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How to Save Money and Properly Colour Your Hair At Home

How to Save Money and Properly Colour Your Hair At Home

How to Colour Your Hair at Home and Save Money

Colouring your hair is a great way to express yourself. Whether you’re looking to add highlights, dye it all dark for fall/winter, or try out a fun new colour, hair dye is an effective way to change up your look. While you might want to visit a salon for more advanced colouring techniques such as highlights or balayage, there’s almost no colour you can’t achieve at-home with a little know-how and willingness to follow directions.

Over the past year and a half, people have resorted to either giving up on colouring their hair or learning how to do it themselves. Thankfully, hair stylists all over the globe have started coming out with tutorials online on how to achieve salon-quality results without ever leaving your home. While it can seem like a risky process, colouring your own hair is pretty easy when you follow instructions, purchase the right product, and do a little research.

Here are some stylist-approved steps to be able to colour your hair at home. If you follow these directions, you should be able to either maintain your colour until your next hair appointment, or ditch going to the salon altogether.


  1. Pick the right colour.

Hair colour can be confusing. It’s important to try and buy salon or professional-quality products for best results. Box dyes are convenient and good in a pinch, but if you plan on going back to your stylist afterwards, box dye is very hard to remove. It is recommended to stay away from box-dyes and take a trip to your nearest beauty supply store for good quality products that won’t do any harm to your hair.

Hair colours all fall under a category on a hair colour chart. Level 1 hair is the darkest hair you can have, while Level 10 is the lightest. It’s also important to note that hair can have either cool neutral, or warm undertones. When looking for a hair colour, compare your current hair to what you want it to be. For example, if you want a neutral brown and you have warm blonde, you’ll want to pick something with a cool undertone to balance out the warmth that already exists in your hair.

Stylists recommend going a level or two lighter than your desired final colour, as it’s easier to re-dye it a darker colour than lighten one. If you’re unsure of what level your hair is or which kind of colour to pick, most beauty supply stores have swatches to help. If you’re ordering online, you can always find photos and reviews before making any decisions.

Some salon-worthy hair colour brands recommended by stylists are:

  • Madison Reed Radiant Hair Colour Kit
  • Elgon Moda & Styling Hair Colour
  • Goldwell Nectaya Nurturing Hair Colour
  • Joico LumiShine Demi-Permanent Colour
  • L’Oréal Professionnel Semi-Permanent Dia Richesse
  • Matrix Biolage Plant-Based Hair Colour
  • Pravana ChromaSilk VIVIDS Everlasting
  • Redken Shades EQ Demi-Permanent Hair Gloss
  • Rusk Deepshine Conditioning Cream Colour
  • Scqarzkopf IGORA ROYAL Permanent Colour Crème


  1. Buy two boxes.

If your hair is past your shoulders, or shoulder-length and thick, use two packages of the same shade to ensure full coverage. It’s always better to have more product than needed than not enough!


  1. Don’t mix colours.

While it can be tempting to mix different colours together to create a custom shade, it isn’t recommended. Especially when it comes to mixing different brands, you never know how two different colours or two different brands’ product are going to turn out. You don’t know what is in each product, and it could result in a chemical reaction that could ruin your hair or turn it a funny colour.


  1. Start off with a natural colour – at least, for now.

You can change your whole look with just a slight change in hair colour. If you’re just starting to learn how to dye your hair, it’s best to practice a bit beforehand with natural colours or a root touch-up. This way, you have less risk of making a big error.


  1. Test it first.

To start, try out the colour on a test strand, especially if you have previously coloured hair. Hair dye doesn’t react the same with previously coloured hair as it does with virgin (or natural, un-dyed) hair. To prevent any major hiccups, a test strand allows you to see what the colour will look like before committing to a whole head of it.

To do a test strand, choose a spot that you can see, above the ear but away from your hairline. Pick out a section that’s about one-inch wide, and apply the dye to the whole strand, from roots to tip. Leave on for the recommended time, and wash and style as the instructions suggest.

Additionally, you want to make sure you don’t have any allergies to the formula of hair dye. Brands recommend doing a test strand 24-48 hours before dying your hair. Waiting this amount of time will help to see how you may or may not react to the dye.


  1. Get some supplies ready.

You may think that having hair dye is the only thing you need to be able to dye your hair. Many people just get the product, and go to town using their bare hands to apply it to the hair directly. Hair dye is made up of certain chemicals to alter the colour of your hair, and those chemicals shouldn’t be applied all over your hands. If you’re trying to use any lightener, you could risk getting a bleach burn on your hands. If you’re just using colour, you might not get a burn, but you’ll have stained skin for a while.

