Trying Out a New Hair Colour at 50: Red, Silver, Pink and All the Browns

Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb | Olia by Garnier composite image of hair colours (virtual hair colour try on)

A few years ago I decided that when I turned 50 I’d stop dyeing my hair and let my natural hair colour come through.

Hair colour that had, for a long time, constantly threatened me with new bright sparkly silvers that pushed their way past my various shades of red every couple of weeks or so.

I had visions of long, flowing silver hair that I could swish around, looking like the literal Google result of “older women silver hair”. A veritable Maye Musk/Carmen Dell’Orefice hybrid.


That’s not going to happen anytime soon. My roots may be exceptionally grey, but they’re still very much salt ‘n pepper (with a bias on the latter): not the beautiful silver I’d envisioned for myself at the age of 50. I think the sparkly silvers coming through reached a peak about two years ago and haven’t really multiplied since then. They’re just sort of… the same.


[5 mins read]

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Oh and also in case you’re wondering, I’m not quite 50 yet. This post is all about trying out new hair colours VIRTUALLY in preparation for the big 5-0 in three months’ time (whoop!). And rather than leaving my hair to grow out to its natural state, I’m doing exactly the opposite and cramming in All. The. Hair. Colours. before I really do leave it to do its own thing once and for all.

First of all – here’s my usual hair colour:

Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb | Olia by Garnier Rose Gold Home Hair Colourant, home box dye colour

This is how I’ve been dyeing it for over two years now, with Olia by Garnier in Rose Gold*. I’ve been colouring my hair at home regularly for three years now and although I ADORE this colour – I get so many compliments about it – it does fade to blonde quite quickly.

Full disclosure: I’ve worked with Garnier on and off over the last few years to promote their Olia range (here’s the current TV ad if you haven’t seen it) – they’ve been supplying me with some boxes of Rose Gold during that time, but I’ve also bought it myself quite regularly. I loved Olia so much (big plus: it doesn’t stink AT ALL, no ammonia smell like most permanent dyes) I had to tell my hairdresser that I only needed him to cut my hair until further notice. I can HIGHLY recommend this range, it is generally known as one of the best box dyes out there. Everyone I know who’s said they’ve tried it has said it’s really good.


Trying on hair colours virtually

Most beauty brands that make hair colourants have a virtual hair colour try-on app or function on their websites these days, so as I felt it was time for a change from Rose Gold (it might be the longest period I’ve EVER stuck to one hair colour), it made sense to get tinkering and have a play with the Olia Virtual Try On.

I tried on all the colours I’d actually consider changing my colour to – no blacks or dark browns, I already did that phase during my early 90s grunge student days (and I ain’t going back there ever again) – and screenshotted them to feature here. The quality, therefore, isn’t razor-sharp, but I think the technology has done a REALLY good job of showing me what I’d look like with these hair colours… shall we proceed?

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9 virtual Olia by Garnier hair colour try-ons

Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb | Olia by Garnier Vivid Garnet Red (virtual hair colour try on)

1. Vivid Garnet Red

I do quite like this deep pinky-red colour, but I think it’s a bit Me, 10 years ago… it also reminds me of Cheryl Cole on The X Factor. I did have my hair very similar to this (see here), but I think it’s a “been there done that” kind of colour for me. Still lovely though.

Link to buy Vivid Garnet Red


Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb | Olia by Garnier Deep Rose (virtual hair colour try on)

2. Deep Rose

If this looks familiar, it’s because I DID dye my hair to this much more pink colour a couple of weeks ago (see below): I need two boxes of dye for my long hair, so as Garnier had sent me this colour in error a while back I thought I’d try it. I mixed one box of Deep Rose with one box of my usual Rose Gold (it’s okay to mix dyes as long as you stick to the same range) and ended up with a rather lovely pink-with-a-hint-of-copper colour. The initial result was a little too purpley-pink and on the cool side for my liking, but I had a haircut and my hairdresser toned it down for me when he washed it. But top marks for WOW factor.

