Read on to find out more on..
1) My story and lessons learned on going gray
2) Factors to consider when going gray (from dark hair)
3) The secret product for keeping treated hair healthy
When gray hair started to trend across the web alongside pastel hair, I found myself lusting for that "granny gray" look. I then set on a crusade of internet searches, youtube videos, and consulting with a number of hair colorists, eager to achieve the look I wanted. Here are a few factors/obstacles I found myself facing:
1. Hair Damage My natural hair color is a dark brown (almost black). For me to transition to gray, I would have to bleach my hair not only once, but twice in order to get it to a light, clean blonde. Then, a gray dye would be applied. It goes without saying bleaching/dying hair is very unhealthy for hair. So unless you want to end up looking like you have straw for hair, you should try to keep the number of processes down. In total, I was told by specialists that my hair would have to undergo three processes in order to achieve a clean, gray look.
What is a "clean" gray? The best I can describe a "clean" gray is one without unwanted colors in it. Hair colorists usually mix their own gray dye, which is why you typically see colors such as purple or blue in gray hair. If someone were to bleach their dark hair only once to a dark yellow, and then apply a gray dye on that, the resulting color would be greenish gray, hence a "dirty" gray. (been there, done that, trust me.)
2. The Price
Those three processes I mentioned above? You will be charged for each process. One consultant quoted me for $345 for the entire process. Being a college student working a part-time minimum wage job, I smiled politely, told the colorist I would think about it, and walked out. Nope.
Plus all the maintenance maintaining gray hair would cost? Hello purple shampoos, conditioners, and monthly toning? I didn't even want to try adding up the cost per year.
3. The dreadful "in-between-colors" look Two professional hair colorists I consulted with advised me to separate each process by at least two weeks each in order to minimize hair damage. This meant I would leave the salon with orange/yellow hair once, then a pale yellow, then finally a gray. Would I be okay with going to work and school with orange-yolk-colored hair? Honestly, no. I even seriously considered requesting time off of work in order to get my hair done... but that would leave me two paychecks short on top of the price of my hair.
These three factors kept me contemplating for months.
In 2015, I found a colorist that claimed she knew how to get my hair gray without the bleaching process. I was ecstatic. I waltzed into the salon with fingers crossed, conjuring up images of outfits I would wear with my newfound hair color. My illusion was short-lived. I walked out with greenish-black hair and a very unhappy wallet.
In 2016, I traveled to Taiwan and had the fortune of running into someone who had the gray I wanted. She pointed me in the direction of the salon she went to, and I decided to attempt gray hair once again. I walked in, sat down for 5 1/2 hours, and walked out on clouds. The resulting color was slightly purple, and within two washes, faded into the exact gray I loved.
So what was it that allowed me to walk out of the salon with gray hair in one sitting? Did I skip a process? No. Did I buy a wig? No.
I bleached my hair twice that day and dyed it once. The defining factor that allowed me to walk out with my hair unscathed by the harsh chemicals was a product called Olaplex. Not only does the product repair bonds in your hair after treatment, it is also applied to your hair during treatment to ensure less breakage during processes such as bleaching.
Lesson of the year? Check with your colorist to see if they are using Olaplex for your hair treatment and if not, you should seriously consider suggesting it or purchasing it yourself. Trust me, your hair will thank you.