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How to darken grey hair

Updated April 17, 2017

Let's face it: most of us are not particularly eager to find the first grey hair. That event is equated with growing old. It is worse yet if greying begins prematurely, which it does in a surprising number of cases. To avoid mild depression and the feeling that life is over, some people decide to cover up that dreaded grey. Hear are some tips for turning grey hair darker.

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  1. Take a minimum of 6,000 mg to a maximum of 20,000 mg of PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid) per day, if it is approved by your doctor. Some studies show PABA will successfully turn hair back to its original colour for some people.

  2. Ask a doctor about biotin, folic acid, human growth hormone and tyrosine. In some cases, all of these drugs can reverse the greying process.

  3. Seek out eugenol oil, melanin or retin. Scientific studies have shown that any of these, applied topically to the head, might successfully reverse the greying process for some individuals.

  4. Try over-the-counter hair products, such as Morgan's Pomade, made with vitamin E and wheatgerm oil. Supposedly these products not only moisturise and return hair to a healthier condition, but they also return grey hair to its original colour. The change happens slowly over the course of five to 15 treatments.

  5. Combine one-half part dried sage--not fresh--and two parts water together. Simmer for eight hours, and then cool. Apply to freshly washed, towel-dried hair. Let it dry naturally or use a hair dryer. With each application, the mixture will further darken the hair. Stop once you achieve the desired colour.

  6. Mix dried, roasted gooseberries with enough lemon to form a paste. Apply topically to the hair. Let it sit for at least 45 minutes to one hour. Then rinse and style. Repeat the process as needed.

  7. Use black peppercorns mixed with curd to make a paste. Apply to the hair after shampooing and towel drying. Let sit for 30 to 45 minutes. Rinse and style as normal. Use at least once a week or more often to achieve a dark colour quickly.

  8. Put a handful of walnut shells into two cups of water. Close or cover the container and let it sit for at least three days. Strain the mixture to remove shells that have not broken down. Using rubber gloves, apply it to damp hair. Cover the head with cling film or a shower cap and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse it out without getting any dye on your skin or clothing (to prevent permanent staining). Then shampoo, rinse the hair again and style as desired.

  9. Use body art henna to turn grey hair from red to dark auburn. Apply the paste to freshly cleaned hair. Wrap the head in plastic, and let sit. Check the outcome about every half-hour until you reach the desired colour. Then rinse, shampoo and rinse again before towel drying and styling.

  10. Apply a semi-permanent dye from the product lines available such as Clairol, L'Oreal, Garnier Fructis and others. Follow the instructions provided with the product explicitly because they might vary greatly from brand to brand. Most will require application on dry hair that must remain in place for approximately 30 to 45 minutes. The dye is then rinsed out and the hair styled.

  11. Apply a permanent dye from one the many dye lines noted in Step 2 above. Again, follow the directions provided without deviation to achieve the best look possible.

  12. Try Clariol's new "Advanced Gray Solution." It comes in a few different shades and is guarantees to cover up grey longer than any normal dye.

  13. Tip

    Weigh the side effects of biotin, folic acid, human growth hormone and tyrosine against the issue of greying hair and your overall health. Try softening grey hair before dying with a product recommended by a local beautician. If the sage tea process works, continue using it monthly to maintain the colour or more often to darken it more. The concentration of henna dye, along with the melanin content in the hair, determines how dark red the colour may go. Therefore, do a strand test ahead of time to make certain the red colouring will work for your skin colour. For hair that is already damaged, choose a hair dye that doesn't not contain ammonium but uses a henna- or vegetable-based colour instead. "Just for Men" is a dye product made for the male gender. Semi-permanent dyes will wash out in about 10 to 20 shampoos, requiring additional applications to maintain the colour. Always leave the dye on the hair for the length of time recommended by the manufacturer. Leaving it on a shorter time will skew the colour lighter or it won't take at all. Leaving it on longer could damage the hair irreparably. Darker hair dyes contain more pigment and often take better than lighter shades. A strand test involves cutting a strand of hair to test the dye as instructed. It will help you to know if the dye colour will work for you and how dark it will take. Some dyes can be left on longer to achieve a darker shade. However, it's best to contact the manufacturer to determine if the one chosen falls into that category. Permanent hair dyes are often more successful in colouring grey hair and last longer than semi-permanent dyes. Choose a stronger hair dye if the ones used before have been insufficient.


    Gray hair is coarse and won't take dye easily, so begin any colouring process with the grey hair first. Then apply dye to the rest of the hair. Walnut dye will stain anything it comes into contact with, so take precaution when using it. Cover clothing, furniture, floors and counters--anywhere the dye might come in contact with during the process. If walnut dye gets on your skin, remove immediately to prevent dark staining. Men's hair might not take colour the same way as a woman's. Therefore, a manmade dye made especially for men will work better for them. Hair that has no melanin content will likely turn an unpleasant shade of orange. Light hair dyes in blonde and strawberry blonde tones usually will not cover grey sufficiently. Always strand test a dye before using it to determine just how long to leave the dye in place.

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Things You'll Need

  • Para-aminobenzoic acid
  • Biotin
  • Folic acid
  • Human growth hormone
  • Tyrosine
  • Eugenol Oil
  • Melanin
  • Retin
  • Morgan's Pomade
  • Dried sage
  • Water
  • Pan
  • Stove
  • Shampoo
  • Towels
  • Dry roasted gooseberries
  • Lemon
  • Black peppercorns
  • Curd
  • Walnut shells
  • Container with lid
  • Cling film
  • Show cap
  • Just for Men
  • Henna
  • Semi-permanent dye
  • Permanent dye
  • Advanced Gray Solution

About the Author

A business and education specialist for 30 years, Chantel Alise also owned a management and marketing training company. She has written newsletters and training manuals as well as business articles for Enid News and Eagle's Business Journal. She is principle writer for Beauty Biz. Alsie attended Thomas Nelson Community College (Virginia) and Phillips University (Oklahoma).

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