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20 Pro Hair Color Tricks for Dyeing Your Hair at Home

Roughly 43 million women in the U.S. have dyed their hair in the past six months, according to research from Nexxus. But with the huge array of hair color products, shade options, and techniques available, it's hard to know how to get it right when it comes to dyeing your hair at home. Whether you're thinking balayage, dark brown, auburn, blonde, highlights, or beyond, we have Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab and pro secrets for getting (and keeping) the head-turning hair color of your dreams.

A few things you should keep in mind: You'll want to save major hair color changes for the salon. The biggest DIY dyeing snafu is thinking you can transition from, say, black to platinum hair at home (or even from brown to blonde). Changes from one color family to another can require multiple processes, which are best left to a salon colorist who knows how to assess tones and minimize damage. “When dyeing your hair yourself, stay within two shades, lighter or darker, of your current color,” says Kari Hill, a celebrity colorist at Mèche Salon in Los Angeles. Remember that your result will be somewhere between your natural color and the photo on the box.

Is it safe to color your hair at home?

Yes, it is generally safe to color your hair at home as long as you follow the directions on the product's packaging. A few exceptions: You should skip a DIY dye job if you've recently relaxed or permed your hair, since both processes can cause damage. If you can't get to a salon, "wait at least seven days after a perm or other process to apply color," says Sarah Schlosser, manager of Clairol Consumer Relations. "And remember that treated hair will process color more quickly, so you don't want to leave it on as long."

What you'll need:

• The GH Beauty Lab's best-tested boxed hair color
• Color brush and bowl
• Makeup removing wipes
• Disposable shower cap
• Handheld mirror
• Latex-free disposable gloves
• Clear solid lip balm

Now, let's get started with top hair color expert and GH Beauty Lab tricks for how to dye your hair at home like a pro!



1. Select your best shade: To find your best shade at the store, eye those close to your current one. Boxed dyes are usually displayed in color order on a shelf: Hold a section of your hair up to a box to find a close match, then choose from the next two shades on either side. 

2. Buy two boxes of hair dye:



REVLON COLORSILK HAIR DYEamazon.com
RS:301
You don't want to run out of dye halfway through the process. If your hair is shoulder length or longer, you may need two boxes to cover your whole head, depending on hair thickness. If you end up with a leftover box, you can always save it for next time or return it. Revlon ColorSilk got perfect scores from the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab's home hair color test.

3. Don't mix shades for a "custom color."

Unless you're a professional, combining multiple different shades of hair color is not recommended (ever!). None of the major companies we spoke to would guarantee that the resulting color would be a predictable combination. In fact, even when you stick with a single color, the result usually varies slightly from what's pictured on the box. Your best bet is to simply pick one shade and follow the instructions to the letter, strand test included.

4. Don't skip the strand test:


Though bypassing it is tempting, the strand test is key, especially
when trying a new shade. Color a few trimmed or hidden hairs
first, then look at the result before you commit.
 A common horror story from testers who didn't do this: hair that turned orange and purple!

5. Wear easy to remove clothing

To avoid staining clothes, put on an old robe or button-front shirt (or as some GH testers reported they do, go nude!) so you won’t have to lift a top over your head when it’s time to rinse. Cover surfaces (floor, sink) with garbage bags or layers of newspaper you can toss afterward rather than sheets or towels that can get soaked through and need washing.

6.Protect your skin from dye.
BURT'S BEES LIP BALMamazon.com
RS: 650


There's nothing worse than ending up with telltale stripes of color on your forehead. Rather than using a goopy salve to protect skin from dye, guard your skin against stains by gliding a clear solid lip balm along your hairline, including around your ears, before applying color. “Its small size makes application precise,” Hill says.

7.

 

Think like a surgeon and set up your tools on the counter before you begin. Read through the included instructions before you jump in. That way, you’ll be clear on the steps and won’t have to stop mid-process, which could lead to mistakes like leaving the dye on too long or missing areas.

8.Stock up on extra gloves.
DISPOSABLE CLEAR GLOVESamazon.comRs:495Buy now


You slipped on the box's plastic gloves to protect your hands while putting on the dye, but you need to wear them while washing the dye out, too. Have a spare pair of disposable gloves on hand to protect your skin from staining when you rinse the color off, in case your original ones are too soiled to use again.

9.Start dyeing on dry hair.

