It’s nice having the option to do quick root touch-ups in between your salon visits. Especially when your big interview, hot date, or company gala happens to conveniently fall the week before your next color appointment and you need to camouflage those would-be grey saboteurs STAT.
These days we have plenty of options at our fingertips for color touch-ups from sprays, to crayons, to mascaras, powders and even OTC “root touch-up kits”. It can be confusing to figure out what your best options are. Instead of playing the trial and error game (and trust me, the “error” part can be a nightmare to correct when it comes to your precious locks) let’s review some of the most popular choices we have and determine which ones would be perfect for your specific hair situation and which ones to steer clear of:
DRUG STORE ROOT TOUCH UP KITS:
WHAT IT IS:Usually sold as a one-time-use box set of semi-permanent hair-color paired with an applicator brush for easier regrowth application.
THE GOOD:Only one application is needed and is not formulated to wash away.
THE BAD:Because of the permanency of this type of product, using a root touchup kit that is even half a shade too dark can result in “banding” and other color inconsistencies. If you have a multi-service color regimen (i.e.: base color and highlights), one accidental slip of that applicator brush or faulty sectioning could ruin your highlights or create unsightly spots and uneven color in the hair.
THE BOTTOM LINE:Anything you buy in a box that requires you to mix two or more ingredients together to create a chemical reaction has some sort of permanency in the hair and is a risk that you’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not is worth taking. Being a “Kitchen Beautician” to save a few bucks in between professional services may seem like a good idea, and sometimes it works out just fine… but sometimes it doesn’t. So, buyer beware: Corrective color services require far more work than the usual maintenance regimen, often times racking up a costly bill.
WHAT IT IS: Essentially, it’s like mascara- for your roots! These temporary colors can be swiped onto unsightly greys for instant coverage.
THE GOOD:Inexpensive ($8-$12 for a tube that lasts months), easy to apply and shampoos out, therefore will not affect or interfere with your regular salon maintenance regimen.
THE BAD:Many hair mascaras leave a slightly tacky residue anywhere it is applied. Colored residue may wear off on clothing or pillowcases.
THE BOTTOM LINE:This is perfect for any style worn up (ponytails, etc.) but some users are bothered by the texture of the residue when the hair is worn down. This is not the type of product you would want to constantly run your hands through all day.
WHAT IT IS:They look almost like eyeshadow palettes but contain pressed power and an applicator brush used to disguise roots.
THE GOOD:One great feature of this type of product is the ability to touch up highlights by using a “blonde” powder on dark roots. The light weight power coats the hair seamlessly with no residual texture. Touchup powders are easy to apply and shampoo right out, therefore will not affect or interfere with your regular salon maintenance regimen.
THE BAD:Colored residue may wear off on clothing or pillowcases and dark colored powders may show up on the scalp.
THE BOTTOM LINE:My personal favorite for touching up blonde highlights. Just watch out on a rainy day.
WHAT IT IS:Touch up markers generally contain a temporary dye used to conceal greys in between salon visits.
THE GOOD:Most touchup markers are formulated to shampoo out, so that they do not affect or interfere with your regular salon maintenance regimen. The color is usually weightless & water resistant (must be shampooed out) and are less likely to rub off on clothing or pillowcases.
THE BAD:Markers require a bit more tact to apply. Users are advised to use a comb (usually included) to avoid accidentally coloring their scalp when applying. Touchup markers are generally more expensive than their mascara or powdered counterparts running upwards of $30+.
THE BOTTOM LINE:Great for seamless root touchups but not for highlight touchups. Application may take a little more time and skill. The water resistance is a plus and will withstand light rain or perspiration.
WHAT IT IS: A colored spray for quick and easy grey coverage. The amount of coverage and level of lightness/darkness can be customized by the number of coats.
THE GOOD: The fine, aerosol mist creates seamless coverage and just like the previous three options, touch up aerosols are formulated to shampoo out, so that they cause no harm to or interfere with your regular salon maintenance regimen. The color is usually weightless and water resistant (must be shampooed out) and less likely to rub off on clothing or pillowcases.
THE BAD: Not recommended for pulled back styles (i.e.: ponytails) since it’s difficult (however not impossible if you’re crafty enough) to spray near the hairline without getting a weird looking tan on your forehead 😉
THE BOTTOM LINE: These are easy to apply AND water resistant (most brands are but be sure to check the label). They’re great for styles worn down, but not recommended for pulled back styles.
Talk Options with Your Colorist:
If you’re finding yourself in need of touching up your own roots more often than not, then it may be time to discuss other color options with your colorist. Are you an “every 5-weeker”? Try switching to every 4 weeks instead. It’s amazing the difference one week can make. If going to the salon more frequently is not going to fly with your budget, then consider changing your color. If your hair is 60% grey or more, consider going with a lighter base so there is less contrast when your roots grow in. If you’re a heavily highlighted blonde, consider switching from heavy highlights to soft, hand-painted balayage for a softer, less apparent regrowth line. Not in favor of changing your color? If your colorist works in a busy salon with colleagues at different price levels, ask if it would be okay to alternate between your beloved colorist and a lower priced associate so that you can come in more frequently and still get the same consistent color formula. Any good colorist will be more than happy to work with you to find a perfect regimen that fits your tastes, lifestyle and budget. Remember, the key to great hair and a happy client/stylist relationship is clear communication.