One Subject we get asked a lot of questions about is grey coverage…
Should I cover my grey?
When will my hair go all grey?
Is my grey a different texture?
How can I cover my grey without it being high maintenance?
How can I stop coloring my grey?
In this Blog Post we will discuss in more detail the variety of ways to cover your grey (here at Parlour we like to call it “non-pigmented hair”). Don’t fret! Whether you are in the category of a handful of annoying grey hairs, or all the way to a full head of non-pigmented color treated hair this post will help break down all your best options, and help you pick what is best for you and your lifestyle.
First let’s talk why we choose to cover grey in the first place. In our opinion, grey hair does not have much to do with age but with genetics. Some people never go grey, and others start to go grey in high school. Some people’s hair will go grey quickly, others will just have a few strands their whole life. From a colorists point of view the reason we cover non-pigmented hair is because the texture and tone are not your most flattering choices. Think of your hair color as your frame. It helps bring us to life. We want to choose colors that are complimentary to our skin and eye tone (check out blog post how to choose the right tones for you for more details on how to pick your best fit!) In general, colors that have some warmth and shine are essential. On the other hand, grey hair can look stunning on some people. If your skin tone is in the "Winter" or "Summer" category, grey can be flattering to your skin tone. One other thing to consider when deciding if grey is in fact the right choice for you, is it's natural pattern. The salt and pepper tones can grow in patchy or softer resembling a highlight. If yours has a softer pattern and the tone is flattering, staying grey is a wonderful option.
One thing we point out to our guests as we discuss if their grey is something we should start to address is that it is not the salt (non-pigmented hair) that we usually have a problem with, it is the pepper. What we mean by this is, our natural color first tends to lose pigment and becomes ashy and dull, then it transitions to non-pigmented hair. Cooler colors absorb light and tend to feel less vibrant, this is the first thing we like to adjust to create a more flattering frame. This can be done in a variety of ways. If you want to go a more subtle route, we recommend starting out with a technique Parlour calls “GREY BLENDING”. This is when we don’t just jump into covering all your grey, but we add preferred tones into the hair, creating a blended look. The first and most subtle step to grey blending is to add a low-light. Think of this as the opposite of a highlight. It creates dimension but instead of being lighter, it would be richer, creating depth. Your colorist paints in the more flattering tone into your natural (being the more annoying pepper tone) creating ribbons of richness emulating the vibrancy your natural color once had.
One really important detail about getting your hair professionally colored at Parlour is we mix the color specifically for your needs. Over the counter colors are made to be one size fits all (only giving you the option to harshly cover your grey), so they are very strong and generic. When we formulate color we to get to pick from a variety of strengths, and tones. In this case we would pick a type of color that is called a DEMI PERMANENT. This Demi Permanent option makes the hair reflect light producing shinier and healthier hair. It is extremely gentle on the hair, in fact it treats the hair at the same time because it has the same ingredients you would find in a deep conditioning treatment.
After this first subtle step, if you love the way the pepper looks but you don’t want to see as much of your non- pigmented hair, the second step would be to add a highlight. Our lowlight is there to brighten your pepper, so your highlight would be there to brighten and help camouflage the salt. When we apply the highlight, we apply in the same pattern as your non- pigmented hair appears, this creates an illusion that your salt is just a highlight. This option is an amazing second step for the person that is loosing the tones their hair once had, and wants to “blend their grey”. This is also a great option for the person who has a very light subtle pepper blend and just wants to brighten it up a bit. Since their pepper is minimal, you can skip the lowlight and just brighten it up with some more blond highlights.
If you wanted to feel a bit more impact our third option is we could apply this hydrating demi permanent tone roots to ends, this would make all of your pepper hair have a glistening appearance, and would softly budge your non-pigmented hair to appear less harsh (making them look more like a highlight). This option is still very low maintenance because it would not create a dramatic change to your overall natural or create a harsh line that you would have to worry about. This would allow you to decide when you want to come back in, giving you lots of freedom.
