Questions on covering up gray hair

People here really helped me with my shoe issue - I found a couple of shoes at Amazon to start with, and I liked some of the shoes at the other places, too, so here’s my next question - gray hair.

My problem is, which I’m sure lots of women have, is my hair is still mostly very dark and not gray at all. The place I begin to have serious issues is my temples; in the last couple of years, I see significant graying around those areas. Problem is, I tend to put my hair up a lot, so it shows.

I want to cover this gray, but I don’t know how to do it. I am not really willing to pay a salonist except as a last resort. It seems silly to waste money on them - and I know it isn’t cheap - just to cover up some gray.

Dying is confusing. I have dyed my hair before, to change the entire color, but I don’t feel like doing that all the time. And I don’t know how to match it anyway. My hair is, like most people’s, different colors. It’s dark black on the bottom, and where it grows out, but it lightens to a dark, dark brown, and in places even has tints of auburn - very faint, but you can see the tinge clearly in the sunshine. How do I match this? Do I just match the black or the dark brown?

And do I really have to dye my whole head? Don’t they have some, I don’t know, Hair Club for Women, where I could just color the parts that need it? I have two feet of hair, dying the whole thing is not a small deal.

How do other women with very dark hair deal with this? The gray shows up instantly on my head. I’m only thirty-five, so I am not ready to let it be yet.

You can just dye the roots. Using a squeeze applicator bottle that has many tips such as Perfect 10 or this (even better, it’s what I use) makes it much simpler.

The big problem is that if you dye your whole head the darker color of your roots, it’ll darken your whole head, and in general, women with very dark hair have to lighten the color a bit when dyeing it or it looks freakishly black, like a witch or something. But it’s a problem dyeing hair when the roots are quite a bit darker than the rest of the hair, because as the roots grow longer, the hair color doesn’t match anymore, and if you dye your whole head lighter to match the ends, the roots look bad as they grow out.

I would try using one of the semi-permanent dyes at your roots, in a lighter tone than your roots. They don’t penetrate the hair shaft as much as permanent color, so it grows out fairly naturally. They can’t lighten the darker color hair, but they will darken the lighter gray. They fade away after a large number of shampooings. The only trouble with them, when I used them many years ago, was that gray hair is very resistant to them, and they wouldn’t pick up the color well. I think that they have better options in semi-permanent color now, though. You may have to leave it on longer that indicated on the box to make sure it penetrates.

Don’t waste your money on dyes that are targeted for roots alone. They cost just as much as the packages for your whole head. By just dyeing my roots, I can get two full uses out of one package.

Well, you could always go with the Annabella Lwin look.

Sadly, I’m a blonde, so I got nothin’. Except a question: there’s that Nice -n- Easy stuff that purports to be semi-permanent - I seem to remember that it’s supposed to wash out or fade away, rather than leaving you with the weird shading that **needscoffee **mentions. Does anyone have any experience with this that might be helpful for 'Mika?

Sorry I’m no help. It just immediately sprang to mind, so I thought it might be worth bringing up.

All right I will play around with it. Gah! It could have waited a few more years! I’m only thirty-five.

I think I’m where you are, but I’m 47. Fortunately, I think, because my hair is short it’s not as glaringly apparent. Also it seems to be coming in all over, rather than just at my temples. That’s what happened to my mom, and she used to just dye there, but sometimes you could really see the dyed parts, like if she was standing in strong sunlight. So be careful!

I’m 37, and I feel ya. I’ve just been plucking or letting it go. It’s not enough to color, yet.

I have to say though, it seems like 35 is pretty good. A lot of my friends have been going gray since their 20’s, or even since 18 (in the case of my terminally cute ex-cheerleader friend). They just always color their hair, so I didn’t know.

My hairstylist does mine. I know you said you would rather not, but she doesn’t charge much more than she does for a cut (cut & color $70). Since she mixes the color it matches my natural color perfectly. And she mostly puts it on the gray places - just a light coat over the whole head. That way it’s not all one color.

I’ve been doing my own for years. I’m in the UK, so probably can’t really help you with brand names. But what I have discovered is that something like a dark auburn shade won’t alter your very dark hair, but will turn your grey bits into auburn highlights. Honestly. It can look great.

Just give it a go. Even “permanent” dyes aren’t really - they still fade over 8-10 weeks, so you can experiment.

Expert by proxy (my partner is a hairdresser): he always says, pick at least one shade lighter than your lightest shade. If your hair shades from nearly black to dark brown, pick a medium brown tone for the dye. It won’t significantly lighten your naturally darker tones, but it won’t darken the naturally lighter tones either.

That’s what he says, anyway, for when you’re dying everything. I’m not sure how much this applies to touching up gray spots. But if the first one is not dark enough, you can always do another one that’s darker. You can’t go the other way until it grows out or washes out.

Sorry to be equivocal. I went through a brief period of trying to dye my hair, but I wear it short so it just was too much maintenance. I gave up, chopped it off and just was ok with mostly gray.

This really doesn’t work well for roots, though, because as they begin to grow out, the new growth is the darkest shade of your hair, and the disparity between the two colors is extremely obvious there.

