Prep hair for color

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Stylist comes clean about hair myths

Paul Cucinello, creative director of the Chris Chase Salon in New York City, hears the same myths from his clients all the time. You know the ones — don’t wash your hair every day, drug store products are just as good as salon products, etc. Here’s what Cucinello says:

1. “100 strokes a day makes hair healthier and shinier.” TRUE!
Well, maybe not 100! But, gently brushing your hair before bed with a really good brush (like a Mason Pearson) will evenly distribute the oils from your roots down to the ends and protect them from over drying. It will also exfoliate your scalp and prepare your hair for effective cleansing and conditioning the next day.
2. “Don’t wash your hair before you get it colored. The color will take better.” FALSE.
Hair color is always best absorbed on clean hair. A buildup of oils and styling products may protect your scalp from being irritated by chemicals, but a dirty head of hair will only turn off your stylist. Try washing your hair the night before you color it for perfect results.
3. “You should trim your hair regularly if you want to grow it out.” FALSE.
If you keep cutting it, your hair will only get shorter. During the awkward stage, try pinning it back, getting bangs or wearing some cute hats or headbands.
4. “Short hair just isn’t sexy/Guys don’t like short hair.” FALSE.
Confidence is sexy. Short hair is sexy on confident women… Look at all the hot women in Hollywood with short hair and HOT guys like Rihanna, Victoria Beckham & Katie Holmes.
5. “Spraying lemon juice in your hair while you’re at the beach will bring out natural highlights.” TRUE.


But at what cost? Lemon juice will actually burn tiny holes into the hair that will allow light to pass through it (an effect similar to bleach) and severely dry your hair out. If you want highlights, go to the salon.

6. “Burning the ends of your hair will seal split ends.” FALSE.
Burning your hair is probably the most dangerous, terrible thing you could ever do to your luscious locks! Trimming your hair is the ONLY way to alleviate split ends.

7. “Coloring hair during pregnancy can be harmful to your baby.” FALSE.
There has never been one documented complication directly related to coloring hair during pregnancy, but talk to your doctor if you are worried. Since your body temperature is higher when you’re pregnant, roots might take too much or get too light. Cucinello recommends sitting in a well ventilated area of the salon to avoid inhalation of strong chemical odors.


8. ”You have to wash your hair everyday if your roots get oily quickly.” FALSE.
It’s kind of the other way around. Roots get oily because you wash your hair everyday. Your body works on supply and demand. Every time you wash your hair you are removing the protective oils from your scalp. What’s worse is that most people who tend to have oily scalps also forgo conditioner all together, making their scalp drier, forcing it to produce more oil.
Here’s the fix: Before washing, bush your hair to pull the oils down to the ends. Then, shampoo your hair with a moisturizing shampoo and a volumizing conditioner. Shampoo every other day. On day two, skip the shampoo and just rinse and condition. Use your conditioner the same way you would a shampoo and make sure to really massage your scalp. This way, your scalp will be moisturized and gradually your roots will become less oily.

9. “Salon products are just overpriced versions of the drugstore brands.” FALSE.
Salon products have much higher quality ingredients. Salon products also come with a recommendation from your stylist based on the haircut or chemical service your just received and your hair type. Some drugstore brands tend to be glorified versions of a detergent and a wax and can strip the oils out and put them right back in. Some high-end salon products (like Kerastase,) actually chemically alter the hair texture and always seem to do what they actually claim to do.
10. “Your hair gets used to shampoos and styling products” TRUE.
All products can build up over time causing your hair to stop responding to their active ingredients. You should always keep two different types of shampoo and conditioner in your shower and select each one based on how you choose to wear your hair that day. Ask your stylist for an alternative to your current roster of products.

I love dyeing my hair, and being a cheapskate I always do it myself.

I’ve dyed it so many colours in the past 15 years I’m not really sure what my natural shade is anymore.

This colour was one of my favourites and a total fluke. I can’t even remember what dyes I used.(Supplied: Carol Rääbus)

I’ve had major successes and cringeworthy disasters — bright green that was meant to be blue and deep blue that was supposed to be black.

I’ve learnt some tricks to prevent staining and get a result I like, but I’ve never really looked into the risks.

With my latest dodgy dye job tied back (in an attempt to hide it from the professionals), I went and asked for some hairdresser dos and don’ts on dyeing hair.

I also spoke with a dermatologist about the risks we take by pouring chemicals on our scalp.

DO: have realistic expectations

Hairdresser Chelsea De Main says you can damage curly hair with hair dye if you’re not sure what you’re doing.(ABC Life: Carol Rääbus)

My favourite hair colours have been mistakes — total flukes from mixing and matching different colours over my sad, damaged follicles.

A lot of this random colour creation has come from me not considering what colour my hair was underneath.

Chelsea De Main has been in the hairdressing industry for 17 years and owns and runs a salon in Hobart.

She says it’s common for people to come to her when they’ve got the wrong result at home.

“A lot of people think they can go from blonde to brown in an instant,” she says.

A salon will often put on a “fill in” colour, which acts like a primer, and then they’ll put on the final colour the client desires.

Brock Gardner is a Hobart-based hairdresser and salon owner. He says a common problem with home dyers is they put the same colour over their roots and on the ends of their hair that’s already dyed.

“Whether you’ve got virgin hair or pre-existing colour on hair, it very much determines what you’re going to get, which people don’t understand,” he says.

A salon dye will usually put different dyes on the roots to pre-dyed ends to get a consistent overall colour.

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DO: protect your face! And your bathroom

Brock Gardner has been hairdressing for more than two decades.(ABC Life: Carol Rääbus)

Doing your own hair is messy. Some of the foamy dyes I’ve tried can get pretty runny.

It’s important to prep your bathroom and yourself beforehand.

Ms De Main says she used to dye her hair at home as teenager, to the detriment of her mother’s bathroom.

“I used to go blue-black and my mum’s ceramic basin was just ruined,” she says. “No bleach could get it out.”

Put down an old towel or newspaper to catch drips, and only wear clothes you don’t care about.

Smear a thick cream around your face, ears and neck (I use horrible, cheap moisturiser — petroleum jelly is a good option).

Wear gloves! It can help protect your skin from unnecessary risk — which we’ll get into later.

Once you’ve got the dye on your hair, clean up any smudges on your face, ears and neck and clean up any dropped dye from benches.

Smearing toothpaste (the white stuff, not the gel stuff) on stains from hair dye helps remove them. (I’ve always got my bond back with this cleaning trick.)

DON’T: leave dye on for longer than recommended

It’s tempting to leave dye on your head for longer than the box says to try to achieve a more vibrant result.

This is risky because that means the chemicals are on your skin for longer, increasing the risk of reaction.

Ms De Main says she keeps antihistamines in her salon to give to clients if they start to react.

While it’s rare, it is possible to have an anaphylactic reaction to hair dye, which if not treated straight away could kill you.

Mr Gardner recommends calling the hotline number on the instructions of the home dye to talk through your plans and says semi-permanents are safer.

“If you’re going to be doing stuff at home … they’re much easier to deal with if you do make a mistake.”

DO: be careful playing with chemicals

Dyeing hair with foils keeps the chemicals off your skin, which is a good option for people who are more sensitive.(ABC Open: Amanda Berry)

Rosemary Nixon is an associate professor and dermatologist with the Skin and Cancer Foundation Inc in Melbourne. She says it’s rare for people to have an anaphylactic reaction to hair dye.

“I have seen a lot of allergic reactions to hair dye that have been so severe they come quite quickly, but they’re typically a delayed reaction, not that anaphylactic reaction,” she says.

