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Too busy for a salon trip? Here’s how to blend your gray hair in the meantime, according to experts

Professional hairstylists recommend sprays, powders, hair masks and more.
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY

If you’ve noticed some gray hairs on your head and are not quite ready to embrace them (or you're simply too busy to for a trip to the salon), you may benefit from buying some products that can help blend them as they grow out.

Although we’re proponents of doing what makes you feel your healthiest and most confident, we think it’s important for you to be knowledgeable about why (and how) hair turns gray so you can make the most informed decision when it comes to deciding how you’ll take care of your hair moving forward. 

Shop TODAY enlisted the help of several hair stylists and colorists to learn more about how to blend gray hair and about some of the best products you can shop ASAP to help blend your gray hair at home.

Why does hair turn gray? | How can you blend gray hair? | Product ingredients to look for | Hair-blending products, recommended by experts | How we chose | Meet the experts

Shop TODAY Snapshot

Products to blend gray hair

Why (and how) does hair turn gray?

Although there is no definitive answer as to why one’s hair turns gray, “the biggest culprit is typically with age,” says Chris Testerman, hairstylist and founder of Revive Beauty Bar in Winter Garden, Florida.

“However, some people gray at different stages – it pretty much all boils down to genetics and DNA,” says Testerman. In addition to age and DNA, he adds that one may notice gray hair as a physical manifestation and a result of stress.

Now that you know the common reasons why hair may turn gray, knowing the process by which it turns gray is important to figure out which products are best suited to treat and/or blend it. To put it simply, “hair turns gray when it loses pigment in the follicle over time creating a white or silver strand,” says Tina Malhotra, New York City-based hairstylist and owner of Hair By Tina M.

How can you blend gray hair?

Many types of products can be used to blend gray hair. That said, everyone’s scalp and hair are different and therefore the products used will be, too.

However, some of the most common products used for blending gray hair are touch up sprays, color-depositing shampoos and conditioners, hair concealers and powders. 

These products that help blend gray hair can be a good option if you’re only looking for a one-time fix for a special event or are looking for a product to hold your hair over between salon appointments. However, if you’re looking to permanently cover your gray hair, that can only be done using permanent hair color.

Although you can dye your hair at home, we’d recommend visiting a salon to consult with a professional hairstylist or hair colorist as they are trained in treating different kinds of hair and can help you decide which option is best for you.

Product ingredients to look for (and stay away from)

When shopping for a hair care product to blend gray hair, April Story, multicultural hairstylist at Fekkai Salon in New York City, explains that there are several key ingredients you’re going to want to look for. They include keratin, panthenol (provitamin B5), hydrolyzed collagen, amino acids, natural oils (argan oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil) and plant extracts (rosemary and chamomile). 

When it comes to ingredients to steer clear of, ammonia, sulfates and parabens should raise red flags when looking at a product’s ingredients list, as they can cause dryness and damage over time.

Best products to blend gray hair, according to experts

L'Oreal Paris Magic Root Cover Up 

What we like
  • Over 45,000 five-star ratings
  • Makes hair look thicker
  • Provides great coverage
Something to note
  • Some say it's messy to use

Colors available: 9 | Category: Spray

The ammonia and peroxide-free Magic Root Cover Up Gray Concealer Spray from L’Oreal Paris is a favorite of many of our experts. “This root concealer spray is designed to temporarily cover gray roots and blend them seamlessly with the rest of your hair,” says Story.

“It provides quick and easy coverage that lasts until the next shampoo and it’s available in various shades to match different hair colors.” All you have to do is spray it on the desired gray hair and wait a minute or less for it to dry. And, since it’s lightweight, you won’t feel it or notice any residue or smudging.

Rita Hazan Root Concealer Touch Up Spray 

What we like
  • Dries fast
  • Lasts a long time
Something to note
  • May be hard to match color

Colors available: 5 | Category: Spray

If you’re looking to blend your gray hair on a budget, this root concealer touch up spray is a solid choice. It's recommended by Rogerio Cavalcante, a hairstylist and founder of The Second Floor Salon in New York.

“It’s a quick and easy-to-use spray that conceals gray roots instantly. It is waterproof and transfer-proof and a good option to bring on a long trip for those people who need a touch up every two to three weeks,” he says.

