Get to Know Grey Blending, A Better Way to Do Salt and Pepper Hair

Ease the transition from the vibrant locks of your youth to full-fledged silver fox

March 17, 2022 6:45 am
Close of up of wavy gray hair
The perfect way to cover up some gray without losing that coveted salt and pepper look

Like many women, I love a touch of grey on a man. So when my salt-and-pepper haired boyfriend recently told me he was considering something called “grey blending” at his next hair appointment, I was worried he might lose some of that distinguished charm. 

Fortunately, it turns out that grey blending is actually the perfect solution for men (and their girlfriends) who want some grey coverage without sacrificing that coveted salt and pepper look. A compromise between aging naturally and refusing to let your hair show any signs of maturity whatsoever, grey blending is for men who want to go grey with grace — and in style.

“Grey blending is a chemical color service that is used on the client who is looking for subtle greys,” Tanell Hernandez, owner of Zephyr Elliot Men’s Salon in New York City, tells InsideHook. According to Hernandez, the service offers “a more natural and hydrated look” that also requires less maintenance than traditional grey coverage, which is “another type of chemical color service that gives complete coverage all over, meaning no greys at all.” Compared to old-school, all-over coverage, grey blending “really allows the modern man to actually embrace his grey hair and keep it looking natural, more controlled and aesthetically pleasing,” says Hernandez. 

Thanks to some residual stigma surrounding male grooming practices leftover from the days when an interest in maintaining his appearance was enough to render a man “metrosexual,” there haven’t always been a ton of hair coloring options available to your average man. Most had to choose between simply going grey and getting a full dye job, which can produce an unnatural or otherwise undesirable look for men who want to embrace their grey — just not all of it.

In recent years, however, grey blending has gained popularity as an option for men who want to keep their salt and pepper locks, but would maybe like to see a little less salt for now. “Grey blending has been around for a few years now,” says Hernandez, adding that the hair color process is finally “beginning to receive the recognition it deserves” as a viable option for men. 

“Grey blending is for the client looking for a more natural way to blend or camouflage the greys they currently have,” she says. “Grey blending is also for the client who is reluctant to color[ing their hair] but wants to try something safe.” 

Like other forms of chemical hair coloring, grey blending techniques come in a variety of formulas depending on the color, level of permanence and amount of coverage a client is looking for. Clients looking for long-lasting coverage may opt for a permanent dye, which will last until the colored hair grows out and is cut off, while those seeking a lower-maintenance look that will fade out gradually on its own might consider a demi dye. Depending on your natural and desired hair color, some stylists might also highlight certain sections to offset the grey. Either way, the process is more or less the same, with a stylist applying color to certain sections of greying hair, and blending and camouflaging the appearance of aging strands without eliminating them altogether. 

Hernandez says all of her clients start with a consultation to determine how much coverage they’re looking for. “Then we begin with determining our clients’ natural color shade that they currently have and come up with a formula that will best suit the desired look,” she explains. Compared to other forms of coloring, grey blending is a relatively quick service, requiring only about five to ten minutes of processing time once the color is applied, depending on how dark you want to go. 

You can expect the partial coverage to last anywhere from three to six weeks, depending on the darkness and permanence of the shade. Fortunately, because the blended aesthetic makes for a more low-maintenance style, your hair will grow out in a more natural way, meaning you won’t have to worry about any obvious roots or regrowth that will send you scrambling back to the salon between touch-ups.

That said, grey blending isn’t going to be the perfect solution for everyone. According to Hernandez, you can be too grey for grey blending. “If your hair is completely grey, almost white, this isn’t the product for you,” she says. “This is really for the client who wants to continue being grey but in a more camouflaged and natural way.”

Basically, it’s a way to ease the transition from the vibrant locks of your youth to full-fledged silver fox — to extend that coveted salt and pepper era of “distinguished” sexiness that you, a man, are so unjustly afforded. But while I, a woman not offered that same luxury, may resent the permission society has given you to age in peace, I’m certainly not immune to the charms of a touch of grey myself. So if you (or your girlfriend) want to rock that sexy distinguished look, but would maybe like to see a little less salt than pepper for now, blending might be the perfect option to help you grey gracefully.

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