Prematurely Gray Beard

Coloring a beard
Photo: Dimid 86/Shutterstock
Q: I am a man with a prematurely gray beard, virtually 100% gray. I have been coloring my "full" beard for years. I keep the beard quite short. I've tried many brands and find none work well. Currently, I'm using Color Brilliance, Light Brown with 10 volume peroxide, 45 minutes.
Even though I'm coloring it weekly the hair visible along the perimeter holds the color for only 4 days. Also, my hair color is light brown or light golden blond, minimal gray, and, the build-up of the light brown color also builds up to a darker color not matching my hair well.
Do you have any suggestions on what/how I should be coloring this gray so that I can make a week before my next coloring? Thank you for any advice you can give me.

A: It is a common problem when dealing with gray hair (whether on the head or the face) that the hair can be resistant to hair color. The process of the hair losing its pigmentation results in the hair's cuticle layer becoming more compact than it was previously and therefore being less-penetrable by moisture, including the hair coloring chemicals.
I can offer a few suggestions - in order of the most recommended:
First, look for products that are specifically designed for use on facial hair. Facial hair is usually different in texture than the hair of the scalp and can be harder to color. Specially designed formulas are usually geared toward coping with the difficulties of coloring facial hair.
If you can't find a formula specifically for facial hair that is right for you, look for additives that you can put in the hair color that you already use that are designed to help the color penetrate gray hair better. One widely available product is called Gray Magic and can be found in the hair color aisle of your beauty supply store. It comes in small, single-use ampoules. It can also be used with specially formulated colors if you want to improve the results of these products as well.
Finally, some individuals use a "pre-softening" step prior to applying hair color. This process uses hydrogen peroxide developer applied to the hair to be colored and allows it to sit on the hair for 15-20 minutes to open the cuticle layer and allow the hair to respond better to the coloring formula.
See also:
Gray hair Q&A
Color resistant gray hair
What is the average age for going gray?