour treatment mask adds gloss and shine to naturally grey hair. If you're growing out blonde, it also helps to neutralise brassy yellow tones.

Shimmering Silver Shampoo, £5.99 by John Frieda

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Formulated with the brand's SilverGloss technology this affordable find will add vibrancy to dull greys by neutralising brassiness and enhancing shine.

Color Care Whipped Glaze Light, £24, Living Proof

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If, like French, you've opted for highlights to enhance your new grey look, this will help to counteract fading and boosts colour between treatments.

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