All About My Hair: Silver hair and white hair

Just in time to make the Friday blog update, I got this video finished!  I’m answering questions I’ve been asked about my hair including how I got it silver, how I get white hair, how I look after it, why my hair hasn’t all snapped off, whether I use silver shampoo and more.  Check it out if you’re vaguely curious:

Wrecked your hair with bleach? Fix it!

Hair: How to fix hair that’s turned to chewing gum

Your hair was this colour, now it's stretchy and ruined?  I have the answer.
Your hair was this colour, now it’s stretchy and ruined? I have the answer.

You’ve washed the bleach off, you’ve conditioned, you’ve looked in the mirror. It might not even be a particularly light shade of blonde. Somehow, your hair has become super-stretchy and doesn’t flex back into shape again very well when you run your fingers through it.

This is NOT going to help if your hair is coming out in clumps. The only thing that’ll help there is a pair of scissors. Sorry, but you need to be honest with yourself about the current state of your hair before you do this.

If your hair is worrying you with its poor condition, but isn’t actually breaking apart yet, this tutorial is for you.

Firstly, I’ve got some bad news for you: You are probably not going to be able to stay completely blonde. At this stage, you have almost completely bleached the core out of your hair. It’s unstable, and isn’t going to withstand staying in this state for long. Think long and hard (but not for too long) about whether you need to follow this tutorial or whether a deep conditioning treatment will help.

Is this method for you?

1. When you last washed your hair, how many hours did it take to dry?

2. When your hair is wet, does it stretch then stay stretched after you let go of it, only returning to its shape gradually, if at all?

3. Have you bleached your hair in any of the following ways (or more than one of these):

a) Left the dye on for far too long?

b) Used a 40 vol peroxide with a bleach on light blonde hair?

c) Didn’t wash the bleach out properly before drying or straightening (flatironing)?

d) Bleached it too many times in a relatively short time period (more than 3 over 2 weeks, depending which products you used)?

e) Bleached it too many times over a longer time period (three times or more per month for more than three months)?

f) Used a product not intended for hair e.g. bleached with kitchen bleach, toilet bleach, household bleach etc even just once?

g) Used blonding/lightening spray on light blonde bleached hair?

If you answered yes to any of the statements in question 3, and your hair is taking more than 3 hours to dry after washing, and it’s stretching as described in question 2, you need this tutorial.

Disclaimer: I am not at your house assessing the state of your hair, nor do I know the state of your scalp. This is your judgement call, but if your hair is wrecked anyway, and your only other option is to cut it off, this might be a helpful last resort. Obviously, like with any dying process, this could make your hair worse, and you may have to do this several times over a period of months to get a colour to stick.

1. Get your hair dry, carefully.
If your hair isn’t dry right now, get your hairdryer and blow dry it on a low setting. Once your hair is dry it’s in a more stable condition. For now.

2. Put longer hair in a gentle plait, until you’re ready to work with it.

This method is used to protect hair extensions at night time, and is equally useful for your own hair when it’s damaged like this. It will help avoid that pesky tangling that constantly happens to over-bleached hair.

3. Decide how dark you can stand to go.

Look through the shades of hair dye that are available (don’t buy any yet), and decide on a level of darkness. The darker you go, the stronger your hair will be, but it will take longer to get it there.

4. Buy the reddest permanent dye you can find, that is not darker than the shade of brown you picked in step 3. If you are choosing between two shades of red, ignore the box and choose the darkest. This is because most of this red will wash out in a couple of weeks, tops. Don’t choose anything weird or unusual, this is not a good time to experiment. I used the auburn shades of Nice ‘N’ Easy when I did this. Don’t expect the colour to come out as strong as it does on the box, you will probably have to repeat this a few times.

5. Make sure you’ve waited at least a week since you last bleached/toned/coloured your blonde hair, and follow the instructions to apply your darker shade.  While you’re waiting to colour, treat your damaged hair like antique silk.

6. When you rinse, expect most of it to go down the drain. Your hair will come out a mousey colour, probably with patches that are redder than other bits. If this bothers you, now would be a good time to bring back the bandanna or crack out a hat or headscarf.

7. Use that conditioner that came with the dye. Leave it on for twice as long as it says, and at least 10 minutes.

8. Dry very carefully, don’t rub when you towel dry and don’t use the full heat from the hairdryer.

9. Repeat this process every 2-3 weeks (don’t do it any more regularly than this) until the colour sticks inside your hair.

