My Foray into Grey with Toni Stephenson

Everywhere you look these days models, street stylers, and the Insta-crowd are all experimenting with hair colour and as a result, there’s been a serious increase in regular norms sporting silvery grey tresses or My Little Pony bright locks

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Generally speaking, this is a trend for über blonde hair.  You need a blonde base, the lighter the better in order to achieve the vibrancy and then a coloured toner is applied over the top which, depending on the porosity of your hair, can last anywhere between three and twelve washes.  I’ve wanted to try out a pure silvery grey shade for a long time, ever since Rihanna and Kylie Jenner pioneered the trend back in early 2014, and now seemed like as good a time as any.  When you’re experimenting with colour, and especially when it’s something unusual with the potential to make or break your entire look, you need the best possible stylist on board, so I enlisted North Eastern Hairdresser of the Year 2014: Toni Stephenson from Hooker & Young’s Darlington Salon to help me in my quest to achieve the ultimate in Nanna Chic.

Hooker & Young is a breeding ground for talent and the Darlington salon is home to some of the North East’s coolest young hair stylists.  On the ground floor, there’s a Blow Dry Bar and a semi private chill out area with the biggest selection of coffee table magazines I’ve seen in a salon in years, in fact, I almost forget I’m there to have my hair coloured as I flip through Teen Vogue.

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I’m led upstairs to the main salon area which is light and area and has the familiar Hooker & Young signatures such as walnut fascias, pale walls and chrome metal detailing.  Simplistic and classic – style never goes out of fashion right?

Toni is petite and pretty, with a mass of achingly cool pink hair and super white teeth, she’s warm and friendly and gets straight down to business analysing my colour treated sandy blonde hair.  Toni talked me through the options for my hair and advised that with my current colour, a grey toner would be subtle and I’d be left with a more silvery effect when my hair caught the light, so completely impulsively we decided to add in some pink and purple just to add some vibrancy and give me a taster to see whether the trend really was for me.  She tells me I can always add more drama if I fall in love with the trend and we all know I have a flair for the dramatic.


Toni sets about putting packets through my hair adding slices of colour randomly and then when all of the packets are in, she paints freehand on to the remaining exposed hair.  While she’s working, I take the opportunity to quiz her about her prestigious win at the 2014 Hairdressing Awards – Toni scooped the award for North Eastern Hairdresser of the Year 2014 back in December and hasn’t looked back since.  With an interest in colour, and in particular, real vibrant shades, Toni tells me how she practised her dip dye technique using ice and a Barbie doll.  Intrigued?  You should be.  This is a girl who takes her craft to the next level, spending her time researching new techniques for colouring and scouring the more elite fashion magazines and runway shows for inspiration.  She’s constantly thinking about the next trend or the next interpretation she can make through hair styling and tells me that she’s already casting models for the next big event in the hairdressing calendar.  There’s a contemporary edge to the work in her portfolio and she cares as much about the styling of the shot as she does about the hair, to Toni, this is more than just a job.

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So, back to me……

I’m taken over to the backwash by Dan to have a Kerastase Ritual applied, Dan tells me that if you apply Kerastase oil to the hair first to prep it, rinse and then apply the ritual, the effect is amplified.  I feel the need to point out that Dan is completely adorable and is so on fleek when it comes to fashion and trends and is influenced hugely by young, contemporary designers such as Jeremy Scott, Alexander McQueen and Alexander Wang and it’s all detectable in his look.  I’m trying to figure out a way I can bring him home with me after my next visit to the salon.

Looking at my wet hair in the mirror, I can already see that it’s far paler than it was when I arrived and my squinting instantly looks lifted and brighter; Toni tells me that because of my eye colour I’m far more suited to ash tones of blonde and there’s definitely truth in that.  As she sets to work drying my hair, the flashes of pink are visible through the underneath section and there’s a gorgeous lilac shade at the very front section, think Rogue from X-Men but replace the white with lilac and you’re on the right track.  The rest of the hair is a mix of gorgeous ashy tones of blonde and there are some gorgeous darker silvery tones there in a shade called Cindre.  When it’s dried my first thought is that I BLINKING WELL LOVE IT!

Despite going through the bleaching process to lift up the colour first, albeit using the far more subtle Babylights technique, there’s very little breakage or visible damage that you often get afterwards.  I had been worried that because my hair isn’t full head blonde and it’s not über white, that the colours may be dulled but nope, they’re definitely there and they’re definitely noticeable.

Toni tells me that because these colours are toners and not permanent hair-dye, they will fade and wash out depending on how porous my hair is and in the weeks following they faded with each wash, eventually fading to a gorgeous creamy blonde.  This is one of the really great things about this trend, it’s very temporary which means it’s incredibly versatile.  You could be pink one week, lilac the next and blue the week after that, it’s a great way to update your look without too much commitment and if you aren’t keen on a particular colour then fear not, it’ll always wash out.

I’d absolutely recommend Toni as a stylist, if you’re stuck in a hair rut, aren’t happy with your current stylist or just fancy trying something new, then I’d say you could definitely do worse than trying out the North Eastern Hairdresser of the Year!  Toni takes into consideration the products you use at home, how you style your hair yourself, your lifestyle and even the colour of make-up you like to wear before advising you on what she see’s working for you.  Gorgeous and conscientious, two big plus points you would have never even considered right?!

So, my experimentation with colour has absolutely left me wanting more.  Yes, I was tame but come on, I’m not exactly 17 or Kylie Jenner so testing the waters first was perfect for me.  So now I’m feeling brave, I’m already planning my next look and Toni, if you’re reading this, I’m thinking full head grey with some super icy pale blue, you feeling me…..?

Pixie x

Hooker and Young have salons all over the North East.

To book an appointment with Toni Stephenson call 01325 468994

NB All photos are unedited in order to give the true impression of the colours achieved.

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