Link to buy Deep Rose


Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb | Olia by Garnier Golden Dark Blonde (virtual hair colour try on)

3. Golden Dark Blonde

Now for the more natural browns (I say natural as my original hair colour is a mid-to-dark brown with chestnut-ish tones), starting with a dark blonde. I’d call this bronde. It’s nice but far too cool for me. I prefer all the warm tones, both in my wardrobe and in my hair colour.

Link to buy Golden Dark Blonde


Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb | Olia by Garnier Golden Light Brown (virtual hair colour try on)

4. Golden Light Brown

Not much different to Golden Dark Blonde (above), though I prefer this. Slightly warmer and quite lovely, yes, but I actually think the tones are a bit too yellow for me.

Link to buy Golden Light Brown


Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb | Olia by Garnier Light Brown (virtual hair colour try on)

5. Light Brown

THAT’S more like it… it’s the best light brown/bronde so far. Much warmer, not too dark. But is it too “safe” a colour for me? Weirdly, the colour on the box looked a lot cooler than it came out on my hair in the virtual try-on. I’m assuming the app takes your current tones into effect/consideration…?

Link to buy Light Brown


Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb | Olia by Garnier Intense Copper (virtual hair colour try on)

6. Intense Copper

If this looks familiar to you, that means you’ve been following me for about three years or more: this was the first Olia colour I tried (see the first TV ad here and my hair in a blog post here). At the time my hair was in a bob with a fringe, so as my hair is now long and has a centre parting I’m thinking I’ll probably go back to this at some point soon. As my nieces said when I showed them these try-ons, “Now THAT’S you – bright red“. In fact I don’t even think the virtual try on really showed just how bright the Intense Copper really is: let’s just say intense is an understatement.

Link to buy Intense Copper


Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb | Olia by Garnier Metallic Silver (virtual hair colour try on)

7. Metallic Silver

Yep, this was the one that fooled so many on – you guessed it – April Fool’s Day. I honestly had no idea it would catch nearly everyone out… I thought one or two might forget it was 1st April and that everyone would see right through it – but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I even added a ‘location’ at the top saying April Fool’s Day and wrote “can’t believe it’s April already” in the caption; I then felt really bad when I was receiving endless compliments about how lovely it looked. But it goes to show that when I DO actually decide to go for it, I think I may just get my hairdresser to make me go full-on silver (rather than growing out roots), as here. I need warmer tones so the image on the box shows quite a blueish-silver, and that’s not for me. But this actual colour would be lovely ♥.

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Link to buy Metallic Silver


Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb | Olia by Garnier Light Chocolate Brown (virtual hair colour try on)

8. Light Chocolate Brown

Here’s the rub with this one… it’s discontinued. It WOULD have to be my favourite of all the browns I tried, wouldn’t it?! A gorgeous, not-too-dark brown, just the right amount of reddish warmth to it, and they stop making it. BALLS. I’d love to know what you think of this colour on me: do I stop being “me” if I no longer have red or pink hair? Is this just another safe, non-descript colour? In a way I feel a bit sad that I might never again have beautiful, warm brown hair. This is perfect though.


Catherine Summers AKA Not Dressed As Lamb | Olia by Garnier Rich Chocolate Brown (virtual hair colour try on)

9. Rich Chocolate Brown

A deeper version of the Light Chocolate Brown, I think this colour is also stunning (though maybe a little too dark for me now?). I think if I’d never gone red 15 or so years ago I may have ended up with various warm browns, this being one of them. Though I did have a thought: I wonder if I could mix this with the Rose Gold to make a lighter, even warmer version of the Light version above…? I wonder if that’d work?

Link to Rich Chocolate Brown


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Final thoughts on home box dyes

As mentioned at the beginning, I truly rate Olia as a home box dye. I love it so much I absolutely do NOT want to change to another brand, hence me featuring all the virtual try-on colours here (and WOW it’s so good to see what you’d look like with different colours – I’d never have considered any sort of brown if it weren’t for this clever technology).