10. Congratulations, you have just artificially re-created the core of your hair, using artificial pigment molecules. Your hair will be stronger now, although it won’t be the way it was before you dyed it. I found when I did this several years ago, that when I tried to bleach it a year later, it was still not in a suitable condition (luckily I did a test strand because I was NOT ready for that jelly that my strand test turned into), however, it did buy enough time for roots to grow through so I could at least sport a lovely bob 18 months after I wrecked my hair, without having to cut it all off before that time. Try to take better care of it, it’s still very fragile underneath.

When I wrecked my hair, it took about 6 months to get it to hold this colour.
When I wrecked my hair, it took about 6 months to get it to hold this colour.

[hair] Silver toning routine

I thought I’d show you all my silver toning routine today.  I last toned my hair about a week ago, and took lots of photos for you.  I’ve done a video in real time of how it’s done but here it is in pictures:

1. I get Directions Silver Toner.  In the past I’ve always bought three tubs but this time I only used one and a half.

This is what the tub of silver toner looks like.  I use a pyrex dish for mixing/containing messes whenever I color my hair.
This is what the tub of silver toner looks like. I use a pyrex dish for mixing/containing messes whenever I color my hair.

2. I washed my hair then wrapped it up in a towel for ten to fifteen minutes – this diffuses the moisture out of the hair to leave it damp but not dripping (diffusion: movement of a substance from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration).

3. I went back to the bathroom, opened the silver toner, scooped it out with my hand and splortched it onto my hair until it was completely covered in purple.

This is what the lengths of my hair looked like when covered in toner
This is what the lengths of my hair looked like when covered in toner
And this is what the top of my head looked like.
And this is what the top of my head looked like.

4. I covered it in a white plastic bin bag so it didn’t stain my skin or my dressing gown.

Mmm this is a sexy look (not).
Mmm this is a sexy look (not).

5. I left it for about twenty to twenty five minutes (enough time to drink a cup of tea).

6. I rinsed it off and conditioned with the Nice N’ Easy Colourseal Conditioner (it comes with hair dye or you can buy it separately from almost anywhere that sells shampoo).

7. Ta-da!  Finished result:

silver hair using directions silver toner for lightest white blonde hair directions silver toner6

It didn’t take on my roots because they weren’t light enough.

Here’s the video if you want to watch it for more specific application techniques:

Silver Shampoos Reviewed

This is the updated version of one of my most popular articles, I have had to re-write it due to Amazon Associates axing my account, and thought I’d add in the shampoos I’ve tried since I first wrote this article.

silver shampoos
A rounded up photo of all the silver shampoos from my original article. The pro-voke one isn’t pictured because it was so bad that I haven’t bought it since the last lot ran out.

A hairdresser who I know, who shall remain anonymous, believes that all silver shampoos are created equal. I have also seen conflicting advice on the internet about how, exactly, you’re supposed to use silver shampoo, with some people seeming to think it is used to tone the hair.  See this article on toning to find out about my toning routine.

For new and aspiring platinum and silver blondelets, here is a breakdown of how you get any light cool shade of blonde, basically you stop when you’re happy with the colour, although see my other articles to find out SPECIFICALLY what I mean:

1. You bleach your hair. I would use a powder bleach and developer combo, such as John Frieda B Blonde High Lift Powder Bleach (or L’Oreal Quick Blue in the US) and bottles of peroxide (see my other hair articles to learn more about bleaching and what products I’ve used, and why I use the ones that I do), although I have had success with box dyes in the past.

2. You wash all the bleach out.

3. You tone your hair with a toner. These work like either semi-permanent colours (directions silver toner or directions white toner, any of the toner mousses, Jerome Russell Platinum Blonde Toner, Manic Panic Virgin Snow) or permanent colours (Bleach London White Toner; Wella Color Charm T18 White Lady). Basically, if your toner requires a developer, it’s not semi permanent.

4. About a week after you toned your hair, start using silver shampoo and/or conditioner as a maintenance to prolong your toning. Use it once or twice a week, depending on how frequently you wash your hair.

5. If you wanted platinum blonde, and your hair is getting too silvery, use the silver shampoo less.

I have tried out four different silver shampoos so far this year. I will post pics and review them in order:
Superdrug Wash-In Wash-Out Conditioning Colour (this is a shampoo with a tint to it – someone on another review of this used it as a conditioner – please don’t do that, condition after with a nice repair mask or silver conditioner)
Balea Silber Glanz (that’s German for “Silver Shampoo”)
Pro-Voke A Touch Of Silver
Bleach London Silver Shampoo
L’Oreal Professional Silver
Tigi Catwalk Silver

In order, then:

Superdrug Effects Cool Blonde 8.1

superdrug colour effects 8.1 light ash
Superdrug Colour Effects 8.1 Silver Shampoo

