InStyle May 5, 2022



The Best Root Touch Up Products for Between Color Appointments


L’Oreal Root Cover Up is ace at covering grays.

Sometimes we don't have the time or the extra cash to go to a salon and touch up our roots as often as we'd like. That's where handy temporary root touch-up products come in. But at-home coloring can be intimidating and you don't want to cause more problems for your hair by grabbing the wrong shade or making the root situation even worse.

To minimize those worries, we turned to the experts for a fool-proof guide to root touch-up products. We asked Rita Hazan, celebrity colorist and founder of Rita Hazan, and Lorena M. Valdes, a Chicago-based colorist at Maxine Salon, for their tricks and tips on how to use them as well as some of their recs. (We also added some of our own favorites). L'Oreal Root Cover Up claimed the top spot for its budget-kind price point and range of hair color options. 

If you're searching for the right formula for your hair color and needs, here are the 10 best root touch-up products. 

Our Picks

Best Overall: L'Oreal Root Cover Up
Best Value: Clairol Nice'n Easy Temporary Root Touch-Up Powder
Best Splurge: Madison Reed The Great Root Touch Up + Brow Filler
Best for Brown Hair: Oribe Airbrush Root Touch Up Spray
Best for Black Hair: TRESemmé Root-Touch Up
Best for Red Hair: R+Co Bright Shadows Root-Touch Up Spray
Best for Blonde Hair: Rita Hazan Root Concealer Touch Up Spray
Best Brush-On: Color Wow Root Coverup Powder
Best Crayon: Bumble and bumble Bb. Color Stick 
Best Spray: dpHUE Color Touch-Up Spray

Best Overall: L'Oreal Root Cover Up

What We Love: This spray has a wide shade range that provides natural coverage. 

What We Don't Love: It will stain your hands or clothes if you're not super careful. 

The L'Oreal Root Cover Up ticks off all the boxes for a good root touch-up product. It provides natural coverage, has 8 shades to cover the most basic hair colors, is easy to use, suitable for all hair types, and comes in at a pretty decent price point. You really can't ask for more. What makes the product so long lasting is also what will stain your hands or clothes if you're careful. We recommend putting an old towel over your shoulders while you spray. 

Type: Spray | Shades: 8 | Size: 2.0 oz 

Best Value: Clairol Temporary Root Powder

What We Love: The brush lets you very precisely coat every gray or grown out strand. 

What We Don't Love: The finish is a bit more matte than some other powders. 

When you need precise application, turn to the Clairol Temporary Root Powder. Likened to how you put on eyeshadow, the included brush puts powder directly on strands to cover roots. Plus, the little compact is small enough to take with you wherever you go. 

Type: Powder | Shades: 6 | Size: 0.19 oz

Best Splurge: Madison Reed The Great Cover Up Root Touch Up + Brow Filler

What We Love: There is a second brush that can be used to fill in brows. 

What We Don't Love: It's pricey for the small amount of product. 

On the pricier end is the Madison Reed Root Touch Up powder, but the amazing benefits make it worth the money. You get natural-looking color that doesn't rub off. (Those with blonde hair get a palette with two colors to create more depth and dimension.) You also get two brushes for application — one for hair and the other for your eyebrows. It's one of the best multi-tasking root-touch-up products out there. 

Type: Powder | Shades: 6 | Size: 0.13 oz

Best for Brown Hair: Oribe Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray

What We Love: The spray allows you to quickly cover all your hair. 

What We Don't Love: This product is strongly scented. 

A favorite of Valdes that she says is great for brunettes, the Oribe Airbrush Root Touch Spray uses microfine powders within a spray format to quickly and easily touch up roots. It also contains rice starch to absorb dirt and oil and Oribe's special complex that protects hair against environmental aggressors. It's suitable for all hair types and gives you believable-looking coverage. 

Type: Spray | Shades: 6 | Size: 1.8 oz. 

Best for Black Hair: TRESemmé Root-Touch Up Temporary Hair Color Spray

What We Love: The pigments coat each strand and really lasts until your next hair wash. 

What We Don't Love: The spray leaves a wet feeling on hair for a bit longer than other products. 

The TRESemmé Root-Touch Up is a micro-mist spray that conceals grays and gives off natural color, while also making hair feel bouncy and full. And even better it won't leave any residue or color on your pillows. 

Type: Spray | Shades: 4 | Size: 2.5 oz

Best for Red Hair: R+Co Bright Shadows Root-Touch Up Spray

What We Love: The slight sheen looks more natural in the hair than a matte spray. 

What We Don't Love: It'd be nice to see more shades of red to accommodate a wider variety of redheads. 

