Quickly Grasp Hair Coloring Techniques: Hair Coloring at Home Is Easy to Do

by GONG-FU JHANG
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hair coloring at home

If you’re interested in dyeing your hair, either to get rid of grays or because you simply want a new look, you have two options: go to a hair salon or do the job yourself. If you choose the latter, you might be surprised to learn that it isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think. In fact, with a few tips from the pros, you can have your hair looking spectacular in no time, saving yourself a lot of time and money in the meantime.

Choosing hair coloring at home is a smart option for numerous reasons, but you still have to learn a few techniques and do everything the box of hair color says you should. The first thing you have to remember is to follow the directions to the letter. When it comes to dyeing your hair at home, one step skipped or done incorrectly can result in an emergency trip to the hair salon so a professional hairdresser can fix your mistakes!

Nevertheless, the process of dyeing your hair yourself doesn’t have to be a complicated one. Below is some very valuable information that you may want to read through before starting to dye your own hair. By the time you get to the end of the article, you should feel a lot more confident that you can dye your hair yourself because you’ll have a lot more knowledge about how the entire process works. Good luck!

How to Choose the Right Color for Your Hair

hair coloring at home

Choosing the right hair color can be challenging, especially if you’ve never dyed your own hair before. Most experts recommend that you touch up your hair or cover grays instead of trying to end up with a brand-new color when you’re done. Leave the tough jobs, in other words, for the hairdresser and just do the simple dyeing jobs yourself.

As far as color goes, you don’t want to stray too far from your original hair color if this is your first time dyeing your own hair. Again, leave the extreme results for the pros. One important tip to keep in mind is that when you buy a box of hair dye, the color on the box usually ends up being darker on your hair than it appears there. For that reason, you should always choose a color that looks a little lighter than the color you’re aiming for.

So if you’re a dark-haired brunette and you simply want to cover up grays, you’d be better off choosing a hair color that is medium brown and not dark brown. A dark-brown hair dye on top of dark-brown hair makes that hair an even darker color, but going with a color that’s a touch lighter works a lot better. After all, you don’t want your new hair color to look fake, you want the dye color to blend in with the color you are now to look more natural.

When choosing your hair color, if you’re not positive what you want, be sure you know exactly what you don’t want. Take your time when choosing hair dye colors and make sure you avoid and eliminate the ones you dislike right away. This can help narrow down your choices a bit. Another tip is to never try and blend two colors together to get the color you want. Why? Because this is usually something only an experienced hairdresser knows how to do. Instead, find a color that is as close as possible to the color you want and go with it. You can always change up the color with your next dye job.

One final note: one of the reasons it is recommended to go to a hairdresser if you want a drastic change in the color of your hair is because going from dark hair to light hair or vice versa is usually a multi-step process. In other words, you cannot get a hair color change that extreme with a store-bought box of hair dye. Since only a professional hairdresser has the tools and skills to make that happen, it always works out best if you choose to go to a salon for this type of job rather than doing it yourself.

Precautions Before Coloring Your Hair

hair coloring at home

As you can imagine, you can’t just start dyeing your hair without preparing the hair for the dyeing process. Simply put, your hair needs to be in good shape to come out looking good after a dye job. For starters, if your hair needs conditioning or you have a lot of breakage or split ends, now might not be the best time to get it dyed. Make sure you deep-condition it and get it looking good before you think about dyeing it.

A few days before you decide to dye your hair, go ahead and give it a good washing and conditioning treatment, and use a mask or deep conditioner if you have to. Dyeing your hair can be harsh on your hair, so it has to be in good shape before you get started. Also, you’ll want to avoid shampooing or conditioning your hair on the same day you intend to dye it. This can dry it out a little and make the hair strands a little too weak to handle the dye.

You should also do a test strand to make sure the dye isn’t too harsh on your hair. A lot of people skip this step, but it’s still a very important one. The directions for doing this are on the box of hair dye. Just choose a small out-of-the-way piece of hair and dye it like you normally would, then wait until it’s dyed and dry to see what happens to the hair. If the color looks hideous or the dye has dried out your hair too much, you might want to place this dye aside and go with another brand.

If you have sensitive skin, you can also do a patch test. For this test, simply mix up the hair dye in a very small amount, then dab some of the dye behind your ear. Afterward, just wait 48 hours and look to see if the dye has done any damage to your skin or if it is uncomfortable or itchy. If it produces unpleasant results, this means you shouldn’t use that particular hair dye.

