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DIY silver hair toner

Ever since I began transitioning to my natural silver hair, I’ve been on a mission to banish the yellow tones from my hair. And while there are many products you can find for this purpose, I love to keep things simple and save money at the same time. So I experimented and came up with an easy toner recipe for me and all you thrifty silver-haired sirens out there.

Make your own silver toning conditioner

All you need are two simple ingredients to make the perfect toner to keep your gray and silver hair bright—cheap white hair conditioner and semipermanent dye.

Suave conditioner and Arctic Fox transylvania dye

Suave conditioner and Arctic Fox transylvania dye

I use Suave coconut conditioner from Walmart (about $2) and Arctic Fox transylvania semipermanent dye ($13 to $18). I recommend getting the 4 ounce size because it will literally last for years using the small amount required for this recipe.

DIY toner recipe for silver hair

Take one cup of conditioner.

white conditioner

One cup conditioner

Add ¼ teaspoon Arctic Fox transylvania dye.

1/4 tsp Arctic Fox transylvania dye

1/4 tsp Arctic Fox transylvania dye

Stir into the conditioner and mix well.

Stir dye into conditioner

Stir dye into conditioner

After mixing, the conditioner looks like a medium shade of indigo blue.

Blue toning conditioner for silver hair

Blue toning conditioner for silver hair

Transfer the toner to a pump bottle for easy use.

Store conditioner in a pump bottle

Store conditioner in a pump bottle

The great thing about this mixture is that it brightens hair without leaving a blue cast. But if you would rather be left with a subtle blue shade in your hair, simply double the amount of dye, using ½ teaspoon instead of ¼ teaspoon.

How to use toning conditioner

Use the toner on your hair once or twice a week.

After I wash my hair in the shower, I squeeze out excess water and apply about a tablespoon all over my hair.

toning conditioner

One tablespoon toning conditioner per treatment

Then I comb through my hair with a wide-tooth comb, pin my hair up and continue on with my shower, rinsing my hair at the end.

Perfectly toned silver hair

toned silver hair

My silver hair after using DIY toner

And this is lovely result, silver hair without any yellow or blue tones.

I hope you will give this DIY toner a try on your own silver tresses.

The gray hair tag: Answering 10 questions about my gray hair

Right now there’s a tag going around on social media for those of us in the gray hair community to answer questions about our transition to gray hair.

Now more than ever, gray hair is a choice. It’s just as valid as all the other colors. It doesn’t mean that someone is old, not relevant or has stopped caring about her appearance. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We gray hair pioneers are trying to change that outdated perception. That’s why I decided to participate in this tag. I hope that my answers to these ten questions may help you with your own transition to gray hair.

1. How old were you when you started going gray?

I was 16. I remember being at school, looking in the bathroom mirror and I saw one or two gleaming silver strands in my medium brown hair. I was shocked!

By my late 30s, my hair was at least fifty percent gray and the rest of the color was a faded reddish brown which did absolutely nothing for me. That’s when I started regularly dyeing it dark brown.

2. How old were you when you decided to transition?

Shortly after my 60th birthday. I had always wanted to go blonde and I thought, “What am I waiting for.” I was also going through a traumatic time recovering from a broken ankle and I was ready for a new me.

3. Did you go to your hairdresser to help with the transition or did you just go “cold turkey?” What did your hairdresser do to help if you went to one?

You really only have three choices when transitioning to gray hair. You can cut it all off, you can let it grow out, or you can bleach it.

I chose bleaching and went to the hairdresser to get all the dark color removed from my hair. That is the fastest and most expensive option.

4. What was the reaction of your friends and family?

I didn’t go directly to gray hair. It was blonde for a few months. The people who knew me only as a brunette didn’t seem to like it, but only a couple of people said anything to me. My sister-in-law said it made me look old. Other people (casual acquaintances and strangers) liked it a lot.

As my natural silver hair grew out, I started experimenting with temporary pastel colors. I didn’t get any further comments from my friends and family. However, I have gotten many compliments from strangers on my new look.

5. Favorite thing about being gray?

I just love the color silver! I like being able to add colorful accents to my hair. I had never really experimented with my hair color before and it’s really fun.

6. Least favorite thing about being gray?

There is one minor thing and that is having to tone out yellowness, although it’s fairly hassle free the way I do it.

The only other thing that bothers me is that there’s no word for people with silver hair. There’s blonde, brunette, redhead, but no term for those of us with gray hair.

