Grey and metallic hair is all the rage right now. However, this look can be one of the most difficult to achieve and is even more maintenance than having platinum blonde hair. In this article, I'll teach you how to get grey hair, what to use, when to use it, and why so you can achieve those prismatic locks you crave!
I'm a licensed cosmetologist and I am constantly changing my look. Recently I went from a level 3V to a a silver blonde shade in one night with little to no breakage. How? Keep reading!
First thing's first. YOU NEED TO HAVE BLONDE HAIR. No exceptions here! It's alright if you need to bleach your hair to achieve a blonde shade, but have caution, breakage is possible and so is total hair damage. If you are a new to bleach or hair color, you may want to pay a stylist to get you to a pale blonde. This will be the most difficult part of your "grey" journey if you are a dark shade, have previously colored hair, have box dyed hair, or have any other shade than natural or processed blonde hair. If you aren't sure how to achieve this, you can check out my other tutorial here here on how to dye or bleach your hair blonde. Beware, this can be a long and drawn out process and I again caution anyone uncertain of bleach to hire a professional!
So you're blonde? Great!
So you're blonde, perfect. But what undertones does your blonde have? For grey hair, or any other metallic, you'll want to get your hair as WHITE as possible before you ever even choose a grey shade. If your hair cannot get white, or close to it, it's best to just hold off on your grey until you can slowly get there. Don't rush this process. It can ruin your hair. I was able to bleach my hair white from almost black in one night due to a few things. My hair is strong, I'm a stylist with almost seven years experience and I understand bleach in and out. I also have short hair. Having short hair means I constantly get haircuts, and I don't have any "old" hair or length that's been continuously damaged for years. Longer hair is more difficult to bleach out in a single night.
The key with grays and metallics is the base you put them on, which is the shade your hair is before you apply the grey hair color. Yellow blonde, gold blonde, strawberry blonde and dirty brown blonde are a no-no. Why? You'll end up achieving a muddied, ash, brown-like appearance instead of the stormy metallic you were going for. Even if your metallic shade of choice is a violet based, rose based, or a blue based tone and not traditional grey your results will be muddied, unclear and look brown or gold in undertone, which will look more like a homemade disaster than an on-point runway win.
Below are some examples of what your hair should and shouldn't look like before you choose a grey tone:
Now that you know what to look for, you can decide if you'll need to bleach your blonde hair or not. If you've already bleached your hair once to achieve the gold blonde you currently have and you still look like one of the "X" photos, you'll need to bleach again - which of course is going to require some serious caution, and oh, DO NOT USE 40 volume (which is explained in detail in my blondes tutorial )
Light blonde but have gold undertones? Toners to the rescue!
If you're having trouble getting your golden tones out of your already very light blonde hair to get it white or pale blonde, remember the power of a great ash toner.
Toners are lifesavers when getting those last few gold undertones out, to create that perfect clear base for your new metallic hair. Toners are not permanent hair colors and are exactly what the name suggests - a tone replacer. They can change the base of a hair color and work with 10 volume developer typically. They are also typically not damaging at all and instead improve hair health, feel and shine.
Here's a list of amazing cool based toners that will do wonders for your hair health and will eliminate gold undertones:
Matrix Colorsync SPA
Goldwell Colorance 10P
Kenra Rapid Toner SV or VP
Schwarzkopf Blonde Me Ice or Steel Toner
Wella Color Touch 8/81
Sometimes, on pale blonde hair, a toner is even enough to get you pale grey so never pass them up!
Ready for grey!
Now you're a pale blonde, or white blonde with little to no gold undertones ( we hope! ) Now to choose the perfect metallic shade! There are SO MANY shades to choose from on the market. As always, I will only suggest professional brands due to my experience with both over the counter drug store bought and professional brands. Store bought never, ever in my experience has ever lived up to, especially when it comes to metallics, professional grade brands. If you aren't a cosmetologist you'll want to get a friend who is one to pick you up these shades, go to a salon, or see if you can order them somehow online. They are well worth the trouble and extra penny. Your hair health will thank you and you'll be much happier with the results, added dimension, shine and options that come with pro color brands vs poorly formulated, cheap drugstore brands that more often than not destroy, damage and discolor hair rather than give you clean results.
What type of grey hair color do you want?
There are three different kinds of grey hair color.
Permanent: Stays in the longest, about 3-5 weeks theoretically, however it can fade quickly sometimes if hair has been damaged during the bleaching process. Best for natural light blondes. Causes next to no damage.
Demi Permanent: Stays in 2-3 weeks and is also sometimes used to tone hair. However, on damaged hair this stays in the longer than 2-3 weeks. Best for those who have bleached their hair multiple times or those with damaged hair. Can be easily taken out eventually. Causes next to no damage.
Direct Dye/Stain: Temporary stain that fades in 1-3 weeks, however it can stay much longer on damaged hair. It can also leave a residue that is very difficult to get out. Hardest to take completely out of hair in the long run. Best for extremely damaged hair because it causes zero damage.
What TONE of grey hair color do you want?
There are a few different typical metallic undertones to choose from:
Now that you've chosen what type of hair color ( permanent, demi, or direct dye ) and what tone you want, here are my best professional picks below! Finally, the fun part!
Permanent: Kenra in 8SM + 10SM
Demi: Wella Color Touch 9/81
Direct Dye: Joico - Titanium
Permanent: 8SM + 10SM + Kenra Blue Booster
Demi: Wella Instamatic - Ocean Storm
Direct Dye: Chi - Pastel Blue
Permanent: Kenra 8VM + 10VM + Kenra Violet Booster
Demi: Wella Color Touch - Smoked Amethyst
Direct Dye: Chi - Pastel Violet
I hope this guide has helped you in choosing a grey tone that you love and educated you on how to achieve it! Grey hair is hard to maintain, but worth it for those of us obsessed with this new trend. Also always remember to use a professional color safe shampoo after all of your hard hair color work! Enjoy!
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