Monday, 13 July 2015

Shades of Grey Part 2

How I went from dark to Chrome Silver

With the world of hair seeming to be raving about the 'granny grey' and silver grey trend, I thought it was an opportune time for me to go silver myself.  Especially as I had just launched in stores a new Silver Grey toner called 'Colour Restore Chrome'.

If you are considering going Silver or Grey it's worth you reading Part 1 of this piece first, as here I give further details on the subject Shades of Grey Part 1

So if you are considering going grey or silver, you should now understand the necessity is to get the hair to pure white.  Neither silver nor true grey shades can display on darker warm or blonde bases.

Once the hair is white, it's actually very easy to create the grey or silver shade.  However, it's the process of getting the hair to that white, which can be time consuming and intricate.  You firstly need to gently lighten the hair.  I used my product Decolour Stripper, however you can use any non-ammonia lightener.  Do not use full strength bleach because it will lift the hair too fast and may cause damage.  In addition, do not attempt to use any 'lightening blonde' box colourants that feature shades claiming to be tonal light blondes (such as platinum or ash)  The reason I do not advice this, is because very light retail box colourants are tending to 'colour protect' the hair with silicones and waterproofing as found with darker colourants.  This is absolutely no good when you are attempting to create a platinum base.  Simply because, if the hair does not lighten enough and warmth is exposed - the hair will not tone with any other product and would certainly not go platinum.  This happens because the hair has been 'colour locked' by the actual colourant shade.   In effect, it's been locked in and sealed, so no other toning product can enter and evoke change.

Instead, you need to lift the hair gently in two successive treatments with a pure lightener.  Once the hair has lifted to yellow, it can be toned to platinum to achieve white and then toned again to grey or silver. In addition, when hair has been lightened - it will be open and susceptible to good toning in a way colourant treated hair may not be. 

Below are the items I used in my own Silver Grey process:-

Decolour Stripper (to lighten the hair) Precolour Clarifier (to firstly clarify and then to use as a rinsing shampoo), Colour Restore Iced Platinum (to create the white base) and Colour Restore Chrome (to create the silver).  As an addition, I always recommend applying any colourant, lightener, stripper or remover with a tint bowl and brush. 

Step One  - Clarify, Clarify, Clarify!

It is crucial you clarify your hair before you start any colouring process, but this is never more so the case than when lifting with non ammonia lighteners.  The reason being, is due to the fact that ammonia free lighteners are far gentler on the hair, however they are not strong enough to cut through any styling products, silicone and residual build-up that may have accumulated on the hair shaft. Clarifier's are strong cleansers that are not only able to remove this residue, but also slightly raise the cuticle.  This enables temporary colours and ammonia free colourants and lighteners to successfully enter the hair and evoke change.  I used my own product Precolour Clarifier on my hair, I designed this to work specifically with pre-colour treatment.  However, as long as you use some kind of clarifying product you will be fine.

Step Two - Apply the lightener firstly to damp (not dry) hair.

Once you have clarified your hair - towel dry it.  When you are double processing the hair, you ideally want to evoke an even first lifting to a lighter shade, followed by a more concentrated second lifting.  In my case, I was using Decolour Stripper to lift my hair.  Decolour Stripper should be applied to damp hair, because it enables the lightener to be worked evenly throughout.  Once I applied the stripper to the damp hair, I allowed it to develop for only 20 minutes.  This took my darker brown shade to an orange.  Whilst this orange shade isn't pleasant, what it's indicating is the hair has been entered and has lightened up by several shades.  

After applying the Decolour Stripper to damp hair and within 10 minutes the hair begun to turn orange.  I gave it around 20 minutes development before rinsing out.

Step Three  - Once stripped to orange, rinse out and Clarify again

Once I had gotten the hair to an orange, I rinsed and clarified again.  Here the hair will feel a little course, however you do not want to apply a conditioner as the lightening session is still open.  If you apply a conditioner, it will coat the hair and then make the next lifting harder.  Therefore, keep the hair well open and only using a clarifier to remove that lightener.  Once you have rinsed and clarified for around 3 to 5 minutes, you towel dry and then rough dry the hair with a hairdryer.

