For those whose hair is adorned, for better or worse, with silver strands, learning how to cover gray hair without dye is akin to a magic trick. Said mastery is universally useful, as grays tend to crop up quickly, making it reasonable to become your own colorist between salon appointments.
“I’ve noticed it takes about four to six weeks for grays to start making their way back after coloring,” says hairstylist Dimitris Giannetos, a favorite of the likes of Amal Clooney, Gwyneth Paltrow, and the Kardashians. And while some may welcome such regular touch-up appointments, others would do well to explore the art of obscuring gray hair sans dye—or even using a touch of at-home color should the need arise.
Gray coverage comes down to strategic camouflage, specialized hair products and natural remedies aiming to quiet the shine that comes with white, silver, and gray strands without detracting from your natural (or carefully chosen) hair shade. As these options are applied to the root and close to hair follicles, keeping scalp health in mind is essential—overuse of buildable sprays and powders can mess with your biome, leading to hair loss or general irritation and dullness. In short, the trick is concealing sans damage to hair or existing color.
Here, the best ways to cover gray hair from the comfort of your home.
Try a Root Concealer Spray
Root concealer sprays provide a user-friendly option, the aerosols functioning similar to the dry shampoos we’ve all come to rely on. Oribe Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray offers oil-absorbing benefits with its boost of color, R+Co’s Bright Shadows Root Touch-Up Spray is a highly blendable option that amplifies shine.
And of course, there are the expert-approved faves. “I love the Rita Hazan Root Concealer Spray for a quick and efficient touch up in between hair appointments,” says Giannetos. “You can spray it right onto the hair in-between washes and it’ll cover up your grays as if you just went to the salon!” Meanwhile, hairstylist Annagjid Kee Taylor’s go-to can be found at your local drugstore. “The L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up is an affordable option that will help you temporarily mask gray hairs coming in,” she says.
Reach for a Root Touch-Up Powder
More meticulous coverage is achievable with the the help of a root touch-up powder, essentially a packed palette designed to be brushed over gray strands. Dust John Frieda Root Blur Colour Blending Concealer over problem areas—the brand’s multi-tonal palettes are ideal for color matching and is a great option for blonde hair—or reach for Color Wow Root Coverup Powder for coverage that enhances the look of thinning hairlines, too.
If you're weary of investing in a designated powder, your own collection of eyeshadows, brow powders, and even brow gels can work in a pinch—just make sure that the shade doesn't come with unwanted shimmer or sparkle.
Consider Henna Powder
Looking to eschew chemicals in favor of a natural hair dye? Certain brands of henna powder may be worth considering (with considerations, of course). Lines like Morocco Method feature 100 percent plant-based ingredients, and are available in a variety of shades primed for dying or dusting. A caveat? Even chemical-free hennas are essentially permanent dyes that change the makeup of your mane, so you may have to wait several weeks post-pigment before returning to your traditional coloring routine.
Test a Natural Remedy
Natural coverage for gray roots exists (in theory), and can be easily tested minus any damage to your lengths. Some say that a touch of apple cider vinegar, either applied directly or mixed into shampoo, can calm, tone, and clarify grays for increased blending and manageability, while others swear by black teas or even curry leaves as a means of darkening or tinting bright silver strands via organic plant pigments. Remember that even natural washes will typically darken all of the hair they saturate, so opt for a brush for better control over any experimentation.
Use At-Home Color
Sometimes, standard permanent dyes really are your best bet (semi- or demis work, too, but will of course fade more quickly). “For those who want to tackle their grays at home instead of the salon, I recommend the L’Oreal Paris Fade-Defying Shine Permanent Hair Color,” says Giannetos (L'Oreal Paris Excellence Creme Permanent Triple Care Hair Color is also a fan favorite for its ability to disguise stubborn grays). For spot-treatment coverage, Clairol Root Touch-Up by Nice'n Easy comes with a brush designed specifically to clean up silvering roots. Practice makes perfect when it comes to DIY dye jobs, so start slow and consider chatting with your colorist or hairdresser before diving head first into the pigment pool.
Article written by Calin Van Paris for Vogue