Pregnancy and Graying Hair

Young pregnant woman
Q: Hi! I am a young pregnant mother of 26 and have been graying since I turned 18. I am almost 40% gray in the top to middle sections of my hair. So, if I pull up my hair "voila" you see all my grays. My natural hair color is dark brown and my eyes are dark brown too. My skin tone is fair. So I guess you would say I am "cool" or "silver" toned.
I have been coloring my hair the same color as my natural hair color to cover the grays. I am unsatisfied with this because the grays are resistant and I would end up having to recolor my whole head every month to keep the grays covered. This is wreaking havoc on the integrity of my hair. Also I feel that the dark brown shade is really making my look even paler and older than I am.
Now being four months pregnant I haven't colored my hair and I look like an old lady. What can I do to color my hair safely to cover the grays and lighten my over all "look"? Is foiling my whole head an option and how expensive can that get? I'm a young woman trapped in an old woman's head of hair!

A: I would love to be able to tell you to go and get “A” and use it every “X” months and you’ll be fine, but I can’t. What you describe is not an uncommon problem, but is one that can be very tricky to deal with and get the level of results you want. It sounds as though you are describing that your gray hair is not evenly interspersed throughout your head, but rather that the gray is more densely clustered in certain areas.
What this means is that you have to consider the options, depending on the exact placement of your gray hair. You can opt for a lighter, gray-coverage color and treat the gray hair like highlighting, in which case you will select a lighter tone than your base color and apply it all over the head, knowing that it will only make a notable darkening on the gray hair. This works when the gray is evenly dispersed or is arrayed in target zones.
If you have a lot of densely-gray areas that are too large to make into natural-looking highlighting, you may need to use low-lighting to break up the gray zones, before adding the all-over, lighter gray coverage.
When selecting your coverage color, look for products designed for gray hair coverage (such as Clairol’s Gray Busters) or for additives that can be mixed into the color formula to help the color penetrate the gray hair more easily (such as “Gray Magic”). By using these colors and additives in a deposit-only mix, you lessen the level of stress you put your hair through.
If you don’t like the multi-tonal look for your hair, you could look at lightening the whole head a few levels and going with a softer shade of your natural color. This will also help with the concerns of looking washed out.
You are one of the cases for which I highly recommend consulting with your local salon stylist. Discuss the options with him/her since he or she can better give an assessment of your hair’s condition, and the likelihood that the gray can be converted into an esthetically pleasing highlight look. Be sure to talk about what kind of maintenance will be involved in keeping your hair looking good, including an estimate of the cost. There’s no point in going for an all-out change if you aren’t going to be able to afford to keep it up.
Most stylists will help you find solutions that both give you as close as possible to what you want and fit your budget.
Photo: BlueSkyImage/Shutterstock
See also:
Color resistant gray hair
Highlights and highlighting Q&A
Can I dye or bleach my hair during pregnancy?
Guidelines for covering gray hair with haircolor