How to Color White Hair to a Dark Shade

By Erin Ringwald

When hair turns white, it is part of the natural aging process, However, you may not be willing to let this change happen gracefully. Unfortunately, when hair turns white, it naturally becomes coarser than before, making it more difficult to color treat the hair. There are ways you can color your hair at home that will successfully color white hair a darker shade.

Close-up of a female hairdresser dyeing a mid adult woman's hair
credit: Medioimages/Photodisc/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Commercial Method

Step 1

Choose a semi-permanent hair color in the color you prefer. You can find hair color at the supermarket or beauty supply store. If your hair is more than 10 percent gray, consider purchasing a brand that states on the packaging it is for covering white hair, for best results.

Step 2

Mix the color. Follow the package directions to mix the toner and developer together. Make sure you are wearing the provided gloves to protect your hands from staining.

Step 3

Prepare a test strand. You can gather hair from your brush or use a lock on your head that is tucked out of sight. Apply color mixture to the test strand and let it sit for the recommended time. Rinse and let it dry. Note the time and add a few minutes if you want it darker; subtract a few minutes for lighter coverage. Most hair color products recommend longer developing times when coloring white hair.

Step 4

Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly with your fingers onto your skin around your hairline and on the tops of your ears. This will make a protective barrier that helps keep the dye from your skin. It can be washed away when you rinse your hair.

Step 5

Apply the color to your hair wearing the provided gloves. Start with the roots and work your way down to the ends. Work in 1-inch sections of hair to ensure that you thoroughly cover the hair. Once your hair is covered, gently massage the color into your hair with your finger tips; however, avoid rubbing it into your scalp.

Step 6

Allow the color to sit according to the time determined by your test strand in Step 3.

Step 7

Rinse your hair under running water once the developing time is over. Continue to rinse the hair until the water runs clear. Condition your hair with the provided conditioner.

Step 8

Touch up your roots every four to six weeks or as needed, by repeating Steps 2 through 7. You should perform a test strand every time to ensure developing times have not changed.

Sage and Rosemary Method

Step 9

Place 1/2 cup each of dried sage and dried rosemary leaves into a medium sauce pan. Add 4 cups of water to the pan and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes.

Step 10

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the leaves to steep for three hours.

Step 11

Strain the leaves out of the mixture by pouring it through a fine mesh sieve.

Step 12

Pour the cooled mixture into your hair, thoroughly saturating it, then allow your hair to completely air dry. Rinse your hair with clean water and allow it to dry again.

Step 13

Repeat Steps 1 through 4 weekly until you have returned to your original hair color. Then, repeat monthly to keep the white covered.