7. Do you receive a lot of criticism for your gray hair? If so, how do you deal?

Fortunately, I get no criticism for my gray hair. Truly the only things I get are compliments on my ombre. And if somebody did have something negative to say, it wouldn’t mean anything to me because I no longer care about what people think. I love it and that’s all that matters.

8. What is your favorite compliment that you have received about your hair?

I really do get a lot of compliments on my hair that I never got when it was brunette. But a few months ago I was at a club waiting for the music to start.

Where I was sitting a light was shining down on me, making my hair look so silver white. At that particular time the ombre had faded away and I wasn’t wearing my hair extensions, so it was just my hair in all its glory. A man came up to me from across the room and said, “I just love your hair!”

9. What is your biggest piece of advice to anyone looking to start the process?

Just know that it’s going to be an emotional time. Thinking about things like, am I old, is this going to make me look old, will I be accepted, etc. And then having to adjust the colors of your wardrobe and makeup; everything has to change. There’s a lot to deal with.

I also think going to a hairdresser to help with the transition is the best idea. If I had it to do over again I probably would have done heavy foils instead of overall bleaching. It might have been less damaging and would have been more gradual and an easier adjustment.

If you really want to go gray, just do it. Don’t let anyone hold you back.

10. Who is your gray hair idol?

There are three ladies on YouTube that I’m drawn to.

Maryam Remias is the one who inspired me with her ombre hair. I loved the way it looked on her and she gave me the courage to try it for myself.

I also like Monique Parent. She does so many things with her hair, including trying hairpieces and temporary colors to change things up.

And I admire Victoria Marie who has the most striking silver hair and who’s making a documentary, Gray is the new blonde.

These inspirational, vibrant women are redefining what it means to be gray.

Where are you at in your gray hair journey? Please feel free to share your story below.

Tips for dyeing and maintaining lavender hair

It’s hard to imagine a happier and more flattering color than lavender. And when that color is on your hair, people are going to notice. So if you’re ready to jazz up your look, and you don’t mind receiving lots of compliments from just about everyone, give it a try.

But you should know a few things going in. The dyeing process is messy. Color can go on uneven. And the biggest downside to lavender hair is the fact that it fades fast. I mean really fast.

Having spent the last two years experimenting with lavender on my hair, I’ve learned a thing or two about dyeing it and keeping the color for as long as possible. To summarize, my tips are:

Keep it clean
Keep it even
Keep it longer

Supplies needed

Before you get started, you’ll need:

Mixing bowl and applicator brush
Wide-tooth comb
Gloves
Mirror
Claw clip
Hair dye (semipermanent)
White conditioner (optional, for diluting stronger colors)

Hair dyeing supplies for lavender hair

Hair dyeing supplies for lavender hair

Dyeing and maintaining lavender hair

Keep it clean

When I say keep it clean, I’m not talking about your hair although that should be clean too. I’m talking about the bathroom because nobody mentions what a mess purple or lavender hair dye can make. Even though you try to cover every surface, you’ll be finding purple spots everywhere, and they’re hard to remove.

So if you don’t want your bathroom looking like a splatter art project, I suggest dyeing your hair inside the shower. Dye seems to come off easier in there and the mess is contained. Most spots will come off with rubbing alcohol. Lay a cloth down on the shower floor and you’ll have even less to clean up.

Shower set up to dye hair

Shower set up to dye hair

Keep it even

Splotchiness is a problem when dyeing your hair lavender or purple. The darker the dye, the more careful you have to be with application.

The brand of dye you use makes a big difference too. Arctic Fox is by far the easiest semipermanent dye to work with. Girls Night (a pinky lavender) and Periwinkle (a bluish lavender) are good color choices.

Arctic Fox Girls Night semipermanent dye

Arctic Fox Girls Night semipermanent dye

On the other hand, Manic Panic Ultraviolet is for me the prettiest shade of lavender when diluted with conditioner. Unfortunately, it goes on so splotchy and uneven and fades so fast, that it’s just not worth the hassle.

When dyeing your hair, start with dry, clean hair. Treat small sections at a time, about an inch wide. Try to spread the dye out evenly from the root to the ends. Rub it in with your fingers then go through it with the comb.

arctic fox girls night

Getting ready to dye my hair

After all the hair is done, gather it on your head and clip it in place. A half hour later you can wash it off.

