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Shades Of Gray: Why Silver Hair Works On Every Skin Tone

side by side photos of silver hair on women

Everybody is going gray. It’s not age that’s making young people into silver foxes early, either—it’s a beauty style statement. In place of honey blonde hair, dark brown hair, or strawberry shades, the world’s most important influencers are taking the time to try out silver hair.

If you’re looking to spice up your hair look, silver is an excellent option. It’s delicate and moody, the perfect shade for every skin tone.

Like every new hair color, however, silver comes with a laundry list of do’s and don’ts. In the interest of making your new shade look as good as the photos you’ve seen on your social media feeds, we connected with Redken artist and brand ambassador Sean Godard.

While Godard sees dozens of clients who want neon, pastel, or blonde highlights in their hair, he’s still a little surprised that silver hair has taken off in such a major way. Still, the flattering shade holds a special place in his heart. It’s become a new take on neutral hair.

If you’re ready to trade flat, one-note hair color for a shade that’s both unexpected and refreshing, silver may be in your future.

Why go silver?

Here’s the first thing you should know about the pearly shade: It’s not easy to achieve. Most traditional hair colors (think browns, reds, and blacks) can be applied over any base color without complication. When it comes to pastels and silvers, however, the situation gets complicated. Your colorist has to start with the perfect shade to end up with the ideal silver result. It’s important to note that your colorist may need to bleach your strands if you have naturally dark hair, which will result in some damage to the hair.

For that reason, Godard is clear that this color requires serious commitment. Whether you’re bleaching the hair or maintaining your silver after the fact, be sure you’re in for the long haul.

“The maintenance once silver or gray is a lot for busy clients or those who don’t want to be in the salon regularly,” he explains.

If you’re committed to the color anyway, you’re not alone. Godard has consistently been surprised by the popularity of a shade that’s admittedly time-consuming to maintain.

“I never would have expected it to gain the traction that it did,” he says. “I think it's become a new classic.”

A new classic, indeed. Let’s delve into the trend more deeply.

Who can pull off silver hair?

Silver hair might seem like every other beauty trend. It became popular thanks to social media exposure, and then everyone had to try it out. Unlike every other mane craze, however, silver has something unique that sets it apart: the shade looks good on every skin tone.

According to Godard, achieving a flattering shade of silver is all about the skill of your colorist.

“The majority of artificial gray tones are created with either blue or violet—or a combination of both. Selecting the hue of gray is usually based on the client’s skin tone,” he says.

To end up with the best shade of silver possible, make sure you’re visiting a colorist with experience in this shade. Perusing his or her social media pages before booking an appointment is a good idea. It will allow you to look for evidence of hair transformations on clients with a similar skin color to your own.

When in doubt, follow Godard’s foolproof guide to silver hair.

“Fair skin looks best with more violet tones, [whereas] dark skin tones look best blue,” he notes.

Keep that in mind, but don’t be afraid to trust your stylist. If you’ve done your homework before scheduling an appointment, he or she will know what they’re doing. Your hair is in capable hands.

What are the biggest hair mistakes that come with silver hair?

There’s one word that sends a shiver down the spine of every woman who’s ever tried to color her hair: damage. Unfortunately, crispy strands are a very real fear when it comes to dying hair silver.

According to Godard, the most difficult part of the dying process is the pre-lightening treatment (bleaching). Unless you’re a hair color newbie with virgin hair, getting it the right shade to go gray is a challenge.

“The hardest part to going silver or gray is avoiding excessive damage from the lightening service—hence why it’s imperative to see a professional colorist when considering this change,” Godard explains.

How high maintenance is silver hair?

Like all dyed hair, silver strands require extra love and care. Your colorist can do everything in power to encourage healthy-looking hair, but most of the work will happen at home.

When it comes to caring for gray hair, Godard says the primary problem his clients face is excessive fading. To keep your hair bright, he advises you learn to put down the curling wand.

“Excessive heat styling and washing can fade the gray tones faster, so avoid those as much as possible to keep color vibrant.”

When it is time to cleanse your hair, make sure you’re investing in a hair care system designed to help fortify weakened areas, protect internal strength, and reinforce surface protection and shine. For silver manes, Godard stands by Redken’s Extreme Strengthening line. The range of shampoos, conditioners, and masks are specially designed for damaged locks.

Once you’ve fully committed to the silver look, you’ll also want to make a standing appointment with your colorist to keep the shade pearlescent and bright. Godard recommends his clients return for a glaze every two weeks.

In other words: Be sure you’re putting money aside for regular hair color maintenance. If the shade is everything you’ve been looking for, it’s worthwhile to create a special budget for it.

Think of hair color as an investment, just like buying a very expensive pair of designer jeans. They’re worth the cost because you’ll wear them so many times. Similarly, your hair color goes with you every single day. Why not splurge on a style statement like silver hair?