How to Dye Hair at Home (Coloring Tips & Tricks)
How to Dye Your Own Hair
It's not as difficult as you think. Learn how to pick the perfect color, formula, and shades, and master tips to get the results you want.
By Elizabeth Connor
Medically Reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD
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The bewildering array of hair dye choices that you see on pharmacy and grocery store shelves has been developed to help ensure that you get exactly the right product for the hair you have and the effect you’re seeking. But you have to know how to choose.
“The first step is to decide what you want to accomplish,” says Marcy Cona, creative director for color and style at Clairol:
- Subtle change or coverage of gray.Go with a semi-permanent color, recommends Cona. Semi-permanent color “sits” on top of the hair and will gradually wash out in about six weeks. And because the color changes over time, new growth at the roots is less visible than with permanent color.
- Lightening for more dramatic change.To change the color of your hair with hair dye, you want to look for permanent color. Permanent color typically contains peroxide and penetrates the hair follicle itself, Cona says. Because permanent color does not wash out after repeated shampooing, the difference between dyed and undyed hair will be more noticeable when there’s new growth at the roots than with semi-permanent color.
- Accent.Look for products that create highlights.
Choosing a Hair Dye Color
Your next step is to pick a shade of hair dye. The art and science of hair color selection have been vastly improved in recent years with a wider choice of dyes and sophisticated color charts to help you find just the right shade. Heed the product advice on the box and on the insert of any given hair dye, advises Cona.
If you can't find a product that promises a certain color given your original shade, adjust your expectations accordingly. Pick another color; do not use a hair dye that is not recommended with your natural hair color. Using a color that is not recommended almost certainly will result in a color you don't expect (or want), Cona says.
As a rule, don’t shampoo your hair before coloring. Shampoo will strip out protective oils you want when you are coloring your hair. At the same time, it’s best not to have an excess of styling products in your hair when you color it. One option is to wash your hair the day before you’re planning to use hair dye and let it dry naturally, skipping all the hair products you would typically use.
Have the Right Tools Assembled
Besides those inside the box, Cona recommends these extras:
- A wide-tooth comb for pulling the color through your hair
- Pre-moistened wipes to catch any dye that drips from the hairline
- An old button-up shirt that will protect the skin on your neck and shoulders from any excess dye
The Step-by-Step Process of Dyeing Your Hair
The first step in the product directions will be to do a patch test. Don’t skip this task, even if you have colored your hair before with the same product. Sensitivities can develop over time, and it’s better to take a few minutes before coloring to ensure you won’t react to the product.
Again, follow the product directions scrupulously. Note the time elapsed when you rinse your hair and adjust accordingly, if needed, the next time you apply color.
When you're done, you'll likely have some hair dye left over. Do not re-cap the bottle — it could burst under pressure. While you'll be tempted to toss excess dye in the trash or pour it down the sink, that's not a sound choice. Hair dye often is considered a household hazardous waste, so check with your local government to see if it has a program that will dispose of it properly.
Using shampoos and conditioners specifically for color-treated hair will help the color last longer and keep hair healthy-looking. Seek out products specifically engineered for your color and hair type.
With a little bit of practice and time, you’ll be able to create a professional-looking color treatment that fits into almost any budget.
Video: How To Color Your Hair At Home | Quick & Effortless
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