Can’t get to the colorist? Root concealers are a temporary fix to tide you over. Some days I feel like embracing my grays. I use root concealers on the days I don’t.
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This is part of our new weekly series called Test Drive, where our team of beauty experts demystify products and tools, as well as explore new techniques IRL.

I usually see my colorist a few times a year for semi-permanent color and subtle highlights. It's a low-maintenance recipe that has kept me a glossy, fresh brunette for the last few years. But with the pandemic, I haven't made it into the salon in nearly a year (yikes!). Now my color is back to its natural state—dark brown and way more gray than I realized! I wouldn't say I hate my current color, but I don't love it either. We're learning to live together for now.

Woman applying a powder root concealer to her hair
Credit: triocean/Getty Images

Eventually, I'll get back to the salon. Probably. In the meantime, I'm leaning into temporary color with root concealer products whenever I want to camouflage. Root concealers are like makeup for your hair and come in powders, sprays, crayons, and markers. The color is temporary and washes out with shampoo. Typically, I reach for root concealer before a Zoom meeting or when my hair is pulled back and the silver streaks are super noticeable. If you are in hair color limbo like me or just want to tide yourself over between regular dye jobs, they are a must-have product in your kit. Here are a few of my top root concealer picks.

If you have a few grays…

Root concealing powders are great for covering small areas around the hairline. Lately, it's my new touch-up staple. My all-time favorite is Color Wow Root Cover Up Powder ($35, Color Wow), which conveniently comes with its own brush and mirror. It's simple to apply and doesn't crumble or transfer—and no mess! The medium brown shade easily covers the two small patches of gray hair at my temples with a few strokes. My hair grows a bit thinner in those spots, so adding the powder helps make my hairline look thicker and more even. In fact, I like the polished hairline effect so much I'll probably continue using the powder even after I start dyeing my hair again.

If you have lots of grays…

Got an inch or two of obvious roots? A root concealer spray provides more coverage for large areas like the part line. It's easy enough to find a shade that matches your hair color. My top two are Oribe's Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray ($34, Oribe) and L'Oreal Paris Root Magic CoverUp ($11, L'Oreal Paris). What's the hardest part about using a spray? Allowing yourself extra time to apply it. A spray requires some prep and technique, otherwise, things can get messy.

To start, place a towel over your shoulders and apply it in the bathroom over the sink (or somewhere that's easy to wipe down). Then I follow this pro technique from Adam Livermore, a hairstylist, and Oribe educator, which works every time: Hold the spray about six inches away from your head and apply quick swipes across the area you want to cover, then move in closer and do it again. "From further away, the spray pattern will be wider and the coverage sheerer. The closer you get to the head, the more focused and pigmented it will be," Livermore says. If the color looks heavy, you can use a comb ($5, Ulta) to break it up a bit. And a makeup wipe ($9, Target) or damp washcloth removes any smudges that get on your skin.


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