In the past year or so, grey ombré and silver balayage hues have become a permanent fixture on our Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards, even cropping up on the red carpet and on the glossy pages of fashion editorials. A high concept colour that’s more low-key chic than, say, OAP, it’s been adopted by stars like Nicole Ritchie, Ellie Goulding, Girls’ Zosia Mamet and Orange Is The New Black’s Dascha Polanco, and can be recreated in shades ranging from silver-tinged platinums and icy tones to blue-grey and deepest slate.
Grey ombré hair (does grombré work?) might seem like a stylish way of side-stepping regular root touch-ups, but it’s worth bearing in mind that Instagram does not tell the whole story: dyeing your hair silver is a major colour commitment, and one that won’t work for every hair type. We asked Sophia Hilton, colour expert and director at London's Not Another Salon, for her guide to this potentially tricky trend.
How can you dye your hair grey ombré in the salon?
According to Sophia, you'll need multiple salon appointments to achieve the desired Instagram-friendly finish (this is certainly a case in which attempting balayage at home just won't cut it)...
First appointment: 'Bleach your hair using INNOluxe [a protein treatment] to protect it,' recommends Sophia. 'Tone it so it's a natural shade (most likely it will be a warm shade) and take home a bucket load of products to try to get the moisture back. Warning, most people don't like this stage...'
Second appointment: 'Bleach your hair with more INNOluxe, tone it something natural. You might be able to get something cooler this time (but not if you have ever put a brown colour on your hair). More products, more treatments, rest.'
Third appointment: 'Bleach your hair with even more INNOluxe. Pray to the hair gods you can get it to white or close to white. Tone it grey. Take home several toners to put on in the shower every week to keep away the yellow. Most likely you can never bleach this hair again as you will have pushed to the limit.' Yikes...
Does grey ombré work on all types of hair?
‘No at all. Oh man, does Instagram tell you lies!’ says Sophia. ‘If you are already blonde, then you are going to have half a chance. My honest opinion is if you are really dark, it is such a waste of money (yes, I’m doing myself out of business here!) Grey and silver have to sit on a white base or almost white base, so to get you to that it's going to take many appointments at a cost of hundreds of pounds as a time. And you know the sad part? Your hair might never get to white. Then you are stuck with dry damaged hair and without the colour of your dreams.’
Does grey ombré work on hair that's already been dyed?
‘We now have a policy at Not Another Salon that if you have colour on your hair or your hair is super dark we won't take you on this journey at all. Why? Because the yellow of your hair is never going to remove, you will be in a constant battle to keep it away, always somewhere between yellow and grey,’ says Sophia.
What sort of after-care will grey ombré hair need?
'There are a few top up options available now which is great,' explains Sophia. She recommends Crazy Colour 'No Yellow' shampoo which, she explains, 'holds that warmth away for longer.' However, this will only work if you've already reached the right shade in the salon. 'If you haven't got your hair light enough, these products can make you hair muddy or green,' she cautions. 'The secret is for your hairdresser to get you super light, or all the products in the world won't help.' She also recommends Crazy Colour's 'Graphite': 'It isn't expensive and it's awesome! The amount you go through, you don't want a product that costs the earth.'
The Best Grey Ombre Inspiration Via Pinterest
This cascading smokey look will be perfect for brunettes wanting to go grey.