If you are still coloring your hair like I do, you will be well aware of the continuous maintenance necessary to keep up with the ever upcoming gray roots. So what is the best way to dye hair roots yourself?

Depending on where you live, many salons are currently closed, or possibly about to close, as a result of COVID-19. So, you may now be looking at how to color your hair at home so you can dye hair roots without going to the salon.

Even before the current crisis, getting professional root touch ups every 2 weeks, as J Lo famously does, is a luxury in both time and cash most of us simply cannot afford.

Therefore I started dying my hair roots myself. I still have the highlights done professionally every half year but I dye my roots myself every 4-6 weeks.

In this article, you will find the tips I’ve picked up along the way. I hope it helps you, whether you usually dye your hair yourself, or you find yourself wanting a root touch-up when you can’t get to the salon.

I’ve also picked out some of the box dyes I use myself at home, as well as those recommended by other stylish 40+ women. I’d love it if you could let me know what you use in the comments at the bottom. That way, we can turn this into a really useful resource for women looking for the best hair color options.

It may seem frivolous to be talking about hair dye at a time like this, but I really believe the little things can help to keep your spirits up.

Hair color choice to dye hair roots

how to dye hair roots - choosing your hair color | 40plusstyle.com

So, before you get started with the actual practicalities of dyeing your hair at home, you will need to choose the right hair color for you.

Skin tone awareness helps you pick the right color. Warm complexions are perfectly complemented by warm, golden or auburn shades, while skin with rosy undertones works best with cooler shades like ash and champagne tones.

Of course, the safest choice is to choose the color closest to your natural hair shade.

I currently use 7.3 (golden blonde) as my base color.

Choosing the DIY color kit: Should you choose foam or cream to dye hair roots?

how to choose the right dye to dye hair roots yourself | 40plusstyle.com

Mousse or foam formulas are the easiest to apply. They result in an all-over even color that is less likely to leave a patchy finish. 

Application is as simple as shampooing, as the foam texture expands to surround each strand and effortlessly massages the dye into the hair. 

Foams will not drip but if you do get the dye onto your skin it will wash off easily with soap and water, where cream dye is a little more stubborn. 

Choosing a mousse or foam is often the best option if you want to do a full-head color.

Try these: L’Oreal Paris Superior Preference Mousse Absolue, Clairol Nice & Easy and John Frieda 16204 Precision Foam Colour

DIY color kits to dye hair roots | 40plusstyle.com

Dye hair roots: Root touch up

If you’re transitioning to gray or just want to take a bit longer between hair coloring appointments, you can also use quick grey root fixers to dye hair roots.

I personally use L’Oreal Paris Root Cover Up Temporary Gray Concealer Spray. It helps me cover up my gray roots and I can last much longer between coloring my hair.

Just spray it on and you are ready to go!

Cream dyes are best for root touch-ups

Crème or cream hair dyes need a little extra effort and are perhaps more suited to the experienced.  This is what I personally prefer as  it gives me more control and I can paint the color on my hair roots.

Careful application is important to dye hair roots.  It can be tricky but following the simple steps below will see you mastering cream dye application in no time. I can now do it in 10 minutes!

Try these L’Oreal Paris Excellence, Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Color, Schwarzkopf Keratin Color

Cream dyes are best for root touch-ups | 40plusstyle.com

Best permanent, semi-permanent and quick-fix root colors

Below you will find some of the best products to try whether you just need a quick fix for a day or so, or you want a more permanent solution.

Keep reading for my application and after-care tips.

Best products for temporary root touch up 

Often, you may only want to do a quick root touch-up if you want to last a little longer between salon visits.

L’Oréal Magic Root Cover-up

A temporary root cover-up that you can spray on in seconds. Perfect if you need to jump on a quick video call and don’t want everyone to see your roots!

L’Oréal’s Magic Root Cover-up is well-reviewed, with women praising it as a good quick-fix for roots as well as thinning hair.

Dye hair roots - L'Oreal Paris Hair Color Root Cover Up | 40plusstyle.com

L’Oreal Paris Hair Color Root Cover Up

Style Edit Root Concealer

Another touch-up spray, Style Edit’s Root Concealer is a good option between salon visits. It covers roots and can help to disguise thinning hair, and is easy to shampoo out.

Dye hair roots - Style Edit Root Concealer Touch Up Spray | 40plusstyle.com

Style Edit Root Concealer Touch Up Spray

Clairol root touch-up

Offering good coverage if you’re growing out your gray, Clairol’s root touch-up comes in a good range of shades, including Auburn and Blonde.