Chemicals commonly found in permanent hair dyes, such as ammonia and hydrogen peroxide, can cause burns to your scalp if left on too long or mixed too strong.

But the main chemical that causes allergies is paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which is found in darker colours.

Dr Nixon says most clients who come to her don’t have a reaction on their scalp, because the scalp is pretty thick and tough, which can make it tricky to work out what is going on.

Dr Nixon says a “classic presentation” for dermatologists is an older man with contact dermatitis on his face and neck cause by hair dye which he can be reluctant to admit using.

Men using dyes to cover greying beards and moustaches often use dyes more regularly and over more of their skin, which can lead to a problem sooner than someone dyeing their hair every now and then.

Dr Nixon says if you start to have reactions to hair dye, natural henna dyes can be a safer alternative, but check the ingredients to make sure there’s not any PPD hidden in the mix.

DON’T: turn your hair to jelly

Men dyeing their beards can quickly develop reactions to the dye because it’s on the more delicate skin of the face.(Wikimedia: Rhodondendrites)

Most people know bleach is a strong chemical you don’t want on your skin for long.

But with aisles of blonde dye packets on the shelves at your supermarket, it’s very tempting to try a new platinum style.

The risk of going lighter is overdoing it and literally destroying your hair.

” can turn into jelly, which is really not good,” Ms De Main says.

“It just disintegrates the strands.

“You need to be able to check the elasticity of the hair while it’s being processed.”

Ms De Main says when you’re having your hair lightened in a salon they should check the hair regularly to see if it stretches — not stretching is good.

“If it stretches a lot and doesn’t return to its normal shape, then you’ve gone too far and that’s when the hair breaks and turns to jelly.”

Bleached hair will also need some colour correction with a toner and it might take a few goes to get it where you want it, so it is usually safer to just pay someone else to do it.

DO: be prepared for it all to go horribly wrong

I actually tried to dye my hair all the one colour, believe it or not. And yes, my partner and I are massive dags.(Supplied: Carol Rääbus)

Ms De Main says she never judges a client who comes to her for help to fix a bad DIY dye.

“Everybody at one stage or another … has tried it at home,” she says.

“It’s the safety side of things that’s the main thing to look at.”

Her advice, and mine, is if you want to try something and you’re OK with the idea of it not working out — go for it.

Fully follow the directions on the box and have fun. Maybe make sure someone’s at home in case you have a reaction.

But if your hair is your pride and joy and the very thought of shaving your head makes you cry, you’re best off leaving it all to the professionals.

After months or even years of the same beauty routine, dyeing your hair can give you a fun update. To make sure your new ‘do lasts and your locks remain healthy, we’ve rounded up a few things you should avoid after leaving the salon.

1. Shampooing the day after you dye your hair.

It’s one of the most common mistakes, and one of the most costly. “After having your hair colored, wait a full 72 hours before shampooing,” says Eva Scrivo, a hairstylist in New York City. “It takes up to three days for the cuticle layer to fully close, which traps the color molecule, allowing for longer lasting hair color.”

2. Throwing box dye over freshly salon-colored hair.

If you don’t love how your color came out, trying to fix it yourself with hair color from the drugstore could end up making it much worse. “Resist the urge to throw something over-the-counter onto your freshly highlighted hair,” advises Nikki Ferrara, colorist at New York City’s Serge Normant at John Frieda. “Most box dyes are permanent colors and will be more drying.” Instead, have a pro do your color correction.

3. Washing your hair too often.

“Color’s worst enemy is water,” colorist Ruth Roche tells Good Housekeeping. The chemicals in hair dye make your hair more vulnerable to water’s effects. This doesn’t mean you need to stop taking showers — just make simple tweaks to your routine, like avoiding excessive rinsing: “Once you’ve shampooed and conditioned, tilt your head back and let the water just run over it for several minutes,” says Teca Gillespie, a scientist with P&G. Instead of shampooing your hair every day, try using a dry shampoo like Dove Refresh + Care Dry Shampoo ($6, ulta.com) at the roots to soak up oil.

4. Rinsing with hot water.

Adjust your water temperature to lukewarm or cold when rinsing. Hot water lifts the outer cuticle layer, which is one of the most common reasons that color fades, says Scrivo. The hotter the water, the quicker the color loss.

CoffeeAndMilkGetty Images

5. Not using a conditioner for color-treated hair.

Dyed hair is more likely to become dry and brittle, so treat it with conditioners specifically formulated for color-treated hair, like Leonor Greyl Crème de Soin à L’Amarante Detangling and Color-Protecting Conditioner ($78, amazon.com). It helps create a protective barrier, which can prevent your dye from quickly washing out.

Make sure to condition every time you shampoo, even if you have fine hair. “You really want to make sure you condition the longest part of your hair,” says Gillespie. “The tips can be years old and have the most damage, whereas the roots are only a couple of months old.” Try using a leave-in conditioner like Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Leave-in Conditioner ($11, carolscaughter.com) for even more of a moisture boost.

6. Drying roughly with a towel.

Scrubbing too hard can fade color and make the ends look dry, says Lisa Marie Garcia, president of innovation for Farouk Systems. Instead, gently blot your hair and let it air dry as much as possible.

7. Overusing your curling iron, flat iron, or blow-dryer.

Colored hair is more vulnerable to heat. To keep from frying out your hair, apply a heat protectant spray before using tools like your curling iron.

8. Not protecting and hydrating the hair.

Color-treated hair can get dry and brittle, especially in the summer months, says Brianna Davis, a professional hairstylist and owner of ABL Hair Studios in Brooklyn.

“Apply a deeper conditioning mask or hydrating oil treatment (coconut, avocado, or grapeseed) on processed hair to restore and keep hair strong,” Davis says. Leave it on for 30 minutes or overnight for the best results to maintain the quality of your hair.

9. Forgetting the glossy factor.

Your hair may be a gorgeous new color, but has it lost its shine? Your hair’s protein layers (cuticles) reflect light and cause it to shine, but dye dulls this luster. To get that Kate Middleton-esque shine back, use a serum, shine spray, at-home glaze or overnight hair repair treatment like Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Gel-to-Oil Overnight Repair Treatment ($28, amazon.com). And again, cut back on the heat tools.

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10. Overexposing your hair to the sun.

If you plan on spending lots of time in the sun, wear a hat to keep your hair color from fading or lightening.

11. Re-dyeing unevenly.

If you touch up your own hair, carefully apply the color on the roots only. Then, just before you rinse out the color, Estelle Baumhauer, product development manager at DeveloPlus, suggests an emulsion technique, which will revive the color on the ends and add body and shine.

After you apply color to your roots, step into the shower and add a bit of water onto your hair, right on top of the color. Start massaging the color at your roots, similar to a shampooing motion. Thoroughly massage the color all the way down from roots to ends, adding more water as necessary. This whole process should take two minutes — just enough for a perfect refresher. Then rinse your hair.

12. Getting your hair colored too often.

If you think coloring your has to be tediously high-maintenance with frequent touchups, this tip will come as a pleasant surprise. “I always tell clients to wait least six weeks before coming in again for a highlight refresh,” explains Ferrara. “That way, there’s a lesser chance of breakage from overlapping.” And less breakage means healthier-looking hair when it does come time to touch it up.

Sam Escobar Sam’s enthusiasm for makeup is only rivaled by their love of all things relating to cats. Blake Bakkila Associate Editor Blake is the Associate Editor for GoodHousekeeping.com covering beauty, celebrity, holiday entertaining, and other lifestyle news.

Over many years of dyeing my hair (eight different times, to be exact), I’ve tried every type of treatment to improve how my hair looks after coloring it.