In terms of what I try next, I’m thinking about going back to Rose Gold next, but as my hair is much more pink after doing a Rose Gold/Deep Rose mix last time I think it might make it a really rich pinky-peachy-gold. Or I might mix Rose Gold with Intense Copper again, or with one of the browns.

Now I’ve decided to put off the “going au naturel” till I’m at least 55, it’s opened up so many possibilities in terms of hair colour for me.

I ain’t done having fun yet; I’m just adding silver to the fun list.


Which look of mine is your favourite? Have you considered drastically changing your hair colour (either with dye or going au natural) lately? Sound off below…

Stay safe XOXO

Catherine signature


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  1. 2 May 2022 / 3:14 pm

    What a fun experiment! (I may need to try it.) I can see why you got so many compliments on the silver. It’s a great look. I think my next favorite would be the intense copper, but you’ve chosen some really great shades, and they all look really good on you.


  2. Maggie
    28 April 2022 / 4:01 pm

    Hi Catherine,
    I thought this post was so interesting. I actually brought up the first picture with the grid of hair colors and stood back to see which ones brought out your lovely features the best – in my opinion. I like the top row center picture, and bottom row left picture.
    I cannot remember if your dye your eyebrows so I think I am favoring the hair colors that complement that. That being said, you would totally rock silver and could just add silver to the front around your face and let the rest do whatever it wants. (That is my plan when my silver comes in stronger…)

    The other approach is just to pick the color that makes you feel beautiful and any color does that for sure.

  3. Michelle Springer
    23 April 2022 / 9:13 pm

    I kinda liked them all, but I love the Intense Copper and the Light Chocolate Brown (boo for it being discontinued!). I may have to start asking my hairdresser if it’s ok to color my hairline because the grays are coming in fast and thick. However, I have some Moroccanoil temporary hair masks that I want to play with first- I think I may try the pink one myself when I get my hair done next time. You inspire me as always Catherine!

  4. 23 April 2022 / 10:31 am

    The pink looks amazing!

    Danielle |

  5. 22 April 2022 / 8:42 am

    I love the copper, the silver (!) and the rose gold…but I also think ALL of the others look fabulous on you too, Catherine. As for me, my favourite colour was always black lol. I was such a goth back in the day, and also gravitated towards the really dark shades. Once, I did go light brown / blonde. Oh GAWD, it was so not me. Mind you, I didn’t have the best cut at the time—it was the shortest I’d ever been back then. But I didn’t like it one bit lol. But I stopped all the dyeing malarkey just over ten years ago and I haven’t looked back since. I LOVE the freedom of it, and found it so liberating.
    Suzy xx

  6. Marlelc
    21 April 2022 / 8:13 pm

    I desperately want my hairdresser to make my hair silver/grey. She says its a long damaging process with a lot of ‘ warm’ stages and just won’t do it for me.

    You look fantastic in every hair colour BTW.

  7. 21 April 2022 / 8:27 am

    Such a fun exercise! I love the deeper rose that you mixed with another shade. My hair is white around the front, but still dark at the back with no grey, which my hairdresser says is the usual pattern for females. I’m not planning to stop dyeing it just yet. Thanks for linking x

    • Catherine
      21 April 2022 / 1:25 pm

      Thanks Gail – I was really surprised how real the virtual results were! I think I’m the same with the dark hair at the back, that’s how my mum’s hair went… however Keith is 52 and has been grey for years – he’s practically white all over now…!

  8. Christine Meade
    21 April 2022 / 1:07 am

    It’s a toss up between the light chocolate brown and the intense copper. I’m 61 and have been dying my hair to cover gray since my mid 30’s. I started out covering the gray with color close to my natural dark brunette, then added highlights to blend with the gray. Finally the gray was too much and I stopped using at home dye and switched to blonde when I turned 40. Slowly have moved to a very light brown. I miss my natural color but the thought of dying my hair every 2 to 3 weeks to cover the gray is just exhausting. I will never go gray, call me vain, but I just don’t like my mousy grays. May try the virtual color just to see if there’s another fun option out there for my mid sixties!

