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If you're like most women, the need for gray hair coverage starts early, with a few rain cloud-colored strands as you enter your 30s. Women in their 20s to 60s of all hair colors have to decide how to manage this phenomenon, and most do so with some easy touch-ups with permanent hair color. But gray hair coverage is an opportunity to give yourself a fresh look, one that suits your personality and sense of individual beauty. There's no need to go all-out from brown hair to blonde hair just yet: A few gray strands don't have to signal a transition into a complete new style, unless that's what you want! Most women avoid covering gray hair with an all-over shade if most of their natural color is intact, since that requires ongoing maintenance. If it's just a few stray grays that are on your mind, you may want to hold on to the unique beauty of your natural hair color. Try just a touch of subtle color with highlights and lowlights that give texture and life to maturing hair.
Hair highlights help you achieve that middle ground, where you can give your shade a boost with little effort and hide otherwise-obvious gray hair color. The blended shades of highlights are easy to keep looking great, since there is rarely an obvious root and highlights are not placed on all areas of your head. Even busy moms reluctant to dye gray hair find highlights brighten their look without taking precious time out of their daily routines. Keep reading to learn more about highlights and how they can play a role in your gray hair coverage routine.
Your colorist will simply use foils or highlight colors where gray is most likely to appear. This is around your crown, your sides, and natural part. Often, it's recommended that people create highlights around the face, since that is the main focus of your hairstyle and where grays may be most obvious to people you encounter on a daily basis.
Ideally, your colorist should work with you to create a cut that's easy to keep up with and works with your new color scheme. If you have a pixie cut you'll have a different strategy than long, flowing locks. Highlights on short hair can contribute to the illusion of different shades around your head while highlights and lowlights can emphasize long layers.
You can also ask for dye on individual gray strands, if you feel you can pinpoint exactly where the color should go. But if you have a full head of black hair or a dark brown hair color, your grays will be even more obvious, and it may be a constant game of catch-up. Highlights simply bring texture to your hair color so several shades either cover gray hairs or make them less obvious.
When using dye for gray hair coverage, you have more than one option. Highlights are generally two shades lighter than your natural color, and lowlights are two shades darker. While many colorists recommend using blonde highlights around the face to cover grays, that shade does not work for every person, unless you have a dark blonde hair color or perhaps red hair and fair facial features. If you are going for a natural look, choose lowlights for brown hair, as the new shade will simply blend in with the rest of your strands.
One benefit of using highlights instead of an all-over color is the lack of roots. If you do use color on your full head of hair, you can keep things looking great between salon visits with an easy-to-use root touch-up product, like the L'Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up. This is a great option if you prefer a solid color but have brown hair or black hair where roots show up quickly. All-over color also works great on blonde hair, red hair, or auburn hair, but with these medium shades, you also can experiment with different subtle shades that will blend in well with your own preferred aesthetic.
In general, highlights and lowlights will grow out without any noticeable effect on your overall style. Since highlights are intended to be deliberate variations in color, they come with a built-in standard of imperfection. When the color begins to grow out, it is just another color difference that adds to the overall style.
If you have any color-treated hair, try using a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner to keep it looking great. Try the L'Oréal Paris EverPure Repair & Defend Shampoo and L'Oréal Paris EverPure Repair & Defend Conditioner.
If you want to do some home touch-ups before visiting the salon, consider a gray coverage hair color. A semi-permanent gray hair dye will wash out gradually but still provide coverage for those just-appearing strands. Try an all-over shade with highlights included, which provides for more solid color but the blended look of subtle shades. A product like the L'Oréal Paris Couleur Expert lets you get an idea of the possible base color and highlight options, so you can experiment with a different take on your old look.
Remember, gray is here to stay, but with the right color masking, you can keep your style up to date and looking great. For more gray hair coverage tips, here’s How to Blend Gray Hair with Highlights and Lowlights.