quarantine hair dye - covering grey in asian hair
December 19, 2020 2:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of getting some sort of hair dye for an Asian friend who has been complaining about grey showing due to pandemic hair. What's the most reliable and simple way to dye the odd strand of grey back to dark black? I know nothing of hair dye but have heard that Asian hair is usually thicker and may require a more hardy dye treatment than caucasians. They used to go to a salon for a full dye job once every six months or so.
posted by benzenedream to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just for Men Haircolor for beards is made for thicker hair, and specifically covering grey. It comes in tubes so you can just mix a bit at a time instead making a whole batch for just a few hairs.
posted by ananci at 2:52 PM on December 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

You could try henna, it comes as a black hair dye and is easy to do at home, plus supposedly lasts pretty long. It originates in asia so I suppose would work well for "Asian" hair?
posted by erattacorrige at 2:53 PM on December 19, 2020

I have Asian hair attached to my Asian head and I use regular hair dye to cover gray, I just leave it on my roots for up to an extra 15 minutes. Sometimes I use whatever box color happens to be on sale at Target but Sally's Age Beautiful's color lasts longer than the 3 weeks coverage I get out of a box.
posted by jamaro at 3:05 PM on December 19, 2020 [4 favorites]

There's a lot of info out there about the dangers of black henna hair dye. I would avoid it, as it may have heavy metals and/or paraphenylenediamine, which can cause allergic reactions.
posted by limeonaire at 3:19 PM on December 19, 2020 [5 favorites]

One thing you could get them to try might be oVertone black coloring conditioner.
posted by limeonaire at 3:22 PM on December 19, 2020

You can’t layer henna and dye, so if they have previously coloured their hair in a salon, henna is a no-go.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 3:32 PM on December 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Are you sure your friend's hair is black? I lived in Asia for nearly two years and the typical drugstore offered a huge array of dark hair dye, with a massive variety of undertones in both warm and cool colors.

That said, I recently tested Naturcolor for the first time, and I was impressed by it. They actually say on their website that they are simple enough for first-timers, and they are. There's no odor, the directions are clear, you can mix their colors and, apparently, the results largely fade over time. I've also heard they give excellent color advice if you call their help line .
posted by Violet Blue at 3:55 PM on December 19, 2020

Yes, their hair is completely jet black even compared to other Japanese and Chinese friends, not just a very deep brown, with no visible red undertones. They have never done coloring at home so the simpler the better.
posted by benzenedream at 4:38 PM on December 19, 2020

You can color hair black by using henna first, then indigo. Buy both from a reputable source. Do not buy “black henna.”
posted by snowmentality at 6:41 PM on December 19, 2020

ok so, I haven't used it in about 10 years, but as an old goth, nice'n easy natural blue black was always the blackest, and, for the years I used it, would not come out of your hair until you grow it out. Anytime I tried a different black dye I was disappointed.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:51 PM on December 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

I don't dye my hair, but my hair salon was offering do-at-home dye kits customized for each client based on what they used when they came in, complete with instructions and I think even coaching by video if desired. So if you know where your friend goes, that might be an option.
posted by sepviva at 9:51 PM on December 19, 2020

I have black hair and the problem with dyeing graying hair back to black is that the regrowth is really obvious: you get a super sharp line of demarcation that’s much more visible than if your hair was like, honey-blonde or mid-brown. Another problem: if you try to dye your hair something slightly lighter than black, to blur the regrowth line, you risk ending up with reddish undertones, and that looks bad against cool-toned skin. If your friend has no reddish undertones, then many dark hair colors will be too warm for him.

I made a bunch of mistakes, and then eventually stumbled across Redken EQ Gloss. It’s semi-permanent which means it fades a little every time you wash it, which makes the demarcation line less obvious as the gray grows in. And it comes in lots of cool-toned colors, and has a very sensible and easy-to-understand color classification system. (What I mean is, you’re not looking at a swatch and saying WTF color is Espresso. The label tells you it’s an 03N, which means two-steps-lighter-than-black and neutral, neither warm nor cool.) In their system, Onyx = pure black, and Iron is a dark neutral gray.

It is super-easy to apply at home and very forgiving if you make a mistake. You buy the color and the processing solution, mix them 50-50, put it on your entire head, and wait about 45 minutes. It works great for me and although I am not Asian my hair type is very similar — it’s coarse and straight and does not take color easily. Good luck to you and your friend :)
posted by Susan PG at 10:20 PM on December 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have very thick black hair and have used at home dye to cover my greys for many years. I would vouch for Nice and Easy left for a bit longer than directed.

The other tip I have is for touch ups, that I got from my hair stylist. Get an old toothbrush and just brush the dye through the roots. My grey hair grew in patches so I didn’t even have to do my whole head, just “spot dyed.” Saves a ton of work.

(That said, I quit covering my greys about a year ago and decided to embrace it. I was inspired by an Instagram account called @grombre. The key seems to be to have a very good haircut and keep it well groomed. No regrets here!)
posted by like_neon at 7:04 AM on December 20, 2020 [2 favorites]

Nice and Easy hair dyes work really well in general, and Clairol's customer service reps are hair people, not call center people - if you call their 800 help line, they can actually make recommendations about which color and any additional recommended steps, and they also help fix mistakes (ask me how I know).
posted by Mchelly at 9:11 AM on December 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks to everyone who responded, I bought the Sally's Age Beautiful and oVertone coloring conditioner to keep the roots black, since I had to get something before the holidays. Hope it goes over well!
posted by benzenedream at 9:51 AM on December 22, 2020

Awesome, that tube of color and the bottle of developer will last forever because it doesn't sound like your friend needs full coverage. I mix up a teaspoon at a time (1 teaspoon of the dye + 1 tsp of the developer) and paint it on my roots using a stiff bristled brush. Someone above mentioned a toothbrush: that works, for fine application control snip off the outer rows of the brush until you have just one row of bristles running the length of the brush head.

Do a patch test first, just in case.

Wear nitrile or vinyl gloves and clothing you don't care about when doing a dye job. Hair dye is also skin and fabric dye.
posted by jamaro at 12:05 PM on December 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

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