The ultimate guide to covering stubborn grays

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Prep Your Hair 

Before you color, it’s important to make sure you don’t have any excess build up on your hair. Build up is caused by many things including styling products, environmental factors such as hard water or pollution, and even medications that we take. Basically, everyone could use a little hair detox before coloring their hair. Making sure you’re working with a nice, clean canvas will ensure proper saturation of each hair strand and the color will have an easier time covering up your gray. 

Easy ways to detox your hair at home:

  • Use a clarifying shampoo a couple of times before you color (do not use clarifying shampoo until you are about ready to color, as it will fade freshly colored hair!)
  • Use a detoxing treatment which are super easy to apply and only need to stay on for a few minutes. (Malibu C has great treatments specifically targeted to what kind of buildup you’re trying to remove from the hair!) 
  • If you really want to get fancy, you can get a water filter for your showerhead, especially if you live in an area where hard water is a problem! Your hair (and your skin!) will thank you! 

Formulate for Success 

Gray hair usually requires you to use a different hair color formula than you would use on non-gray hair. Because gray hair tends to have a coarser texture and because it lacks any pigment, it can be more resistant to color. Formulating correctly will ensure that all those pesky grays are completely covered up.

How to formulate for resistant gray hair:

  • Choose your shade but in an NN series. For example, if you normally use a 5N choose a 5NN next time. NN contains a higher amount of dye and will give you an opaque coverage.
  • Make sure to use 20 volume developer. 20 volume gives even lift and deposit and has enough power to give full coverage, anything lower than 20 volume (5, 7, or 10 volume) won’t be strong enough. 
  • Make sure you measure out your color carefully (using a scale is a great way!). Using too much developer can dilute the color and on the other hand not using enough can make your formula less able to cover gray. 

Apply Like A Pro 

The way you apply your color is also an important factor in getting perfect gray coverage. You definitely want to take the time to apply your color in the most effective way possible, although it might take a little more time you won’t have to go back and do it again because the color didn’t cover the gray! 

Application tips:

  • Make sure you’re applying a thick layer of color to each section. Gray hair tends to be a bit unruly, so you need to pack that color on to make sure the hair is fully saturated.
  • Start in the front! The gray hair in your part and around your hairline tends to be the most resistant to color, so starting in these places first will allow the color more time to sit on and work its magic! 

Set Your Timer 

This is an easy one but make sure to read all the instructions that come along with your color! Some color lines give a longer processing time for gray coverage. Leaving the color on for the full, recommended time is the last step in ensuring your grays will be gone so don’t even think about rinsing it out early!


The ultimate guide to covering stubborn grays
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