I tried everything from store-bought products to the classic grandma’s-homemade-recipe.

But, I wasn’t able to find a product that left my recently-colored hair the way I liked it.

Some products left my hair really greasy.

Others took away all the shine from my hair’s color.

All of the things that I used to take care of my newly-colored hair damaged it in one way or another.

Until the other day, during my lunch hour at work, a co-worker made a comment about using coconut oil after dyeing your hair order to make it healthier and shinier.

That stopped me in my tracks.

I am an executive assistant, and how I look from my hair to my toes is important. On several occasions, my boss has asked me to be the representative in important meetings with high-up executives, so my hair has to look good.

Despite all my efforts, I haven’t been able to get my hair looking good after dyeing it, which quickly brought me back to the hair salon.

  • I incorporated deep-conditioning treatments for my hair, and that didn’t work. It seemed like my hair got used to the product, and after a short period of time, it would go back to looking dry and dull.
  • I stopped washing my hair every day, since many people say that that tends to dry it out.
  • I stopped straightening it.
  • I bought expensive hair products.

And even after all of that, my hair still looked lifeless just a few days after dyeing it.

I want to clarify that I don’t live in a lamp like the genie in Aladdin.

I’m one of those people that is constantly reading about the latest trends in hair beauty.

But the truth is, I had never heard about the advantages of using coconut oil on dyed hair.

I knew that it was used as a body moisturizer, to prevent stretch marks and even to moisturize dry lips.

But using coconut oil on my colored hair so that it would look better was something I had never heard of.

So, I decided to try it.

I didn’t really have much to lose.

Now I’ll tell you how it went for me with the coconut oil.

How to apply coconut oil to your hair

I personally get my coloring done at the salon.

Because it has been a complete and total disaster to do it myself.

I should acknowledge that my hair was deeply grateful for that decision.

Anyway, the procedure is the same whether you dye your hair at home or at the salon.

My personal step-by-step approach to applying coconut oil to my hair is the following:

  1. After rinsing out all the leftover dye, I don’t dry my hair.
  2. I take a hefty portion of coconut oil into my hand – remember that the kind that isn’t refined has a solid consistency, but with the heat from your hands, it softens right away.
  3. I carefully detangle my hair and start to distribute the coconut oil gently throughout my hair.
  4. Once my hair is well-covered with the product, I put on a shower cap and let it sit for three hours.
  5. After washing my hair with my regular shampoo, I rinse it really well with cold water. Sometimes it’s necessary to wash again in order to get out the shampoo residue.

I don’t use conditioner after this procedure.

What are the benefits of using coconut oil on dyed hair?

Although I’m far from being a hair expert, experience tells me that, basically, coconut oil gives your hair follicles back the natural oils that were stripped from them by the dye.

Also, it works as a seal to prevent your hair from drying out.

So, essentially, what coconut oil does is counteract the harmful effects of the dye on my hair.

Did coconut oil work after dyeing my hair?

The answer is a resounding yes.

It worked for a few different reasons, which I’ll explain to you in more detail:

  • My hair looked healthy again, even several days after coloring it.
  • My hair color, ashy blonde, which I love, stayed vibrant for days, something that never happened when I wasn’t using coconut oil.
  • My color lasts much longer, so I consequently save a bunch of money on salon visits. Money and time, time that I use for more days at the gym or meeting up with friends.
  • My hair feels softer and it’s easier to comb. I don’t suffer anymore when I brush it. Before, after each wash, it would be really knotty.
  • It shines. I don’t know if the sun is jealous, but I can assure you that many women stare at my hair while I’m in line at the ATM, which never happened before.

2 alternative ways to use coconut oil

Check coconut oil price on Amazon

Although I’ve never personally tried it, my friend puts two or three drops directly into the dye, in addition to using coconut oil after dyeing her hair.

Also, you can use coconut oil an hour before coloring, then apply the dye without washing out the coconut oil.

Why is coconut oil so effective for dyed hair?

After researching a bit here and there, I discovered that coconut oil is a chelating agent, meaning it neutralizes the damaging effects of copper and iron that are present in most dyes.

Also, it is able to bring together the protein molecules in the hair much more quickly, which helps protect the hair fibers.

If you use it after dyeing your hair, it reduces the harmful effects of chemicals, protecting it from the innermost layer to the outermost layer of your hair.

According to what a few people told me, coconut oil increases the absorption of the dye into your hair, so you generally get more vibrant hair after dyeing.

Finally, I incorporated coconut oil treatments for my hair for all the reasons that I told you before, but also because I discovered that organic and natural hair products can be an excellent way to balance the scales in favor of our dyed hair.

Did you already know about the benefits of coconut oil for dyed hair?

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Top 10 Hair Dying Mistakes

Top 10 Hair Dying Mistakes

Whether you want to want to get rid of that gray hair or you just want to have a new look, dying your hair is a good way to achieve it. However hair dying may damage and dry your hair when used inappropriately.

The Three Types of Hair Dye

Before you see the top 10 hair dying mistakes, it is important to have an understanding of the 3 different types of hair dye that are available.

  • 1) Permanent Hair Dye
    The obvious benefit is that it lasts for a considerable time. But it contains ammonia and peroxides, which can possibly cause dryness and damage.
  • 2) Long-lasting Semi-Permanent
    As the name implies, has the longest life remaining even after more than 20 washes, depending on the brand.
  • 3) Semi-Permanent
    These have the shortest lifespan for dyes. After 6-12 washes, the color will start to fade. This is recommended for first-time users and those who want to experiment with colors.

5 Simple Steps to Dye
Your Hair Safely and Professionally

  • 1) Separate hair into two quadrants. Then clip each part.
  • 2) Wear plastic gloves while mixing dye solution. Follow the directions written on the box. Once done, squeeze a small amount of coloring into one quadrant. Streak thin stripes of color over the whole area of the quadrant. Put a clip on the colored part.
  • 3) Repeat the process after you have completed coloring the four quadrants.
  • 4) Consult instructions on how long you should leave it. Add a couple of minutes of wait to that of the suggested treatment time.
  • 5) Put on left over color mix to the entire head after a few minutes. Rinse with cold water.

When dying your hair, the selected color of your dye should always blend with the original color of your hair and eyebrows and to enhance your features.

Top 10 Hair Dying Mistakes!

  • 10) Applying dye to dirty, tangled hair
    Deep condition your hair a month before dying to maintain color. Be sure your hair is relatively clean before applying. Trim hair especially dry and split ends to even out color. Hair should be slightly damp when dye is applied.
  • 9) Using hair conditioner before you dye
    Do not condition your hair a few hours before applying hair dye, shampooing will do the trick. Your hair needs to be free of free radicals such as dirt and oil as much as possible.
  • 8) Choosing hair dye based on what the model on the box looks like
    Consult the local salon or stylist on what colors would look best on you. The hair dye you choose should have the same tone as your skin color.
  • 7) Forgetting to check for allergic contents
    After choosing a brand, apply a tiny amount of hair dye near your neck or behind your ear to see if irritation, redness, inflammation, allergy, hair loss or any bad reactions occur. Wash the affected area right away if this happens. Remember the instructions carefully. Do the patch test 1-2 days before hair dye application.
  • 6) Doing your entire head without testing a small amount of your hair first
    Do a strand test by applying a bit of dye to a few stands of your hair to see if you got the right color.
  • 5) Staining your skin or clothes
    Protect your skin by wrapping a towel around your neck as the dye can irritate your skin or affect your clothes. Gloves should be used and must be included in a hair dye kit. Applying petroleum jelly or cream around your ears and neck part will keep off stains. Wipe off oil after shampooing. If you do happen to stain your skin, don’t worry, rubbing alcohol will remove dye stains from your skin
  • 4) Picking a color that does not fit with your natural hair color
    Pick a color one shade lighter when dying your roots. This will make the transition from your colored hair back to your natural hair color graceful without roots that are a completely different color sticking out. This rule does not apply if you are dying your hair to completely different color.
  • 3) Losing hair
    After dying, always rinse with cold or tepid water to avoid your own hair from falling out.
  • 2) Over-dying hair
    If you did not achieve the desired effect, using Liquid Tide can correct this. A couple of days of use will lighten the color until your hair returns to the original color. Instead of over-dying, do touch-ups every four to five weeks to keep your hair color picture perfect.
  • 1) Dying eyebrows and eyelashes
    Never use hair dye on eyebrows and eyelashes! You dont want your hair dye to get into your eyes. Ask for medical help when dye gets into your eye.

