Like many things in the world of beauty, achieving perfect grey hair is not easy – in fact, silver hair might be one of the toughest hair colors to maintain. It requires quite a bit of work and maintenance, and you have to go into it well informed.
We’ll give you some of the really critical information for perfect silver hair here: how to dye your hair grey, how to maintain gray hair, how to choose the perfect shade of silver hair for your skin tone, how to adjust your makeup and fashion to your new silver hair!
In this article:
- Preparation Before Switching to Silver Hair Colors
- How to Choose Grey Hair for Your Skin Tone
- How to Dye Your Hair Grey or Silver
- How to Choose a Salon for Hassle-Free Grey Hair Colors
- How to Maintain Silver/Grey Hair Color
- Makeup Tips for Silver/Grey Hair
- Fashion Tips for Silver/Grey Hair
Preparation Before Switching to Silver Hair Colors
- Decide what kind of gray hair look you are going for, and plan accordingly. Do you want just a few strands of gray? Silver hair tips? Silver balayage highlights? Are you going all out and dyeing your hold head gray? There are a ton of options, and you’ll see a lot of example pictures of silver hair colors for inspiration soon.
- If you’re not starting with virgin (undyed) hair, slowly begin the process of lifting away the old dye. Alternatively, wait and let the hair color grow out. It is much easier to start with virgin hair.
- Regularly mask and condition your hair to ensure maximum health. Coconut oil is my personal favorite hair masking choice.
- Conduct a patch test with all of the different products that will go on your hair to ensure you won’t have an allergic reaction.
- Do a strand test to see how long it will take your hair to be adequately bleached. In other words, remove a strand of hair from your head, cover it in bleach, and check on it every 10 minutes to see how long until it reaches the lightest blonde hair color possible.
- Stop using sulfate-based shampoos – they strip the hair of necessary moisture, leaving it dry and much likelier to get damaged by the bleach.
- A few days before you start the silver hair color dyeing process, stop washing your hair altogether.
How to Choose Grey Hair for Your Skin Tone
Grey hair comes in multiple undertones, and you want to make sure to opt for the right silver hair color for your skin tone. Choosing the wrong silver hair colors could have an unflattering effect on your skin.
- Silver Hair Colors for Warm Skin Tones: If your skin has a yellow, orange, or olive undertone, opt for more neutral grey hair colors, and definitely avoid anything too blue based. Gunmetal grays and platinum-silver will both work beautifully with your skin
- Silver Hair Colors for Cool and Neutral Skin Tones: If your skin seems plain beige or a little pink, you are in luck, because that gorgeous true silver will look perfect with your skin, and you don’t have to worry about the color pulling too blue.
How to Dye Your Hair Grey or Silver
Before you start this process, make sure you have all of the necessary potions and tools. For perfect silver hair you will need:
- A bleaching kit (depending on how dark your hair is, you might need a few bleaching kits). The L’Oreal Feria Absolute Platinum Advanced Lightening System gives consistently great results, and can be purchased at Ulta.
- Saran wrap, or a plastic hair cap
- A purple-based toner to get yellow and orange tones out of your bleached hair. If, after bleaching, your hair isn’t too warm, a purple shampoo like the Joico Color Balance Purple Shampoo from Ulta will suffice. For most people, an ammonia-based toner like the Wella Color Charm T18 from Amazon mixed with a 10 or 20 hydrogen peroxide-based developer will be necessary.
- Finding an adequate silver hair dye for at home can be tough. One option of a gray/ silver hair dye used by many professionals is the Pravana ChromaSilk Vivids in Silver, from Amazon. Wella Color Charm in Frosty Ash, also from Amazon will give you results that are more silvery-white.
- Gloves to protect your hands
- A mixing bowl and hair dye brush
- Petroleum jelly to protect your hair line and prevent your skin from staining
- An old towel or shirt that you don’t mind getting covered in bleach stains
Once you have all the necessary products, you’re ready to go. I recommend spreading the whole silver hair dyeing process over a few days (the darker your hair starts, the more time you should take for this process). Taking breaks between each bleaching/ dyeing session will help mitigate some of the damage that bleaching does to the hair.
Step 1: Bleaching
- Begin with dry, unwashed hair. You can even apply a bit of hair oil to it to strengthen it a bit and prevent dryness. Collect the bleach kit, and gloves, and make sure you’re wearing clothes that you do not care about.
