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Coloring Gray Hair

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Coloring Gray Hair

Although coloring your hair to hide gray is one of the most common reasons for dyeing hair, it can difficult. Gray hair often resists dye. This is a guide about coloring gray hair.


Solutions: Coloring Gray Hair

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Glam up Gray Hair

I like my gray hair but I did want to glam it up, so I got creative (after speaking with multiple salons who either wanted to color it a totally different color (until it grew out in a month), lighten it (I am just NOT a blonde) or add a few expensive highlights.

Instead I LOW LIGHTED my hair myself, inexpensively! Of course I have shorter hair which simplifies the process but I get quite a few compliments (even from my hair dresser!) and I really like the look.

Approximate Time: 1 hourGlam up Gray Hair


  • boxed hair color or Just for Men Hair Color
  • a firm brush
  • a highlighter cap (reusable too!)
  • a hooked tool or crochet hook
  • shampoo
  • Vaseline (optional)


  1. I bought a box of my original hair color and a highlighter cap at a beauty store. I've also used the hair coloring product 'Just for Men' since it's quick at only 5 minutes to process and I find good sales for it.
  2. I wore the cap then pulled only what hair I wanted colored darker. I mixed the boxed color just like I was coloring the whole head, and painted on the color onto the hair that was sticking out of the holes of my cap.
  3. Glam up Gray Hair
  4. The cap even gives you choices how to color your hair: face framing with holes only around your face or for your crown, back or entire head.
  5. Glam up Gray Hair
  6. I pulled strands of hair out of the holes in the cap with a tool, I used a crochet hook : ) You can also ask a family member or friend to help, especially if you choose to do the entire head. This is the longest part of the process.
  7. I think it looks more natural, like salt and pepper hair rather than the totally gray that I am, since it's not EVERY hair strand that's colored. It's not the one solid dark color that coloring hair can look like. It blends beautifully and naturally and it doesn't ever look like it's growing out.
  8. Glam up Gray Hair
  9. I even separated a few bunches of gray hair and put Vaseline on them (to repel any color) to give myself some thicker gray highlights around my face.
  10. Glam up Gray Hair
  11. After the time identified on the box (only about 5 minutes for Just for Men or about 15 to 20 minutes for regular boxed hair coloring), I use the metal kitchen sink or the shower/spray attachment to rinse off the hair coloring first, being careful about covering my eyes with a cloth. Then pull off the cap and gently wash the whole head of hair.

Looks professional and really saves me money! I redo it the same way whenever the color wears off (your coloring will tell you how many washes) or whenever I feel like it!

By Donna [231]

Tip: Use Coffee or Tea for Gray Hair

I have just a few strands of grey hair but it bothers me. Someone mentioned tea. I either make a very strong cup of tea or coffee and comb it in and let it set 30 minutes or so. It helps blend in the bit of grey.

    By surfkrysia [1]

    Article: Product Review: Gray Magic Color Additive

    Product: Gray Magic Color Additive

    Model: Item 780585

    Manufacturer: American International Industries

    Cost: $5.99 US

    Someone on Thriftyfun recommended Gray Magic for hard to color gray hair. I tried it last week and it worked. The instructions recommend 10 drops for one ounce of color. I just followed the Revlon hair color directions and mixed the hair color with the developer and shook it really well as usual. Then I added 10 drops of Gray Magic, and shook the bottle of hair color really well again.

    Ok, don't get scared, but after I added the 10 drops, it turned the hair color dark purple! Yes, I was scared. But my philosophy is - hair can always be colored again. I colored my hair as usual, concentrating on the roots. But I also use a large tooth comb to drag the color through the rest of my hair and put some on the ends, since my hair fades there quite a bit.

    I did keep my hair color on for much longer than the Revlon instructions; but I always do. I kept it on for about 1 hour. This is IN ADDITION to the time it takes me to actually put the color on my hair (which seems to take forever).

    Then, still following Revlon's instructions, mixed a little warm water to my hair making it suds up a bit. I rinsed really, really well - but I always do. Don't get scared. When I rinsed, it rinsed out dark purple. I was scared. However, my results were great and I will definitely use it again. It colored all of my hard to cover grays.

    Then I used a really intense hair conditioner after I rinsed and towel dried my hair. Then I wrapped my hair in plastic wrap and went out in the sun (you don't have to go out in the sun, but I do keep the plastic wrap on for around 1/2 hour to 1 hour, or as long as I can stand it. Then I rinse the conditioner out really, really well. I usually let my hair air dry after this, but I've also styled my hair immediately after too.

    But this is one secret I have learned: I never, ever wash my hair the day before I color. In fact, I wait about 4 days after shampooing. Then, I don't shampoo my hair for around 4 days after I color. I don't have oily hair anymore (I'm 52). The combination of all of these things makes my hair color not fade as fast, I don't know why.

