Fall Hair Color Trends – Finding Inspiration in Fashion

Dakota Fanning Bazar MagazineFall is here. What are you doing with your hair color? What’s trending in haircolor? Ombre has taken over the color world in the last 2 years and seems to still be going strong. It’s pretty, organic, and is a low maintenance way to add beautiful dimension to hair. Now this trend is evolving. I want to share what I am seeing for fall through inspiration from fashion and how it translates to hair.

Fall Fashion

Last week I was part of a Redken team facilitating at an industry show for hairstylists. Our job was to help identify what hair color is going to be popular for fall and the next year. I always start my search by looking at the runway and fall fashion campaigns. In addition to the hair, I am looking at the clothes. The themes, colors, and inspiration for collections all influence what will happen with hair.

This fall, I loved Fendi, Marc Jacobs, Juicy Couture, Proenza Schouler, Brian Atwood and Kenzo campaigns. I love the representation of what fashion, colors, and textures are popular for fall. Here is a slide show of my favorite images.

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After I pull images, I look for the prominent themes.

Playing With Light

Marc Jacobs 2013Ombre hair color is a graduation of dark to light color moving from the scalp to the ends. The effect looks like it was created by the sun with a natural effect. This fall I am seeing designers play with how light affects fabrics and textiles. Metallics from Marc Jacobs reflect light giving a ripple effect and Kenzo’s use of colorful iridescent butterflies and beetles creates the same inspiration. Splash Lights is a hair color technique that is a new way to consider how color lives in hair. A colorist adds a highlighted focus to the hair as if it was being hit by a spot of light. The images below are a great example of the technique. A colorist at Sally Hershberger salon in New York created the first look. The second two images are created by colorist and Redken Artist Justin Isaac. Both have such a fresh take on color placement, and we will see more variations of this effect in the next year.

Reverse Ombre/Jewel Tones

Fendi Fall 2013I love the color placement in the Fendi fall collection. You can see an inspiration of fur, while adding pops of color. Their looks are predominately blacks and grays with pops of bright color. Hot pinks, vibrant blues and strong purples make a strong statement. You can see how they have created a reverse ombre effect with the fur like fabrics. Instead of the lightest color on the ends, they have placed the darkest color at the ends and the pops of color at the base.

Pastels were a big influence last spring and summer, but as the season changes jewel tones are the new focus. Violet and purple are my favorite colors for fall. Rose gold for blondes and cool reds and fiery coppers.

Unexpected Color Placement

Proenza Schouler 2013I love the images from the Proenza Schouler campaign. There is a great balance of the pastel palette with a jewel tone pallet. When you look at the images notice where the color lives. It is soft unexpected placement. The image of Dakota Fanning at the top of the page is a perfect translation of the Schouler campaign into hair color.

After identifying what I loved from these images I created looks to share at the hair industry show. Strong pops of color, reverse ombre, cool violets and golds.

Mandy McCullough

What is inspiring your hair color for fall? What colors and trends stand out to you and get you excited for a change? Find images of hair or fashion that you love and take them to your next color appointment to share with your colorist. The results will be amazing.

Think You’re Losing Hair? Read This.

Hair LossThis is for anyone who has ever been worried about the amount of hair they are losing. Whether you notice it in the shower, see it on the bathroom floor, or left in a brush, hair loss happens. If you feel your hair is thinning, you’re not alone. As we age, everyone experiences hair loss. Here is some information about what is normal, what is not, and what you can do about it.

Normal Daily Hair Loss

On average, we lose 100 hairs a day. If your hair is shoulder length or longer, this shedding process may be more noticeable because of the length. Shampooing and brushing your hair facilitates this process. If you spread out your shampoos to every other or every third day it may seem like you are loosing more than a normal amount of hair, but in reality it is the accumulation of hair from the days you didn’t shampoo. I have naturally wavy hair. When I wear it curly, I never brush through it and I shampoo every third day. By the time I shampoo and comb through my hair I have a fist full of strands that are determined to clog my drain if I don’t catch them. It seems like there is a lot, but in reality it is just an accumulation of 3 days of normal shedding hair.

