Hair Colour Q&A: How to Get Ashy Grey Hair
Recently I sat down with David Dault of Le Coiffer in Ottawa to get the 411 on hair colour. I get a lot of questions about my hair colour, and people asking me how to achieve that ashy colour. The truth is, that I am not a professional at all so I only know as much as I’ve researched or asked my hairstylists. So I thought there would be no better way to answer all your questions than to actually get the information straight from a professional!
So here we go: how to get ashy grey hair colour Q&A
What would you recommend for getting a silver hair colour?
DD: If you’ve been dying your dark for years then there is a lot of pigment in the hair so you will need to lift that. Some stylists will go in with a very high level of bleach to lift the colour, but that might damage the hair. It’s better to go a bit slower and take about 3 to 5 times over a year or two years depending on what colour of hair you had before. Basically you don’t want to damage the hair and make it break.
So to get an ashy colour you need to lift your hair to a certain level to get that colour right?
DD: Yes, basically you want it as light as possible. There’s different levels of blonde too, you can be a darker blonde or you could be very light almost white. To have your hair lifted to a silver colour you want the least possible amount of yellow in your hair after it’s been bleached. There is 10 levels of hair naturally, black being number 1 and lightest blonde is number 10. You really want your colour to be towards level 10 to achieve a silver or grey hair colour or pastel hair colours. Each hair colour also has underlying tones, for example, black has underlying pigments of red, brown with orange, and blonde with yellow. It’s easier and quicker to lift light blonde hair to that colour because it doesn’t have to go through the red through yellow phases. It’s always doable, but you want to take your time if you want to keep healthy hair.
So bleaching the hair removes the colour, and toning adds pigment back?
DD: Yes exactly. When you bleach your hair it’s eating away at your pigment, and you start to see that underlying pigment coming through. Basically since you’ve removed so much pigment you need to add it back into the hair. If you leave it wide open without your hair is more receptacle to pollutants coming in and that’s where you find more brassiness. If you’ve achieved a nice blonde you want to keep it nice you add pigment back to it so it blocks anything from coming in after.
After you’ve achieved a certain level of lightness you can really add any colour back into your hair. We call it toner because it’s changing the tone of your hair, but it’s basically adding a colour. You could even use a purple conditioner that has pigment to add the pigment back in without using an actual colour.
So for my hair here we used two different toners to achieve this silver grey colour?
DD: Yeah so I used mostly the high lift 11 ash, and then the ash in the Kevin Murphy which is a little bit blue so I added a little bit of violet also, to control a little bit of the yellow. So we achieved a pretty nice silver.
I know some stylists use a 40 developer when bleaching but there’s also really low levels, what do you use and why?
DD: Some brands of developer can go as low as a level 2. I use a 3.5 in the Kevin Murphy line, which is the lowest this line goes. You don’t want to use a 40-volume developer on someone who has fine hair because that would just eat at the pigment way to fast and could cause a lot of damage. You really don’t want your hair to melt off.
So the higher the developer the more damaging it can be to the hair?
DD: Yes and no. The higher the developer also means it’s quicker in process time. Say you’re using a level 10 developer on someone with brown hair it can take you all the way to platinum it’ll just take you a longer time for processing. 30 or 40 volumes will go a lot faster and remove pigments faster but it’s very harsh on a fine hair follicle. Those levels are more for course hair. I personally never use higher than 30 when bleaching and when I do it’s usually on someone with dark hair.
Which products do you use at your salon?
DD: I use the Kevin Murphy line, which is cruelty free, paraban free, sulphate free, and it’s a very natural line they use a lot of essential oils, plants, vegetable, nut, and flower extracts as well. So the least chemicals they can use is what they put in their products. It’s also locally sourced, and their packaging is made of recycled items. It’s a great company to work for and their products are all very lightweight. We probably layered 3 products on your hair today and it still doesn’t feel gunky or stiff.
How do you maintain the perfect hair colour after leaving the salon?
DD: You need to use gentle shampoos and conditioners. Make sure the PH and acidity levels in your products are as balanced as possible or use natural products so that it is very gentle on your hair. Also try not to wash it too often, and use dry shampoo in between washes. To keep ashy tones you’ll want to add in a purple shampoo and conditioner and use it at least once a week depending how ashy you want to keep your hair.
For someone like me with fine hair – why is it good to use products without chemicals, parabans, and sulphates?
DD: You want to use products that are almost PH neutral. You really don’t want anything that will drag your hair down with drying agents to your hair. You want to keep it as hydrated as you can, you want it to feel natural even though it’s been processed. When using natural ingredients because of their essential oils they work really well with heat and even in sunlight they really work into your hair strands after you’ve put them in. They work in your hair throughout the day or even two days.