Here is the question: "Do I color my beard or leave it natural?"
A lot of guys struggle with this question. The best answer is to do whatever makes you the happiest with your beard.
If you go natural and embrace the grey or white in your beard then all the more power to you. Grey or white hair in a beard can be a very striking look. After all Santa just would not be the same without his big white beard, now would he?
If you make the decision that you are not ready to have gray or white in your beard then you certainly can color your beard hair. The key to coloring your beard is to understand your options, know how to use it, and take the time to do it right and safely.
Let's start with your options.
There are four types of hair coloring out there on the market:
Temporary hair color comes as a spray-on product, a colored shampoo or conditioner or similar product. It does not penetrate the hair and washes out easily.
Semi-Permanent hair color does not use a developer and there for does not chemically alter the hair color. Think of it as a paint for hair. Depending on how often you shampoo, semi-permanent hair coloring can last up to 10 - 24 days. Semi-permanent hair color covers the hair color but does not change it. There is no color lift. A brunette can not become a ginger or a blonde by using a semi-permanent hair color. Because there is no chemical alteration, there is also no line of demarcation. You will not see roots of a different color as the hair grows. The color will be long washed out before you would see any roots.
Demi-Permanent hair color uses a developer from 3 volume up to 18 volume and will chemically alter the hair color. However, demi-permanent hair color will only deposit color and not lift the hair color. It is similar to semi-permanent hair color in that it will fade. Demi-permanent hair color lasts 18 to 20 shampoos which is longer than semi-permanent. Because you would choose a color close to your natural color, the root regrowth is not very noticeable.
Permanent hair color uses a developer from 20 volume up to 50 volume (40 and 50 volume should be left for the professionals to use) and like demi-permanent hair color will chemically alter the hair color. With permanent hair color you can lighten or lift the natural hair color. The volume of developer determines how many levels of lift that you can achieve. A 20 volume developer allows you to lift 1 to 2 levels, 30 volume developer allows you to lift 2 to 3 levels. The higher the volume the greater the lift and also the more risk of damage to the hair. While the color can fade, it will never wash out. The color lasts until the time to re-color the roots and refresh the color on the length of the hair.
The more grey or white that you are trying to cover the higher the volume of developer you would need. Semi-permanent color works well if you have less than 25% grey. Demi-permanent works well if you are between 25% - 50%. Any amount higher would need permanent hair color. Grey or white hair has lost its pigment (color), is usually more coarse, and can be very resistant to color. If the hair is porous, it means that the hair will absorb color much more quickly and can result in darker than expected color.. When trying to cover grey or white hair, your hair color formula needs to be at least 50% of a neutral or natural shade.
|Level Number||Color Name|
|10||Lightest Blonde - Platinum|
|9||Very Light Blonde|
|Code Letter||Tone Name|
|N||Neutral or Natural|
|NN||Intense Neutral or Intense Natural|
Different hair color brands can have more tonal shades or different names, but the list above are the most common.
8N equals natural light blonde.
9GC equals very light golden copper blonde.
Sure there are boxed kits out on the market, but you have no control over the quality of the products. Personally, I use Karaal Baco permanent hair color and for developer I use Redken Chromatics. These developers seem to be the gentlest on my beard.
Preparation is very important for a successful coloring. If you are serious in taking on this task at home, you will need to invest in the proper tools. These would include the following:
Prior to applying the hair color, you should deep condition the day before. On the day of coloring, use a product to remove any impurities from your hair such as hard water deposits and use a porosity treatment to get the hair in the best possible condition. I recommend a product called Color Prepare by Malibu C to remove mineral deposits left from using hard water. I use a product called Intensive from the Killerstrands eStore prior to coloring to reduce the porosity of my beard and post coloring to balance the pH level. Hair color should be applied to dry hair. It is a good idea to apply your Admiral Red Beard brand Beard Refresh Premium Beard Oil prior to coloring as well. Use enough to coat the beard hair well but not so much that it is dripping with oil. When the developer opens the hair cuticle to deposit the color it will infuse the hair shaft with the oil to impart extra moisture to the hair during the color process.
For the best results, you should run a test on a few strands to check for the proper timing, the correct color formulation and for allergy testing. Mix your hair color formula according to the manufacturers directions and apply evenly to your beard. Leave it on for the time amount that you determined during the strand test . Most hair color brands state to process the color for 30-35 minutes. Once the color process is complete, it is time to rinse your beard to remove the coloring product. Rinse well with cool water until the water runs clear. Do not shampoo (this helps to extend the length of the color). Blot with a towel to remove excess water and apply your pH balancing product. Lowering the pH level of the hair will close the cuticle and help to lock in the new color. The final step will be to deep condition again. The Admiral Red Beard brand Beard Boost Moisture Whip would be a good choice.
I am not a professional hair colorist and only offer this advice based on my own personal research and experience. You take a chance at undesired results and possible damage to your beard if you try to attempt this at home. If you understand the process and are willing to accept the risks, then you can achieve your desired color at home. If you have concerns about the risks or have more questions, please consult a professional hair colorist.