I still say, try the semi-permanent hair coloring. If it doesn’t work well enough, you won’t be stuck. Remember the old commercials that said “covers only the gray”? I think that was for Loving Care, which wasn’t able to penetrate my steel-like gray hair ten years ago, but there are more options on the shelf now. I tried Perfect 10 permanent hair color, and it worked very well, so I’d be apt to try their semi-permanent version. But at any rate, as Scougs suggested, a dark (or not-so-dark) auburn shade might look quite nice, especially if it only colors the gray hairs, leaving a nice overall variation of colors. Remember, it only appears to color the hair that is lighter colored than the dye.

I use demi-permanent dye ( usually Natural Instincts, but i might try any brand that washes out in 20-26 shampoos ) on my whole head. It washes out gradually over about six weeks and it covers the gray ( I just leave the dye in an extra five minutes or so.) Because it fades , I don’t have a “root line” where the top two inches are one color and the rest is a different color. Like my natural hair, there are lighter and darker areas, so I don’t look like I’ve had a bucket of paint dumped on my head. I usually use an auburn color, because if I’m going to be dying it, I might as well pick a shade I like better than my natural brown and the auburn makes the gray look like highlights.

But if you just want to get rid of the gray ( and have two feet of hair- which I wouldn’t want to dye every six weeks) why don’t you try Grecian Formula? There was a women’s version , but there’s no reason the version marketed to men wouldn’t work on female hair.
PS Don’t feel too bad, i started covering my gray before 35

Can’t help with how to actually do it because I went to the salon for it. I was horrified to find significant, and I mean TONS of white hair over the last year. I have no idea what happened since I have yet to get a single wrinkle. I’m pretty sure it’s either genetic or the horrible stress of 2009 to 2010 did me in.

Anyway, I have (had) “black” hair which was also multi-colored and I wanted to say that my salon strongly advised me against dying it black. I lightened my hair to a really unique black/brown colour that still looks very black in pictures. I have no idea how she gets it that color. It is definitely no longer the true natural black color of my real hair, but I always knew that day would come one day. It’s like a beautiful dark dark brown color and she doesn’t dye all of my non-white hair. It is a bit two-toned looking I guess except that the two colors are very close together, but my classmates told me it looks beautiful and one of my interviewers even commented on it. Frankly, if I can’t have my old hair color I’d rather get something unique.

I strongly suspect that if I were in your shoes I’d just go get some dark chestnut colored dye and do my whole head. Have you considered joining Makeupalley and asking on their boards? The girls there are really good with makeup and stuff.

Another option to consider is henna and indigo. The color is translucent, so it will “pick up” the different tones of your natural hair color instead of dying it a flat, single color. You can achieve a range of browns, to black with these, although going for a dark brown might be easier since it’s a single process (black is a double process).

On your black hair, the plant pastes are unlikely to change the color at all, but it will dye the grey to dark brown highlights. It would be easy enough to just do the roots instead of your whole head.

I have light hair, so I have nothin’ except that I envy you dark haired folks when you begin to grey…personally, I think it’s gorgeous.

"35 is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years.” Oscar Wilde

I have longish red hair leaning towards reddish blonde, and I have some white hairs. They are not only completely white, but a much thicker texture than the rest of my hair. I am under the impression that red hair is hard to dye in a way that looks natural? And I’m thinking that these thicker hairs could have a very different reaction to dye? Any advice would be appreciated.

Seconded, and you could just try the Henna, if you don’t mind spending a little more time over commercial dyes (helps if you have some henna buddies, make it a party and it’s way less of a hassle.) You can always add the indigo later if you don’t like the color from the henna.

My hair is medium-brown to black with what I call “colorless” grays (not a nice white) mostly at the temples (I’m 35.) Regular henna blends them to unnoticeable and it gives a nice red highlight without drastically changing the color. Plus, smoother shinier hair.

When my hair was longer we used applicator bottles with the tip cut off to really get the henna all over the roots but you can pretty much just slop it on there.

Henna got a bad rap from some of the low-quality crap that used to be the norm, today’s “body-art quality” henna is pure and twig-free.

I’ve tried henna before and don’t particularly like it; the red from it is much too light-colored for my hair and it’s startlingly obvious.

I don’t go to a salonist for my hair regularly, not even to get it cut. I just can’t stomach paying X dollars just to get a trim, since I like it long and cut my own bangs (if I don’t keep them short the curls all fall out and it makes me look heavy and tired). And I have my SO trim the back, as he’s very precise and does it in a straight line.

I only keep two feet of hair in the first place because it’s so thin, it’s not very heavy, and easy to comb/wash, as far as long hair goes.

I don’t have a single wrinkle either, and still mostly look younger than my age - but the gray hair really changes the whole dynamic, doesn’t it? I may end up just doing the dark chestnut - it seems likely - but I want to at least try the coverups before I go that route.

I’ll try the different varieties in here. I remember, when I did dye my hair to auburn for shits and giggles, it took a couple of goes and I had to leave it in for longer to change my hair color at all, so I don’t think I need to worry too much about it changing my whole head. Will try this weekend and report back next week!

Good luck! And don’t forget the “before” and “after” pictures for us!