How to Color Your Hair at Home
Achieve salon-quality results from a box by following these 7 simple tips.
1 Skip the shampoo
Don't wash for 24 hours before coloring, or you'll remove the natural oils that help protect your scalp from chemicals. (And rinse extra dye with water only—shampoo can strip color.)
2 But be sure to condition
Use a deep conditioning mask the day before you dye. It will help ward off any damage, and color looks more vibrant and deposits more evenly on moisturized hair.
3 Read the directions
Many women ignore them or just go by the pictures. Pay close attention to the processing time. Leaving dye on for even a few minutes too long can give very different results.
4 Don't go extreme
Never attempt to change your color to more than three shades lighter or darker than your natural base. To make a drastic change, the formula needs to be customized by a pro.
5 Buy extra dye
Pick up two kits: If your hair is very thick or long, one box may not be enough. If you don't use the second one, you should be able to return it to the store, or save it for the next time you color.
6 Do a strand test
It's the only way to see how the color will really develop on your hair. Snip a small section at the nape of your neck (where hair tends to be darkest) and apply the product as directed.
7 Apply color evenly
Divide your hair into four or five manageable sections using clips or elastics. Starting with the lower sections, unclip, apply the product generously from roots to ends, then move up to the next section.
Permanent dyes lift color from hair, then lighten or darken it one to two shades. They provide great gray coverage, but require upkeep to deal with root regrowth.
Demi-permanent will fade after about 25 shampoos, so roots are less of an issue.
Semipermanent is color-depositing only (you can't make hair lighter) and will wash out after four to eight shampoos.
Check the Box
The pictures on the back and side of the box will show how the color will develop on your hair.
Enter your hair type and color preference online to receive custom-blended color with personalized instructions.eSalon Custom Formulated Haircolor,.95; eSalon.com
In just 15 minutes, this subtle, demi-permanent formula develops, then lasts up to 28 shampoos.Clairol Non-Permanent by Nice 'n Easy, .99; at drugstores
Skip the drips—just pump this permanent-dye mousse into your hand and apply to your hair.John Frieda Precision Foam Colour, .99; at drugstores
When the first at-home haircolor kit hit the market in 1956, it suddenly became easier to get a salon look for less money. Here, the most popular shades through the years.
'70s - Golden Blonde
Farrah Fawcett's haircut wasn't her only contribution to women everywhere.
'80s - Champagne Blonde
Thiswasthe era of Linda Evans and Charlene Tilton, after all.
'90s - Medium-Red Brown
Everyone wanted to be aPretty Woman.
'00s -Beige Blonde
America (and Kate Hudson) toasted the new millenium with bright, bold locks.
Now - Soft Brown With Golden Highlights
Thank you, Jennifer Lopez
"I tried to change my strawberry-blonde hair to red and ended up looking like an orange crayon."
Anna-Charlotte Berryhill, Tulsa, OK
Achieving the right shade of red is tricky. In general, warmer, lighter tones of red work better for natural blondes. Brunettes look best in cool shades with violet undertones. Next time, use semipermanent color so mistakes can be washed away.
"I dyed my hair and my ends looked much darker than my roots."
Candice Wilson, West Bloomfield, MI
The tips of your hair tend to be more porous and dry, so they absorb color quickly. To avoid this in the future, apply color on ends during the last half of the recommended processing time.
"After I rinsed out my haircolor, I had a dark line all around the edge of my scalp."
Karen Sally, Atlanta
Just as dye can tint your hair, it can stain your skin. Prevent this by swiping a thin layer of petroleum jelly onto the outermost edge of your hairline before coloring. This creates a barrier that dye can't penetrate.
SOURCES: Sharon Dorram, creator, Sharon Dorram Color at the Sally Hershberger Salon. Jim Markham, founder, ColorProof, a line of products for color-treated hair. Lisa Power, owner, Lisa Power Salon, Seattle. Marie Robinson, color director, Clairol. L'Oréal Paris.
Video: How To Color Your Hair At Home - Home Hair Dye Tips And Tricks
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