There are two types of people in the world: Those who can commit to seeing their colorist every four to six weeks, and those who push six or seven months before they end up back in the salon chair.
At first glance, the silver-blonde hair trend would seem to be best for those in the "really good at color maintenance" camp. But that's not the case at all, as proven by the inspo we rounded up below. You can always start by swapping out your usual warm caramel and gold balayage tones for something a little cooler and icier.
Silver-blonde hair is just a very pale blonde that reflects a silvery/ashy tone. It differs from platinum in that platinum keeps to a pure white tone, while silver-blonde will have a cool tone to it, appearing slightly darker, Tressa Yunchuk at Kharma Salons tells us.
In fact, we'd argue that silver-blonde hair is the cool girl's answer to going lighter for summer. It's very Daenerys Targaryen with a splash of Anderson Cooper (and we mean that as the highest form of a compliment). "I think silver-blonde hair color has become so popular because it’s visually so striking," says Joseph Huckabee of NYC's Sally Hershberger Salon. "Everyone looks good blonde, and if you can pull off a cool blonde, it’s usually very sexy."
As for the easiest base color, Yanchuk says starting with a natural level 7 base color (dirty blonde) and up usually sets the scene for a beautiful silver-blonde shade. "It only needs to be lifted three levels, and most of the time that is easy to do," she says. "However, if you have previous color or any artificial color on your hair, that will make it harder again."
It's important to know that getting silver-blonde hair can be an aggressive treatment that Huckabee says should be done slowly and by someone who really specializes in the service.
We got a quick lesson and even more expert tips on how to achieve the ideal silver blonde shade below. Keep reading to learn more, plus see all the inspirational images to show your stylist.
Choosing a Shade: Take undertones into consideration, but know that hair has to be pre-lightened to a level 10 to achieve silver-blonde.
Maintenance Level: Typically high, unless you do a darker root. Generally, it's difficult to achieve a silver-blonde color because the process involves various lightening, lifting, and toning measures. You'll need to have your roots done every four to six weeks, Huckabee says.
Price: Pre-lightening is around $150 and up, while full color usually starts at $200 and up. This can depend on the salon and what its own pricing dictates.
Darker Silver-Blonde Tones
What sets this silver-blonde apart is the noticeably cooler, darker tones. If it were strictly platinum, there would only be a white undertone; instead, you can see a more silver, metallic gleam to the hair.
An Iconic Silver Pony
Celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess (she works with the likes of Lucy Hale and Lauren Conrad) knows a thing or two about hair. When she posted this shot of silver hair done up in what's essentially #ponytailgoals, we had to wonder: How did she maintain this vibrant hue?
Yanchuk recommends clients purchase a purple shampoo and conditioner to control the tone of their hair at home. Luckily, Ess's eponymous hair-care line makes a fantastic Purple Shampoo ($12) that expertly tones hair so your new icy color lasts longer.
Strong Blue Tones
To get the right color, you have to lift (AKA lighten) natural hair to the palest tone possible, until it's nearly white. Only after the hair has been lifted can you go in and tone, which involves adding in blues and violets to achieve the silver hue of this wavy style here.
Whether you have naturally blonde hair or dark hair, Yanchuk says you still must lift your hair to a level 10 (pale blonde) in order to tone it properly silver. This means that naturally darker hair, like this darker base Yanchuk's own client started with, is more challenging to get to pale blonde. Sometimes it can take more than one appointment to get there.
While she thinks silver-blonde looks amazing on anyone with cool undertones or pale skin, Yanchuk is quick to note "if you are confident and style your hair well, anyone can rock a beautiful silver-blonde."
Take Lady Gaga, for example, who dons silver-blonde hair with ease. She also looks amazing in every style and hair color under the rainbow, but the point is, while undertones can be taken into consideration with this shade, it's all about creating a look you like.
Paging Daenerys Targaryen
We're totally in love with this silvery-white creation by Yanchuk herself— and we 100% agree with what she says about rocking hair color with confidence. This look is seriously Mother of Dragons hair goals. If you need us, we'll be off dreaming of this epic hair and looking into hair growth products, stat.
Finding the Right Balance
Yanchuk says this hair color, like the silvery-blonde confection show here, is a very high-maintenance look only because pale silver hair is "just white, with the tiniest amount of blue/violet pigment."
