Rodney Cutler

Coloring those stubborn gray hairs!

I thought I would help you out with the science behind removing those stubborn grays… And who better to help than my dear friend Patrick McIvor a REDKEN artist and owner of the Patrick McIvor Color Studio in Bethlehem, PA (610) 882-1081. Here are some of the best ways to cover or blend the gray away.

This type of hair color is sometimes referred to as a vegetable color. It is the gentlest process to blend gray away. Semi-Permanent hair color is perfect for Blondes, Light Redheads or Brunettes that want a “highlighted” look to their hair. Your gray hair can look like natural highlights and it lasts up to 6-8 shampoos until it gently washes back to it’s natural gray.
Great for up to 25% gray.
Pros: Gentle, easy and easy to try.
Cons: Subtle in results, can’t lighten the hair.
Expertise: Easy


Very similar to Semi-Permanent hair color with better coverage and wearablitiy. Not only does it blend but it also covers the gray and will last up to 6-8 weeks. These colors are always mixed with a processing solution that activates the color.
Great for up to 50% gray
Pros: Gentle, easy, lasts up to 6-8 weeks, can blend and cover gray.
Cons: Can give a subtle growth line, only lightens the hair slightly or not at all.
Expertise: Easy to Pro

This is the solution when you want all the gray gone.  You have the option to lighten, darken or change the tone of your hair permanently. It’s always mixed with a developer. Because it is permanent, when looking to dramatically lighten your hair I suggest leaving it to the professionals.
Great for any percentage of gray.
Pro: Can make your hair lighter, darker, change the tone and cover your gray.
Con: Because it is permanent so are the mistakes.
Expertise: Easy to Pro

Highlights have a great camouflaging effect on gray hair. Highlights can be created with highlift blonde haircolor or lighteners/bleach and there are advantages to both.  Highlift Blonde hair color is a gentler process on the hair and has more tone in the color. Lightens/bleach can give the hair a very light highlighting effect but can also damage the hair when used improperly. The beauty of highlighting is we can go lighter, darker, more natural or dimensional depending on your desired look.
Great to make up to 50% gray look like a fabulous blonde
Pros: Grows out gently, makes you blonde and less gray
Cons: Watch you don’t go to light or you can look like a powdered donut.
Expertise: Unless you want highlights that are barely there you might want to leave this to the pros.

So there you have it no more excuses for those stubborn grays!

17 Responses to “Coloring those stubborn gray hairs!”

  1. Claudia Neisius says:

    Hi Rachel,

    I colored my hair with L’oreal permanent hair color — Light Ash Brown I have gray roots with blonde hair —- thought it would cover the gray roots — unfortunately it did color but it still has that gray look…..HELP HELP HELP….
    Sincerely, Claudia

  2. Claudia Neisius says:

    Hi Rachel,

    MADE AN ERROR IN COLOR — I colored my hair with L’oreal permanent hair color — Light Ash BLONDE I have gray roots with blonde hair —- thought it would cover the gray roots — unfortunately it did color but it still has that gray look…..HELP HELP HELP….
    Sincerely, Claudia

  3. stephanie says:

    can women use just for men? i have a little bit of gray that i want covered. i don’t to change my hair color. it just seems a lot easier and less mess.

  4. susan says:

    Hi Claudia. I use L’Oreal also, but have found that ash is grayish or even greenish, while golden is has red, brassyness to it. I stick to just plain “Medium Blonde” or “Light Blonde” without ash or golden in the title . I find it looks quite natural.

    Good luck!

  5. Tab says:

    Don’t use the “Ash” colors; they tend to look more gray. Stay away from those and pick another color…

  6. mandi says:


    I am a hair designer. Never use an ash to cover gray…you are already ashy, instead think of the color wheel. Opposite of green is red….so red will color better. Probably don’t want to be red so go for a color with all of the color spectrums…such as natural or medium….Also sometimes using a light or a higher level of color does not have enough pigment in the color itself to completely cover the gray….Try using a darker shade…this will have more color pigments…good luck..

  7. Shawn says:

    I use L’Oreal permanent hair color and a friend told me about a product called gray magic, you can only get it a beauty supply store, it’s a little bottle you use 22 drops for 2 ounces of color, I can go up to 3 months now without coloring again…..

