Grecian Formula acts as a melanin substitute to reverse the graying process and gradually bring back a person's natural hair color. It produces a similar pigment where melanin growth used to exist in the hair follicles, and the pigment combines with the hair's protein, causing one's natural color to reappear.
Melanin is the natural agent that determines the color of hair. When a person no longer produces melanin, his hair turns gray and eventually white. Grecian Formula works to restore natural hair color with gel and liquid applications that can be combed through the hair daily.
The formula does not work like typical hair dye, as it does not stain the skin or immediately produce a change in color. Grecian Formula is designed to work gradually, as it reverses the process that occurs when hair begins to turn gray.
During applications, individuals should apply it to dry hair and avoid washing the hair or using gels, hairspray or conditioner for at least one week after the first application. Users may not see any results for a few days, but eventually, the natural color gradually begins to return.
Grecian Formula is not designed for beards, sideburns or any form of facial or body hair. The product is designed solely for hair on the head.
The product is believed to be one of the best-known hair-coloring products. However, the effectiveness of the non-lead acetate-based Grecian Formula is disputed, according to Gray Hair Specialist. As of 2012, the Grecian Formula products, having replaced lead acetate with silver or copper acetates, are seen as less effective.
Grecian Formula has been sold for decades. It has been available since 1961 and is sold in 30 countries worldwide, as of 2015. In the U.S., it works by using lead acetate, darkening with exposure to air and allowing gradual coloring of hair. However, in other areas of the world, different non-lead acetate formulas are used instead due to concerns over toxicity of lead acetate.