You’re there, in the fateful aisle. Unflattering florescent lights shining above, Mariah Carey’s greatest hits screech softly through the air. In this moment you know, you’re about to change your life by choosing an at-home hair color shade that’s so perfect, it’s basically made for you. You might think to yourself, “but I’m no pro! How will I know what shade to choose?” Well, we’ve got your answer, straight from Julia Youssef, Vice President of L’Oréal USA Technical Center.
If You Have Natural, Uncolored Hair:
The most important thing to consider is, of course, your existing natural hair color. If you’re not really sure what your natural hair color is, look at the color of your hair at the roots. In other words, your natural color is the starting color of your hair, prior to any color treatments or lightening caused by the sun or other chemical processes (such as perms or relaxers). Once you know this…
Consult the Shade Guide
When it comes time to pick your hue, check the back or side of the carton for the shade guide. This is a preliminary guide that will give you a quick preview of what that individual shade may look like on your natural hair color. If you cannot find your natural hair color on the left side of the chart, then that specific shade is not intended for your natural color, and the results will not be optimal. Move on to pick another shade. If you’re having trouble deciding between two shades, it’s a good rule of thumb to go for the lighter shade. It’s always easier to darken hair that’s too light than the reverse.
Keep in mind that not all shades will be achievable, depending on your natural color. As a general rule, at-home hair color can lighten 2 - 3 levels lighter than your natural color.
If Your Hair is Gray…
Pick a product that is specified to work for gray hair as grays can be resilient to some forms of hair color. For the best coverage, begin your application on the grayest areas and leave the product in your hair longer. If you have tried the extended timing and still need better gray coverage, use the next darker shade.
If Your Hair’s Already Colored:
Your hair must be in good condition before you process it again. Most people color their hair every 4 to 6 weeks. If you’re unhappy with your current shade and want to recolor it, you need to wait at least 48 hours.
If your current hair color is too dark, attempting a correction with a lighter shade will not provide the desired results because one hair color cannot lighten another. The reverse is also true—darkening pale or bleached hair can result in an unnatural discoloration instead of the desired color. For color correction, we recommend going to a professional.
When coloring your hair regularly with a same or similar shade, it's important to have the right touch-up technique. Make sure you color the regrowth (natural hair) first and save mid length and ends (already colored) for the last few minutes to avoid over absorption of color, which can result on a darker than expected color result.
Did we cover it all or do you have any other at-home color questions? Don’t forget to check out what type of product is best for you! Let us know in the comments!