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Updated on October 28, 2014

Note: All products mentioned can be purchased at your local beauty supply, sure.. but why not give Amazon a whirl? They've quickly became the cheapest and best market place on-line to purchase your beauty products at a discount. Save yourself a trip!

A Detailed Guide On How To Get Grey Or Damaged Porous Hair To Hold Color

Although you may be at your wits end while reading this because your hair: won't take color, your color washes out too quickly, your color does not cover your grays effectively and/or washes out after a few washes, or Coloring your hair just makes it more uneven, dull, or barely changes the color at all-- stress no longer! You've come to the right place. We're going to go over what you and do at home to get your hair to hold color again. With a few simple products and some love & care you'll get you hair back to coloring condition in no time.

When it comes to taking color, there are a few reasons as to why your hair is down in the dumps. Your hair may be rejecting dye due to being over processed, lacking protein, being highly porous (this can be due to bleaching and/or damage or graying hair), it could be stacked with mineral build up, or it could even simply be the kind of shampoo that you're using. The most important part to our venture on getting your hair dye to stay is to figure out which problem you're suffering from.

Let's begin!


Getting hair color to stay in damaged, porous, overprocessed hair.

This is one of the number one problems as to why your hair dye may not be sticking around for too long. If you've got damaged stands you know it, simple is that. You may have over-done it with the bleach or simply just over-colored-- either way, although it's not always easy it's still completely possible to get damaged hair to take hair dye! But first, you're going to want to start with a good healthy hair regime. Get yourself a good deep conditioner and deep condition the crap out of those unruly locks (just don't dye your hair until at least 24hrs after you do). Another thing that's incredibly incredibly beneficial is to snag yourself a malibu treatment or Ion's crystal clarifying treatment to insure that you rid your hair of all of that gross junk it's been holding onto. I suggest that you do this on the day that you color your hair. This is especially important if you live in an area with hard water. Hard water is packed full of minerals.. and not the good kind! These stick to your hair and make coloring incredibly hard.


If you've done any research on getting your porous/damaged/over processed/bleached hair to take color you've probably heard quite a few people say that protein filler is the answer. If not, I'll be the first to tell you that "IT'S THE ANSWER!". If you've tried it and it hasn't worked for you, you're in luck-- there's a trick to it's magic and it's all about how you use it.

This is what you've got to do.. and although it might be scary, and although the bottle might not tell you to, you've gotta trust me here! The first couple times I used protein filler I thought it was garbage. That is, until I learned that it works far more effectively when you add it directly to your hair color rather than coating your hair ahead of time & following what ever other instructions are on the bottle (I obviously heaven't read them in a very long time, and I have a big economy sized bottle that I use REGULARLY).

I typically put 2 to 3 good size squirts of neutral protein filler into my hair color bottle.. Just enough to make the dye a bit runny, but not to the point that it's too translucent. After you add the protein filler, apply the color to your hair.

For Box Dye Users

Although I strongly suggest against using a box dye if it's your only option leave the color on your hair for an extra 20 minutes. Let it completely soak in before you wash it out. When you do wash it out, you don't have to do anything crazy like use cold water as some people suggest.. but don't use a shampoo, especially not a clarifying shampoo.

For Professional Color Users

I highly suggest if you're trying to get even exceptional color (as long as it's the same color as your current hair color, or a tad bit darker) to use 10 vol developer. Although 20 could do the trick, 10 volume has no lift and simply deposits color so you won't have any unwanted light areas or patches. With a professional dye, you can follow the directions on the bottle and leave it on for the amount of time that it suggests if you want to be safe. But I won't lie, I still typically leave my color on for a good 10 minutes extra.

Sorry but we aren't done yet!

When it comes to color, you've always got ot follow up to insure that you get the best coverage. Use shampoo for colored hair, continue to deep condition your hair, and baby the heck out of it. Try to avoid heat tools as much as possible as they also aid to the fading of hair dye. You can also use pigmented shampoos as well to insure that you keep your color as even and distributed.

Protein Filler Tip: No matter what, you'll probably have some of this stuff left over. Utilize it my friend! You can use your protein filler as a protein treatment. Just apply as the instructions on the bottle read and give your hair a protein brust!

Keep in mind: Cool ash blonde tones and Cool red tones are the two no-no's on terms of colors when wanting to cover greys. Even most stylists will tell you to avoid these two if you're looking to cover your grey's effectively.

