How To Get That Trendy Gray Hair Color

You can't.  Not without risking your hair.

I recently got the chance to pick the brain of Bethany Maglicane, owner of Laboratorie, an eco-friendly salon in Baltimore, Maryland. After seeing the photo above, I was considering Color Oops-ing my red hair and getting left with some kind of gorgeous-ness, like in the above photo. No more hair color, no more roots. It seemed like a great plan. If only I really wanted gray hair. So I asked Bethany how one would go about getting unnaturally gray hair. Here is her answer.

You can't color hair gray to replicate the way gray hair occurs naturally. Hair that looks gray is actually hair that is completely lacking in melanin, the naturally occurring pigment that gives our hair its color, blending with other hair that still retains pigment making the overall appearance of a head of gray hair. Technically, "gray" hair that occurs naturally is actually white-- completely void of pigment. You can bleach most of the pigment out of the hair, tone it with something very ashy and achieve a platinum effect. Or, you could bleach it out and tone with silver hair color which would produce a hair color that will be gray in the same way that a crayon can be gray.  Gray is a color in it's own right and hair that is naturally salt and pepper is made up of white hair and the remaining natural hair.

It's not possible to bleach hair to the point that it is truly white.  To remove that much melanin from the hair would completely destroy the hair's structure and before you achieve true white, you will achieve dissolving all of the hair on your head. It's a really, really delicate process. You can't just take your red hair, remove the pigment and have gray hair left behind. It can be bleached (probably several times) to achieve a very pale yellow and then colored grey, but I don't recommend it for someone who wants healthy, long hair. It will definitely not look like your natural gray and you will still have to color your hair.

The girl in the photo is either wearing a wig or has had her hair bleached and then toned with a gray hair color. Remember, you can have healthy hair, and you can experiment with changes occasionally, but you can't change your hair with each passing trend without risking it's health. This is a trend that can really compromise the health of your hair.

Would you ever consider dying your hair gray? If you are gray and hiding it (like me!), if there was a way to do it safely, would you ditch your color for a sexy gray look? Tell me what you think in the comments!

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  1. I think grey hair can be GORGEOUS, if A) it has tones/highlights & isn't just a block of color; B) it's super conditioned and not 'goat-like', and C) it has a chic cut. Otherwise, it's a tough sell.
    I do have a fondness for the grey/lavender tones on the likes of Kelly Osbourne & the like, though.

  2. I laughed at the idea of gray hair being "trendy.". I can assure you that out in the wilds of the Midwest, where I live, it is not trendy, especially if, like mine, it's real.

  3. I'm hiding my gray, and wondering when I cross the line into having 16 year old hair on a 60 year old head - that just looks bad! On the other hand, my husband just isn't ready for a gray-haired wife yet.

    If I could have vibrant gray hair, I'd be there in a heartbeat

  4. Great post! I must say I love my grey's easier, environmentally and economically healthier and, truth be told, I receive a lot of compliments on it. But it IS a big adjustment and sometimes I do feel sentimental for my (dyed) auburn locks! My only advice for those with grey/white/silver hair is to use a good shampoo formulated for hair of that color (typically purple tinged to counteract any yellowing).

  5. I love my natural grey! I worked with my hairdresser to transition to grey. I was dyeing it auburn. Dyed it ashy blonde as I knew I couldn't deal with having a "skunk" stripe. I kept cutting it to about a chin length bob (didn't want to do a super short cut either). It took about 18 mos. to get to all natural color. She kept adding lighter highlights and didn't bring color onto new growth as it came in. I have more white/gray around the temples and on top. There is still a small chunk at the nape that is med brown. Since I've transitioned I've had people stop me to ask where I get my highlights done! Crazy! And I second Tara's suggestion to use a lavendar/purple shampoo to counteract yellowing.


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