Since hair dye can get pretty messy, it’s recommended to get gloves and a towel to start. Be sure to wear an old t-shirt that you don’t mind getting dirty, and grab your hair dye. Use hair clips, a tail comb, and hand cream as well. The clips will help to section off your hair for easy application, the comb will help create those sections, and hand cream applied to the skin near the hairline will prevent any staining on the face.

For the application process, use a glass or plastic bowl (a metal one will oxidize the dye and cause it to change colour!) and application brush for best results. By using a hair dye brush, you’re able to apply the product precisely section by section, making sure no spots are left unsaturated. An uneven application will lead to blotchy results that might require a professional colour correction.


  1. Prep your hair and skin.

You don’t want colour to stain your forehead, so use a hand cream or Vaseline along the hairline. Then, brush your hair and part it down the middle. You should divide your hair into at least four sections after that, and clip up everything but one section. Working in sections is the key to a great application.


  1. Start applying the colour.

Any hair dye should be applied to dry hair. Read the instructions on the product before application, so you know the basics of the process. However, if you’re a visual learner or the instructions seem unclear, feel free to watch a YouTube video on how to best apply hair dye to your hair. Generally, you’ll want to work on the front sections near your hairline first, making sure the roots are fully saturated with colour. Then, once all your roots are covered in the dye, go back through each section and coat the hair to the tip.

If you’re just doing a root touch-up, go in small sections and apply the colour to the visible root growth only. For a seamless blend, you can go in with your fingers (with gloves on!) and smudge the colour into the rest of the hair. You don’t want too much overlap, but you can go a little past the root growth line to create a soft blend.


  1. Wait for the dye to develop.

Once you’ve applied all the colour to your hair, set a timer on your phone for the amount of time recommended on the product’s instructions. If you’re dyeing your whole head, use clips or hair ties to get your hair out of your face and off your neck. This way, you prevent any accidents where the hair may stain your neck during processing time.

If you accidentally got hair dye on your hairline or neck, simply use a cotton ball or pad with warm water or astringent to wipe any dye from the skin. The hand cream or Vaseline should have acted as a barrier to prevent the hair from staining your skin, but if you did get a little messier than planned, you want to remove it before it develops fully.


  1. Rinse and wash your hair.

After your timer has gone off, hop in the shower and rinse with warm water. After the water runs as clear as possible, go in with a shampoo designed for colour-treated hair. If needed, you can shampoo your hair twice. The goal is to have the water run clear, meaning all hair dye is removed. If you want to avoid getting colour on your hands, feel free to use gloves for this process.

Once the water in the shower runs clear, use a hydrating or deep conditioner as usual.


  1. Take steps to maintain your new colour.

Now that you’ve gone through all the effort of dyeing your hair, you want to maintain it. Try to always use a shampoo for colour-treated hair. You should also try avoiding over-washing your hair; stick to washing it twice a week to prevent premature fading.


Hair Colours That Require a Professional

The easiest at-home colour choices are natural colours that are similar to your current hair colour. If you’re a dirty blonde and you want to go ash brown, that would be something that you can do at home easily. However, big changes can be pretty advanced and require a different technique. Doing your hair at home is a great, inexpensive solution. However, there are certain colours or techniques that are better left to the professionals.

  • Going from blonde to dark brunette or black. Light hair is lacking the pigment that is needed for a rich brunette. In order to make this transition, the colour needs to be “filled.” This means adding in red beforehand to add warmth back to the hair before going over with a brown shade.
  • Going from dark brunette or black to blonde. This is a technique that you should definitely consider doing only through a professional. Lightening hair is difficult, and can cause tons of breakage if not done correctly.
  • Bleach or lightener is complicated in itself, but highlights are a technique that should be done by a professional. You need an understanding of how bleach works, and you should know the different highlighting techniques to be able to achieve the look you’re wanting.
  • This is a technique that even some hairstylists don’t offer, because of how technically difficult it is. Avoid doing it at home, unless you’re a trained professional.
  • Fun colours. In order to go all-over teal or vibrant orange, you need to have a deep understanding of colour theory. Colours react very uniquely to other colours, so the last thing you want is to apply blue to your hair and end up with green! Additionally, a lot of fun colours require lightener first.


Switch Up Your Look

If you’re looking for a small change, a new hair colour can do wonders for your image. Demi or semi-permanent hair colours are great if you don’t want to commit to permanently dyeing your hair that colour. Go on Instagram or Pinterest for inspiration, find a hair colour you like (that isn’t overly complex), buy some hair dye, and get to it!

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