Step Four - Second lightening 

Unlike the first stripping/lightening it is now important you rough dry the hair with a hairdryer.  The hair will feel course and will need to be carefully combed.  However, the second lightening is the key one.  In the first, you have stripped out a lot of the pigment and got the hair to an orange shade.  The next lifting is designed to kick out all the unwanted orange and lift the hair up to a pale yellow.  Mixing new and then applying the non ammonia lightener or stripper to dry hair, means it will not be diluted so you can retain a shorter safe development.  Apply the Stripper or non-ammonia lightener carefully with the tint brush, starting with any areas that appear to be a deeper orange.  Avoid the roots as much as you can as these will lift faster.  Once you have applied all the Stripper or lightener to the dry hair, you will very quickly notice it lifting again.  Remember, the session is still open from previously (as you clarified and did not condition), plus the lightener has been applied to dry hair.  Therefore, you will see a much faster lift happening.  You ideally want to leave the second Stripping/Lifting for 30 minutes.  However, keep wiping very small threads of hair every 5 minutes with a piece of tissue and look for lack of orange and a clear pale yellow.  If the hair is orange, it will not tone to white.  Therefore, you want to be looking for a depth and tone the same colour as the inside of a banana peel. 

This photo was taken only 10 minutes after the second application was applied to the dry orange

Step Five - Rinsing Out Stripper and lightener and preparing to tone

Once the hair has reached a pale yellow, you need to rinse out all the lightener from the hair and clarify again.  If the hair is pale yellow, this will be the last chemical process it will have to undergo.  Again, you will notice the hair feels dry and course.  However, this does not mean it is damaged, it has just been opened and the cuticle remains ruffled. 

Step Six - Toning lifted pale yellow hair to white

In order to get a grey-silver shade to fully show, you need to firstly tone the lightened yellow hair to a pure white.  If you attempt to apply a silver or grey colourant on top of brassy hair, it will produce a sludgy heavy tone as opposed to a crisp silver grey shade.

After getting my hair to pale yellow, I used my Colour Restore Iced Platinum, to counteract all the yellow tone and create a pure white.  I generally recommend Colour Restore Iced Platinum stay on the hair for 20 minutes, however in this case I left it for 30 minutes as I wanted to the maximum toning possible.  As you can see (below) the hair went to a pure white from the initial pale yellow.

(Left) showing how my hair looked after second Decolour Stripper was rinsed out.  (Right) showing the shade after applying Colour Restore Iced Platinum for 30 minutes.  The base was (by this point) pure white.

Step 7 - Finally, Creating your Silver-Grey shade

With my hair pure white, all I now needed to do was apply the Chrome Colour Restore.  I applied the Chrome with my hair slightly damp, but I did want it a little on the drier side - so the hair would over absorb - which is always a good tip when you want to display silvers and greys.  After working the Chrome through the hair I left it for 30 minutes and rinsed out.  

Colour Restore (as a range) is actually very conditioning, so following the application of the Iced Platinum to achieve the white, my hair felt softer anyway.  However, after I applied and rinsed the Chrome I did condition the hair.  The reason I did a traditional conditioning (at the very end), was to close the session and the hair.   By this point, the lightening and toning was over, so the hair did not need to remain open any longer.

The Finished Result 

As you can see, the Chrome turned the white hair to a silver grey.  My reasoning for showing the two photos is due to the fact one is in sunlight and the other inside.  You can see, that under direct light, the Chrome tone comes out a metallic silver.  However, inside (without daylight) the Chrome tone has a more grey hue to it.    

Last tips:-

If you create a grey or silver shade, remember that it is really important you use only shampoos designed for kicking yellow tone out of grey and silver hair.  I would recommend you switching to using 'White Hot Hair's' Shampoos.  These are specifically designed for natural grey and white hair, however they are also great for artificial white and grey shades.  White Hot Hair, also do some styling products that are also designed for silvers and greys too:-

White Hot Hair Sold at Boots here

When those pesky dark roots come through, you can blend them away with Bouffe's Silver Thickening Spray.  Whilst the Bouffe range is designed to give volume, the colour aspect also enables regrowth coverage.  By spraying the Silver Bouffe variant onto your regrowth (as it appears) you should be able to quickly blend in a silver tone that disguises regrowth.