While its cheaper to dye your hair at home and experimenting can be fun, dyes can be rough on your hair when used frequently. It is best to dye at a professional salon especially if you have not done it before. If it is your first time doing it at home, bring along a friend who has done it before to assist.

Hair Color: Before and After Tips for Your Best Color Ever!

Coloring your hair is one of the best ways to update your look or give yourself a total makeover with maximum impact, so to ensure that you end up with a hair color that looks great, and stays looking great in between color jobs, then give these before and after hair color tips a try.

Before You Color Your Hair

– The key to a great hair color is making sure the hair you’re coloring is in good condition. Healthy hair will take on and keep your hair color vibrant for as long as possible so always treat your hair gently, use the right hairstyling products and shampoos and apply a hair treatment at least once a month.

– Use a hot oil hair treatment at least 3 days before coloring to condition and prepare your hair strands to take on your hair color.

– Avoid washing your hair the day of or right before coloring your hair (try to do it the day after your hot oil treatment) so that you don’t wash away the natural oils in your hair. They will help you to achieve a more even result.

– When you do wash your hair use a detoxing or clarifying shampoo to remove build up from hair products and to ensure your strands are squeaky clean. Also, skip the conditioner.

– Choose the right hair color. Whether you’re coloring your hair at home or visiting the hair salon, choosing a hair color that is right for you will make all the difference in the world to your final result. When deciding on the right color, use your natural hair color as the basis and don’t go more than 2 shades darker or lighter to ensure that you get a hair color that will flatter your skin tone.

– If you want something completely different from your natural hair color or more complicated like highlights or two-tone hair then definitely seek the help of a professional to avoid any potential hair disasters.

– If you’re coloring your hair at home, remember that the color on the box is not always the exact color you’ll receive and that you should follow all instructions exactly. It’s also a good idea to do a strand test first to make sure you’re not allergic to any of the chemicals in the dye and that you will be happy with the color.

After You Color Your Hair

– Wait at least 48 hours after coloring to wash your hair so that your hair color has time to settle and grab onto your hair strands.

– Use shampoo and conditioners that are made for color treated hair to help retain your color and alternate with color specific shampoos that are designed to care and boost for your exact hair color. Lots of big brand hair product lines have shampoos and conditioners designed especially for blonde, brunette and redhead shades.

– Use shampoos and spray in conditioners or hair styling products that have added sunscreen or UV filters to protect your color from being faded by the sun and to also help you protect your scalp from sun damage.

– Use a weekly hair treatment or a deep hair conditioner to keep your color in top condition. Moisturized locks are especially important for redheads as well nourished locks will keep your color vibrant.

– If you have a dark hair color then use shine enhancing styling products (such as smoothing shine) to bring out the best aspect about your hair color – the unbeatable shine!

– Use color glosses. They go on clear and will boost any hair color regardless of the shade. Look for them where good hair products are sold or get one done in the salon.

– Commit to coloring your hair regularly. Don’t allow faded colors and obvious roots to ruin your look by coloring your hair once and then leaving it for six months. If you can’t afford to visit the salon regularly then opt for a low maintenance hair color that can be maintained with regular color jobs at home.

With the help of these hair color tips, you should be able to prep your hair, choose a flattering color and then maintain that color all while ensuring your hair is nourished. Give them a try today and find a hair color by taking a look at our range of hairstyles.

To see how you’d look with any of the salon hairstyles pictured in this hair color article, click on each image to try the virtual hairstyle with your own photo!

Make Your Hair Color Last Twice As Long

PHOTO 1/6 Prep Your Hair Before Your Appointment Everyone stresses the importance of post-color hair care, but you can help your hair absorb and hold onto color better before you even walk through the door of the salon. “The week before your appointment, prep your hair with a deep conditioning protein treatment,” says Matrix Celebrity Hairstylist George Papanikolas. Because healthier hair holds onto color longer by sealing it in, switch your usual shampoo/conditioner out for a system like Biolage’s Advanced Keratindose, $19. Keratin shields the outer cuticle from damage and rebuilds damaged proteins from the inside out.
In the days before your salon visit, if you’re going for a single process color treatment, Papanikolas (who recently took Kim Kardashian from black to blonde) recommends skipping shampoo. “One to two days of natural oils on the hair can help protect your scalp,” he says. However, if you’re going in for highlights or ombré, “clean hair is best because it back-combs better than oily or dirty hair,” Papanikolas explains.
SEE NEXT PAGE: Avoid This No-No Ingredient

8 Things You Should Know Before You Color Hair

Getting ready to color

The process to getting your best color starts even before you open your box. Here are a few things you need to know before you color.

DOES HAIR LENGTH AFFECT THE AMOUNT OF COLOR?

Yes. If your hair is longer than shoulder length or very thick, you may need two boxes to fully saturate your hair. Also, keep in mind that the ends of long hair tend to absorb more color, so the timing may be different for your ends. You may not need to apply color to your hair every time you color.

DOES HAIR TYPE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Hair type makes a difference in the timing of the coloring process. An important consideration is hair’s texture—when the individual hairs are coarse (large in diameter) or fine (small in diameter). Coarse hair generally takes more time to absorb color, so it requires a longer timing; fine hair generally takes less time to absorb color so it requires a shorter timing. Hair that’s dry or permed may absorb color quickly too. Because several factors affect timing, we recommend a strand test—it’s a good way to predict the coloring time.

SHOULD I CUT OR PERM BEFORE I COLOR?

Cutting your hair before you color will ensure you’re able to see the full effect of your color. And, of course, your color will enhance your cut.

The same goes for perms. Perm first to ensure that the perming process will not interfere with your newly applied color. If you’re using a Permanent hair color (lasts until your hair grows out or you recolor), wait 7-10 days and shampoo at least once before coloring.

Some Semi-Permanent (lasts though 8-12 shampoos) and Demi-Permanent hair color (lasts through 28 shampoos) can be used the same day as your perm—as long as your scalp is not irritated and is in good condition. Check the package instructions to be sure. Either way, make sure you do a stand test before coloring your hair. Perms and relaxers can leave hair more porous and allow color to be absorbed faster.

SHOULD I SHAMPOO BEFORE COLORING?

You generally shouldn’t shampoo immediately before coloring because this will remove the natural oils that protect your scalp during the coloring process.

It’s best to shampoo 12-24 hours before coloring with a Semi-Permanent (lasts through 8-12 shampoos) or Demi-Permanent product (lasts through 28 shampoos); shampoo 24 hours prior to using Permanent color (lasts until your hair grows out or you recolor). But be sure to check the instructions inside the box because it can vary by product.

CAN I MIX AND MATCH SHADES?

You can customize your shade to make it perfect for you. However, for best results, mix shades no more than 2-3 shades lighter or darker than each other. In other words, you wouldn’t want to mix a blonde and a black together. Also, you should mix shades from the same brand of color product.