Your hair goes through 3 phases of growth: anagen, catagen, and telogen. The anagen phase is know as the growth phase. The longer your growth phase, the longer you can grow your hair. If you feel like you can never get your hair to grow to your dream length it is probably because you have a short anagen phase. At any time 85-95% of you hair is in the anagen phase. In the catagen phase the hair strand is released from the follicle, cutting off blood supply needed for growth. In this phase the hair is not growing but still securely on your head. Finally there is the telogen phase. This is the phase where shedding occurs and effects 13% of your hair. During this phase the existing strand is released as the follicle begins to regenerate a new strand. The length of these phases are determined by genetics so you can thank your parents for your abundance or lack of hair.

Hot Tip – Want more hair? Get Pregnant.

During a pregnancy, your hormones change causing more of your hair to be in the anagen, or growth phase. This is why pregnant women experience amazing hair growth. The downside is that as hormones re-adjust after pregnancy, typically when you finish breastfeeding, then hair kicks in to the telogen phase when excessive hair loss is experienced.

Hair Loss From Aging

About 50% of men and 74% of women claim to be effected by hair loss. In the US nearly 30 million women experience hair loss at some point in their lives. As we age we experience more hair loss. For those between the age of 18-34, 16% are experiencing hair loss, but the number jumps to about 45% for those over the age of 50.

Men and women produce testosterone, but as we age it converts to dihydrotestosterone or DHT. This affects the body’s ability to produce hair. The hair bulb is basically suffocated, causing it to be unable to grow hair. Menopause is when most women experience major hair loss as a result of this process.

Hair Loss From Life Changes

When I have a client who is experiencing greater than typical hair loss, I ask them to think about what changed in their lives 3 months prior. It takes that amount of time for our hair to be affected by falling out. This can be a change in diet, medication, or stress. Divorce, breakups, deaths, or unemployment are just a few examples of situations that can initiate hair loss. Going on or off medication including birth control, vitamins, supplements, antibiotics, and mood stabilizers can also affect hair loss. The good news is that it is not permanent. This type of loss is usually temporary and eventually grows back over time.

What You Can Do About Hair Loss

Some hair loss is permanent, but many times your follicles can be jump-started to initiate new growth. There are well know lines like Nioxin and Rogain that have been used by many to make it happen. Now other hair care companies are adding hair regenerating lines. At Fix we carry Redken products and they have developed Intra-Force, a 3 step process of products that combats the causes of thinning hair and reduces breakage by 95%. This line is designed to reduce a build up of sebum and DHT on the hair to promote a healthy environment for hair growth. Vitamin E and and Arginine are implemented to give the scalp nutrients for ideal follicle growth.

I love that I have a solution for my clients that are concerned about hair loss. I have seen the results and it’s impressive. When the correct products are prescribed and used appropriately I have seen a reduction in hair loss and new growth. Keep in mind hair that is generated as a result of any line of this kind is usually finer than normal hair, but it is hair. For men or women experiencing hair loss it can be empowering to see new growth come in after using the right products.

Hair loss can be a miserable experience, but when you have the right information to diagnose why it’s happening and products that can potentially stimulate new growth, you can find the silver lining. Talk to your stylist about your concerns and they can point you in the right direction so you can have healthy, beautiful hair.

5 Signs That It’s Time For A New Hairstylist

How do you know when you have reached the expiration date with your hair stylist? An even bigger issue is, how do you break up with her. Just like any relationship, some are not meant to stand the test of time. What was once a perfect partnership can evolve into habit and comfort zone. Sometimes it’s easier to stick with what we know, even if we aren’t excited about it, rather than try something new.

Here are some sure signs that it is time to make a change in who is styling your hair.

1. Your stylist doesn’t suggest updates to your look.

You walk in the salon, sit in the chair and your stylist immediately begins your service in the same manner that it has been done for the last 10 years. The color is already out, or you go straight back to the shampoo bowl for your cut. There should always be a conversation about how your hair is working for you and what your goals for that appointment will be. Additionally, your stylist should be giving you options based on the season, lifestyle changes and/or the condition of your hair. Even if you decide to not take the change, it shows that your stylist is working on keeping your hair up-to-date and healthy.

2. Your stylist is more personality than talent.

I know so many women who admit that they sacrifice satisfaction because they love the personality of their stylist. One of my mentors once told me that being a hair stylist is 90% personality and 10% skill. It’s true, no one wants to have a wet blanket as their stylist. But you are paying for skill, not story telling. Skill should be at least 50% of the package. Your hair should be 110% awesome when you leave the salon. Cut perfectly, colored beautifully and styled amazingly so you look and feel like a supermodel. Don’t cheat yourself of that because you look forward to hearing about the crazy party your stylist went to last weekend.

