As even Anna Ford steps out with silver hair, the question begs: When should you give in to grey?
Her immaculately coiffured brunette locks were a familiar sight on the news for 33 years.
But this week, veteran BBC presenter Anna Ford revealed she had swopped her glossy brown hair for a silver-grey mane.
And despite going au naturelle, the retired newsreader still managed to look considerably younger than her 62 years.
Anna, who left the BBC in 2003, revealed her new style as she went to the shops to pick up supplies for her cat.
She is the second high-profile woman to appear in public after ditching the dye this week, which according to ESTHER RANTZEN begs the question, when should you give in to grey?
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Good to be grey: Anna Ford
What a shock to see in the Mail last week that the Duchess of Cornwall's hair has turned snow white overnight!
Since her wedding to Prince Charles, we've grown used to Camilla as a lady in beige, her skin and hair matching each other in muted shades, the colour of straw, as befits a mature countrywoman who spends most of her time in the stables.
So what has suddenly drained all the colour from her roots? Has she suffered a trauma?
That seems unlikely, since history has proved that not a lot of things panic or intimidate Camilla.
Is it just that she got bored with the hours it took to maintain her streaky honey-beige look and decided she couldn't be bothered any more?
Fashion is obviously a struggle for her, she is naturally a tweed-and-jodhpurs lady.
No, it was far more likely to be the rational decision of a late middle-aged lady - she is 60 - who knows that, in the end, we all have to give up the battle.
In time all our strands of hair will turn silver, and nothing is less flattering than a grey parting.
That's why she chose to spend £400 last week at the Jo Hansford salon in Mayfair after which she emerged with platinum grey locks that blended cleverly with her natural colour.
Camilla's decision to be silver and proud has raised an intriguing question which has taxed millions of women over the years: at what age should you stop relying on bottles of chemicals and allow yourself to go naturally grey, if at all?
This conundrum is the subject of a hot-selling new book which has sparked fierce debate in the U.S.
It's called Going Gray, and is by first-time author Anne Kreamer, who reveals that her moment of truth came when she caught sight of herself in a holiday snap at the age of 49, "a confused, middle-aged woman with a much-too-darkly coloured helmet of hair".
Then and there she decided to give up the three hours she had been spending in the hairdresser's every three weeks, at £300 a time, and let the grey grow through.
In the States they are now calling women who dare to show off their real hair colour part of the "anti-antiageing backlash".
But, will we all become invisible, as many middle-aged women believe, once we have white hair? And does it mean saying goodbye to your love-life?
A psychiatrist once told me that men are no longer attracted to a woman once she has ceased to ovulate, and grey hair is the great give-away, more than wrinkles, and even creaky joints.
But Kreamer says that when she first walked down the street with her new "authentic" grey hair and a spring in her step, she was greeted with cries of "Hey, beautiful" from appreciative men.
And when, on internet dating sites, she said she had "silver" hair, she got three times more responses from enthusiastic men than when she had placed the identical advertisement as a brunette.
That doesn't convince me. The motives of gentlemen who pursue mature ladies on the internet is not always entirely pure. Scroll down for more...
The Duchess of Cornwall with her new look
My fear is that "authentic" grey hair may attract more men not because, as Kreamer hopes, they are looking for an honest woman, but because they are hoping to find a desperate one.
I'm even more aware of the effect of grey hair in the workplace. As Anne Kreamer's friend, the celebrated American writer Nora Ephron recently said:
"What has transformed women's lives in our lifetime is not feminism or aerobics.
"What has kept them in the work place is hair-dye." And, believe me, it's true. Despite all the protective legislation outlawing ageism, industry and the professions are still appallingly prejudiced, especially when it comes to employing women over 50.
Bosses look for youthful vigour, and fear (unfairly) that older women may turn out to be slower and more set in their ways, rather than wiser and more experienced.
When Kreamer tried to find one female politician aged 54 to 76 who had allowed a single grey hair to show through, she failed.
The same is largely true in this country, whether you are looking at the British media or most offices around the country. Grey-haired women will be decidedly thin on the ground - which is not to say there are not hundreds of thousands of women working in those offices whose hair is naturally grey.
They will have taken the calculated decision to dye their locks, knowing - however unpalatable it may be - that they are likely to be more successful professionally if they do not look like older ladies.
For the same reason I have dyed my own hair for nearly 40 years.
At first, I did it for professional reasons like so many other millions of women.
I happened to work in television, and I felt my naturally dark mousey hair had to be highlighted and bleached so that I could turn into the obligatory on- screen blonde.
It was a way of trying to ensure that I kept my job past the age of 40.
I was told that if I ever allowed the first grey hairs to show that would have been like writing my own professional suicide note.
But if I turned into a streaky blonde, I could disguise and camouflage any tell-tale white hairs.
The trouble is, once you start dyeing, there is no going back. So you spend decades wondering whether you have actually gone completely grey beneath the peroxide, but never having the courage to find out.
Once I was past 60, though, I realised that my skin had lost the rosy bloom of youth and my by then beige hair matched my even beiger face.
I looked so pale that if I put on a black dress, people rushed for a glass of water and a chair because I looked as if I was about to die.
So I wore the brightest colours I could find, but I didn't dare do anything as drastic as allow my hair to change colour, too.
Then destiny took a hand.
I was booked to take part in BBC1's hit show Strictly Come Dancing, and in the second week I had to dance the rumba, live, in front of ten million viewers.