I’ve found it does no good to leave the dye on for extended periods of time like some people recommend. I’ve tried it and have even washed it with cold water and I can say that those things made no difference in the staying power.

In fact, every day the hair fades even if you only wash it once a week. (Obviously it will fade faster the more you wash it.) I only wash mine once or twice a week.

Keep it longer

Lavender hair will only last one to two weeks depending on how deep the color was to begin with. If you don’t mind starting off with purple hair (Arctic Fox Purple Rain), you might even get three weeks out of it.

I’ve found the most effective way to extend the length of time between applications is to deposit dye every time you wash your hair. My favorite method is to use lavender conditioner after washing my hair. This allows me to go four to six weeks before dyeing again.

Girls Night and Periwinkle can be used straight out of the bottle as a conditioner. But if you’re using a purple dye, it should be diluted with white conditioner to a pale shade. With more intense colors you run the risk of getting a big purple blob on the back of your head.

To test for the right color, touch the dye with your finger and wipe it off. If it leaves more than a slight hint of lavender, you need to add more conditioner.

lavender conditioner comparison

lavender conditioner

The right amount of color for lavender conditioner

What I do in the shower is wash my hair first, squeeze out excess water and apply tinted conditioner with the applicator brush. I do this without looking in a mirror. Next I comb through the hair then pin it to my head with the hair clip. All these things live in my shower in a handy acrylic basket stuck to the wall.

hair supplies basket

Shower basket holding my hair supplies

If I end up with extra conditioner, I save it in an empty pump bottle for next time.

Then I continue on with my shower, rinsing my hair out as the very last step. So the hair is usually tinted and conditioned for about ten minutes at that point.

Some people say purple shampoo is good for maintaining lavender hair but I disagree. I experimented with purple shampoos and found that they’re only good for toning blonde or silver hair. To try and get more color payoff you need to saturate dry hair with the shampoo and leave it on for a while. In my opinion, this is a waste of money and time so I stick with the conditioner method.

So now you’re ready to rock your lavender locks!

Toning my Zala hair extensions silver

One thing I love is to go dancing, with my long, flowing locks moving with me to the music. I love LONG hair! And I used to have really long hair before bleaching the life out of it.

No problem—Zala hair to the rescue! They have the most beautiful, silky human hair extensions at a really good price. Although they have a lot of different colors, they didn’t have a silver that matched my hair. So I got 20 inch clip-in extensions in the color #60 ice queen platinum blonde. They’re 100% remy human hair and you get five pieces, 120 grams.

zala hair package

So long they barely fit in the photo

Oh my, these are gorgeous and thick! Most of the time I only wear two of the larger wefts.

But back to the toning.

Before wearing them, I needed to get them closer to my natural color and keep them as light as possible.

I just happened to have Adore Creative Dye in platinum for toning my own hair so I decided to use that on the extensions.

adore platinum hair dye

How to tone Zala hair extensions

First I did a test on a 2 inch weft using the dye full strength. I just brushed it on the hair, making sure it was fully saturated. Twenty minutes later I rinsed it out. (Be sure to use gloves when using dye!)

The color was a very pale blue which was not what I was going for. Here it is compared to the original color.

zala hair toned and untoned

Left is untoned, right is toned platinum full strength dye

Next, I diluted the dye with white conditioner, about a half and half mixture, and tested another 2 inch weft. Perfection!

Half Adore dye, half conditioner

Half Adore dye, half conditioner

So here you can see the different tones side by side. On the left is the original ice queen color. In the middle is the hair toned with the half and half mixture. And on the right is the hair toned using the undiluted color.

hair swatches

Left=ice queen, middle=toned with diluted dye, right=toned with full strength dye

Storing your hair extensions

And here’s a little tip for storing your Zala hair extensions. They sell something for that but I just DIY’ed it using things I already had.

A pants hanger covered by a plastic bag works just as well. Cost: zero dollars. I store them hanging in the closet, ready for the next dance party!

hanger for storing hair extensions

hanger for storing hair extensions

Wearing my Zala hair extensions

Here are some before and after shots. Even though there’s a little pink color on my ends, Zala hair blends in well.

Front, before and after extensions

no extensions

Before

wearing extensions

After

Back, before and after extensions

no extensions

Before

wearing extensions

After

Curled hair before and after extensions

And here it is with curled hair.

Curled hair before

Curled hair before extensions

Curled hair after

Curled hair after extensions

Ready to party!