How to Dye Your Hair at Home Without It Ending in Disaster

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How to Dye Your Hair at Home Without It Ending in Disaster

If you’d sooner shave your head than dye your own hair at home, we feel you — coloring your hair takes time and money. Plus, there is so much room to make a mistake (especially if it’s your first time doing so) that you could spend months trying to fix. It’s intimidating, to say the least. But, on the other hand, the salon can be expensive, so the inclination to save your hard-earned coins and pick up a dye brush yourself is totally understandable. 

There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re dyeing your own hair: choosing the right hue (and getting it to show up properly), placing the color in the right spots, using the right tools for the job. And don’t get us started on the after-care. But don’t worry — all you need to get your at-home dye job right is a little patience (remember to always go slowly) and a bit of guidance from some folks who know what they’re talking about.

Like Lauryn Hill said back in 1998, “it could all be so simple.” And we don’t know about y’all, but we’d also rather not make it hard. Life is tough enough! So, with the help of some experts, we came up with 13 at-home hair color tricks, hacks, product recommendations, and tips, so the once-laborious act of doing your own color can turn into the best, easiest spa day ever.

The three keys to success? Make sure you’re comfortable (a pair of these luxe PJs should do the job), have everything you need (we’ve got you there below), and aren’t pressed for time. Now, get into the best insider at-home hair-color tricks and tips for achieving salon-worthy results.

1. Don’t trust the model on the box of hair dye

Sure, the woman smiling on the front of the box looks beautiful, but the color of her hair is a fantasy. “The color always ends up lighter than the model’s hair on the packaging,” says colorist Dana Ionato of the Sally Hershberger Downtown salon in New York City. “The developer in at-home permanent dyes is very strong — stronger than the ones we use in the salon — so it lifts the color and makes it lighter than what you see on the box.” Instead, look at the little swatch at the top of the box — it’s a better representation of how the hue will actually look on your hair. 

2. Know when to go lighter — or darker 

The rule is as follows: For permanent dye, choose a color a smidge darker than what you want because of the strong developer, says Ionato. With semipermanent dye, however, err on the lighter side of the color you’re looking to achieve. “Semipermanent formulas don’t have a developer, meaning they get darker and darker the longer you leave them in your hair,” says Ionato. “It’s safer to choose a color that’s a bit lighter from the get-go.”

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