Salt and pepper hair is something many of us get naturally, but there is a definite trend toward having it put on purpose. And we’re seeing beauticians asked to create a salt and pepper look for clients over a surprising age range. This is a significant change from the days we used to all want to hide the gray. We’ll discuss what salt and pepper hair is, why it is becoming popular, how you can wear it and how you can get it.
What Is Salt and Pepper Hair?
Salt and pepper hair color refers to hair that is just starting to turn grey. Little flecks of white are mixed in with the dominant hair color. This look makes you mature without making you seem old since the transition from your dominant hair color to “salt and pepper” occurs in middle age.
Summary: Salt and pepper hair is named for dark hair with little flecks of white that resembles pepper on white food or salt on dark food.
The Factors behind the Salt and Pepper Hair Trend
Thank you, Baby Boomers, for yet another beauty trend. Salt and pepper hair is a way for older adults to look a little younger without seeming to be in denial. For example, if you dye away the gray, it may be obvious it is a color applied because of how your face looks. Go for a salt and pepper look, and you may take years off your look without denying you’re well into middle age.
The salt and pepper trend is popular with those who want to look natural. Instead of getting platinum or fake hair color, the salt and pepper approach makes it look like natural hair color. This is a case of the flaws making the manufactured piece pass for authentic.
Another benefit of salt and pepper hairstyles is that you can use it to avoid another coloring session. For example, if you have already dyed your hair black to hide the gray but are tired of trying to maintain the look, you could ask for a light application of “salt” or touches of gray to the black hair color you already have. Then you just let the hair grow out. The “salt” or touches of white and grey in your color will blend in with the salt and pepper or outright gray hair coming in. It is a way to transition from hiding the gray to revealing it.
It is rare for women who lack gray to ask for a salt and pepper hairstyle, but it does occur. Someone who is tired of being mistaken for the mother of their grandchild is one example. Adults who feel like a touch of gray will get them more respect because they seem older and wiser would be another. This also comes up in theater, as an actor or actress in their twenties tries to look the part of a mature older character.
Summary: Salt and pepper hair can be a way to transition to a gray dye job or avoid having to dye it all gray to look authentic.
What You Should Know Before Getting Salt and Pepper Hair
If you want to get salt and pepper hair and have a dark base color, you may need to bleach the hair first so the new “salt” or gray will show up. That needs to be done by a professional. If you have light hair that will show the gray, you can probably apply the gray at home.
You want to select a shade of gray added to your natural hair or colored that doesn’t look unnatural. If you already have dyed hair, your hair colorist will know which colors could be added without overloading your hair. Do not just bleach your hair at home and assume you can add back your natural color plus gray.
Summary: Your current hair color affects the hair dying methods you can use to get salt and pepper hair.
Salt and Pepper Hair Styles
There are many salt and pepper hairstyles. If you wear your hair with a regular part, salt and pepper are just fine for you. In fact, salt and pepper hair dye has a significant point in its favor over traditional hair colors, and that’s the fact that you don’t have to touch up if you don’t want to. If you dye your hair black or blonde, the dye job becomes evident once the roots become visible. If you opt for a salt and pepper hairstyle and let the roots grow out, the transition isn’t as obvious, and you may not have to do anything at all. Or you could blend the new hair in with a few touches of your original hair color to make the “salt and pepper” more of a “pepper with salt” look before it is allowed only to show gray.
Salt and pepper hair can be worn any way you usually wear your hair. Wearing it long or cutting it short work equally well. If you have gray streaks in your hair, braiding in a way that shows off the color contrast can come out incredibly well. If you get a haircut, go for a modern style with clean edges since that minimizes the risk of it going frizzy. Do not use a razor, because it causes hair to fray. If you’ve dyed the hair gray or it is already going gray, opt for frequent trimming so it won’t look unruly.
Summary: Salt and pepper hair can be worn just about any way you’d like as long as it is adequately maintained.
How to Get Salt and Pepper Hair
The simplest method for getting salt and pepper hair is brushing in the dye to create streaks of gray. This would be the same technique as getting lines of purple or neon green in your hair except with shades of gray. You can make the hair color job seem authentic by using a mixture of white and gray instead of putting in bright white streaks.
If you truly want the “salt and pepper” look, you could dye your hair its current dyed color or leave your hair its current natural color and then spray it with products truly meant for this. “Spray in silver” is a thing.
Use temporary colors if you’re having the salt and pepper hairstyle put in for a few weeks, such as when you’re trying it out for the first time or need this look for the theater. If you want the hair color to last, use a permanent hair dye. We’d recommend having a professional do the permanent hair coloring since you don’t want to have to live with the mistakes. The solution, after all, is going gray.
Summary: If you have dark hair, you might be able to spritz in or brush in the gray. If you have light hair, it is more complicated and probably best left to a pro.
How to Take Care of Salt and Pepper Hair
The first step is only washing your hair in lukewarm water, since hot water can strip the strands of oil, leaving it dry and prone to breaking. But do wash your hair daily so that it will maintain its shine. Skip oils and waxes.
When you dye your hair, you need to use shampoo and conditioner intended for color-treated hair. Gray hair should be treated with a blue-hued shampoo and conditioner only once a month to prevent it from turning purple. Treat your hair to a hair mask once a week to restore its luster. Another option is a glossing kit, though you need to keep these to a minimum, so you don’t tax your hair with all these chemicals. If you’ve let the salt and pepper hair go gray naturally, then you can opt for a glossing treatment every six to eight weeks.
Summary: Depending on the dye job, style either needs to be treated like dyed hair or gray hair.
Whether you want to look older or younger or transition to a gray hair color, know what you want to do and work with a stylist to have it done right. Once you have salt and pepper hair, start taking care of it with products designed for gray hair or dyed hair with a gray tint to keep it looking great.