Skip to Content

What hair color covers only the gray?

Going gray can be a frustrating experience, especially if you’re not ready to fully embrace the silver strands. While some choose to dye their whole head, others look for options to disguise just the gray hairs. When it comes to specifically covering grays, there are a few ways to camouflage them while keeping your natural hair color intact.

Using Semi-Permanent Colors

Semi-permanent hair dyes coat the outside of the hair strand and wash out over time. They don’t contain harsh chemicals like ammonia or peroxide, so they won’t permanently alter your natural pigment. Here are some tips for using semi-permanent color on gray hair:

  • Opt for a demi-permanent dye that is close to your natural shade. Going too light or dark can look unnatural.
  • Focus application only on the gray sections for the most seamless look.
  • Refresh the color every 4-6 weeks as it fades.
  • Use a clarifying shampoo once a week to prevent buildup.

Demi-permanent dyes tend to last longer than other semi-permanent options. They provide good gray coverage and wash out slowly over 28 washes. Keep in mind they may still leave some subtle staining though.

Highlighting Grays with Permanent Color

You can also cover grays with judicious use of permanent hair color. This involves highlighting just the gray sections with permanent dye. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Determine your natural level by examining your roots and hold a strand against white paper. Find a permanent dye that is 1-2 levels lighter.
  2. Separate out sections of hair with prominent gray hairs. Use foils to keep the dye off your natural color.
  3. Apply permanent color just to the highlights. Leave on for the recommended processing time.
  4. Rinse thoroughly and style as desired. Repeat when regrowth appears.

The benefits of this method include longer lasting results and a very natural look. Just be careful to precisely target the gray hairs to avoid overlap with natural pigment. Ask your colorist for advice on selecting the right permanent dye.

Using Color Touch-Up Pens and Pencils

For quick, temporary gray coverage, specialized hair color pens and pencils can swiftly erase them. Here are some examples and how to use them:

Product How to Use
Color Wow Root Cover Up Shake well and sweep on formula with brush just to grays. Dries quickly. Lasts until shampooed out.
L’Oreal Magic Root Cover Up Twist base and use applicator to apply pigmented powder to grays as needed. Tap off excess.
Madison Reed Root Touch Up Kit Use mini-brush to dab amendment cream onto roots for instant, water-resistant coverage.

These root concealers are great for quick fixes and covering missed spots between color appointments. Most wash out with shampoo or fade within a few days. Make sure to pick a shade that matches your hair color.

Using At-Home Gray Blending Kits

Some at-home semi-permanent dyes are specially formulated to blend away grays. They contain dye molecules small enough to target only the coarse, resistant gray strands. Here are a couple top options:

  • Clairol Nice ‘N Easy – This 5-10 minute permanent dye comes with a root touch-up brush to conceal grays. It stops working once your natural color is achieved.
  • L’Oreal Paris Magic Root Rescue – This kit contains 6 treatments with an applicator comb to cover roots for a clean, even look. The color lasts 6-8 weeks.

These targeted systems can provide longer lasting gray coverage compared to touch-up pens. However, there is still some risk of overlap with non-gray hairs. Always do a strand test first.

Using Mascara or Eyeliner on Grays

In a pinch, makeup like mascara or eyeliner can hide small patches of gray hairs. Here’s how to try it:

  • Opt for a mascara or eyeliner in a matching hair shade. Brown/black for darker hair, blonde for lighter hair.
  • Use a clean spoolie or wand to apply just to the grays, brushing to blend with natural color.
  • Set with translucent powder to prevent smudging and transfer.
  • Shampoo out at night and reapply next day as needed.

While not ideal for large areas of gray, this tactic can work for subtle touch-ups. The color won’t be perfect but washes away easily. Be mindful of staining lighter fabrics.

Using Hair Powder Products

Colored hair powder is another option for temporarily masking grays between color appointments. These products work like dry shampoo, absorbing oil and adding color. Some top picks include:

Product How to Use
Texture Effect Dry Shampoo in Dark Brown Shake well and spray onto grays. Massage in, leave on. Brush out excess.
IGK First Class Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo Spray liberally onto roots. Let sit 2 minutes them massage in for dark color.
Ouai Super Dry Shampoo Shake and spray onto unwashed hair, targeting grays. Let sit then brush out.

The key is to use a shade that matches your natural color. Allow the product to sit a few minutes before massaging in to ensure the pigment adheres. Wash out thoroughly before applying again.

Using at-Home Keratin Treatments

Some research shows that keratin treatments can potentially blend away grays by depositing a coating on the hair shaft. They may also make hair appear darker overall. Options to try include:

  • L’Oreal Paris EverPure Brass Toning Treatment – Helps neutralize yellow tones while smoothing.
  • SheaMoisture Strengthen, Grow + Restore Treatment Masque – Conditions while filling in gaps in the cuticle.
  • Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray – Seals cuticle and reflects light for glossy finish.

Apply these weekly for several weeks and see if grays appears less noticeable. Results won’t be dramatic but may provide subtle darkening and blending, especially when coupled with other coloring techniques.

Using Rinses, Glosses, and Toners

Semi-permanent coloring glosses, rinses, and toners may also help tone down gray hair. These deposit just a hint of color to blend and mask grays. Some options include:

  • Clairol Shimmer Lights Shampoo – Purple toning shampoo to brighten blonde and silver hair.
  • John Frieda Brilliant Brunette Visibly Deeper Colour Deepening Conditioner – Enriches and darkens brown hair.
  • JOICO Color Balance Blue Shampoo – Cancels out brassiness on blondes and grays.

Use these in place of regular shampoo and really massage into scalp and roots to maximize contact with grays. Rinse thoroughly as too much product buildup can cause discoloration. Repeat as needed for maintenance.


When looking to conceal gray hairs while keeping your natural color intact, you have options. Semi-permanent dyes, root touch-up items, and color depositing shampoos and rinses allow you to subtly mask silver strands. Permanent dyes can also be used strategically just on grays. With the right products and techniques, you can seamlessly blend those pesky grays and maintain a polished, youthful look.