Coloring Gray Hair
Berkeley Parents Network >
Beauty & Fitness >
Coloring Gray Hair
Help. My medium brown hair has been about 20-30% gray for
years, and I have a fantastic colorist who is unfortunately
quite expensive. I can't stand my obvious gray roots which
are getting worse, especially bc I have a public facing job,
so I have to get color every 6 weeks - at a minimum. The
cost is really killing me - I've been hit by some huge
unanticipated expenses recently and have to cut some corners.
Does anyone have a colorist who is inexpensive but talented,
especially for brunettes? My color isn't fancy with
highlights, but it is important to me to look natural and
Or, can anyone recommend products that really work to cover
gray, for at least 4-5 weeks at a stretch, and can be used
Any advice appreciated!
I use henna (the basic one - red) over my brown-going-gray
hair. You can use it as often as you like (it eventually
wears off) and I like the smell too. The best thing about
it - the gray ends up picking up the color so well that for
me, it looks like fabulous highlights. When I had all-brown
hair, it wasn't that obvious that I had henna'd it. Now, it
really looks nice. The color is also natural looking. I
don't know how the other 'colors' of henna work since they
must have some sort of dye in them.
becoming a red-head
I, too, have brown hair that I was paying to get
professionally colored. I was using semi-permanent color and
getting it done every six weeks. I found out that I could
buy the product the salon was using online and asked for the
formula from the salon and now I do it at home. I have to do
it every four weeks but my new stylist says that the
semi-permanent won't damage my hair doing it that often and
I sometimes do just the top and do clear at the ends and
just pull the color through for the last ten minutes.
Originally I told my stylist I needed the color formula
because I was going to be away for awhile and wanted to make
sure the new person did it right. I suppose I could have
been honest about it but I felt bad about taking away that
business. In any case, doing it at home is fine as long as
you buy a few basic products (gloves, squeeze bottles, etc)
and protect your cabinets and floor. I am assuming that the
salon product (Goldwell Colorance in this case) is better
quality than what I would buy in the store. The cost is
probably 1/6 to do it myself. Good luck.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but if your hair grows
fast, your original/dye color is medium to dark, and you
have a lot of gray, then how fast the color grows out has
nothing to do with how it is colored. I had dark brown hair
when I was younger that started going gray in my 20's. By
the time I turned 40 the only way not to have visible roots
was to dye my hair about every 3 weeks. As a parent of a
small child, I decided this was just not feasible. So now I
have mostly silver hair (I do think I am lucky that the
color is vibrant and with a lot of good conditioning, the
texture is great). While I do occasionally get called
''grandma'' (remarkably even when my son is calling me ''Mama'')
I also get lots of compliments on how beautiful my hair is
(way more than when I was dyeing it). Just a thought.
Since I no longer have to pay for color, I can splurge on
high quality hair care products that keep the gray looking
I'm a brunette who has been coloring my own hair
inexpensivly for about 30 years now (I'm 50). I have lots
of gray now and I use Loreal Permanent Hair gel or dye.
There are tons of great brunette shades and if you follow
the instructions you should get at least 8-10 weeks of
coverage for about 12.00 or so... I get compliments on my
hair color all the time and it isn't obvious I dye it.
I had exact same problem - can't afford my fancy colorist.
Tried for years and finally found a terrific solution -
Loreal Feria, No. 40. Easy to do yourself. Looks super
natural. Under $10 at Walmart (although you can find it
absolutely everywhere). You can also buy the root touchup
kit for in between, although I haven't tried that yet but
Hi - My medium brown hair first turned dark, dark brown
between 35-38, then started to go gray, increasingly so. I
had it colored for a while, now I've used Clairol Natural
Instincts for a few years. It's the SAME as my
professional was doing (I never got into highlights,
that's another story). I mix the dark brown, #28 with #28G
(G is for gold which is actually a goldish-reddish tinted
brown). The #28 by itself was severe and the #28G by
itself was reddish. It's $8 or 9 per box. I buy the two
colors together and mix the color, using the second mix 5
weeks later. Even if you went 4 weeks, that's $1 a week.
