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Does black shampoo cover grey hair?

As we get older, it’s common for our hair to start turning grey. For some, embracing the grey can be liberating, but others may want to cover up greys to maintain a youthful appearance. This has led to the development of specialty shampoos designed to cover grey hair. But do they really work? Let’s take a closer look at whether black shampoo can effectively cover grey hair.

What is black shampoo?

Black shampoo is a type of haircare product designed to neutralize brassy or red tones in hair that has been lightened through chemical processing. It contains pigments that temporarily stain the hair shaft upon application. This adds a sheer layer of color to lightened hair, counteracting yellow, orange, and red undertones. The result is hair that appears darker, cooler, and less brassy.

In addition to toning down unwanted warm tones, black shampoos may also be used in an attempt to cover grey hairs. The dark pigments are thought to coat the white and gray strands upon application, making the hair appear darker overall.

How does black shampoo work on grey hair?

Black shampoo contains key ingredients such as:

  • Blue or violet pigments – These colored pigments are designed to bind to the hair and neutralize brassy, orange tones by adding a sheer layer of cool, dark color.
  • Vegetable dyes – Plant-based dyes like indigo or logwood extract also deposit color pigments onto the hair.
  • Optical brighteners – These additives make hair appear brighter and less yellow.

When applied to grey hair, these dark pigments coat the outside of each strand. This adds a subtle layer of color that aims to camouflage the contrast between pigmented and non-pigmented hair. However, the effects are temporary and only last until the next wash.

Does black shampoo work well on grey hair?

Whether or not black shampoo effectively covers greys really depends on:

  • The amount/percentage of grey hair – Black shampoo tends to work better for those with only a small percentage of grey hair.
  • The original color of your hair – It shows up better on lighter hair colors like blonde and grey.
  • The tone of your greys – Covers better on yellow-toned grey hair than white.

The pigments in the shampoo bind readily to white and lightly yellowed grey hair. However, black shampoo likely won’t provide enough coverage for those with a significant amount of grey hair. It also doesn’t work as well to cover bright white and silver-toned grey hair.

What are the pros of using black shampoo on grey hair?

There are a few potential benefits to using a black shampoo to cover greys:

  • Subtle, natural-looking results – Since it only coats the outside of hair, it adds a sheer veil of color rather than a bold, opaque result like permanent dye.
  • Easy to use – Applying it is as simple as using your regular shampoo.
  • Less damage – No need for harsh chemical treatments associated with permanent hair dye.
  • Temporary – The effects wash out within 4-6 shampoos so you can switch it up.

For those with minimal greys, black shampoo may provide just enough coverage for a subtle, youthful effect while avoiding permanent color treatments.

What are the cons of black shampoo for grey coverage?

There are also some downsides to consider with using black shampoo for greys:

  • Blurry, imperfect coverage – It won’t completely opaque grey hair, leaving a muted, blurred effect.
  • Darkening natural hair – Can also darken non-grey hairs, limiting its natural dimension.
  • Temporary – Requires consistent use to maintain the effects.
  • Can be drying – Frequent use may dry out hair over time.

While it provides an easy temporary fix, black shampoo likely won’t deliver the complete grey coverage that some desire. Using permanent color may be required for fuller, longer-lasting results.

Tips for using black shampoo to cover grey hair

If you do wish to try a black shampoo to minimize the appearance of greys, here are some tips:

  • Opt for a formula specifically designed for grey coverage.
  • Use it every 1-2 washes for best results.
  • Massage thoroughly into hair and leave on for 3-5 minutes before rinsing.
  • Shampoo once a week at most to avoid overdrying.
  • Use a good conditioner to counteract any drying effects.
  • Consider doing a strand test first to check the color result.

How long does the grey coverage last?

With regular use, you can expect the effects of the black shampoo to last through 3-5 washes, or around 1-2 weeks. However, results can vary based on hair type and amount of grey hair present. Those with more greys may find their roots become visible again more quickly. Any coverage provided is temporary and will gradually diminish and fade out until the next application.

Alternative ways to cover grey hair

Beyond specialty shampoos, you have other options for concealing grey hair, including:

  • Semi-permanent dye – Lasts 4-8 weeks and won’t damage hair like permanent color.
  • Permanent dye – Provides longest-lasting coverage but requires regular touch-ups as roots grow in.
  • Highlights or lowlights – Strategic placement can blend grays into your natural or colored hair.
  • Gloss treatments – Deposit temporary pigments to tone down grey hair between color appointments.

Discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each with your stylist to determine the best solution for your needs and preferences.

Should you use black shampoo on grey hair?

Black shampoo can be a quick and simple way to tone down greys between color appointments. However, it likely won’t provide complete coverage, especially if you have a significant amount of grey hair. It’s best suited for use in conjunction with other color services. Consider your specific hair color, grey percentage, and desired results when deciding if black shampoo is right for you.

While it can help minimize the appearance of grays, black shampoo isn’t a miracle solution. Permanent hair dye or gray hair embracing may be better options for those seeking fuller, longer-lasting grey coverage.


Black shampoo provides a temporary way to tone down yellowy grey hair, but it has limitations. It works best for those with minimal greys and on lighter hair colors. While it can help gently blur the appearance of greys between color appointments, it likely won’t deliver the complete coverage that some desire. Consider monitoring your hair’s condition closely when using black shampoo frequently. For those seeking a low-maintenance grey solution, a subtly darkening shampoo may be useful. But permanent color is still the gold standard for longer-lasting grey coverage.