Advice for dying hair silver
December 2, 2011 1:27 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to bleach my hair and dye part of it silver tomorrow, and I've got a couple of questions.

I have short, mid-brown hair, a Directions 30 Vol hair lightening kit and their white toner, silver and Atlantic blue dyes. My plan for tomorrow is to:
  • bleach my hair as light as it will go (a friend recommended leaving the bleach on for thirty minutes, absolute maximum);
  • treat it with the toner to reduce the yellowness;
  • dye a blue and a silver streak in it, using clingfilm to section off the streaks from the rest of the hair.
The white toner has a lovely lavender colour in the tub. I noticed that the silver dye has an even darker blue colour and specifically says "for bleached hair" on the packet, so it presumably has a toning effect by itself. If I use the silver dye on bleached and toned hair, will it turn out blue? Should I not tone the hair I intend to dye silver?

Is there anything else I haven't thought of? I've been a fan of Directions dyes for ten years but this is my first time trying for a really light blonde. (I don't intend to follow this previously recommended routine but who knows, if things get really desperate...)
posted by daisyk to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I spent a long year in pursuit of white and silver hair (after many years of successful and regular dyeing of every other colour under the sun), and the only thing I can recommend to you is that you should go to the best salon for old people in town. White toner is really hard to work with if you're used to semi-permanent coloured dye (or it was for me, at least), and I totally killed my hair trying to get it light enough.

Go to a salon.
posted by Jairus at 1:32 PM on December 2, 2011

I really hate to rain on your dye-at-home parade, but I have never had even a glimmer of success with dying my own hair silver or even white without brassiness.

If at-home is to save money, I suggest calling around to a few beauty schools and see if they offer any discounts for "wild" hair colors - when I was in undergrad I would dye my hair a ridiculous array of colors after I found out that the Aveda Institute in my town would offer all-over hair color for $5 if they got to try wackadoo colors, piecing and weaving colors of their choice. Despite signing on to have them select the colors, they always ended up asking for my input and going with that color neighborhood.
posted by banannafish at 1:41 PM on December 2, 2011

Ok I just attempted this last week. I had two streaks bleached at a salon. They did not put toner in after (I figured this out afterward. I have no coloring experience). They then dyed the silver in. The silver didn't take at all. I don't know if that's because they put conditioner in right after (a theory they came up with) or because they didn't use toner (or maybe the silver color had a toner in it, I have no idea). The streaks were yellowy bleachy after.

I then tried silver henna. That was just a waste of an hour and $14.

I then tried manic panic virgin snow, hoping at least to achieve white. I guess that is a toner (?). I left it in for 30 min (inside folds of foil, not cling) but didn't heat it. It took away the brassiness but that's it. Still no white. The container of muck is lavender, like you are describing. I will try it again, for much longer, and with heat if I can conjure up the patience.

My advice is to make sure you don't throw conditioner into that mix at all, leave the toner in a long time, and then plan to leave the color in for a long time too but check on it a lot I guess. Good luck. Please let me know how it goes!
posted by rabidsegue at 2:17 PM on December 2, 2011

My white hair takes tons of maintenance by a trained professional.I tried to home-bleach and the result was far from satisfactory. I certainly wish you well, but highly recommend you familiarize yourself with the number and appointment schedule of the salon where all the older ladies in your town go. The rich older ladies.

Also, be ready for it to be uncomfortable. The first time I bleached my (salt and pepper) hair, it hurt worse than getting a tattoo.

Best of luck to you. I love this look and wouldn't trade it for anything.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 2:36 PM on December 2, 2011

Best answer: The best way to get a really light color is to bleach more than once, rather than leaving the bleach on for a really long time. This is also helpful if you miss a spot, because you can just get it the next time. It might also help you keep from frying your hair more than necessary - if it gets light enough the first time, you're done! Or if you just have a few orange-y patches, you can just apply bleach there, instead of all over.

Whether this is necessary really depends on how dark your hair is, and probably other factors too (how healthy it is, maybe?). But it's something to consider.

Here's a good guide to bleaching if you haven't done it before. Here's a guide to silver hair from the same website, but it doesn't seem as helpful to me.

