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Covering your gray hair at home is simple in theory — you select the correct color of boxed hair dye, apply and voilà. However, we all know it’s never that easy. There are always a few gray hairs that make it under the radar and show up at the very end, just when you thought your job was done. According to Matrix celebrity colorist and all-around hair guru George Papanikolas, your hair-dye formulation or your method of application could be to blame. Ahead, he explains what you could be doing wrong and shares his tips for covering your gray hair at home

Why Your Hair Dye Isn’t Covering All of Your Gray Hair

“The most likely cause is your formulation,” says Papanikolas. “Neutral shades give the best coverage unless you are predominantly gray, then you will need 1/2 neutral and 1/2 golden — it sounds complicated because it is.” Alternatively, your application method could be the issue. “When you go to the salon, we take fine slices and go section by section through the hair to make sure every regrowth strand is fully saturated with color,” says Papanikolas. 

“We also put a lot on. If you are skimpy with your application, then you won't get good coverage.” It’s a myth that the more hair dye you apply, the darker the color will get. In fact, the more product you put on your head, the better your success rate will be for covering all of your gray hair. 

For the best color, we like the Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Color line or L’Oréal Paris Fade-Defying + Shine Permanent Hair Color. 

How to Cover Gray Hair at Home, According to the Expert

Consistency is key. “Have a regular touch-up schedule every 4 to 6 weeks,” says Papanikolas. “If you wait too long and have a lot of regrowth, the hair furthest from the scalp won't cover as well as the hair closer to the scalp.” To allow for better saturation of the dye (and therefore better coverage), Papanikolas recommends that you separate your hair into quadrants, just like they do in the salon. “You can also leave it on the hair for the maximum time (50 minutes unless otherwise directed).”

His Best Tip for Covering Gray Hair at Home

Aside from getting the application and formulation down, Papanikolas’ number-one tip for covering gray hair at home is simple: “Getting a friend to help apply the dye gives the best results.” 

Read More:

I Dyed My Hair at Home and the Color Turned Out Too Reddish-Orange — Help!

How to Return to Your Natural Hair Color After Dyeing It

Beauty Q&A: What Are Some Tips for Dyeing Your Eyebrows at Home?

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