The color totally stays permanent. It's shiny dark brown
with some sparkles of red or even gold in the sun.
I have maybe half gray by now (I don't wanna know!) and I
leave the stuff in at least 25 minutes. Applying is is
really easy, you don't have to be exact, do temples and
gray areas near the face first and I just do roots every
time, although it spills down some. Part down middle,
clamp left side, go from top down the right in 1/2'' lines
or so using the tip of the color bottle, rub in with
fingers, do next line & so on. Repeat on left. Then I
fling my head down upside down and use my fingers to put
it in the back which has hardly any gray and isn't as
important. If you have gray at the top of the neck you'd
When my economics are better, maybe I'll let a
professional take me back to medium brown with highlights.
For now, this is fine.
- go for it
I am also a brunette and LOVE my hair-coloring product
called, ''Satin''! I've been using it for 3+ years and would
never go back to salon color. I am also in a public
position, (frequently videotaped) and it always looks great,
even on camera. I get numerous compliments by people
(including hairdressers!) on the color and it lasts
beautifully for at least 6-8 weeks. I use a color called
''3N'' (dark brown) but they have a range of shades. I use
level ''20'' Satin Developer with it, perfect for brunettes.
It's very easy to use (my husband does mine for me), but my
friend does her own because it doesn't drip. It's sold in
beauty supply stores all over the area, the company
(DeveloPlus Inc, Corona, CA 951-738-8595) has an easy store
locator on their website so you can find it conveniently:
www.developlus.com. Don't hesitate to try it, you will save
so much $$$, and love it!
Someone else mentioned henna, so I just wanted to add to
that. If you use pure henna (rather than a mixture of henna
and ???), I think it is generally a bit easier on your hair
than standard hair colors. However, I just want to note that
if you decide to use henna, using an ammonia-based hair
color after that can be really damaging to your hair.
Henna's can contain metallic salts that bind to your hair.
When you use an ammonia-based hair color after that, it can
cause damage, sometimes as extreme as melting your hair.
I have grey hair with some white sections. I want to know
how to get rid of some yellow tint in the white sections.
I'm using Aveda's blue malva shampoo (for over a year now),
and tried also another ''cheaper'' product bought at Longs,
designed for grey hair. Neither one seems to have an effect
on the yellow tint. I don't smoke and am very healthy. I
haven't been in places where the air is dirty. At my
stylist's suggestion, I also tried a ''hair cleanser,'' to
remove build up, but this had no effect. I wash my hair once
a week and blow dry it briefly. I'd love to hear about other
suggestions to try. I love my grey hair, otherwise.
Woman with grey hair
Use the shampoo for grey hair- bought some for my aunt she
is happy. Dont remember the name I think its pantene for
silver or something like that.
The old gals / my revered ancesters, used laundry bluing.
I think you can still get it at Target.
Personaly, I comb in permanent hair dye to lighten up the
part that isn't gray yet. I think that it looks warmer and
I avoid roots this way but my gray isn't pretty and it
sounds like yours is going to be nice.
Diluted vinegar was also part of the rinse for shine.
I've been mostly grey since my late 30's. I use 2 products
regularly to get rid of the yellowing that occurs in my
I use Pureology Hydrate shampoo in a lavendar bottle.
I also use Joico Color Endure Violet about 2 times per
week. (If you use this product more often your hair will
I get them both at Pure Beauty in El Cerrito Plaza where
i'm a member of their club and get 10% off purchases and
then during the summer I buy large bottles during their
liter sale (enough to get me through the year). I use the
conditioners that match both shampoos.
Basically you want to use any purple based shampoo on grey
hair. I did experiment with other products but I really
hated the smell of some and the way my hair felt after
using them. These 2 are basically odor free and my hair
doesn't have a funny feel to it after using them.
Good luck and welcome to the no hair dye club!
grey too soon
Given current economic times, I am considering giving up my salon
visits for hair coloring, but I'm not quite ready to let it all go
gray. I would welcome any recommendations of brands to use at home
or tips of how to apply the color evenly when doing it myself.
