Many women embraced their whites during the pandemic as a matter of convenience both because salons were closed and no one was going anywhere anyway. But for illustrator Ann Marie Sekeres‘, the choice to go white was all about achieving a glamorous aesthetic.
Sekeres always had a plan for when her hair started to go gray. She would take the opportunity to lean into her love of dramatic style and bleach her brown hair completely platinum. She did just that five years ago after struggling to cover the white hair that relentlessly came in at her temples. Maintaining the look requires frequent visits to the salon, but to her it’s worth it.
The 50-year-old New Jersey-based artist creates work that references a midcentury sensibility with a hint of sophisticated French flair—you could easily imagine one of her pieces on a New Yorker cover (and I have a feeling one day that will happen).
Scroll on for my interview with Sekeres to see her work and learn more about her going-white experience!
When did you first notice gray hair?
“It started in earnest about 10 years ago. My temples went white.”
For me, it was high fashion and all the things I loved. All my mentors and style icons have had white hair.
What was your process of going white? Does it require maintenance?
“When I was young and worked downtown, I used to see a young models with long, thick hair bleached white and I loved it. There was no way I could have afforded to have that hair then. But I always knew when I got too gray I would bleach out everything. I loved the look.
So when my temples went white I couldn’t keep up dyeing them. I used to keep a hair coloring bowl on my vanity and found myself touching them up weekly. That couldn’t last. So I made an appointment with a very trusted local stylist (hello, Donna of Salon Gossip) who carefully put in TONS of foils first to lighten all my hair. It took about three sessions.
I still get my roots done every three weeks. It’s a commitment but I love it. And honestly, my roots are much less noticeable over the years.”
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Was it difficult at first to see yourself with white hair?
“I was super pleased with the results. For me, it was high fashion and all the things I loved. All my mentors and style icons have had white hair.”
It’s a commitment but I love it.
Do friends/family/strangers have opinions about your hair?
Have you ever received unwelcome comments about your hair and if so how did you respond?
“Maybe? I can’t remember. But you can’t hide with this hair You get recognized everywhere.”
How has your white hair changed the way you feel about yourself?
“I’ve always loved it. I think it’s glamorous.”
What advice would you give someone who’s considering going white or silver?
“If you’re going to go the bleach route, Olaplex and hair masks are your friend. I always describe it as ‘almost hair.’ You can’t just jump in the shower and wash it with whatever every day. I use a variety of masks and an occasional violet toning shampoo to keep it bright.”
What’s been the most surprising thing about having white hair?
“I needed to change my whole color palette—makeup and clothes. I’ve never been afraid of color, but I found I needed more of it. For my complexion, which tends to be more sallow and yellower, I needed very strong color. My punk rock teenage self would have never gone near fluorescent pinks—but here we are.”