- Apply petroleum jelly along the hairline to protect your skin from the bleach. Repeat this step for hair toning and dyeing as well.
- Follow the bleach kit instructions, and mix the bleach with the developer either in a bottle or in a mixing bowl.
- Part your hair at the crown, and tie up the top part of the hair. Part the lower part of your hair into two sections, and tilt your head forward so they fall over your shoulder and you can reach them.
- One at a time, take a strand of hair, and apply the bleach to it with the hair dye applicator brush. Begin at the center of the strand, and first work your way downwards. If necessary, load your applicator with more bleach, and now work your way up to the roots. Repeat this for each strand of hair on the lower half.
- Let down the hair piled up on your crown, and begin the same process for the top part of your head.
- Once all of your hair is covered in bleach, put on the plastic cap or wrap your head up in saran wrap (leave your face uncovered!). Leave it on for as long as necessary based on your strand test. For some, 10 minutes might be enough, but most will need longer. Do not leave the bleach on your hair for longer than 30 minutes.
- Wash the bleach out with a purple shampoo. You can let the shampoo sit in your hair for about 10 minutes to take out some of the brassiness you might end up with.
- If one bleach session was enough to reach a light enough shade of blonde (we’re talking so blonde that it is nearly white), then you can move on to the next step. If it wasn’t, wait a couple of days, give your hair a deep conditioning treatment, and repeat the bleaching process.
Step 2: Toning
If your hair does not have warm yellow or orange tones in it after bleaching, you can skip this section. However, chances are you do have warm tones in your hair, so you have to tone it to achieve true grey hair colors. Toning is essentially another hair dyeing step, and since it does require some peroxide developer, it can damage the hair.
- It is best to wait a few days after bleaching, and only then do the toning. During those days, avoid shampooing your hair too much, but condition it as much as possible.
- Gather everything you need to tone your hair: toner, developer, gloves, mixing bowl, hair dye brush, and wear clothes you don’t care about staining.
- If your hair has just a hint of warmth in it, use a 10-volume developer. If there is a lot of brass or orange in your hair, use a 20-volume developer instead.
- In the mixing bowl, mix the toner and developer in a 1:2 ration. This means that for one part of toner, you want to use two parts of developer.
- Put on your gloves, and apply the toner to your hair. Follow the same process of parting the hair and applying the toner as you did for the bleach.
- Once you have covered your whole head in toner, let it sit for 20 or 30 minutes.
- Wash it out! First, rinse your hair with just water, and then condition. Don’t shampoo your hair! At this point, your hair might actually be a nice enough shade of silvery-white that you won’t even need to dye it!
Step 3: The Fun Part: Dyeing!
At this point, your hair has virtually no pigment left in it, and is ready to take on whatever shades of silver or gray hair colors you were hoping for. Since you won’t be using anymore hydrogen peroxide, you don’t have to wait between toning and dyeing the hair. This final step does not damage your hair.
- Into a mixing bowl, squeeze out the silver hair dye that you will be using. Some gray hair dyes, including the Pravana one, can end up looking quite dark. If that’s the case with yours, you can dilute it by mixing it with hair conditioner before applying.
- Part your hair in the same four sections, and apply the grey hair dye all over your head.
- Allow the dye to sit on your hair for half an hour. If you go a little over, it’s not a big deal.
- Wash it out, and rock your new, silvery look!
- At this point, you might also want to take a look at the ends of your hair – split ends become worse after all of the bleaching and dyeing processes, so it might be time for a trim or a haircut!
How to Choose a Salon for Hassle-Free Grey Hair Colors
Going gray is a serious process. There are a lot of places to stumble and make hair-damaging mistakes if you do it at home. Salon dyeing is a safer choice, but it’s also a pricey one.
Switching to silver grey hair colors can cost anywhere between $500 and $1000 depending on the salon you choose. Be ready to spend a lot of money, and a lot of time in the salon chair.
When choosing a salon and a color technician, you want to make sure to look for experience. Skip the deals or discounts you might get from a newbie hair colorist – the damage they could cause will cost you a lot more in the long term.
Look for a reputable hair color technician/ salon with a lot of positive online reviews, and a big online gallery of unusual hair colors. Make sure you like the way they dye the hair, but also ensure that the hair in the photos looks healthy.
