One of my greatest challenges in my hair career has been achieving the perfect silver. After much trial and... learning... (thank you to my best friend for being my guinea pig all those years ago) I can say that silver hair color is one of my most requested colors and one of my best specialities.
The silver struggle is a challenge and I'm here for you. I'm excited to share my little tips and tricks to achieving the perfect silver so hopefully you can skip over all the "learning lessons" I experienced and get straight to the good stuff!
where do i start?
Start by safely lifting the hair to a level 9 or 10 (preferably a level 10). Even if you want your silver darker than a 9 or 10, you will still need to lift through the red and orange stages. Lift low and slow (low developer, slow processing time), using a bond builder like Olaplex or B3. My personal preference for lightener is Joico Blonde Life. Clients say it's more comfortable on the scalp and I've found that it gives me the best lift.
what do i wash with?
I like to start by washing with Fanola No Yellow shampoo. Silver is usually green or blue based and so the goal is to cancel out all of the yellow before even thinking about putting silver on the hair. Using a purple shampoo will get the hair one step closer to the goal!
the step you're probably skipping
Lightening the hair boosts it's pH level so much, its crucial that you bring it back down to it's proper level before toning. I like to use Service from Wella after shampooing. On top of it neutralizing the hair's pH level, clients always compliment how good it smells and it instantly softens the hair, making it much easier to work toner through the hair and ensuring that I get even coverage from my silver.
the most important part
Pre-tone pre-tone pre-tone! I can't stress this enough!
If a level 9-10 has a natural underlying pigment of yellow and silver has an underlying pigment of green or blue, what happens when you put straight silver on raw level 9-10 hair?
Yellow + green or blue=GREEN!
Pre-toning with a violet based toner will allow you to easily avoid the green hues.
I prefer to pre-tone with Kenra 5 minute toners in equal parts VP and SV. They are tone specific and not level specific, which leaves you free to choose your target level with your silver toner.
the waiting game
Now that your guest's hair is all prepped and ready to take on it's silver toner, it's time to muster up all of your patience.
Processing will vary depending on what you are using, but if you are Shades EQ obsessed like me, let your silver process for the FULL 20 minutes!
It will likely appear to be much darker than it actually is. Resist washing it out too soon! Each minute of processing is equivalent to one wash.
The T series from Redken Shades EQ is my absolute favorite for creating silver. It's not too green or blue and it fades beautifully.
If you made it this far, your guest now has silver hair. But hold on, you're not quite done yet!
To protect my guests investment, after I condition with Davines Alchemic Conditioner in silver, I finish it off with Blondor Seal and Care by Wella.
It does exactly what it says it does, it seals the color in and gives it that little bit of extra TLC that processed blondes need.
if this sounds like a lot of work
That's because it is! Make sure you are charging your guests appropriately and communicating with them ahead of time about how much their investment will be, how long it will last and how to care for it.
If you want some tips on how I advise my guests to care for their blonde you can pop on over to my guide for blondes by clicking below!