Not Yet Ready to be Gray
I am irritated by roots. I also dislike looking at brassy red and
old fur coat looking hair on women. OK,so, waddaya gonna do?
I buy 'on sale' hair color and mix equal amounts in a plastic cup.
Store the part you don't use in it's origional package for next
time. (depending on how long your hair is, you can get up to 3 uses
from each package this way) Put your color on in tiny bits, with
your fingers and using a plastic comb, comb it out to the
ends...BUT, only put it on tiny bits here & there.
Do this every other week or so, and you will not show roots.
Vary where you put it and the colors you buy. It will look pretty
normal and a bit of gray will show. I think it is prettier if there
is some silver showing, just warm it up with some lighter and darker
colors because your natural hair color will cool down as you get
older and the warmer colors will be more flattering than 100%
Every once in a while, put a nice temporary color over everything to
blend it all together. Remember that even ''temporary'' color will
lift a bit of your natural color and it is very drying. VO5 or any
mens 'little dab'l do ya' type hair dressing is great for
I have better results on my own than at a salon.
I too have reluctantly stopped getting professional highlights in
light of a new house and new mortgage. I have a ton of gray in
front and top, and have opted to use a semi-permanent purchased at
Beauty Center. The brand is Satin and I think the developer can
either be permanent or semi-permanent. The semi-permanent (or
demi-permanent) products tend to be gentler on the hair although
they do fade/wash out after about a month. My hair is quite dark,
so the fading is nice in that the gray regrowth is not as dramatic
when contrasted with the lighter brown as the weeks progress. I
wouldn't recommend doing any permanent or bleaching without more
professional consultation, although I have had friends manage with
some success. Good luck and email me with any questions.
I am coloring at home using the same professional products, formula
and method as my stylist. She uses Goldwell Colorance. I asked for
the formula one time so that I could give it to someone else
(another stylist) when I was traveling. I looked online and, even
though the products were supposed to be for professional use, they
were readily available. I converted the milliliters to teaspoons and
bought a few things - gloves, bottles, coverup, etc and I am good to
go. It takes some work not to be messy and I don't really know how
to adjust it but it seems to be working pretty well. I feel better
using professional products and every 6-8 months go get it done once
professionally and look again at the formula.
Coloring at home
I too take a break from the high cost of salon coloring when times
are tight financially... now don't get me wrong, I have not gone
natural! Do not even know what my true color is any longer.... Here
is what I do.
Went to local beauty supply shop, Beauty Center on Mountain in
Montclair and spoke with the expert there. She recommended one of
the professional haircolor products. The worst part is they come
with NO directions... NONE!! So listen carefully and write down
what they tell you at Beauty Center. They recommended I get a
couple of colors and mix them together, you have to also buy the
solution that goes with the tubes of color. Get a haircolor brush
while you are there, they are cheap and make it much easier to apply
the color and part the hair.
Mix per instructions, apply to dry to hair... I mainly part a small
section and apply color with the brush to the roots. Part, apply,
part apply, it does not have to be perfect. Leave on the
recommended time and then comb the color through the rest of your
hair and wait another 5 minutes or so. Rinse, shampoo and see your
new do!! Have fun.
DIY hair color
I have been home hair coloring for about five years. You need to
work in a space that has good light and allow yourself about an hour
and a half from start to rinse. I like the Satin line at the Beauty
Center on Solano. Get a semi permanent color in a shade you like, no
ash or anything too gold. Get a color brush, gloves and developer.
Ask for help, the young women who work there are fairly
knowledgeable. If your hair is long, you will also need some clips
to section it. Mix your color as directed in a bowl with the the
brush. Start with a side part and paint your root growth with the
color, an inch or so up the hair shaft. Take the point end of the
brush and make a new part about a quarter of an inch parallel to the
first, lay the colored hair over, and paint the other side and the
opposite side with color. By repeating this method you will go
across the top of you head touching up the roots in parallel parts
from ear to ear. The back will require some finesse, or a mirror !
