Turning gray hair to blonde can actually be easier than going blonde from a darker color, but also includes some unique challenges. Gray hair lacks pigment, so it is not usually necessary to double process the hair before going blonde in order to cover up existing color. The cuticles of gray hair, however, are much more difficult to penetrate than hair still in possession of its natural pigment, so it is sometimes more difficult to achieve full-coverage, long-lasting color. As with any hair coloring process, when turning gray hair blonde it is important to begin with healthy hair and take measures to protect the hair as much as possible from chemical damage.
Often, people who are dyeing their pigmented hair blonde need to “double process” their hair, meaning they must first strip away the current color before dyeing hair the desired shade. Since you are dyeing gray hair to blonde, however, you can skip this step because gray hair is essentially colorless. There is no pigment that must be overridden in order for the true blonde to emerge.
Despite the lack of pigment, gray hair can actually be quite difficult to color because it is much more coarse and difficult to penetrate. Before dyeing, it is generally advisable to treat your hair with a 20% peroxide solution. This lifts the cuticle and prepares the hair to readily accept the dye.
To dye gray hair to blonde at home, look for a product that is specifically formulated for gray hair, because it will take the specific needs of aging hair into consideration. You will need to divide your hair into sections during application to ensure complete coverage, and exceptionally long or thick hair may require two dyeing kits for full saturation. Always follow the directions carefully, but keep in mind that since gray hair is resistant to hair dyes you may need to leave the coloring agent on slightly longer than stated if you are not using a product specifically designed for gray hair.
Before you even begin the dyeing process, you should assess your hair and make sure it is fit for coloring. You should not recently have undergone a chemical process such as a permanent or chemical relaxing process, because these processes leave the hair weak and vulnerable. Gray and blonde hair both tend to be quite dry, so take care to condition your hair well and trim any dead ends before coloring. After you dye your gray hair to blonde, continue conditioning regularly and try to avoid damaging processes such as excessive heat styling. Shampooing as infrequently as possible with a formula designed for color-treated hair will help keep your new blonde color true and vibrant.
Best Blonde Hair Color to Cover Gray
When looking for an at-home overall color to cover gray hair, you will want to check the back of the box to read what percentage of gray it covers. Some colors will have 100% coverage, but others will not, so you may want to assess how intense you would like the shade of blonde to be. Pick a shade that you feel will be flattering for your skin tone. Typically, it is recommended that warm-toned people stick with warmer blonde shades such as honey, caramel, and strawberry, while cool-toned go with shades like ash, ice, and platinum. However, there are no rules to hair color, so pick what feels best for you.
The most efficient and quality choice will likely be going into a salon and having a professional color your hair for you. Certified hairdressers know when your hair is healthy enough to withstand lightening treatments compared to when it may take a few rounds of lifting. If you have only had sections of gray pop up, covering them with blonde highlights is usually a cheaper and healthier alternative than all-over color. If your whole head has gone gray, and you do opt for a salon visit, plan to go in about every six weeks to maintain your fresh blonde.
How To Color Gray Hair Blonde Naturally
If you are looking to stick with a more natural approach, there are some options out there; unfortunately, most of them involve turning gray hair darker. There are many plants that can be used to dye gray hair a dark brown color, such as coffee and walnut shells. When it comes to blonde and lighter hair, the two main methods involve lemon juice and henna.
Lemon juice has been used for many years to naturally lighten hair, as the chemicals react with the sun to lift the color from strands and give it a natural glow. This method does take a while to work, so you may need to spritz the hair every day for a couple of weeks before you achieve your desired result. You may combine this method with a purple shampoo and conditioner to eliminate any brassy tones. One downside is that it requires the sun to be out to work, so it is not a method you can use in winter if you live outside of a year-round, sunny climate.
Another option is using henna powder, though this will give a darker blonde and sometimes orange tone. In order to achieve a true blonde look, you may need to mix in other lightening agents. Henna has antimicrobial and antifungal properties, so in addition to acting as a dye, it can help scalp health and prevent dandruff.
Coloring Gray Hair Blonde at Home
If you have decided to color your hair at home with a box dye, be sure to first read reviews and ingredients of the brands you are considering. Some people have allergic reactions to sulfates and parabens, but there are dyes out there that do not include these potentially irritating ingredients. When looking online, you may be able to find reviews with pictures of coverage the dye has given other people, which you can use as a gauge for how the product might look on you. As gray hair is often dry or wiry, it is smart to pick dye that includes moisturizing agents as well.
An at-home dye can cost anywhere from five dollars to forty, depending on what you hope to accomplish. Drugstore brand boxes are the cheapest options, while custom colors with high-quality ingredients run on the more expensive side. When comparing the prices, doing it yourself is significantly cheaper than spending hundreds of dollars at the salon. Clairol's Natural Instincts line is a popular choice that penetrates gray resistance and is formulated without ammonia or parabens.
Keeping Gray Hair Healthy
Gray hair needs hydration, especially if you are seeking to add or maintain color. Doing a weekly deep conditioning mask and applying a lightweight oil after showering, like jojoba or argan, can help to nourish thirsty strands. Keeping the hair moisturized can help open the shaft so that it receives and holds color more easily. If you have already colored it blonde, always use shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for color-treated hair to help your dye last as long as possible. You can prolong wash days, which fade color more quickly, by using a dry shampoo on your roots. If you are using heat styling tools on your hair, spray it with a heat protectant first to keep hair from becoming brittle and damaged.