How strange that women today try to hide their grey

while women of the 18th century, young and with hair in full colour, effectively greyed it with powder (which no doubt functioned much as 'dry shampoo' does today). 

Innumerable 18th-century paintings show these oddly grey, fresh young beauties.

There is, for example, Susannah Edith, Lady Rowley, who also sports a preternaturally ghostly breast (look right):

And then there is Lady Anna Horatia Waldegrave, looking similarly dusty (below): 

There is much about the 18th century, especially in England, which in general was a nicer place than France -- a bit less hierarchical, and much less given to bloody revolution that caused at least as many problems as it solved, never mind the Terror it chose to use -- that I adore. The clothes were generally admirable. The hairstyles (and wigs) could be flattering. The hair treatments, not so much. It's a relief to the costume historian when, in the late 18th century, in the pre-Regency period, men start to wear their natural hair (still long and lustrous) without wigs. Women also start to wear their hair more naturally, rather than teasing, coiling, and brushing it up and back to look like a wig. And the unisex requirement of powdering, whatever you wear for hair, begins quite rapidly to disappear. The pre-Regency (1790s or so) and the Regency period (into the 1830s, really, since fashions didn't change all that much just because and as soon as the Prince became George IV), represent an improvement for the naturally lovely person. The real slide down into ghastly beard bushiness and black costume (for men) came with the Victorian era, possibly my least favourite fashion-wise, apart from our own (jeans, t-shirts: dreck!). And the ladies,* with their plastered-down hair and over-voluminous body-covering Trojan-horse dresses, all frill and fuss and tedious buttons: I don't like that look, either. Oh well. It did give way to the Edwardian sensibility (even before the old queen died), and that was vastly better.

*This gallery of photos of various Victorian dates is fascinating. I like the lady with the natural updo in the first left-hand picture: but the corset still looks ouch!, and the strangle-hold collar isn't much better. She clearly had beautiful hair. I try to imagine it cascading down around her face and shoulders. Being Victorian must often have felt very constricting, any way you look at it.