Rocking silver tresses is definitely on trend these days, and we say more power to those who love embracing the natural changes in their hair. But if you’re in the “no way to grey” camp, we get that too. In the end, it’s all about what makes you feel more confident. And confidence is the better half of beauty.
For a full, rich color without those pesky white strays that you want to pluck out, the right hair dye can help you achieve the look you’re after and give you a mental boost. But there are some important things you should know before you start your “back to the real me” journey.
To help you get the long-lasting color you’re dreaming of, we’ve gathered some of our favorite hair dyes to cover that grey. And we also have some important before and after tips that will help you to achieve and maintain that look.
But before we get to our favorite products and hair hacks, let’s start with a couple of important questions.
Editor Picks For Best Grey Hair Dyes
Why Is Grey Hair More Challenging to Cover?
As your hair ages, color isn’t the only thing that changes. Your strands also become more brittle, rough and prone to dryness. Unfortunately, this coarser texture also makes it more difficult for dyes to penetrate your hair. Which is why grey can be so hard to cover.
That’s why it’s so important to know the difference between the different types of dyes before you get down to the business of coloring your hair. Let’s go over the difference between permanent, semi-permanent and demi-permanent dyes so you can make an educated choice.
Should You Choose Permanent, Demi-Permanent or Semi-Permanent Dye?
The difference between hair dyes isn’t just how long they last but how they work. And when it comes to gray coverage, you want it to work. Permanent hair dyes lift the cuticle of your hair with developers such as ammonia and peroxide so that the dye can penetrate your hair and deposit the pigment within the strand. These dyes offer better coverage for greys and also last longer.
Instead of using ammonia, demi-permanent dyes usually contain a small percentage of peroxide to lift your hair cuticle ever so slightly and deposit color. However, these dyes will not last as long as permanent hair color (about 24 shampoos) and will not fully cover greys.
What they will do is subtly disguise your greys and make them look more like highlights. If you don’t have that much grey and don’t want to commit to a permanent color, this could be an option. Just be aware that you’ll only be able to dye your hair to your natural color or darker.
Lightening your hair would require a dye with a developer like bleach, ammonia or another chemical in order to lift the cuticle completely, and demi-permanent dyes are not designed to do that.
Finally, semi-permanent hair color is more like a temporary hair color or toner that contains no chemicals to lift the cuticle. Instead, color depositing happens only on the outside of the shaft. This will tint your hair but not change the color. These dyes usually fade in about 4 to 12 shampoos. While you may avoid the brassiness that comes with ammonia and bleach, semi-permanent dyes are also NOT good for covering grey.
And the Winner Is….
The clear winner for covering grey completely is obviously permanent hair dye. Yes, these dyes do contain developers, but the best brands also contain other ingredients like oils and oleic acid to protect your hair from damage and add shine.
A little later, we’ll go over some before and after tips to get the most out of your dye and maintain your color. But now, let’s jump into our favorite permanent hair dyes and a few demi-permanent dyes (for those of you with only a small amount of grey who don’t want to commit to a permanent color).
Our Favorite Permanent Dyes for Covering Grey Hair
First up in our favorite brands to cover grey are these permanent dyes that offer 100% coverage for grey hair.
The Garnier Olia formula contains an exclusive 60% blend of nourishing oils including shea, avocado, olive and castor to condition and add shine while it colors your hair. We also like the creamy, non-drip texture of this dye as it’s easier to apply.
Although Garnier Olia does contain a developer to lift the cuticle, it contains no ammonia and no harsh ammonia smell. It’s available in 34 shades, including an array of more natural tones and fun colors like rose gold.
Also great for root touch up when you don’t need to color your entire head.
Revlon Colorsilk is infused with keratin and silk amino acids to condition your hair as you color it. The 41 shades are also formulated with what they call 3D color technology to give the hair a more natural, multi-dimensional color.
This gel-like dye helps to prevent drips and contains no ammonia and no harsh ammonia smell.
Another permanent dye on Amazon that will cover 100% of your greys is this creamy formula from L’Oreal that’s available in 38 different shades.
This kit comes with a pre-color ceramide treatment to protect your ends from being over-colored. The hair dye itself is formulated with keratin and collagen to condition as it colors. Finally, this kit also provides a follow-up conditioning treatment to seal and nourish your hair.
And that’s why it’s called triple protection!
Dark & Lovely Fade Resist is specially formulated with moisture-seal technology to protect hair with different curl patterns as well as chemically relaxed hair. Infused with ingredients like vitamin E and argan, avocado and shea oil, it leaves hair shiny and silky and with color that resists fading for up to 8 weeks.
This zero ammonia dye comes in a non-drip gel formula and is available in 16 shades. A trusted brand for those in the natural hair community, this dye is a great choice for anyone with curly, kinky, coily or extremely textured hair.
Clairol scores high marks for covering the grey in blonde shades of hair. This gentle, conditioning formula is made with a blend of tones and highlights to deliver a more natural look while still being fade resistant and less irritating.
It’s a great way for blondes to keep having more fun no matter how many greys they have.
This salon quality dye from Italy is free of parabens, paraffins and ethyl alcohol and has no harsh chemical smells.
