How to Have Success with At-Home Hair Color

How to Have Success with At-Home Hair Color

Coloring hair is a true art form these days, especially with the exploding popularity of specialized techniques like balayage. Despite the amazing work of talented hair color pros out there, you may find that you want to (or need to) find a way to color your hair yourself.

With the wide breadth of boxed hair color on the market now, your opportunity for a great-looking DIY dye job has never been greater. That is, if you keep the following tips in mind before you apply hair color yourself:

1) Don't Be Fooled by the Box Cover Shot
It is very tempting to just look at the enticing box cover photos in the store and pick your next hair color based on some beautiful model. The reality is that the side panel will tell you what your hair will really look like based on your current hair color.

2) Be Realistic
Don't try to make a drastic change yourself. Celebrities may seem to go from brunette to platinum in a minute, but drastic changes like that are complicated and require multiple steps. Any big color change is always best left in the hands of a specialist!

3) Be Conservative
The best way to dye your hair at home is to choose a color that is only one or two shades lighter or darker than your current color.

Just a warning…If you choose to go darker than your current color, just be aware that choosing a too-dark color is hard to reverse and may require a trip to the salon to fix. Alternatively, choosing a too-light color may result in brassiness, requiring intervention by a salon professional as well.

Also be aware…your color result will usually end up being darker than what is pictured on the box, so opt for a color that is a bit lighter than what you really want. 

4) Try a Demi-Permanent or Semi-Permanent Formula
If you are looking for just a slight darkening of color (or to blend in grays), try a demi-permanent color before moving to a permanent color formula. Demi-permanent formulas have a low level of peroxide (but no ammonia to lighten/lift color), and will normally slowly fade in a month or so depending on your hair type and how frequently you wash your hair. In total, a demi-permanent color can last up to twenty-four shampoos.

If you have never colored your hair before, you may also want to consider a semi-permanent formula. These have no ammonia or peroxide and will just change the overall tone of your hair more than the color. The best part about using a semi-permanent formula is that it is a low risk DIY option— the color will slowly fade in about six to twelve shampoos.

That all said, if you are more than 50% gray, a permanent color is still your best option for 100% gray coverage. ​

5) Start with 2nd Day of 3rd Day Hair
It is always best not to color freshly washed hair. Why? Your natural scalp oils will help prevent any scalp irritation.

6) Do a Strand Test
Despite the fact that many people skip this step, it is always best to try the new color on a few underneath strands before you color your whole head. As the old saying goes, "it is better to be safe than sorry."

7) Guard Against Stains
As they do in a salon, protect the skin around your front hairline and on the nape of your neck from stains by applying a tiny bit of Vaseline on the skin.

8) Wear the Right Clothing
Make sure to wear an old robe or button-down shirt that you don't mind getting stains on. If you can, avoid wearing anything that needs to be pulled over your head— it just creates an unnecessary mess!

9) Do Your Prep Work
Make sure to read all instructions carefully and understand what you are doing before you get started. Also, have everything you will need right in front of you to make the process go smoothly, including your phone (or other timer), gloves, and a small mirror to check to make sure you have adequately covered the back of your head. 

10) Act Like a Professional

The bottle may have a simple applicator, but it is still hard to evenly distribute the color. Instead, check online or your local beauty supply store for a color brush and bowl like the pros use. The added effort (and expense) is worth it.

11) Work in Sections
Pin hair into four sections by parting your hair down the middle and then across your head from ear to ear. Secure each section with a clip. As you begin to work on a section, use a comb to separate the hair. When done with a section, just pin it out of the way and move on to the next section. This will ensure you will get even coverage and completely cover all of your roots.

12) Begin in the Front
As most box instructions will tell you, start to apply color to the front of your head first, especially if you are attempting to cover gray.

13) Distribute Color
Even if your roots are what you want to focus on, distribute color to the rest of your hair at the very end of your processing time (depending on the box instructions). This will avoid an obvious color line.

14) Don't Try to Fix a Bad Dye Job
In the event that your results are not at all what you want, call the color help line listed on the box or make an appointment with a professional colorist. Major dye mistakes are very hard to fix on your own without advice from a professional, especially after multiple attempts.

15) Use the Right Shampoo

Make sure to use a shampoo that is color-safe. After your hard work, the last thing you want is your shampoo to quicken color fading! In addition, avoid shampooing your hair for a few days after you color-treat your hair to help the hair retain the color better.

16) Condition, Condition, Condition
To keep your hair healthy, condition your hair regularly after it is color-treated, especially if you use a permanent color (since it is the hardest on the hair). In addition to a rinse-out conditioner, also use a deep conditioning mask every couple of weeks to keep your hair in great shape!

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