A Guide for Transitioning to Gray Hair, According to Pro Colorists

Everything you need to know about the gray-hair movement.

10/22/2021 4:49:00 AM

Everything you need to know about the gray-hair movement.

Everything you need to know about transitioning to gray hair, from process and maintenance to capturing the Anne Bancroft brand of silver fox.

earlier this year, that was the case for her while navigating her acting career in Hollywood in her early 60s. But it didn’t stop her from joining the burgeoning gray-hair movement—and as the excitement around her salt-and-pepper strands indicates, trusting her intuition and embracing the natural aging process of her hair has paid dividends.

“At first, I was so cautious because I didn’t want anybody to be upset [...] but then once I did it, it was just so clear to me that my instincts were right because I’ve never felt more powerful,” explained Macdowell of going gray. “I feel more honest. I feel like I’m not pretending. I feel like I’m embracing right where I am. I feel really comfortable. And in a lot of ways, I think it’s more striking on my face. I just feel like it suits me.”

Clients and colorists alike are enjoying this sea change. “To let go and fully love yourself naturally is one of the most freeing feelings ever,” says celebrity colorist. “Listen, I’m a hair colorist and I make my living by battling nature’s work all day, but what I love most about my job is finding ways to enhance what’s there already. headtopics.com

That’swhat looks best by nature’s plan.”If you’re considering transitioning to gray hair with the help of a pro colorist, here’s everything you need to know before your salon visit, from what process and maintenance to capturing that Anne Bancroft brand of silver fox with a few well-placed “glamour streaks.”

You’ll Need to Let Your Roots Grow Out“I require my clients to grow their roots about 3 to 4 inches,” explains Martin, adding that a temporary root concealer is an easy and convenient way to cover them up in the interim. “This is because I want to see the pattern of their gray clearly so we can mimic it and match it to a tee.” Ahead of the initial appointment, the pro also encourages strengthening hair and repairing existing damage with deep conditioning treatments, like the K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask. “The hair will be stronger and healthier, so we'll end up with a more successful transformation,” he says.

Instagram contentView on InstagramIt’s Going to Be an Hours-Long, If Not Months-Long ProcessDepending on the thickness of the color or length of the hair, one of Martin’s gray hair transformations can take anywhere from six to 14 hours. In terms of technique, it’s all based on the pattern of the roots and how light or dark a client’s hair is. “When there is a chunk of silver or white, I foil towards that section of the roots all the way down,” explains Martin. “When there is a dark chunk, I follow that section. It’s all about foil placement.” In other instances, he will bleach all the previously colored hair completely without touching the roots, sometimes even using a color extractor to remove some of the artificial color before going in to minimize damage. “I bleach it to the color of the inside of a banana, which is almost like white, a little pale yellow white, and then I tone the whole hair,” he explains. “So then you have roots that have salt and pepper, and white hair three quarters of the way down. It gives me a full view of the light and dark areas so that I can go in with a lowlight and match those areas. I already created the salt, and now I want to create the pepper.”

For a slower transition over time, you can also lighten your base over multiple sessions. “Every four to six weeks, your colorist can take the formula lighter by a quarter to half a level, which is a process that can take up to a year or more,” explains Rez. “As the previously darker hair towards the ends of the hair length fades, a gloss to battle brass of the faded ends will help make this process easier on the eye.” During this time, complementary highlights can also be woven into the gray to add dimension and vibrancy. headtopics.com

Instagram contentView on Instagram“Glamour Streaks” Will Be Your Best FriendWhen a client is well into transitioning to gray hair, Martin will introduce the idea of adding in more “glamour streaks” around the face a la Bancroft or Susan Sontag. “They’re beautiful silver, face-framing pieces that make the color more impactful and brighten the face,” he explains. “It’s very easy to maintain and instead of the client having to come every few weeks, she can come every three to four months to touch it up.”

Instagram contentView on InstagramMaintaining Color In-Between Visits Is EssentialOn average, returning silver-haired clients, even if they’ve grown out their gray naturally, need to come back to the salon at least every three to four months for trims and toning/glossing treatments, which are used to counteract unwanted yellow or orange tones on bleached hair. “They can bring a dulled out and or a yellowed out gray color back to life in five to 15 minutes...I kid you not. Whether you are fully white, did the slow transition with lightening of base formula, or someone who did the full on switch in a days sitting—a gloss can make the all-over look of your hair next level,” says Rez, adding that your colorist can also cool off or warm up your entire look depending on your preference.

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