3 Top Colorists Reveal Their Gray Hair Coverage Formulas and Tips
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For some, the only mane moment worse than your hair tie snapping as you’re piling your locks up high into a ponytail is catching a glimpse of a premature gray. *Gasp* what did I do to deserve this?! you ask yourself. Well, you didn’t do anything—blame genetics. The truth about gray hairs is that you’re born with them, and they could show up unannounced at any point during adulthood. To make matters worse, stress can ignite the pesky strands’ arrival. In our search for the perfect gray coverage, we tapped three top colorists from LA salons—ahead, they share their pro formulas for covering clients’ grays to find out which one is right for you plus the natural remedies you may want to consider.
Liz Jung @lizyjung
Favorite formula: My preferred color line for 15-20% gray is the semi-permanent color line Dia Richesse by Loreal, and a 9 volume.
If it’s 40-50% and more, I personally prefer Framesi or the Cover Fusion line with 10-15 volume only to avoid hot roots. I like to use Framar Brushes to touch up just to the line of demarcation. If the client is allergic to ammonia, my favorite line to use is Redken Chromatics and Ultra Rich.
Tip for gray clients:
I tell them not to use clarifying shampoo, and use a color-safe, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner.
Favorite products to conceal grays:
Madison Reed Hair Powder and Loreal Instant Root Fix Color Spray that lasts one shampoo are great for in-between salon visits. They cover gray really well.
Sara Lim @slim_color
I use Redken’s Permanent line to cover grey. I love that it gives me complete coverage while also being very easy to lift for highlights. It’s true to level which makes it really easy for me to formulate and doesn’t give me any dark bands if I overlap color – the blend is always seamless. The biggest tip for formulating grey is to match the percentage of grey to the amount of NEUTRAL you will be using. For example, if the client is 50% grey then be sure to formulate in half neutral. The remaining half of the formula can be the tone you want to add into your formula – ash/ warm. I stick to lower volumes to deposit and cover grey. For resistant grey coverage, I’ll add in Magic Grey Drops or give them a little heat and cool down time.
I use both Cover Fusion and Chromatics. The reason I swap between the two is because Cover Fusion gives me a matte finish—great for older clients—while Chromatics is oil-based and ammonia free which leaves me with really shiny results for my younger clients.
Tips to blend grays:
Saturate!! Mix enough color to completely saturate the hair, be thorough when putting color on your brush and on the hair. Don’t be shy when applying that base color. Use a big brush like the Framar Big Daddy and get that color on!!!!!! After the base is applied, go back around the hairline and make sure to saturate those grey hairs that are stubborn around the hairline and really make sure they are covered with product.
Tips for gray clients:
DO NOT PLUCK YOUR GRAY! They grow back ERECT and angry at you. They will literally start popping straight out of your head. You’re pulling out the root of the grey, by doing so it will grow back STILL GREY but as a fresh new hair which will now have a different texture – GREY AND WIRY. You want your hair to naturally grow in grey so they fall like normal hair which you can later color leaving you with hair that doesn’t pop out aggressively around your part, etc.
I’ve heard that taking Ashwagandha helps reduce premature greying, but I have yet to see results.
Anja Burton @anjabee
For my clients that are under 30% grey, I use a semi-permanent color to blend them out.
If someone is getting highlights, I also blend the greys out by highlighting them or painting a semi between the foils. And for the people that are really adamant about wanting to see zero grey, I use permanent color. I also explain to them that using permanent is more high maintenance.
Tips for gray clients:
I tell them not to pluck their grey hair, but I do it myself too so I can’t be too strict about it. Haha.
I’ve read that this Chinese herb, He Shou Wu, has minimized grey for some people. I’m also a fan of the root mascaras and root powders.