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top flight:

THE ultimate 
gray hair hack

Master the DIY dye job with Christophe Robin’s Temporary Color Gel—your new secret weapon for camouflaging silver strands.


Written ByAMBER KALLOR

Photography ByGUY AROCH


When I was 10 years old, my redheaded mother and aunt warned me that their middle sister—a brunette like myself—went completely gray before she was legally able to order a drink. My immediate reaction was to burst into tears. While I hadn’t yet experienced puberty, I already knew I was genetically doomed.

But as luck would have it, I’m fairly certain I inherited my dark hair from my father. Because, instead of a rapid transformation, my experience with going gray may be more properly described as a slow burn. The number of silver strands has steadily increased over the years, and I’ve taken to meticulously plucking them out with a tweezer—a daily practice that resulted in short and wiry white hairs that refuse to fall into rank with their melanin-rich counterparts. As a beauty editor, sure, I could easily ring one of the many skilled colorists in my digital Rolodex to aid in the cover up. On the other hand, as a staunch DIY-er with little patience for lengthy trips to the salon every four weeks, I’m more than willing to take matters into my own hands.

That said, none of my previous at-home attempts to camouflage the salt in my pepper-colored hair could be labeled successful. I’ve dabbled in eyeshadow-like powdery pigments that wear off by lunchtime. I’ve tried airbrushing with temporary pigments that feel like spray paint on my strands. I’ve scribbled waxy crayons and inky markers across rogue grays only to find that they flatten hair and weigh down roots. And while the majority of drugstore box colors effectively mask grays, they also unhelpfully cover the natural highlights that give my color some youthful dimension. In short, preserving what precious pigment you have left without keeping a salon on speed dial isn’t exactly foolproof—at least not until Christophe Robin entered the game.

Boasting an impressive roster of A-list clients (including beauty icons like Catherine Deneuve, Léa Seydoux, and Inès de la Fressange), Robin is world-renowned for his radical hair color transformations and subtle balayage. His new Temporary Color Gel—launching exclusively on VIOLET GREY—was made for DIYers (and clumsy Americans) who, like myself, wish to attain effortless Parisian elegance in under an hour. Free of ammonia, peroxide, and other harsh chemicals, this innovative formula instantly covers grays, eliminates the effects of oxidation (like unwanted brassy tones), and evenly fades over time—meaning you won’t get trapped in that vicious root touch-up cycle. C’est magnifique!

HOW IT WORKS

It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what makes French women so unequivocally cool, but their I-woke-up-like-this beauty sensibility—especially when it comes to hair—is definitely part of the allure. Robin’s Temporary Hair Color allows anyone to adopt this casual approach at home. Infused with scalp-soothing oat flakes and shine-inducing Inula flower extract, this 92% natural formula discreetly blends away grays without modifying hair’s structure or irritating the scalp. Simply match one of the four shades (Golden Blonde, Dark Blonde, Light Chestnut, and Dark Chestnut) to your base color for vibrant, fuss-free results.

 

THE APPLICATION

After washing with a silicone-free shampoo and skipping conditioner (which can prevent color molecules from effectively penetrating strands), towel-dry hair and detangle with a wide-tooth comb. Slip into a dark t-shirt and put on the black latex gloves included in the Temporary Color Gel kit to prevent staining.

While there are multiple ways to apply (more on that later), for my first attempt, I opted to give my sun-drenched strands an all-over boost. Working in small sections to ensure even coverage, I made a clean part with the tail end of a comb, applied a thin strip of the non-drip gel along roots using the bottle’s precision tip, and spread the color down toward the tips with my gloved fingers. After repeating this across my scalp, I massaged a bit more color through my ends, and then let it sit for 40 minutes while simultaneously streaming Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and treating myself to a face mask. (Uninhibited multitasking is yet another reason to skip the salon.) A quick rinse in the shower et voilà: rich, streak-free color that blended seamlessly with my natural base.

GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR ROOTS

Several weeks later, a wisp or two of white signaled that it was time for a touch up. This time, I reached for the black toothbrush (also included in the kit), applied a bit of gel to the bristles, and painted each spiky gray strand that threatened to ruin my polished-but-imperfect French fille vibe. Forty minutes, a quick rinse, and a Cali blow-dry later (i.e., rolling down the car windows on the freeway), I was back to living my hectic American life as a salt-free brunette with undeniable je ne sais quoi.