WHEN SHOULD I START MY TIMER?

Set your timer for the amount of time indicated on the box as soon as you’ve finished applying hair color.

SHOULD I CONDITION AFTER COLORING?

It’s best to use the in box conditioning treatment that comes with your hair color. We give this hair advice because the conditioner that comes in the coloring package has been specifically tested for use with that hair color to help create softness and shine.

WHEN SHOULD I RE-COLOR?

Demi-Permanent hair color will last up to 28 shampoos—if you wash your hair every day, that’s about 4 weeks. Permanent (lasts until your hair grows out or you recolor) hair color should be refreshed when your roots start to show, about 4-6 weeks. As long as you follow the instructions for root application only, you should not have any problems with color build-up.

What To Do Before Dying Hair At The Salon? Find Out Here

Dyeing your hair gives you a new look and the transformation could lead you to discover parts of you that you never knew existed.

However, there are some things you should do before dying your hair at the salon especially if you are a hair dye virgin.

Dyeing your hair goes beyond changing its color as you would have to maintain the hair and prevent the color from fading too fast.

There are several practices that most people who dye their hair already know, but since you are a newbie when it comes to hair dyeing, you would find yourself making a lot of mistakes like shampooing just before your dyeing appointment.

These practices could help save on the cost of dyeing your hair at the salon and help you make better choices when picking the perfect color.

What To Do Before Dying Hair At Salon?

We have put together this piece that will help you make the right choices and get the best results. Here are the this you should before dyeing your hair.

1. Use Shampoo Before Dyeing

Use shampoo before dyeing and not after. Using shampoos after you dye your hair could be counterproductive as it could cause the color to fade. This is why you should wash with shampoo only before the dye is applied.

Washing with shampoo is very important as it helps to remove build-up from hair products, however, using it just before dyeing your hair could wash away the natural oils in your hair and leave you with a poor result after it is dyed. You can wash your hair with shampoo a day before you dye it.

When going for shampoo, you can choose either detox or clarifying shampoo. These options will leave you with a glamorous result after dyeing your hair.

After dyeing, you should stick to only hair shampoos and conditioners created for hair color. These types will help you maintain the color and keep your hair healthy

2. Have a Clear Image of What You Want

If you don’t want to end up with a bad result then you should get enough photos of the color you want to dye.

Going for a style or color you found online might not be the best option if you don’t have enough images or examples to show to your stylist.

You should consult with your stylist before you begin dyeing as several hair colors could put a strain on your budget or leave with poor results due to a difference in hair texture.

Also, some hairstyles do fade fast while some dark styles take a lot of work to make.

If you are going for a white-blonde hair, that’s an entirely different story. You would have to come in for a touch-up regularly or you will end up bleaching your hair twice just to clear the yellow banding that will eventually form on your hairline due to the irregular dyeing.

Make sure you get enough photos of the style you want to dye and speak with your stylist about the result and maintenance before going ahead with the color.

3. Choose a Good Colorist/Stylist

There are lots of hairstylists out there who would leave a great finish, however, there is also a significant number that wouldn’t get it right and end up messing your hair.

It is very important that you choose a professional and experienced hairstylist because you wouldn’t just need them to color your hair but to maintain it too.

Going for a stylist you can interact with is very important as your stylist would advise you on which colors are best for you. Most stylists can help you narrow down the color to go for to save costs for maintenance and touch-ups.

They can also offer advice on how you can maintain the color, the do’s and don’ts and the type of hair products to use.

Before dyeing or settling for a color, you would have to consult a stylist that can explain the whole process to you. How fast colors fade, the type of hair products to use after coloring, and the best colors for your hair are some of the important issues you need to address.

Picking a great stylist is quite easy. You can go on Instagram where you’ll find a good number of them who have happy and loyal customers or you would ask other ladies or your friends to recommend one for you.

You can also use an app like styleseat to find a stylist with not only the best finishes but one that provides good after-service support. With styleseat, you can read reviews and check the latest work of the stylist before making a decision.

4. Think About Maintenance

Some colors look great on the front but behind the scenes, they are quite tough and expensive to maintain. This is why you should speak with a stylist before considering any color.

However, you should also plan for maintenance before dyeing your hair. The first thing will be to change your shampoo and conditioner.

You will need to go for shampoos and conditioners made for color-treated hair. These types will maintain the color for a long time.

There are more maintenance tips to follow like protecting your hair from sunlight. While sunlight is great for vitamin D, it will leave your hair in a mess. Sunlight can turn your hair brassy or dull faster than if it were to fade naturally.

So when going out, you’ll need to take out a hat, scarf or UV-protection sprays with you.

Another thing to consider is the ocean and pool water. The severity of the effect of ocean and pool water on your hair will depend on the color you go for.

The salt in ocean water will dry out your hair while chlorine (in pool water) can do a lot of damage to your hair.

The remedy is to soak your hair in tap water before hopping in. Thinking about maintenance should make it easier for you to come up with a color you would want.

Discuss your thoughts on maintenance with your stylist so they would help you with more tips on how to maintain the color.

5. Create a Budget

Creating a budget you’ll stick to will be difficult for hair dye virgins as the cost of dyeing your hair isn’t the same for all colors.

The cost will depend on factors like your stylist and the color you’re going for. If the stylist you settle for charges for consultation, you would have to include that in your budget.

Dyeing your hair should cost you between $50 and $200 without adding maintenance costs. But that doesn’t mean it will be really expensive. It is best to create a realistic budget and decide how much you are willing to spend on dyeing and maintenance for a month.

When you’re done with that, you can go ahead and book an appointment with a stylist and find out the necessary details and cost of dyeing the style you want.

If it fits into your budget then you can continue with it but if it’s way higher than what you budgeted for, then you need to look for something more affordable because there’s a good chance you’ll have to spend a lot of maintenance too.

Since it’s your first time dyeing your hair, you shouldn’t go for something expensive or you would end up regretting it later.

Try as many stylists as you can before settling for one. If you’re lucky you would find a great stylist that will offer a free consultation.

6. Plan Your Time

The entire hair dyeing process would take you about two hours or more depending on several factors like the pigment of your hair, the process and the time you’d let the color sit on your hair.

The hairstyling technique used by your stylist would add more time to the process and you might end up spending a whole day getting your hair colored.

This is one of the reasons why you should consult your stylist first. The process of separating the highlights, applying the dye and letting the color sit on your hair could take a long time or a short while.

Your hairstylist will be able to estimate how long it would take to wrap up the whole process and then you can decide if you want to make such commitment.

Hair Coloring Techniques

Many hair coloring techniques produce the elegant look you see in celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj. Some of these coloring techniques are expensive and wouldn’t be the best option if you’re dyeing your hair for the first time.

Highlights

Highlights are a common hair coloring technique that adds depth to your hair. Highlights are usually the coloring techniques most hair dye virgins try out and since you’re one, you can go for it.

You can get highlights in most hair salons but the quality of the finished look will depend on how good the stylist is. Generally, your stylist will apply the dye to the bottom part of your hair and then space out the highlights from one side of your head to the other.

There are various versions of highlights like Babylights and Ribbon Highlights which are the subtler versions.

Bronde

When you bring blonde and brown together, you end up with bronde. This hair color technique is perfect if you have light brown hair.

The Bronde hair color technique is low maintenance which makes it a great option for those new to hair dyeing.

With this color technique, highlights are applied to areas of the hair that would be hit by the sun. Your stylist will start near the root of your hair when applying this coloring technique.

