Fashion & Beauty

Help! My Roots Are Showing

March 24, 2020

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“GOD BLESS technology,” replied a friend yesterday to a FB post. Although I have cursed it countless times in the past, right now I have to agree. Last night I participated in an online happy hour with four girlfriends; tomorrow, I’m doing a Pilates class with my instructor via the same Zoom platform we used for cocktails. One of the ways much-needed surgical masks can be manufactured is through 3-D printing. Michael Ondaatje couldn’t appear in person at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Hall, but you could join his lecture on his newest book, Warlight, virtuallyEt cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Unfortunately, there’s no magical technological wand we can wave over graying roots. Because stay-at-home orders are likely to stay in place for a while, those of us whom white or gray hair leaves looking washed out are either resigned to that or in search of solutions. According to Jeremy Buchanan of DC’s Salon One80, women with olive complexions and women of color can carry off steel gray or white the best, but if you have pink or yellow tones in your skin, it’s not a good way to go. Keeping your color look fresh as long as possible means not washing your hair too much. And when you do, use a sulfate-free shampoo.

Admittedly in these uncertain, troubled times, it’s kind of petty to be worrying about your hair looking lousy. On the other hand, it’s one of those things you have some control over. So, in that spirit, here are some suggestions for root concealers—sprays, powders, a crayon and a color mask—that could help camouflage those wiry grays.

—Janet Kelly


LEFT: Madison Reed products get a lot of advertising love. Their Root Touch Up ($30, Ulta), which is available in five colors, covers roots with a fine, brush-on powder. The coverage is supposed to stay put until your next shampoo and is rain- and pillow-proof.  CENTER:  Besides temporarily covering gray, Rita Hazan’s Root Concealer Touch-Up Spray  ($25, Sephora, which is waiving shipping fees ’til April 3 with code FREESHIP) also covers thinning hair and areas of hair loss. The nozzle seems like it would make applying it to the right spots pretty easy.  Three of the five colors it’s available in are sold out on Sephora’s website. RIGHT: My much-missed colorist, the aforementioned Jeremy Buchanan, recommended Color Wow’s Root Cover Up ($34.50, Ulta) to me a few years ago. It’s kind of like eye shadow but slightly denser, and although I’m far from an expert in using it, does camouflage my gray without being sticky or oily. It’s available in eight colors, including platinum/light blonde and red.


FAR LEFT: Our former colleague, Washington Post design reporter extraordinaire Jura Koncius gives L’Oreal’s Magic Root Cover Up Gray Concealer Spray (available in seven shades, $10, Walgreens) the heads-up for in between color appointments. Jura is always impeccably groomed, so I’ll have what she’s having. NEAR LEFT: Oribe’s Airbrush Root Touch-up Spray, which comes in five colors ($32, Dermstore), contains sun protection and rice starch which absorbs oil like a dry shampoo and can freshen up your hair. NEAR RIGHT: This Moroccan Oil Color Depositing Mask (6.7 ounces, $28; one ounce, $7, Sephora) is not just for roots but an overall color product and doesn’t wash out in one shampoo, like root concealers. It comes in champagne, rose gold, aquamarine, platinum, hibiscus, cocoa and bordeaux. I’m tempted to try it. Maybe the one-ounce size. If I did—try it—who would see it anyway except my husband, who when I asked if he noticed anything different, would probably say no. Then again, my new friends on Zoom would definitely take notice. FAR RIGHT: Because it’s a crayon, you can easily color your roots or add an unexpected pop of lilac.  Bumble And Bumble’s Bb. Color Stick ($26, Sephora) is available in dark blonde, brown and black and in limited quantities on Bumble and Bumble in shocking pink, marine, lilac and light pink. Don’t worry, it will wash out in one shampoo.


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6 thoughts on “Help! My Roots Are Showing

  1. Nancy G says:

    Back in the days I was still coloring my hair, before I finally just gave up, I would mix two shades of Clairol Root Touchup together, but not completely. That resulted in a bit more nuanced end product, and also more product, since I have a lot of hair. As I was growing it out, I used the Wow powder, which worked pretty good for a long enough time to get me through the worst of it. Remember, you can always order online. Get two or more shades you think would work, and experiment.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Wow works pretty well for me. I should try another shade, too, though. Good idea, Nancy!

  2. Carol says:

    Thanks Janet! I’ll be needing this soon! Stay safe

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Me, too. Maybe today in fact!

  3. Bonnie Casper says:

    Janet – I did not try the Madison Reed because I could not get to the store prior to its closing per the Governor’s order. If you have never self-colored your hair, a cosmetologist friend of mine has said it is (1) difficult to find the right color for your hair if your hair is a combination of colors – e.g., auburn, and (2) it is very difficult to do your own hair and be able to apply the color evenly all over (particularly in the back). I have lots of baseball caps and will switch them out for my Zoom appearances I guess until I think the striped look may be better than the roots!

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Good solution. Also, for hair that hasn’t been cut in months.

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