Silver Hair Tutorial: How to get silver hair at home

Are you wondering how to dye your hair silver at home? This silver hair tutorial article brings together all my knowledge about achieving DIY silver hair at home! The salons are closed, so it’s officially open season on hair dying!

There are several different methods for achieving silver hair, these ones are the ones I’ve tried and tested, and I have made YouTube videos showing you how to dye your hair silver with normal products.

Method 1: Bleach and silver toner.

This is the tried-and-tested traditional method for getting silver hair. It’s great because it’s customizable depending on the state and texture of your hair, and your base colour.

First, you bleach your hair (I’ve split this into a separate tutorial because there’s a lot you need to know before you do it). You need to bleach it to a light blonde (no orange at all) before you can go any further.

This is why the two-step method scares off a lot of people. Without good preparation and planning, you can easily wreck your hair with bleach and color remover doesn’t work on bleach because you have to bleach your hair within an inch of its life.

After your hair is bleached, it’s time to use a toner. You can do it on the same day that you bleach your hair, or you can go old-school and let it rest for two weeks first (you used to need to do this but bleaches are a lot better these days due to the huge demand for silver hair and white hair).

Your toner options are varied, and it depends on what sort of silver you’re looking for. I like a space-silver, so my absolute favourite ones are Directions Silver Toner and Crazy Colour Platinum Toner. If you’re looking more for a natural look (which I flatteringly called a granny grey in one video) Scott Cornwell silver toner is the one to pick. Here are my tutorials for them:

Silver Hair Tutorial With Directions Silver Toner:

Crazy Colour Silver vs Platinum Review and Tutorial:

Scott Cornwall Colour Restore Silver Toner Tutorial And Review (this one won’t embed):

youtube.com/watch?v=pa4Id-s1AOA

Method 2: Use a Silver Box Dye

I did all those silver hair reviews between 2014 and 2016 on my YouTube channel, although I’ve been dying my hair shades of white blonde to silver since 2004. Those are still good ways to color your hair, but they are not the only ways anymore. In 2018, some new, very exciting products exploded onto the market: Silver box dyes that actually worked! Better still, they work even if your hair isn’t bleached to a pale white.

My favourites are the Schwarzkopf Live Urban Metallics Permanent Blonde Quartz and the L’Oreal Colorista Permanent Silver. The semi-permanent dyes from the same two ranges are crap but the permanent ones are amazing. The advantage of using one of these permanent silver box dyes is you don’t need to bleach your hair as light to get the result, meaning your hair will be in much better condition. I 10/10 recommend these permanent dyes if you have longer hair. I did mine in 2018 (I did it as an ombre technique with red “roots” at the top) after bleaching my dark brown hair and it came out an absolutely stunning dark silver:

Before (you can see in the pic it’s almost black at the ends, so the above pic is a great result):

I did use the silver box dye later in 2018 after bleaching my hair a very light blonde and the result was a much lighter silver shade on the ombre’d half of my hair, so your base color will still determine how light you can go with silver hair dye.

Bear in mind permanent silver hair dye contains peroxide which will lighten your hair while it colours it. This means if you need to use colour remover, you can’t go back to your natural colour (you can’t just remove the dye and get your original colour back after using any permanent dye… that’s why they’re called permanent dyes).

Do you need to bleach your hair before using silver box dye? Check out my silver hair dye infographic flowchart to find out:

silver hair dye infographic hairdressing infographic flowchart mamaadventure

If you need to bleach your hair first, my Hair Dye 101: Bleaching Your Hair article has some great tips.

Once you have dyed your hair silver, you will want to maintain it by using a silver shampoo. I’ve covered my favourites here.

More articles on this topic:

Color Remover FAQ

How to use color remover and how it works

Wrecked your hair with bleach? Fix it!

