Foolproof Tips for Dyeing Your Hair at Home

Posted 08/26/11 at 03:26PM by Audrey Fine

My at-home hair dyeing fiasco a few months back elicited a slew of questions from you faithful My Beauty Life readers. You're clamoring to know the best ways to avoid what happened to me when I attempted to dye my already highlighted hair red using a drugstore box color -- and get some insider info on the best ways to go about the process from the comfort of your own bathroom.

I decided to seek out a pro and run the top six questions by her so that we could all be better equipped next time we decide to don those ubiquitous rubber gloves.

Experts don't come more knowledgeable or respected than Marie Robinson, owner of her eponymous New York City salon and Clairol's Color Director. So, grab a pen (or printer) and study up before you decide to DIY.

Q: Is there a foolproof way to choose the right color for your skin tone?

Robinson: There are a few easy tricks to choosing the right shade for your skin tone. Take your eye color and jewelry preference into consideration when selecting a box hair color to best complement the pigments in your skin. Shades described as "warm" (sometimes referred to as golden) work well for women who tend to wear gold jewelry and have dark eyes as well as an olive, darker complexion. "Cool" shades (also known as "ash") are great options for women who opt for silver jewelry and have light eyes and a fair complexion. "Neutral" shades are great for women who can wear both types of jewelry.

Q: Who should NOT color their hair at home? (People with already bleached blonde hair, etc.)

Robinson: Women seeking a color change within one to two levels from their current shade or desiring full gray coverage should absolutely consider coloring at home. Women should look to a professional for advice if they want a drastic color change (such as going from brunette to blonde) or if they have severely damaged hair (say, if it's overly bleached). Hair color specialists from the brand's hotline, such as 1-800-Clairol, can also provide advice on the best shade for a more dramatic hair color change and offer education on color maintenance.

Q: What are the most common errors/mistakes people make and how can they be undone/corrected?

Robinson: A common mistake women make is coloring their hair with a shade that is drastically different from their initial hair color. It is better to gradually change the color by selecting shades one to two levels from the starting hair color and then slowly moving away from that initial color during each coloring process.

Also, I find women often just use the model's picture on the front of the hair color box to decide on the best shade for their desired results. I recommend women refer to the back or side panel of the box to see a before-and-after visual of how her hair color results will turn out based on her current color.

To also ensure you get the shade you desire, do a strand test. Begin by taking a small section of hair from the back, cut a few strands and apply an equal amount of color, then process per the instructions on the product's box. Pay close attention to the suggested process time for the colorant so you know how long to leave the color on for best results.

Q: What's the most important thing to know about coloring your hair at home?

Robinson: The most important first step when coloring hair at home is to choose the right type of hair color. If you're seeking 100 percent gray coverage or would like to make a transformational change of the color of your hair, I recommend a permanent at-home hair color. If you want to simply enhance the color you currently have and are looking for a temporary change, I recommend using a semi-permanent shade, because it only lasts up to 28 shampoos and rinses out without creating root lines. Once you choose which type of hair color you want, you can then look at the shade palette.

Q: Is mixing shades OK to do?

Robinson: I suggest women do not mix shades on their own at home, as this is usually a practice best left to a professional colorist. Boxed color often already contains a blend of highlights and tones.

Q: Can color be applied to roots (or ends) only?

Robinson: Color can be applied to roots only and I generally recommend women do this for touch up applications when they're not changing the overall color of their hair and are only targeting new growth. I love Clairol Nice 'n Easy Root Touch-Up, $6, for women who want to extend the time between their regular colorings. The color can be easily applied to grays with the product's brush applicator and lasts for up to three weeks.

There you have 'em. Pro tips that will help to make your (and mine from now on) home coloring experience a happy one!

If you want more expert advice on everything from skin care to makeup application, click here.
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