Stubborn Grey Hair & How To Get It To Hold Color

Tons of women have completely given up on dyeing their grey hair due to the fact that it just won't the color. Even after getting your hair colored professionally often grey's still find a way to peak through and show their ugly faces. Although grey hair is incredibly hard to color due to it's high porousity you can definitely improve your hair color coverage with a few simple products. After reading this, you might just be dared to try to dye your hair at home again!

Pick your colour poison wisely!

Alright first things first with grey's, you've got to pick your color wisely. If you've got high hopes of being an ash blonde chances are.. you're going to be let down. Light colors, especially ash tones barely cover grey's at all. If you're looking to go blonde, your best bet is to stick to a level 8 blonde or darker. If you don't understand color levels, examine your hair dye box/bottle. There will be a number typically towards the top right or left corner which explains the level. If you desire a light hair color you may want to continue on with your stylist unless you've got some serious faith-- and it is possible don't get me wrong!

One way that people minimize their greys is by using demi & semi hair colours. These lightly pigmented dyes blend very well with your greys giving you the appearance of natural highlights. If you're wanting light highlighted hair, you may want to purchase a toning shampoo & conditioner like Conair's shiny silver or Clairol's shimmer lights. Grey hair has very little pigment and the pigment that it does have often yellows. A good toning shampoo will help tone your hair and eliminate yellow tones.

Grey magic really is... magic!

There is a great product on the market called grey magic. It is a color additive that can be used with virtually any hair coloring product on the market. All you have to do is add 10 drops of grey magic to your hair color and apply your dye as usual. It ensures even coverage and stomps out stubborn greys by assisting your color in penetrating deeply into the hair shaft.

Best Hair Color Brands For Covering Grey Hair

Although tons of hair dye boxes insure that they cover greys flawlessly, it just simply isn't the truth. The women that I have talked to have had the best luck with nice & easy hair box dyes, Revlon Colorsilk box dyes, AGEbeautiful Anti-Aging Permanent Liquid Hair color (Professional Colour), and Loreal Professional Excellence Dye (Professional Colour)

How To Apply Hair Color For Maximum Grey Coverage

First, as stated above, use grey magic to save yourself the headache. Apply 10 drops to your hair colour and shake it up baby! Start by applying your grey hair color concoction to your most troubled areas. Basically, lather on the dye on those areas and focus on completely saturating your greys. After you've dealt with your troubled grey spots, apply the rest of your dye. Follow the directions on either your box of color or bottle of dye and wait the alloted time. Really, it's pretty simple once you know what products to use. I dare you to try covering your stubborn grey hairs at home rather than going to the salon!

The Ugly, Bad, And Terrible Issues That Will Cause Your Hair To Not Hold Color

  • Hard Water: As mentioned above hard water is terribly damaging and will give you a build up of terrible gunk that will make dyeing hair impossible. Between the minerals it deposits and the fact that it can be drying to your hair shaft, it's important to nip hard water in the bud. There are tons of products on the market for hard water, but one of the best by far is Malibu Wellness's Hard Water Products. If you suspect hard water may be your culprit, give them a shot!
  • Shampooing/Conditioning before dyeing your hair can leave residue on your hair which can make it hard for dye to penetrate. Wait at least one day after washing to colour hair if not 2-3.
  • Shampoos and Conditioners with silicones can cause definite issues with hair coloring. Some clarifying shampoos can also strip your color quickly-- but also act as a double edged sword because they're so good for stripping minerals and build up. Avoid silicones at all costs, and read reviews on shampoo's and conditioner's before using them on temperamental colored hair.


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      3 years ago

      Hi Lydia could you please answer my questions above. I really would love some advice from you please. Thankyou Kindly Elle x

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Hi Lydia Thankyou so much for this amazing post. I am hoping you can assist me with a question please. Recently my hairdresser decided to be creative and added more ash into the hair color dye and my hair took the color so much that my hair went a very dark dull ash brown. I certainly did not like the darkness of the color even though she said she varied the color ever so slightly. She then bleach bathed my hair and since then my hair won't take any color whatsoever at all! I am left with a faded dull brassy brown which looks awful. My hair is also very dry and crunchy. I have purchased the Filler that you recommended but I have read ppls reviews saying that when they added the filler to their hair color dye that their hair in fact took the color so much that their hair color was too dark. I don't want this too happen to me again. I want my hair to take the color but i Dint want it to turn too dark. What do you suggest my hair dresser do please? I am so desperate for some advice please.

    • profile image

      thanks great help! 

      3 years ago



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