Many people in their forties and fifties might freak out when they notice a few gray hairs starting to show. It has to do with the stigma that even just a single strand of silver means that you’re getting older – and who wants to be reminded of that when you still have the energy of a teenager?
But today, even millennials are raving about gray hair, specifically the salt and pepper trend.
It’s an incredibly chic and daring look to pull off, but people still clamor to get it done to their mane.
Today, gray hair isn’t just a symbol of wisdom over the years – it’s a trendy, coveted hair shade too!
Rocking salt and pepper hair isn’t as simple as dyeing your hair gray.
It needs to have depth and dimension for you to get that classy, captivating look that is sure to grab attention without being brushed off as natural gray hair.
Here’s how to dye your hair salt and pepper the right way.
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What Is The Salt And Pepper Shade?
Salt and pepper hair is the term used to describe that unique shade of silver that is composed of gray, black and even a little bit of white hair.
That’s why it’s called “salt and pepper” – it’s reminiscent of the colors of the kitchen’s most important flavor enhancers.
Together, they create a mane that’s full of dimension and looks beautiful when it reflects light.
This combo makes the hair look fresh, shiny, and oh-so-unique.
Most people will naturally get salt and pepper hair eventually.
When your black or brown hair starts turning white in your later years, those strands will combine with your natural shade, giving you effortless salt-and-pepper locks.
But for other people – especially those who want to rock it in their twenties or teen years – the only way to get salt and pepper hair is to dye your hair the perfect amount of silver, gray, or white.
Not everyone is patient enough to wait until their golden years to sport salt and pepper strands.
For those who have no other choice, dyeing their hair that gorgeous silver is the only way they’ll ever flaunt their desired look.
Technically, anyone could dye their hair that salt and pepper hue if they wanted.
But it’s a lot easier for those with lighter-colored locks like blonde or sandy brown to achieve that look.
Those with darker hair have a great base for it but need to do extra steps to make sure that the silver and gray color sticks to their strands.
How To Dye Your Hair Salt And Pepper
Ready to get that coveted salt-and-pepper look?
Here are four different ways to dye your hair that shade, depending on where your hair is at now:
Add A Thick Silver Balayage To Your Dark Hair
If you have naturally dark hair, like black or dark brown, you’ll need to bleach your hair first.
This is a must if you want to get that salt and pepper effect, since silver, white, and gray color won’t latch onto hair with extremely dark pigments.
One technique you can do instead of bleaching your entire mane is to give yourself something like a generous balayage to lighten the majority of your hair.
That way, you can keep your darker shade to give added dimension to your finished salt and pepper color.
Just remember that bleaching your hair can be very risky if you’re a first-timer.
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Only bleach your hair and attempt a balayage (a painting technique that requires a high level of skill) if you’ve had previous experience working with bleach.
If you’re confident that you can do it at home, here’s how:
Step 1: Brush Your Hair
Brush your hair to remove any tangles.
If your hair is smooth, your bleach will lighten your hair evenly in one shade lift.
Step 2: Section Your Hair
Divide your hair into four quadrants by dividing it into half both vertically and horizontally.
Clip up three of the sections to focus on one first.
Step 3: Apply Bleach Mixture
Mix your bleach and developer as instructed in the product packaging.
Then, take your applicator brush and freely paint the mixture into your strands in the areas you want to achieve that salt and pepper color.
I recommend lightening your hair one inch away from the scalp downward.
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To combat harsh lines, use your fingers to blend the bleach where it starts on your hair.
Step 4: Wait Then Wash
Let the lightener process your hair for 15-20 minutes, or whenever you’re happy with how light it’s gotten.
Hop into the shower and wash everything out with shampoo.
At this point, you aren’t done yet.
What you’ll have is light but warm hair with streaks of your natural color.
Step 5: Tone The Hair
What you need to do next is tone it to get that grayish silver color to complete your look.
A good toner will give you the perfect, icy finish that makes that salt and pepper look even more flattering.
It’s also true to color, and never over-deposits pigment to make your hair look unnatural.
Go From Blonde To Full Silver Fox
If you’re starting with lighter hair, then things will be much simpler for you.
All you have to do is directly dye your hair a gray or silver dye that has the right amount of depth and dimension to deliver that salt and pepper color you desire.
The easiest way to do that is with a box dye at home.
Just make sure it’s from a trusted, renowned brand, so you know that the ingredients are top-quality.
One dye that I think creates the perfect salt-and-pepper look on light-colored hair is the L’Oreal Feria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Permanent Hair Color in S1 Smokey Silver.
It’s just the right shade so that it isn’t too gray, too white, or too metallic.
It’s the perfect blend of black, white, and silver for a brilliant, dimensional finish.
If you’re not happy with the results because it looks too bright, you can get darker highlights done at the salon.
This will balance out the stark silver shade.
Cover Up Natural Grays With A Touch Of Color
Some older men might want to have salt and pepper hair too.
Their problem? Their hair is completely gray or white now, making it just plain salt and no pepper.
To cover up some of your grays and create an authentic salt and pepper look, try using the Just For Men Touch of Gray Hair Color.
