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How to Blend Gray Hair with Dark Brown Hair (Easy Way)

by Sandy Taylor

A great way to blend gray hair with dark brown hair is to weave gray highlights into your dark brown hair. It’s recommended to speak with your stylist on the blend because they will be able to help you select tones of highlights that can camouflage the grays and make your blend look even.

The main challenge of blending gray hair with dark brown hair is the inconsistent pattern of natural gray hair. The natural “salt and pepper” look can be a disaster if you’ve got more grays on one side of your head when compared to the other. Using highlights can help solve this issue by filling in areas where you may need more gray strands. The result is an even blended look with proper amounts of highlights and lowlights from all sides of your head.

Note: this guide focuses on blending long strands of gray hair with dark brown hair. Other methods of “blending” include gray root touch-ups or completely dyeing your hair to be the same shade as your dark hair. These methods simply get rid of your gray shades.

Obtaining the help of a stylist is highly recommended for the blending process. Stylists have been trained to work with all sorts of hair, toner, and dyes, so they have more experience. They can also help give you advice on the areas that you should highlight and spot any unevenness.

If you’re not sure if you’re skilled enough to proceed with something that could have potentially damaging effects on your hair, always check with a stylist or have them do it for you!

How To Use Gray Highlights to Conceal & Blend Gray Hair

The first step you’ll need to do is make an appointment with your stylist in order to apply highlights to your hair. Your stylist will likely use tinfoil on your hair to help localize the bleaching process.

Here are some tips for your visit to the salon:

Tip 1: Your stylist may cut off a few strands of your hair to test the bleach on. If you’ve never dyed your hair before, this will help you and your stylist to gauge how well your hair bleaches and if it holds color well.

Tip 2: If your hair is able to tolerate the bleach, then you can have your stylist begin utilizing a toner to make sure that the shade of your bleached hair is not going to interfere with the gray color you’re looking for. This step is going to be crucial for those with darker hair, since some residual color from your natural shade may make its way into the bleached shade. For silver, your stylist might use a purple toner.

Tip 3: Depending on how light your hair has gotten from the bleaching process and from the toning, there might not be any need to have further dyes in those sections. However, these sections will stand out a lot more from your natural color.

Tip 4: If you’re going to have additional dye added to your hair, your stylist may consider which shade of gray to use depending on your natural gray tone.

The most ideal natural gray tone is actually white because you can choose any gray shade knowing that the end result will be close to the shade that you choose.

If your gray hair has a yellowish tone, you artist may choose to neutralize these tones with a purple-grey shade.

Tip 5:  The bleaching process generally takes 20 to 30 minutes and the hair dyeing process will take another 30 minutes. Leave enough time for your visit to include consulting with your hairstylist as well. I recommend around 1.5 hours for the whole process.

Although applying gray highlights is best done at the salon. If you are confident enough, you can do it at home as well. If this is something you are interested in doing, check out my guide on how to highlight hair at home without a kit. Also check out my guides on:

How to Get Hair Dye Off Skin, Face, and Hands

How to Fix Bleached Hair Breakage

Gray Highlights on Dark Brown Hair Aftercare

After your salon visit, there are simple aftercare techniques that you can do at home.

Here are some aftercare techniques for gray highlights:

Tip 1: Use purple or red shampoo once a week – Your highlights may develop a yellow or green tint. If you experience such a case, you can neutralize the yellow tone with a purple shampoo and the green tone with a red shampoo.  This works because yellow and green and directly across purple and red on the color wheel, which means these tones will neutralize each other.

Each shampoo with a different amount of color deposits so use a small amount to test on an area of your hair first before committing.

Tip 2: Use Hair Mask with Food Coloring – If you find it difficult to remove the yellow or green tint from your hair, you can try to create your own mixture of hair masks with red or purple food coloring. This method allows the red and purple tones to sit on your hair longer which will help to remove the yellow or green tint.

Using this method, you can test the amount of red or purple coloring you need to offset your tint and you can control how long your want your hair mask to be left on your hair. I recommend starting with 20 minutes and adding more time if needed.

Tip 3: Do Root touch-ups your on highlights – Doing root touch-up on highlights is similar to doing root touch-ups on ombre hair. Since it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to match the gray tone that your stylist did for you with products off the shelf, I recommend doing this yourself only if you can find a close shade to your highlights.

It’s best to go back to the salon and have the stylist perform a root-touch up for you if you cannot find a close shade.

Tip 4: Use Low Heat – Flat irons, curlers, and hairdryers can make your new highlights brittle by drying up your hair. It’s a good idea to use thermal protectants and keep the heat setting of these tools to the lowest.

Tip 5: Deep condition your hair once a week – Highlighting removes keratin protein from your hair. Deep conditioning your hair once a week can help restore your hair and protect its structure.

It’s important to note that your highlights will eventually grow out. Expect to visit the salon once every 5 -6  weeks to review the highlights. Your stylist can help you re-blend and refresh your hairstyle at the same time.

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