in which you can see the back of your head. Work the color the same
way from top to hairline, using the clips to keep the hair out of
the way if necessary. Once you have covered all the roots you can
work the remaining color out to the ends with your hands. BE SURE
watch the time from the start, leaving the color on too long will
lead to it being too dark, less time is better than too long. Once
you have mastered this technique, you might try using more that one
color, layering it in with foil. A few lighter strands through the
top will give the color more depth and is fairly easy if you do it
first, then work the base color in. Hope the detail is helpful.
happy home colorist
I've been using Clairol Natural Instincts (semi-permanent) for many
years. It's ammonia free and not smelly.
not ready for the gray either
I am appalled by the amount of money and the time I am spending
at my inexpensive hairdresser having my gray roots touched up on
a regular basis. I am not ready to go gray yet (if ever) and do
not like the henna products or the wash-in color kits that
gradually renders my fine flyaway hair to a haystack.
I do use a hair color crayon between salon visits, but I am not
thrilled by the way it makes my hair look.
Recently I have discovered the roots touch-up kits they sell in
Walgreens for a few bucks. I have been very impressed with the
results and recently bought two kits and did a not-so-bad job of
touching up the roots of my crown and the back of my scalp.
My question is: I realize these kits do not replace the expertise
of my hairdresser, but is there any reason why I can't use these
every three weeks or so for a couple of months (or even three)
until I see my hairdresser?
How do other busy moms who like to look good justify the expense
and time of regular salon visits or is there something I don't
Prematurely gray and always vain
I just figure the price of my hairdresser into my budget.
I don't go out to eat a lot and don't buy expensive clothes
(thrift town, clothing exchanges, Mervyns, etc.) I get my
hair colored about every 2-3 months, and cut once inbetween.
I've never tried home coloring. My treat is to go to my hair
guy(who happens to be a dear friend) and have that special
few hours to myself with my bud. He cuts my hair in a way
(and colors) that my roots don't show immediately so I can
get away with it a tad longer.
I've gone through the same thing and found the touch up pens
not to work well either. While its not sold as a root touch
up kit, I recommend the Italian brand Herbavita hair color to
cover the grey. It is ammonia-free unlike conventional
brands sold at drugstores. I have black hair so my grey
really stands out and this brand works so well. You can get
Herbavita at Whole Foods or other natural stores. It's more
expensive than the drugstore brands, but one box will last me
for two or three touch ups if I only mix what I need each
time. I brought the color chart to my stylist to have him
help me pick out the best color for my hair and that worked
really well. I was upfront with my stylist that while he
does a fantastic job, it was getting too costly and time
consuming to come every three weeks like I needed. He was
very understanding. Good luck!
I'm 40 and unhappily noticing an increasing amount of gray/white
pubic hairs. I've plucked quite a few out and it really hurts!
Has anyone had any experience dyeing their pubic hair?
LOLOL!! I dye mine every time I dye my hair red. No prob! I also dye
my eyebrows while I'm at it, also no problem. But remember, stand sort
of with your legs open in a sort of squat so none of the dye gets onto
the sensitive mucous membranes inside.
AND LOCK THE DOOR to the bathroom, lordy if any my kids walked in on me
standing there like that.....
I'm 50 and looking at Rogaine AND Lady Clairol! Just kidding - I'm
leaving everything the way it is. I can't imagine how painful plucking
is! I was thinking though, that if you did dye it you wouldn't have to
worry about ''roots'' since that hair doesn't get any longer. Maybe it
would just be a one-time application. Anyway, if I were really thinking
about doing this I'd call a salon where nobody knew me and ask all the
questions I wanted. From my phone with blocked caller ID.
Signed - Silver Streak
A few months ago, after two kids and a dramatic decine in income,
I decided to stop having my hair colored in a salon. But now my
natural color is growing in, my gray is showing, and truth be
told, I look a fright. I need to color my hair again (SOON!), and
I realize that I should just pick up some dye and get to work,
but I have no idea where to begin. I'm terrified of using the
wrong product and ending up with dull, flat, yucky color. I'm
also worried about getting good coverage of the gray -- which, in
hairdresser lingo, ''doesn't want to grab the color.'' Is there
anyone else out there with coarse graying hair who's found the
brand of perfect hair color? Thanks.