Hair Dye 101: Bleaching your hair

Silver Shampoos Reviewed

All About My Hair: Silver hair and white hair

Just in time to make the Friday blog update, I got this video finished!  I’m answering questions I’ve been asked about my hair including how I got it silver, how I get white hair, how I look after it, why my hair hasn’t all snapped off, whether I use silver shampoo and more.  Check it out if you’re vaguely curious:

Other hair colouring articles you might like: 

How to get better results from colour remover and how colour remover works

Wrecked your hair with bleach? Fix it!

Hair colour remover FAQ

Hair bleaching 101: How to bleach your hair

What do I use between the silver shampoos?

Silver toning routine

What colour will that box dye really go on your hair?

Silver and white hair Q and A

Hair: What do I use between the silver shampoos?

To get silver hair, and maintain my silver hair, what do I use between the silver shampoo? It’s a good question because silver hair is REALLY high-maintenance and there’s a lot you need to do to keep it looking ethereal and shiny.

First off, I need to explain something important. To look after your silver hair, you should only use silver shampoo once or twice a week! The rest of the time, you need to wash in something else or you’ll get colour build-up.

To maintain my silver hair, I have to take good care of it by making sure it stays nourished and conditioned.  This article is about how I do that.

silver hair care

I’ve got a range of products that I use, some expensive, some cheap, for the “rest days” when I am not using a silver shampoo to avoid build-up and maintain healthy hair:

Claudia Schiffer Omega Complex: It’s drugstore available, the shampoo has got sulphates and yet somehow, this Omega Repair Mask makes my hair feel softer, smoother and fresher than anything else. It goes against modern hair advice, due to being less than $10 a bottle and the shampoo being all sulphatey, but maybe my hair needs that sometimes. This is my most frequently used pair of non-silver products.

Pure:Ology Shampoo: I was put onto this by this Grazia article I read, where 3 fashion editors explained how they cared for their long blonde hair. It was really informative and full of product recommendations, although not all of the products are as readily available as of 2015 as I would like. The shampoo is gentle, and smells nice and doesn’t leave deposits or take weeks to wash out.

Article here

Gliss Liquid Silk Conditioner: Another cheapo fave, this one is something I’ve been occasionally using since 2005, when my older cousin told me about it when I was in high school. It leaves my hair soft, shiny, moisturised and each strand really sparkles almost like I’ve used one of those shine sprays on it. It’s called Gliss Kur in the US.

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor: Does what it says on the bottle. Bung it on your hair, leave for a few minutes, and your hair will be softer than a Sheila’s jumper. This stuff really makes my hair look and feel great, I use it once a week and it vastly improves my detangling as well.

Moroccan Oil Shampoo: I was using this for a very long time (the Moroccan Oil brand), it actually used to be my favourite before I transitioned to extra-super light blonde. Now I can’t use it, which is a shame because I generally found that when I used this, I needed no conditioner.

Like, literally, I had the whole set, but the shampoo would always run out three times before I’d need another conditioner, which I only put on my ends. If you’re a warmer blonde, or any other hair colour apart from platinum, silver or white, this stuff is the best shampoo you can get. Sadly, it turns your hair orange as it’s infused with argan oil and through experience (over time it actually made my hair 2 shades darker!) it’s just not compatible for me if I want to have icy light hair. Also it’s like serious cash per bottle.

So that’s a run through of the products I use to wash my hair between silver shampoo sessions. There’s also the stuff like coconut oil that I use between washes, but the other stuff I use between washes is highly variable and I don’t feel like I’ve got a regular, dependable and results-focussed set of products going on in that category yet, so it’d basically just be an article on coconut oil, only I don’t use it as often as I might, so it’d be a really short article on coconut oil. My main point, however, is you don’t need to spend serious cash to maintain your silver hair, if you choose your products wisely.

Other hair colouring articles you might like:

How to get better results from colour remover and how colour remover works

Wrecked your hair with bleach? Fix it!

Hair colour remover FAQ

Hair bleaching 101: How to bleach your hair

Silver toning routine

What colour will that box dye really go on your hair?

Silver and white hair Q and A

Hair Dye 101: Bleaching your hair to white or silver blonde

How to get silver blonde, white blonde, platinum blonde and silver hair.

