Worried young woman considers the best way to cover up his grey hair

Discover The Best and Worst Ways to Cover Grey Hair

Not Ready to Embrace Your Greys? You Are Not Alone

Maybe you want to cover your grey hair because you're not ready for the salt and pepper in your beard or along your temples? You might be ok with a few silver locks, but you want it to stop there. That’s why hair color was invented, right?

Your first grey hair can be unnerving. Your silvery strands could be your first visible sign of aging. You don’t feel older, but your greying hair is telling a different story. 

As a hairstylist that’s usually where I come into the conversation. Whether you want to reverse, delay or cover your grey hair, you need to make the best choices for your hair and scalp health. Here’s what I tell my clients about the best grey hair solutions: 


Are Lowlights or Highlights Better for Grey Hair?

If you are looking for a low-impact, natural effect then lowlights are a safer way to color grey hair. Your stylist uses foils to apply the color so it doesn’t lie directly on your scalp. That means less exposure to chemicals and fewer potential allergic reactions.

woman in salon gets lowlights to color her grey hair


Lowlights are a good grey hair solution because they create a blend of color with your natural hair. That means there’s no hard transition as your roots grow out. With lowlights, you can go for up to 4 months between salon visits which can be a big saving in time and money.

I don’t recommend highlights to cover up grey hair. Highlights are less healthy because they rely on bleach. Bleach works by permanently removing any remaining color from the innermost part of your hair – the cortex. This can damage the outer layer of the hair strand – the cuticle – leading to split ends, breakage, and frizz.1


Can You Use Semi-Permanent Color to Cover Grey Hair?

Semi-permanent hair dye is another way to avoid a harsh line along your root regrowth. Unfortunately, it’s not a good way to cover up grey hair. That’s because greys tend to be more porous on the ends than the roots, resulting in uneven, patchy color.

Most people have finer hair around their hairline. Fine hair absorbs color well and so you could find yourself with much darker color around your face. In my experience, hair that is too dark is often more aging than your natural silvers would be. 


Is Permanent Color Best for Covering Grey Hair?

If you have more than 20% grey, most colorists recommend permanent color as your best option to fully cover grey hair. Most do-it-yourself box dyes that advertise grey hair coverage are also permanent color.

The thing to remember about permanent hair color is that it’s a life sentence. You're going to have to do it forever or endure a long grow-out process. 


Here are some things to consider before committing to permanent color:

    • You’re damaging your hair: each coloring session covers new growth and already dyed hair. Repeated exposure to dye can cause breakage, dryness, and a change in overall texture.

    • You could be causing more grey hair: chemicals in dye can cause strands to permanently lose pigment. You may actually be making yourself greyer.2


    I often counsel my clients that permanent dye can make them look older. Grey roots say aging so much more than a beautiful head of hair with some silver. 


    Hair Coloring Tips From a Trichologist

    As a haircare expert trained in scalp and hair health, I am often asked for advice on how to cover grey hair safely. Here are a few tips I give my clients who are considering any kind of hair color:

    1 - Always Do an Allergy Test:

    Permanent hair dye sits directly on your scalp so it has plenty of time to be absorbed. Even if you've never had a reaction to hair color, you may start experiencing allergic reactions after repeated coloring sessions.

    2 - Reduce Your Exposure to Chemicals:

    Most people using permanent hair color need to touch up their roots every 4-6 weeks which means a lot of stress on your scalp and hair. That's why I recommend using The System in combination with your coloring regime. The System is Arey's powerful serum and supplement combination that slows the growth of new greys and even reverses existing grey hair. Fewer greys mean less frequent visits to your colorist and less chemical exposure. 

    The System tackles the nutritional and environmental stressors that cause grey hair: 

    Not Today, Grey a daily supplement containing a science-backed combination of vitamins and minerals for your best hair health.

    To The Root – a topical serum that boosts hair growth and scalp health.

     The System Bundle is an effective way to slow and delay grey hair. Many people who use The System see results within 90 days. The System is designed to:

      • Slow grey hair growth

      • Repigment hair in the early stages of greying

      • Boost hair growth for thicker, fuller hair

      • Nourish your scalp and hair 




    3 - Protect Your Scalp Health:

    If you are coloring your hair at home or in a salon you may experience scalp itching or sensitivity from chemical exposure. That's why we created Calm It Down™  – the first ever clinically effective, pre- and post-hairdye scalp treatment.


