Adding Lowlights to Gray Hair

Low lights may be the way to go to cover your gray.

Photo: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

There isn't a woman with gray hair who hasn't looked in the mirror and wished she could turn back the clock, even just a little. We can't teach you to time travel, but lowlights, which are like highlights but color your hair darker instead of lighter, can replace some of the gray. This technique can make your hair look years younger, without your having to resort to a full color.


The quickest and easiest way to do lowlights is by using a highlighting cap. Place it on the head, like a hat, and tie it snugly under the chin.


Using a crochet hook, pull very fine sections of hair through the holes in the cap. Skip a hole, pulling hair only through every second hole so you don't overdo it.


Mix your selected color with a 20-volume peroxide, in a color bowl, following the product directions. Yeah, you're only depositing color, making the hair darker instead of lighter, but 10-volume peroxide only has 10 percent peroxide instead of 20 percent, so won't have the strength to open that stubborn cuticle of gray hair. Without that extra oomph, you'll end up with only slightly tinted gray hair instead of the lowlights you really want, so 20-volume all the way, baby.


Slather that color onto all the hair you've pulled through the cap. Press the brush, firmly but gently, into the hair so it really gets in there. Gray hair is notorious for not coloring properly if it isn't saturated with hair color, so pile it on.


Set a timer for 30 minutes. Gray hair is almost always slow to color, because you're starting with no pigment, so don't rush it. After 30 minutes, rub the color off a small section hair with an old towel. If some of the gray is still showing through, slather the color back on and wait 10 more minutes.


Rinse the hair, with the cap still on, until all the color is out of the hair. Put some conditioner on the hair -- be generous -- and work it in to coat the hair. With the conditioner still on, carefully remove the highlighting cap. The conditioner will act like a lubricant so you don't play tug-of-war with your hair.


Rinse the conditioner from the hair, and you're good to go. You've just successfully turned back time -- as far as your hair goes, anyway.

Things You'll Need


1.Highlighting cap

3.Hair color


2.Small crochet hook

4.20-volume developer



Tips & Tricks


Most highlighting caps sold at beauty supply stores come with the correct size crochet hook included.

Lowlights look best when the color ranges from a chocolate brown to dark blonde.

If you have only a little gray in specific areas of your hair, say the temples, choose a color that matches your natural, non-gray, hair color. If you have 40 percent or more gray, choose a shade a little lighter than your natural hair color, otherwise the overall look will be too dark and obvious.

Don't pull thick chunks of hair through the highlighting cap. The key is to create thin, but multiple, lowlights that will blend and look natural.

Don't try to cover all your gray hair with lowlights. The benefit of lowlights is to turn the clock back a little, without having obvious roots to deal with. So easy does it.


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