I got a special request from an old friend (Heyyyyyy Stephanie!) asking how to best tame and showcase her natural silver strands! Stephanie -- a blonde for ask long as I've known her -- decided to stop coloring her hair in March of 2020. Since then she's struggled with how to work with her new color and texture. Here's a few of the suggestions that I shared with her that might work for you!
A Purple Toning Shampoo....Yes AND No?
Yes, a great purple shampoo will help cancel out any unwanted yellow tones caused by hard/mineralized water, sun exposure, or your natural keratin shade. But there are two down sides to using purple shampoo too frequently:
1) Despite common belief, purple shampoo can make hair darker. Too many layers of sheer pigment on the hair will not neutralize yellow, but instead will coat the hair and not let the light reflect off the hair.
2) Most purple shampoos are also extremely drying (it's the pigment in the product). Dry, silver hair feels brittle and looks wiry (which is already a big problem).
Be sure to only use a purple toning shampoo a few times a month, absolutely no more than every second or third wash. The only non-drying purple shampoo I've ever worked with/used is Olaplex's No 4P -- the pigment is quite saturated, the shampoo itself is very concentrated, it's hydrating, and you get a mini Olaplex treatment with each wash. And of course I've always got it stocked at the salon!
Have You Considered Clarifying?
Getting product buildup and minerals off the hair is HUGE when it comes to showcasing your color. It also removes any past coating caused by frequent purple shampoo use. Be sure to work a clarifying wash in at least a couple times a month, more frequently if you've been swimming in either the ocean (ahhhh vacations!) or in a cholorinated pool. I have recently discovered a new favorite clarifying shampoo that gets my hair squeaky clean in two lathers that does not dry out or irritate my scalp. Let me know if you want in on my secret!
Silver hair often grows in totally different texture -- often wiry, frizzy, and curly/more curly than your pigmented hair. There's quite a learning curve when getting adjusted to your new combination texture! Here's a few times for you:
1) Hydration is KEY! Make sure you're using a high quality deep conditioner more frequently than you think you need to. Be sure to select one that is hydrating enough for what you need, but not so heavy that it will weigh down your virgin hair (this is why I have at least 4 choices available to my guests at the studio).
2) You'll also need a moisturizing styling product! No shocker here, Olaplex No 6 is my holy grail for everything. It's a styling cream (yep, cream) that also provides 72 hours of hydration with each use. It's lightweight enough that it can be used every day (even several times a day), will smooth out and tame frizz, works as a fantastic blowout product, makes your hair feel downright silky, plus you get that bonus mini Olaplex treatment when you use this product, too.
Here Comes the Sun
Too much sun exposure damages silver hair and -- believe it or not -- can make it very yellow! Now that we know that purple shampoo isn't always the key, prevention really is the solution. Using a hair product that contains UVA/UVB protection is super important, especially now that we'll be outside a bit more with the coming Spring/Summertime sunshine. And of course I've got a great recommendation or two up my sleeve if you're needing one!
Pulling Out the Big Guns
Okay, I will admit that sometimes all of these solutions just aren't enough. So then what???
I know that a big motivation for "letting it go" is to stay away from those salon visits. But what if I told you there's an in-salon option that works and requires zero maintenance if you don't want that?
Ask your stylist about a clear gloss treatment! The acidic pH and slight touch of ammonia will smooth out, de-frizz, and de-wire coarse, resistant silver hair. These treatments last about 20 shampoos and gradually fade from the hair -- there won't be any grow out or roots, I promise!
If your grey feels too yellowy for your liking, it's also possible for us to add a very sheer tone to the gloss to neutralize that color and to let your silvers shine. These will also shampoo out over the course of about 20 washes and won't cause any roots.
The great thing is that you can request one whenever you pop in for a haircut (ultra low maintenance) or schedule one when you feel like your hair is getting too coarse/frizzy (requiring a little more planning).
If you have any other struggles with your new silver hair that I haven't covered, feel free to send me a message! I'm more than happy to make a recommendation or two that might be a great conversation starter with your stylist. :)