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Choosing a Salon Service & Color Palette for Gray Hair

Choosing a Salon Service & Color Palette for Gray Hair

Finding your first gray hair is something everyone remembers – and not necessarily in a pleasant way. Some people don’t mind it terribly, while others drown their sorrows in denial. They want to wake up the next day and realize that the annoying gray hair was part of a dream.

It’s not simply the color that’s different; gray hair has a completely different feel and consistency than your naturally-colored hair. It can be a little bit thicker or coarser than what you’re used to, and it can be difficult for the strand to grab color.

So what’s the best professional hair color for gray hair? You have a few options, which fall into two main categories: full-coverage color, and gray blending. It’s important to pick the right service for you and your hair. So let’s get into it!

best professional hair color for gray hair

Single-process Color for Gray Hair

If you absolutely hate grays, a single process is the way to go. This is essentially dying your hair with one color (or a root touch up service). It’s a pretty simple service and takes up a lot less time than, say, a highlight service. It will completely blend your gray hair into your natural color so it just looks like your grays never existed.

This service is likely also the best salon color for gray hair if you’re someone who doesn’t have the time to sit in a chair for 3-5 hours, since they’re relatively quick trips. The main downside is that once your roots grow back, you’ll need to go to the salon again. On average, your hair grows about a ½ inch every month but everyone is different. Some people have to go in for a root touch up as soon as 3-4 weeks after their initial appointment. Normally though the usual time frame would be between 6-8 weeks.

So the benefits of shorter appointment times get somewhat canceled out by the need for more frequent visits. And particularly if you’ve got a lot of color resistant gray hair, the result might not be as perfectly-even as you’re hoping for.

Highlights for Gray Hair

When your hair begins to lose its pigmentation, it’s slow. You’ll begin to notice a gray hair here, and a gray hair there; it doesn’t happen all at once. So at first, getting a single process might be the way to go. But once your grays begin getting more noticeable, I would start considering other options.

Gray blending is huge right now and for good reason. Highlights, lowlights and baby lights are a perfect way to welcome your grays with open arms. When you highlight your hair along with your standard root color, you won’t notice your silver strands as much when they grow in because they’ll blend into the other, lighter tones your hair now has. So it offers the possibility of long lasting hair color for gray hair because you can go much longer between salon visits.

Lowlights are darker than your natural color and can also create a multi-dimensional look that helps to subtly camouflage unwanted color in the hair. If you’re considering highlights to hide gray on dark hair but would really like to keep your overall dark color, ask your stylist about lowlights. Doing a mix of highlights and lowlights together will help to distract from the gray hair growth and give you an all-around more natural look.

Many women also prefer it because they won’t have to worry about that harsh line that comes with the standard root touch up. Plus, this is a great way to do hair color for stubborn gray strands because even if they don’t fully pick up the color, they’ll still visually blend in.

hair color rinses for gray hair - color change shampoo

Hair Color Rinses for Gray Hair

Rinses add a temporary burst of color to your hair that fades away over the course of 4-6 shampoos. Sometimes called a color change shampoo for gray hair, they can be a great way to hide gray hair between colorings because they’re so easy to apply (and so low-risk if you don’t like the resulting color), but they do require very regular upkeep if you’re considering them as a long term option.

Other ways to temporarily hide gray hair between colorings include styling products such as root cover-up pens and palettes, which can also be beneficial if your hair is thinning.

Gloss for Gray Hair

Now if none of the above sound like your thing, there’s another option. Try hair glossing – the best semi permanent hair dye for gray hair! A gloss is a color that coats the strand without penetrating into it, and fades over time. They last a lot longer than temporary hair color rinses for gray hair however, typically 6-8 weeks. This is the best option for someone who doesn’t want to break the bank or be locked into such a consistent hair schedule.

