Between salon visits, you want to keep your mane looking fabulous and evenly-toned, but grays may be getting in the way. Whether you’ve decided to cover or blend those silver strands, choosing the best hair color for gray hair can prove to be a challenge. You want the best coverage, but you also want to choose a hair dye that looks natural, isn’t damaging, and lasts as long as possible.
Experts In This Article
- Janel Sealy Smith, licensed cosmetologist, resident hair expert for KISS Colors & Care, and owner of Cocoa Mane Salon in New York
- Wendy Gutkin, lead stylist for Schwarzkopf Color
The best hair color for gray hair, at a glance:
- Best overall: L’Oréal Paris, Excellence Creme Permanent Triple Care Hair Color, $11
- Best moisturizing: Garnier, Hair Color Nutrisse Ultra Creme, $8
- Best ammonia-free: Naturtint, Permanent Hair Color, $13
- Best root concealer spray: L’Oreal Paris, Magic Root Cover Up Gray Concealer Spray, $10
- Best root touch-up stick: KISS, Root Touch Up 2-in-1 Cover & Conceal Kit, $9
- Best permanent root touch-up: Clairol, Root Touch-Up Permanent Hair Dye, $11
- Best natural: Herbatint Permanent Haircolor Gel, $16
- Best for relaxed or permed hair: Softsheen, Dark and Lovely Fade Resist Rich Conditioning Hair Color, $5
- Best for brittle or thinning hair: Schwarzkopf, Keratin Color Permanent Hair Color Cream, $12
- Best for easy application: Revlon, Colorsilk Beautiful Color, $11
With so many gray hair dyes and coloring products out there to choose from, we’re taking some of the guesswork out of the process. Keep scrolling to see which gray hair colors stylists and reviewers said were truly the best for covering and blending silver hair.
Before you get started, here are some things to consider.
Why is gray hair so hard to cover?
Have you ever attempted coloring your gray roots only to find that they’re still showing after an at-home color treatment? “There are a few reasons gray hair is tougher to color,” says Wendy Gutkin, lead stylist for Schwarzkopf Color. “Gray hair tends to be coarse with a closed cuticle, so it’s harder to penetrate the color molecules. A great tip is to apply color around the hairline first, so it sits longest on the hair to process.”
“The second reason gray hair can be a challenge is that it has absolutely no color in it to act as a foundation for hair color to stick to,” Gutkin says. Here’s her trick for getting the shade you want: “If you consider your hair extra, extra resistant, pick a hair color in a warm tone of that shade. The warmth acts as a ‘filler’ to deposit the color molecules so they stick to the hair.”
What is the best hair dye for gray hair?
Permanent hair color may be the best type to go with if you’re looking to cover silver hair. Semi- or demi-permanent hair dyes often don’t provide full coverage and will tend to fade much faster. Some may not even cover your grays at all.
Is it better to highlight or cover gray hair?
If you’re trying to decide whether to highlight or color your gray hair, Gutkin says it’s important to ask yourself this question: What’s your end goal? “When you use a lightener or highlighter on the hair, it softens the hair and opens the cuticle up. This is good when you are looking to do more gray blending,” she adds. “By using a color that has excellent gray coverage in a light shade, you can achieve a look that brings tone back into the hair thanks to the heavier color concentration.”
Is it better to go lighter or darker to cover gray hair?
“It’s important to remember that the darker the color, the more distinct the line of demarcation will be as [grays] grow out,” says Gutkin. “Stick to neutral or ash tones to keep it looking natural. When you get more into warmer tones it will start to look more like colored hair.”
What is the safest dye for gray hair?
Gray hair is often finer and more brittle than pigmented hair, so you’ll want to be careful about the ingredients in your color. “Always check if peroxide is used in your gray hair color,” says Janel Sealy Smith, licensed cosmetologist, resident hair expert for KISS Colors & Care and owner of Cocoa Mane Salon in New York. “Some grays grow brittle and peroxide may cause added unnecessary damage.”
How often should you color gray hair?
When and how often you color gray hair will depend on your individual rate of hair growth. “Color hair as often as you need it. Everyone has hair that grows at different speeds and has different amounts of gray,” Gutkin says. “It is safe to say that 4 to 6 weeks is the average time suggested between colors.”
