Premature and Stubborn gray hair can make you look aged uncomfortable. Coloring is one of the easiest and quickest ways to make it invisible at least for a while, especially if you are a brunette or someone with naturally dark hair.
The best hair colors/dyes to cover gray hair range from professional permanent, temporary, ammonia-free, DIYs at home. You can also disguise your grey hair with highlights: Blonde and balayage. Read on for details
Best Hair Color to Cover Gray for Brunettes/Dark Hair
The toughest grey hair to cover completely is that of brunettes and individuals with black hair. According to some hair stylists, this is because there’s more contrast between the light gray strands and the dark locks.
In most cases, permanent colors will do a nice job in concealing the greys in dark hair but that is if you have the time and money to undergo this procedure once every month.
If you cannot afford the time and money for the monthly permanent hair coloring procedure, you can try temporary hair colors. The following are the top color choices for brunettes and dark skins, both temporary and permanent.
Garnier Express Retouch (Temporary)
This is the perfect on-the-go root concealer for covering grays at the roots, temples, or wherever they appear. It is designed for less mess, more control, and transfer-resistance. Plus, it washes out in one shampoo!
Rita Hazan Root Concealer Touch-Up Spray (Temporary)
This is the favorite for most stylists. It is also an award-winning aerosol root concealer known to perfectly extend salon color with temporary gray root cover-up.
According to Rita Hazan, it is the only water-proof, transfer-proof touch up spray with a nozzle applicator to cover grays exactly where you need it. Evenly disperses and adheres to hair for fuller coverage. Buildable color pigments work on any hair color, shampoos out easily, and won’t affect relaxers or other straightening treatments.
John Frieda Precision Foam Color
This pleasant-smelling permanent hair color that comes in a non-drip foam formula. It is easy to spread evenly all over your hair. It saturates each strand with color. Its precise application ensures that you get 100% gray coverage. All brunette and black-haired beauties can use the Deep Brown Black shade from this range.
However, it is known to fade quickly and may make your locks feel dry
Clairol Age Defy
When it comes to the best hair dye for gray hair, Clairol is by far one of the most reviewed hair dye products for covering gray hair out there.
It is marketed as an award-winning hair color that gives a much superior gray coverage. It comes with a conditioner and does more than just hide white hair – it fights frizz, dryness, breakage and coarseness.
Clairol have made a color variant for everyone, so their color chart comes in handy as well. Another one of their products in the same light is Clairol Nice ‘N Easy Permanent Hair Color Natural Black.
Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme
Nutrisse nourishes while it colors thanks to a formula infused with avocado, olive, and shea oils. Available in so many radiant shades that deliver 100% gray coverage, discover the difference nourished hair makes.
Best Professional Hair Color to Cover Gray (Permanent, Demi & Semi)
In the above section we focused on brunettes and dark-haired individuals. Here is a list of more salon professional hair colors, permanent, semi/demi permanent, to hide greying for those with hair that is not necessarily dark.
Schwarzkopf Keratin Color (Red Velvet Brown)
This a permanent professional formula specifically designed for mature hair and offers complete coverage to gray hair. It’s formulated with Unique Collagen Care Complex and Keratin Coloration that repair damaged hair and cause 80% less breakage than other boxed dyes.
The protective Pre-Color Serum conditions the hair before coloring for a more even color result from root to tip.
But this hair color’s USP would have to be its Skin Flattering Pigments that complement your skin tone and make you look younger.
Most people recommend it because it has a low smell, it lasts long and it is good for color processed, damaged hair. Unfortunately, it tends to dry out your hair.
Rusk Deepshine Conditioning Cream Color
It utilizes Micro Pure Pigment Technology which ensures hair color molecules penetrate deeply, producing longer-lasting results for your grey hair.
Advanced Marine Therapy evens out porosity and seals the cuticle to improve the overall strength and integrity of the hair. This permanent hair color provides incredible color clarity, yielding consistently silky, shiny results.
Schwarzkopf Igora Royal Permanent Hair Color
This is a complete gray coverage permanent color formula. Despite the fact that it fully and completely hides silver strands, it still delivers multidimensional, natural-looking color.