  8. kelly jo demsey says:

    help me ..
    been a single mom of 2 7th graders, chaz and karlee…they are awesome.
    but i have lost me…i can be attractive, i think.?!?
    but my crazy hair(80′s) embarrassing to the kids. in my defense…the kids have cool hair now…i had cool hair then…
    this is a natural train wreck.
    make me the hot mama i know is here so my kids
    will be proud of me.

  9. Pamela Brown says:

    I saw only part of a story on hair removal on the Rachael Ray show within the last 10 days.
    I am very interested in info about this product as my husband has been driven crazy with infected ingrown hair all over his body in the past few years.
    Numerous dermantologists have only given him anti-biotics to help with the problem. But, you can’t take medicine forever. I have been looking for a hair removal treatment for him and this sounded like it may help my husband.
    Thank you very much for any help you can give us.

  10. carmen davis says:

    Big ole mess. Help!! Please. I am 52. I need help first with my hair. Needless to say I am graying a lot. I have fuzzy curly wavy gray hair. Am not a primper, don’t like messing with it. I get up at 4 am be at work at 6. Need a hairstyle that doesn’t take any effort but looks at least half way decent. Also my eyebrows. White ones keep popping up if I keep tweezing there worn’t be any left. Next is facial hair. I have used facial hair removers such as nair. Well the made my mustache hair come in coarse. And it doesn’t really take it off. It seems I can still feel it, so I try trimming the hairs with scissors which doesn’t really work either. Then on my chin and cheeks what do I do don’t want to use the hair removal creme for fear it will all grow back coarse. I don’t like to go anywhere anymore. To work and if I must to the store. That’s about it. You would think at 52 I would have a hairstyle that works by now but, I’m a mess. Would appreciate any and all suggestions. Thanks

  11. Mark says:

    Before I graduated with my counseling degree, I paid for college by being a hairdresser. There are two issues going on with Kelly Jo. The first is you’re stuck in a rut. Your hair has become your signature card, and it sounds like now it’s boardering on makeing your more of a cartoon character than a hot mama.

    Go through hair magazines, and then find your top three cuts. I’m really willing to bet they’ll be the same basic haircut only styled differently (at least that was the common thing in the salon back in the day.). Then find a hairdresser you can trust and go for it!! Remember, it’s hair. It WILL grow back. P.S. – I can get over if you’re still ratting up your bangs to the heavens, but please tell me you’re not still spiral perming!! If you are, whomever was willing to still do that for you is NOT the person you want to go to for your new look. They’re as stuck as you are.

  12. Christine says:

    I have been coloring for years and could not find the perfect match for my haircolor… that is until I tried Grecian formula… and it works like a charm… my grays are gone and are now the color of my natural hair and once my last coloring grows out I will have all natural color and no grays! yeah! Give it a try… it doesn’t smell so great but neither do the permanent colors. :o)

  13. monica says:

    I am allergic to Toluene, which is a component to many major hair colors and fingernail polishes. Can you give me the name of a haircolor that does not contain Toluene?

  14. Patty says:

    Thank you for the tip about not using an ash hair color to color gray. I’ve recently grown my hair out to see how gray it is. I was thinking of going to an ash brown becaus I have silver and dark charcoal gray color and I get dark roots with the haircolors I’ve been using. It’s probably best to go to a professional now instead of coloring it myself so I will be happier with the color.

  15. deb says:

    my roots are showing, i was wondering if i should get root touch-up for now or get all my hair colored at the salon.

  16. Alisa says:

    Stop dyeing and go natural. Join the Facebook group called Gray and Proud!!
    You will not look old I promise you. The ladies in this group are now being asked to model! Natural is the way to go!
    I would also encourage you to read about the cancer and allergy risk to dye products. Several European countries are already banning them.

  17. Diann Bayes says:

    I just turned 49 a few months ago and alphabet been coloring my hair for years. I came to the conclusion I’ve been more concerned about society’s opinion of my hair than I have. I made the decision to stop coloring and let the gray come in naturally. That’s been an interesting decision. Two months since my decision, the ‘prison/rodeo hair’ look has started and the looks from others, as well. I don’t want to be one of those women who is still coloring her hair in her 70′s and 80′s so I’m biting the bullet now. I’m 50% gray and I’m excited about not having to color.

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