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How to dye hair at home

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expert tips
getting started

Dyeing your hair at home can be a fun and cost-effective way to change up your look, giving you so many great colour options to choose from. But starting without going through all the recommended steps could make it go less smoothly and mean you have to fix any small mistakes later on.

We've put together a step-by-step guide for how to colour your hair at home - full of ways to make sure you can easily get the look the way you've always wanted on your first attempt.

Before you start

1. Decide what colour to dye your hair

Changing your hair colour can be an exciting way to express yourself, and deciding which colour to pick can be fun but a little daunting. Breaking this decision down into a couple of steps can help keep it stress-free:

First, gather inspiration

Before you start getting concerned about what dye might suit you, it's a good idea to gather some colours you like the idea of trying out — no need to overthink it. We're just gathering options to help us choose later on. If you'd like some more ideas, check out classic looks and some of our newest colours on Instagram.

Then, think about what works for you

You've already narrowed your choices by getting a range of colours you'd love to try. From the options you've been given, we need to think about which shades and tones would work for you.

  • • Choose the right shade by trying to complement your skin tone with your hair colour. The main idea behind this is that people with cool skin tones look great with cool hair colours like ashy hues, icy platinum or dark burgundy shades. People with warm undertones are perfect for warm hair tones, like golden brown or strawberry blonde. This isn't to say you can't play around with other tones, especially if you have neutral undertones in your skin. But complimenting your skin tone might be a good rule of thumb to follow if it's your first time dyeing your hair at home.
  • • When selecting a hair colour, stay within two shades lighter or one shade darker than your natural hair colour. This way you will get the most predictable colour result to what is shown on the box in the before and after grid.

Finally, find the type of colour that matches your desired commitment

Do you want something that will come out quickly? Use a temporary colour. Want it to gradually fade away over time? Try a demi-permanent, such as Natural Instincts. Ready to commit? Use a permanent colour which will give you the most colour result options - but just know you’ll need to touch up your roots in 4-6 weeks.

To find specific shades, see our range of hair colouring products for blonde hair, brown hair, black hair, red hair, violet hair and various bright colours.

2. Do an allergy test

It's important to know if you're allergic to a product before you use it, especially if you're using an at-home hair dye for the first time. Doing an allergy test isn't one of the fun parts of dyeing your hair, but it's super important for ensuring you have the best experience with your new colour.

The things you'll need are:

  • • A cotton ball.
  • • A plastic bowl.
  • • A plastic spoon.
  • • Your chosen at-home dye.

Once you've got all that, follow these easy steps:

  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.

3. Do a strand test with the remaining product from your allergy test

  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.

Take a look at the final result and decide if it looks how you expected. If it is a lot darker or lighter than you imagined, there are a couple of things you can do to try and fix that. If it's too light, you should try one shade darker. If it's too dark, try going one shade lighter.

4. Read all instructions carefully

Not following instructions can lead to undesired results.

How to colour your hair at home

You've spent a few days considering and testing colours, and now it's time to get started on the main event - actually dyeing your hair. Not long to go until you can achieve your dream colour!

1. Prepare your hair and your space for dyeing

There are a few things to prepare before you get going:

Gently brush your hair through to remove any knots avoiding running the brush on your scalp.

  • • Put on your gloves.
  • • Get the space you're planning to dye in ready with towels.

2. Section your hair

Use either clips or bands to divide the hair into four sections.

3. Apply colour to your roots first

Start applying the mixed dye to where you have the most grey, if any, following the application and timing instructions on the leaflet, going from one section to the next. Use the applicator tip to part the hair then apply a ribbon of colour and repeat, working in small, neat sections to ensure an even final result. Make sure the colour is evenly distributed by using your fingers if you need to, so the colour is applied thoroughly.

4. Move onto the rest of your hair

Then continue onto mid-length and ends, still working along in small sections to maintain that even coating. Try to apply it as efficiently and quickly as possible to be sure that one part of your hair isn't exposed to lots more time than another. Having a friend around can speed this step up and make it more enjoyable!

5. Wait for the dye to develop

Set a timer for how long the instructions say to leave the product in or as indicated by your strand test. While your dye works, wipe any extra product off your neck and forehead with a wet cloth to make sure you don't stain your skin.

6. Rinse through, dry and condition

All that's left to do now is rinse your hair with lukewarm water until the water runs clear. Then apply the conditioner that comes in the kit, rinse after two minutes and dry it.

7. Admire your new colour

Now your new hair looks just how you imagined it, so you're ready to go and share it with the world!

If you have any questions after you’re done, contact us for support.

After you dye your hair

How to maintain dyed hair

Looking after your new hair colour is important for ensuring you enjoy the look and feel of it for as long as possible. To keep your newly dyed hair looking as healthy as possible, here are a few tips for maintaining your colour:

  1. 1. Start by using cool water to wash your hair in the shower. Avoid using any hot water since that could cause the dye to fade faster.
  2. 2. Next, use a gentle shampoo specifically formulated for colour-treated hair.
  3. 3. Use a nourishing conditioner. Allow it to sit on your hair for the duration recommended on the packaging before gently rinsing it thoroughly with cool water. This should keep your hair soft and help maintain your colour.
  4. 4. Comb your hair from root to tip before drying on a low setting with minimal heat.
  5. 5. Use deep-conditioning hair masks at least once a month to keep your hair nourished and looking vibrant! Remember, dry hair can dull your colour and impact shine, so using moisturising products can help create a protective barrier for your hair.
  6. 6. As your roots grow, it's a good idea to use a Clairol Root Touch Up product until you are ready to do your next full head colour application. Just match the original shade you used and apply it to your roots to seamlessly blend them with the rest of your dyed hair.

And if you want even more tips, check out our guide for maximising the lifespan of your colour.

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