How to best cover grey hair at home
The hair pro's tricks on how to dye your grey hair
Fresh, glossy new colour always puts a swing in our step. But as sure as the passing of time, our hair grows, the roots return, and those pesky grey hairs appear.
When the timing is right, a trip to the salon is just what the trichologist ordered (Who's better equipped than the pros to return our hair to its previous red, brown, black, or blonde state, after all). However, moments arise when an at-home colour refresh is necessary, and we're here to talk about those.
Maybe, you're after a quick root touch-up to stretch your colour between salon appointments, or perhaps - you've decided a carefully-matched colour kit offers the grey coverage and at home convenience you're looking for.
From application tips to how to get the best grey coverage, the ingredients to look out for and more. Here's everything you need to know about blending away your greys at home.
Is it better to go lighter or darker to cover grey hair?
The first step is to find your shade match. To get the best result when covering grey, Josh recommends sticking to a shade close to your natural root colour between the greys. "Make sure to never stray more than two shades away from this, if you’re looking to go drastically lighter or darker than your natural colour I recommend a salon visit for professional advice. You'll also need to consider the regular upkeep required to stay on top of the grey roots coming through." Another trick to help discover your perfect shade? "Match the colour swatch on the box to your roots, not your ends."
How do salons cover grey hair? They match the colour to what suits you best. This allows you to colour your hair at home like a professional.
With your colour match in the bag, you can think about customising the tones for a flattering finish that's unique to you. First, it helps to understand if you have a warm or cool skin tone, says Josh. "People are much more aware than they realise, if warm or cool tones suit them," says Josh, "Think about if you’d wear a fuchsia lipstick (cool) or a more coral lipstick (warm), or you wear blue (cool) or red (warm). There's a natural knowing."
With this knowledge you can customise your hair colour with warm or cool tones - adding warm golden tones for blondes or warm chestnut tones to brunette hair, or cool smokey tones for brown hair or ashy blonde tones for those who can't bear brassiness. "How so?" we hear you ask.
With Josh's innovation of the Shade Shot that allows you to play mixologist yourself. Select Champagne or Chestnut for warmth, Icy or Smoky for cool tones and just mix with your Permanent Colour Kit. The Shade Shot formula activates with your colour to create a multi-tonal finish, depositing colour only where needed, so it's a completely personalised to you. You could call it genius!
Assess your grey
What is grey blending?
"Look at the roots of your hair across the temples, underneath your hair. This is where you will see the pattern of greying," says Josh. This is important because it will show you the areas you need to apply the permanent colour to first, and leave for the longest. You don’t need to apply permanent colour to your ends – they already have plenty of colour. Josh recommends only combing colour through to your ends for the last 5-10 minutes of the 30 minute process time. This prevents ends looking too dark and heavy.
How often should I dye my hair to cover grey? This depends on how quickly your hair grows, but often is between 4-8 weeks.
If you’re only just starting to grey, it may not be time to begin permanently colouring your hair. There are other options for you, such as our semi-permanent treatment gloss or root concealers you can also consider.
Ingredients that colour and care
Ammonia is great at helping colour penetrate the hair, so it's no surprise we find it in many brands of permanent hair colour. The problem is, Ammonia works by altering your hair's pH levels, to literally break open the hair cuticle. Yes, this allows the colour to flood in, but hair is left damaged, dry and lacking moisture as a result. For colour thats as healthy as it is vibrant (and, according to Josh Wood, the two come hand in hand) choose a colour kit that skips the harsh chemicals and opts for hydration over harm.
Tailor your technique
What's the best way to cover grey hair?
Without the nasties, your at-home hair colour will pack a punch of nourishment. If you're used to ammonia-based products however, you may need to revisit how the colour is applied for best results. This is because without an alkaline agent (such as ammonia), the colour needs a bit more encouragement. How to cover resistant grey hair? This requires a solid technique. For Josh Wood Permanent Colour, we recommend packing the product onto your roots, leaving for 20 mins then pulling the product through the lengths for a further ten minutes if you want to refresh the rest. But most importantly before you dive right in on colour application, there's one prep step that can't be skipped.
How to dye your hair at home? Start with a patch test.
Even if you’ve used at-home hair colour before and had no reaction, it's important to always perform an Allergy Alert Test, each time you colour your hair. This is because skin can become more sensitive over time, and new allergies might have developed. Things that indicate an allergic reaction are itchy skin, redness, or even blisters on your scalp. Please DO NOT use the product if you experience any of these reactions.
Here's how to carry out your allergy test:
- Mix a coin-sized amount of the colour formula (A) and activator (B), plus the same sized amount of the Shade Shot (if adding for a personalised finish) and mix together in a bowl.
- Tip: It’s very important to fasten the caps on the bottles tightly after you have opened them for the Allergy Alert Test, to prevent the products oxidising and ensure the active ingredients will continue to work as they should after the test. Once products are mixed, they cannot be kept and should be disposed of carefully.
- Use a cotton bud to apply a small amount behind your ear. Or use a cotton wool pad wrapped around the pointed tip of the colour brush in our Accessories Kit.
- Leave the mix on for 48 hours before washing off.
- If you have any signs of reaction, wash it off immediately and do not use the permanent colour. You can also contact Josh Wood Colour if this is the case, and we will happily refund you for the product.
- If you show no signs of reaction to the test, you have the all-clear to go ahead and use your perfect shade match as instructed.
- If you have any further questions on Allergy Alert Tests, get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments below.
How can I cover my grey hair without dying it?
Of course, there are times when permanent colour isn't what we're after. The salon appointment has been booked, so all we need is a temporary touch-up to see us through the next few weeks. That's when root concealers come into play. "If your hair is tinted brown and you have grey hair coming through, you’ll need quite a lot of root concealer, so layer up" Josh advises. "Start with a clean, washed, conditioned head of hair, paint our blending brush onto wet hair, and then dry it in with your hairdryer. You can then top it up with either an airbrush or root marker," says Josh. Why is it worth combining products? For the best temporary grey coverage, "It really is about that density," Josh tells us.