    But I do rinse my hair in between shampoos (rinse really, really well to remove any gels, hairsprays, etc.) and then style as usual with gel, whatever, hair spray. The next day, I rinse, style and that's that. My hair doesn't get oily.

    I bought Gray Magic at Sally Beauty Supply in Houston, Texas, USA, but they do have stores all of the USA.

    Here is their website:

    The manufacturer has a web site too:

    The Gray Magic box says it's made in the USA, but here is more info from the box: Gray Magic is a registered trademark of American International Industries; AII (UK) Ltd; Berkshire R! 7SR.

    More tricks:

    I have stopped using shampoo and any hair products with sodium lauryl sulfate. I find it strips my color and dries my hair. This includes high end hair products as well as drugstore kind.

    A shampoo that is my latest love is by Shikai and is called Henna Gold Highlighting Shampoo. Safe for color treated hair. And shiny? I can't believe how shiny my hair is and it does bring out highlights in my color treated hair WITHOUT stripping the color along the hair shaft, or lifting the color from the roots. No animal testing or animal ingredients.

    A very nice product. I bought it for around $7.99 US for 12 ounces, at a local Whole Foods Store, a high end health food store ( Here are the shampoo details:

    Shikair Products,
    Santa Rosa, California, USA 95405
    Tel: 1-5800-448-0298

    I only use a little bit of this shampoo on my scalp after I rinse my hair really, really, really well before I put on the shampoo.

    Another trick: I never, ever shampoo the ends of my hair. I only shampoo the roots, which is really the only part that needs actual cleaning.

    You wouldn't believe what this has done to get rid of my split ends. I also get hair cuts around every 6 weeks - there is no miracle for split ends, you have to have them trimmed off, but in one month of not shampooing my ends, my hair drastically improved.

    I used Revlon brand 'Colorsilk' in 'medium brown' hair color - sorry, I didn't write down the color's number. I buy it at local drugstores (Walgreens, CVS) and also at Walmart and Target. All of these stores have websites:,,,, probably at too.

    You could probably email Revlon for a store that sells it near you.

    Well, I think I have exhausted the subject! I hope you have good luck if you decide to try Gray Magic!


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    Here are questions related to Coloring Gray Hair.

    Question: Coloring Graying Hair

    I am brunette and I am graying. I color my hair myself however I have trouble with resistant grays. I start applying the hair color on the grays first (new growth and temple area). I leave it on these areas longer then apply to the whole head. I use shampoo for color treated hair but approximately a week later the grays are back!

    I did an internet search and it said to get hairdressing peroxide and apply to the grays before coloring. This is supposed to get the hair ready and make it absorb the color better. Do any of you have any ideas? Have you used peroxide? Any other tips. Thanks so much.

    Edith from CT


    Best Answers

    By m (Guest Post)09/28/2008

    I also am a licensed cosmetologist. I am just starting to go grey myself, but have been helping other's battle the grey for years. Personally, I highlight my hair through a cap. This blends the grey in. For my grey clients I do one of two things:

    1. Primarily I use a semi-permanent hair color. This is a color that fades off in 4-6 weeks, and does not cover the grey, but instead blends it in. Very easy to apply, and hard to mess up.

    2. Otherwise I use a color formulated especially for grey hair. This does make a difference, because they can be very resistant. Also, it helps to cover your head with plastic (shower cap, walmart bag, etc) and stay out of the air conditioning. Keep your head warm and this will open up the cuticle to allow your hair to absorb the color molecule. Also, when rinsing the color out, use cold water!!! This seals the cuticle back down.

    Best Answers

    By (Guest Post)09/04/2008

    Go to sally's beauty supply and get some "Grey magic" which comes in a small bottle and add 10 drops to your hair color. It helps hold the hair color.

    Cathy from MA

    Best Answers

    By Annie Rios Hill [12]09/04/2008

    Clariol has a few colors that are made for gray hair. Now some of the gray will be lighter but it looks like natural hi lights. The one I used was made for gray hair and it works great. Try that and good luck.

    Best Answers

    By rae (Guest Post)09/02/2008

    I've had good luck with a product that seems fairly new called Perfect 10 by Clairol. If you don't mix it together all at once, I can get 3 applications out of it.

    Question: Highlighting and Dyeing to Cover Grey

    I naturally have dark hair and am now having to dye it every six weeks in order to keep the grays at bay (I'm probably 5 -10 percent gray). I like dark hairstyles with a few chunky blond highlights around the crown. I am unable to budget such a beauty treatment at this time and I am also the do-it-yourself type.

    Could I dye it my normal dark color to hide the grays and then follow it with a highlight kit from the grocery store? If so, how do I handle it six weeks from now? Would I re-dye the entire head of hair and create new blonde chunky highlights all over again?

    I have googled, but can't seem to come up with a good answer, as most of them do not have to dye their hair for grays. Thanks for any detailed answers you can give.

