Going Grey

Written By: Abby Ramey

As a 20-year-old with grey hair, I receive a lot of questions from the general public. Among the most common are “What’s your natural hair color?” and, often from older women, “Why would you want to have grey hair when you’re so young?” However, the most asked question by far is “How can I get my hair to be that color?” The simplest answer is to make an appointment with your hairdresser; going grey requires a lot of skill and knowledge, and you’re very likely to mess it up the first time you try it on your own! If you have some extra money to spare, it’s well worth having a professional dye your hair to avoid blotchy color and extreme damage, which may lead to an unwanted haircut. However, if you’re willing to take the risk, here’s how I go grey:

  1. Supplies

Even if you decide to dye your hair at home, supplies will still cost you some money! I recommend buying hair supplies at Sally’s Beauty if possible. First, you’ll need bleach. I always use L’Oreal Quickblue powder bleach. If you have long hair, be sure to get several packets of bleach or even a tub. To activate the bleach powder, you’ll need a developer. I prefer L’Oreal Oreor creme developer in 30 volume, but if your hair is extra dark you may need 40 volume. If your hair is already very light, a 20 volume developer may do the trick. If you have any doubt about which developer to use, 30 volume is a safe bet.

Unless you’re going for a Slim Shady look, you’re also going to need some toner. For an intense grey color, you’ll need to buy two Wella toners: one in the shade T18, and another in 050. You’ll also need another developer; if this doesn’t come included with your toner, any brand will work but be sure to use 20 volume developer for toners.

Of course, you’ll also need some hair dyeing basics such as a mixing bowl, tint brush, shower cap, and gloves to cover your hands. You’ll need several hair ties or pins to hold up sections of hair as you dye it. It’s always handy to have some spare towels and an old T-shirt ready, as well. A bathroom with good lighting and several mirrors is ideal.

Optional: Coconut oil helps to protect hair from damage while bleaching, so while it’s not required, I definitely recommend grabbing a jar before you start! (Don’t worry; the bleach still works perfectly through the oil!)

2. Prep

Once you have your supplies ready, it’s time to prep your hair. Comb it thoroughly, ensuring that there are no tangles. Throw on an old T-shirt that you’re okay with getting bleach spots on and coat the hair in coconut oil if desired. Then, part the hair into 6 even pieces, 3 on either side of the head. Pin five pieces up so that they’re out of the way, leaving only one small section of hair at the very bottom. Once you’ve got your gloves on, it’s time to start mixing the bleach.

3. Bleach

First, you’ll want to mix your bleach and developer according to the directions on the packaging. Once the bleach is mixed thoroughly, begin applying it with your tint brush. You should start at the back of the head, making your way up from the bottom of the hair to the roots unless some of the hair has already been lightened, in which case you’ll only want to bleach the parts that haven’t been previously bleached. Bleach processes very quickly, so while it’s important to do a good job, you’ll also want to move a little quicker to ensure all of the hair lightens evenly.

Once all the hair is coated, cover your hair with a shower cap. Check your hair often to see how well it’s lifting; usually, bleach should be left on for 20-40 minutes, but follow the instructions on the packaging.

You’ll want your hair to be a light yellow color, similar to the inside of a banana, before toning. You may have to bleach your hair twice to reach this shade, but give your hair a couple of weeks to recover in between bleaches to reduce the chances of it breaking off!

4. Tone

Once you’ve successfully lightened your hair to a banana peel yellow, it’s time for the final step! You can apply toner to your wet hair as soon as you rinse the bleach out or you can apply it to dry hair later.

Mix the Wella T18 with a 20 volume developer according to the instructions on the packaging. Then, add your desired amount of Wella 050 (note: you don’t need to add any more developer, just add the 050 shade into what you’ve already got mixed!). The more you add, the more grey your hair will be, so if you want more of a platinum blonde, only add a splash; if you’re going for the full granny look, add half the bottle or more.

Apply the toner to your hair evenly, although you don’t have to be as precise as with the bleach. Once your hair is thoroughly coated, you can cover your hair with a shower cap. The mixture is going to turn a very dark purple or blue color; don’t be alarmed! Purple and blue counter the orange and yellow tones that show after bleaching so you don’t end up looking like Eminem, but no worries, these colors won’t stain your hair!

Leave the mixture on for as long as the Wella packaging directs, or for as long as you comfortably can (toner always makes my head SUPER itchy, but try to leave it on for at least 10 minutes for best results!)

Rinse the toner out, and voila! Now you’ve officially reached Granny Status.