I've never gone silver myself, but I have at-home bleached my dark brown hair many times in the pursuit of various shades of purple hair.
posted by insectosaurus at 3:13 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Silver hair is hard hard hard to get. The only time I have ever managed it was when I had hair less than an inch long. (My hair is dark brown.) I had no luck getting longer hair silver even in a salon (though I did get weeping, painful chemical burns on my scalp for my effort. Yum.)

But, yeah, the process I used was bleach, toner, dye. Sometimes it was bleach, bleach, toner, dye. And then I used a blue rinse every day to keep it silvery. I used the kind the old ladies used to use, that was on the bottom shelf at the drug store, in the silvery bottle with the pink top. I don't think it exists any more! I also used a toning shampoo for silver/platinum hair. If you use it a lot, you definitely tip over from silver to purple.

The reason the toner, dye and toning shampoos are all purple is because purple and yellow are complementary colours and neutralize each other.
posted by looli at 10:14 PM on December 2, 2011

"And then I used a blue rinse every day to keep it silvery. I used the kind the old ladies used to use, that was on the bottom shelf at the drug store, in the silvery bottle with the pink top. I don't think it exists any more!"

That's Fanci-Full! It still exists, but they changed the bottle design (and I hear, the formula). It's not in a gray bottle any more. This is what it used to look like.
posted by litlnemo at 6:07 AM on December 3, 2011

I just got my hair dyed back dark after having it dyed silver/grey professionally for the better part of the year.

First off, I'll try all kinds of wacky things with my hair on my own, but if you've not bleached it out before, I'd recommend going to a salon. This is a hard color to achieve.

You're going to want to be prepped to bleach your hair multiple times, rather than leaving it on extra long. Heat processing is likely a must. It has potential to hurt/burn your scalp (I'm apparently insensitive to this, but lots of folks hate it.).

What my stylist did was get mine bleached out all the way to no orange at all (this took 3 bleachings the first time from my natural medium brown with a little red dye in it, usually took 1-2 on root touchups there on out. The first time I had to settle for platinum blonde because she didn't want to overdamage, then when I went back the second time for a touchup, we got it all the way to grey.

After bleaching, she'd tone with a light light blonde toner, then with a blue toner on the streaks. My hair was so incredibly porous by then that she had to do the blue toner with my head in the rinse bowl, then rinse immediately. A few times she did a bit of black toner for just a short minute (foiled in) for darker grey highlights.

I took care of it with Morrocan Oil conditioner and treatment and used a variety of "old lady" purple shampoos on it to help preserve it. Clairol makes an ok one (available at Sally) but Joico makes the one that I think worked the best.

Generally, the silverest grey parts lasted about 2 weeks maximum, and the rest of the time I had (really expensive) super-white hair. Here's an awful photo showing the color as it appeared most of the time.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 2:49 PM on December 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! All your answers were super helpful, including the naysayers. I hadn't realised how tricky these colours would be.

The reason I planned to do this at home was mostly because I've never had any trouble dying my own hair before, but going to a salon where I am at the moment (Zurich) would also be expensive and difficult because of the language barrier. I'm not sure I could ask for silver highlights in Swiss German.

I decided to do it at home anyway, because I had all the stuff, and just revise my expectations a little. I bleached for thirty minutes, which left my hair bright yellow with orange tips, then put the toner on for an hour followed by the silver (on the whole head) for another hour. This brought it down to a very pale yellow on most of the hair, with maybe a centimetre of silver-white at the roots.

I currently look a bit like an Easter chick, but I really like it! I think I'll try to find some old-lady purple shampoo and, when I'm back in the UK for Christmas, either go to a salon or bleach again with my mum's help. (I'll need to do the roots by then anyway.)

Once again, thank you all. :)
posted by daisyk at 4:28 AM on December 4, 2011

Ha, thanks litlnemo! I tried to find a picture of the bottle and saw the newer branding for FanciFull but didn't it was the same product at all. I figured it had disappeared completely, since you hardly ever see little old lavender haired ladies anymore.
posted by looli at 7:43 PM on December 4, 2011

Response by poster: Here's a quick update with two points:

1) This is what my hair looked like after the treatment I described above.

2) In Switzerland, you can get blue old-lady shampoo (and other products) made by Rausch, like so. I got mine in a medium-sized Apotheke.
posted by daisyk at 1:19 AM on December 10, 2011

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