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All the questions you might have when colouring your hair at home

Here’s some of the top questions we’re asked.

expert tips
getting started

There are so many ways you can switch up your look without having to step foot in a salon. And with some of our top tips and tricks, dyeing your hair at home will seem like a breeze.

In this guide, we've answered some of your burning questions - from how to dye your hair at home to post-colouring tips. And if we've missed anything or you'd like to find out more, just message us on Instagram!

Before colouring your hair

Preparing for the hair dyeing process is one of the most important steps. Here are some of the things to consider before colouring your hair at home.

Can I shampoo my hair before I colour it?

Where possible, you shouldn't shampoo immediately before colouring because this will remove the natural oils that help protect your scalp from any damage during the dyeing process.

It’s best to shampoo no sooner than 24 hours before applying colour. Make sure to follow the instructions in the kit to see if it should go on dry or damp hair.

What colour should I dye my hair?

Choosing your dream colour can feel like an overwhelming experience, but we have a few tips and tricks to help you find your perfect match.

Understanding your skin tone can help you pick the ideal shade for your new look. Cool skin tones usually suit cool, ashy hair colours (like a medium ash blonde shade). Warm skin tones suit warmer colours (like a beautiful warm chestnut brown), while neutral skin tones typically suit most hair colours and are best for covering grey.

Your natural hair colour also plays a large role in helping you decide which colour to pick. Determine what your natural colour is by using the guide at the back of the box. Choose a shade that is the same colour or up to two shades lighter for the best results. If it is too light, try choosing a colour one shade darker next time.

What do I need to think about before I colour?

The top three things we always recommend thinking about before we colour are:

  1. 1. Always read the instructions either in or on the box.
  2. 2. Remember to have hair clips on hand, wear gloves, and apply Vaseline or a heavy lip balm along your hairline and around your ears (this is to avoid getting dye on your skin).
  3. 3. Make sure to do a strand and an allergy test (even if you have coloured your hair before).
  4. 4. Stick to the recommended timings on the instruction leaflet to achieve your desired tone and vibrancy unless your strand test indicates otherwise.

Dyeing your hair at home for the first time? Discover our hair colouring tips and tricks for first-timers.

How do I know if I might have an allergic reaction to colour?

You should always do an allergy test 48 hours before you dye your hair. Here's how to do it:

  1. 1. Mix small, equal amounts of colour and activator into a non-metallic bowl with a plastic spoon.
  2. 2. Apply a small amount of the mixture with a cotton ball or swab to the inside of your arm near the bend of your elbow.
  3. 3. Allow to dry and do not wash off over the next 48 hours.
  4. 4. If a rash, redness, swelling, burning or itching occurs, you may be having an allergic reaction. Stop using the product.

How do I know if I’ll like the colour I’ve chosen?

You can try the colour out by doing a strand test. It's easy to do and a great way to avoid any colour mishaps. Here's how:

  1. 1. Take a strand of hair from the underside of your head (ideally from the roots). 
  2. 2. Cover it with the hair dye mixture remaining from your allergy test.
  3. 3. Leave the colour on for the recommended time (you can find this in the instructions).
  4. 4. Rinse it off and let the hair dry.

This will give you a good indication of how the colour will look on your hair.

Should I have my hair cut before I colour it?

Ideally, we would suggest cutting your hair before you colour. This way, you'll see the full effect of the colour on your hair.

How many boxes of colour should I buy?

If your hair is longer than shoulder length or very thick (and if you’re doing an all-over application), you may need two boxes to saturate your hair fully. Also, keep in mind that the ends of long hair tend to absorb more colour, so you may need to reduce your processing time to prevent your colour from going too dark.

Can I have my hair keratin straightened and then colour it?

Our advice would be to check with an expert hair colourist. As a general rule, you should wait at least two weeks after a keratin treatment to colour your hair.

I would like to perm and colour my hair. Can I do both on the same day?