Wella Professionals Color Charm Permanent Liquid Color (African-American Grey Hair)
Wella Professionals Permanent Liquid Color is formulated with Liquifuse Technology that offers fade resistant results and full coverage to the most stubborn grays. It comes with pleasant floral smell.
It also claims to deliver 43% more shine and 60% more conditioning than its competitors
Most users agree that it lasts long and it pocket friendly. However, it tends to stain garments and working surface quickly. Some users also say that the color may turn out to be a bit darker.
Joico LumiShine DD Dimensional Deposit Demi-Permanent Crème Color
This is an all-in-one package that covers and blend grays, adds a touch of lowlights, revives faded hues, and balances out an ombré look.
There are 20 shades to choose from, all of which contain a strengthening amino-acid technology to keep your strands healthy. It lasts for up to 30 shampoos and comes with a pleasant smell of purely natural ingredients.
Excellence Créme Permanent Triple Protection Hair Color
100 percent gray coverage, even on stubborn grays. Triple protection system protects before, during and after coloring for up to eight weeks. Pre-color treatment protects and primes hair.
The color creme is formulated with Pro-Keratine complex that protects as its colors. This hair dye kit is available in a color palette ranging from Ash Blonde to Chocolate Brown to Jet Black. Absolutely gorgeous at home hair color.
Best Ammonia-free Colors for Grey Hair Coverage
Ammonia-free colors are safe less smelly. Following is a list of the best options
Keune So Pure Permanent Hair Color
Thanks to argan oil, your strands will be in hydration heaven. While this formula delivers a seamless and brilliant color, it also helps to rebuild your hair’s natural structure and provides protection during the coloring process.
Goldwell Nectaya Nurturing Hair Color
This color formula comes with a unique technology that delivers lipids back into the hair.
The addition of argan oil makes it extra conditioning, and it not only covers grays completely but can also lift your base up to three levels. A natural fragrance rounds out the list of noteworthy benefits.
Garnier Olia Ammonia Free Hair Color
Olia is an ammonia-free, no-drip cream formula kit for brilliant color and visibly healthier looking hair.
With 60% oil blend and natural flower oils, it works perfect for hair-nourishing, root touch up, or natural hair color enhancement.
Revlon ColorSilk – Ultra Light Ash Blonde for Blonde Hair
Revlon ColorSilk is an ammonia-free permanent hair color that offers complete gray coverage. This easy-easy-to-apply formula is enriched with UV Defense that keeps your hair color vibrant, silky and soft.
It is formulated with Revlon 3D Color Gel Technology that is a combination of dyes, conditioners, and polymers that give you natural looking and multi-dimensional color from root to tip.
The shade ultra-light ash blonde is perfect for anyone who has light to platinum blonde hair with gray undertones. The downsides include quick fading and slight red tones
Clairol Natural Instincts
This is a semi-permanent formula that not only blends away greys but also perfect for all hair types and textures.
It contains no ammonia and no added parabens for total confidence. It is made up of 80% naturally derived ingredients including coconut and aloe vera.
It boosts shine and can last 28 washes.
Natural DIY Colors to Hide Gray Hair at Home
Are you in a do-it-yourself mood? At-home hair dyes are good only if you know how to use them properly without damaging your hair. Your journey to getting rid of gray hair at home should start finding safe and natural ingredients for creating the dye.
Henna is a well-known ingredient when it comes DIY hair coloring. Go for neutral henna powder. This herb will cover gray hair perfectly. It will also mask light and blonde hair.
It won’t affect darker or brunette hair. Neutral henna doesn’t have the lasting power of henna, so you’ll need to use this rinse more frequently.
Black Tea Rinse to Cover Grey Hair
Black tea will give a subtle and temporary darkening to your hair, no matter what it’s starting color.
- 3 heaping tablespoons of loose black tea leaves
- 3 cups boiling water
- Steep the black tea leaves in the boiling water for approximately 30 minutes.
- Shampoo your hair as usual and pour the black tea mixture over your hair 15 to 20 times.