Naturally, if your skin breaks out in a rash or you don’t like the color you end up with on your test strand, you can move onto Plan B. This is why these two steps are so important. If either of these things happens, it’s usually a sign that you either shouldn’t color your hair or you need to switch brands. If the same thing happens with another brand of hair dye, you might want to consider consulting with a hairdresser who can help you decide what to do next.

Preparing your hair for the dyeing process is crucial, especially if your hair isn’t in the best shape or you tend to have sensitive skin. The more you prepare yourself for dyeing your hair, the less likely you’ll be to suffer any serious side effects once you start the process.

What Hair Coloring Products Do You Need to Prepare for Your Own Hair Coloring?

hair coloring at home

If you choose to do your hair coloring at home, you’ll need to have all of the right products and accessories in order first. Fortunately, most of the things you’ll need are already in the box of dye, but there are other items you’ll need as well. Here are a few of those items:

  • Several large towels to protect yourself and the surrounding furniture, vanity, and so on, from becoming stained by the dye. A few smaller wet towels are also good for wiping away any dye that drips down onto your face.
  • Some large hair clips, preferably four to six of them at a minimum.
  • Two boxes of hair dye, in case you have thick or coarse hair and it takes more than the usual amount of dye to get your hair the right color.
  • A brush and a comb. You should always give your hair a good brushing before you dye it, and the comb is for parting your hair into thin sections as you’re dyeing it.
  • Gloves. While it’s true that a pair of gloves comes with the dye kit, they are sometimes rather flimsy and can tear easily. You might want to buy your own pair of rubber, vinyl, or latex gloves that are a better quality.
  • Vaseline or lip balm to put around the hairline and ears so that the hair dye comes off of your skin a little easier.
  • Cotton balls to make it easier to catch and remove any dripping dye on your face.

What Hair Coloring Tools Do You Need to Prepare for Your Own Hair Coloring?

hair coloring at home

Just like the gloves, most of the items you’ll need should already be in your box of hair dye, but if you use your own accessories, dyeing your hair will be a little easier. You should at least consider buying the following items, which you can find at all beauty retail stores and hair supply stores:

  • A few mixing bowls
  • An application brush (made just for hair dye)
  • A few plastic bottles for the dye itself
  • A disposable shower cap
  • A hair dryer

Remember that as soon as you finish dyeing your hair, you’ll need to wash, condition, and dry it like you normally would. The bowls, bottles, and application brush aren’t necessities, but if you buy these items at a beauty supply store they’ll be a little higher quality than the ones you find in the box of hair dye. This means it is possible to reuse some of these supplies, which can save you a little money in the long run if you decide just to buy the color and developer and mix the dye up yourself the next time you visit the beauty supply store.

Steps to Dye Your Own Hair

hair coloring at home

Once you’ve gotten all of your supplies together, prepped your hair by giving it a good washing a day or two beforehand, and have done the test patches on your skin and hair, you should be ready to start the dyeing job. Here is a step-by-step list of instructions that you can follow to increase the odds that your hair will look great when you’re finished.

