Are white strands popping up all over? Let’s face it, as we age and our hair starts graying there are really only two options: Embrace the gray or start coloring your mane. Problem is, those silvery strands don’t make things easy if you choose to mask them. It can be tough to find the right coloring regimen to cover gray hair, and sticking to it can be rough, especially for kinky,- curly- or wavy-haired African Americans. These tips from and offer effective techniques to keep silvered strands healthy and return some of their former color.

Assess the gray. First, take an honest measure of how much graying you need to address. Why? Because depending on how much gray you have, recommendations on how best to color your hair may change. If your tresses are less than 40 percent gray, you can color your hair at home. But if you’ve got the bucks, a salon stylist can introduce your hair to highlights and mask your graying strands. (Highlights may have to be redone once or twice a month.) For ladies with a full head of gray hair, stylists recommend a complete coloring. Then maintain tresses’ uniform shade with a color wand as hair grows out.

Avoid dyes with alcohol or peroxide. If you’re coloring at home, use permanent or semi-permanent hair color without these chemicals. Both dry out hair and make it brittle. These hair-weakening ingredients also cause color to fade faster. That means more hair coloring sessions, a hair health no-no!

Let color sit tight for the right amount of time. Silvered strands can often be resistant to coloring, so it’s especially important to keep hair dye in long enough to set the color. And properly follow coloring instructions. Timing matters when it comes to dyeing hair.

Choose darker shades. To get natural-looking color, select a dye that’s no more than two or three shades lighter than your natural hair color. But heed this warning: Aggressive bleaching can cause extreme damage to your mane.

Use sulfate-free hair stuff. Do product checks to make sure shampoos, conditioners, and styling solutions are free of this detergent. Sulfate-free hair products help dyed hair resist fading and changing tones between color treatments.

Rinse with cool water. Running cool or lukewarm water through your hair limits color damage. Hot water can cause hair to lose its color faster. And ditto for exposure to chlorine water or too much sun.

Ask an expert for help. Coloring gray hair can quickly get complicated. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional assistance. If you want to bleach gray hair a lighter shade, or simply want highlights, best to let a professional take over. Gray hair can get yellow if dyed the wrong way.

Adopt a gray is great attitude! Hey, letting your hair go naturally, beautifully gray, or coloring your hair silver, could also be the right solution for you. Gray hair can offer a fresh, cultivated elegance that no other color matches. And remember, there are endless shades of gray.

Click here to learn why and how hair fades to white.