Keracolor Clenditioner MERLOT Hair Dye 

What we like
  • Various colors to choose from
  • Two-in-one product
  • Blends well
Something to note
  • Doesn't completely cover gray

Colors available: 16 | Category: Cleansing conditioner

This cruelty-free Keracolor Clenditioner is a favorite of Testerman’s if you’re looking for a color-depositing conditioner to blend your grays. “This product is great between appointments with your stylist to refresh any color service you have received to help blend your grays.” And, it’s infused with some of those key ingredients we mentioned above including keratin and jojoba oil that’ll help keep your hair moisturized.

Tarte big ego™ dab & go hair concealer

What we like
  • Easy to use
  • Looks natural
  • Not messy "at all"
Something to note
  • May be hard to match color
  • May need to reapply often

Colors available: 7 | Product type: Cream to powder

This hair concealer from Tarte is a top product Richards recommends using to blend grays.

Although it’s only available in natural-looking colors (you may have to look elsewhere if you have mermaid hair or more vivid hair), this cream-to-powder blend is designed to apply seamlessly to thicker hair. Plus, it's waterproof which means you won’t have to worry about it running down your face if your hair happens to come into contact with some light water or rain. It’s also made with argan and grapeseed oil to enhance your hair’s moisture level and shine.

Wella Professionals Color Fresh Mask

What we like
  • Customers love the smell
  • Leaves hair feeling soft
  • Provides long-lasting color
Something to note
  • May feel drying
  • May stain while using

Colors available: 5 | Product type: Hair mask

Malhotra recommends this product from Wella Professionals to her clients seeking hair masks that’ll help blend out grays. “It comes in several colors and can be used for the same purpose, to temporarily blend grays and add tone to the de-pigmented strands,” she says.

Its cream is made with avocado oil and can simply be applied onto towel-dried hair before shampooing–just make sure to leave it in for 10 minutes before rinsing for the refresh to generate its intended effect. 

IGK Depositing Hair Mask

What we like
  • Easy to apply
  • Many customers enjoy the smell
  • Leaves hair feeling softer
Something to note
  • Caused dryness for some

Colors available: 18 | Product type: Hair mask

“One of my favorite at-home color depositing masks is by IGK Hair Magic Storm,” says Malhotra. “It comes in an array of colors and can be used directly in the shower to help target and blend grays by color-matching it to your root–this of course will only work with hair that is a single color, and I would not recommend it for highlighted hair.”

There are 18 semi-permanent shades available (some of which are vivid) so people who have bright hair colors can use it, too.

Madison Reed Permanent Root Touch Up

What we like
  • Box matches color
  • Works quickly
  • Helps make hair feel softer
Something to note
  • May fade quickly

Colors available: 8 | Product type: Hair dye

Jennifer Korab, a celebrity hairstylist and owner of Renaissance Salon in Hillsborough, New Jersey, suggests using a root touch up kit like this one from Madison Reed.

In less than 10 minutes, you can conceal your gray hair and do so without ammonia, parabens or para-phenylenediamine (PPD). Although this kit is slightly more complex than some of our other picks on this list, it will cover your grays for about three weeks.

ColorWow Root Cover Up

What we like
  • More control than spray
  • Easy to apply
  • Blends well
Something to note
  • May stain the scalp

Colors available: 8 | Product type: Powder

“Root concealers [like ColorWow’s Root Cover Up] are another way to blend gray and can be applied with a brush or sponge,” says Korab.

If you’re looking for a powder-based product that’ll add some temporary color to your grays, consider this one. It’s made with reflective mineral powder and is simple to apply by pressing the power onto the desired hair areas. What makes this product unique is that it doesn’t contain any dyes or PPD. And, if all that wasn’t enough to sell you on this product, Tiffanie Richards, master colorist at Louise O’Connor Salon in New York City tells us that it’s a client favorite.

Oribe Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray

What we like
  • Customers enjoy the scent
  • Looks natural
  • Provides long-lasting color
Something to note
  • Complicated applicator

Colors available: 6 | Product type: Spray

Richards and Story applaud this root touch up spray from Oribe. “This root touch up spray by Oribe is a quick and efficient way to camouflage gray roots,” explains Story.

“It comes in an easy-to-use spray format and provides instant coverage. Plus, the formula is water-resistant and does not leave any residue, giving a natural-looking finish.” In addition to covering unwanted gray hair, this formula absorbs dirt and oil to give hair a cleaner look.

How we chose

To compile our list of hair products you can use to blend gray hair, we considered the recommendations provided to us by our hair stylist and hair colorist experts.

Meet the experts