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How to Avoid the Most Common At-Home Hair Dye Fails


Dying your hair at home for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. Whether you fear ending up with a color three times too dark, or simply leaving more dye on your skin than in your hair, there are ways to avoid these frustrating results. So set your mind at ease: We’ve found some easy fixes for the following frightful dilemmas.

Picking the wrong shade. Shopping at the local supermarket for the right color isn’t always an easy task–especially if it’s your first time. To alleviate the challenge of finding your favorite color, it’s important to choose one to two shades lighter or darker than your natural hair color to achieve a soft finish.

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Staining your skin. There’s nothing worse than getting dye all over your ears, neck, and forehead when you choose to color your hair at home. An easy way to avoid all the unwanted mess? Apply an oil-based product, like Vaseline, to any areas of the skin surrounding your face that you don’t want colored–for example, the back of your neck, the hairline, and the top of your ears. If you forget this step before you start coloring, immediately use a damp cloth to tidy up any excess dye. For those spots that don’t seem to fade, spritz a little perfume on the cloth and scrub–the alcohol in your favorite scent will break down caked-on dye.

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Not being able to reach the back of your hair. So you’re halfway through dying your hair, and you realize you can’t quite fully reach the back of your head. (Cue the collective sighs.) To avoid any patchy results (and a whole lot of frustration), divide your hair into four sections and secure with a large clip. Next, take your middle part to the nape of your neck and section off from ear to ear. You’ll then want to start with the bottom sections (as your hair is darker here, so it’s okay for the color to be on longer) and work your way forward. If you’re looking to get rid of any stubborn gray hairs, leave the dye on an extra 10 minutes to get full coverage. Another handy pro tip: use a handheld mirror that you can easily position to view the back of your neck.

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Ending up with a color that wasn’t what you expected. Perhaps the most prominent worry of all is to be left with a hair color that just isn’t what it looked like on the box. One way to avoid the disappointment is to do a strand test: it will give you a good indication of what the dye will look like on your head before you go through the whole endeavor. In addition to testing whether you are allergic to a certain type of dye, this method is important for those who have previously dyed their hair, as the look of new coloring can be affected by previous dying treatments.

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Your brows not matching your new color. Having brows that don’t quite match your hair is a dead giveaway of unnatural locks. Generally, your brows are one to two shades lighter than the hair on your head, so if you go lighter, it’s best to lightly bleach your brows. But don’t be tempted to use your at-home dye for this purpose: It’s wise to get a professional brow tint instead to achieve the right results.

You bathroom becoming a mess. Dying your hair at home is a messy job. Easily get rid of residue left in your sink with bleach. Leave it on any surface for 10 to 15 minutes and watch the colors melt away.

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Leaving the color in for too long. Jump in the shower immediately and thoroughly rinse the dye. If you went lighter than your natural color, leaving the dye on for too long may result in an orange tinge at the roots. After a few days, you can touch up the roots with a color one shade darker to correct the imbalance. To avoid the headache, the key is to always follow the time allotted on the box instructions–and make sure to set a timer!

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