If you were wondering how to dye your hair silver or grey at home, you’ve come to the right place! This popular hair color looks great on every skin tone and also works well for a gray hair transition.
Gorgeous silver locks 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…
It’s important to note that silvery hair requires extra maintenance. Personally, I’ve never had to do as much up-keep on my hair as I do now that it is silver.
Silver hair is a pretty demanding hair colour, so make sure you’re ready to take on the responsibility before moving forward! By demanding, I mean that you can’t skip on root touch-ups and toning sessions. Once your hair has grown no more than 1cm, it’s time to repeat the whole lightening and toning process to ensure that you don’t get any banding effects.
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 with minimal damage. If you have black hair or dark hair, it might take a couple of sessions to get to the proper lightness before you become a silver fox.
You can even take notes at your salon and ask your hair stylist questions if it’s something that you’d like to attempt in the future. If you’re comfortable with lightening your hair and are ready to take the plunge and dye your hair gray or silver on your own, keep reading.
Bleach, bleach, bleach!
Unless you were born as a natural level 10 blonde hair shade, you simply can’t achieve this colour without bleaching your hair to the lightest level possible.
The silver hair color simply won’t appear to be that lovely icy tone otherwise, so starting with super light level 10 hair is the first step in achieving this grey hair shade with cool tones.
Take a look at this chart below to determine your current hair colour level. Match the colours as closely as possible with your natural hair color to determine which level you are on a scale of 1-10:
Depending on your natural hair color or current color-treated hair color, you may have to complete the lightening process multiple times over a period of time. For example, if you are a current level 3, you will only be able to lighten your hair to a level 6 with a 40 volume developer in one session, as a 40 volume lifts 4 levels. Don’t try to do multiple bleaching sessions back to back because you will risk your hair being seriously damaged!
This process shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can seriously damage your hair or cause bleach burns on your scalp if you mess up or don’t do proper research first.
Hopefully my guide to bleaching your hair at home will help you through that. I highly recommend you head over there and read it then come back here. Okay, let’s continue!
Obtaining a Silver Hair Tone
I can’t say it enough, It’s important that your hair reaches the lightest possible level before attempting to go silver. Your hair should 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, Olaplex, a hair mask, or leave-in conditioners to aid in the repairing process and to leave your hair shiny instead of dull and dry. A proper hair care system can keep your locks looking great.
Tone it, baby!
After your hair is lightened, it might look quite yellow and unattractive after that bleaching session. That’s totally normal. However, if it’s leaning more on the orange side as opposed to yellow, it’s not yet light enough.
If your hair has reached the proper lightness, the toning process is what will kill those yellow hues, and killing those hues is a must for this silver/grey look.
You can use toner, dye, or both depending on your taste. Let’s talk about toner first.
You’ll want to go with a purple or violet based toner, like the Wella T18 Lightest Ash Blonde toner. I always use this product 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 the colour/toner onto your hair and get rid of those brassy tones. If you’ve achieved the lightest shade already, there is no point in trying to lift it anymore anyways.
You will apply the toner using the bowl/brush technique and following the instructions that come with it. Normally this is a 1:1 ratio of toner and developer, but some brands can vary. Information about this can be found in my guide to bleach lightening.
Apply the toner and leave this on your head for about 20-30 minutes. Keep checking your hair throughout the process. When finished, wash it out with shampoo and then condition it well.
DIY Toner Option
Another option, although not as permanent, is to create your own semi-permanent hair color DIY toner which will not cause any damage to your hair as it doesn’t need a developer, but note that it doesn’t have the same staying power as a permanent developer-based toner or dye. It is a vegan formula that will help keep your silver strands looking awesome and can be repeated whenever your hair starts to look brassy.
You would apply the DIY toner with a bowl and brush just as the regular toner and can repeat it whenever your hair starts to get brassy.
That’s usually all there is to it and toning your hair may just get you to the grey shade that you wanted without any additional dye, but if you want something darker or more vibrant, a silver/grey coloured dye is the way to go instead of a toner.
Note that if you used my DIY toner tutorial, it acts as a semi-permanent dye and you don’t need to do anything else!
As I explained above, sometimes you don’t need to add additional silver dye after bleaching and toning your hair. You can make this judgement for yourself based on your results. A great toner is usually all you need and a lot of them now come in icy silver shades.
I’ve had toning results that didn’t exactly get me as silver as I would have liked, so added a semi-permanent violet based dye on top. This ensured that I achieved the proper shade I wanted, but without the added developer causing damage to my hair.
I’ve tried a couple of direct silver gray hair 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 as there is no peroxide. It’s a great way to get the look without the worry of breakage.
For the application method, you will apply this directly from the tube with a brush and bowl just like the bleaching process.
There are a couple of ways you can use this product 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 budget friendly conditioner and then add 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.
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. It is also an awesome product for gray roots if you’re a natural gray. 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 every few washes with a purple based colour correcting shampoo like Shimmer Lights by Clairol or if you’re in Canada, the Ice Cream purple shampoo you can get at Shopper’s Drug Mart is AMAZING. This will help to keep the yellow tones at bay while your colour fades. If they start creeping up on you, try my at home DIY purple toner.
- To keep your bright silver color 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 centimetre 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.
- When you lighten your hair and rinse out the bleach, always wash it with shampoo but leave out the conditioner if you are going to tone it afterwards. Conditioners can close the cuticles of the hair, adding a barrier for the toner to penetrate.
I hope this guide helps you in your silver hair colouring journey! Good luck and be careful!
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