I know you guys are curious about me dying my hair grey. There are always questions and comments about it when I share a photo on Facebook or Instagram pages. And I’m not going to sugarcoat it; it’s a pain in the butt sometimes.
Grey is probably the hardest colour I’ve ever tried to maintain, and I’ve tried most of them! It’s one of those things, I suppose. Great in theory, but almost impossible to do well. I know. I tried and failed to get to this colour for a million years—only a slight exaggeration. But we got there in the end.
So, what made me decide to go grey?
Well, the bottled version. I’m envious of natural grey beauties like my Aunty Dell, go team. One day maybe, one day. This adventure started on Pinterest, as most great ideas do. From there, I decided that while ash blonde was cute, chrome grey is BETTER.
Over the course of the last year, pretty much, I’ve been attempting to get the shade of grey I wanted just right. When I managed this, maintaining it seemed impossible. My hair throws gold like no one’s business. My hair was lightened, but using back-to-back foils to give a natural look to the colour, so I had a fair bit of dark hair—more about why both of those things are a terrible plan later.
Dying my hair grey (finding the right shade!)
While sitting at the Beautiful You salon, I noticed a new range of Keune colours that included three shades of grey. The one named cement grabbed my attention, and soon I was booked in for a semi-permanent colour to go over my already pretty light blonde hair. My cousin Bec does my hair when I’m not making home hack attempts (sorry, Bec). The first attempt was nice, not the exact grey I was going for but a grey for sure. My issue was that it threw a lot of chocolate brown tones and in some light green/blue.
I also learnt my first lesson after that colour about maintaining grey hair. After less than five washes, my hair had returned to an ash blonde shade with a decent amount of brassiness. Hmmm. I knew then that I needed a hair maintenance plan. So I hit the interwebs.
From the “Sugar, Darling?” blog, the total babe that is Nancy showed up on YouTube with her how to get grey hair, based on her experience. Perfect. If you don’t know her blog or YouTube channel, it’s best you finish reading this then get your butt over there. You’re going to love it. I feel like we are (completely unknown to her) blog sisters given our blog names and grey hair kindred spirit-ness.
Along the way, I (we actually, I’m looking at you, Desiree) made a few attempts at achieving the perfect grey at home. First, using Brite products and the Live Pastels grey, we had varying levels of success. Next, we used an ash blonde product to lighten my hair, applying four layers of purple and grey-based products leading up to Melbourne last year, which sort of worked, but it was certainly more light blonde than grey.
The short version is that my hair needed to be lighter for a chrome grey and showing no yellow tones. I’d have to go the whole nine yards regarding lightening my hair for the result I was after. It was scalp bleach time. Back to the salon, I went. Poor Bec, lucky she loves me. In my experience, if you’re going to hit the bleach, head to a salon.
Home jobs are never as good, require way more maintenance (somehow), and you’re at a greater risk of ruining your hair. Trust me on THAT one. Been there too many times. Am sort of currently there, to be honest. Why do I never learn? And yes, there are exceptions to that rule, but for most of you, pay for the bleach.
Hitting the salon
I booked in for a scalp bleach and overall lightening. Eeeek. Having long hair, I didn’t want to sacrifice a lot of the length, so I was a little wary of this. To protect my hair, Bec added Bond Fusion from the Keune range to the bleach to do what they could to preserve the condition of my hair. This worked well, and we saw SO little breakage that both of us were impressed.
Afterwards, we used pearly white and silver-based toner. It was tint-toned (as in, painted on and left on like a colour) before being rinsed out. After that, with a white blonde result, we got around to actually dying my hair grey with the concrete grey I’d used previously. A purple based toner was added in with this to negate any remaining gold tones in my hair.
