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All the questions you might have when coloring 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-coloring tips. And if we've missed anything or you'd like to find out more, just message us on Instagram!

Before coloring your hair

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

Can I shampoo my hair before I color it?

Where possible, you shouldn't shampoo immediately before coloring 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 color. Make sure to follow the instructions in the kit to see if it should go on dry or damp hair.

What color should I dye my hair?

Choosing your dream color 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 colors (like a medium ash blonde shade). Warm skin tones suit warmer colors (like a beautiful warm chestnut brown), while neutral skin tones typically suit most hair colors and are best for covering gray.

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

What do I need to think about before I color?

The top three things we always recommend thinking about before we color 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 colored 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 coloring tips and tricks for first-timers.

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

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 color 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 color I’ve chosen?

You can try the color out by doing a strand test. It's easy to do and a great way to avoid any color 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 color 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 color will look on your hair.

Should I have my hair cut before I color it?

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

How many boxes of color 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 color, so you may need to reduce your processing time to prevent your color from going too dark.

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

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

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

If you’re going with a permanent color, 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 color may absorb faster.

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

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

Dyeing your hair at home

After picking your color 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 gray hair, it’s also worth thinking about just coloring your gray 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 color your entire head, then follow the instructions for roots first application.

For in-between color top-ups, we also recommend a root touch-up spray to keep your color looking even and fresh (this is a great way to cover up stray gray hairs as well). 

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 color you mix matches the same amount of developer.

When should I start timing my hair color application?

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

Do different hair types take different times to color?

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

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

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

Post-coloring tips

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

Try to reduce the number of times you wash your hair post-dye and opt for a color-protecting shampoo (like purple shampoo for blonde hair and blue shampoo for darker hair) made for color-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 coloring my hair?

Immediately after rinsing the color, use the conditioner that comes in the kit. It is designed to work in tandem with your color. 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 colored 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 color last?

Semi-permanent color 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 color lasts until your hair grows out and should be refreshed when your roots start to show after about 4-6 weeks.

To make your color 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 color looking vibrant for longer.

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

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

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

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

How can I deal with patchy color?

If the spots are obvious, we recommend coloring your hair one more time and focusing on the blotchy bits. Next time, you can grab two boxes of color 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 coloring your hair and maxing out the lifespan of your color.

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