  1. Remember that dyeing your hair can be messy, so always have towels nearby that you can use to clean up some of this mess as you’re working. Have a lot of them because you’ll likely be surprised by how easy it is for the dye to get on just about everything in the general vicinity.
  2. Apply a thin layer of vaseline or lip balm around your hairline and your ears so that any dye that drips is more easily removed. If you don’t have vaseline or lip balm, you can use either face or hand cream. This step is not a necessity but definitely makes the dyeing process a lot neater.
  3. Mix the dye using mixing bowls instead of the squeeze bottles if you can. This ensures that the two components will be well-mixed and ready to be placed on your hair. Most brands require that you shake the squeeze bottles for a certain amount of time, but you can use your applicator brush to thoroughly mix the hair dye yourself. The important thing to remember is to make sure the dye is thoroughly mixed together before you start dying your hair.
  4. Divide your hair into four sections and keep them pinned with hair clips until you get to that section. The top of your head should be divided into two sections, and they’ll be facing the front of your head. Then, separate the hair in the back into two different sections. So you’ll have two sections in front and two sections in back of your head.
  5. Make sure you read the directions in the box of dye in their entirety before you get started with the process. This way, you’ll know what you have to do the entire time you’re working on your hair. If any of the instructions are confusing or difficult to understand, look up the problem and find a solution. Reading the directions all the way through a second time is also highly recommended. In reality, it’s very doubtful you’ll get stuck on this step because most brands write clear and easy-to-understand instructions for all of their hair dyes.
  6. Remember that dye needs to be applied to hair that is absolutely dry. When you dye your hair, start with one of the front sections and apply the dye to your hairline. In other words, dye the section that starts at your ear and goes up to your forehead. Try to avoid your skin as much as possible and if the dye starts to drip, use one of your small wet towels to wipe away as much of the dye as possible.
  7. Once you’re finished with one section of hair, put some of the dye on the part and rub the color in gently with your gloved fingers. When you’re dyeing your hair, you’ll want to make sure that you drench every single strand of hair with the dye. While it shouldn’t be dripping wet, all of the hair strands should be totally saturated with the hair dye. If they aren’t, you might end up with a patchy look that results in uneven colors throughout your hair.
  8. When you’re finished dying the two front sections of hair, move onto the back two sections. Make sure that before you finish, you’ve saturated all of the strands of hair and the roots of your hair so that everything turns out even and looking as it should.
  9. When you’re finished with all four sections, cover your head with the plastic cap and set your timer for the number of minutes indicated by that particular brand. This is a very important tip! If the instructions tell you to let the dye remain in your hair for 20 to 30 minutes, you should leave it in for a minimum of 20 minutes and a maximum of 30 minutes. Never stray from these numbers. Too little time means your hair won’t be the color or shade you want it to be and won’t cover all of your gray hair, if that’s why you’re dyeing it. Too much time means it might dry out your hair and make it brittle. Never leave your hair dye in your hair overnight.
  10. While your hair is waiting for the time to elapse, you can take a cotton ball and soak it in warm water, then rub it on your forehead or around your hairline – wherever you see a little bit of dye that you’d like to get rid of. Before you put your hair in the plastic cap, you might want to take a large clip and place all of the hair on top of your head. This simply makes it easier to put the plastic shower cap on afterward.
  11. When your hair is done, you’ll have to step into the shower and give it a good washing. Most brands suggest that you start by rubbing your hair into a lather before you do anything else. If your hair is lathered up well, then you can use a shampoo and conditioner on it. Make sure the shampoo is one made specifically for color-treated hair. You’ll also want the same type of conditioner if the box of dye doesn’t come with its own conditioner – which many of them do. When you’re shampooing your hair, scrub well without being too harsh and keep doing this until the water runs clear. When the water starts to run clear, you can shampoo your hair once again and condition it as well.

Once you get to this point, you can set and style your hair as you usually do. Your hair is now dyed and ready for anything else you enjoy doing.

Dyeing Your Own Hair: Needed Skills

hair coloring at home

You really don’t need any special skills to do your own hair coloring at home. Many people are surprised by this, but in fact, there is only one skill that is deemed important when dyeing your hair yourself, and here it is: Always follow the instructions in the box to the letter!

If the instructions tell you to do one thing, do it just as it says. After all, you want your hair to look amazing when you’re done, and the only way to accomplish this is to do everything the instructions tell you to do just as you should. That means that even if one or more of the instructions in the box is different than those mentioned above, it doesn’t matter – go by the instructions in the box every time!

This is important not just because you want to get the results you were aiming for, but also because each brand of hair dye is different and, therefore, each brand might have a different set of instructions that have to be followed for you to get those results. Going by their exact instructions is also the best way not to get results you aren’t happy with in the end.

Care After You Dye Your Hair

hair coloring at home

Most hair dyes will dry out your hair at least a little bit after they’re applied, so knowing how to properly take care of your hair afterward is crucial. The first thing you’ll want to do is buy yourself some special shampoo and conditioner made just for color-treated hair. These products actually protect the color in your hair so that it lasts a lot longer.

When you use a permanent hair dye, it usually lasts four to six weeks, depending on how many times per week you wash your hair, but the color can start to fade away much faster if you’re not using the right shampoo and conditioner. Look for sulfate-free shampoos as well so that you get an even gentler product. Experts also recommend that you wash your hair no more than twice a week if your hair is dyed. This might not be possible for everyone, but it’s a good idea to at least give it a try.

