Dyeing your hair at home has its perks. First, there’s the cost factor. At-home box color will typically run less than $10 a pop -- a fraction of the money you’re likely to shell out at the salon. Then there’s the convenience. You can color your strands naked at midnight, if that’s your thing -- no killing half your Saturday sitting at the color bar. So, what’s holding you back? We’re going to guess it’s the fear factor. We know; wielding a bottle of dye, not knowing exactly how it’s going to turn out is pretty darn nerve-racking. But you can get it right. We promise. We asked Laurie Daniel, colorist at the Marie Robinson Salon in New York City to give us a play by play of how to get professional results at home.
Step 1: Choose the Right Color
This is not the time to make a major change. Save that for the pros. When going the box route, you want to stay within two shades of your natural color, notes Daniel. You also want to pay attention to the shade names and descriptions. Words like golden mean the shade will be warm and flattering warm skin tones. Neutral means it’s fair game for all, while ash is going to work on the cool-skinned crew.
Step 2: Stock Up
If you have really long strands, one box isn’t going to be enough, says Daniel. So, buy two. You can also buy more than one type of color to customize your shade. For example, you can get Garnier Olia Brilliant Color in 6.0 Light Brown and 6.3 Light Neutral Brown will create a lovely chestnut, says Daniel.
Step 3: Do it dirty
Daniel suggests dying unwashed hair because a freshly washed scalp may be more prone to irritation. The only exception: If you use root touch up sprays or powders (like L’Oreal Paris Root Cover Up), you’ll need to wash first. Those products may block color absorption, Daniel says.
Step 4: Don’t Skip the Strand Test
Especially if you’re not sure if you picked the right shade. The strand test will give you an idea of how the color will look before you take the plunge and dye your whole head. “Picking an inconspicuous piece of hair at the back of your head is the best,” says Daniel.
Step 5: Lube Up
Nothing gives away an at-home color job faster than ring-around-the-forehead -- dye stains around the hairline that take days to come off. Before you apply the color, rub some petroleum jelly around your hairline. The slick stuff can help prevent the hair color from staining skin.
Step 6: Take it From the Top
Prepare your color as directed from the box instructions. Then start applying with on roots and hairline. This area, especially if you have greys, needs the most time to develop, so you want to get the formula on there right away. Your ends, which tend to be more damaged and therefore porous, can soak up color faster. Apply color there last.
Step 7: Check All Angles
“The back of the hair is usually where most professionals see the most mistakes with home hair color,” says Daniel. That’s because it’s tricky to see if you’ve applied it evenly back there. Use a hand mirror to check. Or, enlist the help of a friend.
Step 8: Spot Treat, if Needed
If you’re just doing a root touch-up (using L’Oreal Paris Root Rescue), don’t pull the color through the rest of your hair, warns Daniel. “It may build up, look inky, and over processed,” she says. “It's a dead give away for bad box dye.”
Step 9: Now Rinse and Condition Like Crazy
That little tube of conditioner is your secret weapon -- it’s not optional. The conditioner helps to moisturize your strands so your color is vibrant. .
Do you dye your hair at home? Tell us in the comments below!
About the Author:The daughter of a hairdresser, Krista Bennett DeMaio likes to say she has beauty in her blood. She has well over a decade of beauty editorial experience. The former magazine-editor-turned-freelance writer has covered all things beauty from anti-aging skincare to NYFW runway trends. Her work has appeared in national publications and websites including Women’s Health, Redbook, Shape, Dr. Oz The Good Life, bhg.com, and prevention.com. She lives in Greenlawn, New York with her husband and two interns, er, daughters.