Bouffe Silver Spray is Sold at Boots here

Finally, to retain your silver grey tone, make sure you use Colour Restore Iced Platinum and Chrome as your regular two minute conditioners.  Simply wash the hair, then alternate (with each wash) between applying a small amount of either of the tones to the hair and leaving for 2 minutes before rinsing.  By continually refreshing the Platinum undertone and Chrome overtone, you will not find your silver grey vanishing over time!

Colour Restore Chrome, along with the other Scott Cornwall products are sold in Boots stores and online

Scott :) 

Shades of Grey Part 1

Even I wanted in on the Silver hair trend!

My journey within a couple of hours of going from dark to Chrome Silver 

The grey and silver hair trend has really taken hold.  Celebrities from 'Orange is the New Black's' Dascha Polanco Rihanna and Kylie Jenner have all been seen to jump on the granny grey trend.  Whilst the likes of Lady Gaga and Pink have sported softer grey via Silver shades. 

Dascha Polanco, Rihanna and Kylie Jenner all sporting grey

Seeing this shade emerging in 2014, I knew consumers would need a Silver Toner to create these soon to be desired grey hues.  For this reason, I created Colour Restore Chrome.  Where as Colour Restore Iced Platinum is designed to neutralise yellow tones and Cool Ash orange tones, Colour Restore Chrome builds a solid Silver grey colour in white blonde hair.

My Colour Restore Chrome Silver Grey toner 

So before I explain my Silver Journey, what are the bare facts of artificial silver and grey hair?

Will it suit me?

Generally grey and silver hair is more amenable to suiting varying skin tones than people would believe.  After all, Silver and grey are of the 'white' family and because white (as a colour) is (by contradiction) void of colour, it's a key neutral.   

However, there are certain skin tones and natural hair types who should really stay away from silvers and greys.  Generally, if you are the archetypal 'warm' with freckle prone skin and (natural) auburn or copper toned hair, changing your shade to grey or silver will be very harsh on you.  The excessive cool tone will cause the skin to have a drained and aged quality and the overall look will be harsh.  If you are very warm toned and love the idea of being a super light shade, take a tip from Nicole Kidman and keep it warm.  In these instances my Candy Colour Restore Toner is a much better option. 

Nicole Kidman is naturally warm toned and would not suit Silvers or Grey shades.  If you have a similar tone and prefer light bases, opt for the initial whitening of the hair, but then use Colour Restore Candy to create the correct warm tone. 

There are so many silver shampoos - will these create silver or grey?

No!  This is now another big area of confusion.  Silver shampoos were (originally) so named to keep naturally grey and white hair clean and pure looking.  In recent years, artificial blondes have found them good to prevent the hair displaying soft brassy tones.  However, all such products can do is offer very mild neutralisation of unwanted yellow tone.  They cannot actually create a grey or silver.  However, once you get your hair grey or silver, you do need to switch to using a silver or blue shampoo as your regular cleanser.  The reason being, is grey and silver hair will very quickly turn a dirty steel yellow if you do not keep counteracting the underlying yellow pigment in the hair.

Is it easy to create a silver and grey shade?

It depends on the natural base and length, but generally it can be quite intricate.  Effectively, silver and grey hair is a platinum blonde that requires significant lightening and toning to get the hair to white.  I would never recommend anyone attempt to lift artificial dark, long hair to platinum blonde in one hit - the hair will just not stand it.  Instead, a good recommendation is to firstly get long hair to a soft orange and then overlay a Lilac Pastel colour.  The lilac will counteract the orange and produce an off-blonde beige.  If you then keep conditioning the hair, several weeks later you can go in again and lighten some more.  Eventually the hair will tone to white, and from this point you will get be able to successfully overlay an effective grey or silver shade. 