3. Your stylist doesn’t take the time to teach you how to recreate your look at home.

Part of every appointment should include a conversation about what products are being used, why they are perfect for you and great tips on how to get the same look at home. It doesn’t matter if you have been seeing your stylist for 6 months or 16 years, your hair should look salon beautiful everyday. Your stylist should make the right tools available to you and teach you how to use them to give you the power of style.

4. Your stylist isn’t respectful of your time.

All stylist have unexpected events that on occasion cause them to run 10-15 minutes behind, but if your stylist chronically runs late it is disrespectful of your time. Time is valuable. If you organize your day to arrive on time for your appointment, your stylist should be just as thoughtful. You can make a request with the receptionist or your stylist to be on time, but if it isn’t resolved, it may be time to move on.

5. Your stylist doesn’t take part in continuing education.

Like many industries, the hair world is always evolving. Product technology, trends, and techniques all change regularly. The most effective way for hair stylists to keep up-to-date is to attend continuing education courses. Most states do not require continuing education hours to maintain licensing, therefore it is a choice for stylists. If you were going to see a doctor would you rather see the one who hasn’t updated their education in 25 years or a doctor who regularly invests their time staying up-to-date on the latest innovations for your health. Easy answer, right? Shouldn’t it be the same for your hair?

Relate to any of these situations? No? Yay! You have an amazing stylist! Stay with them and they will be sure to make you beautiful forever. Now, if something hit close to home, give your stylist the benefit of the doubt. Tell them what you need from them. Chances are they will work hard to make you happy, but if the conversation takes place and you don’t see the change…it might be time to sit in someone else’s chair.

PS – Want to know how to find a new stylist and fall in love all over again? Read “How to Find Your Perfect Hairstylist” to make it easy!


You asked so I’m adding on…

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Thank you for your feedback and comments! Wow! I had no idea how popular this topic would be. Many of you wanted tips on how to break up with your stylist so here you go!

It’s not you it’s me.

Give your stylist a call or send them an email. Explain how much you have appreciated their work but you feel you want a fresh perspective. This isn’t a reflection of their work, rather you wanting to get someone else’s opinion. I have had this conversation with clients in my career. I always appreciate them letting me know rather than just disappearing. If they are moving on because I didn’t do my job, shame on me. If they want to “date around” I always encourage it, many times they realize we had a good thing and come back. A good hairstylist will support you and be understanding.


All of us hate to cause hurt feelings, so if it’s easier, lie. Here are some example you can use:

“My daughter bought me a gift certificate at another salon.”

“My budget has changed and I need to find a stylist who fits my investment.”

“My husband had too much to drink at an auction and purchased a lifetime of hair care an another salon.”

“I’ve decided to try a salon closer to home.”

“My phone crashed and I lost the number to the salon.”

“I was out of town and decided I needed a haircut.”

Just Do It.

Not comfortable with the first two options? Just do it. Go cold turkey. Set up a consultation with a new stylist and if you like her, make the  appointment. It’s your hair. Don’t apologize. You deserve to to have amazing hair. If you run into your former stylist, don’t hide. Instead, smile, say hello, give her/him a big hug. You can do it!

Breaking up is hard to do. You may feel awkward, sad, or, guilty, but this too shall pass.  Do your best to leave respectfully and enjoy building a new relationship with your next stylist.

Hair Brush 101 – What You Need to Know

Hairbrush 101It’s amazing how much easier it can be to style your hair when you have the right tools. For most of us, the most widely used tool when it comes to our hair is the brush. Because all brushes are not created equal, I want to break down the basics and brush up your styling tool expertise. I’ll cover the different types, what they’re designed to do best, and where to get them.

Flat or Round – Columbus learned the hard way, but you don’t have to.

From a general stand point, there are 2 types of brushes: flat or round. Flat brushes are designed to smooth the hair with minimal volume or fullness. Round brushes do just the opposite; they can be used to make hair bigger and add fullness and movement. First, let’s break down flat brushes.

Types of Flat Brushes

Vent Brush

  • Vent Brush–Vent brushes are literally vented, or have spaces between the bristles for air to flow. The bristles/teeth are usually a thick stiff nylon or plastic. This brush is designed to allow hair to dry quickly when partnered with a blow dryer. The teeth of the brush are spaced pretty far apart.  But because of its design, the user has very little control over a polished finish and the end result may be fuzzy. In order to refine the finish of your hair, the next step would be to use a curling/flat iron or a round brush.

