Silver and grey hair had been a goal of mine for a little while, and after much experimenting and finally achieving the look I wanted, I thought I’d throw together this little guide for those of you that are interested in doing the same thing. Disclaimer: I am not a hair stylist or professional. This guide is used for reference only and contains steps and products I’ve used to achieve silver hair without a salon.
Before you begin…
I’ve never had to do as much up-keep on my hair as I do now that it is silver. It’s a pretty demanding colour, so make sure you’re ready to take on the responsibility! If you’ve never dyed or bleached your own hair before, I recommend getting this done at a salon so you can be sure that it’s done properly. If you’re ready to take the plunge and do it on your own, keep reading.
Bleach, bleach, bleach!
Unless you were born as a natural level 10, you can’t achieve this colour without bleaching your hair. Depending on your natural colour, you may have to do the lightening process multiple times. For a complete guide on how bleaching works and how I bleach my own hair, check out this post. This process shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can seriously damage your hair or cause bleach burns if you mess up or don’t do proper research first. Hopefully my guide will help you through that.
It’s important that your hair reach the lightest possible level before attempting to go silver, which should resemble that of the inside of a banana peel. Be aware here that you’re going to be stripping down the colour of your existing hair, which can leave it brittle. I suggest stocking up on some deep conditioning treatments or leave in conditioners to aid in the repairing process and to leave your hair shiny instead of dull and dry.
Tone it, baby!
The toning process is what will kill those yellow hues and is a must for this silver/grey look. You’ll want to go with a purple based toner, like the Wella T18 Lightest Ash Blonde toner. I always use this stuff with a 5 or 10 volume developer instead of the 20 they recommend on the bottle, simply to save my hair from even further damage. With a 5 of 10 volume, it’s not going to lift the colour any more, but instead just deposit it onto your hair. You will apply it using the bowl/brush technique and following the instructions that come with it. Information about this can be found in my guide to bleach lightening. Leaving this on your head for about 20-30 minutes will do the trick. Keep checking your hair throughout the process.
Another option, although not as permanent, is to try a semi-permanent DIY toner which will not cause any damage to your hair, but note that it doesn’t have the same staying power.
Toning your hair may just get you to the shade that you wanted without additional dye, but if you want something darker or more vibrant, a silver/grey coloured dye is the way to go.
Prepare to Dye!
I’ve tried a couple of silver dyes, and the best one so far has been the Pravana Chromasilk Vivids in Silver. It is a longer lasting semi-permanent colour which requires no developer, which means no damage to your hair. You will apply this with a brush and bowl just like the bleaching process.
There are a couple of ways you can do this depending on the shade of grey you want to achieve. You can empty the entire tube into your bowl and apply it as is for a darker steel grey colour, or you can dilute it (like I do) for a lighter silver colour.
To dilute it, first fill your bowl with a bunch of cheap conditioner and then apply some of the Chromasilk colour. I added about half of a tube to 3/4 a cup of conditioner for my light silver shade. Mix it up and apply it just like you would with the brush.
I created a video showing you how I touch up my hair and create a DIY silver toner. Watch it here:
Silver Hair Care Tips
- Silver hair is probably one of the most difficult colours to achieve and keep. It tends to fade rather quickly, so you’ll want to stock up on some products to help maintain the shade. One of my favourite tricks is to use this Roux Fanci-Full Rinse in Silver Lining in between dye jobs. It is a temporary hair colour rinse that you apply to damp hair and it lasts until you shampoo it out. If you’ve trained your hair to only need a washing every few days, this is a great product for a little ‘pick-me-up’!
- Shampoo your hair with a purple based colour correcting shampoo like Shimmer Lights by Clairol. This will help to keep the yellow tones at bay. If they start creeping up on you, try my at home DIY toner.
- To keep your hair looking healthy, use a deep conditioning treatment once a week. Remember, the less you wash your hair, the longer the colour will last.
- Tackle those roots! You don’t want to let your roots grow more than a centimeter because you will be causing more hassle for yourself. It’s much easier to bleach regrowth that is this length because the risks of unwanted banding (seeing a line where the new bleach/old bleach begins) is lessened. When you are ready for a re-dye, just concentrate the products on the roots and not on your pre-lightened/dyed hair.
- If you’re using a normal shampoo, grab one without sulfates as they will strip the colour out slowly. Most shampoos “for coloured hair” should work, but keep in mind that it WILL still fade regardless of the shampoo you use.
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