Some hair professionals may try to discourage you from doing your own home hair color, saying that drugstore hair color products are harsh and the results can be uncertain.
But the truth is that you can achieve excellent results and save a lot of money by coloring your hair at home as long as you know a few basics about choosing the right color and applying it correctly.
Here are seven of the most common questions and my advice on hair coloring at home.
1. How do I know whether I should color my hair at home or go to a salon?
Most people can successfully color their hair at home but there are exceptions. You should get a professional color job if your hair is in poor condition – coloring dry damaged hair at home can result in uneven color. Also, if your hair has different shades and you want one even tone, a hairdresser can apply different formulas to the different areas. Finally, it’s best to leave it to the experts if you want to make a drastic change to your hair color, say dark brown to platinum blonde, or you want special color effects like highlights.
2. Are drugstore hair colors just as good as salon hair color products?
In general, salon products use higher quality ingredients that do a better job of cleansing, moisturizing and conditioning than the drugstore brands. But home coloring kits are getting better all the time and can deliver good results if used properly.
3. How do I pick a color that will look natural on me?
When choosing a hair color, your skin tone and natural hair color are the two most important factors. Whether you’re going lighter or darker, stay within two or three shades of your natural hair color. Here is a guideline for selecting a compatible hair color for your skin tone:
- Dark/olive skin: Stay with darker hair colors.
- Yellow skin: Dark, rich colors like deep auburn.
- Pale skin: Almost any color.
- Pink skin: Neutral tones like sandy or beige blonde or chocolate brown are best. Avoid reds or golden tones.
If you know what clothing colors suit you, you can also use that to help in choosing hair color:
If you look good in warm shades like red, orange, golden yellow, cinnamon brown, olive green, and rust, then warm hair tones like golden blonde, golden brown, strawberry blonde, and auburn will suit you best.
Cool color favorites like bluish red, fuschia, black, royal blue, and pine green indicate that cool hair tones are best for you: platinum, ash blonde, ash brown, burgundy, and jet black.
If you look good in true red, purple, charcoal grey, periwinkle, and teal, then neutral tones like sandy or beige blonde, chocolate brown or mahogany will suit you.
4. How do I get ready to color my hair the first time? It’s a good idea to gather a few materials together before starting: an old T-shirt, a few old towels and a washcloth that you don’t mind getting stained, some hair clips for sectioning your hair, a timer, and a hand mirror to see the back of your head.
5. If I color my hair at home and hate it, what can I do? There are some home hair color products you can use to repair the damage, but it isn’t easy. The problem is that if you used a home hair color kit to obtain a lighter color, your hair has been bleached and colored in a single process. So the color needs to be added back in a process called “filling” before using the final color formula. Whatever you do, don’t simply buy a box of your original color and try to cover over a bad dye job… it won’t work. Fixing hair color gone wrong is a multi-stage process so a trip to the salon may be in order.
6. I already have permed hair. Can I color it without damaging it? If your hair has been permed or relaxed, color has to be applied carefully or it can weaken the structure of your hair. Salons have colors specially formulated for treated hair. But if you insist on home hair coloring, choose a shade darker than you want since processed hair may come out lighter than expected. Then do a strand test to make sure your hair can handle the chemical stress.
7. I love my new color… now how do I keep it looking good?
You’ll probably want to recolor every four to six weeks. Make a record of the hair color product and shade you used, and how long you left it on the ends and the regrowth. Use shampoos and conditioners formulated for color-treated hair to prevent fading. Stay out of the sun and chlorinated pools to prevent dry damaged hair. Don’t use heavy conditioners and oil treatments after coloring… they can lift the color.
Now go out and enjoy your new look and all the money you saved by doing it yourself!