Best Use: A vent brush is the perfect choice for anyone with short to shoulder length hair who needs a quick rough blow-dry.

Denman 9 Row Brush

  • Denman Brush–Denman is actually a brand name, like Kleenex is to tissue. The Denman brand, a London-based company, actually produces many different types of brushes. From a professional standpoint, if a stylist refers to a “denman” we are referencing a flat brush, without air vents. The nylon teeth are close together and secured in a rubber mat base. Note, there are many companies that produce this Denman style of brushes. In the salon it is one of my favorite brushes. Because the teeth are close together it creates more tension than a vent brush, and the rubber mat helps to eliminate static and frizz. I can get much more control and a more polished finish with this brush.

Best Use: This brush is perfect for anyone with short to shoulder length hair wanting a smooth straight end result with little volume.

Paddle Brush

  • Paddle Brush–A paddle brush is somewhat similar to a denman in that it has many teeth close together to provide tension for drying and smoothing the hair. The difference is that the base is much wider than a denman and the teeth are more flexible. The wide base gives more exposure to the dryer for longer lengths and the flexible teeth help gently work through the hair reducing breakage.

Best Use: The paddle brush is a great choice for anyone with long hair. The paddle brush can give a head start on pulling out wave and curl to then be followed up with a round brush or iron. I love it for smoothing out my own hair. To see it how it’s used, check out the video “Quick DIY Blow Out”.

Oval Cushion Brush

  • Oval Cushion Brush–This is another brush that is a classic and used by professional hairstylists regularly. A rubber cushioned base with nylon or boar bristle or the best is a blend of both. It is typically used on dry hair for perfect smoothing. Great for getting every last hair in place for your ponytail or special occasion hair. The cushion brush can also be used as a detangler on dry hair.

Best Use: This brush is the best choice for smoothing and detangling any length of hair.

Wet Brush

  • Wet Brush – While not considered a classic style of brush, I am seeing more and more of this style on the market and it is quickly becoming a must have in my brush collection. Wet Brush is a brand that makes an oval flat brush with very flexible nylon teeth. It is the ultimate detangling brush on wet hair. The flexible teeth causes it to go through the hair and gently work through knots without damaging or breaking the hair. Other manufacturers  are producing their own version of this style, so keep an eye out for it.

Best Use: A Wet Brush is ideal for any hair length, but it’s particularly effective for longer lengths. It is best used on wet hair for detangling, but can also be used on dry hair. This is my number one recommendation for any parent who has a child with a sensitive head. It will save many tears and make your morning routine that much easier.

Types of Round Brushes

Round Brushes come in various dimensions and materials depending on their use. Compared to a flat brush they are able to create more volume at the base or scalp and deliver soft rounded shape and movement.

Metal/Ceramic Round Brush

  • Metal/Ceramic Round Brushes–Because heat causes a more effective change to the hair, the base of these brushes are designed to heat up. The bristles are usually nylon and distributed further apart than a boar bristle round brush. When used correctly, they can mimic the effect of a curling iron to a certain extent.

Best Use: Perfect for creating a smooth rounded finish on almost any length of hair. Your length of hair will determine the diameter of round brush you use. The shorter the hair, the smaller the diameter. The smaller the diameter, the more curl or bend you will get in the hair. The larger the diameter, the more fullness and “c” shaping.

Boar Bristle Brush

  • Boar Bristle Round Brush–As you can probably guess, a boar bristle brush uses actual boar hair for the bristles. The bristles are packed tight to create tons of tension and to coax every cuticle to lay down for the ultimate smooth and shiny finish. Boar bristle brushes get better over time. After continued use and exposure to heat, the ends of the bristles start to pop open a bit, much like split ends. The effect gives even more polish to the hair. This brush can be difficult for a hair novice. Because the bristles create so much tension, it can be difficult to work through your hair. It takes some practice to use this type of brush, but the results can be amazingly rewarding.

Best Use: Boar Bristle Round Brushes are perfect for almost any length of hair. Choose the diameter based on your length and desired end result. You will also find boar bristle brushes with a blend of nylon bristles mixed in. This version will be a little easier to use on yourself.