    By Marla from MO

    Best Answer


    Personally, since you're only 5 to 10 % gray, I would suggest simply doing the chunky highlights around the crown. At least try it for three or four months and you just might find you like it and you'll be saving yourself an added step headache and money too ;-)

    The other thing you can try is using Clairol Natural Instincts two or three shades lighter than your natural color and your gray will be your highlight because a lighter color was deposited on the gray and barely any lifting of your natural color. It might not look like chunky blonde highlights but it will look slightly highlighted and looks really natural. This is what I do ;-)

    Question: Slick Texture After Coloring Hair

    I have been coloring my hair since it has started turning gray. I don't like the texture of my hair for about a week or longer after I've colored it. The dye makes it very slick without any body. I can't even keep it in a ponytail because the slick texture causes the elastic to slip right off! I don't have thin hair really. Anybody have a suggestion on how to avoid this slick texture after coloring? After about two weeks it feels normal, then in two more weeks it's time to color it again.

    Mary from Denver

    Best Answer

    By Karen (Guest Post)02/22/2006

    It sounds like you're skipping the step where you add water and work into a lather - the places you miss will be slick. Also, you might want to use a deep conditioner after you color. The slick hair could be damaged. Hope this helps :)

    Question: Dyeing Gray Hair

    I have been wearing a wig for some time. I now have virgin gray hair and I do not like it. I do want to be able to wear my hair out, so what homemade product or natural product can I use to dye virgin gray hair?

    By Barbara B.

    Question: Grey Hair Doesn't Hold Color

    I have a dark brownish real color hair, but I just turned 44 this month and the grey is totally stubborn when it comes to coloring my hair. I like to keep it a blond color with highlights and have noticed that after going to the salon my longer grey pieces of hair were still grey, like the color was only sticking until the first wash. I use the color shampoo and the color leave in conditioner. I know that there is nothing that I can do for the new hair growing in, but what should I do about the hair that has been colored or highlighted that goes right back to grey? I have asked at the salon and they just say yeah well some hair is more stubborn than others. I personally don't like paying people who answer me with a response like that. What would you do? I mean they have nothing at all to help me out and the lighter highlights make it look like it is just blond, but I am still so mad every time a professional can't help me! It drives me nuts.

    By Katy M

    Most Recent Answer

    By Amanda Carroll [13]09/05/2012

    My natural hair color is dark dirty blonde, but haven't seen it in many many years. I am 46 and have alot of white gray in the front and crown area, so my beautician treats that area first with all blonde about an inch into the hairline. The rest I have low lites of dark brown thick and thin strands and it looks very good. I have to go every 5 weeks for retouch but I choose to have healthy hi-lited hair rather than all one color. It looks allot better and healthier as well. Also I might add that I use the 10 minute miracle spray every time I was my hair. It helps keep it soft and manageable.

    Question: Dyeing Gray Hair

    I dyed my hair approximately 2 1/2 - 3 weeks ago. I have a grey patch of hair right in the front of my head at the hairline. It's already grey again. An employee at Sally Supply told me to use Grey Magic and a protein rinse to help with the grey. I also purchased a leave in conditioner, and a thinning hair shampoo and conditioner. It doesn't seem to be helping. My hair is damaged on the ends. I have cut 2-3 inches off. Any suggestions on what to do as far as coloring to keep the grey patch from coming back so soon? And as for the thinning I'm not sure if it's due to coloring or something else.

      By bomber [1]

      Most Recent Answer

      By Louise B. [6]09/10/2015

      Is it the roots that are showing grey, or is the whole grey patch not taking the colour like the rest of your hair? Actually, my advice is the same in either case -- try colouring the roots/patch with a root touch up dye.

      Question: Coloring Stubborn Gray Hair

      I have been using the standard boxed hair color for years to get rid of my gray hair. But the past couple of times I colored my hair, using the same procedure, it's like I didn't do a thing. The grays were still there. Am I doing something wrong? Are they developing a resistance? Do I need to start pre-treating with peroxide? Help!

      By Cynthia

      Most Recent Answer

      By elva03/18/2014

      Gray hair is stubborn to dye. You may need to go to the beauty shop and have it professionaly done.

      Question: Using Gray Magic Additive

      I have spent 8 months growing out dark hair color. My hair dresser suggested using dark blond and it's been working. Today I used Gray Magic in my blond solution, and my hair turned almost black. I'm devastated. What can I do to get this out? I immediately shampooed my hair, but it didn't do any good.

      By Jgreen

      Most Recent Answer

      By cathy [2]01/30/2015

      Did you read the bottle of the grey magic? Some is for blonde hair and some is for brunette hair. Did you get the right grey magic? You only use 10 drops per ounce of hair color.

      Question: Hair Dye Too Dark

      I used a 6N Shades EQ with drops of Gray Magic. It went 2 levels darker. Is there anything I can do to take it out?

      By Jean