Unless you have short hair (like mine) or are confident you have no artificial (dark or tonal) colour anywhere within the hair, just don't attempt to go grey or silver in one hit.    The greatest warning I can give is NEVER mix up strong bleach and 40 volume (12%) peroxide and apply it to artificially coloured, darker long hair types - expecting to get a white blonde.  Strong bleaches and peroxide strengths are very harsh on such hair types and using them will cause the hair to go into meltdown.  Rather than lifting, the cuticle will be burnt off, the hair will not budge passed a bright peach and you will never be able to tone it.  The aforementioned, is perhaps the biggest mistake I see home colourists making when trying to go light blonde.   So be patient and take this process slowly - overtime.

A great example of what happens when very dark artificially coloured hair is bleached in one hit, with the late great Amy Winehouse.  You can see how the hair is holding pockets of orange (where the previous dark shade had been).  The peach shade can also not be toned as the cuticle is gone and the orange too deep.  The loss of Amy and her talent speaks for itself and if Amy was still with us, she's a great example of someone who would have pulled off the dramatic silver grey look fantastically.

So if you are not deterred and still want to aim for the Silver Grey look, I explain in my next blog how I got - 

From this:-

To this

click here to find out

Monday, 19 January 2015


A lot of people have asked me how you can transition into a grey shade.  In addition, this subject is now being covered a grey deal in the media and press.  So below are my thoughts, tips and advice.

1.  The press would have us believe that under artificially coloured hair, we all have a fantastic mane of beautiful silver tresses.  In fact, I have yet to see an article (unless I contributed) which actually explains the blunt truth - so here it is.  Most of us do not go grey in an even and stylish way.  When we get those first greys (anywhere between our early 20's to late 30's) they will be interspersed with the rest of the hair.  Some people are fortunate enough to go grey at the front and then it evenly spreads backwards.  However (for the majority) the white hairs will come through randomly and all over the place, perhaps 10 years into going grey, most people have a badger effect with patchy clumps of white.

Meryl Streep searches for her blue shampoo in Disney's 'Into The Woods' (c) Disney 2014

2.  In general (although not exclusively) we begin to grey at the front.  So here is the problem,  I have had vast amounts of people tell me "I'm completely white now and want to transition to silver".  So we start allowing the grey to grow through and guess what?  They are still completely 'non grey' everywhere but the front!  So in this situation, they can either opt for a Mallen Streak or continue to colour.  This scenario can be a real nuisance for many as it's the front hairline and parting section (of grey roots) that can be the most noticeable.

Johnny Depp's Mallen Streak in 'Sweeney Todd' (c) Warner Brothers 2007 

3.  If you were naturally dark and believe you are now very, very grey - watch out for artificial hair colours that keep turning copper!!  This is indicating the colourant (either yourself or your hair salon is applying) has a high strength of peroxide and is lightening the non grey hair.  When you lighten dark natural bases the hair obviously goes copper.  However, white hair cannot go copper as there is no longer red or orange pigment left in the hair to expose.  Therefore, if you are seeing a lot of copper in hair you believe (under an artificial shade) to be very grey, think again as you must have more or your original depth than you think!    Preventing unwanted copper in a grey coverage shade can be achieved by using a low strength developer and an ash based colourant.

4.  Some of us may never go fully white, but for those who do the transition can take a long time.  The best way to understand how white you actually are, is to get someone (hairdresser, friend, relative) to go through your head (like the nit nurse lol) and check your grey roots throughout.  They will be able to tell you how much of your original shade is remaining throughout, and how much is grey.  You might be surprised to learn your entire back section is still 100% it's original colour and never needed artificial colouring!

5.  From my experience (and as stated in point 3) artificially coloured hair that kicks up a lot of warmth (when coloured) is indicating a great deal of the original shade is still present.  When someone has a high amount of white/grey the darker (artificial) colour starts beginning to look very flat, heavy and synthetic (from root to tip) It will lack warmth and will look artificially coloured.  This happens, because there is now so much white hair (across the head) the artificial colour is displaying as an even blanket and in addition being sucked into the hair.  Therefore, a shade can look two (or even more) levels darker than indicated on the box or swatch!