I had to think of some way to distract them from my feet.
In desperation I bought a red wig. At first I was miffed when everyone said how much better I looked.
Then I took the hint and dyed my hair plum red.
I stayed red for two years until, a year ago, I caught sight of myself in a shop window and realised that I looked like a daft old crone who appeared to have emptied a jar of jam over her head.
So I have decided to let the henna grow out, partly from curiosity, because I had no idea what colour my roots really are.
Now I look like Dot Cotton, and around my temples there are tell-tale wispy grey curls. Will I dare become "authentic" and go grey? Or do I dread becoming "invisible" if I do?
I would like to believe that where Camilla has led, I may have the courage to follow.
After all, there is something very unflattering about an elderly face framed by dark hair.
God was clearly right to allow us to go soft, white and fluffy. And with luck, as Anne Kreamer claims, some men do find grey hair sexy.
There are already a few impressive role models. Recently, Dame Diana Rigg on Parkinson flirted disgracefully with him, flicking her smart new white bob.
Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada wore an immaculate white haircut which added to her status and her style.
This very week Dame Helen Mirren revealed herself as a whitehaired sex icon, instead of her old honey-gold, when she entranced the blokes on Top Gear.
Now, with Camilla joining them, who knows - white may just become the new blonde. But don't hold your breath.
Valerie Pain, 63, has recently left her job as a receptionist. She lives with her husband Tom, 70, a retired businessman, and she has a daughter, Tara, who is 28. She lives in Enfield.
I love to do all kinds of funky things with my shoulder-length grey hair, pinning it up in a bun at the side of my head or putting it into a pony tail.
Just because your hair is grey, it doesn't mean that you have to look old.
The kiss of death is the tight curly perm - once you start perming grey hair you remove all the beautiful, natural tones. My hair has a lot of different colours in it - white, grey and silver.
I think it's beautiful.
My natural hair colour was very dark brown. I loved it then, but as you begin to age you must adapt to the natural process and not fight it.
When I see women of my age in their 60s with dyed hair, I think it often looks rather unflattering and takes the softness out of their faces.
When I first started going grey in my 50s I put a rinse on it, and to my horror it turned slightly ginger.
At that point, I told myself to just leave it.
I realised that the grey suited the skin tone on my face much better - the colours complement each other.
I use a special platinum shampoo on it by John Frieda and a serum which keeps it looking lustrous.
Of course grey hair is a sign of ageing and it is sad, but I don't think you can fight nature.
At first I was worried it would affect me at work but I don't honestly feel it did.
I blow-dry my hair and back brush it to put it up.
Now I am known for my hair - friends tell me it looks fantastic.
Women are staying younger-looking much longer - I'm still a size ten and I adore fashion.
I feel I look just as vibrant with grey hair as with my original thick dark hair -it's simply another stage of my life.
Pamela Collock, 84, is widowed and lives in Maida Vale, North London. She stopped dying her hair in her early 60s.
I Worked as a PA until I was 70. I started dying my white hair 35 years earlier because I believed if I didn't, employers would think me too old and wouldn't hire me.
When I first noticed a few white hairs in my teens, it didn't worry me unduly and I didn't experiment with hair colour until I was in my 30s and pregnant with my son. I had a few highlights because I thought it would make people look at my head instead of my new-mother's stomach.
Eventually, I volunteered my services at a hairdressing training school in London where I regularly got my hair dyed back to its natural mousey brown for free by the students.
Grey hair is the first thing to make a woman look old and I didn't want people thinking I was older than I was. I didn't stop dying my hair until my early 60s, when my hairdresser told me it was time to let the natural colour shine through. She used semi-permanent tints on my hair and the growing out process was quick.
Since giving up the dye, I've been proud of my long white hair and I frequently receive compliments. One gentleman said what a glamorous lady he thought I was.
But I don't regret all those years of dyeing - it made me look and feel younger at a time when I wasn't ready to be a white-haired lady. It's liberating not to worry about grey roots.
Sonia Power, 65, is a retired estate agent who lives in South-West London with her partner Rodney, 74, an architect. She has a son, Jason, 33, who is a musician. Sonia says:
I Honestly feel that my grey hair suits me as much as my former natural dark blonde colour. When I look at old pictures, I have no regrets about having gone grey because I love the fact that my hair is its natural colour. Beauty takes on a different meaning at this age, and even if you dyed your hair well into your 70s, you are never going to have the skin you had in your 20s.
My first white hair appeared in my 50s, and my friends said: "Are you having your hair highlighted?"
I laughed, and said: "No, I'm just starting to go grey."
Of course, at first you think: "Oh no! I'm getting old."
But the important thing is how you approach the different stages of life.
Because the change in my hair colour was quite gradual I didn't notice a big difference at work, but it's interesting that people start to treat you with more deference and give up seats for you on the train.
It made no difference to my partner, and I countered the grey hair by putting more emphasis on keeping my skin looking great, wearing make-up and fashionable clothes.
It did look as if my hair was being highlighted because it enhanced the natural colour.
Nature is very clever, and I think that white and grey hair suits your skin tone as you get older.
The women I know with grey hair all look great - the difference is how you treat it. Grey hair past a woman's shoulders does not look good, it starts to look witch-like. I don't regret going grey, it's a beauty asset not a curse.
As even Anna Ford steps out with silver hair, the question begs: When should you give in to grey? | the Daily Mail=