Silver tones, true silver tones, are one of the hardest colors to achieve on human hair. It requires a complete removal of pheomelanin and eumelanin.
Pheomelanin is what gives hair the warm gold/copper/red tones. All humans have some pheomelanin in their hair. Eumelanin is what gives hair it’s darkness, it’s typically a black/brown shade.
Pheomelanin is more stubborn than eumelanin so it breaks down more slowly when lightened/oxidized. Because of this, most dark hair pulls a reddish tinge during the artificial coloring process. Lightening pheomelanin results in the hair going through shades of red, then orange, then yellow, and finally white.
Eumelanin is easier to remove which is why traditional highlight colors and blondes are more easily reached. If there is residual pheomelanin underneath a toner can be applied to cancel out the warmth. Unfortunately, when the goal is white or silver tones there is no amount of toner that can cancel the warmth left by pheomelanin.
For this client we have been slowly processing her highlights with double ash lightener and following up with Liquid Color from J Beverly Hills in a shade called “Soda Blue” but as we go lighter we are going to continue to need to adjust the formula to match the undertones that pull through. Luckily this client is a dear who understands these colors are not one session things and she’s been enjoying the kind of subtle “oil slick” coloring pattern we’ve been achieving in the interim.