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 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


Lupita Nyong’o' not only triumphed in the Best Supporting Actress category for ’12 years a slave’ but also demonstrated an elegant and simple hair look that not only harmonised seamlessly with her sky blue dress, but also demonstrated how very short afro hair can be accessorized to great effect.

Whilst Lupita’s style is very cropped at the back, the use of the simple headband framed her face whilst drawing the hair backward at the crown for an almost ‘hair up’ effect.    In recent years many profile women with natural afro texures have typically used weaves or wigs (such as Beyonce) or had the texture relaxed (such as Michelle Obama).  However, whilst the bob is seen as the classic cut for European hair texture, the short ‘afro’ shares identical classic effect for women of colour.   In Lupita’s case, the pure simplicity of both the cut and how she wore the hair (on the night) was not only elegant but demonstrates how wearable pure afro texture can be.  

Afro texures actually respond very well to silicone based serums.  In Lupita's case, a simple serum would have been applied and the hair directed backward before the headband was put into place.  Afro hair is very reliant on moisture, so using silicone based shampoos and conditioners can be a good move.  Many silicones draws moisture into the hair, in hairtypes that are very curly and specifically afro, this can prevent drying, whilst the coating properties of silicone will cover the cuticle and give increased shine.  Coating silicones tend to cause problems on finer and (particularly) European hair textures, because they draw too much moisture into the hair and (with such textures) will build up with continued use.  This causes finer (naturally) straighter hair types to become flat, lank and even damaged.  However, in very curly and afro hair types, high silicone items tend to have the opposing effect and can give hydration, strength and increased lustre. 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Cheryl Cole surprised everyone last week with an Instagram photo of (what appeared to be) a very pale blonde Ombre look.  However, today Cheryl arrived at Heathrow Airport with a more traditional ‘soft’ Ombre affect.     Had there  been a dramatic change in colour or was it a trick photograph? 

 My belief (on what occurred) is this:- Naturally, Cheryl has a very dark base, which requires pre-lightening to display any multi-tones or ombre effects.   Whilst the public are familiar with Cheryl’s softer caramel hues, they never get to see the stripped base shade which lies beneath the deeper blonde (artificial) hair colour she always sports.  When Cheryl posted the first Instagram shot, it appears as though she was midway through her (regular) hair colour process and had given us a little trick photography.   However, after this shot was taken, her usual medium blonde overlay colour has then been applied throughout - to give her trademark softer effect.  This was evident when she arrived at Heathrow today.

This method of creating a lighter foundation to overlay a deeper blonde or soft brown shade is deployed by many celebrity colourists when working with natural brunette bases .  It is also a technique I have longed deployed with my own clients. So much so, that it inspired my product ‘Decolour Stripper’.  
People often have the misconception those celebrities sporting muted shades ranging from deep blonde, light brown and carmel have simply had just one colourant applied.  In actual fact, a darker natural shade requires their base to firstly be lifted and the desired colour applied as a tone on tone to just those lightened areas.  This method is known as ‘chamoflauge’.  However, you cannot deploy traditional bleaching on hair you intend to recolour (chamoflauge) as it can cause the cuticle to raise indefinately and fail to hold the (desired) shade you subsequently apply to it.  Whilst in some some instances, using a traditional bleach can also cause that overlaid darker blonde shade to grab and appear too dark or intense.  Therefore, using a gentle, controlled lightener helps to retain the quality of the hair and enables that subsequent tonal colour (applied) to develop effectively and evenly throughout.  

Some tips I give when trying to re-create Cheryl’s soft Ombre effect:-

  • As you can see from the photographs, the key to good display of a soft Over Ombre Chamoflauge is a well lifted base shade.  You can strip the base shade, but always use a tint bowl and brush when conducting Ombre or Balayage.  Precision is key.
  • After you have stripped your desired areas (be it via balayage or ombre) select a 24 wash non ammonia colorant to achieve your desired (deeper) overlay colour effect.
  • Once again, use a tint bowl and brush and apply this desired shade to just your stripped areas.  Do not apply the colourant to non stripped areas as the peroxide in the product may attempt to lighten the natural hair and could kick up warmth in darker bases and confuse your multi-tonal or over ombre look.
  •  If you are sold on Cheryl Cole’s shade, opt for a chamoflauge overlay using a 24 wash non ammonia colourant of a base 7.0 – Medium Blonde (selecting an ash tone to neutralise warmth or a gold tone to create a caramel effect).   

Creating a lighter foundation and overlaying a non ammonia 24 wash colourant (to produce your desired colour affects) is an unrestrictive way of achieving flexible hair colour looks.   Because 24 wash colours are not as harsh to the hair, you can easily remove them (using a hair colour remover), reveal the original lightened base and then replace with another shade, without extreme compromise to the hair quality.  Whilst I do not recommend frequent removal (in this way), you can quite happily adapt the affect for seasons, displaying more muted light browns in the winter, removing to a sharper blonde in the summer and then overlaying a red or warmer shade in the autumn.  

