A hairstylist coloring a customer's grey hair in a salon.
Behind the Chair
Style SOS

How to Color Grey Hair: Tips and Secrets

To cover your grey or not to cover? Silver, grey and lavender hair colors are still trending, but in our SEVEN® salon, grey coverage will always be en vogue. From vibrants to caramelly balayage, the options for coloring grey hair are all too tempting. What you ultimately choose depends on a lot of factors. For answers on how to cover grey the right way, we went to the best: Master Colorists Sasha Alekseyeva, Deanna Burnette-Doty, and Chelsea “Charlie” Murphy give us their take on all things silver. 

What is the most important thing about coloring and hiding grey hair?

Deanna: Asking for expert advice from your stylist is vital to your long-term hair coloring success. Whether you are a brand new client or have been with your stylist for years, take time to consult with them on your color goals, and plot out your brilliantly-hued future together. It is important that you share a clear understanding of what the commitment will be. For example, you’ll want to know how often you’ll need to pop in to keep your desired look fresh, and how long those appointments are going to take. It is different for everyone. Aligning about the plan for repeat appointments and the products required to maintain your desired look will benefit your long term happiness with your service. And don’t ever be afraid to discuss money! Grey coverage is a commitment and there are multiple solutions, so be informed about your financial obligations as well as your at home maintenance!

Sasha: The best result is achieved through a thorough consultation. There are instances when certain medications play a huge role in how the hair takes color, for instance, so the more a client can tell a stylist about their hair, their hair history and lifestyle, the more personalized and effective their color service and finished result will be. 

A hairstylist works carefully to color a customer's grey hair.

Tinting vs. Dying: Is there a best way to color my grey hair?  

Charlie: It depends if the end goal is complete coverage or if you are interested in something more natural. For long lasting 100% grey coverage you want to use professional permanent color. If you are looking for grey blending, demi-permanent color will give your grey a “sparkle” tinting. That will look more like natural highlights, but will fade out over time. Demi permanent also gives you more of a natural fading process instead of that harsh grow out line you have with permanent color.

Sasha: One of my favorite methods for clients new to coloring their grey hair is glossing. It’s a great introduction to color sans the commitment. It is also a great way to refresh color vibrancy and depth in between visits, and will give the hair a hint of color with an incredible shine that slowly fades over a couple of weeks. 

Deanna: Low maintenance, beautiful grey coverage isn’t as out of reach as it seems. Striving to remain close to natural will almost always give you the best color results, so start there. Have your stylist target color that is close to natural color while giving your hair movement and dimension. 

What products for grey hair can I use at home to minimize salon visits? 

Sasha: The best way to extend longevity of color at home is to not shampoo too frequently or use too hot of a temperature when doing so. Rinzu COLOR shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair are ideal at providing gentle cleansing without stripping the color, while COVER uv spray will help buffer the fading caused UV rays. Coming in for a gloss between color appointments is another great way to keep it looking rich until the next time you see your stylist. 

Charlie: It’s essential for you to use color safe, sulfate free shampoo and conditioner.  Follow up your cleansing/conditioning routine by spraying a light foundation like Satara SEAL spray, which is a pH balancer that will soften the cuticle, lock in your color, and keep the shine and richness to your hair. And you don’t want to forget your heat protectant if you are following up with any kind of hot tools.

Deanna: At home maintenance is absolutely necessary for colored hair success. The right products will extend the life of your color. Many products will strip hair of color, literally washing your investment down the drain. Start with a color protecting shampoo and conditioner. I use SEVEN’s COLOR shampoo and conditioner. They are deeply moisturizing and have the added bonus of UV protection. If you are getting a lot of breakage, try an at-home healer like the BOND system. The last step is keeping hair protected from heat. Use a thermal protectant, or consider skipping the hot tools all together.  

How can I touch up and cover my grey roots?

Charlie: Cover up stubborn greys at home it using a root powder, root spray, or a hair mascara wand. These are quick, will not affect your professional color, and wash out with shampoo.

Deanna: Between appointments I don’t recommend using anything on the new growth to cover the grey.  If the new growth is hard to manage, you can always try a matte eyeshadow that closely resembles your colored hair. Use a traditional makeup sponge applicator and gently blend the color into the hairline or into your part.  We are going for a blended look here, not full coverage.

What color should I use to cover my grey hair?

Deanna: With all of the different options available to hair colorists, I believe choosing the type of color is the most important. It depends what kind of coverage you are looking for. We can blend your grey or completely cover it. Whatever type of color you decide on, your colorist should use hair color that is ammonia free. It is important to consult with your colorist to choose the right color for you. Using over the counter hair coloring products leads to inconsistent color, overly dry ends, and a flat monotoned finish––everything hair is not, and should never be!!

Charlie: IT DOES matter what kind of color you use. Some like to go towards more of a natural route turning towards henna or vegetable dyes, but please don’t. These are a professional hairstylist’s nightmare. These products are unpredictable. The majority of the time they will give you a warm red or orange tint to your hair instead of the natural of a look you would hope. Also, stay away from box color or drug store color in general. The price might look right but the end result on your hair will not. Box colors have high ammonia content (yes, even the ones that say low ammonia), leaving the hair feeling more damaged, especially over time. And they rarely end up looking like what the box promises. 

Related products
COLOR conditioner - perfect for bleached, dyed, or color-treated hair
RINZU® COLOR conditioner
COLOR shampoo - perfect for bleached, dyed, or color-treated hair
RINZU® COLOR shampoo
SEAL spray - the perfect anti-frizz foundation for styling products
COVER uv hair spray - prevents color fade and damage due to sun, heat, and pollution
RINZU® COVER uv spray