08/01/2013 04:23 EDT | Updated 10/01/2013 05:12 EDT

Back to your roots: Tips on going grey or returning to natural hair colour

TORONTO - If you're ready to stop dyeing your locks, the prospect of reverting to your natural hair colour may still stir feelings of uncertainty when tints and touchups are entrenched in your regimen.

But if you're primed to take the plunge, here are some expert tips for making the transition back to your natural hair colour or embracing your greys.


Returning to your roots

"When going back to your natural (colour), you would be wanting to pick something as close to your natural as possible," said Raphael Ness Azran, owner and master colourist at Colour Lab salon in Toronto.

Azaran said it's more challenging to make the transition from blond to brunette due to bleaching.

"If someone is super, super blond and they want to go back to their natural medium brown, what you've done from that medium brown is you've walked up the stairs," he said. "You cannot jump down from the stairs from a level 10 to a seven — you'll fall down the stairs. You've got to walk down.

"Now, you can slam that hair with a permanent (colour) or something aggressive that's going to bring you down those stairs, but your hair's going to feel dry, it's going to feel ... just rough, and it will fade fast because it doesn't take the proper steps."

Azran recommended choosing a demi-permanent colour. Doing so gives provides the ability to enhance hair with more golden or ash tones, and will also help cover silvery strands for those whose hair is less than 50 per cent grey, he noted.

"It's not making a chemical change. What it's doing is taking the most outer layer of the hair shaft, which is the cuticle. That cuticle opens and closes. That's your door to get in and out with colour," said Azran.

"It's just staining the door, so after about six to eight weeks, it will rinse away back to your natural. So therefore, you're not going to get a regrowth line, you're not going to get it fading a funny colour. Eventually, you're going to go back to what you have now."

For those making the move from light blond to a natural dark brown, Azran said it will require at least two demi-permanent applications or virgin tints to start seeing the change. Over the course of two applications, the process involves filling the hair, or restoring pigment to the locks.

"That filler is pretty much like your primary painting and then we put our target shade on top. So now that target shade has something to hold onto, so it won't rinse out after one or two washes. It'll still last you at least two months. It'll still be vibrant."


Going grey

For individuals who've never coloured their hair before and are game to embrace their greys, Azran said now isn't the time to reach for the colour applicator bottle. Instead, his mantra is simple: patience.

"Don't cover your hair and let that grey takeover," he said. "To get to that grey, you've got to remove all the pigment from the hair. And to do that, you have to use a bleach, and to do that, (your hair is) going to be so broken afterwards.

A mistake some people will make in an effort to expedite the process of going grey and masking the colour is to make their hair "super blond" when it doesn't suit them, said Darren Kaine, a master colourist at Colour Lab Salon.

"As opposed to doing the demi-permanent and letting it fade away, people will go really blond because they feel that that's closest — and that can be a big boo boo for a lot of people."

Opting to go blond in the shift towards grey can end up looking worse than opting for an all-over dark shade or a colour closet to your true hair hue, noted Azran.

For someone who has been using permanent colour to dye their greys and is ready to have them fully grow in, Azran suggested that they could opt for demi-permanent colour during the transition.

"With the permanent (colour), you're covering that hair 100 per cent and it's never going to be the same again, whereas with a demi-permanent, it will rinse out," he said.

"Pretty much anybody growing out previously coloured hair wants to use a demi-permanent to make that growing out phase a whole lot easier and make it look a whole lot better."

Once the transition is complete and people are flaunting a head full of lush, silvery strands, there are options for those considering giving their 'do an added boost.

"If you are naturally grey, you can enhance the grey by toning it," said Kaine.

Mixing and applying a demi-permanent composed solely of tone will make the hair shiny and enhance cool tones in the grey to give it a "silvery really fresh look," he added.