 

http://www.superdrug.com/Superdrug/Superdrug-Effects-Cool-Blonde-8-1/p/401021#.VJCd_TGsW4Y

The Superdrug one is a-maze. It only comes in a tiny travel size bottle so if you’re going on holiday, I think you could get it through carry-on security without any issues, although check before you go as I drive to my exotic holiday destinations because I loooove road trips. This Superdrug one came with me to Rome the first time I went, in 2006, and I am convinced it protected my hair from the sun. One of the things I love about **being a light blonde abroad** is that your hair reflects the sun’s heat and you get less hot. The Superdrug shampoo is the cheapest to buy but not the cheapest per-100ml, because the bottle is tiny. It says up to 3 applications but my hair is waist length and super thick, and I get 2 applications out at the very most, so I’d say if your hair is shoulder length you’ll get more than 3 applications out of this.

Pro’s: The colour is very grey, and covers a multitude of sins including uneven toning and bleaching, accidental use of argan oil, and smoking. When I was pure white in 2008, I used this shampoo to get rid of nicotine stains from my housemates’ 40 a day habit.

It’s good for airport carry on – the bottle is tiny.

It’s easy to use, and you can leave it on for up to 15 minutes for a stronger colour result (it doesn’t say that on the packaging any more but it still works).

Con’s: The colour is a very DULL grey, I don’t like the lack of sparkle to my hair after using this too frequently.
The colour builds up very quickly, meaning your hair colour keeps changing. I find this annoying.

The bottle is tiny, and at the price, it gets expensive if it’s your regular use one.

Conclusion: Take this one on holiday (in its own sandwich bag – if this leaks, you got a purple MESS), don’t use regularly at home, but can correct toning errors as long as you use another silver shampoo regularly.

Balea Silber Glanz:

The most gentle silver shampoo
The balea silber-glanz shampoo is sadly not for sale in the UK at the moment. Sometimes it appears on Amazon. 😦

I found this in Austria, where it was E1.65 for 200ml, I bought one for the rest of my journey. Then I found it in Germany, on the way home from Italy, where it was E1.45 for the exact same bottle, so I bought 6 to bring home for personal use. Recently, I found out Balea are selling to the UK on Amazon. I like this as a maintenance silver shampoo.

Pro’s: The UV filter protects your colour (no I don’t know how that works, but I tested in August in Rome; no colour shift at all and minimal drying to hair).
It comes in a very reasonable bottle size, unlike Pro:Voke or Superdrug.
It has a gentle effect so it never builds up.

Con’s: It has a gentle effect, so if you need something stronger you might want a different product.
You can only buy it cheaply in Germany, or slightly more expensively in the rest of mainland EU; the prices on Amazon Marketplace UK are shocking, I’ve seen Balea shampoo go for over £4 which I wouldn’t mind but it’s E1.45 in Germany! Stock is also limited on Amazon, to the point that it’s currently sold out.

Conclusion: I really love this shampoo, but it’s hard to get hold of and doesn’t deposit much colour, so I might be in a minority. You’ve got to hand it to the Germans; they really know how to take care of Ag and Pt hair for cheap. I’m looking forward to seeing if Sweden has similar exciting products if I ever get to go!

Pro:Voke A Touch of Silver Shampoo and Conditioner:

This is a really confusing one to review because they actually do two different shampoos and two different conditioners – they do tiny, more expensive bottles which are supposed to be the stronger stuff, known as Touch Of Silver Twice A Week Brightening Shampoo 150 ml for less regular use, and they do the cheaper, larger bottles called Touch Of Silver Daily Shampoo. I’ve finished an entire bottle of each of the four products – two shampoos, two conditioners – and am finally ready to comment.

Pro’s: They’re relatively cheap and readily available.
The tiny bottle of twice-weekly shampoo makes a bit of difference to your hair.

Con’s: The regular use shampoo and both conditioners are less than useless. I get a much better result from using a better silver shampoo and a decent non-blonde conditioner made for normal people’s hair. Both conditioners left my hair dull and dry, despite claiming to contain optical brighteners. The tiny weekly shampoo didn’t make that much difference to my hair, even after 20 minutes, and the result was always uneven, no matter how long or short I left it on for. Personally I am not going to buy this range again, and I suspect they’re only so popular because people don’t know what other silver shampoos are out there.

Conclusion: These are for sale everywhere and if I totally ran out of every other silver shampoo and this was the only thing for sale, I would buy the weekly use shampoo. If I had absolutely no other choice, I still wouldn’t buy the regular shampoo or either conditioner again they have done more harm than good and my hair looked less silver after using them.

