You've Spotted Your First Gray Hair: A Game Plan

Whether you want to celebrate it or hide it.

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(Image credit: Fabrice LEROUGE)

Sprouting a gray hair is kind of like getting your period for the first time. It signals the start of a new chapter in your life, and while it happens to everyone eventually, it can still feel unnerving.

Still, let's get something straight: Going gray is not a big deal, and you don't have to cover it up. If you decide the coverage path is for you, though, there are simple approaches and lots of different ways to deal with grays. Read on for where to start.

First, Put Down the Tweezers

It can be tempting to reach for your tweezers at the first sight of a lone gray hair, but as anyone who owned tweezers in the '90s and aughts can attest to, it’s all too easy to get way too pluck-happy. Aiming for one can lead to a whole group, resulting in a bald spot that's much harder to cover up than a few rogue hairs.

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Switch Up Your Part

If the grays are concentrated in a certain spot, concealing them can be as easy as changing your part from the middle to the side or vice versa. Fool around with it to see what camouflages best—you might just find a new signature look in the process.

Try a Root Cover Up

Only have a small section to conceal or just not ready to go full-in with dye yet? Either way, a root cover up is a great way to dip your toe into the world of hair color and super simple to use at home.

A product like the L'Oréal Magic Root Cover Up is easy on your hair (it’s ammonia- and peroxide-free) and your wallet (it costs just $11). It deposits smudge-free, natural color where you want it in a single spritz and lasts until your next shampoo.

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Consider Color

If you’ve got a smattering of grays, highlights are a relatively low-maintenance option. They can help distract by making the contrast between your natural hair color and the grays less noticeable, giving the outliers a lighter color to blend into.

If you want something with fuller coverage, consider a demi- or semi-permanent color. Unlike a permanent formula, the dye will fade, not grow out, and help you avoid a harsh demarcation line where the color's been applied.

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(Image credit: Todor Tsvetkov)

Whether you head to a salon or DIY at home, make sure your hair and the scalp are moisturized beforehand (prep by doing a deep conditioning treatment and/or skipping the shampoo for a few days to restore your natural oil levels). This is important not just because dye can be irritating, but because gray hair is typically drier than your other strands.

Maintain Your Coverage

Keep color vibrant longer by laying off hot tools, using a heat protectant spray before styling, and avoiding products that contain sulfates. Buy yourself even more time between touch-ups by keeping the aforementioned L'Oréal Magic Root Cover Up on hand. Not only do results look totally natural, but it’s perfect for on-the-go touch ups when you’re traveling.