If you need any advice on your own chamoflauge effects, find me on my Facebook page 'Scott Cornwall Hair Expert'

Thursday, 17 October 2013


Grey hair was once deemed purely a sign of aging.  However, silver has today become a fashion statement in its own right, with celebrities from Robbie Williams to Jamie Lee Curtis deciding to embrace or enhance their natural grey. 

Surprisingly, for those who not naturally grey – the path to achieving the shade is perhaps the hardest feat a colourist has to contend with. Natural grey and silver hair is formed by the interspersing of pure white hair amongst the original (natural) shade.  Initially observed as ‘salt and pepper’, the more the previous pigmented hair turns white, the stronger the silver shade becomes – as those white hairs increase in number on the head.   It’s actually the interspersion and mixing of the individual white hairs amongst the original base which creates a grey look, therefore achieving an artificial grey can be intricate.   

Creating artificial grey hair

When hair is lightened it will take on a pale yellow shade which needs to be toned with a violet pigment to achieve white.  In many instances (where an artificial grey shade is desired) the hair will end up looking blonde as opposed to silver.   Whilst it’s more simplistic to obtain a block silver - via lightening the whole head to platinum and using higher amounts of silver toners - when a natural grey is sought the application method has to be more delicate, introducing very fine bleach highlights which are subsequently toned to silver, whilst leaving the surrounding natural hair intact to create the salt and pepper effect.   Applying any peroxide based colourant or lightener onto the surrounding (non highlighted) natural hair, will cause a warm hue to be displayed effectively reducing the overall silver effect down to blonde.  It must be understood, warm tones cannot co-exist with silver tones – the two shades will battle it out for supremacy and at best you will find the hair becomes a natural ash blonde.     

If you are wishing to achieve a natural silver grey (at home) on a previously dark base, the best approach is to use a highlighting cap, pull a scattering of hair through this cap and then apply a bleach or lightener before developing the hair to pale yellow.    The bleach or lightener must then be rinsed off the hair (with the cap still on) and dried (again with the cap still).  You then have to check the hair and be 100% certain it appears as a pale yellow, if the shade looks deep yellow or copper it will not tone to silver.  In this instance, re-apply the lightener (to the hair still pulled through the cap) and lift the shade up to the required level.  If you remove the cap - when the hair is still very warm toned - this warmth will intermix with your natural base and be impossible to retrieve for re-lightening.   Once you are satisfied the hair is a pale yellow, apply (again with the cap still on) your platinum toner.  This toning stage will turn the lightened hair to white. At the point you notice the hair clearly toning and the warmth vanishing, you can remove the cap.   Once this process is complete, you should find your (overall) hair appears to have cold highlights running throughout.  However, moving forward you must only cleanse with blue and violet based shampoos and alternate your toning conditioner between a platinum and a product such as Cool Restore Cool Ash – which has a silver base.  This specific hair care regime will continually keep introducing more platinum and silver tones into the lightened hair, very soon the tone levels will exceed a pure white and begin appearing silver.     When achieving this method via a salon, the toning stage can be made easier as a specific permanent colourant exists that compromise of two cool tones, when this specific permanent colour is applied (to newly lightened hair) it produces a metallic white that requires no subsequent re-toning.  Sadly – this particular shade is not featured in any of the current retail colourant brands available in the UK.


Creating a transitional grey shade (for those who have natural grey hair and want to stop colouring)


For those who are naturally grey but have spent many years covering the silver with permanent dark colour, the long term options for you to sport a flattering grey are ultimately more simplistic.  However, (and with most) it’s the initial hurdle of transitioning from a permanent darker shade to their natural silver that terrifies them.   Whilst grey hair is fashionable and acceptable – grey roots are not!  Many women recognise that transitioning to their natural grey is going to require months (if not a year or more) to achieve.  During this time they feel horrified at the prospect of walking around with inches of grey roots against artificially coloured ends.     In addition, whilst I myself have become known for home hair colour removal I have to explain why hair colour removers will not reveal natural grey. 

I would love to be able to assure all you grey haired people (longing to stop the colouring process) that simply applying a hair colour remover will reveal your underlying grey – but it just won’t.   When grey hair is coloured with a peroxide based shade, two points occur.  Firstly, the peroxide in the colourant (developer) causes the white (grey) hairs to take on a yellow tone.  Secondly, many of the colourants on sale in today’s retail market will also lift the natural (non grey) hair - exposing underlying warmth.  Therefore, when you remove the artificial colour you will not see your natural grey, but instead a warm blonde.  In fact, the process to transition to a natural grey shade has to be undertaken similarly to the creation of silver in non grey natural bases (and as outlined previously).

