Gray Hair can be stubborn and hard to color, depending on the texture of your hair. (Blog:The Fabric of our Hair) It can be thicker and more wiry, along with standing out, off your head. Have you ever been the one to pull those hairs that stand out? I have too!
Because of those reasons, stylists have to take this into consideration before formulating, as well as to what percent of gray hair a client has. (Blog: Let's talk Gray) The more gray or white hair you have, the more the formulation needs to be altered towards warm and/or neutral shades. (Blog: Color Wheel Spiel) Let me give you an example: Take a solid white piece of paper; It has no pigments that you can see. If you then dip a brush in red watercolor and draw a line, the color tones of that red will appear more pink than red. This is the same for hair. If I took a cool red (red-violet) and applied it to white hair it will look pink. If I take a cool color such as a level 7 cool ash blonde, and apply it to white hair, it will turn green.
Has this ever happened to you, and why does this happen? It happens because white has no warm pigments. You have to add back warmth to get 100% coverage, and for the color to look rich and natural. If you color gray hair without the naturals or warm undertones, it will look flat and mousy. All natural colors (7N, 5N, 3N, etc.) are developed by the 3 primary colors: Red, Yellow, and Blue. You need these primary colors to create any other desired shade. You will also need the undertone of each level. For example, yellow is the undertone of a level 10, while gold and orange are the undertones of a level 6.
If you are looking for what a stylist would call full coverage, (100%) you would need to choose a color that is a level 8 or below. The higher levels, like 9, 10, and 11 have less coverage.
In order to cover white or gray hair, you have to add back the undertones of each level to create warmth and full gray coverage. For example, a level 8 needs yellow and gold tones, while a level 5 needs yellow, gold, and red tones added back in. Choosing the proper amount of missing tones in each level of hair color is key. Undertones make a color look rich, like a piece of caramel or dark chocolate. Here are a few of my beautiful clients where I have done full gray coverage.
If this all seems like more than you want to think about, seek out your professional stylist to make the right decisions on coloring the gray for you. There is so much more that goes into coloring hair than most consumers realize.