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DIY Hair: How to Get Silver/Gray Hair

I love to dye my hair all colors of the rainbow. I love all things vintage. I also enjoy creating art, taking photos, and doing it myself.

Granny hair—it's all the rage lately. Why would someone want to look old? Well, they don't really. They just look shiny and exciting. Seriously, take a look at these photos of 20-somethings with silver hair. It's not a bad look! With a little work, you can have it too.

This is how my gray hair from the video above faded. A perfect silver!

This is how my gray hair from the video above faded. A perfect silver!

Before we get started, I want to warn you. This will damage your hair. Period. To get your 'do without any brassy tones requires a lot of bleach, which will end up making your hair pretty angry at you. So take a while, think about it, and once you're positive you want the look, proceed.


  • Bleach Powder: I bought a tub of Wella bleach powder for less than $10 at Sally's!
  • Developer: I use 10 volume Salon Care Creme developer, though any sort of 10 vol should do just fine. You don't want to use anything much higher than 10, because that's total and complete hair death.
  • Purple Shampoo: Generic Purple Shampoo will work just fine—and yes, that's the actual brand name. Purple shampoo will take out the brassy tones in your hair, and keep it more ash-toned on the regular. For more silver hair, try Fudge's Clean Blonde shampoo and conditioner.
  • Toner: Depending on the level of white-gray you want, you'll have to choose some sort of toner. I have Wella Color Charm White Lady, which is supposed to tone bright yellows into pure white. For a silver look, try out Wella Drabber in 050, cooling violet. Your hair will have light violet tones, but a darker gray look.
  • Coconut oil: This stuff is amazing for your hair and will be absolutely necessary during and after bleaches to help nourish it.
  • Dye brush: For applying bleach and toner.
  • Gloves
  • Tin Foil
  • Shower Cap
  • Time

Take Your Time

I understand hair urges, I totally do. You want it and you want it now. But, you're probably going to wish you hadn't when your hair turns to spaghetti after a drastic bleach. Seriously, that junk will melt off of your head. Nobody wants that.

If you want your hair to be salvageable, I recommend spacing the bleaches out over a few months. Of course, you don't have to do this. You can use 40 volume developer and get it all over with at once. You'd probably regret that though.

I'm currently going for a black to white ombre. I began by stripping my hair of its previous colors using Color Oops, because I found out it's terrible to bleach on top of already dyed hair.

Once I was satisfied with the amount of lift, I bleached my ends the first time. About a week later, I bleached again. My hair was still feeling good, and it was about halfway where I wanted it to be. I waited about another month, and bleached a third time. I was pretty sure it was light enough, but truly it wasn't. It will take another bleaching to get where I want it to be, and I've been waiting for two months. Mostly because I'm lazy. While some of my ends are splitting, it's nowhere near as bad as it was when I tried to bleach in one day (the dark ages).


Bleach to Start

I won't go into the details of bleaching here, partly because I've already written a whole article on the matter, which can be found here. One tip that may not be in that article is to apply coconut oil to your head before bleaching. I did this once, and the result was immaculate. Fully saturate your to-be-bleached hair with coconut oil, and then put the bleach right on top. It'll help to protect and nourish your hair while it is bleaching, and will result in softer post-bleach locks.

What I will say is that you should space out your bleaches, and do it until all of the orange is gone. You want your hair to be as light as possible so that the toner can actually make it white. The only way this will happen is if your hair is a super light yellowy color. Please be careful bleaching.

After bleaching, use your purple shampoo to tone out as much yellow as possible. When I apply purple shampoo, I try to leave it in for at least 30 minutes before rinsing out. This means I put it on before I get in the shower, and leave my hair up in a shower cap for a while.

Using the purple shampoo will help you see if you need to bleach again. If your hair is still super yellow, you should probably go for it.

If there's some noticeable toneage going on, you're ready for the real thing!



Instructions to tone should be located on the box the toner came in. If you're using Wella toner, it says to mix 1 part toner with 2 parts 20 volume developer. I have 10 volume developer, so I'd just leave it in for a little bit longer.

Use your dye brush to paint the toning mixture onto your hair, making sure to fully saturate your entire head. You should leave it on for 30-40 minutes, but monitor it to see if it is toning how you would like.

When you're done toning, rinse out with lukewarm water, and treat your hair to some oil. I mean, when I get out of any shower I put a little bit of olive oil on my hands and run it through my hair. Make it a normal thing. Then, let your hair air dry to save it from any further damage.


You'll have to do your roots every so often, so you can continue bleaching and toning, or just grow it out with an ombre. I've done that before too, and it's in my opinion the best way to phase out bleached hair.

Either way, keep the purple shampoo on deck and use it as needed to keep the yellow away. You'll probably have to trim your ends after all of this hair abuse too! Other than that, keep it conditioned and oiled after every shower so it's only the color of granny hair, and not the texture of it too.

Other Hair DIYs

If you've decided you'd like to do something with your hair, but the granny 'do isn't for you, check out some of my other hair dye how-to's!

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.