The Ultimate Guide To Getting Silver Grey Hair

Silver hair on all its variations is one the most likely 2017 hair trends to survive well into 2018. It could be the Game of Thrones influences, or because that metallic silver makeup is a huge trend on Instagram that can work well in real life. Or maybe people just covet silver grey hair because this icy hue makes a statement without going into cute My Little Pony territory. If you are considering dying your hair silver grey, read this ultimate step-by-step guide to silver hair dying beforehand.

How to Dye Silver Hair Color

In order to achieve a silver hair color, hair needs to be a really pale shade of the lightest yellow. Since silver is a purely cool color, with no warm undertones, you will need to remove any warmth from your hair before you dye your hair silver. This can be challenging if your hair is naturally very dark or pulls warm.

The most obvious way to reach this pale blonde hair level 10 is bleaching it. Despite what celebrities may want you to believe this can be a very lengthly and costly process.

Using dye additives such as Olaplex to protect the integrity of your hair is recommended. This can help you become platinum blonde quicker and with less damage, but there will be damage. Be prepared to befriend sulphate free shampoos and protein treatments to keep your hair healthy.

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Top Platinum Silver Hair Dye

If your hair is naturally blonde or light blonde you may be able to lighten it enough using a box platinum blonde dye. Dye won’t lift dye, so if your hair is already dyed stop reading and just skip to the next section: Only bleach will get you to white hair levels. But if you have virgin hair, this method is less damaging than bleach when you only want to lift 2-3 levels.

Box dyes are great for this: L’Oreal Paris Feria Absolute Platinums Hair Color, Extreme Platinum has a 30 volume developer. You will need two boxes if your hair is longer than your collarbone. Always buy more than you think you’ll need: the key to professional looking silver hair is a homogeneous color. That is something very difficult to do in two sittings if you run out of dye.

L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference Permanent Hair Color, LB02 Extra Light Natural Blonde is also great if you want to bring your already blonde hair closer into icy white territory.

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Bleaching Hair To Silver

You can bleach your hair at home, but it’s not an easy job and it’s easy to damage your hair and scalp. If you have never bleached your hair yourself you should probably enlist the help of a hairdresser or an experienced friend. Silver hair is very unforgiving and requires the lightest, level 10 blonde hair. Prepare ahead of time with a bowl and a brush, and be ready to work quickly to achieve a uniform color. Keep in mind that your roots will lighten quicker than the ends due to the heat from the scalp.

Due to the extreme lightening required to get silver hair you don’t want a patchy bleach job or banding to spoil the silver effect. It is better to process the hair several times, with a lower strength developer, over several weeks. Otherwise you risk risk chemically burning your scalp or frying your hair. Most people need several sittings, spaced about two to three weeks apart, to go from dark hair to platinum. If you want to pull a Kardashian and go blonde quicker, a hairdresser may be able to help you but there will be damage.

Once you are done with this process your hair should be the light yellow inside a banana peel, and then you are ready to tone the yellow away.

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Toners for Silver Hair

To achieve silver or grey hair, you want to tone your hair with a purple based toner, such as the Wella T18 Lightest Ash Blonde toner. Since your hair will be quite damaged at this point, you should use it with a 10 volume developer instead of 20 unless your hair pulls really warm. If your hair is not level 10 pale yellow at this point this won’t work, because this toner at this strength won’t lift hair color further.

Leave this color depositing violet toner for half an hour, but check your hair regularly. If your hair is very porous 20 minutes may be enough to achieve silver hair. At this point all warmth will have gone from your hair, and no brassy tones should remain. Your hair should be a very subtle silver or icy white color, and if that’s what you wanted you can go on straight to reading about silver hair maintenance.

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IROIRO Premium Natural Semi-Permanent Hair Color 130 Iro Silver (8oz)
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Hair Dye for Metallic Grey Hair (Steel and Silver Haircolors)

If you want a more intense silver/grey/steel hair, you will need to use a semi permanent dye. In my opinion, the Pravana Chromasilk Vivids in Silver is awesome and lasts for a long time (for a semi permanent dye), but alternatives such as La Riche Directions Hair Dye in Silver (vegetable based, vegan friendly) or Manic Panic Blue Steel are more consumer friendly. None of them require a developer, which means no further damage to your hair.

If you are after a darker silver or steely grey color, you can apply the dye directly to your hair. However, if you are after more subtle, lighter colors, you will need to dilute it. You can use Manic Panic Pastelizer or a good quality conditioner. In case of doubt, go lighter, as it’s easier to add color later on. You can re-dye right away as this kind of dye are actually good for your hair, if it turns out to be too light.

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How to Choose the Right Silver Color for Your Hair

From icy white to steel grey, there are many different tones of grey hair, and choosing the right one is not easy. There is not a hard rule on which silver hair suits who. Depending on how striking you want your look to be (though silver hair will always be a statement) you should choose the right silver to contrast with your natural skin color without draining the life out of your face.

Those with pale skin with cool undertones have it easier. Pale, icy hair will look natural on you. However, it is worth keeping in mind that roots will be very visible and grey hair may force you to rethink your makeup choices to keep definition on your features.

Silver Hair for Warm Skin Tone

If you have golden undertones in your hair, or a peach and cream complexion, cool silver hair may be draining. Silver hair is unforgivingly cool, with no warm undertones that could harmonise with your skin, so it will be a statement. Or you can choose a slightly darker, steel grey hair color which can be more forgiving.

Silver Hair on Tan Skin

If you enjoy a golden tan, a darker grey color will compliment your complexion. You can also choose highlights in a brighter, silver color and lowlights in metallic grey tones to add variety and texture to your hair.

As always, you do you and hair dye washes off (though bleach won’t so think twice before you take this step). So if you love that Khaleesi white or a head of metallic mercury hair, go for it and wear it with pride. Silver hair has never meant to be a natural look anyway 🙂

Silver Hair Inspiration And Video Tutorials

Sometimes seeing is believing and the following videos showcase some great variations on silver hair (and how to achieve it) for those who prefer to learn by watching. Whether you are a total newbie to bleach or you are used to bleaching your hair at home, those videos will serve both as inspiration and teaching.

You can go for a high maintenance icy blonde:

Or maybe a darker steel grey hair

Or even turn towards lavender

Silver grey balayage anybody?

Keep in mind that silver hair will require maintenance, both to keep the color cool and bright and to prevent and repair damage to your hair. We have written a handy companion guide to silver hair maintenance here but you will find that many parts of it apply to blonde hair maintenance and toning as well. If you are unsure whether silver hair fits your your lifestyle (tip: it is probably not for a wash and go long haired girl allergic to hairdressers who likes to wash their hair every day) you should check it out before committing. Once bleached your hair will never be the same.

Image credit: Aaron Tyree


  • I am 65 years young, already have grey hair but would like to do the metallic silver. Do I have to bleach my grey hair? I can’t seem to find an answer

    • It really depends on what sort of grey you have right now. If you want your hair to be silvery and lighter than your current color you would need to bleach. For example, if your hair was a more steel grey and you wanted a pale silver. But if you are staying at the same tonal level, a silver gloss is not damaging and could look great (and cancel any yellow).

      Keep in mind as well that grey hair can be stubborn when trying to color it, the color may wash out quicker. It really depends on the texture. I’d do a patch test, see if I like the results and go from there.

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