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Let's Talk Gray



Gray has been a popular color choice for several years now, and what most clients don't understand is that stylists do not have a color swatch that is gray! We see hair as pigmented and non-pigmented. (Blog: Your Pigment isn't a Figment) Pigmented means hair colors like red, brown, and blonde. Non-pigmented hair is white. When talking gray, some people even have different tones of gray: dark gray to light gray to white, all in one head of hair.


As a client you may go into a salon and ask for all white, thinking you can just grab a color that says "gray," apply it, and it magically turns light gray or white. Going gray is way more complicated than just that. A good analogy is an ink cartridge. Just like when you put in a new black cartridge, it is dark and deep. Once the cartridge has been used up over time, the black becomes gray, going lighter and lighter, giving you an idea of the different levels of gray. This is the same idea for hair. Some hair is dark gray and some is light. Here is another example, look at the color chart below to determine the amount of gray coverage:

Gray hair on the scale of 25%: is dark gray and will have more red to yellow pigments. Gray hair on the scale of 75%: will have more light gray or white strands with yellow pigments. These are called underlying pigments and are naked to the human eye. However, if you apply a lightener such as bleach, these pigments will appear. The older we get, we produce less melanin- our natural color pigment. The same goes for skin. The older we get, our hair goes gray, and our skin becomes less elastic and soft. Genetics also play a role in how fast one person grays more than another.

I have several gray clients who want to be a platinum or solid white all over. They have a mix of dark and light gray. I apply a lightener on as highlights to give a more uniform look of all white. The key for them is to lighten to a pale yellow or almost white to achieve this look. The more dark gray (with red-yellow underlying pigments) would require a toner. For maintenance, They MUST leave with a colored shampoo and conditioner. My preferred favorite recommendation is Oribe's Silverati Shampoo and Conditioner. It's specially formulated for grey and white strands. (Click here for more)




Oribe's Silverati has a blue/violet tint that helps cancel the warm undertones over times. It is an illuminating shampoo that undoes dullness and yellow tones, revealing softer, brighter, perpetually vibrant hair.Using a great product, along with shampooing in cooler water, (Blog: Why Do I Need to Shampoo with Cold Water), and applying a glaze or toner, (Blog: Flaunt the Gloss) will help your color last and keep you happy until your next salon visit.


Check in next week, we will talk about how to cover or soften your gray.

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