If you've had problems finding the right root touch-up product for your red hair, the R+Co Bright Shadows Root-Touch Up Spray is one to try. It's made with multidimensional pigment to blend in color seamlessly and it has nourishing and hair strengthening ingredients like pearl extract and biotin to make hair really shine. 

Type: Spray | Shades: 7 | Size: 1.5 oz.

Best for Blonde Hair: Rita Hazan Root Concealer Touch Up Spray

What We Love: The spray helps thin hair look fuller too by covering the scalp and the hair. 

What We Don't Love: Be sure to not touch it until it dries, the spray can rub off on your hands. 

Hazan's Root Concealer Touch Up Spray, which she says clients Beyoncé and Jessica Simpson have used, is made with neutral tones so that it can match any hair color — especially for blondes. The buildable color disperses evenly to provide full coverage in seconds. 

Type: Spray | Shades: 4 | Size: 2 oz

Also available at Rita Hazan.

Best Brush On: Color Wow Root Coverup Powder

What We Love: The powder clings to roots even if you sweat or your hair is oily. 

What We Don't Love: The small brush can be time-consuming to apply to large areas of grow out. 

Color Wow Root Cover Up is a favorite for many stylists, like Valdes and Jennifer Lopez's go-to, Chris Appleton. It's a powder that you apply to roots with a brush. And the formula is water- and sweat-resistant until you shampoo and won't rub off if your roots are oily. 

Type: Powder | Shades: 8 | Size: 0.07 oz

Best Crayon: Bumble and bumble Bb. Color Stick

What We Love: The crayon format is super easy to use. 

What We Don't Love: It'd be great to see this in a wider range of hair colors. 

This is arguably one of the easiest — and most fun — way to touch up your roots. The Bumble and bumble Bb. Color Stick is a chubby crayon that you can use to color in gray strands or root regrowth. It's basically fool-proof and the color is water-resistant until you shampoo. 

Type: Crayon | Shades: 2 | Size: 0.12 oz

Best Spray: dpHUE Color Touch-Up Spray

What We Love: The directional nozzle allows you to target the strands that need coverage. 

What We Don't Love: The texture does feel a bit like hairspray once it dries. 

The dpHue Color Touch-Up Spray offers a wider range of colors than most and you get fast-drying color that will not rub off until you shower. But what sets this apart from the rest is its adjustable nozzle so you can spray directly on the strands that you want, making its $28 price point more than worth it. 

Type: Spray | Shades: 6 | Size: 2.5 oz

What To Keep In Mind


We know you want to hide different colored roots or grays, so the inclination is to spray a lot. Hold up: the biggest tip Hazan has to offer is to not overdo it with the spray, powder, or crayon. She says a little goes a long way with root touch-up products, so use whichever product you go for sparingly. The goal is to make the color look as natural as possible. 

Color and Type

When selecting a color for root touch-up, the first thing to do is categorize your shade. Are you mostly a brunette, a blonde, a redhead? Look at the base of your color, rather than the highlights. Then find the brands that have the most options for you. The next step is to look at undertone, are you a cool blonde or more golden? Once you find a good color match, you might also consider application. If you're just targeting a few stray grays, a powder or crayon may be right for you. If you have root grow out and are trying to stretch your salon visit, then you may opt for a spray.

Your Questions, Answered 

What is the best way to apply a root touch-up product?

The best way to apply a root touch-up product depends on what type of product you have. If you're dealing with a spray, Hazan says to hold the can six to eight inches away from your head and spray in a continuous motion like you would a hairspray. For touching up your hairline, she says to hold your hair back while spraying in the same continuous motion. Some sprays might have a pinpoint nozzle that you can directly spray on the parts you need to cover. She adds that you should spray on dry, styled hair for best results.  

When it comes to powder and crayon, those are more straightforward. Powders normally come with a brush where you can apply color directly onto roots for precise application. Crayons are similar in application, but instead of using a brush you just take the crayon and draw it directly on the hair. 

Most products are buildable: If you want more coverage, use more product, Hazan says If you want less coverage or are trying to get a lighter tone, use less product. 

Can you touch up your roots daily?

There's no harm in using it daily—other than how quickly you'll blow through a bottle. However, both Hazan and Valdes say you won't need to: "Most products stay put until you wash it out, so daily use will not be necessary," says Hazan. Unless you're a daily shampooer, the product will stay put until your next wash day. 

What are the best tips for finding a shade match?

Hazan says that those with very dark hair should opt for dark brown or black shades. Light to medium brown hair can stick to light brown shades. Honey or sandy blonde hair should go for dark blonde, while buttery to platinum blonde hair should opt for lighter blonde shades. There's often more limited options for red shades, however some brands will lean more coppery and others will be for more burgundy tones. Valdes adds that you can also consult with a colorist to make sure you're going for the right shade.