Bronde hair coloring technique is radiant and vibrant especially in the daylight, however, it is quite complex and you would end up with a complete hair flop if you don’t get the right stylist to do it.

Ombre

Ombre hair coloring technique is a popular trend with several celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Anna Kendrick, Jennifer Hudson and Khloe Kardashian rocking the look. Ombre is a French word meaning “shadow”.

The shadowing hair coloring technique involves blending two hair colors. The blend is flawless so it doesn’t leave any harsh lines between the two hair colors.

The result is a sophisticated and radiant look that you can see in many celebrates who rock this hair color.

The two distinct colors are easily noticeable with the dark color starting at the root of the hair then transitioning into a light shade at the end.

The downside of trying this technique is the strain it puts on your budget. Ombres usually cost a lot (as much as $200), so you should only consider it if you are willing to spend a lot just to dye your hair.

Balayage

Balayage is a French word meaning “to sweep”. Balayage is a hair coloring technique that blends dark and light hair colors seamlessly leading to a more natural look.

The transition is achieved by painting the dye onto the hair in a sweeping pattern (thus the name Balayage).

This hair coloring technique generally takes more time to achieve and is often pricier than other techniques listed above. You should expect to spend as much as $200 to get this look.

Highlights are the most affordable option as they cost less than a hundred bucks. Depending on your budget, you can go for any look you want but if you are on a tight budget, it’s best you stick to highlights.

Conclusion

We’ve listed everything you need to do before dying your hair at the salon including the hair coloring techniques you can try out.

This guide should help you save money whenever you plan to dye your hair. Also, it will help you to make the best choices when picking a stylist and a hair coloring technique.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Does hair dye damage hair follicles?

Your hair follicles attach each hair to your scalp and the hair shaft sticks out of the follicle. Hair dyes work by lifting your cuticle and stripping your hair shaft off its natural color to allow the new color set in.

They do this through two active ingredients; ammonia and hydrogen peroxide (common in permanent hair dyes). Using hair dyes consistently and dyeing a new color on a previous non-natural color could damage your hair shaft and lead to breakage. But there is no credible evidence that it could damage your hair follicles or cause hair loss.

What hair dye can I use when allergic?

If you feel mildly irritated, itchy, and experience swelling on your scalp and face while dyeing your hair, then you’re allergic to hair dye

Most permanent and some semi-permanent hair dyes contain a chemical called paraphenylenediamine (PPD) which is a known allergen and irritant. So if you’re having allergic reactions to hair dyes, then you should focus on using hair dyes that do not contain PPD.

There are some hair dyes that claim to have only minimal PPD, however, any amount of PPD is enough to cause irritations if you’re allergic.

Some semi-permanent hair dyes offer better promise but you should always focus on hair dyes without PPD or go for Henna cream/powder instead.

Side effects of hair dye on the scalp

Hair dyes contain many active chemicals that may be very harsh to the scalp especially if you dye your hair a lot. Chemicals like ammonia, hydrogen peroxide (bleach), and PPD could lead to scalp itching, irritation, damage to the hair shaft and then breakage.

These sides are usually more pronounced when the hair dye isn’t applied properly or applied directly to the scalp. It is recommended that you always get a professional to take over the hair dyeing process or better still, avoid excessive use of hair dye products with ingredients like ammonia, peroxide, and PPD.

How to rinse out hair dye at home

There are many techniques that will effectively remove dye from your hair and they are also effective on semi- or demi-permanent dyes.

Method 1

  • Mix dandruff shampoo and baking soda together in equal parts and shampoo your hair with the mixture.
  • Let the mixture sit for 5-7 minutes
  • Rinse thoroughly and repeat until all the hair color runs out completely. This technique is most effective if you recently dyed your hair.

Method 2

  • Mix dish soap with regular shampoo and follow the procedures as in Method 1. This technique needs to be repeated daily (for about 3 days) before you can see drastic results.

Note: always follow up with a deep conditioner after the last rinse to prevent your hair from drying out.

How to calm down allergy to hair dye

Less serious allergic reactions like itchy skin can easily be relieved by applying moisturizing treatment to the affected skin. You should wash your hair and scalp thoroughly with mild shampoo immediately you start having allergic reactions to the dye.

If your skin becomes very red and sore, you will have to apply a steroid cream. You can get a mild steroid cream over the counter or get a prescription from your General Practitioner.

Can Hair Grow Back After Fungal Infection?

Yes, it can! Fortunately, the common scalp fungal infections only led to temporary hair loss that can be reversed once the condition has been taken care of. For you to grow back healthy hair after fungal infection, the infection will have to be treated completely.

Infections like ringworm usually take some weeks to months to treat, so you’ll have to be patient during this period and develop high standards of hair hygiene to aid hair regrowth. Also, the use of antifungal shampoo which aids in treating scalp fungal infections could help in reducing the severity of an infection and prevent these infections from reappearing.

Money Crashers

If you’re like me, you just don’t have three hours to sit in a salon chair to get your hair cut and colored. After realizing that a professional-looking treatment isn’t very hard to copy – and in the interest of saving my time, money, and sanity – I set about perfecting my home hair coloring technique. At first, it may seem like a recipe for disaster, but if all you’re doing is covering up grays or making minor changes to shade, you’re a prime candidate for home coloring.

Of course, it’s important to remember that while coloring your hair at home can save you money, it does cost you time – generally around 60 to 90 minutes. The dye itself is the biggest monetary expense, and with the cost of extra accessories, your total DIY job should cost around $25. And once you purchase hairdresser’s clips and a dye brush, that lowers your outlay the next time around. If you’re a fellow salon-hater, or simply do not want to spend $80 to $100 every six weeks, the substantial savings of home hair coloring may be enough to justify the investment of time.

Home Hair Coloring Tips

The following method was not easily formulated. I’ve completely botched my hair dye three times in the 10-plus years I’ve been doing it DIY, but because hindsight is 20/20, I can now pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Learn from my mistakes and get a great dye job on the cheap every time by using these tips.

1. Don’t Make Drastic Changes

The number one rule of thumb of DIY hair dyeing is to avoid drastic changes. Anytime you want to alter your hair color more than three shades, it’s best to see a pro. Lightening hair sometimes requires a light base, and going extremely dark can result in higher chances of patchy color. If you’re planning an extreme makeover, visit the hair salon.

Two of the three times I ruined my DIY dye job, I was shooting too high. One resulted in dark, splotchy black, and the other looked a lot more orange than the blonde hue I was going for. The lesson I learned was to self-dye for more natural results by sticking within my color family.

2. Choose the Right Shade

Don’t make the mistake of heading to the store and just grabbing a box of hair color. Instead, take your time. I tend to buy dye at big box stores because they have the largest range of shades and brands.

Even if you love the model’s hair on the box, there’s little chance your hair is going to look the same as hers. Individual hair thickness, skin tone, and current color can all affect your results for an unpredictable result. Your best bet is to choose a hue based on your skin tone.

Here’s a quick primer on matching skin tone to color:

  • If your eyes are brown, blue, or hazel with blue or green flecks, you have a cool skin tone and should choose shades that are cool-toned as well – such as ashy brown, beige blonde, burgundy red, and blue-hued blacks. Cool skin tones usually look best in silver jewelry, so if you naturally gravitate to silver, this is you.
  • If your eyes are brown, blue, or hazel with brown flecks, your skin is likely warm-toned and you look best in gold jewelry. Choose hair colors that are similarly golden-toned, like golden brown, wheat-toned blonde, auburn red, and black with reddish tones.

Many hair color brands offer several shades within the tone. The color guide on top of the box usually lets you know if the tone is warm or cool, and shows a realistic picture of how it should turn out on your hair shade. If you’re still wary, try a temporary color, rather than permanent – it should wash out after approximately 28 shampoos.

