Everything you need to know about dyeing your hair at home
1. Identify your hair-color goals.
“At-home hair color is great for anyone who is looking for a subtle change, whether that is covering up a few grays or richening up your current hair color,” Nine Zero One salon co-owner Nikki Lee tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Lee, whose celebrity clients include Selena Gomez, Sarah Hyland, and Emma Roberts, says that at-home hair dyeing doesn’t have to be tricky as long as you maintain a realistic expectation when it comes to results. “If you are a dark brunette, don’t expect to become a bleached blonde in one box application,” she explains.
2. Do your research to find the right formula.
“Also, educate yourself on the difference between permanent and semipermanent hair colors so you can choose the one that is best for your needs,” she says. Permanent, as the name implies, is the longest-lasting hair-color option and can lift your hair two to three levels. “It is the only way to completely cover grays. Most at-home hair color falls into this category.”
Semipermanent color can change hair’s tone temporarily, but it won’t necessarily catch those grays, and it begins to fade fairly quickly, depending on the dye and brand.
3. Pick your shade carefully.
“The best way to determine if a color is going to be right for you is to look on the side of the box,” says Lee, who also maintains that those charts are there for a reason. “If your natural level is there, then you’re good to go.” If you don’t see your true color on the box, then it’s an indication to go a shade lighter or darker to find your match. “My favorite is Garnier Nutrisse to keep your hair shiny and healthy,” says Lee. “Their tones are always true to the photo reference.”
4. Don’t skip out on the details.
Lee says to make sure you have a few supplies on hand at home to ensure a quick and easy application process. “I recommend using dark-colored towels because the color will stain. Gloves should be included, but it’s a good idea to have an extra pair just in case.” She also suggests taking off all your jewelry and changing into an old, oversized button-up shirt to avoid staining or ruining any clothing or accessories.
5. Consider your hair’s texture too.
Hair’s texture, or porosity, can play a role in how light or dark your chosen shade will look once the color is deposited onto the strands. “You will want to make sure your hair has even porosity from roots to ends to ensure your ends don’t grab darker,” explains Lee. “If you have dry ends, you can even out the porosity by spraying the ends with a light leave-in conditioner” before color application.
6. Prep correctly.
“Always be sure to do a skin allergy test before using any new color,” advises Lee. You can do a skin patch test by applying a dab of color to the inside of your elbow and wait 48 hours for any reaction. “If you have a reaction, consult a doctor before applying any color to your scalp.”
When you’re ready for application, Lee says, it is important to protect your skin and hairline from the dye. “A quick trick if you don’t have a professional barrier cream is to use Vaseline or lip balm.” You can apply your makeshift barrier protection using a cotton swab for precision.
Lee adds that if you are going lighter, do a strand test before applying color all over your hair. “Apply the color to a small strand of hair and allow it to fully process — if your hair strand is strong and healthy, you can continue on to the whole head.”
7. Follow the instructions.
It should go without saying, but Lee stresses the importance of following the instructions inside the box in order to properly mix and apply your dye. “Be sure to set a timer for the appropriate [processing] time,” she adds. “Once the color has processed, rinse your hair until the water runs clear.”
8. Maintain your results.
“After you finish rinsing, be sure to use a deep conditioner to seal in the color,” Lee says. She recommends using a gentle, color-safe shampoo to preserve your hair, as clarifying or anti-dandruff formulas can strip color. For long-term hair health, a moisturizing mask once a week helps lock in color and protect hair from breakage.