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Top Tips for Dyeing Your Hair at Home, According to Experts

Save money — and a trip to the salon!


It’s cheaper and far more convenient than visiting a salon, but if you’re new to hair coloring, it can be tough not knowing where to begin. But, with a bit of expert knowledge, you can color your hair at home like a pro.

To set your mind at ease, Coty’s Styling and Color Ambassador Michael Douglas has given us his expert advice.

Choose the right product.

As simple as it sounds, the type of product you buy is dependent on the final look you want to achieve. “If you want to cover your gray hair entirely, or go lighter, you’ll need to use permanent hair color,” explains Michael. “Even then you shouldn’t expect a permanent color to lighten your hair by any more than three shades.

However, if you want to go darker you can choose between a permanent or semi-permanent color. Semi-permanent dye can stay the same depth, go darker or add color. It’s milder and less damaging to hair, but may not cover all of your gray hairs.” And if you’re looking for a drastic color change, he says it’s best to head to a salon.

Find a formula you like.

Whether you choose a lotion, gel, or cream color is down to personal preference. “All work extremely well,” explains Michael. “The real difference between salon and home hair color is the application. A hair stylist is likely to be able to create better results, but if you find a formula that’s easy to apply with a bit of practice you should be able to get salon results.

“My personal preference is a cream formula, as it sits heavier on the hair, penetrating, and does its job.” Experiment with different semi-permanent formulas, which will wash out after around six washes.

Pick a flattering shade.

“Your perfect hair color shade has a lot to do with whether your skin is cool or warm toned,” explains Michael. As a general rule cool tones should stick to ash, beige, cool brown and blue-toned red shades. Whereas warm tones suit auburn, caramel and warm red shades.

Find your skin tone by looking at which jewelry suits you. Cool tones suit silver jewelry, whereas gold tends to suit warm skin tones.

Follow the instructions.

“Application techniques can vary from brand to brand and also depending on the result you want to achieve,” warns Michael. “You don’t want to either under or over develop the color so it’s very important to read them carefully.”

After application pop on a shower cap and set a timer so you don’t forget.

Give colored hair extra TLC.

While permanent colors should stay true even with frequent washing, semi-permanent colors requires a gentle approach. “Every shampoo takes a small amount of your semi-permanent color away, so the longer you leave it between shampoos the longer the color will last,” says Michael. “To maintain your color always use shampoo and conditioner formulated for colored or damaged hair as these tend to be milder.” Most hair color brands will include a hair color helpline number on the box.

7 Prep Tips For Success

  • Avoid washing your hair for at least 24 hours before coloring
  • Always do a patch test and a strand test to check the color
  • Cover your bathroom floor with bin bags to avoid drips staining
  • Wear an old shirt or dressing gown that’s easy to remove
  • Apply Vaseline around your hairline to stop the dye staining your skin
  • Lay out your tools – including a comb and a hand mirror to check the back
  • Have a pack of faces wipes on hand to wipe away any runs

If your hair is already colored you’ll need to wait at least four weeks before coloring again.

Does Organic Hair Dye Exist?

It’s definitely a dream! It isn’t true that hair dye is ever 100 percent natural or organic, but that doesn’t mean that chemicals used can’t be safe or eco-friendly to use. Even brands that claim their hair dye is natural or organic won’t entirely be what they say as colorants, dyes, and preservatives are synthetic in order for the oxidation to work.

What is Henna?

Henna is a plant-based option for hair dye, but there are both positives and negatives to using this method. The positives with Henna is that it has been known to help the condition of your hair to make it healthier, stronger, and even balance the pH levels on your scalp. The negatives are as you can imagine, it’s hard to lift the color out of your hair, especially if the client is going lighter! Henna essentially acts as a barrier over hair strands so it’s also not something that can be a quick fix once hair is dyed.

Ingredients to Avoid

Additional to the ingredients mentioned to avoid, Hydrogen Peroxide is known to strip the natural hair color away that will weaken the hair. PPD is very toxic and is made from coal tar – it’s often been used in dark color hair dyes. DMDM Hydantoin is a shelf life preservative and is used for killing bacteria. Parabens, resorcinol, and ammonia are also known to be irritable.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yours.

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