Colouring very white hair  in deeper shades can cause it to absorb the colour and create an ultra dark Morticia Addams effect. (c) 1991 Paramount 


6.   When you start to cover the first signs of grey hair DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT pour an entire bottle of permanent colour over your whole head!  This is opening you up to a lifetime of regrowth application and chemical exposure you just don't need!  Instead, buy a non ammonia colour and mix in a tint bowl and using a (purpose bought) toothbrush, go throughout your hair and 'dab out' any whites you can see, but leave the natural hair untouched.  Always pick a non ammonia colour 2 levels lighter than your natural shade.  However, this simple 'dabbing' method will produce a highly natural (multi-tonal) colour, without root straps - so your upkeep is lower.  You will know when the hair needs to switch to a full head regrowth, as the grey will start appearing as a strap and the toothbrush application will be taking longer and longer! From this point switch to standard regrowth application.  However, if you find you have large isolated clumps of white (in an otherwise dark/original base) continue with the 'dabbing' method.  Dabbing also helps prevent hair becoming gingery through developer lightening as you only ever target those white hairs/areas that contain no red or orange pigment. The other benefit of 'dabbing' out isolated whites and patchy grey is it produces a very natural 'multi-tonal' effect instead of that artificial bloke colour.  Very few hairdressers do this, but it's the secret to the top colourists and celebrity coverage!

This rare capture of the Dutchess of Cambridge shows how (if you notice her regrowth) she has slight interspersed grey. However, rather than blocking out all her roots with a darker colour, a lighter colour has been used and those white hairs have been 'dabbed out' with a lighter shade (to her non grey brunette base).  This ultimately creates a a very natural multi-tonal brunette. 

7.  Always cover grey roots by application with a tint brush to those grey roots only.  Never try to select a shade the same level as your natural/original colour,instead go two levels lighter.  Only apply the colourant to the roots (never throughout).  If you are finding your roots need tending to every 2 to 3 weeks, your colour is now too dark for your grey base.  When you find yourself colouring more frequently, simply switch to a shade one level lighter than the current.  You should aim for regrowth coverage every 4 to 6 weeks.  A lighter artificial shade is less noticeable next to grey regrowth.  Think of it on percentages.  If you have 10-20% grey, you can use a colourant 1 level lighter than your original base to achieve a natural effect.  If you have 30 to 50% grey, your base is now 30-50% lighter (due to the white hair) than originally, therefore select a colourant 30 to 50% lighter than your natural/original shade and so on.  Whenever you notice you are colouring more frequently, it means your hair now has a percentage more grey (than previously) and you need to go up a level (eg from 5.0 light brown to 6.0 dark blonde then to 7.0 medium blonde and so on).  As you transition, (over the years) your hair will begin to naturally lighten with the grey - until you can decide to make a complete transition.  If you are mindful your hair is always in a state of gradual lightening and adjust your shade accordingly, you will not be trapped in a cycle of very dark hair with a white regrowth strap appearing every 2 weeks!

8.  When you have decided to transition to grey, remember you may still have to colour. During transition, the best method to deploy is to stop root colouring completely and start having bleach highlights added.  You can then tone these with Iced Platinum Colour Restore and use a blue shampoo as your regular cleanser.  Keep having the highlights added every few months and eventually (as more of your natural grey grows through) you will notice that initial blonde shade is now appearing silver.  This is indicating all the old artificial colour has been lifted away (or grown out) and instead you are now highlighting on pure grey.   This method is also very good for those who have patchy 'badger' grey and want to be a silver.  If you ask your salon to simply weave out those 'non grey' dark areas and apply bleach highlights into them, you will start to achieve a silver effect.  You can also achieve this at home with a highlighting cap. The key is to lighten those highlights through the orange stage and then tone to platinum.  If you then only use a blue shampoo, the cool tone will over deposit and the artificial highlights will appear silver.