Hey presto, we were there. It’s was a perfect concrete grey, lavender in some places where the colour had really taken. I knew the lavender would fade, and it would be grey chrome perfection. Which. It totally was after about three washes. Sometimes, because of how I’m maintaining it, it turns out a little purple (more about that below). And sometimes it loses almost all its colour because I’ve been swimming. But, all in all, it’s a grey hair win.
So, what about maintenance?
After a bundle of trial and error, I have narrowed my ‘A-Team’ down to three key maintenance products and something from my kitchen. Exciting, right? Since my official happy with this colour moment I’ve tried soooooo many things to maintain the colour. So. Many.
This is my current routine;
1. Fudge Clean Blonde Shampoo (wash, 2-3 times a week)
2. Fudge Clean Blonde Conditioner (wash, 2-3 times a week)
3. Scott Cornwall Colour Restore Chrome Toner (weekly soak, use with conditioner every wash)
4. Bi-Carb Soda (for clarifying/cleansing – weekly)
So my routine goes a little like wash with Clean Blonde shampoo and rinse. This stuff is SUPER purple so if you leave it for any longer than 5 minutes, expect some degree of purple hair. The only time I leave it longer is if I’ve been swimming or my hair is brassy; I leave it longer to pull the gold tones out. Then I apply conditioner with a squeeze of the Chrome Toner, rinse and air dry (as much as possible). All of this is done in tepid or cold water where possible.
Once a week, I give it a scrub with bi-carb soda and water mixed into a paste. I do this to remove build-up. There are clarifying shampoos and such out there, but this works just as well and costs close to nothing—such a win.
After this, I give my hair a bit of a condition by leaving the Clean Blonde conditioner (20 cent piece) combined with Toner (20 cent piece) in my hair, combing it through before leaving it for anywhere up to a couple of hours. If I plan to leave it in for an extended period, I use a standard conditioner with the toner, as the purple can grab a bit hard otherwise.
2020 update: If you’re looking for a salon-quality shampoo/conditioner/mask trio, I recommend the Nak brand Platinum Blonde shampoo and conditioner and a treatment mask (available here). It’s a little easier going on the hair and general chances of overtone than the Fudge Shampoo and Conditioner.
My top maintenance tips?
Give up your hot shower when there is hair washing involved. I know, it suuucks, but the only way to keep and build the chrome colour is to keep it away from hot water as much as possible. The same goes for salt and chlorinated water too. It strips the colour, and you end up back to square one, treating brassiness and yellow tones.
Top up the colour regularly. While I have no plans to retouch my roots any more often than every two/three months (thank goodness regrowth is in), it’s important to continue to top up the grey with a good toner.
The toner Chrome toner is pretty much as perfect as it gets. It’s a purple-based colour, so it tones out any lingering gold tones and works on the chrome colour from there. The best news is that you can pick my recent choice up from Priceline or Coles for around $13, and it’s multi-use.
My current choice is way better than the Brite Grey product I was using earlier. This was great when my hair was freshly lightened and toned. But once, it stained my hair almost entirely green. Eeeek. It’s multi-use, though, so it’s great for adding colour to freshly dyed hair.
The Live Pastel Grey pack can give a really uneven result in hair that has gone a little brassy. I’ve tried it with more packs and used up to 4 on my then medium length hair. No deal. If your hair is brassy, this product is patchy. But on toned hair, it’s great. Expect a pale, silver chrome result. It’s cheap, though. As a top-up toner with (now) long hair, as I described above with conditioner, one pack was enough.
So, that’s my account of dying my hair grey team. Any questions, let me know. If you’re having problems other than those mentioned? I’ve probably had them too, let me know, and I’ll let you know what solution you found.
Hi! I’m Melissa Walker Horn. Around here, they call me Suger. I’m the Chief Blogger and doer of all the things here at Suger Coat It. Blogging since 1901; I love a casual ootd, taking photos, and writing about things that irk or inspire me. I love wine and cheese, long days at the beach and spending time with my family. I make stuff for the internet over at Chalkboard Digital. You know, living the sweet life.