How to Dye Your Own Hair

More men and women are choosing to color their hair at home than ever before. There are plenty of options. Whether you want to go darker, lighter, touch up your roots, or just cover those pesky gray hairs that keep popping up, coloring at home is an inexpensive and easy way to manage your hair color.

Professional stylists have years of experience and expertise, but it can be challenging to get an appointment and sometimes more money than you want to spend. So, what is a person to do? Well, try coloring your own hair at home. It is better for your pocketbook and can be done conveniently in your own home. You don’t need any special equipment or training. Just follow this step-by-step guide that explains how to color your hair at home, and you will have the color you are looking for in no time.

Choose a Dye Type and Color

The first step is to choose what color and type of hair dye you want to use. There are three different types of hair dyes for the at-home colorist. There are permanent dyes, semi-permanent dyes, and temporary dyes. Permanent dyes will usually last around six weeks. Semi-permanent dyes have a shorter coverage period, usually about four weeks, but they will fade after approximately three weeks. Hair color will fade because semi-permanent colors do not penetrate the hair shaft, so the color doesn’t saturate the hair in the same way as a permanent dye. If you are interested in color for a shorter time, there are temporary dyes. Temporary dyes last anywhere from one to five shampoos depending on the brand. Temporary dyes are similar to semi-permanent because they do not penetrate the hair shaft; instead, they are more of a hair stain that will wash out.

After you decide the type of hair dye that is best for you, you can get to the fun part of choosing a color. Your natural shade will play a significant role in how your color turns out. It is easier to go from lighter to darker, but darker to lighter may not give you the exact color you are looking for. The hair dye box should have a color guide on the side that can gauge your color outcome based on your natural hair color.

Alternatives to Full-Color Coverage

Besides the permanent to temporary full coverage colors, there are also a few options for those looking for something different but do not want a drastic full-color change. A highlight kit can give you a change of color without the total commitment of a new shade. Highlight kits are easy to use and come with all of the necessary tools to give your hair new life. Highlight kits let you add color to pieces of your hair, often to frame your face. They are easy to use and can give you a new but not so drastic look..

There are also kits to cover your roots. If you regularly color your hair, you don’t need to do a full color each time. You can simply touch up your roots every three to four weeks and cover the grow out. Regular touching up is a great way to maintain your hair color without damaging your hair by going through the entire dye process each time.

Where to Buy

Boxed dyes are sold at drugstores and most supermarkets. They are generally more concentrated than salon dye as they are designed to work on any hair type. If you are looking for a wide selection of colors and don’t have hair issues such as thinning or damaged hair, a box dye can work great. L’Oreal, Clairol, and Revlon have great dyes with a large enough color selection that anyone can find a color they love.

However, if you have thinning, coarse, or damaged hair, a higher-end box dye might be a better alternative to a drugstore dye. Salon dyes for at-home use have become popular over the last year and include such brands as Madison Reed and eSalon. You can purchase these brands online. If you are looking for an in-store salon dye, you can check out ION or Arctic Fox, and both are sold at Ulta and Sally’s Beauty.

Preparing to Color Hair 

Now you have the perfect color and the exact type of dye for you, and it’s time to color. Before you color, an important step that you shouldn’t miss is a patch test. A patch test can test the dye and make sure you will not have an allergic reaction. It is simple to do, just take a small amount of dye and put it on your skin, usually behind the ear or on your inner elbow. Then, let it dry and see if there was an allergic reaction. If, after the patch test, there is no reaction, you are ready to go.

Hair dyeing can be done alone, but if you have a helper close by, that can make the process easier to ensure the dye gets everywhere, including the back of your head. It is essential to read the box directions carefully and follow the instructions for the type of coloring you will do. For example, full coverage first-time, color can be applied altogether and let sit for the amount of time the box instructions recommend. However, if you are covering stubborn gray hairs or re-touching roots, you will want to apply the color to the root/grays first and let the dye sit for around 30 to 40 minutes (again, read the box for specific instructions). You can then brush the rest of the color through to the ends and leave it for an additional amount of time, generally 15 additional minutes.

When you have finished dyeing your hair, you can rinse it out and use the shampoo and conditioner packets that are included in every home dye box. Then, dry and style as usual.

Correction Tips For the Home Stylist

Sometimes the color doesn’t come out quite as you imagined. You followed the instructions, but for some reason, the color isn’t right. So what do you do if the color comes out wrong? Here are some tips to help you fix common coloring problems. 

What to do if?

Your hair turns out too dark

This is a common mistake when the color is accidentally left on too long. The best way to lighten it is to wash it immediately with a clarifying shampoo or a color remover. You may have to wash your hair several times before you see it start to lighten up.

Your hair turns out too light

Another common mistake when going lighter is to go too far and lighten it too much. You might be tempted to buy a darker color to cover it, but this can lead to more issues if the tone is different. The best way to take care of this is to use a pigmented conditioner. Pigmented conditioner can help tone down the lightness and give it a richer, deeper color.