You should also keep in mind that skipping the conditioner is not an option when you have color-treated hair. Even if your hair is healthy, a good hair dye will dry it out some, which means you should never even consider washing your hair without using a good conditioner afterward. Conditioning your hair regularly is a must when it’s dyed, even if otherwise you don’t do this.

Tips to Make Dyeing Your Hair at Home a Bit Easier

hair coloring at home

If you’ve read all of this and your head is spinning, you’re not alone. It’s normal to be nervous the first time you dye your hair yourself. The thing is, once you do it for the first time, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is. If you want your freshly dyed hair to stay that way for a while, there are some things you can keep in mind to make that a possibility. Below are a handful of tips that make the entire process of dyeing your hair a lot easier.

  • This has been mentioned already but is worth repeating. Follow the rules that your brand of dye has established for that particular box. Remember that all brands are different, but every single one of those brands has a team of experts who worked long, hard hours trying to get the “recipe” just right. They did the hard work for you, so all you have to do is follow the rules so you end up with the hair color of your dreams.
  • If you’re planning to cut your hair as well as dye it, make sure you cut your hair first. The reason for this is simple. Going from long hair to shorter hair means that a short haircut won’t require as much hair dye, and besides, why would you want to waste the product by dyeing your long hair first if you’re only planning to cut your hair afterward? Make sure that the hair-dyeing step is the second step of this process, not the first.
  • Always change your clothes before dyeing your hair. As hard as you try, you’re not going to avoid every single drop of dye that drips on your person or your clothing. Because of this, you’ll want to change into an old T-shirt that you don’t mind getting stained and use towels that are so old it won’t matter if they become stained. Also, put a few older towels on the vanity (if you’re in the bathroom) to protect it as well.
  • Remember the “two-shade” rule. Again, you don’t want an extreme color change if you’re dyeing your hair yourself. Leave those types of color changes for the professional hairdresser. At the most, you should change the shade of your hair by two shades, if not one. Going from a brunette to a blond is not something to aim for when you’re doing your hair in the comfort of your home. You’ll likely be disappointed if this is what you’re trying to do.
  • Be kind to your hair in the shower. Simply speaking, you’ll want to take a shower by taking the temperature of the water down a notch once your hair is dyed. Why? Because heat makes your hair cuticles open up, which means the hair dye in your tresses might be released and therefore washed down the drain along with the shampoo. There are also little nozzles called shower filters that remove a lot of the chlorine and harsh chemicals found in most water supplies. These tips help keep your hair nice and soft and let the color of your hair remain much longer.
  • Do not expose your hair to either well water or chlorine after it’s dyed, which means no swimming pools and only water that is hooked up to the city water line. Both of these things can make the hair look dingy and dull, particularly if you have blond hair. Chlorine can also be damaging to the hair strands and dry them out, which is never good considering hair dye itself also has a tendency to make your hair a little dry.

Can You Give Yourself Highlights at Home?

hair coloring at home

Giving yourself highlights at home is a little complicated, especially for a beginner, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Most people use either regular hair dye or bleach to put highlights in their hair, and you can even use an old toothbrush to apply the highlights. Hair dye is typically thinner than bleach and is therefore sometimes difficult to apply. Bleach kits are usually thicker and almost paste-like, so they tend to stay where you want them a little easier.

Keep in mind that bleach will remove pigment from your hair, which means you’ll be able to lighten your hair in numerous shades. With hair dye, the color will only change a certain amount, and then it will stop. Bleach lightens your hair more and more the longer it stays on your hair. What this means in practical terms is this: if you have brown hair, you cannot use regular hair dye to put blond highlights in your hair. You can, however, lighten the shade of your hair by a few degrees to give it a much more subtle look.

When you apply the highlights in your hair, apply them carefully. You’ll also have to keep the hair you’re highlighting separate from the rest of your hair, and you can do this by wrapping it in foil. This can be much more difficult than it sounds, and even when you rinse the dye out of your hair later on, you’ll have to make sure the dye doesn’t run through the other portions of your hair. This is yet another reason why highlighting your hair at home is so complex and why most people choose to let professional hairdressers do the highlighting instead.

