Shape April 29, 2020



The Best Root Touch Up for Covering Grays or Grown Out Highlights at Home


Experts weigh in on how to touch up your roots at home and the best products to use.

Have you ever had a few busy weeks that turned in a busy month, and the next thing you know, you're looking in the mirror at visible roots an inch or two passed your part? Whatever the reason, it can be hard to carve out time (and cash!) to get to the salon.

If you religiously color your hair, you're likely on a strict timeline of needing to camouflage tell-tale roots or grays that grow in every four to 12 weeks. But life gets in the way, which is why at-home hair color has become a very real option for many. These products are a great option to have on-hand—an easy way to help stretch out those salon visits and a quick fix whenever you need it. 

The big caveat here? Taking hair color matters into your own hands can be iffy—if not just plain risky—which is why a majority of professional colorists advise against it. "Getting an exact color match is simply not going to happen," says colorist Kristen Fleming, color director of 3rd Coast Salon in Chicago. "In the salon, we often mix multiple colors to create a custom hair color, and adjust the formula based on the density of the hair, as well as any grays," she adds. (Related: Chrissy Teigen Is Encouraging Women to Celebrate Their Gray Hair)

But here's the thing about root touch-ups: There are a plethora of *great* options out there that aren't permanent. "They're temporary but deliver a great end result without permanently changing your hair color," notes Fleming. While these formulas are generally transfer-proof (translation: they won't rub off on your clothes or pillowcase), water-resistant, and do have some staying power, they will eventually wash out with shampoo—meaning, they're not a long-term solution. That being said, for a fast fix to hold you over for a few days, or to hide your roots before another Zoom conference call, these are the way to go. (Related: How to Dye Your Hair the Healthy Way)

If you really want a more permanent fix, just keep in mind that you may end up paying for a professional color correction later, cautions Fleming. You should also try to find out what type of color your colorist has been using—permanent or demi-permanent—and use the same type, advises Nicole Tabloff, a colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. Permanent is the best coverage for grays, and also has the ability to lighten and change the natural pigment of your hair; demi-permanent, on the other hand, blends grays with your natural color, won't lighten your base, and gradually washes out. (Related: How to Get Salon-Worthy Hair Color at Home)

Regardless of which route you choose, be sure to apply the root touch-up color only to your new growth, around the front hairline and part, says Tabloff. "This way if the color isn't quite right, there will be less for your colorist to fix when you are back in the salon," she adds. (Although she agrees with Fleming that wash-out products are a much safer option.)

Ready to tackle grays and grown out highlights head-on? Ahead, the best root touch-up products worth picking up until you can get back in your favorite colorist chair. 

Color Wow Root Cover Up

This seems like a no-brainer, considering it's the at-home root touch-up that Jennifer Lopez swears by. "This is a super easy-to-use mineral powder that you apply with the included brush," says Tabloff. "It comes in eight different shades and is water-resistant, so it will stay put even if you sweat," she adds. Fleming is also a fan, pointing out that because the minerals used are reflective, it nicely mimics the sheen of your hair and appears more natural.

L'Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover Up Gray Concealer Spray

For an affordable root touch-up option that's just as effective as its pricier counterparts, this drugstore staple can't be beaten. It comes in seven hues, and, despite the great coverage it delivers, feels super lightweight without any sticky residue. Also nice: It works well on a wide range of hair types and textures, even synthetic hair, such as extensions.

dpHUE Color Touch Up Spray

While grown-in grays may not be as noticeable on blondes as they are on brunettes, dark, grown-in roots, definitely are. Fleming recommends the dpHue Blonding Brush for those with either natural or chemically-lightened blonde hair, whose roots are coming in and want to soften that harsh line of demarcation. Click the bottom of the brush to dispense a violet-toned gel that you can brush on wherever it's needed. The formula contains lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide that gradually lightens your shade once it's exposed to heat, be that from the sun or a blowdryer.

Since this option is widely sold out, try the brand's Color Touch-Up Spray (made with healthy biotin and herbal extracts) to hide roots in a flash.

Madison Reed Root Touch-Up

Another powder option, this root touch-up is available in seven shades, many of which come with two different tones that you can blend together or use separately to get that perfect match. It stays put until you wash it out, and one compact contains enough for about 60 applications, giving you a good bang for your buck. Pro tip: Hit your hair with a light mist of hairspray before dusting this on to up the staying power even further. 

Oribe Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray

Both colorists also like this root touch-up choice, which effectively covers grays and has the added benefit of absorbing dirt and oil, points out Tabloff. (Credit the addition of rice starch, which helps it pull double duty as a dry shampoo.) When it comes to application, "hold the bottle eight inches away from the hair and spray in long, sweeping motions," advises Fleming. Less is more because over-coating the hair can end up giving it a matte finish that looks unnatural, she says.

Garnier Express Retouch Gray Hair Concealer

To hide stubborn grays, this root touch-up is best thanks to its instant coverage of up to 100 percent of those wiry white strands. Bonus points for the sponge-tip applicator that makes precise dabbing easier (think: no unwanted smears or smudges). It's also water-resistant and transfer-proof, so you need not worry about it coming off on your pillowcase if you do want to keep it in for a few days.

Clairol Root Touch-Up Color Blending Gel

According to the pros, it's best to opt for a temporary color. That being said, if you're adamant about a more long-term solution, Tabloff says that demi-permanent color will be gentler on the hair. This formula is, in fact, a demi-permanent color that will blend away grays and roots and claims to last up to 10 washes. It's free of potentially damaging ammonia and is also fairly easy to use. Brush on the no-drip gel where you need it, rinse it out, and you're good to go.