After 12 years of getting my hair highlighted by a pro, I decided to give box hair color a try. For most salon devotees it’s a crazy thought, but I was tired of spending gobs of money—and time—at the salon. I knew I needed to ease slowly into DIY dye, and after researching my options, decided to take the leap with a demi-permanent color.
Unlike permanent hair color, demi-permanent dye doesn’t contain ammonia, so you’re not able to lighten your hair. But it’s great for adding shine, going darker, covering up a few grays, or blending in highlights—and it’s gentler. It also lasts longer than semi-permanent (which can fade away after eight-or-so washes) but is less committal than permanent dye. Chrystopher Benson, Matrix Artistic Director, says that these advantages mean that you’ll get better coverage, longer-lasting results, more tones (those pretty golden or ashy glints throughout your hair) and a more even color, but without the commitment of permanent color.
Benson’s advice helped me find my perfect formula and shade: L’Oreal Paris Healthy Look Crème Gloss Color in Dark Blond . It got me back to my roots—literally, as it’s very close to my natural color—while still letting little pieces of blond peak through. Remember these rules and you’ll be as good as gold…or auburn…or…
Do your research. Every hair color brand is different, and every head of hair is different. “Texture, porosity, condition of the hair and how much TLC you lavish on your hair all determine how much depth of color you’re able to achieve and how long your color will last,” says Benson.
Consider your natural coloring. Benson says he looks at the natural hair color, skin tone and eye color to determine cool or warm tones for his salon clients. When at least two of the three criteria match, you know whether to reach for a gold or ash shade. Still in doubt? Choose a neutral tone like Medium Brown or Dark Blonde as a default.
Use demi dye to transition out of highlights. Benson says your eyes need time to get used to a big color change and demi offers the ability to tone down the brightness of highlights without going too dark too quickly.
Don't stray too far away from your natural hue. I chose a natural shade because I didn’t want to deal with the upkeep. The closer the shade is to your natural color, the more the re-growth will blend into your colored hair.
Show your strands some TLC. Color treated hair should always be taken care of with color treated shampoos and conditioners. “Think of your hair as a fabric,” says Benson. “If you’re using harsh products and washing more than necessary, the more the fabric fades.”