Gray Hair Colorants

You can either try to reverse your gray hair color from within as mentioned in the section "Natural Gray Hair Cures" or change it from outside. It goes without saying that it is much easier and more efficient to do it by replacing the missing pigment from outside, although results are not permanent. There are two options to achieve this. You can use permanent hair dyes that will change your hair color immediately and will dye your entire hair or you can do it more subtly by applying progressive gray hair colorants. The advantage of using progressive colorants is the fact that the change is gradual (the more often you use them the better the coverage) while they enable you to maintain some white hair so that the change is discreet. In addition, their tolerance is usually better than with more aggressive permanent hair dyes. The weakness is the shortage of available shades and the fact that they will be washed out gradually if you shampoo your hair too often. Some of them may also lose intensity if you spend long hours in direct sunlight.

Here comes a short overview of available treatments. Please note that it is practically impossible to draw a fine dividing line between permanent hair dyes and hair colorants (you may call them semi-permanent hair dyes too). Thus, some of the products listed here may not be used for discreet coverage of your white hair as they work too fast, just as regular permanent hair dyes.

Treatments Applied Directly From the Bottle

Grecian Formula is probably the best known product that has been helping men and women to cover their gray for some 70 years now. It is inexpensive, tolerable and easy to apply. The more often you use it the better colored your hair will be. However, it uses lead acetate which has been recently banned from cosmetics products in many countries and the new formula does not work as well. Grecian formula comes in three different forms as liquid, cream and foam. Cream and foam were designed later in order to make the application more comfortable and to improve its effectiveness. Unfortunately, replacing the lead acetate with either silver or copper acetates or bismuth citrate has not brought the same coverage as the good old formula. Hence, depending on which country you live in, you will have different experiences with this product.

Youthair is basically the same product as Grecian formula that has existed for ages (I hope the manufacturer of this product will not hate me for saying it as this statement could be easily made in a different word order). Its weakness today is also the less satisfactory white hair coverage than it used to be due to switching to non-leaded formula. It comes in two forms, liquid and cream.

GreyBan is yet another lotion from the same category as the aforementioned two. It is a bit more expensive than Grecian or Youthair but some consumers value it for better coverage and longevity.

Restoria also belongs to the category of the formerly "lead acetate-based" progressive gray hair colorants. It is manufactured "down under" and, therefore, it has never been as popular in the northern hemisphere as the aforementioned three. It also fell victim to the recent legislative changes regarding the use of lead-containing chemicals and was forced to switch to bismuth citrate. In general, formulas that use bismuth citrate or silver or copper acetate are more sensitive to negative external factors such as washing your hair or direct sun (sometimes can turn your hair red under direct sunlight if you have too much gray) and do not cover your white hair too well after the first application.

Touch of Gray is a gel that is applied to your dry hair directly from the bottle for about five minutes only, with no prior mixing of different components. It contains no ammonia and no developer (peroxide) and comes in five different shades. It is a relatively new product designed just a few years ago for the now aging baby-boomers generation in the US. If there are any consumer complaints about this product, they are because it works too fast, covering almost all gray hair with the first application.

Clairol Advanced Gray Solution is applied directly from the bottle (no developer and no mixing of the two substances) to your dry hair but it takes a bit longer (about 25 minutes) to work. It should cover about 50% of your white hair. This product is marketed as semi-permanent hair color but it should be noted here that gray hair colorants are in effect semi-permanent hair dyes. So call it the way you like, in principle it does the same job as other aforementioned treatments. This product comes in five different shades. It is easy to apply and consumer response is very positive.

Treatments That Need Mixing (Contain Developer)

Re-Nature is a product from Schwartzkopf (part of Wella) and it is as popular in Germany as Grecian formula is in the US. It consists of two components (one of them being developer) that need to be mixed together shortly before the application. It is a bit more aggressive than Grecian so you need to use plastic protective gloves to apply it (otherwise it could stain your fingernails) but it does not need to be used as often. Interesting fact about this product is that your gray hair will be changing color progressively for about five to seven days following the application, which makes it extremely discreet. However, it has never been available in stores in North America and it recently disappeared from the stores in Australia and New Zealand and remains only available in Europe. It is not clear what is behind this move but Schwartzkopf has recently introduced a new product in Europe, called MenPerfect, which may finally replace it.

MenPerfect (from Schwartzkopf Germany) is applied in the same way as Re-Nature but it covers your gray hair immediately. However, it will leave a portion of your white hair less well covered but blending well with your colored and pigmented hair, which gives you a very natural look. It is hard to say what makes it better than its predecessor Re-Nature, maybe tolerability. It comes in five different shades versus only two of Re-Nature. It is inexpensive but unfortunately each pack can be used only once. Therefore, you will be throwing away a lot of it unused as it consists of two substances, which, once mixed together, become worthless after about 15-20 minutes.

L'Oreal MenExpert Excell 5 from L'Oreal Paris is a similar product to Schwartzkopf’s MenPerfect but it is applied with a hair brush, not through an applicator from the bottle. Customer reviews are positive and the only complaint seems to be the fact that you end up throwing away at least 50% of unused mixture. L'Oreal MenExpert Excell 5 comes in five different shades so that it should suit most hair colors except for light blond.

Natural Treatments

Naturtint Permanent Hair Colorant is, as its name says, a natural gray hair colorant which covers 100% of your gray with the first application. It contains natural developer but no ammonia and comes in 30 different shades. It has been designed for people sensitive to chemicals contained in regular hair dyes.