Bleach London Silver Shampoo:

The absolute best silver shampoo and conditioner I've used.  Ever.
Bleach London’s silver shampoo and conditioner. These are so good they should be for sale in every shop. Even bakeries.

Where can you get it?
You can buy it here: http://www.boots.com/en/Bleach-Silver-Shampoo-250ml_1401400/
And here’s the conditioner: http://www.boots.com/en/Bleach-Silver-Conditioner-250ml_1401402/

As far as I know, this is a relatively new product. Since I first saw it’s empty shelf with a price tag in Boots, it’s been sold out every time I’ve been in, for a few months, but I finally ran out of the Pro:Voke last week so could buy this guilt-free and it was FINALLY in stock. I got the shampoo and conditioner, but I haven’t tried the conditioner yet, and here’s why: The shampoo is enough. Literally, it leaves my hair more silver, but doesn’t dull it or leave a nasty residue, the colour result is even and smooth, and I’ve washed it again with non-silver shampoo since I first used it, and this silver shampoo hasn’t faded at all.
Pro’s: See above. Plus you don’t seem to need as much product to cover your hair as any of the others I’ve tried.  Update June 2015: I have used a full bottle of the conditioner now, and feel it’s nowhere near as good as the shampoo, and it’s not very conditioning either.

Con’s: It’s the most expensive out of all the ones available in normal shops, at £5 a bottle (as of 2015), but it’s worth it, and I know that bottle will last because I don’t have to use it every time I wash my hair, or even every two times. I could finally wait ten days between silver applications! You do get product build up with this one though, which dulls the colour of your hair, and it’s quite harsh on the hair, and very drying.  I team it with Schwarzkopf Gliss Liquid Silk Gloss Conditioner to get more sparkle from my hair strands. The silver conditioner is definitely good for extra cool tones.

Conclusion: It’s good on the colour side if you want dark silver, it’s less good for white or platinum.  I would buy it again but only if I couldn’t afford either the L’Oreal Professional silver or Tigi Catwalk Violet shampoos.

L’Oreal Professional Silver Shampoo

Where can you get it?
I bought it from a professional hairdressing store, they generally sell to the general public these days; otherwise it’s available online at the well known shopping giant Amazon.  I found the lid was quite flimsy so I wouldn’t order it online unless my local professional stockists stop selling it.

Pro’s: I absolutely love this one.  It’s the most even coverage, gives the best silver result, doesn’t dull down the colour of your hair, and offers the least product build up.  It’s nowhere near as abrasive on the hair as the Bleach London one.  It’s about £7.50, making it the most expensive gram-for-gram, but it’s the best one there is, and of the six I’ve tried, this is the one I’ll be buying again, once my Tigi runs out.  It also has a more blue base than the others, so it brings the hair to a whiter silver than the Bleach London or the Superdrug ones.

Con’s: It’s lid is really flimsy which means that I wouldn’t trust a mail order company.  Also it’s hard to acquire if you don’t live in a city with a professional hairdressing store.

Conclusion: I love this shampoo and once I’ve finished the Tigi one, this is what I’m going to buy again.

Tigi Catwalk Silver Violet Shampoo

Where can you buy it?
Again, it’s available either from professional/specialist hair stores, or you can get it online.

Pro’s: It was £17.50 for about a litre and a half of this stuff.  So it’s the cheapest per gram of any of them.  It leaves your hair really soft and nourished, and is the least abrasive of any of the most pigmented ones.  It has a pump top so in the shower you can just press down on it to get the product out of the bottle.

Con’s: It’s in a really big bottle, so if you don’t like it, you’re stuck with it for ages.  Its coverage isn’t quite as even or as pigmented as the L’Oreal one, and it really works best on towel dried hair rather than wet hair in the shower.

Conclusion: I like this shampoo, and I’m about 2/3 of the way through the bottle now, but I don’t think it’s quite as good as the L’Oreal one, so I’ll be using the L’Oreal one once this bottle is finished.

So there you have it, my favourite is L’Oreal Professional’s Silver Shampoo. Obviously this is my subjective opinion based on results I have observed on my own hair, so I don’t want to urge you to rush out and buy it, but personally, I’m so glad I did.

Also, it’s not good for your hair to use a silver shampoo every time you wash. With the exception of the Balea one, none of the others actually clean your hair much, they just fix the colour. Only if I’ve used dry shampoo on my hair, I would shampoo with a non-silver before using a silver shampoo just to clean my hair so it’s ready to take on the colour. I do this because when I was a brunette last year, I had the brown dry shampoo, and two wet shampoos later, I’d still be getting brown residue of dry shampoo washing out of my hair. At the end of the day, dry shampoo is still a product and it still builds up in your hair, it’s not a real shampoo, it’s actually powder that absorbs grease, and it needs to be washed out before you use silver shampoo otherwise your colour result will be disappointing because it’ll stick to the dry shampoo residue and wash straight out.

