The Best Developer For Gray Hair in 2022

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Gray hair can often be difficult to cover. In this article, we reveal everything you need to know about choosing the best volume developer for gray hair in 2021.

The Best Developer for Gray Hair

If you’re looking for the best developer for gray hair coverage, we recommend volume 20. It contains around 6% of hydrogen peroxide and is optimal for covering gray hair. It is also ideal for thick hair as it helps to open your cuticles so the color can be effectively absorbed.

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Why Is Gray Hair So Hard to Dye

Did you know the difference in your hair color is caused by the amount of pigment in your hair strands? The lighter the color of your hair the less pigment there is.

It’s for this reason that blond hair contains the least amount of pigment while brown and black hair has the most.

When it comes to gray hair it is lacking in pigment entirely which results in it being quite difficult to color.

Gray hair cuticles are known to be quite compact and make it difficult for hair dye to penetrate.

If you’re looking to find the best hair dye and developer for gray hair our handy guide reveals all the answers you’re looking for and more.

Which Volume Developer Is Best for Gray Hair

If you’re wondering which developer is best for coloring your gray hair we highly recommend opting for a 20 volume developer.

This volume is ideal as it helps to open your hair cuticle for the dye to be effectively absorbed resulting in vibrant, long-lasting color.

If you find that your hair is quite thick and is often resistant to absorbing the hair dye, you may want to use a 30 volume developer. Be careful to not use too much developer or you may not get the result you want.

For those of you choosing to color your hair at home using a commercial hair dye from your local grocery store or pharmacy, the color kits include 20 volume developer in most cases.

In extra light blonde kits, however, they tend to include a 30-volume developer.

Various Levels of Volume Developers

Various Levels of Volume Developers

You will first need to determine whether you are lifting color or depositing color as this will influence which volume developer is best for gray hair.

10 Volume with 3% peroxide – this is ideally used to lift up to one level of color and is primarily for depositing color into your hair.

20 Volume with 6% of hydrogen peroxide – this is ideally used to lift your natural level up to two levels of color and is optimal for covering gray hair.

30 Volume with 9% of hydrogen peroxide – this is used to lift your natural level of color up to three levels of color.

40 Volume with 12% of hydrogen peroxide – this is ideally used to lift your natural level of color up to four levels and is ideal as a super lightener

What Kind of Hair Dye Is Best for Gray Hair

So, when it comes to coloring your hair what kind of hair dye and developer is best, and do all dyes work on gray hair?

Rest assured, most commercial hair dyes found in local stores and pharmacies will work on gray hair.

While a few brands have opted to market their hair dye at being great “specifically for gray hair”, fear not as most brands will grant you the ability to successfully color your gray hair.

When it comes to creating your own hair dye color combo, we highly recommend opting for traditional permanent dye added with a 20-volume developer.

If you’re looking to dye your hair using your own color formation and developer for gray hair, we recommend using a neutral series such as the N or NN series.

The reason for this is that they contain three primary colors namely red, yellow, and blue. Gray hair does not contain a pigment and for this reason, it reacts more to cooler or warmer colors.

These colors help to open your hair cuticles to deposit the color resulting in effective gray hair coverage.

If you’re more comfortable buying a home hair dye kit that includes everything from the hair dye and developer to the gloves and comb, they too will offer natural-looking results. We offer a few suggestions below so you can achieve glowing hair without a trip to the salon.

Best Developers for Gray Hair

If you’re looking to find a suitable developer to help color your gray hair, we suggest these three brands below for effortless coverage:

The Best Developer For Gray Hair

GK Hair Volume Creme Developer

This 20 volume developer by GK Hair is great at providing strength to your hair during the coloring process.

It also ensures 100% coverage which makes it ideal as one of the best developers for gray hair. The unique formula was created to help support natural moisture in your hair while offering complete color coverage.

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The Best Developer For Gray Hair

Wella Perfect 6%

This developer from Wella is one of the best on the market when looking to color gray hair and was specially reformulated to achieve the most accurate color transformation. The result? Pure, balanced, high-shine color from the comfort of your home.

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The Best Developer For Gray Hair

Matrix 20 Volume Cream Developer

We also recommend this Matrix product as one of the best developers for gray hair. Not only will it cover any gray hairs, but your hair will be left with an incredible shine and healthy complexion. It’s ideal to use for coloring grays as well as dyeing your hair to a darker shade or pre-bleached hair.

