Going Silver, pt 2 – Silver Hair Q&A

Silver HairSilver hair found @ modernsalon.com

In my last post about silver hair, I shared that I am living vicariously through a close friend who is now living her love of silver hair. She had two appointments the most recent of which was last month, and she graciously agreed to allow me to interrogate her ask her a slew of questions to share with you. Some responses were minimally edited for clarity.

It’s important to note that neither my friend nor I are salon professionals. We haven’t been to beauty school, are not licensed cosmetologists, hair wizards, etc. We are, however, very curious and research obsessed. We tend to exhaust topics like these before jumping into them. Our word is not law and you should always do your own research – including consulting experienced professionals.

Q: Did you like silver hair when you first saw it out there, or did it take seeing it a few times?

A: I guess it would be a bit of both, some people pulled it off really, really well and it looked fantastic – usually those with the darker and more metallic grey-silver. For others it just looked like regular grey or greying hair. Which was flattering on some and not on others, as anything could be. So I guess it took seeing it a few times and establishing a pattern of how and on whom it looks good for me to like it for myself.

Q: How long did it take for the, “You know… maybe I could do that?” thoughts to strike?

A: I guess I answered the second question a bit with the first response! It took a while, between in person and online it was easily a few dozen exposures

Q: You’re naturally blonde, you were masquerading as a brunette for a while. When was the last time you colored your hair prior to your decision?

A: The last time I coloured my hair prior to going silver would be… I want to say March or April of 2015. A combination of my regular stylist going on maternity leave and my fantastically lazy personality I carried with that for much longer than I should have and had significant root growth, which is certainly relevant in this process.

Q: What criteria did you look for in the salon you’re trusting with such an epic task? I’ve seen some people try to go to a Regis with that quest and it didn’t turn out well.

A: What I looked for in the salon was something of a younger, modern, edgier ‘persona’ of the salon itself and how it was marketed, the staff and their personal style, and the pictures posted by the salon of past clients. I figured [a salon with] a more modern and different style would be best. Of course I looked through some examples of silver hair in the gallery to know they were capable of pulling it off.

Q: I know you did a lot of research trying to find what you wanted – if you had to guess, how many hours did you spend trying to find the inspiration you ultimately handed over to your colorist?

A: I can be a bit of an obsessive researcher. I spent easily over ten hours looking through pictures to find what I wanted. I also talked with you (and other friends) to help me narrow it down to a specific tone/shade/hue what have you. I’m likely grossly underestimating by saying 10 hours

Q: How long did your consult at the salon take? What kind of questions did your colorist ask you?

A: The consult took maybe 20 minutes. I don’t think there was really any unique questioning that would not have been given to anyone looking to go lighter. I was asked about previous colour, natural colour, my hair care routine, if I understood this would be a multiple process and multiple appointment journey and so on. Nothing unique that I can remember.

Q: Can you step me through the process for your first appointment? What level(s) did she have to lift you to? Do you know what volume of bleach, the processing time, etc? Any special treatment stuff like Olaplex to offset damage?

A: The first appointment lifted my ends from something of a 5 or 6 to a ‘9.5’ as described by the stylist and I do think that is probably accurate. It was a double process of 20 volume. My roots go straight white pretty quickly and I don’t know what the number would be to call completely white hair, but that’s what it was, that was dyed to come down to the ends then toned all together. Total processing time was probably 45 minutes to a hour. It was quite a long appointment as there was washing between as well as colouring and toning. There was a product used to minimize damage but for the life of me I could not remember what it was called.

Q: Immediately following the second appointment was really rough because your colorist made you a bit blue and tried to assure you it’d be fine the next day… and it wasn’t. How long did it take, and what did it take, to get your hair to where you actually wanted it? Is it in fact where you want it?