If you’re worried about damaging your hair with coloring too often, try using a hair dye that contains ingredients like keratin or lean on root touch-up products between treatments.
The best hair colors for dyeing gray hair at home
L’Oréal Paris, Excellence Creme Permanent Triple Care Hair Color — $11.00
Specifically formulated to cover stubborn gray hair, L’Oréal Paris Excellence Creme permanent hair color tops our list. Perfect for all hair types, this creme color formula offers 100 percent gray coverage and nourishing ingredients that will make your hair look shiny and healthy.
The three-step routine includes your hair color and developer, an after-color shampoo, and a deep conditioner made with nourishing ingredients like keratin, ceramides and glycerin that will protect brittle gray hair from damage and seal the hair follicle for a healthier look.
Not to mention, this product is ranked #1 in hair color on Amazon with over 56,000 reviews. One reviewer raves, “I am 61 years old with a LOT of gray hair. I am using it at home every 3 weeks, and love it! This is my [holy grail],” while another one calls it an “affordable way to stay young.”
- 100 percent gray coverage
- Easy to apply
- Fortified with protective ingredients for gray hair
- Comes with shampoo and conditioner
- Contains ammonia
- Color may fade earlier than others
- Smell may be strong for some people
Garnier, Hair Color Nutrisse Ultra Creme — $8.00
The Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Creme hair color for gray hair comes backed by experts and reviewers alike. This formula promises to cover up your silver strands for a natural, sleek and shiny look thanks to the moisturizing oils it’s infused with.
“My favorite at-home hair color is the Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Creme,” says Nikki Lee, Celebrity Hair Colorist and spokesperson for Garnier USA. “What I love about this box hair dye is that it offers 100 percent gray coverage for all hair types, and they have options for just about every hair color.”
The system comes with your hair color and developer and a fruit oil ampoule that is poured directly in the mix. You’ll also get an after-color conditioner enriched with avocado, shea, olive, argan, and coconut oil that’ll leave your hair feeling soft and silky.
One reviewer praises this color’s ability to cover up silver strands, writing, “The color is great for your roots and seems to last longer on grays than others.” Another loves the coverage and feeling after the treatment, saying it offers ”true 100 percent gray coverage and leaves my hair strong and silky.”
We also love that this hair color is vegan-friendly and Leaping Bunny Certified, so it’s guaranteed cruelty-free.
- Available in a variety of shades
- Vegan formula
- May require longer sit time for gray hair
Naturtint, Permanent Hair Color — $13.00
Naturatint Permanent Hair Color is one of the most highly-rated among paraben- and ammonia-free gray hair colors, and it may be ideal for those with allergies to certain ingredients.
Made with natural ingredients like oleic acid from olives, meadowfoam seed oil, and shea butter it’ll cover up all your grays without harsh chemicals or fragrances. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free.
There are 28 shade options to choose from, and users rave about the excellent gray coverage and salon quality. One says, “So far, I am very impressed. I purchased the blue black. I have hair dye allergies so I was really apprehensive to try this, but I was pleasantly surprised. There is no odor at all so no burning eyes. I did not have any skin sensitivity this far — no itching or burning like I usually experience. The color is amazing.” Another writes, “Covers the gray and does not stink! Softens my hair and lasts longer than other natural products!”
- Paraben- and ammonia-free
- Made with natural ingredients
- No artificial fragrances
- 28 shades to choose from
- No harsh smell
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- May not last as long as other box dyes
Best root concealer spray
L’Oréal Paris, Magic Root Cover Up Gray Concealer Spray — $10.00
Getting ready for a night out, only to find some gray roots peeking through? Cover them quickly with the L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up Gray Concealer Spray. This temporary fix sprays directly onto your gray strands for coverage that’ll last all day.
Voted number 1 on Amazon in hair mascaras and root touch-ups and garnering over 60,000 reviews, this product is loved by those who use it. One reviewer raves, “I love this product. It effectively covers gray hairs that threaten to make you older than you are. It’s easy to use, goes on quickly, and the coverage looks natural.”
This spray-on hair color is ammonia- and peroxide-free, and it washes out easily with shampoo. Just spray and go!
