Six tips for dyeing grey hair at home

dyeing grey hair at home

Colouring your hair takes time and money, especially if you go to a professional. To maintain the health and appearance of your grey hair when colouring it at home, it is important to use the proper type of dye, colour and tools, and follow the correct application process.

What causes hair to go grey?

Greying of hair is caused due to gradual loss of hair pigment. With age, the melanocytes in the hair follicle (at the base of the hair strand) gradually disappear. This causes the new hair to lose its colour, turn grey, and this eventually affects hair structure as well.

Due to a lack of melanocytes, the hair follicles produce less oil, causing the hair to be dry and coarse.

If you have greying hair and want to colour it but don’t know where to begin, here are six tips to help you out.

Read: How to keep grey hair looking healthy

Choosing the right shade

It is essential to choose the right shade depending on the amount of grey hair you have, and your natural hair texture.

Most professionals believe that natural shades are the best choice to fully cover white/grey hair. When selecting a shade, check for shades labelled N or 0 on the packaging. Natural colour dyes include all three primary colours: red, yellow and blue, so they are better at covering grey hair.

If less than 50 per cent of your hair is grey, do not opt for bright or unnatural colours. For a more natural all-over look, opt for colours that are two shades lighter or darker than your natural hair colour.

Choosing the right volume of developer

Not all types of grey hair react in the same way to a procedure. Grey hair usually tends to be drier and takes more time to absorb the colour. Use a 10, 15 or 20-volume developer depending on your needs.

A 20 per cent developer opens the cuticle sufficiently to deposit colour and is more effective in covering strong and resistant grey hair.

Choosing the right type of dye

As most grey hair is coarse and dry, it is important to select a dye that has nourishing components such as ceramides or oils to maintain healthy hair. Excessive use of ammonia-based hair colour might cause the cuticles to permanently lift and lead to an increase in the porosity of hair.

There are three types of dyes based on how long they last on your hair after repeated washing and exposure to sunlight.

Permanent hair dye. This type of dye stays on your hair in the same way until the roots grow out. It will most likely cover all grey hairs; however, most permanent dyes can be very harsh on your skin and can alter the protein structure of your hair.

Semi-permanent hair dye can last for up to five washes and does not involve the use of a developer. It works by coating the hair with the colour.

Demi-permanent hair dye usually lasts anywhere between 25 to 30 washes, depending on the health of your hair.

Read: New study reveals greying hair can be halted – even reversed

Choosing the right tools

Here are the tools you’ll likely need to achieve professional results at home:

Colouring brush and bowl: food-safe bowls made of metal or ceramics can react with the chemicals of the dye. Use a professional bowl and brush instead of a bowl from your kitchen.

Clear lip balm or petroleum jelly: apply the balm around your forehead and ears to prevent the hair colour staining your skin.

Shower cap: pop it on your head while you’re waiting for the colour to be absorbed to avoid the dye getting on your clothes.

Wide-toothed comb: use this to part your hair and get a precise application.

Disposable gloves: use gloves if you want to avoid staining your hands.

Dyeing process walkthrough

  1. Read through the instructions provided with the hair dye you have chosen.
  2. Then divide your hair into manageable sections using the comb and pin in place with hair clips.
  3. Start applying the dye in the areas where you have the most resistant grey hair first. This is because the colour takes longer to integrate into the hair due to its hardness. If all your hair is of the same texture, apply colour at the roots first.
  4. Set a timer and put on a shower cap and allow the colour to soak in.
  5. Washing your hair too soon may cause your colour to fade away and lead to the development of a translucent tone on your roots.

Read: Six hairstyle mistakes that age you


It’s important to maintain your hair colour after you have coloured it.  Stylists recommend not washing the hair for up to three days after dyeing it. To keep the shine, use non-sulphate and non-alcoholic shampoos and conditioners formulated specifically for coloured hair.

Any colour touch-ups should not be done in less than four weeks as this may lead to hair damage.

Avoid excessive usage of heat styling tools and use cool water when washing your hair. When styling your hair, use a heat-protectant hair serum.

Protect your hair from the sun by wearing hats or scarves, as UV rays can cause a breakdown of the colour. Do you dye your hair at home, or have you embraced grey hair? Let us know in the comments section below.

Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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