    • Catherine
      21 April 2022 / 1:28 pm

      That light chocolate brown is SO lovely, isn’t it Christine?! I’m so annoyed that they chose to discontinue that one!!

      Your hair colour story sounds a little like mine – I did think I’d be fed up of dyeing my hair come turning 50 but to be honest I think I’d just miss playing with different hair colours more than wanting to cover the grey. Now I think about it, even if I WERE beautifully white by now I reckon I’d be a bit sad to have just one colour forever!

  9. Sarah
    20 April 2022 / 9:17 pm

    Catherine, what an interesting and inspiring post! I was a natural blonde who never coloured her hair (apart from a bit of crazy colour at school, who remembers that product?!). However I realised recently in my late 50s, as well as getting a few strands of grey, my hair was actually darkening to brown! I finally plucked up courage to ask a hairdresser to lighten it and wish I had done this sooner. I will definitely try out the virtual colour app and see what my next shade could be!

    • Catherine
      21 April 2022 / 1:33 pm

      Sarah I don’t actually remember Crazy Colour so had to look it up… guess what, it’s still available to buy!! It’s Sun-In and Shaders and Toners that I seem to remember, LOL!

      How interesting (and odd!) that your hair darkened along with the greys – were you turning up the contrast?!!! (hehe)

      • Marlelc
        21 April 2022 / 8:01 pm

        I desperately want my hairdresser to make my hair silver/grey. She says its a long damaging process with a lot of ‘ warm’ stages and just won’t do it for me.

        You look fantastic in every hair colour BTW.

  10. Lauren
    20 April 2022 / 8:44 pm

    I like the “Light Brown” if they don’t replace your favourite “Light Chocolate Brown” I hope that you do not go back to the reds and oranges because they make your skin look orange 🙁

    • Catherine
      21 April 2022 / 1:36 pm

      Lauren it’s a shame you had to make a remark like that – I only asked for feedback on what colours my readers liked, I didn’t ask if any of them made me look bad and why… personally, I LIKE the way my skin looks with the warmer colours. Thankfully I’m not one to take any notice of unsolicited advice, but please do remember that some people you may say this sort of thing to really do dwell on unkind remarks that they didn’t ask for 🙁

      • 21 April 2022 / 7:18 pm

        I like the intense copper but really you can’t go wrong as so many are lovely. My hair is platinum blonde I was very dark auburn naturally. It looked black until sun shone on it and it was deep dark red. Yet I went white ! I would love to see how I would look copper but I’m too afraid

  11. Lea
    20 April 2022 / 7:23 pm

    I had toyed with the idea of letting my hair go au naturel before the pandemic started since I was quite sick and tired of going to the salon every 2-3 weeks (I’m 67). I then went 7 months without going and it was so liberating! I now go every 3 months for a slight cut and highlights in my silver hair. My hairdresser thinks I look too old this way, and she may be right, but I cannot bring myself to care what she thinks lol. I’m letting my hair grow longer, I get to pin it up if I want, all the things hairdressers would not allow me to do before. I’ve never coloured my hair at home but might give it try someday… your post was fun!

    • Catherine
      21 April 2022 / 1:41 pm

      It’s amazing how many people [women] have grown out their hair due to the pandemic, isn’t it Lea?! I think it’s wonderful that you’ve decided to go for it… and even if it DID make you look older then why is that actually a bad thing? I bet what your hairdresser really means is “it makes you look 67” – if you love how your hair is, you love being free of getting the roots done so regularly and it makes you feel good then that’s what matters: I’m so glad you don’t care what she says! (And if you decide to dye it too – that’s also great! No reason you can’t change your mind/change your hair any time you want!)

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