Grey hair is caused by a loss of pigment in the hair shaft. Grey hair is notoriously resistant to color, and it might seem impossible to eliminate the grey from your hair shaft. Hair that is grey needs permanent coloring to effectively deliver color to the hair shaft. Permanent color requires a peroxide level of at least 20 percent or above. There are some specific steps you can take to ensure you get complete coverage of grey hair.
Grey Coverage Colors
Look for colors that specify grey coverage. These are specific colors that are formulated to cover grey. They are available in beauty supply stores and over-the-counter drug stores in many different brands. They are permanent colors and may contain additives that make them more effective for adding pigment to the hair.
Neutral colors generally contain a mix of colors that neutralize each other to form a stronger, more solid base color. Because grey hair completely lacks pigment, it is necessary to use neutrals to add color back to the hair when attempting to cover grey.
Mixing colors to create dimension will create more natural color on grey hair. Add red, gold, beige or champagne tones to your neutral color to give the color increased vibrancy and depth. Usually adding ¼ to ½ ounce of your choice of tones is sufficient in a 2-ounce mixture of color. Add more if you want more of the color in your hair, but neutral tones should remain the dominant color in the mixture for ultimate coverage.
Liquid Hair Colors
Cream hair colors usually have conditioning additives that make them less harsh on the hair. For this reason, they may be somewhat ineffective for grey coverage. Look for liquid hair coloring and mix with 20-volume peroxide for a strong, permanent hair color that will cover grey hair.
Color additives usually come in droplet or powder form and are added to the color mixture in order to strengthen the hair color and allow for deeper penetration of the hair shaft. They are specifically formulated to increase grey coverage. Look for grey coverage color additives in beauty supply stores or online and add the recommended amount to your color formulation.
Apply color to grey hair at the root first and then through the ends. Root color may stay on for up to 45 minutes on resistant grey hair. If hair color does not deposit, try pre-softening the hair by applying 20-volume peroxide by itself for 10 minutes prior to color application. Apply color directly on top after timing is complete. Color may require two or more applications for extremely resistant hair. If so, wait a few days in between applications to allow the scalp to recuperate. Use shampoo and conditioner specifically for color treated hair to help color last longer. Use a deep conditioning treatment after coloring to re-condition the hair.
References and ResourcesClairol Professional: Gray Coverage Solutions
The Hair Styler: Hair Color That's Best for You - Semi-Permanent, Bleach or Tint?
Style Hair Magazine: Coloring Grey Hair
Hairfinder: Cover Gray Hair with Haircolor