My first gray hair showed up in my early twenties, like the punch line to a bad joke about overachievers. The next few trickled in at the rate of two or three per year until I had twins at 29, and half my head seemed to turn white overnight. Up until then, I had tolerated the strays and made no attempt to hide them. But at 30, I felt too young to be so gray, so I booked an appointment for a single process. Little did I know I had embarked on a tedious, decades-long commitment to retain my original natural brunette color. Immediately I began to resent it, as I could never get into the rhythm of a scheduled appointment, which would inevitably lead into parts of the month when silvery roots made it look like my hair was thinning and pulling away from my head.
Recently, I realized there were products designed to help hair-color deniers like me. I tested many of the nonpermanent products available for covering roots in between salon visits to see which ones were a mess and which were a godsend. From powders to lip-gloss wands to mini-spray-paint-bottles, there’s no shortage of companies trying to solve this problem. For two weeks past my much-needed dye job, I put these products to the test. Through rainstorms and bike rides, overnight, and with white dresses, I tried them all. Some were good for certain sections of the head, others good for keeping in your purse for emergencies (doesn’t it always seem like roots show up out of nowhere?), and a few were downright awful. Click through the slideshow ahead to get the full reviews and see which products I’d recommend the most. Because until they make that pill to eradicate gray, we’ll be using products like these when we don’t have time to get our hair done.