As we’ve established time and time again, the French do it better—whether it be with cheese, wine, or beauty basics. But have you heard of their epic trick to cover up those first gray hairs (and the ones that pop up after that and after that and…)? It is, in classic French style, super simple and effective.
Rather than rush to the salon or drugstore for a full head of dye, the French method is much more natural. “For the first grays, it’s better to do it yourself,” says French maestro Christophe Robin. “This trick is great because when you go to the salon or do it at home normally, the color is applied all over and you should never do that just to cover a few grays.”
Why? Not only is it harsher to your head, but you also don’t need it. You wouldn’t put an acne spot treatment all over your face for just one or two zits, right? You single those bastards out and treat them specifically. Which is exactly what Robin wants you to do, too. “People would like to cover their grays, but they do not wish to change the color or texture of their hair and get caught up in the root-effect trap,” says Robin.
What this beloved Frenchie doesn’t want you to do? Pull the gray hair out. You know the old wives tale, if you pull one gray hair out, ten will come to its funeral? That’s simply a legend, only one will grow back, but when it is pulled out, especially repetitively, it damages the follicle. Robin has a method he always recommends to friends and clients, and it couldn’t be easier.
Step 1: Head to the Drugstore
Don’t fret over those first gray hairs, instead head to the drugstore, grab a box of ammonia-free color—make sure it’s ammonia free so it doesn’t lift the color in your hair. Robin likes L’Oreal Superior Preference for a quick drugstore option.
Another, rather revolutionary product comes from Robin himself, who spent over five years perfecting, formulated, and testing his dream gray hair coverage product. Say hi to Robin’s Temporary Color, $35. The at-home temporary gel color treatment coats the hair fiber in color pigments without modifying the hair’s structure. So it immediately covers grays and can color match to a hair’s shade, but shockingly, it’s made of 92 percent natural ingredients—a specific goal for Robin, who wanted to assure the color was as gentle to the hair as possible, even for those with sensitive scalps.
It’s also very French, as the concept was “inspired by the natural shades of Parisians”, who are known for their natural base color with subtle, discreet results. Aka, it covers those grays, without shouting “I got my hair colored!”
Step 2: Color is Everything
The color selection is very important. For drugstore options, Robin suggests picking a color two shades lighter than you think you are because, “You always believe you are much darker than you really are—always! And the lighter shade will always be more flattering.” But stick with simple numbers like 1, 2, 3, 4… because the 701 or 5 ½ or 8G have highlighters or reflections or shades added to them, and you don’t want that.
For Robin’s Temporary Color option, he has made four color options, all of which can color match your hair—taking the guesswork out of the hundreds of boxes of color at the drugstore.
Step 3: A Dab’ll Do Ya
Take a teeny pearl of each product: colorant, gel and/or powder, and mix it together. (Seal up the leftover separated products really, really well because you’ll use them again and again when you need them next time.) Take an old toothbrush and just paint your single gray strands. Leave on for how long the box directs you to, and then wash out. (Preferably with gentle, no-poo shampoo to maintain color, if possible.)
For Temporary Color, the product doesn’t need to be pre-mixed, so it can simply just put the cap back on the bottle and store away for when you need it next. (How smart is that?) It also comes with its own applicator that’s made to color specific strands, making this process a breeze.
Et voilà, not a gray, nor worry, in sight!