- Leave the final rinse of black tea on your hair for 10 minutes, then rinse with clean, warm water.
- Style your hair as usual.
Home safety tips to remember
Remember to do a test patch before leaving the DIY color/ dye on your hair for a long time. Not every natural ingredient/product is safe
How do you test?
- Do a basic allergy test by swabbing a bit of hair dye mix on your inner lower arm.
- Leave on your skin for a day.
- If you have any burning, itching, or other reaction, don’t put the mix on your hair.
If can’t find the above natural products, you can also choose from these highly recommended at-home hair dyes for white hair coverage.
- Umberto Beverly Hills U Color
- Revlon ColorSilk
- Herbatint Permanent Herbal Haircolour Gel
- Clairol Natural Instincts and L’Oreal Excellence Crème
These colors are easy to use and can get rid of gray hair safely. Some, like the Clairol one, come with conditioning treatments just to make sure your hair remains healthy and well covered.
Blending Grey with Highlights and Lowlights
Another solution is to choose highlights or lowlights to hide the greying strands. This is particularly good when your hair is long. Ellen Miller of Angie’s List recommends that you color with a lot of care, opting for a “small concentration of highlights around the problem area.” This will help break up the grey locks.
One big advantage of using highlights for gray hair coverage (and even lowlights) is the fact that they help hair move away from remaining monochromatic.
Your hair will appear fuller with more dimensions. You will simply be creating an illusion of movement and lift in your hair. Note that highlights are good for covering hair that is just up to 20 percent gray.
How to Disguise Grey Hair with Highlights
Following is a step by step guide on how to hide grey hair with highlights on dark/brunette hair
Both highlights and lowlights steps
Touching up Grey Roots with Balayage
Balayage highlights is a smart solution for gray hair since it allows it allows you to target gray strands without touching the scalp. And, because you don’t need to do a single process to cancel out a few grays, it’s easier on your hair overall
Following are the steps
Blonde Hair Color for Gray Hair
Blonde can also cover grays, but not for everyone. According to Dunham, “The mistake some women make when they go gray is to cover it with blonde if they weren’t a natural blonde to begin with.” When you do this, you end up looking so washed out and unnatural.
Whether you want to go dark blonde, medium blonde or ash blonde to cover white hair, it is important that you are a natural blonde. Don’t go even lighter if you have a light skin tone because you will end up being unflattering.
For women with little depth on their roots, it is hard creating a good coverage on the base. Therefore, opt for a monochromatic blonde and then spice it up with lowlights and highlights. These will improve the dimension of our hair and coverage. Good highlights to try include caramel, light brown and strawberry blonde highlights.
You can also get 100 percent gray hair coverage with neutral colors such as medium blonde and sandy blonde.
Another idea and technique of coloring or hiding gray hair is to go ombre. While gray ombre doesn’t get you away from the white hair or fawn that you so want to escape, creating such an effect can leave you looking stylish too.
That doesn’t mean that you don’t color your locks. No; you will need to enhance the gray hair in order to give the locks some intensity and color vibrancy.
Some people start with dark roots, or more of a brunette look and fade into a light lilac ombre. Always opt for darker roots when you want to try and conceal gray hair with an ombre hair style.
More Grey Hair Coverage Ideas and Tips
Coloring is one thing, but how do you conceal the age that your hair shows? Hair pencils, sprays and other products will help hide ageing hair, but don’t forget other tips such as hair styles and cuts. Here are further tips for hiding gray locks.
If you have less than 50% gray, choose a semi-permanent dye that is two shades lighter than the final color you are looking for. This is to help your hair not to get too dark as semi-permanent dyes don’t lighten hair.
If you are more than 50% gray, choose one shade lighter than what you want your hair to look like in the end. You will cover the gray better without looking too dark and unnatural.
The tone of the colors you choose is also important. Go for products that are indicated as neutral or natural if you want a neutral tone in the end. Warm tones include amber and golden. Cool tones should have ash tones, such as ash brown hair dyes.
Grow out hair color for gray hair is also something you want to consider if you have thinning grey hair.