- Quick, temporary coverage
- Easy to use
- Looks natural
- Washes out easily
- Ammonia- and peroxide-free
- Only lasts between shampoos (not permanent)
- Spray comes out fast and strong, so you’ll need to protect or cover skin around the face when applying
Best root touch-up stick
KISS, Root Touch Up 2-in-1 Cover & Conceal Kit — $9.00
When you’re in need of a quick fix, reach for the KISS Root Touch Up 2-in-1 Cover & Conceal Kit, equipped with both a touch-up wand and stick for fast application that gets you out the door looking fabulous.
The two included applicators make getting the perfect coverage easy: For touching up areas around the face, you’ll want to use the mascara wand, which makes it less likely that you’ll end up smearing the color on your skin. For larger areas, use the touch-up stick for complete root coverage.
“My favorite product for grays right now is the KISS Root Touch Up Stick & Wand. It’s the quickest, easiest and healthiest cover up especially for those who shampoo daily,” Smith says. “What I like most is the color tones. Some of the other color touch-ups may have too many red hues or green hues. KISS is always on target for the color you choose: If it says Dark Brown, it won’t have green in it.”
This temporary hair color is water-resistant, smudge proof, and easily washes out with shampoo. It’s guaranteed to look natural and last all day without flaking, and the formula is infused with jojoba oil for a shiny end result.
- Quick, temporary coverage
- Good for use between salon visits
- Two options for easy application (mascara stick and wand)
- Looks natural
- Washes out easily
- Coverage is temporary
- May take long to dry
- May stain your clothing or sheets if it’s not washed out
Best permanent root touch-up
Clairol, Root Touch-Up Permanent Hair Dye — $11.00
Why waste a whole box of hair dye when you’ve just got some grays to cover? If you’re between salon visits and just need to touch up your roots at home, add Clairol Root Touch-Up Permanent Hair Dye to your cart.
Voted number two in root touch-up products on Amazon, this permanent solution is just what you need to get you through until your next hair appointment. The best part is, even though this is a permanent hair dye, it only takes 10 minutes to process and will totally cover your grays.
The process is simple: All you have to do is apply the color with the included brush to your silver roots, wait ten minutes and rinse.
With over 20,000 reviews on Amazon, this product is a fan favorite among people looking for gray hair coverage. One reviewer writes, “This is the first at-home hair coloring product that has worked for me. I have tried one or two other products before that didn’t cover my grays. This coverage is excellent!”
Another raves, “This is a great product for those times when you don’t want to go get your roots done. It blends seamlessly, and it doesn’t burn your skin or scalp. I’m not ready to go gray, so until that day, I will be using root touchup between salon visits.”
- Quick, simple process (just apply, wait and rinse)
- Comes with easy-application bottle, brush, and gloves
- Covers grays 100 percent
- 22 color options to choose from
- Doesn’t have a strong scent
- Only comes with enough product to cover roots
Herbatint Permanent Haircolor Gel — $16.00
If you’re looking for a gray hair dye without harsh chemicals that can harm your strands, reach for Herbatint Permanent Haircolor Gel. With 41 color options to choose from and a gentle, ammonia-free formulation, this box hair dye is everything you need to keep your hair looking naturally beautiful.
Herbatint hair dye is made with organic herbal extracts (including aloe vera, meadowfoam, white birch, echinacea and rhubarb) designed to protect and nourish your hair and scalp through the coloring process. These extracts also enhance the vibrance of the color, preserve color intensity and help provide long-lasting coverage for gray hair.
Not to mention, it’s a great at-home hair dye to choose if you have sensitive skin: The Herbatint formula has been clinically and dermatologically tested, and it doesn’t contain the harsh chemicals or fragrances found in other box dyes.
We also love the brand’s dedication to eco-consciousness. Herbatint Gel Color is not tested on animals and is suitable for vegans, and even the packaging is made of totally recyclable uncoated paper. In order to reduce plastic waste, the box doesn’t include disposable cups, brushes, or capes.
Reviewers swear by the Herbatint Permanent Haircolor Gel, saying, “I’m so glad I tried Herbatint, I used 6C dark ash blonde on my black roots, it gives a natural dark brown color and covers gray[s] 100 percent. It is gentle on [my] scalp and the smell is mild. I love it and will continue purchasing.” Another writes, “I have used this product for over 15 years, only doing the roots to cover gray/silver that comes with being past 40. My results have been very good.”