There's a fine line here. If you use too much blue/violet pigment, it'll darken your hair past a pale silver, into a darker muted gray color, she says, which means the pale tones won’t remain in your hair very long.
Balayage artist Tressa knows her way around blonde, as evidenced by her stunning portfolio showcased on her Instagram feed. She has several recent iterations of silver-blonde hair, but we're especially swooning over this version with just slightly dark roots. Keeping darker roots is common for this style, while the ends tend to be as silvery as possible.
You'll also need to come into the salon for glossing and toning regularly, and you'll need to invest in an at-home haircare regimen to use about twice a week. A great moisturizing treatment helps maintain healthy-looking hair after any color change, but especially when going silver-blonde. A weekly at-home treatment like Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 ($28) takes about 15-20 minutes and is also a great way to allow for some personal time after a hectic week.
Silver for Different Textures
Texture can sometimes be an issue when trying to achieve silver blonde tones. This, of course, depends on what you're working with. Fine hair generally lifts much faster and easier then coarse hair will, as seen in this silvery-gray look on beauty blogger Nami.
Yunchuck says that coarse hair will tend to "stay in the level 7/8 zones, with more yellow and orange pigments remaining," which doesn't allow you to tone with a pale silver color. If this is the case, you can always opt for more of a gray or dark silver color, but Yanchuk says you cannot get a pale silver-blonde unless you're lifted to nearly white.
Scroll through colorist, stylist, and CEO Bescene Linh Phan's Instagram page to get hair color inspo for days. We're particularly enamored with this gray and lime-green peekaboo style.
Lived In Highlights
Cool highlights and dark roots prove that silver-blonde hair doesn't always have to be high-maintenance.
While darker roots make for a nice grow-out phase, Yanchuk says it might mean mixing multiple toners to create a soft blend from the roots to the ends. This color melt technique is tailored to each person's hair and depends specifically on how the color has lifted.
Talk to your stylist about the pros and cons of lifting your base color. Keeping your roots dark makes for a low-maintenance growing out process.
Jasmine Sanders is an expert at rocking blonde shades on her natural curly hair, and we love when she veers into cooler territory, as seen here. To keep your gorgeous curls healthy during a hair transformation, your stylist might integrate Olaplex or other techniques for bond maintenance and restoring moisture.
The color, in combination with the blunt cut, is giving us major futuristic vibes. The color requires both in-salon and at-home upkeep, Huckabee warns. Even with a short style, the dyeing appointment itself is long.
Cara Delevingne is no stranger to major hair changes, having gone from dirty blonde waves to an edgy buzzcut over the course of her career. We just so happen to love this silver-blonde pixie she sported for a moment in 2017.
Matt Rez, a Los Angeles-based colorist and Redken ambassador, is known for his impeccable blonde results, and Hunter Schafer's years with icy strands are no exception.
Use a hair gloss between salon visits to amp up the shine and enhance highlights. A tinted gloss is known to help tone hair, while a clear gloss helps with shine.
The Middle Ground
We can't stop obsessing over this not-quite-platinum, not-quite-gray color.
Say No To Brassiness
Keep hair looking as sleek and light as Cynthia Erivo's icy-silver pixie by using proper toning shampoos. Yanchuk loves Milkshake’s Silver Shine Shampoo ($20), noting it's very strong. Oftentimes, she recommends using it diluted once a week. "I also love Kevin Murphy’s Blonde Angel Wash and Rinse ($41), which are slightly less pigmented but still amazing at keeping your blonde hair cool," she says.
Yanchuk says that aside from using a purple or silver shampoo and conditioner at home, clients can also come into the salon for toning services to maintain glossy waves like these.
Treatments and Masks
Anyone who is lightening their hair needs to keep up with hydration, whether they do this via masks at home or in-salon treatments, Yanchuck says.
A Little Bit of Both
Is it silver? Is it blonde? It's both! For a dynamic color wrapped up in one cute style, opt for a shaggy lob.
Zoe Kravitz's Silver Braids
Zoe Kravitz always looks fantastic. It's an indisputable fact, in our opinion. These silver-blonde braids, though? They might just top her dark pixie. Look at the detail! The shades!