Keep grays at bay with root touch-up products


For some women, keeping their crowning glory looking glorious is no small task. Monthly colorings can add up to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars a year.

Consumer Reports tested eight of the new root touch-up products that claim to stretch out the time between colorings. All products are used on dry hair. The products range from sticks, sprays, and markers. Some are packaged like lipstick or paint on with a brush. They are all supposed to wash out when you shampoo.

Most importantly, they're supposed to be a way to stretch the time between appointments and to save some money.

"What I look for in these products is that it's easy to use, it's fast, and it matches my color," tester Julie Levine said.

It turns out that they all get the job done pretty well. Testers particularly liked Oscar Blandi Pronto Colore for $23. It did a good job of covering grays and comes in a range of colors that matched well. A majority of testers said they would buy the product themselves. However, it was one of the pricier products, and it stained a couple of testers' scalps.

A close runner-up was the Roux 'Tween Time for only $8. The product comes in five shades that goes on with a crayon-like tip, but the applicator has to be wet which creates an extra step. Testers said it covers as well as the Oscar Blandi product, but it leaves a sticky or tacky feeling after application.

Both products should keep the grays at bay, and no one will be the wiser.

Here's the catch -- most of the test subjects said some products feel sticky or tacky, and many of them can stain fingers or your scalp (though it does wash out). The color match may not be ideal, either. But in most cases, testers said that the color held up well, gave them decent coverage, and washed out, as promised.

Consumer Reports has a caution about some of the root touch-ups. One of the test subjects reported experiencing a cold sensation when she used one of the two spray-on products. Later lab tests found the temperature of an aerosol can drop significantly below freezing during application and harm skin if you spray too close for too long.

Here's how to protect your skin:

  • Follow the product instructions.
  • Hold the spray nozzle at least three inches from your scalp, or farther if directed by the instructions.
  • Spray in bursts of no more than two or three seconds
  • Never spray near (and always allow to dry before approaching) an open flame, such as a grill or candle.


These also worked OK, but weren't the reviewers' favorites:

  • Gray Away Root Concealer (spray), $10
  • Rita Hazan Root Concealer (spray), $25
  • TouchBack Pro by Colormetrics (marker), $30
  • Claudia Stevens Cover That Gray (stick), $6
  • Irene Gari Cover Your Gray 2-in-1 (brush), $6
  • Alterna Stylist 2 Minute Root Touch-Up (brush), $24

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