Final note about the difference between boar bristle and ceramic/metal round brushes. Boar will give you ultimate shine and polish with a looser curl or wave. A metal/ceramic brush will give strong shaping and volume and a little less shine.


All of the brushes mentioned are available at Fix Salon through special order. If you are not in Seattle, I always recommend that you support your local salon and stylist for all of your professional tools. If you live in the Alaska tundra and have limited options, all of these brushes can easily be purchased online at amazon.com or ulta.com then delivered to you via dog sled. (Just seeing if you were paying attention; )

There are many choices out there, but these are my sources for brushes:

  • SamVilla.com – I work with Sam and use his professional tools daily. Some of my favorite brushes! Great paddle, denman style, and boar bristle brushes. Amazing quality and I love the heart of this company. See website for your nearest retailer.
  • Denmanbrushus.com – U.S. website for all Denman brand brushes. If it’s mentioned above, you will find it on this site.
  • thewetbrush.com – Home for the up and coming Wet Brush. The tender heads in your home will thank you.
  • Cricket – My preferred ceramic/metal round brush brand. This link will take you to Amazon, the easiest way to shop for this family of brushes.
  • yourtearsheets.com – Another company owned by fellow Redken Artist and Editorial Stylist, Giovanni Guintoli. Beautiful professional quality brushes.

Give me your feedback! Questions about brushes or shopping for them? I’m happy to help. Questions about buying other hair tools? Check out Hair Dryers 101 for the inside scoop!

Now go brush your hair.

Adding Big Volume to Your Blowout – Video Tutorial

Here is the second My Hair Fix video tutorial! I would post them more often, but I am realizing I am a much better hairstylist than video editor. Our last tutorial was recreating a salon blowout at home, so for this video I wanted to take it one step further by showing you how to add dramatic volume that will last all night.

I mention it in the video, but it’s worth saying again: using the right styling product is the key to creating a long lasting look. When you purchase product from your stylist, be sure to have her take the time to educate you on how to use it to get the result you want.

Some of you have left comments about the video topics you want to see next. Thanks! It’s been noted and we are working on it. Hopefully this process will get more streamlined so you can have a entire video library at your fingertips!

My Hair Fix – Volume Blowout Video

PS – I also want to give a big shout out to Inti St Clair, the photographer who took some great photos, giving me the new clean, pretty picture for the blog! She does amazing work! Check her out!

Changing Your Identity with Hair Color: Are you ready for the challenge?

Tiffany "The Blonde"Meet Tiffany. Tiffany has been one of my best friends for over 20 years. Tiffany is a blonde. I’m not using this as a discriptor as much as I am using it as a title. Tiffany is “A Blonde”. It’s her identity, philosophy and lifestyle. Two years ago we took her from a dimensional foiled blonde to a full on platinum blonde. She LOVED it. When she walked in a room you couldn’t help but turn to look at her. Blonde is an attention grabbing color. Why do you think so many Hollywood celebrities take on this look? Unfortunately, after two years of heavy lightening every three weeks, her hair surrendered. It couldn’t take the demand of such intense treatments. It weakened, and became damaged beyond repair. Tiffany had to make a decision: change her hair color or cut off the damaged ends into a short haircut. Both of which were the kiss of death to her identity. Here’s where the journey to her new identity began….

The Consultation (Intense Therapy)

If Tiff couldn’t be platinum blonde, she wanted to find a new color that would still “pop.” She started to talk to me about becoming strawberry blonde like Nicole Kiddman. My concern with this choice was her skin tone. Tiffany has a pink complexion, and pink skin tones look best when complimented by cool colors. (Warm tones make the pink stand out more.) I also needed to make sure that my client and best friend understood that whatever choice she made, she would have to stick with it. Her hair was in no condition to handle  re-lightening. Of course, explaining this is difficult. Since seeing is believing, I decided to take Tiff on a field trip to prove my point.

A Wig Shopping We Will Go

I asked Tiffany to meet me at a beauty supply store that carries tons of wigs. Here we chose wigs of different tones of red for her to try on. It became immediately clear that strawberry blondes were a miss. They didn’t compliment her skin tone and they provided no “pop.” Then she tried on a dark cool cherry red. It was perfect! Initially Tiffany would have never thought to go from lightest blonde to this strong red, but getting to “test drive it” first gave her a whole new insight on the possibility. At my suggestion, Tiff bought the wig to take home so she could warm up to her potential new look.

