How To Use Highlights To Cover Grey on Brown & Dark Hair


Highlights are a gorgeous way of adding color and dimension to your hair. Without highlights, a base color appears one-dimensional and can lack depth. Highlights help to enhance movement, texture, volume, and luminosity. 

This can be especially helpful for those of us who experience hair thinning as we age. Highlights can create the illusion of fullness on fine or thinning hair.

Highlights aren’t just for the summertime. These days, highlights are used in various colors and hues, accentuating your unique hairstyle, skin tone, and facial structure. Highlights can also be beneficial when covering up greying hair or making the grow-out process of going grey a bit more manageable. 

Using highlights to cover greys can be a great option if you want to extend the time between salon visits. Highlights help disguise grey hair in a more natural way than all-over color. 

All-over color needs to be touched up more often than highlights because when your hair grows, you’ll experience a “demarcation line” that can look harsh against brown or black hair. It’s all about blending! No more harsh lines here! 

We share our expert tips on covering dark hair with highlights, how to effortlessly blend in grey hair using highlights if you want to transition to your natural hair, and what methods are best.

Why Does Our Hair Turn Grey?

Grey hair is probably one of the most pronounced and noticeable signs of aging. Whether or not an individual will experience grey hair depends on several factors. These factors range from genetics, stress, environment, metabolic causes, and nutrition.

Our hair follicles tend to produce less color as they age. This leads to hair strands being more likely to grow back grey as hair goes through its natural life cycle. It’s natural!

Grey Blending for Dark Hair

For those with grey hair looking for a unique look, blending your newly grey strands with your dark hair is worth considering. 

Blending grey hairs is a technique that incorporates grey hair with darker hair. The process of blending will require two colors to create a more natural look while also being multidimensional — adding movement and depth to your hair in shades that meld with your natural hair color. 

The final result is a stylish highlight effect that adds sophistication and balance to your locks. If grey blending sounds right for you, ensure your grey hair strands (or roots) are exposed so your stylist can color match. This will make for a more effortless grow-out that looks natural.

Grey blending doesn’t just embrace your new silver-haired look, but it also has many other benefits. With blended grey hair, you won’t need to get as many touch-ups when compared to other color styles. 

With fewer touch-ups and visits to the salon, you’ll save money and time in the long run, and also transition to grey hair gracefully. It’s truly a win-win! 

Foils vs. Balayage for Blending Grey Hair

Covering up your grey hair with highlights may be an appealing idea! There are many different hair coloring techniques to add highlights and lowlights for grey coverage and blending — how do you know what approach would work best for your hair goals?

Foil highlights are a hair coloring technique that uses a lightener product or hair color. The product is applied to small sections of the hair to create the appearance of highlights and dimension. 

Foil highlights are typically used to create a more consistent look while trapping warmth using the foil. Warmth and heat help to process hair lighteners and color at a faster pace.

The foil technique lightens the surrounding color to create a natural look but will not completely cover the grey hair completely. This method requires more maintenance with frequent touch-ups to maintain the style.

The balayage technique is when a lightener is applied to the hair strands in small sections. The stylist will hand-paint the strands up to the root, using smaller sections for areas with more greys. 

The overall effect of balayage may appear more natural when compared to foiling, which will have more of an evident style. Balayage is a good option for those of us who want to avoid harsh lines of hair regrowth from the roots, as it gives a more organic look. Balayage can cover larger portions of hair with the ability to spot treat. 

What about incorporating the best of both worlds (or rather, techniques) when covering grey on your dark hair? Let us introduce you to foilyage!

Foilyage is balayage but with foil used instead of air drying. Using foil can be beneficial for lightening darker hair, thanks to the warmth that using foil creates. Foilyage can create a natural and precise look if that’s what you’re after when covering grey hair.

How To Go Grey Naturally: Transitioning Tips

For some, the change of hair to grey isn’t a bad one! Instead, the grey can be harnessed and used to incorporate a new style and celebrate a new chapter in life. Covering up grey hairs can be time-consuming and expensive with trips to the salon. 

Allowing the hair to go grey naturally can allow you to go for new hairstyles. When you have enough grey hair to work with, you can go for highlights to blend grey hair.

  • You can go grey cold turkey by letting your hair color grow out.

  • You can use highlights to blend your grey hair with your natural brown or dark hair, letting your hair color transition as it grows.

  • Another possibility when it comes to going grey is to remove any hair color from your strands. Your hair stylist will use a gentle lightener or stripping products for this method. This will remove hair dye from your hair, allowing your natural grey to shine through.

The Best Products for Grey Mature Hair

After you visit the salon, you’ll get back into your routine — and it’s important to consider what products you’ll be using. Opting for color-safe products will be key in making your highlights last for as long as possible. 

Using products that are not color-safe can strip your color, or change the effect of the technique that was applied. While color-safe products are available in many forms, it’s always best to find a product made with you in mind.

While we have several recommendations for you, take the quiz to get personalized product recs for protecting your hair.

For example, gray hair tends to be a bit more dry, frizzy, and prone to breakage with age. To keep your silvery hair in good shape, our Second Chance Repairing Conditioner for Dry or Damaged Hair is a great conditioner to give a little love to your strands. By strengthening gray hair that may be more brittle, moisturizing is key. 

If you’ve noticed that your gray or white hair is becoming yellow or brassy, we have a fix. Our Silver Lining Purple Brightening Shampoo can combat the yellow and brassy tones immediately, giving you the cool silver tones you are aiming for. 

To help boost the effectiveness of the purple shampoo is our Silver Lining Purple Butter Masque. Combined, the purple tone of these products will not only banish yellow hues but moisturize and strengthen gray hair that has become dried and fragile.

It’s easy to incorporate highlights to not only cover grey hair on dark hair but also to begin the transition to embracing a grey mane. There is no right or wrong way to age — you may feel your best going fully grey or prefer to cover up your greys. 

While there is no right or wrong way to age, we all want to age better. Aging better when it comes to our hair care means finding a hair care routine that works with our unique needs in mind: from totally grey strands to something in between!


Getting Under the Skin of Hair Aging | PMC

The Biology of Human Hair Greying | PMC

Why Does Hair Turn Grey? | Harvard Health

Protection of Oxidative Hair Color Fading from Shampoo Washing | PMC