From platinum to silver to gun-metal gray, successfully creating the new metallic hair look requires two essential elements. First, the color should not look "real" (after all, who wants to look like they naturally have gray hair?). Second, all brassy tones must be removed. For the unreal metallic look, this style requires a high gloss finish and high levels of de-colorizer to remove any warm shades of red or gold (achieved by bringing the hair up to a level 9 or higher, if possible).
These style tips and formulas will tell you or your stylist how to achieve these surreal metallic looks without damaging—and in some instances, actually improving—your follicles. This article will take you through the processes for the following:
- How to Use Olaplex to Strengthen and Lift Hair
- Guy Tang's SilverMetallic Application Guide
- Rusk Deepshine Direct Icy White Guide
- Pravana Chromasilk Vivids Silver Guide
- Tips For Maintaining Your Metallic Hair Color
Creating Metallic Hair Color Basics
These three principles of metallic hair color are essential to creating the runway look.
- Hair is taken to the highest level possible without damaging the follicles—9 is the minimum level to achieve these shimmery effects. Olaplex is added to the lightener to reduce the damaging effects.
- The roots are 2–3 shades darker than the ends of the hair. The first 3/4 inch of roots can be the darkest to create a reflective effect. Then, using the blending techniques described below, hair in each foil is brushed with two shades of color with a blend of those shades 3–4 inches from the root.
- Use longer foils to attain maximum control and coverage.
How to Use Olaplex to Strengthen and Lift Hair
Olaplex's three-step system multiplies and rebuilds bonds to eliminate breakage from chemical services. Olaplex is added directly to the lightener and color in the measurements below.
Note: Processing time will take longer with Olaplex.
Step 1: Lightener
Olaplex Bond Multiplier No. 1 is added directly into the lightener or color after mixing in the developer. Never add it directly to the powdered bleach. Mix your bleach powder with the developer thoroughly first, then add Olaplex No. 1. Once everything is mixed together, you can add more bleach powder for a thicker consistency.
Note: When adding Olaplex, you must increase your developer one full volume—for example, 10v to 20v, 20v to 30v, 30v to 40v. Never use 10 volume, as Olaplex dilutes the developer; you must bump it up or processing time will take forever.
Step 2: Adding Olaplex to Color
The simple rule to follow is 1/8 oz. Olaplex No. 1 mixed into everything: gloss, semi, demi and permanent. You do not need to bump up the developer with the base color.
Step 3: Bond Perfector No. 2
After rinsing the hair color, apply Olaplex Bond Perfector No. 2 for a minimum of 5 minutes. Then rinse, shampoo, and condition. You can even leave it in the hair to use as a cutting lotion for as long as 15 minutes.
Step 4: Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3
Aftercare for the Olaplex system includes using Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 at home once a week.
Guy Tang's SilverMetallic Application Guide
Les Bouska explains the process of lifting color on long, color-treated hair: "To begin, we prepared the model by applying Kenra Color No Ammonia Lightener and 30 Volume Developer in equal parts + Olaplex No. 1 all over, until desired level of lift was achieved.
"In this instance, our model had long hair that was color treated with dark pigments, so we divided the roots and length for different processing times. Removing the color from the length took a full 7 hours to achieve the necessary level of lift. Without adding the Olaplex, seven hours of de-colorizing would have left most of her hair in the salon sink when it was rinsed.
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"The roots, which had received much less color treatment over time, only required 1 hour of processing with the above formula."
Kenra Color Step 2: Toning the Hair
Rinse and shampoo the lightener out and tone all over with Rapid Toner SV (1oz) and 9 Volume Activator (2oz) + Olaplex No 1. Shampoo and dry completely.
Divide the dry hair into sections according to the diagram below. Three different formulas will be applied to each of the corresponding section numbers.
Step 3: Color Application
Section/Formula 1: Begin by applying Formula 1 as the foundation color throughout the diagram section 1: Foundation Formula: 7SM/10Volume + Olaplex No.1.
Section/Formula 2: Apply the accent to Section 2 of the diagram: Accent Formula: 7SM (14/5 oz) + Blue Booster (1/5 oz) + 10Volume (2oz) + Olaplex No. 1. This is applied using a diagonal skip slice foil application. Apply Formula 2 between foils.