A: Yes, unlike Eiffel 65 blue is not my favourite colour for everything in life and I did not want it to be the colour of my hair! So I tried washing it with my more gentle hair care products time and again and it had barely faded in nearly 3 days with 6 washes. This was making me a bit uncomfortable as I knew the hair was damaged and though my hair has a great ability to rebound to being healthy, effectively nuking it was not my preferred course of action and I was nervous. Ultimately I bought some Head and Shoulders Original Formula, due to the baking soda content and more abrasive nature. I probably had 4 washes with that over a week leaving it in for five to ten minutes each time. Very hot water prior to the shampooing to open the cuticle, very hot when rinsing out, then very cold when rinsing my regular conditioner.  When I say very I mean I only was able to have my hair under the water. It did finally take the blue out, after which I used a purple shampoo and conditioner to make sure it maintained a cooler inveterate colour. It is right where I want it now, so it can say I am glad where things ended up but oh my…that blue was shocking.

Q: What care did she suggest? Were you able to buy product at the salon? Do you trust her recommendations, especially with respect to how blue you were initially?

A: She suggested 2 washes per week, 3 if required, using the salon recommended Kevin Murphy Luxury Wash and conditioner, and using the serum from the same line before applying heat or styling. Avoid heat where possible, be gentle all pretty similar to any bleached hair. The only unique add in was to use a coloured shampoo once a week, but she suggested blue and I definitely will not be doing that given my experience and also that the purple should do a better job of keeping the blonde silver, whereas blue would keep blonde from getting brassy.

Q: How often are you shampooing now? Are you using any cool products like that Overtone stuff?

I wash it twice a week as suggested, 3 if I’m particularly active. I haven’t moved onto any cooler products yet, but I’m still just getting used to it.

So to elaborate on my friend’s experience after the second appointment – if you’re familiar with anyone who has gone silver or even just very light blonde – you may be familiar with the idea of toning it with a purple shade to keep it cool. Her stylist used a blue, which can technically be used, but is rare because it is intended to combat brassiness. Unfortunately, my friend left her appointment with very blue sections. Her stylist said it would be fine in a day or two after a wash or two. As someone who works in an office that does not particularly embrace exciting hair (silver is OK, blue is iffy), she was concerned about this causing issue. Fortunately, her employer was understanding of the situation.

It’s important to understand that while haircolor is a certainly science because of chemistry, the application and processing can be very much an art. Stylists are people too, and they are capable of bad judgment calls. Luckily, my friend’s hair turned out awesome after that painful week or so.

On YouTube and Instagram, you’ll see shops like Guy Tang’s cranking out silver in a single session. It’s important, as a client, to understand that those sessions typically take 7+ hours…and that many salons may not be able to accommodate that aggressive schedule from a booking standpoint or a stylist/colorist comfort standpoint. A return trip can suck, yes – but what’s more important, getting it done in a day, or your colorist delivering the best results she or he can while preserving the integrity of your hair? Not everyone is Guy Tang.

So in addition to her suggestions, learning from her experience I would do the following:

  1. Determine your water’s iron content if you can. Highly ferrous water will compromise the integrity of your majestic, cool, silver. If your water is very iron-rich and having silver hair is incredibly important to you, you should look into filtration or treatment options.
  2. Ask your Stylist: How many transitions to silver hair have you executed? Have you dealt with clients with both virgin and processed hair?
  3. Ask your Stylist: Do you plan to tone with purple, blue, or both?
  4. Tell your Stylist: Where you work, what your employer’s tolerance level is regarding weird phases (like random blue sections). If 120% cannot report to work while you have a couple weird days, make this painstakingly clear. Say so during the consult, and again during the appointment.
    Consider scheduling your appointment for a Friday, or whatever day starts your, “weekend,” if you get one so you can cope with any initial, “oddity.”
  5. Tell your Stylist: Your level of attentiveness, or willingness to be attentive, to special care needs. If you can’t commit to the upkeep, they will probably (correctly!) advise against this, which is reasonable and does not make her or him a jerk.

What do you think about the silver hair trend? Love it or leave it?