50 Ways to Cover Your Gray
If sneaky strands of gray and white refuse to submit to your styling attempts, we’ve got the goods, tips, and tricks to help you whip your hair into shape. Your new safe word will be "gorgeous."
If sneaky strands of gray or white refuse to submit to your styling attempts, weâ€™ve got the goods, tips, and tricks to help you whip your hair into shape. Your new safe word will be "gorgeous."
1. Double duty
Your morning rush got you down? Knock seconds off your get-ready time by spritzing in dry shampoo to zap greasy roots. Pick one with a subtle tint to cover gray.
Batiste Dry Shampoo Hint of Color (in Light & Blonde, Medium & Brunette, or Dark & Deep Brown), $9; ulta.comÂ
2. How wow
The wide side of the brush is great for covering up your part; the smaller side is for detail-work like temples and sideburns.
Color Wow Root Cover Up (in 6 shades), $35; ulta.com
3. Totally tubular
Itâ€™s easy to fill in ash-hued spots around the hairline with this lipstick-like applicator.
Cover Your Gray Touch Up Stick, $4; amazon.com
4. Magic wand
Pick from eight shades of shampoo-out color delivered via a butterfinger-proof mascara wand (which promises no clumping!).
Cover Your Gray Brush-In Wand, $6; coveryourgray.com
5. Silver threads
A soft-tip applicator gives lots of control, perfect for the sideburn area, in six shades of temporary camouflage.
Cover Your Gray Root Touch-Up, $6; coveryourgray.com
6. Powder puff
Hair powders soak up excess oil (great for a non-shampoo day) and add a bit of body. â€œI love [Bumble and Bumble] because it also adds a hint of shine,â€ says celebrity stylist Jet Rhys. â€œItâ€™s not dull and powdery-looking.â€ Her tip: To avoid getting any splotches on hair, skin, or clothes, spray the shampoo on a brush then brush the scalp, and spray before youâ€™re dressed.
Bumble and Bumble Hair Powder (in A Tint of Brown, A Bit Blondish, or Black), $36; sephora.com
7. Makeup makeover
Use a brow pencil in a color similar to your locks for an on-the-go cover-up. Do the same with eye shadow; though Rhys suggests picking one with a sponge tip brush, for easiest application.
8. Better red
If youâ€™ve got striking scarlet locks, and canâ€™t, in a pinch, find matching temporary color, Doug Macintosh, Colorist at Louise Oâ€™Connor Salon in New York City, says he has clients who brush on blush.
9. Foam party
From a product line developed by a doctor to address her hair issues, this daily application of foam aims to stimulate pigment-producing cells in hair.
MD Hair Color Restoration, $49.99 for a 60-day supply; md-factor.com
10. Pop a pill?
This supplement contains catalase, an enzyme thought to stimulate melanin production, along with other nutrients meant to promote hair health.
No Gray Hairs Catalase XP H202 Blocker, $50; gnc.com
11. Sharpie image
Permanent marker to touch up roots is a â€œthing.â€ Before you try it, know that this can go madly astray, and probably only works if your hair is jet black, dark brown, or, um, neon yellow. Macintosh is not a fan. â€œI had someone come in who had used black magic marker on gray hair. It ended up this steely gray, and we could not get it out. We also had a hard time coloring over it.â€
12. Lash bash
Weâ€™ve heard of people using mascara (the kind for your lashes) as a root touch-up. It sounds like a great idea, since you can find tubes in a variety of colorsâ€”from blonde to light brown to jet-black. Well, weâ€™ve tried itâ€”and not naming any brand namesâ€”the end result was a matted, clumpy hairline.
13. Make a mark
This temporary color will help hide pesky strands for 30-plus applications. Go for the marker when youâ€™re running out the door and need quick big-picture coverage. The wand is for more precise application.
TouchBack Marker (in five shades, from Soft Black to Natural Blonde), $30, ulta.com, and TouchBack Wand (in light, medium, and dark brown), $10; Walgreens stores
14. Famous fix
From Rita Hazan, celeb colorist to stars known for their gorgeous manes (think: BeyoncÃ© and Jennifer Lopez), this alcohol-free temporary spritz uses natural pigments (iron oxides, titanium dioxides, and mica) to do the job. With five shade choices, youâ€™re sure to find a stellar match.
Rita Hazan Root Concealer, $25; sephora.com
15. Pump...you up
Canâ€™t commit? Root coverage that washes out in one shampooâ€”in 22 colors from your basic auburns, browns, and blondes to three shades of glitter. Or, just for brunettes, four thickening hues can fluff up your style.
Salon Grafix High Beams Temporary Spray-On Color (Intense, in 22 colors, $7, amazon.com or Color Thickener in 4 colors, $7, amazon.com)
16. Filled out
Do double-duty by making hair look thicker while covering gray. Tiny keratin fibers bond with hair; they resist rain, wind, and sweat, but will shampoo out.