9.   Does grey suit everyone?  No!  As a general rule those who were naturally very warm (so your typical redhead) really do not suit white or grey hair.  These skin tones are very warm and the ultra cool hair tone next to that skin causes a sallow effect.  When significantly older, the natural 'redhead'/'gold' hair type can suit a pure 100% white.  However, warm natural hair types - who go grey - will actually start obtaining a nicotine yellow.  This happens because the original copper/auburn base begins to lighten as the white hairs appear.  Therefore, you don't achieve a silver but a washed out yellow blonde.  For natural redheads and auburns  (rather than going grey) the best approach is to go light golden blonde.  A good example of this is approach is Lula.  The maintenance of a lightest golden blonde is very low and using a 9.3 to 10.3 (light golden blonde) shade gives minimal contrast between the nicotine/white roots and mid-lengths - meaning you will need those roots doing less often.

Lulu transitioned from a natural 'redhead' shade to a light golden blonde.  More suited to her skin tone than cold blondes, silvers and greys. 

10.  Lastly a word to the media!  Helen Mirren IS NOT GREY!!!!!!  This is driving me mad!  Every single article on grey hair features Helen Mirren as seemingly the poster girl for grey hair!  Helen Mirren was once a natural golden blonde.  She has (obviously) gone grey, however her colourist simply applies a platinum highlight throughout.  This produces (what I call) ice blonde or soft metallic blonde.  This is a great idea for those who were naturally quite fair and have gone grey, simply because it uses the grey hair as a base and then intermixes a cool blonde tone.  However, you cannot call this shade 'grey' anymore than you'd call an Emu a Flamingo!!

A younger Helen Mirren had golden blonde hair.  As the hair has gone grey, it has produced an ice blonde that is intensified with platinum based highlights.  However, Helen's current shade is still very much blonde. 

If the media want good examples of grey haired celebrities look to Emmylou Harris Jamie Lee Curtis and (sometimes) Julie Walters

Tuesday, 13 January 2015


The new year is a great time to Detox your hair.  Removing surface residues, build-up and just allowing your hair to be deep cleansed and receive protein can really make a huge difference. 

Below are some simple tips for the perfect Hair Dextox:-


Available from Boots Stores

Whilst Precolour Clarifying Treatment was designed for use prior to colouring or chemical treatments, you can use it as a regular clarifier to remove product build-up and residue. Simply switch to using Precolour Clarifier instead of your regular shampoo for 3 washes, trying to avoid traditional conditioners and heavy styling products.


If the Christmas season saw you using lots of product and sprays, your scalp could have a residue. Using Bicarbonate of Soda on the scalp is a natural way to gently remove residue and exfoliate. To use, simply rinse the hair with warm water, put a small amount of bicarb into your palm and gently rub palms together. Then work bicarb paste throughout the scalp massaging vigorously for several minutes. Rinse thoroughly with comfortable tepid water for a further few minutes.


After clarifying and exfoliating, applying a Coconut Oil treatment can be a natural way to infuse your hair with moisture. 100% natural coconut oil is very rich. To use, simply apply 1/2 teaspoon to your palm and rub palms together to heat oil. Work the coconut oil through towel dried/completely dry clarified hair. Wrap the hair in cling film and leave for 30 minutes. Before rinsing the coconut oil, apply a tiny amount of Precolour Clarifier to palms, rub palms together and then lightly work through the hair. Because coconut oil is greasy, it needs a tiny amount of cleanser to remove surface excess before proceeding to rinsing with tepid comfortable water.


It sounds ridiculous - but many people forget how beneficial good water consumption can be for your skin and hair. Drinking around 2 liters of water a day will hydrate your skin and prove beneficial to your scalp and hair follicles. Healthy hair follicles will lead to improved growth.


Lastly, when detoxing try go cold turkey and cut out all use of heated appliances. Many hairdryers feature a warm and cool shot and if you wish to speed up drying time you can use these settings. During Detox, using a tangle brush or comb after clarifying/treatment and then leaving the hair to air dry naturally is the best course of action. 

If you have any questions about Detoxing your own hair please visit my facebook page Scott