Your hair turns out too brassy

This is a fairly easy one to fix. Just follow up with a purple shampoo. Brassiness can be an ongoing issue, not just after coloring. It can come back due to excessive sunlight and even hard water, so each time it returns, wash with a purple shampoo to tone down the brassiness.

Your hair turns out too green

Green tinted hair is a common mistake when blondes go for a darker color with an ashy tone. The result can lead to a greenish hue. The best way to fix that is using a red hair dye to cancel out green. Choose a red shade that matches the tone, and make sure to wait two weeks until it’s safe to dye your hair again.

Your hair turns out too orange

Another common mistake happens when using a lighter shade than your natural hair color. The lighter shade grabs onto the roots but doesn’t cover the rest of the hair evenly, causing an orange tone, which is usually a darker orange at the roots. The best way to remedy this is to use a violet gloss to neutralize the orange.

Your hair looks one-dimensional

The best way to fix a one-dimensional flat hair color is to add some curls or waves that will create shadows on the hair and look more natural. You can also try a highlight or accent spray to give it more depth.

Hopefully, you won’t fall prey to these color catastrophes, but mistakes can happen. These are great tips to try at home, but you can always contact your local stylist to help if all else fails.

Cleaning Tips

If you get color on your skin, soap and water should do the trick to remove any excess dye. However, the best way to avoid getting dye on your skin is to cover exposed areas like your forehead, neck, and ears with petroleum jelly before you apply the color.

If you accidentally get hair color on your clothes, you should immediately wash with cold water and apply a stain remover. It’s a good idea to use a plastic cape or wear old clothes when coloring at home just in case color drips on your clothes.

After you color your hair, there might be some mess to clean up. The best way to clean bathroom countertops or sinks is to use a mix of baking soda, vinegar, and bleach. You may need to scrub the stains with a sponge rather than just wiping them up. The sooner you do it, the better before the stains are set. 

What Should You Expect to Pay for Home Hair Color?

Home hair color can range anywhere from 10 to 30 dollars depending on the type of dye, where you buy it, and whether it is a popular name brand like Manic Panic or a generic brand. Some online brands like Madison Reed offer a membership club. As a member, you receive discounts, and every eight weeks, a box of color lands in your mailbox.

Apart from the actual color, there are one-time purchases that can make your home hair color experience better, such as a towel or plastic cape to protect your clothes from the dye. And a wide-tooth comb for brushing the color through and a hair color application brush if you prefer to apply color with a brush rather than the applicator bottle that comes in every box.

Alternatives to Boxed Hair Color

There are some great alternatives to box hair color that you can try at home. Henna is a popular natural hair dye made from the lawsonia inermis plant. It has been used throughout history for body art, staining material, and hair dye. Henna is a great natural alternative to chemical hair dyes. It isn’t as harsh on your hair follicle and washes out gradually over anywhere between two and four months. Another benefit of using henna is that there is no grow out because the color slowly fades. Henna is an excellent option if you want a more natural approach to hair dye and choose a darker shade than your natural hair color. If you’re going to lighten up your hair, blonde henna called cassia can brighten up your already blonde locks. And if covering grays is your goal, then you should look for a henna mix that includes indigo for the best results.

Another natural lightening method is to apply lemon juice to your locks and spend a little time in the sun to get a naturally lighter look.  It’s a safe and time-tested method way to lighten your hair. If you want to go darker or even try a red hue, you can use Kool-Aid as a hair color. It’s a fun way to try something new with zero commitment because it will wash out easily in a couple of shampoos.

Caring for Your Color

Taking care of your color is as easy as buying color-safe shampoo and conditioner. A good color-safe shampoo can extend the life of your color and help keep your hair healthy. Aim to use these products daily to keep your hair color safe from fading.

Another essential tip to maintaining healthy hair is applying a deep conditioning treatment to color-treated hair each week. Deep conditioning treatments are a quick, usually about two minutes, way to retain moisture in color-treated hair. Also, be careful with hot styling. Color-treated hair needs to be protected from excessive heat. When styling, be mindful of how hot the hairdryer is and use a curling iron or flat iron on a lower setting to protect color-treated hair.

In addition, to color-safe shampoo and conditioner, you can use a hair gloss. Hair gloss is designed to work with color-treated hair because hair colors and dyes can leave hair dry and dull. Hair gloss can repair that damage and give your hair a shiny boost. Gloss is sometimes confused with a hair glaze. While they both have the same end goal in mind, helping damaged hair, gloss goes deep into the hair cuticle and penetrates the hair to control any damage the hair has, and a glaze is a topical product that layers on top of the hair shaft. You can apply a hair gloss at home or go to your favorite salon to have it applied. For best results and to keep your color from fading too fast, try using hair gloss once a month.  It is an excellent addition to your hair care routine.

When you are ready to grow out your hair and go back to your natural shade, you will need to have some patience as the process can be slow. Touch-up sprays are an easy fix to help you through the grow-out phase. Touch-up sprays are a non-permanent solution to keeping a consistent color as you grow your hair out or while you decide on the next color to try.

Overall, coloring your hair at home doesn’t have to be scary. Follow these tips and always follow the directions on the box of your home color to have the best home hair coloring experience.

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