3. Prep Your Hair

Color works best with dirty hair, since it lacks the slippery conditioner that freshly washed locks have. Coloring 24 to 48 hours after your last wash is usually fine. That way, color stays on the strands and penetrates better for more predictable results.

Always start with your hair combed into your usual style. That way, you can perfect the color on top before moving to the hair underneath the first layer. This is also the perfect time to change into an old shirt. I prefer a button-up, since it doesn’t need to be pulled over the head (and through a bunch of dye) when it’s time to rinse.

4. Gather Tools

Keep your necessary tools at the ready so you don’t have to waste time searching while your color is processing. Here are some of the things you need:

  • Box of Hair Color. If you’re short on time, options such as Clairol’s Perfect 10 have more potent formulas and can process faster, but can also be more damaging to dry hair. My favorite color is a two-way tie between Clairol’s Nice n’ Easy Foam (perfect for beginners since it’s easy to distribute and less likely to miss spots), and L’Oreal Couleur Experte, which contains both color and simple highlights in the same box for a natural look. Each costs anywhere from $6 to $15.
  • Plastic Gloves. These should come in the hair color box, attached to the instructions.
  • Petroleum Jelly. Rub it along your hairline to prevent staining your skin. If you’re out of petroleum jelly, any thick lotion works.
  • Comb. Get any kind from your local store.
  • Hairdresser Clip. These are the long clips your hairdresser uses to hold your hair up when styling. You can get a pack of six for around $2 in the hair aisle of a drugstore, big box store, or beauty supply store. It allows you to focus on saturating sections with color before moving onto the next area.
  • Dye Brush. This is like a short paintbrush, which you can buy at beauty supply stores for about $2 to $3. It’s much easier to control the dye with one than applying it with your hands.
  • Timer. Any kind can get the job done.
  • Conditioner. If dying your hair black, brown, or red, choose a conditioner that’s gentle on colors – those are the first shades to fade and a color-safe conditioner can help preserve them.

You may also need to protect any light-colored counters in your bathroom, since even light hair color formulas can stain. Once you have your tools at the ready, it’s time to do the strand test.

5. Do a Strand Test

While it may seem like one of the less important steps, don’t make the mistake of ignoring the strand test. It tells you exactly how the hair dye looks on your hair and allows you to adjust processing times accordingly. Just grab a half-inch section of hair that’s not typically visible – I usually take some from behind my ear – apply the dye and wait the amount of time prescribed on the box. Then rinse it off in cool water.

Dry your strand and assess: Do you like the color? Are the results too subtle, requiring extra processing time? If so, try tacking on an extra 5 to 10 minutes, since some people’s hair takes color faster than others. If you’re happy with the test, proceed. If you hate it, be grateful you didn’t do your entire head.

6. Apply the Color

If you’re just touching up your roots, load up your dye brush and start there. If you’re coloring all over, apply it first to the hair that’s visible when it’s combed into your usual style and then move onto the bottom layers.

This is where your dye brush comes in handy. Brush the dye as close to the roots as possible, and then drag the color down the length of your hair while it’s flat on your head. Continue the process until the entire first layer is saturated. Then, use your hairdresser clip to separate the first inch of the top section and continue the process on the next layer.

Once your head is completely covered, set your timer as prescribed in the color instructions. Starting it when you first begin coloring your hair could mean that your bottom layers don’t get enough processing time.

My best piece of advice for applying the color is to take your time. Hair dye is potent for about 90 minutes after it’s mixed, so you don’t need to hurry the process. Being patient results in even, saturated color instead of splotches and an uneven hue.

7. Add Heat

Some hair is more resistant to color than others. If you have thick hair or you’re going lighter than your natural hair color, adding heat can help improve dye penetration for better results. You probably don’t have a salon-quality dryer in your bathroom, but any hairdryer should do.

I pop a diffuser (a round attachment with prongs) on my dryer and then focus the heat on my roots. The diffuser is so large that directing the nozzle at your roots means even heat distribution across your head. I usually do this during the last 5 or 10 minutes of processing, and it always gives me better results.

8. Rinse and Condition

Once your timer goes off, rinse out the color without using shampoo. It may be tempting to just wash it out over the sink, but you could end up leaving color in your hair, which is highly damaging.

Instead, do yourself a favor and hop in the shower so you can wash thoroughly. Add water and scrub your hair with your fingertips as if you’re shampooing. Then, rinse it out and watch the water until it runs clear. Finally, finish up with a good-quality conditioner – there’s usually one in the hair color box. You can also check for dye drips on your skin. If you notice some, use an exfoliating cream and they should come right off.

9. Style and Assess

Lastly, style your hair as usual and assess the results. Don’t make any snap judgements when your hair is still wet, since water makes your hair look darker than it really is. Instead, use a warm – not hot – hairdryer to style your hair with minimum heat. Then, check out the color in natural light – by a window, for example.

Hopefully you love the result. But if you don’t, there are some ways to fix it:

  1. Use a Color Remover. Products such as Color Oops can strip dye from hair, but it only works if you dyed it a darker color. If you’ve lightened your hair, it’s likely that hydrogen peroxide was used and your hair has actually been bleached to achieve the result. Since color remover only works to remove artificial pigment and not to replace lost natural pigment, you’re going to need to find other options. Color removers can be damaging, since they use harsh detergents to get rid of bad color, so be sure to use a deep conditioning treatment.
  2. Use a Clarifying Shampoo. If the color is just a little too dark, you can tone it down by using a clarifying shampoo. Designed to remove products from hair, it uses strong detergents and can actually fade your color to a more acceptable shade. Follow up with a good-quality conditioner and only use clarifying shampoo once a week.
  3. Use Toning Shampoo. If your gripe is that your lightened hair looks too brassy, use a toning shampoo. Because it’s blue, it counteracts the yellow in your hair to cut the brass and create a brighter, more accurate result. I use toning shampoo regularly because I’m a bottle blonde who leans red. Clairol Shimmering Lights is a must-have to achieve truer color and get rid of the reddish or yellowish tinge that can sometimes accompany a blonde dye job.
  4. Head to the Salon. If you’ve totally botched the color (and we’ve all been there) it’s time to go to the salon and have it professionally fixed. Don’t be embarrassed – hairdressers see this all the time. While it may be tempting to try and color it again at home, hair dye can be damaging, and redyeing doesn’t guarantee better results the next time around. Instead, see a pro and get a color you know you’re going to love.

How to Apply Highlights

With all the gadgets out there that add highlights to hair – I’ve seen finger combs, caps with holes, and even devices that resemble forks – the best way to apply the most natural highlights is with a clean mascara brush, which you can buy at any beauty supply store.

Comb your hair into your usual style and then clip up the top section, separating from just above your ears and pulling that top section up and out of the way. Load the brush up with color and begin highlighting the lower layer, starting just behind your ear and working your way around the head. Then, release some of your hair from the clip – the thinner the layers you release, the more highlights you get.

Finally, when you get to the last layer, start at the root near the front of your hairline, placing the tip of the mascara brush to your hair and dragging downward. This creates thin highlights that most closely resemble those you naturally get in the sun. Then, repeat a few millimeters back on the opposite side of your part, alternating sides as you work your way back for the most natural look. You might need a friend or spouse to help you with the crown of your head and beyond, which is a tricky area to get to solo.

Let the highlights process according to package directions, using your diffuser again to heat the hair and improve penetration. Then, rinse (don’t shampoo) and condition.