Now let’s talk TEXTURE. A lot of the time this could be the only thing that you don’t like about your non-pigmented hair. Your white greys can have a wirier appearance, making your hair feel more unmanageable. If this change in texture bothers you, here are a few ways to help. One, is to put a little more effort into styling by incorporating more appropriate at home care, working in your round brush, or throwing in a few curls with a curling iron. Another solution is coloring your hair. As we described before, hair color actually works like a deep conditioner, so it will help soften the wirier appearance (this is why most of us love getting our hair done!). Hair color can actually be clear, depositing no tonal change, just adding the long-lasting shine, and conditioning. The next quick fix, (if you don’t want to put in the extra time, or add any heat damage to your hair) and still want to see the texture change, is getting a Keratin Treatment Service. What the Keratin Treatment does is smooth out frizz. What most people don’t know is that can be personalized to your hair type. The strength can be adjusted by gently defrizzing, or can be something that will collapse all the texture making it look like you just left the salon. The treatment, no matter what the strength, will make your hair look so shinny and be easy to manage. This will allow you to wash and go, or if you decide to style, it will be a piece of cake (even if you go out into humidity, the Keratin Treatment keeps your hair in place!)
And Last but not least let’s discuss how to grow out your already previously colored hair. This usually is a longer process but it doesn’t have to be as harsh as you may think. The first steps we would take is try to create a similar pattern and tone to what your current natural grey is.
Option one is if your grey pattern grows about 50/50 % non-pigmented hair, to the more pepper natural tone then we would want to try to match that pattern. We would do this by adding a highlight and lowlight. The idea here is we want to get away from the one-dimensional (usually darker) previously colored ends. When we add the highlight, it will mimic the non-pigmented pattern growing in at your roots. When we add a lowlight at your roots to help blend line of demarcation so there will still be some of that darker tone to your roots (so your previously colored darker ends do not look so harsh). As your roots grow in we start to incorporate more and more of your natural. We usually pull the lighter highlight all the way through the ends, but keeping the lowlight just at your roots. Another helpful step is adding a Glaze to make the hair tone cooler, resembling more of the tone at your roots. As you grow out your natural color, we keep subtly adding what your hair would need. Allowing more and more of your natural to grow in, but keeping everything blended.
If your pattern of grey is mostly non-pigmented hair we would do a similar version of the pervious option but add a lot more highlights. The reason we would do a Full Highlight (most of the time in multiple sessions) is to take out more of the darker tone to resemble a color closer to your natural root color. The lighter your ends are the closer they will resemble your non-pigmented roots. This will create a lower maintenance look. Some of our guests love to add a blonde root color in addition to the highlight so it will feel more cohesive while your roots are still trying to blend. This process doesn’t happen overnight, but it can be fun trying out different tones as you get lighter and lighter in each transition!
Our second option is we use a Demi Permanent color (the same type of color we were discussing in our Grey Blending technique) at your roots. Eventually the demi color will fade. As the color fades we keep selecting a lighter shade to apply at your roots. The idea here is we continue to alter the hair to be lighter and lighter, so your non-pigmented hair doesn’t look so obvious. Doing the demi will give you more of a soft grey blend, and we can determine the strength allowing more of your non-pigmented hair to shine through. Your hair will gradually go from maybe a dark brown, to a light brown, to a dark blond, to a light blond, to grey. Pretty immediately we let the grey start to filter in more and more, and in the mean time you get to try all of these shades, and stop where you please. This takes some time but with patience you can be color free!
The third option is a fun one, but is not for the faint of heart. We go with a dramatic length change and cut your hair into a Pixie Cut. We would do this big change because it would allow us to get rid of all that old previously colored hair, in one quick CHOP. Then with the color left over we would do a lighten service called a Bleach and Tone. This is where we would use lightener on your hair from roots to ends, getting the hair to as light as we could, while maintaining the integrity of the hair (we won’t have to worry as much since your hair will be short anyways!). This option is so fun because not only would you have a whole new fabulous look, you would have skipped over all of that (sometimes daunting) growing out time. This is more of a color correction service and may not be able to get as light as we want to in one session, but it will still be the quickest of all the options!
We hope this answered some of your pressing questions and concerns on the best way to cover your grey hair. We would love to talk to you more about your options, go ahead and give us a call or book an appointment online so we can help!