InTruBeauty: Guest Blog: Tips for Coloring Your Hair at Home

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Guest Blog: Tips for Coloring Your Hair at Home

I don't know about you, but getting my hair colored professionally is rarely in my budget. I have been coloring my hair for almost twelve years and I can count the number of salon dye jobs I've had on one hand. Here are some tried-and-true tips from a Redhead at heart:

1. Cleanse your hair properly before coloring. It is a 100% MYTH that dirty hair holds color better.

It makes absolutely no sense when you really think about it, but the idea that color will take better on dirty hair is one of the most widely accepted tips in home hair color. My mother, who was the first to tint my tresses and had been doing her own hair for years, was the first to tell me this myth. And I completely bought it up until recently.

Your hair needs to be free of product residue and oils before you color. This is especially important if you have hard water which can cause mineral build-up. If you don't cleanse before coloring, the color can come out uneven. You can do an at-home Malibu treatment (Ion Crystal Clarifying Treatment, $2.49/packet at Sally's) or just use a clarifying or "hard water" shampoo. (Be aware that clarifying shampoos are not usually sulfate-free. 90% of the time I swear by only sulfate-free hair care, but once every six weeks I use a traditional shampoo to remove mineral build-up before coloring. The water in my apartment is very hard.)

2. Find the application technique that works best for you.
There are two ways to apply at-home color: applicator bottle or bowl-and-brush. Applicator bottles always come with drugstore-brand colors. When you buy color and developer separately at a beauty supply store, you can purchase either option. Both are cheap and reusable. I personally prefer bowl-and-brush, but one isn't technically better than the other. It's all about what you are comfortable working with.
What you are looking for is a method which allows you to cover all of your roots, and then pull the color through to the ends. You don't have to experiment with actual color in order to find out what you like best. You can practice your technique with the clarifying treatment or a hair mask. (See Jessica's post for some great DIY recipes!)

3. After coloring, condition your hair with your regular conditioner.
I've tried the conditioners that come in the drugstore brand package, and the "after color treatments" in the same line as the beauty supply brands, and nothing makes my hair feel better after coloring than my regular, tried-and-true conditioner. I'm a product junkie, and I've spent time and money finding the conditioners that do what I want. I'm not going to waste any more energy on products that the color brand is trying to sell. Just make sure your conditioner is color-safe! You may even want to use a leave-in conditioner, since the pre-cleansing and color itself has most likely dried out your hair.

4. Read packages and instructions CAREFULLY when selecting a shade, especially if you are lightening your hair.

This is especially important if you are choosing color and developer separately at a beauty supply store. Certain drugstore brands are now formulating color specifically for dark hair, which will not have the same results on light, medium, or color-treated hair. Beauty supply brands come with specific charts indicating which volume of developer to use, or if your hair should be pre-lightened to achieve your desired shade. If you are a first-time colorist, you may want to use a color within 3 shades of your natural color for a while, just to get the feel for it.

Those were the main tips, but here are a few more tidbits from my personal color crusades:
  • The bleach in drugstore highlighting kits WILL NOT TAKE over already-colored hair. (Justina can vouch for me on this one.)
  • Extreme color changes, particularly on previously colored hair, should be left to a professional.
  • Team up with a girlfriend and do each others' hair! It's the perfect opportunity to watch a girly movie and gossip!
  • This may go without saying, but don't use your nice towels after rinsing! Buy cheap ones at the dollar store or save a few old ones.
  • You CAN use Vaseline around your hairline to avoid stains, but I've never had a problem just scrubbing up rogue dye drips with soap and water.
  • It's best to keep a go-with-the-flow attitude when coloring your own hair, especially when on the quest for your ideal shade. If you are just too anal about your hair, I honestly don't recommend DIY.
And finally...

I think every women should try being a Redhead just once. It's pretty awesome. ;)

Yours in Beauty,


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