Dye Your Hair Gray

Long brown hair with gray roots
Photo: Giulio Fornasar/Shutterstock
Q: I have been coloring my hair for years now. I have long brown hair. My natural color was a medium brown. I started graying early. I have to color my hair every 2 weeks (just coloring roots) to cover the gray. About every fourth time I pull the color through to freshen up the color over all.
I want to stop coloring my hair and let the gray grow in. Can you give me some options on ways that I could do this? Should I dye my hair gray? Thank you. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

A: Well, unfortunately, you cannot dye your hair gray. Gray hair is created by the loss of pigment in the hair, leaving it translucent which is why when more of the hair turns gray the overall effect goes from silver to white.
The closest thing to “dyeing your hair gray” would be lightening the hair to a pale blonde color. However, this would result in having to deal with the new growth of the hairs that have not turned gray yet. Even if you could “dye your hair gray, you’d have a similar problem unless your hair is already 100% gray.
Understanding that you want to try to facilitate the transition to your natural gray level your best option would probably be to use either a temporary or semi-permanent hair color to continue covering the gray as the permanently tinted hair grows out.
The temporary color applies the color strictly to the surface of the hair shaft and washes off with the next shampooing. This can be excellent if your hair is shorter and you want to make sure to use the most gentle color applications possible while growing out the permanently tinted hair.
However, you may not want to have to reapply color every time you shampoo. In that case, using a semi-permanent color will be almost as gentle. The semi-permanent color formula deposits color on the surface, but is also formulated with smaller color molecules to allow them to penetrate the hair shaft.
This means that the color gradually fades over several shampoos – usually 8-12 for completely color removal. This lets you have more time between color applications and gives you a gradual change in the look so that is less noticeable when you do decide to let the natural gray color emerge.
See also:
Going gray
Why and how hair turns gray
Guidelines for covering gray hair with hair color
Can I increase the progression of my gray hair?
I want to let my hair go gray. Is there a fast way to get the hair dye out?