If you’re going with a permanent colour, wait 7-10 days and at least one shampoo after perming your hair. Also, do a strand test first, as permed hair can be more porous, so your colour may absorb faster.

How long can I keep a box of hair colour before using it?

If you don't open the bottle, your hair colour products will generally last up to three years.

Dyeing your hair at home

After picking your colour and getting all your essentials ready, it's time to start dyeing your hair. Here are some of the main questions we get asked during this process.

How can I dye my hair at home without damaging it?

To avoid damage, always follow the instructions found in the box.

If you just need to cover up a small section of grey hair, it’s also worth thinking about just colouring your grey instead of your entire head to avoid over-processing your hair – our Root-Touch Up product is super easy to use and gives great, natural results. If you need to colour your entire head, then follow the instructions for roots first application.

Can I mix shades?

Yes, just keep in mind that for the best results, you should mix shades no more than 2-3 shades lighter or darker than each other. Also, make sure the amount of colour you mix matches the same amount of developer.

When should I start timing my hair colour application?

We would recommend setting your timer as soon as you've finished applying your hair colour.

Do different hair types take different times to colour?

Always read the instructions carefully. In general, thicker and coarser hair takes more time to absorb colour, and fine hair generally takes less time to absorb the colour.

Also, hair that's dry, damaged, or permed may absorb colour quickly, so it’s worth regularly checking your colour as it develops, especially if you are using a lightener.

Before you colour your hair, we recommend a strand test to see how quickly your hair absorbs the dye.

Post-colouring tips

Once you have achieved your dream colour, it's natural to wonder how long it will last. Here are our top tips and tricks for making your colour stay fresh and vibrant.

Should I shampoo after hair dye?

The best thing to do is to avoid shampooing directly after dyeing your hair. Instead, rinse with cold or lukewarm water to avoid washing the colour away.

Try to reduce the number of times you wash your hair post-dye and opt for a colour-protecting shampoo (like purple shampoo for blonde hair and blue shampoo for darker hair) made for colour-treated hair to avoid any brassy tones.

You can always use a dry shampoo between washes if you need to.

Can I use any conditioner after colouring my hair?

Immediately after rinsing the colour, use the conditioner that comes in the kit. It is designed to work in tandem with your colour. Clairol provides a multiple use tube to be used every 3-4 washes. In between these washes, we recommend using a conditioner specifically designed for coloured hair. Conditioner helps protect your hair shaft from dryness and breakage.

Why not try a hair mask once a month as well to keep your hair extra hydrated?

How long will my colour last?

Semi-permanent colour will last between 6-15 shampoos. Demi-permanent lasts 28 shampoos - if you wash your hair every day, that's about a month. Permanent hair colour lasts until your hair grows out and should be refreshed when your roots start to show after about 4-6 weeks.

To make your colour last longer, try to avoid using hot tools (like blow dryers or curling irons) to style your hair and try to stay out of the sun. This helps prevent premature fading and keeps your colour looking vibrant for longer.

What should I do if my colour has turned out too light?

If your colour is too light, we recommend you can get a box of Natural Instincts demi-permanent colour[HJ1] , one shade darker and re-colour. Before you re-colour, do a strand test, checking your hair every 5 minutes. Rinse when you think the colour is dark enough.

What should I do if my colour has turned out too dark?

If you don’t want to wait for your colour to fade naturally (or grow out), try a clarifying shampoo (not one meant for colour-treated hair) as soon as you can after you colour. It will start to fade out some of the colour. If you’ve used permanent colour and decide after a few days, you should consult with a professional (since colourants won’t lighten hair that’s been previously coloured).

How can I deal with patchy colour?

If the spots are obvious, we recommend colouring your hair one more time and focusing on the blotchy bits. Next time, you can grab two boxes of colour instead of one to make sure every strand is covered. Have a friend help you if the patches are on the back of your head.

Not sure where to start? Discover our tips and tricks for colouring your hair and maxing out the lifespan of your colour.

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