The beginning of October brings with it a change in tone — the greens covering campus make their transition to the reds, yellows, oranges and browns we consider autumn. However, this year a new color has come into play: gray. You’ve seen it on Rihanna; you’ve seen it on Zayn Malik; you (might) have seen it on me across the Diag. Gray/silver hair over the past several months has steadily gained traction and as of Fall 2015, it’s clear that it is one of fashion’s strongest trends. If you’re considering the look, here’s what you need to know.

It’s not quick: Minus the select few with naturally occurring platinum blonde hair, bleaching will be necessary. I, as a naturally dark-haired human, had my head bleached three times as well as a round of toner to remove any yellow-ish tones. To achieve the silver look, all color must first be stripped out of the hair before any new color can be added. So between four rounds of bleach, plus toner and eventually color, the process took nearly four hours. Of course, depending on the amount/current color of hair, your experience may be longer or shorter.

It’s not permanent: Currently, silver/gray dyes are only made as temporary or semi-permanent (to my knowledge). That means that with every wash, you can visibly see the hair getting lighter and lighter. Currently, mine is a weird silver/gray/beige, but even though I need to re-color mine, it’s not horrendous. I actually kind of like it. You could, too. The less you wash your hair, the longer the color will last. A simple rinse and conditioner will leave your wounded hair thankful, too.

It’s not perfect: Just like brown, red and blonde, there are many shades of gray hair as well. There’s nearly white-gray, nearly black-gray and loads in between. To reach a gray color, yellow/blonde tones must be avoided — especially so if you aren’t a natural platinum blonde. Specifically, the base color is yellow’s compliment, which is technically blue, but purple is effective as well. So, the first time you try it out, don’t be alarmed if it has a relatively strong blue or purple tint — that’ll come out in a few washes.

Roots aren’t the enemy: If you’re DIY-ing this project, buy extra dye. Or if your stylist is doing it, ask if you can get some color to take home. That way when your roots begin to come in, all you need is a quick 20-minute application at home. If you have naturally blonde hair, the roots will be less noticeable. And (bonus!) if you have dark hair, overlaying the gray will create a cool dark gray/black to lighter gray ombre-ish look.

As a disclaimer, I do not have a cosmetology degree. However, as a gray-haired 19-year-old, I encourage you to give it a shot if you’re considering it. And maybe I saved a few souls from sitting in a salon for four hours only to hate the gray-haired life. Finally, I’ll tell you what I tell everyone who asks about dying his/her hair. Worst comes to worse, cut it off or color it black.

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