How to dye your own hair at home

By: Andrea Karr
dye your own hair

Getty Images Author: Andrea Karr Credits: Getty Images


How to dye your own hair at home

By: Andrea Karr

Save some cash and get killer hair colour in a snap with our foolproof tips for how to dye your own hair at home.

We love visiting the salon for a colour refresh and a blowout, but it’s no secret that a couple of hours in that swivel chair can set your wallet back 100 bucks or more. If your bank account is feeling the strain, migrate to the hair-colour aisle at your nearest drugstore. We grilled Kari Hill, L’Oréal Paris expert and colourist to the stars (Charlize Theron, Zooey Deschanel and Taylor Schilling are among her clients), for tips to ensure your at-home colour application looks as great as your last salon job.

Once you’ve selected your hue and prepped your workstation, rub petroleum jelly or lip balm along your hairline (front, sides and back) and on your ears to prevent staining. Apply colour at your hairline with the bottle nozzle or a tint brush, then smooth it along your part. Section your hair with a comb and continue to apply colour until all regrowth (or the first inch of hair, if you’re starting from scratch) is concealed. Hill recommends following the manufacturer’s guidelines for the first application. “If you don’t reach the colour you want or you don’t fully cover your grey hairs, leave it on for five more minutes the next time,” she says. If you’re going darker and not satisfied with the coverage, you can reapply colour the following day. If you’re going lighter, give your hair a break by waiting at least a week before your next application since lifting colour is far more damaging. Continue to extend curing time in five-minute increments for each application until you reach your desired shade.

If you're colouring your hair for the first time or your ends look faded, pull the colour through from roots to ends for the last 10 to 15 minutes. Otherwise, use a wide-tooth comb to distribute the colour a little past your root demarcation line, allowing the colour at the roots to help seamlessly blend into the rest of your hair. 

3 quick tips for seamless grey coverage
1. Unlike blond, brown or red strands, wiry greys lack pigment. In order for grey hair to accept colour, your product of choice must open the follicle to insert the pigment, then close it up again. A dye that's specifically formulated for grey coverage is your best bet for 100 percent concealment.

2. If you're naturally a light or medium blond and your skin has started to lose tone as you age, prevent a washed-out appearance by choosing a dye that's one or two shades darker so there's definition between your skin and your hair.

3. The hairline is the most difficult area to cover, so apply dye to that section first and let it sit there the longest. Avoid white patches at your temples or sideburns by using a tint brush to press the colour into your roots.

1. If you find that your scalp is often irritated by hair dye, avoid shampooing and exercising the day of your application, as your natural oils will protect the skin. You could also try a semipermanent colour, which has a lower volume of peroxide than permanent hair dye.

2. If the dye stains your hands or hairline, rub a cotton ball soaked in eye-makeup remover over the affected areas.

3. If you find your hair fades in a week or two, reduce your shampoo schedule to every second or third day and skip clarifying or dandruff shampoos, which will strip the dye. Stick with hair-care and styling products formulated specifically for colour-treated hair.

Tool kit
Stay prepared for impromptu touch-ups by storing a colouring "kit" under the bathroom counter. L'Oréal Paris expert Kari Hill recommends including these supplies.
1. Two boxes of hair dye
2. Two towels (one for your neck and one for the counter)
3. A clip (to hold the towel around your neck)
4. Gloves
5. Section clips
6. A wide-tooth comb
7. A bowl
8. A tint brush
9. Petroleum jelly or lip balm
10. Cotton swabs (to clean up your hairline)
11. A timer

Over 50 and fabulous? Our guide to aging gracefully helps you choose the skincare, hair and makeup products that are right for you. 

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How to dye your own hair at home