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3 Hair Colors Suitable for Gray Hair

L'Oréal Paris Excellence Crème Permanent Hair Dye

L’Oréal Paris Excellence Crème Permanent Hair Dye

If you’re looking to achieve radiant at-home color, this ‘Natural Dark Blonde’ hair dye kit from L’Oréal Paris offers 100% gray coverage and up to 8 weeks of color.

The formula is enriched with nourishing ingredients such as Pro-Keratin and Ceramide. There are also over 30 other shades in the collection from chocolate brown to a rich, velvet red.

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Garnier Olia Permanent Hair Dye

Garnier Olia Permanent Hair Dye

If you’re looking for a hair color that offers up to 100% gray hair coverage, this dark brown hair dye from Garnia Olia is ideal for you.

The 60 percent oil-powered formula promises maximum color performance leaving your hair with an intense new shade and long-lasting shine.

The added benefit is that it contains no ammonia, so you won’t be left with the hair dye smell lingering in your bathroom.

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Schwarzkopf Oleo Permanent Hair Dye

Schwarzkopf Oleo Permanent Hair Dye

The Schwarzkopf Oleo permanent oil color contains no ammonia and is gentle on your hair. It offers 100% professional gray coverage so you can achieve salon-quality hair at home. The formula is oil-based resulting in soft, silky hair full of shine and vibrant color.

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How to Color Gray Hair at Home

If you’ve settled on the best hair color and developer to color your hair and you’re ready to put them to the test, follow this simple hair color routine below:

  1. Be sure to mix your tint and activator thoroughly before use and follow the instructions on your product. A patch test is a great way to determine if your skin is compatible with the hair dye and will help to avoid a possible allergic reaction.
  2. It’s important to note that gray hair can take longer to absorb hair color so, for this reason, we recommend applying the hair dye to your gray areas first. Apply the remaining mixture to the rest of your hair and be sure to cover the roots evenly
  3. For those of you tinting your hair with darker colors, allowing the hair dye to absorb for around 35 – 45 minutes will help to increase the intensity of your color and will result in a vibrant, rich shade.

Follow up with a purple or blue shampoo and always use a heat protectant on your hair.

Is Henna Recommended for Gray Hair

For those of you who are looking to make use of an organic hair dye or use a natural process to dye your gray hair, henna is one of the most popular choices.

Henna is ideal as a natural coloring pigment and is often used by redheads and brunettes.

It can also be used to color gray hair and you can still achieve shiny, healthy hair covering any gray hairs as an added bonus. We have included a simple home remedy using henna as a hair dye below:


1 x cup of henna powder

2 x cups of lemon juice

1 x tablespoon of vinegar


  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl and let it sit for around 5 hours. The mixture will need to thicken before it is ready to use
  2. Slowly apply the mixture to your hair and be sure to comb it through your strands evenly
  3. Wrap your hair in plastic and let it develop for around 2 hours
  4. Rinse the henna mixture out and wash your hair with shampoo
  5. For the best results, we recommend repeating the process once a month

Best Tips for Dying Gray Hair

We reveal some of the best hair tips when coloring gray hair at home featuring everything from the best tones to use to how to create the best formula for color success:

  • As you know gray hairs can be stubborn and often difficult to cover. We suggest applying the color to the most prominent gray hairs first as they will be more resistant to the color. This way your hair cuticles will open enabling the dye to be further absorbed which will leave you with a vibrant color result.
  • If you’d like to color grays and enjoy glossy hair in the process, simply add a drop of Argan oil to your color mix before you apply it to your hair.
  • If you’re looking to effectively cover gray hair we recommend choosing gold or neutral tones as opposed to ash tones.
  • We recommend choosing a permanent hair dye over semi-permanent hair color. This way the dye will be long-lasting and will be fully absorbed by your strands covering any signs of gray hair.

Disclaimer: This site is not intended to provide professional or medical advice. All of the content on is for informational purposes only. All advice should be followed at your own discretion. Ingredients may change at any time so always check the product label before using. Check our full disclaimer policy here.

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Dee is the founder of Loved By Curls and in-house Curly Girl expert. She loves natural haircare and has tried and tested her share of CGM products. She's always happy to recommend you her favorites.