“It started as a sudden fancy…” Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment

I believe that we are inspired to take our hair to its blonding limits. It sometimes feels like a labour of love – certainly, the frustrations and disappointments that can be felt if it all goes wrong is akin to losing a sporting event or getting an unexpectedly low mark in an exam, compounded by people’s negativity and their failure to understand that a slight mistake isn’t proof this was a bad idea, it’s an opportunity to learn.

The triumphs and successes are commented on by far more people than any other colour. There’s something very special about a good blonde dye result, it has the power to delight, uplift and inspire awe and wonder like no other hair colour. I can wax lyrical all day, white blonde, silver and platinum blonde are my favourite colour range. They are where science and art meet to create perfect harmonics with beauty and perfection in a delectable barbershop quartet. Okay I’m done with the poetics.

To start blonding, you need to think like a hairdresser. A highly imaginative and intelligent colourist. Think you’re up for it? If not, go to an actual hairdresser (not an average one; just because they did Sheryl up the road’s highlights does NOT mean they know how to take your hair to within an inch of it’s physical limits. If you want above average hair, you will need to either get an above average hairdresser, or do it yourself).

It’s not arrogant to think you can colour your own hair, and here’s why – you have lived with this hair for how many years? You know what you’ve done to it, you can’t lie to yourself, you know where you chopped that fringe when you were twelve, which bits still have henna on them (get these cut before you start colouring, henna and bleach don’t mix), how often you comb your hair when it’s wet or overheat the straighteners when you’re in a hurry.

You know what shampoo and conditioner you use, and how often you REALLY use that protein spray you bought.

Most hairdressers take a history of your hair, but they don’t have the time or memory to go very in-depth. And here’s the thing. You can tell them you colour your hair every 6 weeks, and they’ll say “it’s in good condition, let’s bleach it with SUPER STRENGTH” and they’re not the ones who have to go home with ruined hair. You do.

I get my hair cut by hairdressers (although I’ve done that myself in the past). I don’t let them colour. I used to, but they just crapped on my trust and took my money anyway and left me to go home with awful hair several times, from several different hairdressers, in different parts of the UK, so I just don’t trust them to colour.

The hairdresser who cuts my hair even got in on the action this year. She tried to tell me I could bleach my hair more, that it could take another round of maximum strength 40 vol peroxide. I could see signs that she couldn’t, that told me this was a terrible idea. I did a test strand when I got home, and lo and behold, it burnt clean in half.

What she didn’t see was the red wasn’t my hair colour, it was cuticle staining from the last time I let a hairdresser colour my hair, 2 years ago (this was a trainee who needed to do it to qualify so I have never told them how badly they wrecked my hair). Or perhaps my hair-cutter was hoping I’d come for another cut or a colour correction once it was ruined.

There are two ways you can bleach your hair:

1. None of the hair currently on your head has any colour on it or has been coloured in the past, unless all the coloured bits have been totally cut off.

2. You have coloured it, even if only an inch of colour is left.

Method 1: None of the hair currently on your head has any colour on it or has been coloured in the past, unless all the coloured bits have been totally cut off.

Do not follow this method if someone else coloured it for you, if you have got highlights, ombre or any other sort of colour, even if it’s the same colour dye as your natural colour. I’ve got another method for you, why follow the wrong one?

Firstly, you will need the following items:

1. A box of hair colour. I would use a pre-lightener such as Belle Blonde or Born Blonde on fresh hair as they are easy to use and work well enough.

When I box dye, it takes 3 boxes to cover my hair. Mine is waist length and very thick. Make sure you buy enough.

2. Something to cover yourself with, such as a bin bag (sexy!) especially if your hair is long. Hair dye can burn your nipples. Just saying.

3. Something to cover the floor with. Another bin bag or some sheets of newspaper will do.

4. A clock, watch, or VERY accurate sundial. I sometimes use my laptop so I can listen to music during the development time.