Another tip is just to embrace it. Natural grey looks amazing on some people.
Reducing Grey Hair Damage from Coloring
According to Michael Boychuck, a celebrity stylist based in Las Vegas, ammonia-free formulations dry your hair fast. Most gray hair strands are weak and subjecting them to drying agents will damage them.
If you want to avoid the drying effects of chemicals in the dye, so go for dye with no ammonia or some technologies to counter the effects of ammonia.
Another reason why you should avoid ammonia hair products is that ammonia has an effect of fading hair color. As Michael puts it, ammonia “penetrates the outer cuticle layer to deposit color in the inner cortex of the hair…” This leaves your hair vulnerable to damage especially when shampooing it.
Choose chemical-free dye products especially if you have thinning, weakened or fine gray hair. Such products will help you avoid having your hair damaged within a short while.
African American Greying Hair
From experience, when you choose to dye gray African American hair with a lighter shade, you will end up with an unappealing result of a yellowish hue or a tinge of orange.
If the roots are gray and the length of your locks has not yet turned gray, use a permanent foam dye that will give you a dark brown hue for gray coverage on the roots and then apply a deep cherry for a fabulous look. Best product for this – JohnFrieda Precision Foam Color in Deep Brown Black and Deep Cherry Brown.
You can also choose from rinses, sprays and powders. One product that always works well for this type of hair is Wella Color Charm Demi-Permanent Color.
Being a trusted professional salon hair dyeWella will give you a variety of deep tones such as black and brown, making it one of the best products for African American gray hair coverage. Dark and Lovely Hair Dyes are also a good line of products to try.
Permanent vs. demi-permanent vs. semi-permanent hair dye
Which one should you use? A semi-permanent hair dye, demi-permanent, temporary or permanent hair dye to cover white hair? One important fact about gray hair that you already know is that it is way too stubborn to absorb color. Gray hair is very resistant to color, is porous and coarse compared to regular hair.
Which color you will choose depends on the results you want. For better coverage, and long-lasting results choose a permanent hair dye because it will settle better into the pores of each strand. Go for Semi and Demi permanent hair dyes if you are looking for a very temporary solution.
Gray hair colors and skin tones, and eye colors
Another important tip in choosing hair dyes that cover gray hair to whatever percentage you like is matching it well with your skin tone and eye color. As you will learn, silver hair or fawn gray hair is hair that has lost pigment.
“When dyeing gray hair, it is important that you restore that missing undertone or pigment” says Van Gogh Kelly of the Van Gogh Hair Color. Base your best hair color for gray hair on this fact. The idea here is to get a natural-looking hair color that covers your gray hair and looks good with your skin tone and color.
Since your skin tone, color or pigmentation lightens as age creeps in, you should choose a good hair color that will complement it. Try to dye your hair a little lighter than when you were younger in your 20s or 30s.
While you can completely change your natural hair color, seek professional or salon advice because you want to stay within a spectrum of hues that will enhance your eye colors and still look good on you.
Grey hair coloring for light skin tones
What is the best hair color for gray hair and light skin tones? We have already covered good hair dyes for light, pale and fair skin tones.
However, when it comes to choosing good hair colors for light skin tones with gray hair, it is important that you go with pure white gray tones or you opt for creamy and pale yellows.
Pale yellow shades are better because, according to Deborah Dunham (see sources), too much of golden tones will not be flattering.
Brunette hair colors such as light brown and dark brown do well for natural brunettes.
Grey hair colors for medium skin complexions
For medium skin tones, tones of steely gray and creamy whites are more appropriate and will look beautiful. However, you should choose more of silvery tones especially if your hair is not 100 percent gray. In other words, if you have darks in your hair, you will look great with brighter silver tones.
For men and women with red undertones or such hints of cool tones in their skins, avoid too much of white hues as these are likely to bring out too much of red undertones even more, making you look unnatural.
Gray hair dye and dark skin tones
For women with darker skin tones, dark lowlights coupled with brighter whites around the face will give you a good-looking blond appearance.
Note that if you go with yellow tones, you will end up looking unnatural, unhealthy, or a little drab.