Nevertheless, if do choose to highlight your hair at home, it’s good to know the difference between using hair dye and using bleach and how long each of these options lasts. Hair dye does not remove the pigment in your hair, which means it will last about four to six weeks regardless of how well you take care of it. Bleach actually removes the pigments from your hair and, therefore, will remain in your hair until it grows out and has to be cut again. This means that bleach lasts much longer than hair dye when highlighting your hair.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Hair Coloring Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do you remove hair coloring from your skin?

A: When the dye is dripping as you’re applying it, you can simply use a wet cotton ball to get it off of your skin. However, if the dye is already on your skin, try one of the following methods to get the dye off: soap and a washcloth, makeup remover, alcohol and regular soap, non-gel toothpaste, vinegar, or a combination of dishwashing liquid and baking soda. All of these DIY methods work well in removing hair dye.

Q: When coloring hair, should your hair be clean?

A: Yes, hair that is about to be dyed should always be clean. Not only should your hair be clean, but it should also be conditioned and in good shape. If your hair is dirty or overly dry or you have split ends, you simply won’t get the results you were hoping for. That being said, you should always wash and condition your hair one to two days before you color it, never on the same day as your dye job.

Q: What is balayage hair coloring?

A: In simple terms, balayage hair coloring is a type of highlighting that doesn’t use foil. Instead, the hairdresser uses a freehand style of coloring your hair and, therefore, it looks a lot more natural. A lot of celebrities choose this style of hair coloring, including J Lo and Jessica Biel. The French term balayage means “sweeping,” and it’s called that because your hairdresser paints the dye directly on the hair in a sweeping motion, making it look a lot less dramatic and more like natural hair coloring.

Q: How long does hair coloring last?

A: This depends on that type of hair dye you choose. Temporary dye lasts only until your next hair wash; semi-permanent hair dye lasts approximately eight washes; permanent hair dye lasts four to six weeks; and balayage hair coloring usually lasts 12 to 14 weeks. These numbers might vary with your own hair, but these are generally numbers that are usually accurate.

Q: How much hair color should you use?

A: You should always start by mixing up the hair dye like it says to in the instructions. Most people will use the entire box of hair dye, which is always the smartest option (remember, following directions is important). There are only two exceptions to this rule. First, if you have very short hair, you might find that you don’t need to use the entire amount of hair dye. In this case, make sure you dispose of the dye appropriately. Second, if your hair is extra long or very thick, you may need two boxes of dye to complete the job. If this applies to you, you might want to go ahead and buy two boxes of dye just to be on the safe side.

Q: Can hair coloring cause hair loss?

A: Unfortunately, hair coloring can cause a certain amount of hair loss if you continue to get your hair dyed for years and years. This doesn’t mean the hair will completely fall out. It just means you’ll notice a lot more shedding than you usually do, causing your hair to be thinner over time. This occurrence is mostly due to the chemicals in the hair dye itself. It is also due to the fact that when you regularly dye your hair, you tend to comb and tug at it a lot more often, which also contributes to hair loss.

Q: How long does hair coloring take?

A: If you dye your hair at home, it usually takes no more than an hour. This includes the prep time and the actual dyeing time, which can last anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. It also includes the washing and conditioning of your hair after it is dyed. The most time-consuming part of the process is the wait time after you apply the dye, so the shorter that step is, the shorter the entire process will be.

Q: When coloring hair, where do you start?

A: Always start by making sure your hair is healthy enough to survive the dyeing process. If it isn’t, it’s well worth your time to give it another week or two so that you can strengthen the hair and maybe even deep-condition it so that it doesn’t completely dry out when you dye it. Hair that is about to be dyed should be clean, dry, and in good shape so that it’s healthy enough for the dye to work properly.

Q: How many hair colors are there?

A: There is no easy way to determine an exact number, but consider this: there are dozens of hair dye brands available these days, and each of these brands has dozens of hair colors available to choose from. Do some of these colors overlap between one brand and another? Possibly, but even if you consider just the original hair colors, it is very likely that there are thousands of hair dye colors on the market today, which means when you go to buy your own dye, you’ll have a huge selection to choose from.

Q: Why tease your hair before coloring it?

A: Teasing the hair is something a lot of hairdressers do before highlighting your hair or using the balayage method. What it does is create a nice blend of the colors so that the colors aren’t blunt and there is no color line throughout the hair. The result is a nice well-blended look that makes the hair look a lot more natural in the end. If you’re coloring your hair in your home with a store-bought product, it isn’t a bad idea to tease yourself first for the same reasons.


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