Follow the box instructions for timing and rinsing and you should have simple, natural-looking highlights to punch up your color. Because the color is subtle, you don’t have to worry about uneven or chunky highlights, so it’s an easy way to add dimension. It takes me an extra 30 minutes to add my own highlights, which is a minor time investment with results more on-par with those I get at the salon.

About Highlights

I like to do my own highlights because I think it results in a more natural-looking color. However, if you do your highlights at home, they’re not going to be as precise or noticeable as when a colorist does them in the salon. Professionals use a weaving technique that essentially picks up small strands of hair in alternating patterns for a natural look. They also probably use foils, which direct heat to the dyed strands and improve color penetration.

But if you prefer subtle highlights, try them solo. When adding them to freshly colored hair, wait 24 hours to avoid doing excess damage. You can purchase hair dye with complementary highlights included in the box (L’Oreal Couleur Experte is one great example), or just purchase a second box of color that’s a few shades lighter than yours. Again, this is not the time for drastic changes. If you want heavily bleached streaks or a complete color change, head to the salon and have it professionally done.

Final Word

It can be hard to get comfortable doing your own hair coloring. With some practice and subtle adjustments, though, you can hone your technique to the point where you get predictable results again and again. Take your time and follow the box instructions, and once you get comfortable with DIY dye, you just may wonder how you ever had the time for a three-hour salon marathon before.

Do you DIY your dye? What are your best tips for perfect results?

No lie, I’ve been box-dyeing my hair since the sixth grade (shout out to my emo phase, which my mom so lovingly let me ride out). Yes, I’ve thankfully graduated from the moody purples and jet blacks I used to buy in bulk at the drugstore, but I still dye my hair at home when I don’t have the time (or cash) to get to my colorist. I can confidently say I know my way around a bottle of hair dye by now, but I’ve made literally every mistake imaginable along the way—see: the time I got permanent color all over my ears, or when I bought the wrong box and was left with a red hue I definitely didn’t sign up for.

And since I’d hate to have your first experience with box dye be a total shit show, I broke down every tip, trick, and product rec you’ll need to make the process a whole hell of a lot easier. I even chatted with Meri Kate O’Connor, a super-skilled colorist at Eva Scrivo Salon in NYC, for a few expert-approved hacks, too. Translation: You’re in good hands.

How to Color Your Hair at Home

⇝1. Find Your Shade

Obviously, the first step in your at-home coloring journey is buying the dye. But instead of running to the drugstore and grabbing the prettiest-looking box, lemme just emphasize the importance of finding the right shade. “Box dye is kinda a one-size-fits-all situation,” says O’Connor. “So I generally suggest clients stick to a cool or neutral tone, since box dye can ‘lift’ your natural hair color and leave you with a warmer shade than you intended.”

FYI, if you’re looking to take your hair a full shade (or two!) lighter or darker from your natural hair color, O’Connor suggests skipping the box all together and booking an appointment with a professional, since there’s more room for error when you’re going drastic. But if you’re only after a little dimension or shine, scoop up one (or two, if you’ve got longer hair) of these cult-favorite box dyes:

John Frieda Precision Foam Colour amazon.com $11.92 Shea Moisture Nourishing Hair Color Kit walmart.com $26.96 Madison Reed Radiant Hair Color Kit ulta.com $26.50 Revlon Colorsilk Buttercream Hair Dye amazon.com $5.99

⇝2. Prep Your Hair

If you’re taking the time to color your hair at home, it’s beyond worth it to put in a little prep work to make sure the process goes smoothly. The easiest way to keep your scalp safe while you’re coloring it? Work with three-day-old hair. “I suggest not washing your hair for a few days before coloring it, since your natural oils will help protect your scalp from any chemicals in the dye,” says O’Connor.

One more thing: Before you mix up your dye, grab a tub of Vaseline. “You can smooth some Vaseline around your hairline and on your ears to protect your skin from staining,” says O’Connor, since there’s legit nothing worse than washing out your color and realizing you’ve dyed your skin (which, guilty).

⇝3. Follow the Instructions Carefully

Keep in mind that every box dye comes with its own set of instructions, so make sure you read ’em carefully before you get started. After you mix up your dye (your instructions will walk you through it, though you’ll usually just shake up a bottle of color and developer), throw on a pair of gloves, and start with your roots. “Your roots need the most time to develop, so if you’re coloring your whole head, you’ll want to start at the top and pull the dye down through your ends,” says O’Connor.

Feeling a little lost? Check out this easy-to-follow tutorial for a few pointers:

How to Color Your Hair Lighter at Home

I know, I know—you’d rather go blonde at home than drop some serious $$ at a salon, but dyeing your hair lighter takes some serious skill and should definitely be left to the pros. When you’re lightening your hair, you’re ‘lifting’ its pigment (whether that’s natural or dyed), and it’s fairly easy for that new color to accidentally veer onto the warmer, brassier side.

That’s where colorists come into play: They’ll be able to custom mix your dye to make sure you get the right end result. “With at-home color, you typically have little-to-no control with the color you’re using, so you may end up with warm or brassy roots—especially with brunette shades,” says O’Connor. The truth hurts, I know.

How to Color Gray Hairs at Home

Got a few gray hairs peeking through, but not quite ready for a full-on dye job? You can totally color your gray hairs at home, and there’s a shit-ton of methods out there, including root touch-up kits (targeted hair dye that you comb through your roots) and concealer sprays (dry shampoo-like formulas that temporarily tint your hair until you wash them out). These are some of my personal faves, all of which are incredibly easy to use:

Rita Hazan Root Concealer Touch-Up Spray $25.00 dpHUE Root Touch-Up Kit sephora.com $30.00 L’oreal Paris Magic Root Cover Up lorealparisusa.com $10.99 Ever Pro Root Touch Up ulta.com $6.99

How to Fix Hair Dye Mistakes

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⇝If You’ve Gone Too Light…

If you rinse out your hair dye and it’s not that rich, chocolate-brown hue you thought it’d be, don’t freak—you’ve definitely got options. You’ll just have to wait a couple weeks until you can dye your hair again, since even the healthiest of strands can’t withstand multiple rounds of dye in one sitting. That said, once you’ve given it a little time (and, like, invested in a good hat), you can reapply the same color and let it sit for less time, checking it every five to seven minutes before rinsing to make sure it doesn’t go too dark, says O’Connor.

⇝If You’ve Gone Too Dark…

“If you’ve gone too dark, I’d first suggest using a clarifying shampoo to help lift some of the pigment,” says O’Connor. Basically, the harsher the better, so look for one with sodium lauryl sulfate in the ingredients list—which, usually, would be your nightmare, but for stripping color? Go for it (once). “You should follow with a deep conditioner, though, since clarifying shampoos tend to be a little harsh.” When in doubt, O’Connor always suggest going to a professional to fix any major mistakes.

How to Make Hair Dye Last Longer

Alright, so you’ve got the perfect hair color—now it’s time to make sure it stays perfect. Semi-permanent hair color can last up to 12 washes, but only if you’re taking care of it. That means using a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner every time you clean your hair, as well as an ultra-hydrating mask or treatment that’ll work to repair any dryness or damage (Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 is an industry favorite, as is Christophe Robin Shade Variation Care Nutritive Mask with Temporary Coloring).

Pick up my go-tos, below, and then get out there and enjoy that new color of yours.

Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 sephora.com $28.00 Christophe Robin Shade Variation Care Nutritive Mask sephora.com $18.00 Amika Vault Color-Lock Shampoo amazon.com $20.20 dpHUE Gloss+ Semi-Permanent Hair Color and Deep Conditioner ulta.com $35.00 Related Story Ruby Buddemeyer Beauty Editor Ruby is the beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, where she covers beauty across print and digital.

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