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How To Color Every Last Gray Hair, According To An Expert

photo of woman with gray hair how to cover gray hair

Depending on who you ask, gray hair is either the best thing to ever happen or the absolute worst. Sometimes, it seems like grays can’t do anything right—either those pesky hairs show up too early or not soon enough (if you covet a salt-and-pepper look). If you’re in the market to hide those grays, well, you’re in for a different battle altogether.

Have no fear! To adequately understand how Redken Color Gel Lacquers cover gray hair, you need to know your options and what makes gray hair different than its pigmented counterpart. Sean Godard, Redken artist, is here to make gray hair coverage easy.

What makes gray hair unique?

Whether you have a whole head of grays or just a few strands, you’ve probably noticed that they seem different than the texture you’re used to. Gray hairs can feel wiry, stiff, and curl in ways your other hair may not.

According to Godard, that’s only half the challenge. Your hair professional faces an entirely different range of issues when it comes to the color service.

That change in consistency can also contribute to difficulty covering grays, a problem often reported by women we know.

What’s the right way to cover gray hair?

First off, you should know that fully covering your grays with fresh color isn’t the only way to move forward. Many women embrace their new color, working on maintaining hair that looks visibly healthy rather than investing in color services.

If you do choose to cover up your newfound grays, however, there’s a range of options available to suit every maintenance level. Godard recommends starting by covering only the grays, not the entire head.

“Start by just coloring the gray areas with a Redken Color Gel Lacquer shade that matches the natural shade,” he says. “This is a very low commitment and a great way to test the waters of coloring hair without doing the entire head.”

While Godard works with all of Redken’s products, he recommends the Color Gel Lacquer line for the rich, saturated results it provides. The gel-like consistency allows colorists to color up to 100 percent of grays in 30 minutes when using 20 volume developer.

“You can truly turn every hair on the head the same super-saturated color with a reflective shine. It’s also a quicker application and processing time, so it’s a win for the guest and the stylist,” Godard adds.

You can also consider a hair color application that’s more about blending the grays into the rest of your hair then covering them up entirely.

“Most important is upkeep and desired end result,” Godard says. “Redken Shades EQ Gloss can blend gray away for a more low commitment coverage, where Color Gel can completely cover every gray hair but it will be required to be retouched as the hair grows out in four to six weeks."

Not sure which way to go? The best person to determine the color choice that fits into your schedule and budget is your stylist. Be honest about with him or her about how much time you want to spend in the salon and he or she can provide a customized recommendation.

What kind of maintenance does gray hair coverage require?

Whether you’re a total salon newbie or a color service veteran, the at-home routine is the same. Pick up a salon quality shampoo and conditioner system (from the L’Oréal portfolio of products, we’re obsessed with Pureology’s Smooth Perfection duo).

It’s also essential to establish a regular touch-up schedule. The frequency of your appointments will depend on your hair length and how dramatically different your color is from your natural shade.

“Some clients with shorter hair come every two to three weeks—average is four to six weeks,” Godard explains. “Sometimes waiting longer than six weeks can turn it into more of a correction because the hair responds differently to hair color when it grows past where the heat naturally radiates off the head.”

If you’re in doubt, ask your stylist for their recommendation—and enjoy that gray coverage!

For personalized color consultations about gray coverage, use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.