Your natural haircolour will determine how long you need to leave the dye on for. I would do a strand test if possible, following the instructions on the packet. Here’s why: people are often shocked by the range of colours hair goes through before it finishes at blonde. If you see your hair turning orange, would you panic and wash the bleach off? If you’ve seen it all on the strand test, then when your whole head of hair starts going through a series of colours you’ll not even worry.

Note: Wash the pre-lightener off at the maximum time, even if your hair isn’t as light as you want it. While most of the product will become inactive before the development time is over (meaning that if you leave it too long it’ll start to go patchy), there’s still enough active product on your scalp to cause damage. Wash it all off, let your scalp recover (I recommend at least a week, and two if you can wait that long) then pre-lighten again if you need to. While your hair won’t “heal” itself, your scalp will, and that can make the difference between being a healthy blonde and being plagued with hair loss and permanent scalp damage.

Once your hair is as light as you want (for platinum and silver, you need your hair to be a very pale yellow before toning), move on to toning your blonde hair.

Method 2: You’ve got some other colour on your hair:

If your hair has a COLOUR (e.g. red, black, brown) on it, you need to use a colour remover before bleaching, then wait two weeks before bleaching (because the bleach will re-oxidize any remaining colour molecules in your hair and it’ll go very dark and possibly greenish, see how colour remover works for details).

The reason to use colour remover is that there’s only a certain amount of bleaching a hair can take before it melts. Colour remover stinks and washing it out is tedious and it leaves your hair so dry but its an important step, particularly for darker dyed hair. It doesn’t bring your natural colour back, it just gets rid of dye colour, so once that’s done, you’re ready to bleach.

You have two options, I prefer to pre-lighten then blue-bleach because pre-lightener is idiot proof and takes it to just enough blonde that if there are patches of brown it’s less conspicuous until you fix it, which is always good on your first step. If your hair is light, you’re probably done after pre-lightener and ready to tone, but this is unlikely.

After pre-lightening, get some powder bleach, in the UK, Jerome Russell’s B*Blonde Maximum Lift Powder is for sale everywhere, and depending on your CURRENT hair lightness (I know, the box says natural, it assumes you haven’t just prelightened/colour removed etc), use either medium or high peroxide cream. Peroxide comes in percentages.

Medium is 30vol, high is 40 vol. If you’re not sure, go for medium, you can always bleach it again if it’s too dark. If you go too high, you can burn your hair off, this is called a chemical haircut and you can’t dye your hair again once it’s happened (but hairdressers will tell you they can “fix” it by putting more peroxide-filled chemicals, or worse, semi-permanent colour, on your hair). Once your hair has been damaged that badly, it cannot be repaired (see also: how to fix hair that’s turned to chewing gum). We’ve all wrecked our hair, it’s a rite of passage. But you’re going to try not to, so go for medium if you’re unsure.

Mix the bleach in a bowl (I use a pyrex glass bowl, most people use plastic ones that are specially made for hair dye) and use a spatula (non-metal), so your brush doesn’t get full of lumps of unmixed powder that lands on your hair and makes a splotchy mess later.

Once it’s mixed, apply it to your hair according to the instructions (usually brush on lengths and ends first, then roots 20 mins later because roots develop much faster. I find this hard so usually just leave my roots to do on a further application when the rest of my hair is dry and not tangled up in thick creamy bleach, it’s more of a faff but my hair would be much shorter if I just yanked it around and treated it like a Stretch Armstrong), basically wait until your hair is the colour you want, and wash it off.

Let hair dry. Congratulations, you should have some pale yellow bleached hair, and if it’s pale yellow, contrasting with your complexion and looking a bit unnatural; you’re now ready to tone!

Other hair colouring articles you might like:

How to get better results from colour remover and how colour remover works

Wrecked your hair with bleach? Fix it!

Hair colour remover FAQ

What do I use between the silver shampoos?

Silver toning routine

What colour will that box dye really go on your hair?

Silver and white hair Q and A