For anyone who has a high percentage of natural grey and wants to transition out of using artificial colour - without simply growing it out and suffering the obvious root strap – I would suggest you undertake the exercise via a salon.  In general, you will need to accommodate around three salon appointments over a period of several months.  The key is to introduce silver threads into the hair gradually as your old colour grows out; these silver threads (when built up in the hair), will break up the grey root strap, intermix with your previous dark and eventually take over the overall shade.   Whilst many salons (today) will only work with foils for highlighting, I would still recommend (on occasions of transitioning grey) a salon uses a highlighting cap.   My reasoning for this suggestion is exactly the same as outlined for the creation of artificial grey – you need to be able to segregate the lightened threads and check they have lifted sufficiently.  With foils, it’s very difficult to weave out the same hair again if the lightener did not lift this hair to pale yellow upon the first application.  However, if your salon uses a highlighting cap – they can lift the hair, check it has taken to a pale blonde and if they feel the hair (pulled through the cap) is demonstrating too much depth or warmth, re-lighten.   In addition, once the bleach is rinsed off and if the hair pulled through the cap is pale yellow, the colourist can emulsify a silver based tone on tone colourant directly into the segregated hair and it will immediately produce a grey tone.  The cap can then be removed and the new silver threads intermix within the previous dark base.  As I previously stated, UK salons (generally) do not like using highlighting caps, however it’s crucial the threads being lighted are segregated during this process, so subsequent lightening and toning can be applied to this regionalised hair without risk of it effecting the surrounding dark base (which is needed to produce the final grey effect).   

                I would then suggest every 6 to 8 weeks the above exercise is repeated in the salon, introducing more silver threads into the hair via the cap and tone method.   Overtime, the hair will slowly begin to turn silver or grey and you will eventually be able to stop having the grey highlights added and just allow your natural silver shade to take over.

A word of caution!

Sadly not every person- who allows their grey hair to grow in - discovers a shimmering head of bright silver.  Most of us tend to go grey (initially) around the front hairline.  Therefore, the misconception with many people is they have turned fully white (throughout) – because they only observe the grey roots at the front of their head when looking in the mirror.  However, some of us are unfortunate enough to go (what I refer to as) ‘badger grey’.  Here you experience clumps of grey hair throughout an otherwise dark base, usually with the front sections very grey, but the top and the sides remaining dark.  Intermixed with this (overall) dark base you find thick wiry white hairs that are not particularly slightly.   In the past, I’ve had several clients who asked me to help them to transition to grey (believing their whole head was white).  However, as the months went on I began to observe more and more dark in the new hair growing through.  In these instances you have two options.  Option A: - you can begin the highlighting method (as outlined above) whereby you continually keep adding bleach threads which are then toned to silver.  The negative to this method can be found if you only have grey at the front areas – because you then flip the issue of the white roots and begin discovering very dark roots start appearing in other areas of the head. Option B: - is to work with what you have.  Therefore, if the hair at the front of the head is grey – you allow this to grow through (with the outlined highlight method), but ‘dab out’ the white patches in the other areas of your head with a dark permanent colour.  Via this method, you will achieve a rather dramatic and effective Mallon Streak.  You will actually find the upkeep of the patchy white hair fairly minimal but you will still achieve the silver effect via the front (hairline) sections. 


Should anyone not go grey?

Yes – there is one category who should really avoid allowing themselves to grey.  A deep true redhead will never achieve a silver shade naturally.  When the white hairs begin to appear, the redhead will have too much warmth (in the remaining surrounding hair) to showcase a silver.  Instead, the hair initially becomes a quite flattering golden blonde, but will eventually start to turn nicotine yellow (as more white hair appears).   In addition, natural redheads have a very warm skin tone that tends to clash with silver and grey hair – causing the individual to appear washed out.    Therefore, if they are able to artificially achieve silver or grey hair – it will look quite harsh on this specific skin tone.   As a general rule, redheads (as they age) should allow the hair to become a softer (lighter) warm blonde, introducing gold toned highlights.  Lulu is an excellent example of this particular colour approach. 

And maintaining grey?

Sometimes women (who artificially colour) yearn for the simplicity of natural grey, believing absolutely no upkeep is required.  This isn’t strictly true.  A negative to true grey hair can be its tendency to turn either a steely or yellowy tone due to the purity of those white hairs.  Styling products, pollutants and general day to day life will often dull pure white hair and cause it to lose some of its natural brightness.  Therefore, if you are considering going grey – you should remember that a specific range of hair care products will be needed for you to keep the shade at its optimum level.   Grey and silver hair needs shampoos, conditioners and styling products that contain a violet tone to brighten as they work.  The White Hot Hair range is an excellent selection of products for this purpose.  Designed exclusively for grey and white hair, the items not only clean and condition but enhance silver shades and prevent the hair becoming dull or yellow toned.