Successfully Formulate Grey Coverage in 4 Easy Steps

Take the guess work out of getting results

Hair Stylist Dying a Woman's Hair in Salon
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Below you will find 4 easy steps that can guarantee perfect grey coverage, every time. There's nothing more disappointing than washing your client's freshly colored hair, only to find a few stubborn greys that are steadfastly holding on. Grey hair may be tough, but it's not impossible, and when grey-haired clients find a stylist that can tackle it, they'll be loyal to you for a long time.

Determine the Hair's Natural Level

The first step is to determine your client's natural hair color level.

Clients that are looking to cover grey tend to lean towards wanting to match their natural color as closely as possible. That's why it's extra important to determine the natural level carefully and correctly. Remember to also keep in mind the characteristics of the color line that you are working with. For example, when I use Wella Koleston Perfect, I tend to formulate a half level up than the results I'm trying to achieve. Wella tends to turn out a little deep and dark, so keep these kinds of things in mind when formulating to your client's natural hair color level.

Determine the Desired Level

If you are not trying to match your client's natural level then you will need to determine your client's desired level. When talking with your client about their desired hair color, make sure to discuss their level of commitment to maintaining their new look. Let's say your client wants to try out one of the trendy red hair colors we've been seeing around, they'll have to understand up-front the amount of commitment and maintenance a look like this requires.

Determine the Desired Tone

Speaking of red, after you determine the desired level, then you'll move onto tone. This is the time to consider your client's skin tone and eye color. Much like a haircut, which can change and enhance your client's bone structure, the right hair color can really take it to the next level.

During this step, you will also decide to use or lose the underlying pigment. The underlying pigment can be found by referring to this chart.

Determine if You Are Lifting or Depositing

You will then move on to decide if you will be lifting or depositing. This decision will determine what volume of developer you will be using. Remember to stay consistent when using developer. I've seen many a stylist over the years use 10 volume when they needed 20 and vice versa. This can drastically affect your grey coverage results. For the general rules of which developer to use and when, refer to the chart below.

  • 10 Volume (3%)……For optimum gray coverage or to lift up to one level (and when depositing)
  • 20 Volume (6%)……To lift natural level up to two levels
  • 30 Volume (9%)……To lift natural level up to three levels
  • 40 Volume (12%)…..To lift natural level up to four levels and when using the Super Lighteners

More Important Tips for Proper Grey Coverage

  • Using gold or neutral tones will cover grey hair better than ash.
  • Semi-permanent hair color will only blend grey and not cover it completely. But, if you're trying to ease a client into coloring their hair and they only have a bit of grey, a semi-permanent color is your best bet.
  • Process hair for a full 45 minutes and apply color to the most resistant grey areas first. Grey hair has a stubborn cuticle and takes the maximum amount of processing time to completely open the cuticle and deposit color.
  • Always add some neutral to your formula to anchor your color, as grey hair lacks natural pigment. Adding neutral will create a base for brighter colors like reds and golds.