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Last updated: July 24, 2017

How to Play With Gray

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Smoky gradations by Aveda’s Ian Michael Black.


After several seasons of pastels and vivids, the gray trend in haircolor has been like a cool compress for the eyes. These silvery hues bring a new sophistication to specialty color. But beware! Gray can go one of two ways—super chic or kinda granny. Here are some tips for playing with gray the right way!


Banish Warmth
“The trick when creating a great gray shade is to make sure as much warmth is removed from the hair as possible,” says Ian Michael Black, Aveda Global Artistic Director, Hair Color. “Once lifting the hair, I usually tone first to remove any unwanted yellow tones. This ensures your color is true to tone and cool. Here are a couple of my favorite formulas:


For A True Gray: Aveda Color 40g Universal 0N + 1-4g 1N + 40g 5-volume developer


For A Blue/Silver: Aveda Color 40g Extra Lifting Crème + 4g Pastel Blue + 4g Pastel Violet + 4g Light Blue Grey + 52g 5-volume developer


Bold and Metallic
“When working with silver color, I like to include bold placements and added accents,” says Kenra Professional Senior Artistic Director, Robb Dubré. “This gives the traditional silver a modern appeal. Also, using a silver with a cool, metallic tone like Kenra Color Silver Metallics, gives the look a contemporary finish.”


Bold placements and added accents by Kenra’s Robb Dubré.


Lift to 10
“You first must lift the hair to the undertone of a Level 10/very pale yellow,” says Brian Adelman, TIGI® U.S. Technical Educator. “Doing this prevents leaving too much gold underneath the gray, which can cause your color to appear muddy and flat. Before adding your gray shade, tone the hair with a demi-permanent gloss to neutralize the pale yellow that is present. Once you have an even and consistent neutral Level 10, you are ready to add your target formula.”



Modern Shades
“The shades of gray that are trending are TIGI® copyright©olour Titanium—a deep metallic grey and Glacier Grey, which has a lighter more pastel hue,” says TIGI® U.S. Session Director, Adriana Papaleo. “Both are very pure and pristine and require attention to detail as well as a creative comprehension of your product.”