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Hair Care

Embrace it or Erase it: How to Cover or Enhance Gray Hair

Embrace it or Erase it: How to Cover or Enhance Gray Hair

The silver hair trend burst onto the scene back in 2017, and it shows no signs of leaving the limelight any time soon. As #silverhair nears two million posts on Instagram, people of all ages continue to seek out the perfect silver style. In 2019, those who are going gray naturally have a choice: color and erase it or enhance and embrace it.

How to Get Rid of Gray Hair

While more people are embracing their gray every day, others prefer to preserve their natural color. If you’re not ready for silver, try a permanent or semi-permanent color treatment to disguise grays.

What’s the Difference between Permanent and Semi-Permanent Hair Color?

Both permanent color and semi-permanent color have their positives and negatives. To find out which method best suits you, think carefully about the pros and cons of each.

Pros of Permanent Color:

  • Involves opening the hair shaft with a developer, which activates the color, allowing it to penetrate more effectively
  • Fades more gradually than semi-permanent color
  • Works well on hair that is mostly gray, silver or white, as it adds pigment back into hair
  • Wider range of natural-looking shades, making it easier to match your natural hair

Cons of Permanent Color:

  • The process of bleaching hair and breaking down the hair cuticle may irritate skin if the chemicals come in contact with the scalp
  • Often times more damaging than semi-permanent color
  • If not done professionally, some colors may appear one-dimensional
  • Fashion colors (e.g. reds, blues and greens) are harder to come by

Pros of Semi-Permanent Color:

  • Typically less damaging than permanent treatments
  • Ideal for those with little to moderate amounts of gray
  • Tones and tints gray, creating highlights that blend with natural hair
  • Easier to revert back natural hair if you are not satisfied with the color

Cons of Semi-Permanent Color:

  • Semi-permanent color fades faster than permanent treatments
  • Requires touch-ups more often to maintain desired color
  • Unable to fully cover silver hair and may be ineffective for those whose hair is mostly gray
  • Smaller selection of natural shades when compared to those available in permanent shades

No matter your approach, keep it as natural-looking as possible. Those who overcompensate by going too dark make it obvious they’ve got grays to cover. Your goal should be to enhance, not hide.

Since gray hair tends to be drier and courser than pigmented hair, colors struggle to penetrate strands. Because of this, treatments take longer and generally cause more damage.

To mitigate damage, incorporate a nourishing mask into your hair care routine. Deeply conditioning hair masks like the Rene Furterer OKARA Color Protection Mask increase vibrancy while repairing the damage. This particular mask uses okara extract derived from soybean pulp to support and strengthen strands as witch hazel maintains color.

Rene Furterer OKARA Color Protection Mask. Hair Care. Hair Mask.

On the topic of maintaining color, quality color-safe shampoos and conditioners also deserve spots in your regimen. We recommend the Pulp Riot BANGKOK Color-Safe Shampoo and TOKYO Color Protecting Conditioner for their ability to deeply hydrate and preserve pigment. These professional-grade, vegan formulas also contain gentle ingredients and no sulfates, making them suitable for daily use.

Pulp Riot BANGKOK Color-Safe Shampoo - 10 oz. Hair Care. Shampoo.

Even if you take care of color-treated hair, regrowth comes with its share of frustrations, namely figuring out how to cover gray roots.

How to Cover Gray Roots

Don’t go through all the effort of concealing your gray just to have your roots give you away. Often times, roots become visible well before a trip to the salon and a full recolor is needed.

If your roots bother you, using one of these cover-up methods maintains your desired look between salon visits. They may also prolong the time between touch-ups, allowing you to save some money in the process!

If you want a simple solution, cover gray roots in a matter of moments with the L'Oreal Professionnel Hair Touch Up Root Concealer. All you need to do is shake and spray to get rid of gray hair. Focus on new growth around the roots, and apply sparingly throughout the rest of your hair to blend the color. Its natural-looking color lasts until your next shampoo.

L'Oreal Professionnel Hair Touch Up Root Concealer. Hair Care. Styling Product.

Similar to those with naturally fair hair, silver and white roots may appear sparse as they grow out. Sometimes, this makes hair look like it’s thinning around your part and hairline even though it’s not.

XFusion Keratin Hair Fibers—commonly used for improving the appearance of thinning hair—work great for concealing roots. Made with pigmented keratin protein, these fibers attach to hair, instantly adding color and thickness to the area. While these fibers easily wash out with shampoo, they resist wind, rain and sweat to ensure you’re covered in all conditions.

XFusion Keratin Hair Fibers. Hair Care. Styling Product.

Pro-tip: If grays are making your beard appear too light and sparse, XFusion Keratin Hair Fibers fill in and darken facial hair as well!

We consulted board-certified dermatologist and LovelySkin CEO Dr. Joel Schlessinger to get a glimpse into the future of gray hair solutions:

"The most intriguing possibility for gray hair is to stop it by stimulating stem cell factor (SCF), something that is a natural darkener of hair. As we age, SCF decreases, leading to gray hairs. It is completely possible that within the next few years or decade we may have a way to turn SCF back on, leading to dark hairs returning! I am very hopeful for this, and while it may be a challenge, it is within possibility!"

How to Maintain Gray Hair

While embracing your gray is low-maintenance compared to color-treated hair, it still requires special attention. Most silver hair comes with unwanted brassy tones. Eliminate brassiness and make way for a beautiful ashen gray by using a violet-pigmented shampoo and conditioner.

The Best Purple Shampoo for Gray Hair

Whether your gray is natural or the result of color treatments, you want a shampoo that neutralizes yellow and orange undertones. Purple shampoos diminish brassiness by depositing violet pigments into hair. While those with blonde and platinum hair benefit from purple shampoos as well, their needs differ from those going gray. The best purple shampoo for gray hair both tones and nourishes.

Enter the Redken Color Extend Graydiant Anti-Yellow Shampoo and Silver Conditioner. This shampoo tones out brassiness while amino acids smooth and strengthen strands, which is especially beneficial to coarse gray hair. The conditioner also features silver pigments to renew hair’s luster.

Redken Color Extend Graydiant Anti-Yellow Shampoo. Hair Care. Shampoo for Color-Treated Hair.

How to Make Dull Hair Shiny

Since gray hair notoriously struggles with dullness, don’t hesitate to add a hair treatment to the mix. Moroccanoil’s signature hair care product, the Moroccanoil Treatment Light, improves styling and hair health alike. It contains antioxidant-rich argan oil, which provides nearly everything gray hair needs to thrive. It smooths, improves manageability and boosts shine. It also repairs damage sustained during color treatments, making it the perfect addition to your hair care routine whether you embrace or erase your gray!

Moroccanoil Moroccanoil Treatment Light. Hair Care. Hair Treatment.

Why does hair turn gray in the first place? Find out how genetics and the aging process affect going gray on our blog! Let us know what burning beauty questions Dr. Schlessinger should answer next by commenting below!

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About the Author

Aaron is a content writer at LovelySkin who enjoys following the latest grooming and skin care trends. His interests include reading graphic novels, playing tennis and wrestling with his two French bulldogs.

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