Old Gray Mare No More
I too have grey hair that is ''resistant'' (my beautician's term)
to color. The only product that seems to work effectively in
covering my grey hair is called ''Bijen''; it's available at most
drug stores -- paricularly those specializing in holistic
health/alternative medicine like Elephant Pharmacy on Shattuck.
I'm afraid to color my own hair so I have not used this product
at home. In any case, even though it's a permanent color, it is
very gentle to my hair (and I get two chemical processes -- a
perm and a color -- in alternating months). Moreover, I have
been using Bijen for almost 10 years now and have had no adverse
effects on my hair. Good luck.
I am in my early 30's and married with two kids. I have a ton of gray
hair and have been coloring for several years. It's at the point now
where the roots need to be done every 4 weeks or so because my hair is
dark brown and the contrast is very noticeable. I always said that at
40 or 45 I would cut it real short and let the gray grow out, but I've
been toying with the idea of doing it now. I'm sick of maintaining it
-- the time and the cost. But I'm worried that I'm too young to show
so much gray. I have a very young face and people frequently think
I'm in my low-20's. My husband is also very young looking and is in
fact a couple years younger than me.
Has anyone else gone through this decision?
i'm in early 30', i decided 3 months ago to stop dying my gray
hair, a lot of gray.
i'm a mother of 2 girls, i couldn't find the time to dye my
hair each month.
And finally the last time, I had so much allergy problems.. so
it helps me to take the decision.
I'm now with 3'' roots.
I find a way to let grow without being scared in my mirror, i
tryed a new product, it's a Non Permanent color, no ammonia
inside, and the publicity for this product says ''blends away
And it's true, nobody notice that i change the color, nobody
notice that i have roots, and no more allergic problem, I did
it 1 month ago and don't need to do it right now, i can wait an
I don't want to cut my hair short, there are medium, so I cut
little by little the old permananent color.
A friend says ''it's sophisticated to have gray hair'', so I will
see in some months how i feel. And if something wrong with my
husband or my mirror, i will dye again.
But I want to try first.
Yes, go for it! I started going gray in my teens, and dyed my hair off and
on for a number of years. I didn't actually mind the gray, but I wanted to
have a ''dramatic'' look so I dyed my hair black. When I met my husband
at age 26 he convinced me to ''go natural'' and see how much gray there
was. It had really taken off, and the gray itself provided its own dramatic
look. I grew it out completely and most of the top layer of my hair is very
light silver. I have never gotten as many complements on anything as
I've gotten about my hair. People either like it a lot or they're just curious
about it, wondering if I colored it gray. (I'm 31 now). So people will
probably talk to you about it, and say things like ''you look too young to
have so much gray!'' If you don't mind this, I say give it a whirl. I may dye
my hair again when people STOP commenting on it, but for now I'm
enjoying looking unique.
Have you considered lowlights? This is like highlights only
dark. It's kind of a compromise between being very gray or
dying your hair completely. Your hairdresser matches your
natural (old) color & paints it on in streaks. It's easy to
maintain since the roots don't show as much & looks very
natural. I too went gray very early & went back and forth
between being gray and dying, now I do lowlights every four
months or so & am very happy with it. My hairdresser is Julie
at Circle Salon in Kensington.
not ready to be gray either
I am a hairdresser and I just talked with a woman the other day
about this... How grey are you? Would you mind your hair being
really short? All over 'grey covering color' is a pain in the
but! Hair color should be for enhancing your color or for fun,
not to hide it. Have you thought about low lighting? It's when
some grey is taken away, instead of all of it... and the grow
out is more forgiving. I'd be happy to talk with you to help
you make a decision--
Don't go grey!!!
I am pretty much gray and only 31. As much as I like grey hair in older women I
don't like it on younger ones. I don't die it professionally (too expensive!) I use
a product called herbavita (elephant pharmacy - $9) and do my roots using
only 1/2 of the product every 3-4 weeks. Do the whole head the first time
though. It looks very natural, contains no ammonia and leaves your hair shiny.
It covers 100% grey hair.