- Natural herbal ingredients
- Ammonia- and paraben-free
- 100 percent gray coverage
- Gentle on hair and scalp
- Cruelty-free, vegan formula
- You can mix colors to create your own shade
- Doesn’t come with cup, brush or cape
- All color options may not cover grays — read the box to ensure you choose the right shade
Best for relaxed or permed hair
Softsheen, Dark and Lovely Fade Resist Rich Conditioning Hair Color — $5.00
If you get your hair relaxed or permed, it’s important to choose a hair color that won’t damage your strands or ruin your look. Dark and Lovely’s Fade Resist Rich Conditioning Hair Color is designed to help protect your hair through the coloring process.
With nourishing ingredients like vitamin E and argan oil, this moisturizing, ammonia-free hair color makes treated and natural hair looking shiny, healthy, and beautiful. The ammonia-free hair color formula helps protect your hair from damage while the included conditioner, made with shea, avocado and olive nourishes your strands from root to tip.
With over 14,000 reviews on Amazon, this product is a favorite among those who use it for covering and blending gray hair. One reviewer raves, “I’ve used Dark and Lovely before but haven’t tried it in a while. This covered my gray hair, especially on the edges, completely! Some other dyes that I’ve used just darkened the gray a little. But this dye covered it perfectly.”
Another writes, “Use to cover gray roots and this is the only I use that takes well in my hair.”
- Ideal for relaxed or permed hair
- Nourishing, moisturizing formula
- Easy to apply
- May not last as long as other dyes
Best for brittle or thinning hair
Schwarzkopf, Keratin Color Permanent Hair Color Cream — $12.00
This gray hair color from Schwarzkopf was specifically formulated for covering up those silver strands for the long haul. The super-conditioning formula comes with a pre-color serum that protects brittle or thinning hair from damage and helps you achieve even coloring. The color itself and conditioning formula is also infused with Schwarzkopf’s K-Bond Plex, a keratin formula that helps seal the hair shaft for hair that looks glossy, shiny, and healthy.
“My favorite at home hair dye is Schwarzkopf Keratin Color. I was blown away by the salon quality and performance the first time I used it,” says Gutkin. “There was 100 percent gray coverage and the shine was so impressive. What also makes this line so unique is the pre-serum treatment is great for your hair health and makes sure all of the color is covering your hair evenly from root to end.”
Reviewers say Schwarzkopf Keratin Color has stood the test of time. One writes, “I’ve been coloring my hair black for 20 years and this is my most favorite hair color I’ve ever found . . . Doesn’t damage my hair.” Another raves, “I have used Schwarzkopf hair color for many years now. Always good results- rich color, conditioned and soft hair. Color has never faded. Will continue to use!”
- Long-lasting, 100% gray coverage
- Pre-color serum helps protect hair from damage
- Keratin-infused conditioner seals hair shaft for shiny, healthy-looking hair
- Doesn’t smell as strong as other box dyes
- Slightly pricier than other box dyes
- Color may come out darker than expected — use the formulation key on the box to ensure you are choosing the right color.
Best for easy application
Revlon, Colorsilk Beautiful Color (Set of 3) — $11.00
If you’re looking for a permanent at-home hair color to cover your grays that doesn’t require a ton of effort but yields salon-quality results, you’ll love the easy application of Revlon’s Colorsilk Beautiful Color.
With this color, you won’t need a brush and bowl or any special skills to get the look you want. The process is fairly simple: Just pour the color and developer into the bottle and shake well. Part your hair into four sections and apply the mixture to each section from root to tip. Leave it on for 25 to 30 minutes, then rinse and condition.
There are 41 color options to choose from, and the ammonia-free hair color formula is infused with keratin and silk amino acid to leave your hair looking stronger and healthier. It also comes with an ultra-hydrating conditioner for after coloring that will leave your hair soft and shiny.
Rated number 7 in hair color on Amazon with over 9,000 reviews, this product has garnered attention for its power against grays. Whether you have roots to cover up or a full head of silver strands, this at-home hair dye is just what the doctor ordered.
Reviewers say it works just as well as a salon treatment. One writes, “I’m 62 and have a head full of grays. This covers my grays, especially around the temples. I’ve used expensive hair color but this product works beautifully.” Another raves, “This is the best hair dye I have found to cover hard to get rid of gray hairs.”
- Keratin-infused formula
- 100 percent gray coverage
- May not last as long as other box dyes
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