    Here's how Calm It Down™ protects and soothes your scalp:
      • Schinus Terebinthifolia Seed Extract: this naturally-derived extract relieves redness, irritation, and supports your scalp health.

      • Pentasodium Tetracarboxymethyl Palmitoyl Dipeptide-12 (and) Tripeptide-79: this cocktail of powerful peptides (the building blocks of protein) helps relieve scalp stress and reduce inflammation.

      • Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Extract: this antioxidant counteracts cellular damage from oxidative stress caused by chemical services. 

    You can boost your scalp and hair health by using Calm It Down™ after every on-scalp color service. You'll see less irritation and fewer grey hairs. That's because Calm It Down™ contains Arey's signature Mela-9™ Complex which helps repigment your greys by stimulating production of melanin (the pigment that gives your hair its color). 



    Here's how to get the most benefit from Calm It Down™ in 5 easy steps:

    1. Carefully rinse chemicals and color from your scalp with lukewarm water.

    2. Shampoo and condition with a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo like Wash shampoo and Smooth conditioner. Comb wet hair with a wide-tooth comb.

    3. Gently shake Calm It Down™ and apply 2 pipettes – or 4 pipettes for longer thicker hair – directly to your wet scalp, starting at your natural part and working from the front hairline to the back.

    4. Lightly massage Calm It Down™ into your scalp with your fingertips. Do not rinse off.

    5. Air or blow-dry to achieve desired style.

    You can also use Calm It Down™  to prep your scalp – it won't affect the dye's ability to color your hair. Just massage in 2-4 pipettes 4-6 hours before applying hair color.  I recommend applying Calm It Down™  daily after any chemical services to help soothe the scalp while promoting hair health and pigment production. 


    Colored, Natural or Low-Lighted, Why Your Grey Hair Needs Specialized Care

    Grey hair is more delicate and easier to damage than pigmented hair because its protective outer layer (cuticle) is thinner. Many hair dyes contain harsh chemicals like ammonia and bleach that can easily dry out your grey hair and your pigmented hair, leaving it brittle and damaged. 

    The good news is that you can easily help your hair health by using products specially designed for the needs of grey hair

    Here’s what I recommend for healthy, balanced grey or colored hair: 

    Cleanse with care: look for a gentle shampoo without harsh cleansing sulfates. 

    Colored and grey hair needs moisture: use a conditioner with ingredients that nourish and strengthen your hair strands. 

    A healthy scalp means healthy hair: even the cleanest hair can be hiding scalp buildup. The solution – exfoliate your scalp with a gentle scrub. Regular exfoliation also allows the scalp and follicle to benefit from topical growth and grey hair treatments.

    Promote hair growth and strength: diet and lifestyle are also important for your healthiest hair. Luckily, there’s no need to start eating like an athlete. A nutritionally-balanced supplement helps your hair get the vitamins and minerals it needs. 

    Grey and colored hair needs sunscreen: as a California-based stylist, I see how sunshine dehydrates grey hair and can even turn it yellow. You already protect your skin from sun damage – you can protect your hair the same way with sunscreen for your hair. 

    Protect your hair from heat styling: Mend absorbs deeply into your hair to hydrate, smooth the cuticle and protect it from heat styling. Mend is the extra step your hair needs to reduce the appearance of split ends, protect hair from heat damage and prevent breakage.

    At Arey, our core belief is that haircare should be easy, clean, healthy, and effective. Whether you choose to cover your greys or embrace them, we want your greying hair to be the best it can be.


    At Arey, We Care About Your Hair Health

    That’s what motivates us to develop science-based haircare solutions for aging hair. Arey products provide balanced care for all hair types. We want to make it easy for you to do the right thing for your hair. 

    We care about your hair health. That’s why all subscriptions receive a 25% discount. We want you to stay on track with your hair goals. Because we know that science + consistency = results.

    We are Arey.

    Aging is beautiful – but if you’re looking to delay your greys, we are here for you with science-based, effective solutions. Any questions? Check out our FAQs or email us at hey@areygrey.com.

    Jay Small with customer

    AuthorJay SmallJay Small is a sought-after hair stylist and Trichologist in Los Angeles with over 22 years of experience. His clients consist of high-profile business and creative leaders. He trained as an apprentice to the owner of Paul Mitchell and worked in education and product development for Paul Mitchell Systems. Jay is incredibly passionate about the creative process both in terms of styling hair and developing effective products.


    1. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/hair-dyes-fact-sheet
    2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com