28-03-15 For a review of what I’ve used between silver shampoos, I’ve written a separate article which is now published!

Here’s my silver and white hair Q and A

I’ll add my white hair tutorial once it’s uploaded on Youtube.

[hair] Doctrine of Colours

Doctrine of Colours:  How to work out what colours will come out like when you add them to your hair.

In medieval times, when monks ran apothecaries, and medicine came from plants, and Brother Cadfael wasn’t a character played by Derek Jacobi (although he does a stunning job), there was something called the Doctrine of Signatures. This was basically the way new plants were given uses, in an absence of any other information about the plant. For example, liverwort is a plant that was used to heal the liver because it has liver-shaped bits (liver: a distinctive shape). Heartsease has heart shaped leaves, and this led people to believe it would help the heart. Culpeper, the famous herbalist, wrote about this in his book Culpeper’s Herbal (not light reading). More general shaped plants such as Common Plantain were seen as a cure all because they didn’t resemble any specific part of the body.

Taking this into the realm of haircare, I applied colour theory to come up with a doctrine of colours that can be used to decide whether to put a product on your hair. Products won’t automatically do these things if you use them, it’s more of a “if this product does anything at all to the colour of my hair, it will do this” kind of thing:

Purple: Will neutralize yellow, aka “brassy tones.” Many people try to use it to get rid of orange. It doesn’t work on orange.

Blue: Works on orange tones. Blue will neutralize orange so you can get a cool dark blonde shade. In order to do this, it might make your hair look browner, because that unnatural orange + blue will add up to light brown (also, this is how to get light brown hair – take it to orange then add the right amount of blue).

Green: Works on red tones. Green is unpopular as a hair product colourant but if it was more popular, you could use it to get rid of a bright red if you wanted to turn your hair brown again, or to get rid of a tomato stain, although it will keep the darkness of the red staining.

Yellow: Makes hair yellow. It’s a relatively large colour molecule so it stands out with minimal interference from outside products.

Orange: Makes hair orange. It’s also a large colour molecule compared to purple or blue. Will mostly wash out when added to light blonde hair, meaning you might need to repeat-colour it to make it stick better.

Red: Makes hair red. Use a permanent red or orange before trying to dye blonde hair back to brown it makes the brown stick for longer and the colour comes out better. Will mostly wash out when added to light blonde hair, leaving a reddish tinge, so repetition may be necessary.

White: Will not change hair tone.

Black: Avoid like the plague if you are blonde.

Grey: may add grey tones to your hair.

Are you wondering this: Why do half the colours just go the same colour and the other half go to a different colour?

It’s to do with the base colourings of hair. Inside the hair shaft, all the way up to pure white, there are colour molecules of red, orange and yellow, of varying proportions. The red orange and yellow molecules inside your hair are much larger, which is why it takes more effort to remove them than the blue, green and purple molecules. By the time you take your hair across to white or silver, there should really only be a bit of yellow left in any visible amount. You can’t get rid of every yellow molecule or your hair would be empty inside, like a drinking straw, which would be transparent and easily squashed (which it is to a fair extent at yellow, but it would be worse than already). At the point at which there are no colour molecules at all left inside the hair shaft, the hair turns to jelly and dissolves. You need to leave some slight amount of yellow tones in your hair.

Personally I prefer to take my longer layers of hair to a slightly brighter yellow than the internet recommends – I keep it at that day glo yellow, rather than leaving the dye on until very very pale yellow, then I rely on toning to do the rest. Toning yellow hair is the same no matter how much yellow is left – as long as the orange is all gone, it works fine. The colour result is just a shade of silver that’s slightly duller than it would have been if I left the bleach on for longer, but I feel confident that my hair is safer. I take the top (shorter layers) to palest yellow and it all blends together to give a natural result so I will continue to do this, because the top layers would naturally be brighter than the bottom layers as that’s where the sun would hit if I let my hair anywhere near it without a hat or scarf.

This is all super important because in order to get white or silver or platinum hair, you need to know what colours will do what to your hair, and what products to avoid (for example, never put red, yellow or orange coloured shampoos or products on hair that’s white, silver or platinum).

Silver hair - No I don't wear extensions!
My silver hair Dec 7th 2014; see how the longer layers are intentionally a darker silver than the shorter layers.