Goodbye balayage, hello silver strands


An Instagram post from influencer Keaton Milburn showing off her silver hair. KEATON MILBURN/INSTAGRAM

Rather than trying to achieve the Barbie blonde locks, trend-followers are reaching for the bleach and their grandmother’s purple shampoos to achieve a sleek silver look.

Silver-white hair is a trend that started within the last few years. Notable celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian and Karlie Kloss have been spotted sporting the look within the last year.

Tomira Jackson is a hairdresser and bleach specialist in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. She works from out of her home and has a salon set up in her basement. Jackson is a certified beautician and hairdresser. She has been doing hair for 16 years. She has noticed a peak in clients asking for the silver-white shade.

“I’ve definitely noticed more of my clients ask for it and it’s definitely a trend,” Jackson said. “I think with the popularity of wigs rising, people want to match their color as much as they can to those or the wigs. And nine times out of 10 it’s always the silver-white color.”

Jackson says blonde has always been “trendy” and that many people like to be blonde throughout the summer months, but she can see how clients feel influenced by celebrities for their hair.

“Everyone shows a picture of a celebrity and wants exactly what they have, it’s clearly impossible,” Jackson said.

This trend comes with a price tag and a long process to achieve the results. Jackson prefers to bleach hair in sessions, but Olaplex makes it possible to achieve the desired color within 10 hours. Olaplex is a hair treatment that could be added to bleach to speed up the process without damaging hair. It also repairs the damaged bonds in hair.

Jackson’s rates for bleach with Olaplex start at $180, but that’s not including long hair charges or extra product. Salon prices could vary.

“I believe [salons] charge per hour and that can’t start around $100 an hour with lightening. It’s a very tentative process,” Jackson said. “I personally charge according to the materials I need to purchase, how their hair takes to the product and so on.”

Jackson said that people looking to bleach should think about it before making the decision. She says that it’s a “pricey process” and that it’s not something to just try out for fun.

“If someone is dedicated to achieving this color, they should take time in doing it, especially if they have dark hair,” Jackson said. “Dark-haired people should gradually go lighter, maybe start with highlights to lighten and then next time add more and get lighter.”

Aili Mannisto, 21, of Chicago has sported the silver-white locks with a hint of lilac since last summer.

Mannisto originally wanted this shade because she was just interested in how it looked.

“I wasn’t interested in being trendy myself, I’m just really interested in how it looked,” Mannisto said. “I didn’t dive right into it, I’ve done a slower process.”

Mannisto walks to the beat of her own drum regardless of what is trending. If more people engaged in this trend, she would keep it.

“I probably wouldn’t change it just because more people are using the same hair color, but I don’t want to blend in with them,” Mannisto said. “I want a unique style that’s true to myself that doesn’t really matter what the trends say.”

She gets her hair done in Michigan, where she is from. Her hairdresser uses Olaplex to pull her color up faster without damaging her hair.

Sami Waitley, 19, of Bloomington, Indiana, also has transformed her natural blonde locks to silver-white ones.

“I think the trend is mostly popular right now because of celebrities,” Waitley said. “I started with my hair blonde, and I progressively kept going lighter.”

Waitley uses a purple shampoo to keep her hair bright and to avoid brassy tones. Older women commonly use purple shampoo to prevent brassy tones in their light hair.

“I’ve seen lots of pictures of it on Instagram and Pinterest and it influenced me to try that color out,” Waitley said. “I thought it was pretty just from the pictures but I noticed that it’s become trendy because of all the famous people and influencers out there changing their hair up.”

She had photos of her hair muses saved to show her hairdresser at LifeSpa in Schaumburg, Illinois.

“I showed pictures of Karlie Kloss to my hairdresser, then some pictures of Keaton Milburn, who’s a social media influencer,” Waitley said.

No matter how popular the trend becomes and how many people change their hair to this color, it doesn’t bother Waitley and she plans to keep her hair like this.

“I don’t really care what other people think or if this becomes mainstream,” Waitley said. “I really like this hair color on me and I don’t see myself changing it for any reason. I also don’t care if people see me as mainstream for following the trend. I just really like it.”