Toppik Hair-Building Fibers in nine shades, $24.95; ulta.com
17. Getting buffed up
A hairspray-like delivery system for thinning hair doubles as cover-up.
Fullmore Colored Hair Thickener in five shades, $15; amazon.com
18. Puff daddy
For brunettes only: A choice of two brown shades delivered via a targeted nozzle zooms in color where you need it.
Marc Anthony True Professional Bye.Bye Gray Root Touch Up Spray (in Light to Medium Brown and Medium to Dark Brown/Black) $10; drugstore.com
19. Happy hideaway
Thereâ€™s concealer for your dark circles; this one is for your roots.
Style Edit Conceal Your Grays Root Concealer (available in blonde, black/dark brown, and medium/light brown), $13; amazon.com
20. Protect yourself
One key to using dye to cover gray is helping it last for as long as possible. So, after youâ€™ve dyed your â€˜do, use a shampoo designed to keep color from fading. This one is sulfate-free and uses baobab, an African miracle ingredient thatâ€™s packed with antioxidants.
ColorProofÂ Baobab Heal & Repair Shampoo, $50; colorproof.com for info
21. Apple a day
This alcohol-free thermal protection product with a concoction of botanicals and ingredients found in fancy skin serums (apple stem cell extract, for example) will help your hair hang onto color.
Bosley Professional Strength Volumizing & Thickening Nourishing Leave-In, $10; amazon.com
22. Bright idea
Let your inner Katy Perry roar: Paint on an out-there hue to distract attention from roots, or anything (or anyone!) else. Thereâ€™s a whole rainbow to choose from.
Manic Panic High Voltage Classic Cream Semi-Permanent Hair Color in Electric Amethyst (one of 30 plus shades), $11; amazon.com
23. Do your part
We love this old-school go-to for gray distraction: parting your hair in a new way. â€œIf you make a zigzag part, you wonâ€™t see the gray as much,â€ Macintosh says.
24. Dry idea
Another fool-the-eye try: Add lift to the hair at your crown and/or bangs with a volumizing product and a blow dryer. â€œGet dry shampoo, put it in your part, and rough it up a bit,â€ says Macintosh. â€œHair will stick up a bit, and you wonâ€™t notice the gray as much.â€ Rhys suggests a little light teasing, or a few hot rollers at the crown for a similar effect.
25. Extend yourself
â€œHair extensions and add-on pieces are a great option for those trying to camouflage their grays, while at the same time adding volume and style,â€ says celebrity stylist Tabatha Coffey, star of Bravoâ€™s Tabatha Takes Over and creator of Secret Cover, a clip-in extension piece that pops onto the crown of your head, where grays are often most obvious.
Secret Cover (in 13 colors), $39.99; getsecretcover.com
26. Beanies, baby
Don the Smurf-like, slouchy knit hat sported by hipsters from Wythe Avenue to Abbot Kinney Boulevard to your local mall.
Patagonia Slopestyle Beanie Hat in Teal, $20; backcountry.com
27. With the band
Extra-wide sporty headbands keep your roots out of sight while you get a workout. (Too bad you canâ€™t wear this alllll day...)
Goody Athletique Premium Stretch Space Dye with Silicone headband, $6 for two; target.com
28. Turban time
29. Going wild
A drape-y headband in a chic animal print helps you stand out from the herd on a drinks night out.
Goody FashioNow Cheetah Fabric Headwrap, $2.23; walmart.com
30. Scarf it up
This retro pin-up look doubles as a roots cover. Tutorials for this vintage-y head wrap abound. Channel Rosie the Riveter, whose motto was â€œWe can do it!â€
31. Wig out
How about unabashedly faux party hair in vibrant orange? Thatâ€™s definitely the new gray!
Dutch Wig in Orange (also Hot Pink, Yellow, Black, Dark Green, Platinum Blonde, Dark Chestnut), $29.99; rickysnyc.com
32. Go faux
Or be (a bit) more reality-based, opting for a wig in a color found in nature (on peopleâ€™s heads, that is) like on this cute, layered lob.
Vivica A. Fox Collection Meliah Wig in 14 colors, $38.90; vivicafoxhair.com
33. On demand
The beauty of this applicator is that it mixes up color each time you use it, so you can do a little (just roots) or a lot (your entire head). Save the remainder for your next go-round. Take the online quiz at lorealparisusa.com for help finding the right color.
Lâ€™OrÃ©al Paris Superior Preference Mousse Absolue, $14; target.com
34. Time saver
If youâ€™ve got lots and lots of gray, a DIY dye can give monochromatic, flat color. Weâ€™re big fans of this permanent version with highlights and tone variations built in. Aimed at women 55+, it also contains nurturing, volumizing ingredients to counter age-related dryness and thinning. The best feature, though, may be the brushlet meant just for temples and sideburns.