Decision Time

I checked in with Tiffany 3 days after the wig purchase to see how it was going. She had experienced mixed reviews from her husband and friends. Remember, Tiffany’s blonde was a signature statement for her, so a new hair color not only changes the way she views herself, but also affects the way people see her. We discussed how it was important that she love the choice and to be ready for further mixed reviews. At the end of our conversation, she was ready to commit. Tiffany was going red!

The Process

In an earlier post, I documented my client, Christin, going from brown to peach. Christin and Tiffany’s processes both fall under a color correction service. Many times we see celebrities go through extreme color changes in what seems like overnight. I think it’s important to recognize the investment of time and money, as well as the value of working with a colorist who understand the importance of maintaining the hair’s health and integrity through this service. We took pictures of Tiffany’s entire journey to red so you could understand the process.

Step 1: Pre-Tre

Before we could apply any color, I performed two different protein treatments on Tiff’s hair. When hair has been extremely lightened, it needs protein to strengthen it. Additionally, the protein gives the color something to hold on to. If we skipped these protein treatments, the color would have a hard time looking dimensional and fall out in the first few shampoos. Redken CAT treatment was applied first, then followed by a Redken Chemistry Strength shot and sealed with a 3.5 pH spray.

Step 2: The First Fill ProcessFirst Fill

In the salon world we use numbers to refer to lightness and darkness and color as the tone. Our goal for Tiffany was to achieve a level 6 Red. If I applied a level 6 red on her blonde hair as the first color step, the end result would be flat, chalky and pink. This is because red needs yellows, golds, and oranges to give it vibrancy. To build these colors in the hair, it must be done in layers, a process we call “filling” the hair. A fill formula is a color application designed to put base tones in the hair that will support the final color. Each layer is applied and processed like a traditional color application. For the first fill, I chose a Redken Shades EQ gloss with copper and warm gold tones.

Step 3: More Protein

Firs Fill Result

After the fill formula processed for 20 minutes, I shampooed it and followed up with another protein treatment to continue to prepare the hair for more color.

Step 4: Second Fill Formula

Second Fill Application For the second fill formula, I chose more copper and gold tones with a little bit of red. Shades EQ cream was the perfect choice for its low alkalinity, but rich deposit.

Step 5: More Protein
Are you seeing a pattern here? Protein is a big deal in color correction!

Second Fill Result

Step 6: Final Formula ApplicationFinal Color Application
After two fill processes, I had built up a warm base to support the final red color we wanted. For the final formula I went with Redken Chromatics. This is a permanent color with no ammonia. That means is will give a rich deposit and is gentle on Tiff’s hair. Chromatics uses an oil delivery system which also helps to reduce future breakage in hair. I love the Reds in this line because they are strong, vibrant and dimensional. I applied the color from roots to ends and let it process for 35 minutes.

Step 7: Last Treatment
For the last treatment, I blended protein with a color sealer to lock in Tiffany’s new hue.

The end result: beautiful show- stopping red! This picture barely does the color justice. I added a second picture Tiffany took of herself the next day! Guaranteed to make you notice.Final Red!

Tiffany’s hair looked and felt amazing. It was worth every effort to get such a beautiful end result. Tiffany was so excited with the finished look. From start to finish, this was a 5-hour process. If I had skipped a treatment or fill, I would have sacrificed this awesome end color. For color correction services, I charge by the hour to ensure that every step is included.

Changing your identity with hair color can be scary. If you are known as a striking blond, rich brunette or fiery red head, it can be life altering to you and those who know you when you make that change. Take the time to research what you want. Try on wigs in the color you are considering and work with an experienced colorist who can be honest with you about the expectations, maintenance, and end result. It can be one of your biggest and exciting life adventures.

And this is Tiffany now:

Tiffany's New Identity

A transformed and gorgeous “redhead”!

10 – 100 – 1000 Gray Hairs. No matter how many you have, here is what you can do about them.

Gray HairMy 30th birthday was a milestone for two reasons. First, I was lucky enough to celebrate 30 years without any major life mistakes. Whew! Secondly, and less celebratory, was finding my first gray hair. Ugh! Within the next few years, that gray hair seemed to multiply. I now have a collection of about 15 angry silver hairs around my hairline. Aside from the color, or lack thereof, the texture is coarse and wiry. Whether you’re dealing with your first few gray hairs, a mix of natural with gray, or you have a full head of gray hair, there are options. I want to share the secrets of beating your gray–on your schedule and within your budget.

