Once upon a time, spotting grey hair on women under 60 was unheard of. While men were often celebrated for their distinguished, mature look with grey hair, women were unfortunately tagged as "oldish" when their locks showed any sign of silver. But times have changed, and grey hair has become the ultimate symbol of confidence, allure, and beauty!

But where did this bold trend of women of all ages embracing their natural grey hair begin? Well, this trend emerged for various reasons, with a significant catalyst being the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many women were unable to visit their hair salons regularly, leading them to let their grey hair grow out. As they witnessed their natural grey emerging, they began to appreciate and even embrace it, not to mention the money they saved by skipping their regular salon appointments. However, this movement towards embracing grey hair started even before the pandemic, with the younger generation opting to add segments of grey shades, from platinum blondes to silver grey hues, instead of the typical natural blonde highlights!

This bold movement among the younger generation inspired older women to join the grey fan club by naturally embracing the greys. Needless to say, the grey hair fan club has grown exponentially, with women as young as their mid-30s proudly displaying their natural grey locks with confidence. Some are even boldly colouring grey streaks to glam things up, and for those who previously dyed their hair, are now returning to the salon to blend out the artificial colour and restore their hair to its natural shade. Simply put, grey is now the new ‘sexy’!

But with all that said, where do you draw the line in deciding if your natural grey or white hair really suits you, or if letting it all hang out could make you look oldish? As a professional hairstylist, I've experimented with many shades of grey! And yes, there are many shades of grey, each with an underlying base shade.

So, how do I go about creating a harmonious blend of grey colours that’s best suited for my client? Well, the perfect blend varies.

After working with various grey colour brands, I found it challenging to find one that accurately resembled natural grey without appearing too chalky or charcoal-like. Also frustrating was finding one that didn’t fade quickly! Even more maddening was when attempting to remove hair colour and restore a client to their natural grey shade, which often failed to achieve the right tone or resulted in fast fading, leading to frustration.

As a colour specialist who loves experimenting with colour, I decided to try an unconventional approach. I began experimenting by mixing very dark or black colours from levels 1 to 3, containing undertones of ash, blue, violet, and natural black, with high levels of hi-lift blonde colours, typically levels 11 or 12. This combined mixture of these polar opposite colours, mixed with 8 volume peroxide, resulted in removing the dark hue from the colour, leaving a dark  but transparent hue without the strong solid black, which proved to be key. By doing this, I was able to create the perfect blend that mimics the natural process of hair turning grey, appearing natural, whether it be ash, blue, or silver grey.

This technique allows the lighter colour to dilute the intensity of the dark hue, allowing underlying tones such as ash, blue, and silver to become more visible in a smoky lighter undertone. Such methods are often employed in hair colouring to create multi-dimensional shades, adding depth and dimension to the hair. Careful consideration of colour proportions and combinations is essential to achieving the desired result. Thanks to some wonderful grey-haired clients who volunteered for this process, I was able to create my own long-lasting grey colour formulas that consistently deliver excellent results.

Here's how I determine if the right shade of grey is needed to enhance, give dimension, or spice up grey or white hair if needed.

First, I take an overview of their natural grey and their skin tone. Why? Consider this: if you've transitioned to completely white hair and possess great youthful skin with a neutral-toned complexion free from pinkish or reddish tones, then the white shades of grey are truly spectacular. Sometimes, with minor enhancements like purple or blue-based shampoo, the colour can be intensified, adding brightness and tone, giving the appearance of Norwegian blonde. But if you're aiming to add dimension to the white, then streaking the right tone of grey into it can surprisingly give the appearance of youth and make the white hair pop with darker streaks flowing through. When this look is achieved, believe me, it makes the ladies stand out strikingly and surprisingly makes them look younger.

All natural-looking or enhanced grey shades should fall into the cool zone, meaning they don't exhibit red, orange, or yellow undertones. Instead, they belong to the cooler spectrum of colours.  With my client above, I foiled in streaks of violet-grey. Upon the removal of the foils, I used the leftover colour and mixed it with shampoo to neutralize the yellow tones.

Let's break down the natural process of grey hair formation that occurs as nature takes its course:

  • White-grey: Cloud white with no grey enhancement.
  • Yellow-white/grey: Yellow comes from air pollution or smoking, not a natural shade.
  • Slate grey: A deep dark grey evenly distributed all over.
  • Silver grey: A blending of metallic silver and white.
  • Salt and pepper grey: Various shades of grey mixed in with white.
  • Grey streaking: Grey and white streaks mixed with your own natural hair colour.

Now, let's discuss the underlying cool tones of grey shades:

  • Smoky Grey: This shade resembles the soft, muted tones of smoke, with a hint of charcoal. 
  • Steel/Silver Grey: Reflecting the shine and coolness of steel or silver.
  • Blue-Grey: This shade incorporates subtle hints of blue, giving it a cool, icy appearance
  • Ash Grey: This shade offers the most natural-looking finish among greys.
  • Violet Grey: Infused with hints of violet or lavender, this shade has a subtle yet captivating hue. 

As a colour specialist, when a client expresses the desire to transition back to their natural grey hair, I employ various techniques to achieve the desired result. Here's how I approach grey blending effectively: I begin with a thorough consultation to understand the client's goals and preferences. Are they considering blending grey into the existing dyed colour, or are they looking to eliminate the dyed colour altogether and embrace their grey? Discuss the desired outcome, including the shade of grey they envision and any concerns they may have. Here are the most popular methods of transformation:

  • Gradual Transition: For clients who prefer a subtle change, I gradually blend their original grey into the dyed colour over several appointments. This allows the client to adjust gradually to their new  grey look.

  • Grey Blending with Other Shades: By incorporating lowlights, highlights, and natural greys, I create a seamless transition. This approach minimizes harsh lines of the all-over colour as it grows out and still maintains some youthfulness.

  • Full Reversion: In cases where the client wants to return fully to their natural grey, I advise them to wait for at least 4 to 5 months for natural regrowth. This allows me to match their natural grey and create a colour that blends seamlessly. This involves using chemical treatment that removes the dyed colour from the hair, and recreate or restore their natural flow of grey or white back into the hair.

  • Enhancing Natural Grey: For clients who already have grey or white hair but feel it makes them look oldish or washed out or need some dimension, I add dark or smoky streaks of foils throughout the hair. This technique adds depth and texture, giving the appearance of  glamour to their greys.


What to expect at the salon: If you are looking to enhance or add various colours into your grey, then this procedure is considered a regular foil highlight appointment. If you are considering eliminating dyed colour, then pre-lightening is used to remove all the dyed colour from the hair. This usually results in a yellow blonde base. A toner with a mixture of blue, ash, or violet pigments, depending on the client's natural grey tones, is applied to the pre-lightened area, which neutralizes any remaining yellow tones in the hair, toning it to a cool effect.

Finally, I blend in the client's natural flow of grey, white, or salt and pepper using foils of "smokey," "cool ash," "blue-grey," or "violet-grey." This custom colour formulation is tailored to each client's unique colour, enhancing a natural grey blend that complements their skin tone and blends into or with their natural greys.

When eliminating dye colour and restoring greys, expect a time factor of 3 to 4 hours.