Additionally, a gloss can also help make your gray hair feel smoother and more hydrated. When the strand loses its pigment, it also loses some of its natural oils which are supposed to hydrate and moisturize your hair. So without that hydration, your hair can feel tougher and not as smooth. Applying a gloss to your hair can bring back some softness to the texture and give your hair a really nice shine.

Glosses are not as full coverage as permanent color; it will only cover up to 75% of the grays. It’s perfect for someone who’s a little more nonchalant in regards to covering their grays. But for those who’d like to banish their grays forever, this is probably not going to be your choice.

Silver Highlights for Gray Hair

Piggy-backing off of the highlights suggestion from earlier, you could also ask for silver or cool-toned highlights that will almost mirror your gray strands. If you’re ready to take the leap, accept the gray and fully go with it, then this is the perfect option for you. Rather than hide the gray, it enhances it and creates a more beautiful gray.

For example, you could go with a balayage that illuminates those silver strands and creates an effortless style that is less maintenance as the hair grows out. The key is in the tone. Gray has a very specific tone that is easily spotted especially in natural light, so make sure you go to an experienced hair stylist who will be capable of building the perfect highlight color palette for gray hair.

choosing the best conditioner for color treated hair

Caring for Color-treated Gray Hair

Once you decide how you want to go about coloring your grays, then you have to make sure you’re maintaining it correctly. As I mentioned before, when your pigment begins to fade, so does the moisture in your hair because it stops producing as many of the natural oils that previously nourished your strands and made them feel soft.

I would recommend going in for a professional hair treatment such as Olaplex or Keratin Complex every now and then to keep the integrity of the hair. Protein treatments and bond treatments such as these will make a significant difference to your hair texture.

You’ll also benefit from making a deep conditioner for color treated hair part of your regular home hair care routine. My favorite hair masque would have to be the Keratin Complex Blondeshell Debrass & Brighten Deep Keratin Treatment which contains purple pigment to keep gray hair looking vibrant and healthy, plus plant oils to nourish and quench dry hair. In fact, the entire Keratin Complex Blondeshell line works fabulously to enhance silver locks. If you choose to dye the grays instead, their Color Care line contains the best shampoo and best conditioner for color treated hair that I’ve found.

Whichever brand you choose though, the best shampoo and conditioner for color treated hair or undyed gray hair will always be one that’s paraben and sulfate free, since these are both known to further damage your hair and cause it to feel dry.

Makeup and Accessories to Enhance Gray Hair

Choosing to embrace the grays? Then it might also be time for a closet and makeup bag refresh. Understanding the best colors to wear with gray hair will ensure you stay looking chic and beautiful rather than tired and washed-out. The same goes for selecting makeup colors for gray hair – gray is a cool-toned color, so if you’ve always had warm-toned hair, it can mean quite the beauty routine transformation! But taking the time to find a new color palette for gray hair is oh-so worth it.

For example, they say black is a timeless classic, but when you have gray hair it can actually be much more flattering to choose a deep navy or warm chocolate brown instead of the harshness of black. That goes for both clothing and eye shadow or eyeliner! As for your lips, the best lipstick color for gray hair is usually a vivid rose or a berry shade such as raspberry pink.

If you’re a glasses-wearer, don’t forget to consider the color of your frames too. The best color frames for gray hair tend to be rich shades such as deep brown, navy, purple or red, whereas yellow-based shades including gold and beige can make your hair look duller.

color resistant gray hair with beautiful silver highlights

Going Gray isn’t the End of Feeling Beautiful!

Whatever your hair preference, going gray is a huge leap for anyone. But it’s becoming more and more accepted for your grays to become the topic of conversation rather than sweeping them under the rug. And whether you like to keep it covered or flaunt it, there are tons of hair, beauty and fashion options out there that will have you and your gray hair looking spectacular.

The best salon color for gray hair will be different for everyone, but the real key to looking good is keeping your hair healthy. Besides that, have fun with your decision! Coloring your hair is fun and allows you to get creative with your options. Gray hair is no exception.

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