8 Pro Tips for Covering Gray Hair at Home

Whether it’s color-resistant locks or hard-to-reach spots, covering grays fully and effectively can be a tricky business when you’re working with at-home hair color. Luckily, we’ve got the inside scoop from our in-house colorists on how to get gray coverage right, every single time.

01 Make it Permanent

If you’re looking for color that lasts (and we think you are!), permanent color is the way to go. Unlike demi-permanent, which lasts only 24 washes, the pigment in the permanent variety will penetrate the grays and alter your hair’s actual color. Done right, you’ll be rocking that quality hue all the way ‘til your next application.

02 Guard Your Skin (Not Your Hair!)

Keep the dye where it belongs through careful use of color resistant Stain Guard. You want to use enough to protect your hairline and ear tops—but stay away from the hair itself. Our rule of thumb? It’s better to get a little on your scalp than not have enough to cover your roots.

03 Stubborn Areas First

Anyone who’s dyed their hair at home knows that gray hairs can be, well, ornery. Go for the most color-resistant grays first, so that they’ll get the longest processing time. Note that these could be at the temples, the crown, or anywhere your last color application faded more quickly than the rest.

04 Section and Slice

All the pros know that a smaller work area makes for quicker, more thorough work. So, divide your hair into four sections; then work in ¼” slices within those sections. This way, you’ve got every last strand under total color control.

05 Use Plenty of Pigment

Even coverage and a beautiful outcome depend on one major thing: enough color to penetrate super resistant grays. Fully saturate those roots, and then go back and do a cross check in the opposite direction for any strays. Better to over-apply than to end up with an uneven result.

06 Timing is Crucial

We are so serious about this one! Make sure to let your hair process for the full recommended time, as rinsing color too soon can cause uneven color, less-than-full coverage, or even (gasp!) translucent results. So, after you’ve finished your full application, make sure to set your timer.

07 Check While Processing

Hair color tends to swell and puff up as it processes, which can propel grays up and out of the pigment you just applied. (Crazy, right?!) So to make sure wily grays stay covered in color, do a thorough re-check about half-way through processing time and add a bit more to any spot that may have come undone.

08 Make a Plan

In color as in life, consistency is key. Set your Color Plan to your personal schedule—whether that’s every 8 weeks or every other weekend—and your color will arrive at your door right on time. And for the grays that peep out between applications? Well, we always have a root concealer handy, just in case.

Now’s the time to work with an expert stylist to design a color made specifically for your hair. Um, buh-bye, grays.