This hair color covers up most but not all of your gray hair.
That way, you still have a balance between darker strands and lighter ones that show off your silvers and whites.
Instead of 100% gray coverage, you get a slight reduction in the gray.
The formula of this dye is super easy to work with.
It’s a no-mix dye that comes in a tube, which you connect to an applicator comb for easy distribution across your strands.
Just apply to your hair, wait five minutes, wash out in the shower, and you’ll have smokin’ salt and pepper hair!
Try It For A While With Temporary Color
Not completely sold on permanently sporting salt and pepper hair?
Not to worry – you can try it out for a day or so first with temporary hair dye.
One that gives you a beautiful salt-and-pepper effect is the L’Oreal Colorista 1-Day Hair Color Spray in Silver.
It has a highly pigmented, almost metallic color that shows up on any hair color, light or dark.
It gets even more vibrant and visible when it dries on your strands.
Just spray it on the areas you want to have a salt and pepper effect (or all over your head!) and you’re done.
The temporary color is easy to wash out with shampoo.
It’s a terrific way to see if the salt and pepper look will work great on you without committing to permanent dye and bleach just yet.
The Best Ways To Style Salt And Pepper Hair
It’s not enough to have salt-and-pepper hair.
The real “wow” factor comes in when you style your hair in such a way that emphasizes its layers of dimension and color.
Think about it like highlights – certain hairstyles and textures bring out the extra depth a little more when you have salt-and-pepper hair.
Curling Your Hair
Curling your hair to create loose, relaxed waves will be perfect for showing off the light-reflecting silver in your hair.
It gives those lighter-colored pieces in your mane a chance to be illuminated by light, showing off the dimension in your hair.
Another terrific hairstyle for showing off multi-faceted salt and pepper hair is braids.
You could go for something as simple as a single French braid that goes around your shoulder, or go the trendy path and put your hair in two fishtail braids to frame your face.
You should also think about your clothes too.
Now that you have salt-and-pepper hair, the way you style yourself has to complement your hair to bring it out better.
Avoid wearing clothes that are industrial and earthy in color, like khaki, caramel, and avocado.
These can make you seem older than you would probably like to look.
Instead, wear trendy tops and dresses that are jewel-toned, like ruby red or a vibrant blue.
You should also adjust what type of jewelry you wear.
Instead of going for gold pieces, go with white gold and platinum rings and necklaces.
These will match your salt-and-pepper hair and give you an extra air of sophistication.
You might also want to add a little extra blush whenever you do your make-up from now on.
Now that you’re sporting salt and pepper locks, you have to make sure your face has a healthy flush so you don’t look washed out or dull.
Peachy corals and pinks are great for that.
Maintaining Your Salt And Pepper Shade
As with all colors, you need to take extra care to maintain your dyed salt and pepper shade.
Without the proper aftercare, you could end up with extremely brassy hair, making your locks look warm instead of cool and ashy in tone.
Avoid Washing Your Hair Every Day
The first tip I have for maintaining your salt-and-pepper color is to avoid washing your hair every day.
Silver and white hair dye wash out faster than most other colors, so it’s important that you try to leave as much room as you can between washes.
This will extend your hair color by weeks.
And when you do wash your hair, you’ll want to use products that can help maintain the vibrancy and tone of your salt-and-pepper hair. One product you can use to ensure that is purple shampoo.
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Purple shampoo is made with violet pigments that help neutralize the brassiness that peeks through after dyeing your hair a lighter color.
This is a huge help for those who started with darker hair, then got it bleached and colored gray and silver to get the salt and pepper look.
The Jhirmack Silver Brightening Purple Shampoo and Conditioner will be fantastic for that.
It’s formulated specifically for silver-toned hair, unlike other purple shampoos designed for blondes.
Both products are infused with moisturizing macadamia oil and hair-strengthening collagen too.
So while it keeps your salt-and-pepper hair cool and chic, it improves the overall health of your mane as well.
Use Color Depositing Conditioner
Now, if your main goal is to amp up the vividness and vibrance of your salt and pepper color, you’ll want to use a silver color-depositing conditioner, like the Keracolor Color + Clenditioner.
As you nourish your hair, it deposits silver pigments, making your color brighter and more accentuated.
This is a great tool to use between hair dye touch-ups.
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Minimize The Use Of Hot Tools
Lastly, make sure you lay low on the heat-styling products now that you have salt and pepper hair.
If you use your flat iron or hair dryer every single day without a heat protectant, your dusky gray tone will fade faster than it should.
Instead, let your hair air-dry and wear it au naturel.
If you’ve been trying to find out how to dye your hair salt and pepper, this post has covered all the deets.
Whether you have dark or light hair or are concerned about coloring your hair permanently, there are always effective ways to achieve that salt-and-pepper look you’ve been seeing all over Instagram.
The four techniques I’ve shared will help anyone who wants to rock that gorgeous color, whether you’re old and have fresh, healthy locks, or are a bit more mature and have a few extra grays peeking through.
Just remember to style your hair correctly to bring out the true dimension of your unique salt and pepper color.
Maintain it well with the right products, and you’ll be turning heads and catching people’s eye for a long while.
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