Hair color experts (and hair color packaging directions) recommend dyeing your hair when it is dry. When hair is saturated with water, the dye may not take to the hair strands or become diluted, producing an undesirable result.

10. Stop squeezing from the bottle

PROFESSIONAL HAIR COLOR DYEING KITamazon.comBuy now
Squirting the dye out and spreading it all over your hair may be easy (and fun!), but this method can be messy and imprecise. Get a bowl and a brush, like salon colorists use, to mix and paint on dye with less mess and the most even, professional results. 



11. Start dyeing at the roots.

You should begin applying hair dye at the roots. Because they are where regrowth occurs first and the least damaged part of hair, they need the most color and processing time. Let the hair color develop for the amount of time indicated on packaging directions. Then comb it through the rest of your hair to distribute it evenly and avoid a two-tone effect. Work in four to six sections like salon pros do (use hair clips as you go if you wish) to ensure full coverage.

12.Look into two mirrors.

Coloring the back of your head can be tricky. Use a handheld mirror to check the back of your head in the bathroom mirror as you color so you won’t miss spots, Hill recommends.

13. Highlight hair with a toothbrush.

Here’s a smart trick from GH testers who color their hair at home: When applying highlights or lowlights, use a clean toothbrush or mascara wand to paint on the dye precisely and subtly. Genius! Place them sparingly where the sun would hit — around the hairline and stemming from your part, Hill suggests.

14. Remove dye spills ASAP.
NEUTROGENA MAKEUP REMOVER TOWELETTESamazon.comRs450Buy now
To sweep away any dye splatters as they happen so they don't have a chance to set, have facial cleansing wipes on hand like GH Beauty Lab go-to Neutrogena Makeup Removing Cleansing Towelettes.

15.Put a shower cap on while you wait.

BETTY DAIN SHOWER CAPamazon.com
Rs 2130

Place a disposable shower cap over your head while the dye processes to prevent it from dripping. Then you can feel free to prep dinner or Netflix-binge.

16.Avoid water to make your dye last.

It’s rule number one for making color last. Despite the blame put on
shampoo, “water is actually the main culprit in color fading,” says GH Beauty Lab Senior Chemist Sabina Wizemann. “Each time your hair is soaked, with or without shampoo, dye molecules can leach out.” And chlorine, salt and minerals found in H2O can cause hair’s cuticle (outer layer) to lift, accelerating pigment loss, says Nikki LeeGarnier celeb colorist in Los Angeles.

Your best bets: Apply dry shampoo at night to extend time between washes; attach a filter to your showerhead to remove damaging elements; and shampoo at the end of your shower to reduce water exposure. When swimming, avoid wetting hair, or protect it with a swim cap or a coating of conditioner.

17.Swap in a color-safe shampoo.

TRESEMMÉ COLOR-PROTECTING SHAMPOO & CONDITIONERwalmart.com

Rs 801

No shampoo is totally color-safe, since all shampooing requires wetting hair — and water itself strips dye, Wizemann says. “Though sulfate-free shampoos are thought to slow down color loss, our tests have found that they don’t always perform significantly better than those with sulfates,” she notes. 

Extend your shade’s life with a shampoo or conditioner designed specifically for color-treated hair, like the GH Beauty Lab's best shampoos and conditioners for colored hair. Look for terminology such as “color protect,” “color-preserving” or “for color” on packaging. They're less likely to strip away added color (which other products may), so your new shade lasts longer.


18. Use a color-boosting gloss weekly.
JOHN FRIEDA COLOUR REFRESHING GLOSS amazon.com
Rs 1699


The GH Beauty Lab has found that using a color-depositing shampoo, conditioner, or hair-gloss treatment once a week between dye jobs can revitalize hair color. Try Beauty Lab test winner John Frieda Colour Refreshing Gloss, which comes in seven shades and deposits a low level of pigment, from blonde to red, brown, and black. It topped the Lab’s test for enhancing and extending the life of testers’ color and leaving healthy-looking shine.


19.Prevent color from fading in the sun.
Stay out of the sun (or wear a hat) to keep hair from lightening. “The sun works like bleach, breaking down not only artificial color but also the melanin that gives natural hair its pigment,” says James CorbettClairol color director in New York City. So UV protection is just as important for your hair as for your skin. Because there’s no such thing as sunscreen for hair, “cover it up with a hat or a scarf when you’re exposed for a long period of time, such as at the beach,” he recommends.


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