Have you looked in the mirror recently and thought – Who is that? Felt tempted to rush out and buy at-home hair color? Or maybe you scooped some up, but have no clue how to use it? If so, this post is for you! I enlisted some “virtual” help from a professional stylist to get answers to all of our quarantine hair questions. Here are her tips on how to cover your roots during pandemic. Plus, I’ll be sharing everything I learned doing my first at-home root touch up (video below), including the mistakes — and there were plenty.
I think I’ve been in denial about exactly how much gray hair I have… But our “stay-at-home” orders certainly have a way of ripping off the Band-Aid, don’t they? At 36, I have gray — and plenty of it! On one hand, I love how comfortable we’re all getting with our raw, unvarnished selves as we spend more time at home. Gray hair is natural. It’s part of the aging process and it can beautiful.
If you’re looking at my photos thinking… What gray? I was trying to cram my color session/photos/videos into one toddler nap session and completely forgot to get “before” pictures. You can see it a bit of the gray in my video, but the camera doesn’t do a great job of showing detail.
However, with coronavirus already changing so many other aspects of our daily life (more on that in this post), it is also completely normal to be craving consistency with your look. We control precious little right now. Is it any wonder people are buying boxed hair color in record numbers?
If your hair color matters to you right now, that is okay. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too! We all process these strange times differently.
Conventional wisdom tells us it is best to simply wait for salons to reopen. In fact, hair professionals nationwide are using hashtags like #showusyourroots and #waitforyourstylist to encourage clients to embrace their gray. They’re hoping the gentle reminders will keep clients from doing anything too drastic. [If you need entertainment, just search “quarantine hair fails” on YouTube – Yikes!] After all, a $5 box of drug store color can require a costly — we’re talking at least $200 — color correction if things go sideways. In severe cases, that process can take months!
Happy to feel “me” again! Even though my results weren’t perfect.
So, let’s meet Kyri Morgan Shaughnessy. A veteran at the bowl, she has more than a decade of experience and specializes in rich, natural color and extensions. Kyri works at Evan Todd Salon and Spa, an Aveda Salon, in West Lafayette, Indiana. [It opens again on June 1 – Hip Hip Hooray!] Wondering how to cover your roots during pandemic? She’s your gal! Not only is Kyri incredibly talented, she is also incredibly patient and answered all of my beginner questions.
When you go to a salon, your stylist formulates your color individually. They consider things like your natural level (how dark/light your hair is), underlying pigment (hues that range from blue/violet to pale yellow that your hair gives off when you color it), percentage of gray, porosity (your hair’s ability to absorb moisture), and previous color usage. To keep your hair healthy, they also use developer cautiously, using only the amount necessary to process your color – no more. Boxed color needs to work for the mass market. It requires harsh developers that can alter every hair type. Consequently, it can be much more damaging. Kyri’s top tip: Be as minimal with your method as possible.
There is no one-size-fits-all method. If your roots are pretty subtle or you just have a teeny bit of gray around your temples, Kyri recommends root cover-up sprays or powders. I’ve used both. I find powders (Color Wow Root Cover Up is a great one) the easiest to control. However, if you have a large area to cover, a spray gets the job done fast! Lots of stylists recommend L’Oreal’s Magic Root Touch Up. It is also my personal favorite. One spray and you’re good until your next shampoo. There is some mess factor during application though. Make sure you spray this in the bathroom, so you can wipe off any wayward color easily. If you need a more targeted application L’Oreal also makes a Precision Pen option.
The next “stylist-approved” step is a semi-permanent root touch color. Semi-permanents last about 10 shampoos. Some you can even squeeze right out of the pen or bottle — no mixing required. They are temporary, light and won’t compromise the integrity of your hair. A few stylist-approved options you can find at the drug store: Clairol’s Semi-Permanent Moisturizing Hair Color or Clairol Root Touch Up.
I bought Clairol’s Root Touch Up Color Blending Gel, mistakenly thinking it was the brand’s regular root touch up. It was okay, but didn’t cover my gray as thoroughly as I had expected based upon the rave reviews of the regular root touch up (see my results in the pic below). This seems to mesh with the experiences of other users. Most LOVED Clairol Root Touch Up, but not the blending gel. Also, make sure you have enough color! I have super thick hair and really wish I would have had a second box on hand to adequately cover all of my grays. I ran out of color. Guess I should have realized this since Kyri often has to go back and mix more color when I’m in her chair!
Stylists suggest buying a color at least one shade lighter than what you think your hair is. You can from this shot see I went too dark. Wish I would have known this tip in advance!
There are also companies that will mix color for you individually and deliver it to your home, like eSalon (a 5x winner of Allure’s ‘Best At Home Hair Color’ award), Color & Co, or Madison Reed. I have not tried any of these, so I can’t offer any personal insight on their effectiveness or process. Your salon or stylist might also be willing to ship customized color kits to you. An increasing number of salons are offering this option as stay-at-home orders continue. Whatever you do, stylists say now is not the time for a full color change. Save any bold changes for the professionals.
Kyri recommends sectioning your hair into quadrants: front-to-back and ear-to-ear. Make sure you have a tail comb handy, so you can work your way through those quadrants section by section. I tried to section my hair with standard comb and it was nearly impossible. Also, don’t feel pressured to use all of the color. Kyri suggests using only what you need.
I was a little messy… A bit of vaseline or chapstick around your hairline will help you avoid similar stains.
Stylists say a lot of people make the mistake of dragging the color all the way down their hair to “blend” it. I wasn’t sure I matched my color exactly, so I used a comb to soften my root line ever-so-slightly… pulling it down in a few places. However, the pros say you need to be really careful when putting dye on hair that already has color. It can make your strands look opaque and unnatural. I thought my results seemed pretty natural. I couldn’t see any blatant demarcation line. However, I definitely missed some gray. In hindsight, I should have been more systematic about working my way through those sections Kyri recommends.
Be honest with your stylist! “We know things are weird right now and people are doing things to their hair that they normally wouldn’t do,” Kyri says. “At your next appointment, we’ll probably ask you what you used and what the time frame was. That will help us formulate the best result for that appointment — and if what you want won’t be able to happen at that appointment, we’ll be able to tell you and give you a plan going forward.”