Once you’ve settled on a salon, book a consultation with the hair colorist. Bring in pictures of how you would like your final color to look.
Ask the color technician a variety of questions: how long will the whole process take? What kind of measures will they take to keep your hair from becoming damaged? Would they be okay spreading out the hair dyeing process over a few days?
If you like their responses (as well as their attitude! Remember, you will have to be in their chair for many hours), go ahead and book your appointment!
How to Maintain Silver/Grey Hair Color
- Wash your hair as little as possible. Repeated washing will make your grey hair become dull faster.
- Use a special, sulfate-free shampoo for silver hair. The purple Joico shampoo I mentioned earlier is an excellent shampoo for gray hair, because it keeps brassiness at bay and does not strip the hair of oils.
- Nourish your hair as much as possible! Since all that bleaching and dyeing has taken a toll on your hair, a mask like It’s a 10 Five Minute Hair Repair from Ulta will strengthen your hair and keep it looking healthy.
- As the silver hair dye begins to fade (which is inevitable), you can do color rinses in the shower to refresh it. A popular silver hair rinse is the Roux Fanci-Full True Steel Temporary Color Rinse, which can be purchased through Sally Beauty.
- Avoid heat styling your grey hair too often.
- If you have to blow dry your hair, do it on the lowest setting.
- To nourish your silver hair during the day, and to get that high-shine metallic hair effect, smooth on a light hair serum like the classic Moroccan Oil Hair Treatment from Sephora.
- Extremely light hair becomes stained very easily. Be careful with makeup and heavily pigmented food and drink, because they stain your hair the same way they would stain your favorite white T-shirt.
- You may choose to regularly repeat the bleaching and dyeing process on your roots (carefully!), but darker roots and silver hair are a very trendy look that you can also enjoy.
Makeup Tips for Silver/Grey Hair
The beautiful thing about gray hair colors is that for the most part, they are quite neutral. This means that you do not need to worry about your makeup choices clashing with your hair. However, there are definitely a few makeup tips for grey hair you want to keep in mind.
- Embrace the Color! The risk of being washed out by silver hair is real, and a makeup look that is primarily about neutrals and nudes won’t help with that. Always have at least a touch of color in your look, which can come from a bit of blush, a lipstick, or a warm bronzer.
- Perfect That Skin! Silver hair really draws attention to your face, and it can call attention to imperfections. Having your foundation on point becomes a little more important, so make sure you’ve been color matched correctly and that your application is as clean as possible.
- Get Your Glow On! Dewy skin is the height of youthfulness, whereas overly matte skin can age a person. To create that beautiful contrast of gray hair and young, glowing skin, use either a strobe cream or highlighting powder on your cheekbones, down your nose, and anywhere else where you’d like a bit of shine.
- Complementary Brows! You probably don’t want your brows to perfectly match your silver hair, or else you might lose the face-framing effect that they give, especially when you opt for really light grey hair. However, you want their undertone to match the undertone of your silver hair. Good eyebrow filler choices are cool taupe or slate gray. Stay away from eyebrow powders, pencils, or pomades that have a red or yellow undertone to them.
Fashion Tips for Silver/Grey Hair
Since gray is a neutral color, you do not have to worry about clothes clashing with your hair! On the other hand, silver hair does stand out as unique and unusual, and you should have your wardrobe reflect an attitude that’ll fit with it.
- Whites and grays can either be a cool monochrome look when paired with gray hair colors, but they can also wash you out and have an unflattering effect. Be careful of that when putting together outfits.
- Brighten things up with a lot of color! Colorful outfits provide a nice contrast to grey hair, and keep you looking youthful.
- Be aware of the undertones of your grey hair when color blocking outfits. Since most silver/ grey hair leans toward blue, you can create contrast by wearing warm shades like orange and purple, or you can match with cool shades like purples and blues.
- Unless you’re very careful, avoid anything that will age you. Tacky sweatshirts, mom jeans, and cardigans are best to avoid, unless you can pair them with other pieces that are really youthful.
- Gray hair colors go perfectly with edgy, punk or Goth looks. Embrace lots of blacks, and even match your silver hair with some metal spikes.
Photos via @chrisweberhair, Instagram