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Black, glossy strands have long been held up as a feminine ideal for most Asian women, and it is closely tied with our self-esteem and perceptions of youth. So when we inevitably experience that natural transition to grey hair, we’re faced with a dilemma: Do we start to hide them with hair dye, or leave them alone?

For our senior writer Lynnett, leaving her grey hairs alone was initially too much to face. She first started noticing grey strands when she was only 12 years old. After a few years, she realised that it was likely due to genetics, as her dad had a full head of grey hair before he was even 30.

She gradually learned to accept her natural greys and even decided to face her fears by going full grey. Ahead, Daily Vanity shares her journey with grey hair and how it brought out her confidence.

How she learned to embrace her grey hair

shunji matsuo kinugami collection grey hair lynnett before

A couple of years after she first spotted her grey strands, Lynnett started colouring her hair when she was in secondary school.

“I didn’t like the way it made me look and I was often teased about it because of where my grey hairs are positioned – they are largely at the top of my head and are only present along my centre parting,” Lynnett shared.

She would colour her hair at salons and use DIY box dyes at home too, but most colours couldn’t last long. “I get a few weeks of fresh colour, and eventually, it would start to fade and my grey hair would start showing again,” she explained. “Touching up my roots didn’t make much sense to me then, so I would live with the faded colours and grey hair until my next colouring appointment.”

Then, in her mid-20s, she hit a turning point. “I had to colour my entire head of hair grey for work, and to be honest, I rocked granny hair pretty well!” she realised.

Of course, going completely grey comes with a hefty price tag as well as high maintenance, which is why she doesn’t do it that often. Now, even on days when her natural grey hair contrasts starkly with her dark brown hair, she isn’t bothered by it.

In recent months, however, Lynnett was itching for a change, and she thought about going back to a full head of grey. This time, she wanted something a little edgier, something that would bring out her playful personality.

So, when Shunji Matsuo invited her down to try one of the colour creations from their Kinugami 2.0 Collection, she couldn’t say no.

Achieving the perfect shade at Shunji Matsuo

shunji matsuo kinugami collection sean ng

After making herself comfortable at Shunji Matsuo’s Ngee Ann City outlet, she consulted Sean Ng (above), a Color Creator in Shiseido Professional’s Beauty Creators team. He was even named “Best Salon Stylist” in our latest Daily Vanity Spa & Hair Awards, so Lynnett knew she was in good hands.

shunji matsuo kinugami collection grey hair sean consultation

“It was really thorough from start to finish,” Lynnett said. “Sean explained the kind of grey we were going for and how many rounds of bleach we can expect to do in order to achieve the shade.”

“To give me an idea of what to expect, he showed me Shiseido Professional’s ULTIST by Primience colour book during the consultation and took time to explain why this hair dye is better and how it would benefit and transform my hair.”

As Lynnett’s previous pink streaks were tough to lighten, Sean proposed adding purple highlights to complement the grey perfectly. The end result would be a modern, gunmetal grey with streaks of purple peeking through – a fun, playful touch that reflected Lynnett’s personality.

The hair colouring process

shunji matsuo kinugami collection grey hair protectant

After the thorough consultation, Sean began applying a scalp protectant and a separate protectant on Lynnett’s hair and bleached ends.

“The latter is unique because I’ve never experienced a colouring session where the hairstylist applies a protectant dedicated to bleached parts of the hair,” she lets on. “This tells me that Shunji Matsuo’s team is trained to care for their customer’s hair instead of just achieving the end result, whatever that may be.”

shunji matsuo kinugami collection grey hair round one bleach

Sean then proceeded to brush Shiseido Professional’s Bleach Master by Primience onto areas of her hair, which didn’t sting her scalp as much compared to other bleaches she’s tried. “It definitely didn’t smell as bad as the ones I’ve tried in the past, which is a blessing because it can get really overwhelming, especially when you have to sit there for another 20 to 30 minutes for the colour to sink in,” Lynnett noted.

shunji matsuo kinugami collection grey hair wash

After the first round of bleaching, the assistant washed and blow-dried her hair. The reason why they blow-dry the hair for the next round of bleaching is that it depends on the level of bleaching the hairstylist wants to achieve. So if the bleaching isn’t as intense, the mixture would be applied on wet hair.

