Debunking The Myth of Resistant Gray

Today, the average person begins to gray as early as their twenties, based upon several factors including the environment, stress levels, and just plain genetics. Women (and men) who gray younger do not view this as aging, but as a problem that needs to be solved and an excuse to experiment with hair color. The underlying reality of gray hair, however, is that very few end up with naturally beautiful silvery-white hair that looks youthful and gorgeous. Luckily, there are many viable options available to those whose graying begins at any age. The choice depends upon the client: age, lifestyle, commitment to upkeep, adventurous or timid nature, and many other factors that all help determine the optimum technique…but “there is no such thing as resistant gray in the hands of the properly trained colorist.

SUBTLE CHANGES

A popular gray-hair technique is multi-shading for blonds, brunettes, or redheads. The concept behind multi-shading is that all strands of hair get color, starting from the deepest (which may be close to your naturally darkest strands) to the lightest. The idea is that when the hair grows, the lightest strands will blend into the gray, allowing the line of demarcation to be less noticeable. Depending on the degree of lightness or darkness, this technique allows 6 to 12 weeks between touch ups. If done correctly, the results are stunning and the hair remains healthy and shiny with reams of depth.
 
For those with less than 25% gray who do not want any major changes, can use a semi-permanent color (such as Wella Color Touch) similar to your natural shade to blend in the grays. This allows 6 to 9 weeks between touch ups.
 
Color weaves in medium to heavy highlights are a subtle way to blend away the gray. Depending on the final desired look and the degree of lightness, this can be done with bleach or color. This process allows 2 to 3 months between touch ups.
 
KEEPING THE GRAY

Salt and pepper gray hair can be enhanced by adding medium to heavy silver streaks using a technique called “Pearlizing,” which strategically places silvery-white streaks in those areas that will best brighten the hair and face. This will allow you to be naturally gray, but prettier and brighter. This works best on those with silky hair, Nordic complexions and blue eyes and allows 2 to 3 months between retouches.
 
A technique known as Low-lighting adds dark streaks to particular areas in the shade of your natural color. Leaving a few subtle white strands makes the color more believable and long lasting, and turns the clock back to when you just started graying. You can go 2-3 months before retouching. This method works best on men since complete coverage on shorter hair makes it look artificial - however, men will need retouching more frequently.

COVERING THE GRAY

The easiest method to cover gray is a single process blond. A light shade of blond is applied all over and processed for a specific amount of time. If the right formulation is applied, you can achieve a natural looking color with beautiful highlights. The salt and pepper in the hair will color differently, leaving the hair naturally shaded. This process needs to be retouched every 4-6 weeks.     
 
To completely cover gray and keep it natural, you must color the entire head from roots to ends when you first color your hair. After that, only the roots should be touched up neatly without overlapping, allowing the color to process the recommended amount of time. If the ends need enrichment, dilute the root formula with water and apply only for a few minutes. If the root formula is very dark, keep a second formula on hand that is much lighter, but with similar color tones, and apply to the shaft before shampooing. This allows the ends to become richer without becoming too dark. It is not necessary to apply color to the shaft every time you color your hair, but to keep that natural look, the hair must be examined whenever it is colored to determine if the shaft needs color or not.
 
Everyone thinks that gray hair is resistant and difficult to color – it is not the gray that is the problem, but the formulation. If the hair is more than 50% gray, the formula should be half a shade to a whole shade darker with neutral and gold pigments. Stay away from anything ash since there will not be enough pigment to cover the white, and the end result will be transparent or supply no coverage at all.

TOUCH-UPS & PRO TIPS
 
You can extend the time in between touch ups by using various color mascaras or color wands such as Color Mark, or if you feel more ambitious you can use one of the popular brands of root touch ups. You can use a color lighter than your formula and blend your roots, rather than try to completely cover the gray and run the risk of making the results too dark. It is recommended that you color the areas that are visible such as your part and hairline; trying to do more will most likely interfere with your next coloring.
 
To dispel a common myth, gray hair is not any coarser than pigmented hair… it only appears that way because the white strands stand out. If you had thick coarse hair before you started to gray, you’ll have the same texture after you gray. If your hair was limp and fine, it will still be limp and fine after graying. To help control gray hair, use a small amount of shampoo on the scalp only and rinse thoroughly. Her pro tip: Use a small amount of conditioner on only the hair shaft – wait until the hair absorbs it and rinse out any excess. This method leaves the hair balanced: a clean scalp and supple moisturized shaft yielding plenty of body, and ease in styling with very little product. For extra smoothness, you may apply silicone oil to the hair shaft before and after styling.
 
“To color or not to color,” is the question that many gray-haired women ask themselves. It is fair to say that no matter how beautiful your gray or silver hair appears, it automatically signals that you are mature and adds an extra 10-15 years to your age. If you opt to keep the gray, your beautiful hair cannot be your only asset. You must be impeccably dressed, your clothes current, your makeup perfect, and your hairstyle smooth and chic. If not, you risk looking old and sloppy. All of these factors must be assessed in deciding what to do when those sneaky white strands first start making their appearance!

linda's picture
Posted July 13, 2011
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