The Rise of Grey
A lot of clients will have grown out their grey over lockdown, giving them a chance to see their natural colour and embrace it, says Simon Tuckwell, Balmain Paris Hair Couture ambassador. “Many clients couldn’t wait to get back in the chair to cover those greys, but there is also a new group of clients who want to embrace the more natural look,” he says. “Grey hair is certainly becoming more widely accepted and over the past year, women in particular have not only learned to live with the natural changes to their hair, but to celebrate it,” says Amy Lopez, Yellow UK colour director. “Having said that, one of the main issues is the demarcation line on grey and white hair, which has led women to search for a modern approach to colouring that allows them to embrace their natural hair in a way that still makes them feel and look good,” she says. “As colourists we can help the transition,” says Simon. What are colourists’ tips for making grey great again? Read on to find out...
Perfecting the Consultation
“We must understand the hair we are working on, the percentage of grey and white hair, the type of grey and white hair and the technique to make it look its best,” explains Robert Eaton, Wella Professionals technical director. “Think about the longevity of hair colour, the amount of time a client wants to spend in the salon and the amount of money they want to spend,” advises Robert. “It’s about creating a very bespoke technique for that individual. Create a hair colour journey or hair colour plan which will encourage regular hair salon visits.”
Create a Service for Clients Who Want to Forgo Hair Colour
Some clients might want to avoid any professional colour as they grow out their grey, however, there are ways to support this. “For clients who want to embrace their grey and avoid colour services, the combination of Alfaparf Milano Pigments with Semi di Lino care is a must,” says Vivica Davies, Alfaparf Milano international educator. “These intermixable products allow you to create a truly personalised care prescription for your clients’ hair.”
Home Care for Grey
Highlighting the importance of good home care will ensure grey hair looks its best. “Clients need to take care of the condition as grey hair can be quite coarse, and this is due to the lack of pigment,” says Dylan McConnachie, FFØR ambassador. “It’s really important to regularly treat the hair and I’d recommend the FFØR Re:Plenish Mask and the Inner:Strength Drops.”
Tailoring the Service for Different Shades of Grey
Natural grey can come in a myriad of tones and, depending on the client, their natural shade might not suit them. “This needs to be handled with care, as for those clients who are fortunate to go grey evenly or to 100% white, the colour can look absolutely stunning,” notes Tracy Hayes, Fudge Professional global colour ambassador. “For those with a salt and pepper effect however, it can be very ageing. In this instance, I would keep the natural grey around the hairline to soften the colour around the face, but then add in darker low lights or slices throughout the rest of the hair.”
How to Transition from Different Shades of Grey
“If the client is blonde already, the transition will be slightly easier, as babylights can be added with shades of blonde and silver hues to allow the hair to become lighter and closer to the natural colour,” says Dan Spiller, JOICO colour ambassador for the UK, Europe and Ireland. “For those clients with a darker colour, the process can be lengthy, again depending on the shade of their hair,” he adds. “Shorter cuts in particular are a popular choice and will allow clients to become grey quicker than if they have longer hair that requires a lot more colouring to reach this shade. The other option is having regular highlight appointments, before eventually having the hair bleached and toned to the desired shade.”
Creating Luxurious Grey
“When we think of ‘glamorous grey hair’, we conjure up images of Meryl Streep from The Devil Wears Prada. To ensure a smooth and flattering transition to grey I tell clients to phase out any dark colour through highlighting, balayage and toning,” says Vasilis Mikellides, lead colourist at Fowler35, a L’Oréal Professionnel Paris salon. “If your client is embracing their grey, they should also be aware that new make-up and clothing choices will need to be injected in complementary colours to boost the colour of their skin, which their hair once supported.”
Prevent Yellow Tones A common concern for those with natural grey is yellowing.
“Many moons ago this was due to nicotine staining from cigarette smoke wafting up and attaching itself to the front of the hair. These days it’s mostly down to excessive heat exposure such as extreme sunny weather. Styling tools are also a culprit, burning away the cuticle and exposing the underneath remnants of warmer melanin,” explains Matrix artist Terry Longden. “To combat yellowing and retain those clean grey tones employ a cleansing and styling regime of a violet toned shampoo, nourishing conditioner and, more importantly, a high heat protection styling crème, even when the hair is left to dry naturally,” he says. “My recommendations are Matrix Total Results SoSilver Shampoo, Conditioner and Keep Me Vivid Velvetizer with any hot tools dialled down to 150°C max.”
Mix and Match Your Greys
“If a client wants to embrace their natural grey, it might be easier to cleanse the hair of any previous colouring and match a grey dye to the client’s natural grey hair colour,” says Becky Sutherland, OSMO IKON ambassador and owner of Pink Lemon Hair.
“Mixing a few different shades of grey will help create a much more natural look and a softer colour blend allowing the natural root to grow out and achieve the end goal of a natural grey,” she says. “This part of the process will take the longest.
Once the perfect grey base has been created, each additional salon visit will take less time and won’t be as harsh.”
Creating a Realistic Grey
“You don’t get any more natural than grey hair and it’s hard to imitate,” explains Redken advocate Jack Baxter. “The intention is to match and blend the rest of the hair to the root. You will need to be super cautious of what colour you’re using on the hair that’s previously been coloured. Grey hair changes easily if you put a high ammonia colour on it, therefore artificial colour doesn’t work well as it casts warmth,” he says. “This is where the importance of acidic colour comes into play and Redken SEQ is my go-to. It does not lift the hair so you remove the worry that you might expose warmth.”
Create a Colour Journey
“The level, depth and tone of the previous colour applied will determine how quick a transition is going to be,” says Joseph I’Anson, a Revlon Professional ambassador. “I’d start off with a colour removal application to see how much of the old tint can be removed. It’s important to make sure the client’s hair looks and feels as great as possible through each stage of their transition. That might mean it will take the client longer to get to their desired result,” he says. “Highlights are an ideal way to start blending the natural grey into the pre-existing hair colour.”
Boost Bookings with Toners
“Lockdown has inspired a lot of people to embrace their grey so keeping these clients is already something salons everywhere will be contending with,” says Philip Bell, Schwarzkopf Professional ambassador at Ishoka. “Toners are a fantastic way to keep grey clients as they give the hair more vibrancy. You can also offer colour services that will add different shades of grey to mix it up. The Schwarzkopf Professional IGORA colour range, for example, has an extensive portfolio meaning there is always something for everyone,” he says.