shunji matsuo kinugami collection grey hair round two bleach

Then came the second round of bleaching, which also took no more than 30 minutes to achieve bright orange hair. Again, she didn’t notice much of a stinging sensation too, which meant her scalp was adequately protected.

shunji matsuo kinugami collection grey hair round three bleach

Finally, the third round of bleach was applied to her hair – but this time, Sean concentrated on her roots. He also started to brush on purple dye to create her highlights. “The bleach started to sting a little here but to be honest, it’s not as bad as some that I’ve tried previously, and the colour doesn’t have an overpowering scent even though it’s not ammonia-free,” Lynnett shared.

shunji matsuo kinugami collection grey hair last colour

As the final step in the colouring process, Sean applied grey dye all over and left it on for 30 minutes. He likes the ULTIST colour system because it’s a low-alkaline hair dye and it uses 10% treatment for every 100ml hair dye – this is to preserve the health and integrity of the hair.

After rinsing off the concoction, Sean gave Lynnett a blow-dry and haircut to add a little flow and take off some of the weight from her tresses.

The results: Gorgeous gunmetal grey with streaks of purple

shunji matsuo kinugami collection grey hair before after 1

shunji matsuo kinugami collection grey hair before after 2

“I like how the purple turned into streaks of violet and indigo to give the gunmetal grey base more character and dimension,” Lynnett enthused. “Compared to the grey hue I tried in the past, this looks edgier when combined with my short hair. I’d say that it matches my personality because I’m usually a dress and sneakers kind of person, so it worked out really well!”

After almost three rounds of bleaching, she is also pleased that her hair doesn’t feel rough or damaged. “It’s going to be two weeks since my appointment, and my hair is still holding up fine! My hair still feels very soft, so I just need to apply extra hair serum to keep my strands moisturised,” she shared.

“Even though an intense colouring process, my scalp still remained strong and did not flake one bit like it used to with other colouring jobs – I suspect that it’s likely due to the scalp protectant that was first applied before the bleaching process, and probably the bleach used too,” she let on.

That is all thanks to Sean’s expertise and the protective formulas from the ULTIST range. “Sean cared about my hair as much as the end results, which I really appreciate, and I like that the hair dye used during this procedure is meant to create fashion colours without ruining your hair,” Lynnett praised.

If you’re thinking about switching up your hair colour or you’re still unsure about which hues suit you best, head down to one of Shunji Matsuo’s salons for an expert consultation. You’re sure to find a cut and colour that brings out your confidence, just like it has for Lynnett.

Have a look at these two gorgeous colour creations done by Sean:

shunji matsuo kinugami collection envision highlights

Give your brown hair a fresh update with warm streaks of caramel paired with effortless waves.

shunji matsuo kinugami collection joyful pink

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, opt for this joyful pink shade to bring out your innate playfulness.

About Shunji Matsuo

shunji matsuo ngee ann city outlet

Synonymous with cutting-edge hair technology and innovation, Shunji Matsuo’s group of hair salons uses Japanese-influenced styling, perming, and colouring techniques to transform the look and feel of dark, coarse, and heavy Asian hair.

They use superior, high-quality hair products, and offer a range of hairstyling services, from perms and rebonding to creative colouring as well as scalp treatments, so you can enjoy great service and quality at affordable prices.

“It’s my third time getting my hair done at Shunji Matsuo and honestly, they are one of the best ones in town for me,” Lynnett raves. “Everyone is so friendly and I always feel comfortable when I’m getting my hair done here.”

Shunji Matsuo’s Creative Colouring prices start from S$125. You’ll also receive a free Aromatic Body Oil Roll-On with every Kinugami service at Shunji Matsuo’s Ngee Ann City outlet! While stocks last. 

Address: View the full list of outlets here
Opening hours: 10am – 7.30pm (Mon to Sat) | 10am – 6pm (Sun)
Contact: View the full list of contact numbers or fill in the appointment request form
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This article is brought to you by Shunji Matsuo.