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Turning Stubborn Ginger Hair into Silvery Gray

Published on 8th January 2016

Do you have stubborn ginger staining but still dream of silvery gray hair? Believe it or not, it can be done! I’m living proof. Check out the photo below. This was me while dyeing my very stubbornly ginger-stained hair to a beautiful silvery-gray color. You can see the end results in the photo beneath that.

Before dyeing the hair was stained with a stubborn ginger colour.

Now, before we begin, let’s get a few caveats out of the way. First, this article explains what worked for ME. My hair is not the same as your hair, so I cannot guarantee that what worked for my hair will also work for yours. If your hair is very badly damaged, for instance, it’s possible that it will not hold color well, and you will not get a result like this.

Also, I’m sharing the dyes I used, but I fully realize that not everyone will have easy access to these dyes. I do offer a few suggestions for alternatives, but again, I cannot guarantee they will work as well for you as the dyes I used worked for me.

So, with those caveats said, let’s get to business!

What you’ll want to do first, assuming you haven’t done this already, is get as much ginger/orange out of your hair as possible. If your hair is still bright orange, for instance, this will most likely not work. When I did my dyeing, most of my hair was the strawberry blonde color you see in the first photo above. Some of it was a little darker. I would not recommend you try this with hair any darker than, say, a light ginger. Strawberry blonde hair should take to this method very well.

If your hair is still a fairly bright orange, do as many fading treatments as possible. Try not to rush this, though! When I did this, I did far more fading treatments in just a few days than I would ever recommend. I could get away with this because my hair is pretty healthy. If you have heavily damaged and/or already very dry hair, I recommend you take the fading process as slow as possible. Check out the articles on this website for good suggestions for fading.

Once your hair is as light a ginger as you can get it, you’re ready to begin! You’ll need:

1) A very good silver dye. I used Ion Color Brilliance Brights Titanium. If you don’t have access to this dye, I would suggest Pravana Silver, Joico Titanium, Adore Platinum, or Nirvel ArtX Nurtre Color Grey. These are silver dyes I’ve seen get the best reviews. I would NOT recommend Directions Silver, Crazy Color Silver, or Stargazer Silver Look, as these are most likely not pigmented enough. Manic Panic Blue Steel has received mixed reviews, so choose it with caution.

2) White conditioner without silicones. I’ve used Tresamme Naturals with good results; other good ones are many cheap VO5 or Suave conditioners. (The more expensive ones tend to have silicones. Go figure…)

3) A VERY deeply pigmented purple-toned blue dye. I used Directions Neon Blue and it worked perfectly. Other good dyes to use could include Special Effects Blue Velvet or Adore Indigo.

4) A well-lit mirror.

So the first thing you’ll want to do is prepare the silver dye. Squeeze or pour it into a bowl and add some conditioner. Not too much; aim for a ratio of no more than 50 percent conditioner to 50 percent dye. Mix well.

Start applying the dye to your hair. It’s a good idea to do a test strand first. That’s what I did. When I first applied the Ion Titanium (diluted slightly with conditioner), I applied just a bit to one small bit of hair. If your hair is like mine, you may see it turn a bronze-like color. Be forewarned: it’s entirely possible that you won’t see a pleasant bronze, but more like an icky muddy color. Don’t panic! This is where your dark purple-toned blue comes in.

Take just a tiny amount of blue dye — I used the very tip of a tint brush, but you can also use your fingertip — and apply it to your test strand. Rub it in well. If all goes according to plan, you should see it turn from mud to a deep steel color. This is what you’re looking for!

You have two options here. You can continue this process — applying silver dye, then following up with small amounts of blue dye — throughout your hair. Or, you can simply take small amounts of blue dye and add it right to your silver dye.

This second option will undoubtedly save time; however, for certain dyes it may not work as well. For instance, if you’re using Ion Titanium, I would highly advise the first option. I’ve had a few years of experience using Ion dyes, and I’ve discovered two things about it. One, if you’re diluting it, you’ll get better results if you apply it sparingly rather than glopping it thickly onto your hair. And two, if you want to mix another shade with it, it works better to add the second shade directly to your hair after applying the Ion dye rather than to mix it and then apply it. I have no idea why this is the case with Ion dyes (and it might be the case with other dye brands as well, although none of the other brands I’ve used have featured these quirks), but I’ve never known Ion to work any differently.

Moving on, then, coat your entire hair in silver and blue dye. Once you’re done, cover it in either plastic wrap or a shower cap and wait. I recommend waiting as long as possible, certainly no less than a half hour. An hour is even better. Two hours is even better than THAT. Basically, you want to give the dye as much time as possible to absorb into your hair and overpower that stubborn ginger.

Once your time is up, rinse!

If you discover that your hair is not entirely as steely silvery gray as you would like, don’t fret. I had the same problem. Just go over the troublesome spots with some diluted blue dye (the same one you used earlier). Wait as long as you can, then rinse.

Finally, let’s talk maintenance. Even though this silvery gray color is much darker than what we typically think of as “silver,” this is still a pastel color. And pastel colors do not last as long as deeper, richer colors. So you’ll likely see fading more quickly than darker colors, and since our base was far from ideal, it’s probably not going to be the prettiest fade ever! Just touch up with your diluted blue dye as necessary, and your silvery gray will look lovely again.

If you’re not a fan of frequent touch-ups, try adding some of your blue dye to your daily conditioner. That will help tremendously.

Now go rock that silvery gray hair!

Ginger hair  has been toned to a beautiful gunmetal silver-grey colour!

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