Dye hair roots - Clairol root touch up | 40plusstyle.com

Clairol Root Touch-Up Spray

Clairol root touch-up

Another one from Clairol, but this time a powder. You may find that you prefer a powder as it’s easier to control where you are putting in compared to a spray.

Dye hair roots - Clairol Root Touch-Up Concealing Powder | 40plusstyle.com

Clairol Root Touch-Up Concealing Powder

Everpro gray away

Everpro Gray Away has a loyal following as it not only covers gray but can help to make your hair look thicker as the powder can have a root-lifting effect.

Dye hair roots - Everpro Gray Away Temporary Root Concealer Root Touch Up Magnetic Powder | 40plusstyle.com

Everpro Gray Away Temporary Root Concealer Root Touch Up Magnetic Powder

Marc Anthony bye bye gray

A final temporary spray option for you. Marc Anthony’s bye bye Gray is available in a light brown or a dark brown/black.

Dye hair roots - Marc Anthony True Professional Bye.Bye Gray Temporary Gray Root Touch Up Spray | 40plusstyle.com

Marc Anthony True Professional Bye.Bye Gray Temporary Gray Root Touch Up Spray

Best permanent products for root touch up

Of course, you may not be looking for a very temporary option which will only last you until you wash your hair.

Below are the best products I have found for more permanent at-home root touch-ups.

Clairol root touch-up

Clairol root touch-up comes in a very wide range of colors so you should find a shade to match, or at least almost match your color. It’s easy to apply, but even though it is a permanent color, it does fade fairly quickly so use a color protecting shampoo.

Dye hair roots - Clairol Root Touch-Up Permanent Hair Color Creme | 40plusstyle.com

Clairol Root Touch-Up Permanent Hair Color Creme

Revlon root erase

A good range of colors, and easy to mix. Plus, the pump applicator means you can use it two or three times if you don’t need it all in one go.

Revlon Permanent Root Erase | 40plusstyle.com

Revlon Permanent Root Erase

Semi-permanent hair color

You will find that even permanent hair colors fade. But if you want something which sits between a spray or powder and a permanent color, opting for a semi-permanent shade could be the way to go.

Clairol beautiful collection moisturizing color

I’ve seen mixed reviews for this one. Some women say they wouldn’t use anything else and others say it didn’t work for them. I guess the only way to find out is to try! A good option for brunettes.

Clairol Beautiful Collection | 40plusstyle.com

Clairol Beautiful Collection

L’Oréal Casting Créme Gloss

A long-time popular hair dye option, L’Oréal’s casting créme gloss comes in a wide range of shades and is designed to last 28 washes.

L'Oreal Healthy Look Creme Gloss Hair Color | 40plusstyle.com

L’Oreal Healthy Look Creme Gloss Hair Color

Dark and Lovely fade resist

A great option if you want a brown, red or black shade, the Dark and Lovely Fade Resist features argan oil to help keep your hair in good condition while coloring.

Color by Dark and Lovely Fade Resist | 40plusstyle.com

Dark and Lovely Fade Resist

Clairol natural instincts

If you like a dye with more natural ingredients, then Clairol’s natural instincts may be the one to try. It’s kinder to your hair than some other options and creates a lovely vibrant color, but you will need color-care shampoo to make sure it lasts as long as possible.

Clairol Natural Instincts | 40plusstyle.com

Clairol Natural Instincts

Keracolor color + conditioner

This could be a fun one to try if you want to try something a bit funky. You could try a traditional color like honey or mocha, or go for something different such as this rose gold shade.

Keracolor Clenditioner Color Depositing Conditioner Colorwash | 40plusstyle.com

Keracolor Clenditioner Color Depositing Conditioner Colorwash

L’Oréal Colorista

L’Oréal Colorista is another option is you want to experiment with your color. Good for brunettes.

L'Oréal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color | 40plusstyle.com

L’Oréal Paris Colorista Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Permanent hair color

If you are looking for a permanent full-head color rather than a root touch-up, take a look at the options below.

Garnier Nutrisse color creme

One of my own favorites, Garnier Nutrisse features plenty of nourishing oils so should leave your hair feeling smooth and silky as well as being freshly-colored.

Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Hair Color Creme | 40plusstyle.com

Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Hair Color Creme

Garnier Olia

Another option from the same brand which is made up of lots of moisturizing oils, Garnier Olio comes in a very wide range of colors.

Garnier Olia Ammonia Free Permanent Hair Color | 40plusstyle.com

Garnier Olia Ammonia Free Permanent Hair Color

Schwarzkopf keratin color

Schwarzkopf keratin color comes with a pre-color serum to repair hair and give you a more even result.

Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Anti-Age Hair Color Cream | 40plusstyle.com

Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Anti-Age Hair Color Cream

John Frieda precision foam

Promising 100% gray coverage, John Frieda’s precision foam could be a good option if you want an easy-to-apply foam. Good for blondes.

John Frieda Precision Foam Permanent Hair Colour | 40plusstyle.com

John Frieda Precision Foam Permanent Hair Colour

Highlights at home

Do you usually get highlights at the salon? Highlights can definitely be tricky and time-consuming to apply at home.

But, if you feel confident about trying, or you have someone at home to help, take a look at the two options below.

L’Oréal precision highlights

A good option for shorter hair, L’Oréal’s highlights for shorter hair come with a pull-through cap as well as a choice of hook widths so you can decide on whether you want subtle or wider highlights.

L'Oreal Paris Le Petite Frost Pull-Through Cap Highlights | 40plusstyle.com

L’Oreal Paris Le Petite Frost Pull-Through Cap Highlights

L’Oréal glam lights

Another option from L’Oréal, glam lights is easier to apply as it can be brushed on rather than needing to use a highlighting cap.

L'Oreal Paris Superior Preference Brush On Glam Highlights | 40plusstyle.com

L’Oreal Paris Superior Preference Brush On Glam Highlights

Pre-DIY hair care

how to dye hair roots yourself | 40plusstyle.com

If you’ve made your color choice, before you think about applying, make sure that your hair is in good condition to start with, otherwise you could get a patchy finish.

The condition of your hair prior to coloring will have dramatic results to your finished look.

Dry/damaged hair takes on a more vibrant color while the risk of further hair damage is strong. A damage repair mask used 3 times weekly for 2 weeks leading up to your dye date will help. I like Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque and Organic Coconut Oil.

Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque | 40plusstyle.com

Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque

For optimal results, dyes should be applied onto dry hair that has not been washed for 1 to 2 days and has little to no hair styling products.

How to apply the hair dye

How to dye your hair roots yourself | 40plusstyle.com

Coloring your own hair is a lot easier than you think. And if you just dye the roots yourself and then have highlights professionally done once in a while, noone will be be able to tell that you’re doing it yourself.  It will save you lots of cash!

Here are the steps to take:

  1. Mix your hair color according to the instructions on the package. I like to empty that in a plastic container. (here is a great brush and container set)
  2. Using a tail comb or a special hair dye brush, and make partings from front to back of head, then paint on the dye (crème formula) with the brush or squeeze the mix (mousse) all along your parting as you go. Take care to avoid too much dye sitting on your scalp. Now make partings from side to side and similarly apply the mix as you go along.
  3. I like to use a hair dye brush that makes it really easy to just color my roots. I separate all the hairs with the brush
  4. If you’re doing all over color, apply the dye fully around your entire hairline.
  5. Now leave to develop. Developing time will alter depending on the temperature of you room. A warm environment is ideal. If your room is particularly cool then you can cover your hair with a plastic bag and tie a knot to secure in place.
  6. When it is time to rinse, apply a little water then massage your scalp to loosen the mixture, rinse thoroughly until the water runs clear.

Post dye hair care and maintenance

how to dye your hair roots yourself

DIY dye kits contain an after color care conditioner. Apply this after rinsing to lock in your new color and get a glossy, silky finish. Refrain from shampooing for 48 hours to ensure your color settles and does not fade too quickly.

Choosing a shampoo and conditioner specifically for chemically treated hair will help to maintain color and condition. Aveda Color Conserve is a good choice.

Aveda Color Conserve | 40plusstyle.com

Aveda Color Conserve

Sun and Chlorine damage is a higher risk to chemically treated hair, so keep hair covered when out in the sun and tied up and out of the water when swimming.

Do you dye your hair yourself? What has been your experience? What are your favorite DIY hair coloring products?

Continue reading:

  1. How To Transition To Gray Hair (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)
  2. The Best Colors To Complement Gray Hair
  3. The Best Hairstyles For Women Over 40 – 7 Useful Tips

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