Expert tips for transitioning to grey
14th Aug 2022
Transitioning to grey hair can be a lengthy process, but these expert tips and tricks can make the journey a whole lot smoother. Celebrities such as Andie MacDowell, Helen Mirren, and Sarah Jessica Parker are spearheading the way for women across the UK and Ireland to embrace their white or grey hair.
According to recent research*, 76% of women have some white or grey hair in the UK & Ireland and the number one reason for using hair colour is to cover their pesky greys. Although it can be a daunting process, becoming familiar with these techniques and various ways to support your grey-haired clients can be very valuable to your salon.
“I’ve seen so many times that supporting clients in their transition to natural grey gives them a new lease of life. We are seeing a steady flow of clients who are ready to take the plunge in growing out their hair,” Marney Lian, owner of Gritt London, tells us. “Giving them a reason to still have “me” time at the salon is great, and the salons can still keep that client,” says Hannah Sandland, Wella passionista.
Transitioning to grey
When it comes to embracing greys, a proper consultation is essential – there’s more to it than leaving their natural hair to grow through. Here you can discuss their options, including the upkeep that each process will require, as well as the shades and tones you can use.
“To support clients I ‘grey map’ their hair. I identify in detail the pattern and use this as a guide as to where to lighten (salt) & where to create the cool lows (pepper), this means maximum longevity for the clients as they won’t see dark roots or a dark band on white hair. Grey mapping is so important otherwise all your doing is changing the maintenance to more roots of a different colour,” explains Sophie Bullivant, Wella passionista.
Transitioning to grey should be a gradual process. “There are so many choices. Clients are intrigued and curious to see if their grey hair suits them, and are becoming more natural with less maintenance,” says Matrix artist ambassador Michelle Summers Davies.
Highlights are a great introduction for clients with artificial coloured hair growing out as they will help to blend away any demarcation line.
“An application like freehand weaving, foils or spatula technique using alternating tones will give a better blend to the old solid colour. Use shades like naturals, violets, nudes, pearls or ash,” adds Michelle. “My go-to colour house is Matrix, using shades from the Extra Coverage 500 series and a lightener like Light Master 6 Lift and Tone will give a multi-dimensional look.”
“After having babylights or highlights over a few appointments, it will bring the client's hair colour fairly light, whereby you can then start to add ashy tones or a grey toner to their hair to allow the grey to blend in seamlessly,” explains Suzie McGill, artistic director at Rainbow Room International. It’s crucial to protect the hair during these processes. Suzie told us she adds a treatment like the Schwarzkopf Fibreplex to the bleach when lifting the hair to ensure it still retains its strength.
For those clients with a darker colour, the process will be longer, again, depending on the shade of their hair. Shorter cuts are a popular choice and will allow clients to grow their natural grey colour quicker, requiring less colouring to reach this shade,” says Dan Spiller, JOICO colour ambassador for the UK, Europe and Ireland.
For these short-haired clients, Ceri Cushen, art director at Metropolis Hairdressing and Revlon Professional master artist, suggests: “
I will usually lift out a panel around the face and tone this to match in with their natural shade.”
“Celebrities that rock a fuller high grey coverage include Anna Wintour, Julianne Moore and Jane Seymour. This service suits them as their chosen colour enhances their skin tone perfectly. This service would need to be maintained every 5-7 weeks. Celebrities such as Michelle Pfeiffer, Sharon Stone and Goldie Hawn support this fierce and elegant trend,” says Safy B, Safy B Salon.
“I have seen a huge shift in the ‘grey movement’ over the last three years, adding lightness and depth to the hair at first, following up with a Wella True Grey in-salon service to neutralise any unwanted yellowing for a seamless grow-out,” adds Nikki Clifford, Wella passionista.
Having the right home care is essential while embracing grey hair, as the hair has no natural pigment at this stage and can become yellow over time. Plus, they may feel like their hair doesn’t have the same shine it had before.
Michelle recommends using a blue or violet based shampoo and conditioner like Matrix Brass Off or So Silver to keep warm undertones at bay, while Suzie recommends moisturising shampoo, conditioners and treatments to provide further nourishment and shine. Dan Spiller, JOICO colour ambassador for the UK, Europe and Ireland suggests the JOICO Defy Damage range, to maintain the hair’s condition and protect both the natural and new colour.
Make a hair journey for your client. “Keep on top of the cut and colour. Texture and condition play a big part in how colour deposits so it’s important to revisit anywhere between 2-6 weeks for treatments and toner to keep the artificial tone of grey for longer. This will help the growing-out phase while embracing the regrowth of natural grey hair,” adds Michelle.
Once their natural grey has grown through, it doesn’t have to mean you’ve lost a client. “Adding fresh clean silver lights or lights in virgin grey hair is also a great way to balance, brighten and add texture,” says Aline Knee, Simi Hair Lab.
Let’s embrace the grey! Show your clients that they can still have hair-fun with grey hair, and work with them to find the best shade for their skin tone when transitioning to grey.
Check out this gorgeous grey-haired power pairing
by Robert Eaton.
*Source: 2CV Colourants U&A 2019 / 2CV Goldies Research 2017, data representative of the UK & I
Main image courtesy of Robert Eaton.