Grey hair lacks the pigment that is present within naturally coloured hair. Lack of colour pigmentation is usually age related (sometimes due to stress as well) and it not only causes a change in colour, it also usually also changes the texture and coarseness of the hair cuticle. Grey hair frequently has a thicker, ‘tighter’, layered cuticle, making it harder for the colour to penetrate and effectively deposit colour in the cuticle.
Some people with greys find that their hair responds well to colour. Other find that their hair has some resistance to greys, which can be overcome by extending the developing time by ten minutes and doubling up the colour application on the stubborn grey roots. Wearing a shower cap during the developing process will retain heat at the scalp and roots and speed up the developing time at the roots, which can also help with grey coverage.
Then there’s very resistant greys. Very resistant greys have thicker cuticles which don’t absorb colour effectively, which can lead to disappointing colour outcomes where the greys are still visible after colouring.
Pre-softening is a simple process which can be done before you colour to prepare your hair better for colour absorption. Pre-softening, as the name implies, will soften up those tougher, thicker, coarser greys. The trick is to open up and raise the hair cuticle through a pre-softening process before colouring so that the hair is better able to absorb the colour, and give you the grey coverage and colour you want.
The good news is that adding an extra step to your colouring process can get you the colour results you want, even if your greys have super thick, colour resistant cuticles.
Pre-softening can be done just with regular water and shampoo, which has a weaker, but potentially effective pre-softening result, or you can use a developer for better results.
Try simply wetting your hair thoroughly right before colouring. Leave your hair wet for 5 minutes, then follow your usual colouring process (with extra time, shower cap for resistant greys). Water softens cuticles causing them to swell, so the colour molecules can penetrate better.
If that doesn’t quite do the job, then your next step is to pre-soften with 20 vol developer.
Pre-softening with developer adds one extra step before you colour of 5-10 minutes processing time, then you needs to rinse off, dry your hair and follow your regular colouring process.
What do you need to pre-soften?
You use 20 vol developer to pre-soften, applied directly to your most resistant greys.
How do you apply it?
Apply 20 vol developer to your colour-resistant greys (not too much, just enough for light coverage).
For how long?
5-10 minutes. You just want the developer to activate and raise those extra tough cuticles a bit, making them more receptive to the colour, so that the colour can do its job and penetrate the cuticle and successfully deposit colour.
Then what happens?
Rinse it all out and follow your regular colouring instructions. Double-apply colour to your roots and wear a shower cap during the colour processing time, and follow the slightly longer colour processing time for grey coverage.
We hope that helps you battle the stubbornest of greys. Knowledge is power and you can whip even the most reluctant greys into line with a little know-how and some strategic pre-softening.