To start, let me define a few terms we use in the salon world. These are terms we use to describe the types of coverage we can give gray hair. Color can do one of two things:

  • Blend – This is usually done with a demi-permanent color. Demi-permanent color will deposit a tone of color on the gray without totally covering it. The dimension of the hair will still show, but it will soften the silver to a warmer finish. It “blends” the gray hair with your natural hair color. Everyone’s gray is a little different in the way it takes color, therefore the deposit may be varied at the end result. The benefit of this process is the soft grow out it creates. The longevity is about 6-8 weeks. At the end of that time there will still be some color on the hair, but it will not be as intense as the day it was treated. If you want to soften your gray and not deal with an obvious regrowth requiring frequent visits to the salon, this is the perfect solution.
  • Cover – When a permanent color is used, gray hair can be 100% colored to match your pigmented hair. Once this product is applied and processed, no one will know you have gray hair. This type of service can make you look immediately younger and soften the coarseness of gray hair. Because it is permanent, it is on your hair, well, permanently. It will cause a line of demarcation as your hair continues to grow, this will mean more frequent visits to the salon for maintenance.
  • Percentages – Your stylist measures how much gray you have by percentage.
    • 0-25% = minimal gray
    • 25-50% = low to medium
    • 50-75% = medium to high
    • 75-100% = high percentage. Depending on your percentage, we decide what type of color to choose and how to apply it. The higher the percentage, the more effort and maintenance it will take to blend or cover it.

Now using the percentage scale, let’s talk about your gray hair and what to do with it….

Starter Gray 0-25%

You have a few gray hairs around your hairline and temples, or a small amount of gray hairs throughout your scalp. For my clients in this situation, I recommend gray blending. When your hair is 0-25% gray, it can typically be managed fairly easily with a demi-permanent color. No need to create a high maintenance program if you don’t have to. A blending process with demi-permanent color will soften the harshness of those hairs and add incredible shine to your entire head of hair.

Somewhere between 25-75%

The grays have multiplied. Maybe they are concentrated in the front or perhaps they have popped up throughout your head. Either way, they are noticeable and a distraction from your natural or desired hair color. For a low maintenance process, you can choose a blending service. To eliminate the gray all together, go for full coverage with a permanent color. A third option would be to weave in some of your natural color. This can hide some of the gray, yet still provide a forgiving grow out.

Silver Fox 75-100%

With a high percentage of gray, there are still many options. Blending with demi-permanent can soften it, but will not be as effective as with lower percentages of gray. Full coverage with permanent color will last longer and give you back the hair you had when you were younger. Foiling is also an option and it can create beautiful dimension with your natural color. Hair color can do amazing things to make you look more youthful. Permanent color will be an investment of time and money, but the difference can be worth it.

Growing out your hair after coloring it

So what if you’ve been coloring your hair and now you want to grow out your gray? Maybe you have been coloring your hair for years and feel ready for fewer salon visits and to let your natural color be the star. This is a conversation I have had with many of my clients. First, let me say that once you have permanent color in your hair it can’t be colored to match your gray. I know it’s a bummer, but it’s a fact. You have one of two choices. You can start foiling in your color instead of an all over color. Keep in mind, this will start allowing more of your natural color to grow in, but there will always be a line of change as your hair grows out. Then eventually you can back off on the foils until you are at your natural color. This process can easily take over a year or more depending on how long your hair is. My recommendation is to bite the bullet and go cold turkey. Stop coloring all together and let it grow. Again, the longer your hair is the longer this process takes, but if you have shorter hair it will go faster than you think. It is a test in patience, but with the right stylist to coach you through it, it can be a freeing experience.

Embracing your gray, at any percentage

There are so many women who look amazing with gray hair. It can create a statement that others admire. Remember, gray hair doesn’t have to be seen as something that needs to be corrected. The choice is yours, and your stylist can help you settle on a look that right’s for you. When you’re ready to embrace your gray, I suggest a glazing service with a clear demi-permanent color to really help your silver hair sparkle.. This will give you softness and incredible shine, making your new natural color look its best.

When dealing with gray hair always remember there are options for every price level and lifestyle. Let your stylist help you decide which is the best path for you.