EVERY FEW years a battle cry goes up among women of a certain age—“Let your hair go gray.” A recent New York Times story “How I Quit the Bottle (The Hair Dye Bottle)” recounted a woman’s decision to give up the pricey dye jobs.
About 10 years ago, I made the same decision. But after suffering through months of bad hair days, I realized it was the wrong one. My grays didn’t come in a nice, salt-and-pepper kind of way but rather in uneven streaks. My curly-ish hair didn’t at all resemble the silvery coif of Helen Mirren or Emmy Lou Harris’ beautiful bob or Jamie Lee Curtis’s speckled pixie.
When I consulted Jeremy Buchanan of D.C.’s Salon One80, he explained that white/gray/silver hair doesn’t flatter every skin tone, mine included. Moreover, gray hair grows in coarse and frizzy, adding to the not-such-a-pretty picture. I had no glittery tresses that caught the light and shimmered as did the writer of the New York Times article.
That said, dyeing your hair/highlighting it, low lighting it, getting balayage, etc., is wallet-draining (no AARP discounts) and time consuming. Moreover, one day your color is fine and the next you’re looking in the mirror in horror and sprinting to the salon for a root touchup.
In spite of it, though, I’ve decided not to go gray gracefully. That has led to my search for products to let me stretch out the time between spendy salon visits. Here are some products to aid in the coverup.
LEFT: The rub here is that this Temptu AirPod Airbrush Root Touch-Up & Hair Color ($35, Dermstore) must be used with a $195 cordless, airbrush makeup tool that delivers a mist on your hair to camouflage gray and refresh roots. You have a choice of 11 colors from platinum blonde to auburn. On the plus side, if you like the results, use the tool for spraying on foundation.
CENTER: It was on Buchanan’s advice that I tried Color Wow’s Root Cover Up. To apply, you use the small end of the brush to press pigmented powder (in shades of light blonde, blonde, dark blonde, light brown, medium brown, dark brown, black and red) into your roots. It takes a little bit of trial and error to get it right, but it buys you time away from the salon. $34.50, Ulta Beauty .
RIGHT: A trusted colleague gives L’Oreal’s Root Cover Up rave reviews. She keeps one at home and one in her handbag for those “OMG, my roots are showing situations.” And it’s easy to spray it over the areas you need coverage for. One application is supposed to last until your next shampoo. Choose from eight shades (light to medium blonde, dark blonde, light golden brown, light brown, medium brown, dark brown, black and red) to making those gray roots history. And the price is right, right? $10.99, Ulta Beauty.
LEFT: Who knew that the famous comedienne had a beauty line? Great Hair Day from Joan Rivers Beauty is another brush-on product to cover roots as well as hide thin spots in case we, er, have any. It’s available in six colors, including salt & pepper and white. $28.75 at Soft Surroundings. Could eye shadow work just as well? LittleBird Nancy is determined to give it a try.
CENTER: It occurs to me that a pencil or a crayon may be a better tool than a brush for coloring in those pesky little bitty grays that pop up along the forehead line and at the sideburns. Which is why Bumble and Bumble Bb. Color Stick ($26, Sephora) is an appealing choice. Besides “natural” colors blonde, dark blonde, brown, red and black, you can pick from four “statement” shades, including hot pink, light pink, royal blue and lilac. For your next costume party?