The three-step kit includes a pre-treatment to help equalize the porosity of your hair so that the dye will go on more easily, whether you have blonde hair or brown hair. The color creme is a non-drip formula that will cover 100% of your greys. Finally, the post-treatment mask will help to seal your cuticle, lock in color and add shine with ingredients like linseed and meadowfoam oil.
Available in 20 shades, this professional quality dye delivers great color without the use of ammonia.
The Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit from Italy is formulated without 6 of the more controversial ingredients in hair color, including ammonia, resorcinol, parabens, phthalates, gluten and PPD. It’s also certified cruelty-free by the animal protection coalition Leaping Bunny.
Formulated with hair nourishing ingredients like keratin, argan oil and ginseng extract, this formula takes a kinder, gentler approach to hair dye but will still cover 100% of your grey. Yes, this kit is one of the most expensive on our list. But if you’re looking for color with a conscience, this is it!
For sensitive, damaged or chemically treated hair, Schwarzkopf formulated their permanent dye with keratin and anti-breakage technology. Their K-BOND-PLEX conditioner after-treatment repairs the hair’s inner structure and also coats the surface of the cuticle for stronger, healthier locks and less breakage.
It’s a great choice for aging or overly processed hair.
If your hair is less than 50% grey and you don’t want to commit to a permanent hair color, try these demi-permanent options to liven up your locks.
Umberto offers rich, vibrant colors and comes with an Equalizer to help balance color absorption. Most of the shades are formulated without ammonia, although their blonde dyes do contain a small amount.
This well-reviewed demi-permanent dye is available in a non-drip gel and 20 shades to cover that gray hair color.
Wella Color Charm will help you to camouflage your greys with long-lasting, natural looking results. Their no ammonia formula comes in 17 shades and is extremely well-reviewed. However, this dye does not come mixed, and you will have to purchase the Color Charm Activating Lotion separately.
Hacks for Hiding That Grey
Now that you know about some of our favorite dyes for covering your silver hair, here are a few before and after tips for coloring your hair.
Before You Color…
Don’t bust out the grey hair dye just yet. Here are some things to keep in mind before you color.
Keep Your Hair Conditioned
Regular use of deep conditioners, protein masks and serum will keep your hair strong and healthy and less prone to breakage when using hair dyes.
Think About Your Skin Tone
When choosing a shade, be sure to keep your skin tone in mind. If you have warm-toned skin, a warm-toned shade will blend best. Cooler-toned skin goes better with cooler shades.
Also, remember that our skin loses color as we age, which means that dark hair can actually make us look older, even if they cover the grey. To avoid a stark contrast that could age you, you may want to switch out that black hair color for a more natural hair color.
Be Sure to Patch Test
Whichever dye you choose, be sure to patch test it before use. You can try putting a little on your forearm or back of the neck to ensure that you don’t have an allergic or other adverse reaction. If you do, be sure to consult a dermatologist.
Avoid Heavy Product Use Before Dying Your Hair
While you do want to keep your hair moisturized in general, avoid heavy conditioners and other hair products the day before you dye, as they could prevent the color from penetrating your hair.
While You’re Coloring…
Now that you’re ready to color, these tips will help you through the application process.
Use a Timer
Use a timer and check your hair every 15 minutes to be sure to achieve the color you want. Remember that grey hair can be a little hard to cover, so you don’t want to rush the process.
Make Sure to Use a Well Lit Space
Remember that it’s best to color your hair during the day in a well-lit space so that you can accurately judge the color you’re achieving. Also, keep in mind that your hair will look a little different in natural vs. artificial light.
Section Your Hair
To ensure total coverage, section your hair first into quarters and then into even smaller sections when applying your cream or gel.
Protect Your Clothes and Space
If you have experience dying your hair, you already know this, but make sure to add some protecting barriers to your clothes, the floor and anything else that can stain to avoid color disasters.
After You Dye Your Hair…
The color has been applied, and your hair is a beautiful new shade. Now what?
Use Color-Safe Products
To prevent your hair from fading rapidly, use color-safe shampoos, conditioners and other products that will extend the life of your color.
Consider a Water Filter
Even the minerals in your water can take a toll on your color. Putting a water filter on your shower head will help reduce minerals and other chemicals and also protect your hair.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – condition, condition, condition! Using heated styling tools and blow dryers less often will also keep your hair in better condition.
Don’t Towel Dry Your Hair
Rubbing your hair with a towel to dry it roughs up the cuticle and makes it prone to frizz and breakage. Instead, gently wrap your hair in an old t-shirt to soak up extra water.
Forever Not Grey
We hope our guide to covering your silver has been helpful. Whether you want to hide it completely or just camouflage your grey, there’s a product that’s right for you. Be sure to choose one that’s appropriate for your skin tone and hair type, and take your time with the process.
They don’t call it a dye job for nothing! But the patience and work it takes to achieve the color of your dreams will give your hair (and possibly ego) a boost that’s well worth it.
You might also be interested in: Hair Clay Masks: How To Choose The Right Clay For Your Locks
The Best Gray Hair Dyes:
- Garnier Olia
- Revlon Colorsilk
- L’Oreal Excellence Creme Triple Protection Color
- Dark & Lovely Fade Resist
- Clairol Nice’n Easy
- IL Salone Intense Professional Color Creme
- Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit
- Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Permanent Hair Color Cream
- Umberto Beverly Hills U Color
- Wella Color Charm