I think I will cut it short and let it go grey when I'm 40 or so!
will be gray
I have been coloring my hair at home but I am not quite
satisfied with the ''uniform'' solid color I am getting. I was
wondering if anybody tried to color their hair using a lighter
shade than they would normally use (I am a brunette) so the gray
hair becomes lighter in color and the rest of the hair is
darker, therefore getting ''natural'' highlights. Am I making
Young but with gray hair
Check out the hair coloring kits at health food supermarkets
such as Whole Foods, Berkeley Natural Foods (or whatever it's
called) on Gilman, etc. There are two or three brands which
cover gray as they color and don't contain much in the way of
harsh chemicals, so your hair doesn't dry out. It might take a
little experimentation to get the color you want; I ended up
combining two shades. Light Mountain henna is also good and
looks very natural, but is messy to use.
I have used haircoloring one shade lighter than my normal hair
color (very dark brown) and I did get highlights, but the way
the gray picks up color, I thought they were too brassy. Clairol
says this is good to try if your hair is less than 25% gray, a
category I surpassed at about 30, and to use ''golden'' rather than
red or ash tones. The other problem is you have lots of gray
is ''coverage''- if you try this, CLairol also says leave the
color on longer than the directions call for to color gray
completely. I am excited about a new ''double'' process home
haircolor, Colour Experte, by L'oreal (at Target). You color
your hair and then add highlights. But of course this is more
work for a busy mom, so I haven't tried it yet. I've been
investigating because for coloring gray, I felt paying for
professional color is a waste of money, didn't come out any
better and must be reapeated every 3 weeks if your color is dark
because the roots really show.
I do just what you're talking about and it works for me. I get
a blond semi-permanent color, usually 7N, and apply it to all
of my hair. The grays are highlighted and the dark is not
changed. What I like best about this method is that when the
grays grow there is not a huge contrast between the highlighted
hair and the new growth. I also get professional highlights
every six months or so and they also pick up the color
differently, which adds a lot of interest. I would recommend a
gentle semi-permanent color, like Colorence by Goldwell, which
you can buy at beauty supply shops.
Home Color that Works
I have had my hair professionally highlighted for several years
and I'm very happy with the look. Because the highlights aren't
so different from the base color, I've found that I've been able
to let four months or so elapse before going back to the
hairdresser for more work.
Recently, though, I've discovered my brown roots aren't brown
anymore. They're gray. EEK. This means I go back to my
hairdresser every four weeks to color my gray roots (I still have
highlights put in every four months or so).
The cost isn't too bad -- about $40 -- but what's problematic is
the time. Most hairdressers juggle clients these days and I find
this simple procedure can eat into too much of my day -- time
that I should be spending with my kids.
I do not want to go gray. And I do not want to color my own hair
at home (done that before). But I am wondering how feasible it
would be to touch-up roots myself. I welcome any feedback!
Prematurely gray and hating it
My hair is also prematurely gray. I know just what you mean
about the time needed to touch up your roots in a salon. Mine
begin to show after three weeks. It is simple to dye them
yourself. The only problem is that the chemicals available in
drugstores tend to fry your hair. After a couple of years your
hair is likely to become frizzy with an artificial looking tint.
You just cannot buy the dye which is relatively gentle and looks
good. I finally solved this by finding a stylist who would sell
it to me ''under the table'' for a small fortune. I do not save
any money, but the time saved is invaluable.
Like you I got tired of the long sessions at the hair salon,
not to mention escalating costs of having my roots done
professionally.Since I was a bit nervous at the thought of
doing it all myself, I have hit upon a method that works great
for me: I alternate between salon appointments and the at-home
method,and the results have been quite good so far. At home, I
have been using ''Color Spa'' (formerly called ''Casting'') by
L'Oreal, which doesn't contain ammonia and comes with a very
nice conditioning treatment. I haven't noticed any dryness or
damage to my hair.
Two tips: If you hesitate between two tints, make sure to
choose the darker one. You will get better coverage that way.
Also my colorist has assured me that it is absolutely safe to
keep the product on the hair longer than the prescribed 10
minutes. I do it up to 20 minutes (roots only) to make sure
that I get visible results.
this page was last updated: Jul 26, 2011
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network