Section 3 Formulas: On the crown using foils utilizing a "seamless diffusion" technique of feathering the color from darker roots to lighter ends. Use Formulas: 7SM/10Volume blending to 8VM/10Volume + Olaplex No 1. (See the video below for a demonstration of the seamless diffusion technique.)
Rinse: Apply Olaplex No. 2, comb through and allow to condition for 15 minutes. Rinse and style.
Seamless Diffusion Technique Demonstration
Rusk Deepshine Direct Icy White
Alenn Mujagic created an international sensation when he posted these photos to Olaplex's Facebook page. Even the Parisians were buzzing about it! Here Alenn shares his formulas for creating this sensational look. The secret is nearly 250 fine foil highlights, or baby lights, as he likes to term them. Alenn achieved this look from start to finish in 2 hours.
- Schwarzkopf Lightener
- Olaplex 1, 2 & 3
- Rusk Deepshine Direct Icy White
- Begin in the back area by creating micro-section for highlights (you will ultimately have between 200 and 250 foils depending on the client's hair volume), using Schwarzkopf Lightener + 30vol (9%) + Olaplex No.1 on the roots and 20vol (3%) + Olaplex No.1 on the length. Varying the ratio of root to length, utilizing the seamless fusion technique in each micro foil section, creates a more dramatic result.
- For the front area use Schwarzkopf Lightener 40vol (12%) + Olaplex No.1 on the roots and Schwarzkopf Lightener 20vol 10%+ Olaplex No. 1 on the length. Processing time was approximately 50 minutes for this individual whose hair was already de-colorized to a high level.
- Shampoo and rinse to remove the bleach, then tone with Icy White Rusk Deepshine Direct 7 minutes on the roots, then sink pull through to the ends for an additional 3 minutes. Rinse.
- Next, apply Olaplex No. 2 for 15 minutes. The Olaplex must be combed through and can be left on as slippage for a cutting serum, conditioning at the same time.
Pravana Chromasilk Vivids Silver Application Process
The Pravana Vivids collection is composed of semi-permanent colors that are applied directly to clean, dry, pre-lightened hair and are not mixed with any developer.
- Pre-lighten hair using PRAVANA Pure Light Power Lightener with Olaplex No. 1 to the desired level, 9-10 (the color of the inside of a banana).
- Before applying semipermanent VIVIDS, shampoo thoroughly to remove Lightener, and dry completely.
- Taking 1” sections, apply silver color directly + Olaplex No. 1 to the hair, applying section-by-section to ensure complete and even coverage. Color that is undiluted will give a gunmetal gray effect. Color can be diluted with conditioner to create a lighter effect. Use fuller strength at roots, adding conditioner to the color over the length of the hair strands. No developer is needed.
- Allow to process for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Gently shampoo with VIVIDS Color Protect, and rinse with cool water, until the water runs clear.
- Apply VIVIDS Color Protect Conditioner + Olaplex No. 2 for 5 minutes and rinse.
Tips for Maintaining Your Metallic Hair Color
Metallic hair colors will begin to fade within two weeks of application. These tips will help you to extend the life of your new color.
- Keep heat styling to a minimum.
- Shampoo with wet shampoo less frequently, and employ a dry shampoo to keep your hair looking and feeling fresh.
- Avoid using traditional hair rubber bands. Try using butterfly clips or scrunchies to minimize damage and fly-away hairs.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: can I bleach my hair after using a metallic hair color?
Answer: It is best to use a hair color remover rather than bleach. The color remover will leave your hair ready for a new color, and cause less damage to the hair follicles than bleach would.
Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on October 24, 2016:
Hi Pete: In this article I am thinking about Meryl Streep among others who sport a metallic look rather than the old granny gray. Young women look fantastic with a gunmetal gray hair style. I'd love it too, if I weren't old enough to deserve the look. lol Thanks for visiting.
Pete Powell on October 24, 2016:
What does A List star mean? Most of the types constantly forced in our faces like the Kardashians are over hyped talentless trash who pay promoters to make up attention seeking schemes, or made-up or dumb stories to magazines, for idiots to read.