How to Cover Up Grays At Home, According to a Hairstylist

In lieu of our standing salon appointments, we are taking this time to brush up on some basic beauty skills that we can do at home. First up: re-touching our roots!

We tapped celebrity hair colorist and co-founder of Nine Zero One Salon in Los Angeles, Nikki Lee, for some simple pointers.

"Before attempting to dye your roots at home, it’s important that you understand what your starting hair color is. To help identify your shade, look at the side of the box to find your closest match. The biggest mistake many people make is they choose a color they want to have instead of what they actually have. This can create 'hot roots,' which is when your roots look orange or don't match the rest of your hair," warns Lee.

OK, now that you have your dye picked out, it's time to color. Note that "an at home root touch up will take at least an hour. Up to 30 minutes to apply the dye, then typically another 30 or so minutes for processing," advises Lee. Budget your time accordingly (especially if you're juggling a million other things at the same time). 

Step 1: Prep your station
Most box dyes will come with a pair of gloves so put those on before you mix your color and change out of any clothing you don't want to risk staining. Ditto for your towels; we'd recommend using dark colored towels. 

Step 2: Divide and conquer
Using a rattail comb, section off your hair into four parts and then work in 1/2 inch slices within those sections. Begin to apply the dye, starting with the most color-resistant parts first, which are usually around the temples and crown (aka any areas where color tends to fade the fastest). Grab a handheld mirror to check any hard-to-see areas like the back of your head and nape of your neck to make sure you're getting an even application. Another tip: Fully saturate your roots with dye; it's always better to overdo it on the dye than to end up with patchy color.

Step 3: Rinse and condition to finish
Dyed hair is more likely to get dry and brittle, so make sure to protect your strands with every wash. They don't include that tube of conditioning treatment in the box for nothing, guys. 

And if you need a super fast touchup before, say, your next Zoom call, "retouching powders and sprays are great temporary options that will come out in one wash," says Lee.

Shop some of our go-tos: Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Permanent Hair Color Cream ($7); Revlon Total Color Hair Color ($10)

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Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...