Lâ€™Oreal Paris Excellence Age Perfect (in 8 shades), $8; amazon.com
35. Root cause
This just-for-roots potion is engineered to match any DIY brand of color. The contoured brush helps you avoid slip-ups, and, all it takes is 10 minutes.
Clairol Nice â€˜n Easy Root Touch-up Permanent Hair color (in 21 shades), $7; amazon.com
36. The two-step
Color roots and the length of hair in separate steps, just like a pro colorist would with Vidal Sassoon Salonist, $12; amazon.com
37. Get personal
Fill out a brief questionnaire, send in a recent photo, and ask yourself, "Who needs a salon?" This custom-blended color is mixed to match just for you, and shipped directly to your home. â€œGray hair can be a little harder to process. This color has extra pigment for better cover,â€ says Estelle Baumhauer, eSalon Color Director. â€œIf your gray is especially resistant, you can leave the dye on five to 10 minutes longer.â€ Got questions? You can email or phone your designated colorist.
eSalon hair color set (includes color, developer, shampoo, conditioner, stain guard, and stain remover), $19.95; esalon.com
38. Foiled again
Many women turn to a pro when silver strands multiply. If you go this route, youâ€™ll probably want to include return salon visits to cover grow-out in your beauty budget. â€œFour to six weeks is the average time my clients go,â€ says Macintosh. To push the time between appointments to six or eight weeks, he sometimes tries this technique: â€œI weave out some of the gray around the face, and put in foils with color and conditioner between those pieces. Then you donâ€™t have an obvious root line around the face as hair grows,â€ he says.
39. Shady lady
Flip the script on ombrÃ© hair! Usually, that trendy look is darker on top, then progressively lighter. â€œThe darker the hair is, the more apparent the gray will look at the root line,â€ says Rhys. Our twist: Go lighter at the top, darkening toward the ends.
40. Silver streak
Weâ€™ve often heard the tip that going lighter and piling on the highlights will help downplay gray grow-in. We asked an expert: â€œIf youâ€™re naturally blonde and want to stay blonde, then highlights can help,â€ says Macintosh. â€œBut if youâ€™re a brunette and white starts growing in, highlights are not going to help hide it.â€
41. Go low
Not a fan of highlights? â€œYou can have lowlights put in hairâ€”tones close to your natural color. You paint them in like highlights, and that will camouflage the gray so you wonâ€™t have the huge root line,â€ Macintosh says.
42. Brush up
Balayage, or painting in color freehand, is another technique used to minimize obvious roots. â€œHave your colorist cover the gray at the root area,â€ says Rhys. Then, have him or her use balayage on selected strands of hair with a darker color. â€œThis makes it look more natural, like you were born with it.â€
43. Just the highlights
They donâ€™t always have to be blonde. â€œHighlighting comes in all colors,â€ says Rhys. â€œIf you have red hair, your colorist can add lighter strands of a red to add lightness which will soften and blend the gray. If you have brown hair, ask your colorist for soft caramel lights to do the same. Honey blond? Add some pale baby blonde to the hair.â€
44. Precious metal
No one will see a few stray grays when your hair is an eye-catching platinum hue. Caveat: Going this route is high-maintenance and can be damaging to hair, so weigh the pros and cons.
45. Focus fix
If you have large streaks or a skunk stripe you want to lose, you could have your colorist cover just those sections, and leave the rest of your hair alone. The downside: Itâ€™s almost impossible to be so precise with hair dye, says Macintosh. And it could take longer (which is gonna cost you).
46. Strong like bull
Total gray coverage is guaranteed with new Redken Chromatics Ultra Rich color. The new oil-powered permanent dye packs protein particles into your follicles. The result: luminous color with a healthy shine and less breakage.
Redken Chromatics Ultra Rich color; redken.com for salons
47. What the pluck?
If picking up tweezers seems like the easiest way to deal with the occasional stray gray, think again. â€œYou have to realize that, over time, youâ€™re going to get more and more,â€ says Michelle Blaisure, a trichologist and Bosley Professional Strength Expert. â€œIf you continue to pull them out, you can damage the hair follicle. That can lead to the hair having less of an ability to grow in a healthy way; it will come in looking thinner and weaker.â€
48. Arch friend
Why go bonkers covering your gray and then leave telltale pale eyebrow hairs telegraphing timeâ€™s passage? Pick a brow tint that resists sweat and weather.
Blinc Fountain of Youthful Color Eyebrow Mousse (in nine colorsâ€”plus clear), $24; amazon.com
49. High brow
This flake-proof formulation in a universal tint will keep any stray grays away from brows.
Ramy Cosmetics When Hairy Met Sealy Brow Gel in Tinted, $20; amazon.com
In colors like Mahogany, Auburn, and New Slate, this cream-gel formulation blends easily in brows and hairâ€”and doesnâ€™t look phony. Itâ€™s a two-fer!
Bobbi Brown Natural Brow Shaper & Hair Touch Up, $24; sephora.com
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