Dyeing your hair at home can be a fun and cost-effective way to change up your look, giving you so many great color options to choose from. But starting without going through all the different 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 color 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 color to dye your hair
Changing your hair color can be an exciting way to express yourself, and deciding which color 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 colors 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 colors on Instagram.
Then, think about what works for you
You've already narrowed your choices by getting a range of colors 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 color. The main idea behind this is that people with cool skin tones look great with cool hair colors 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 natural hair color, consider how many shades lighter or darker than the natural color you want to go. The more drastic the difference between your natural and chosen colors, the more trial and error may go into finding something that looks right on you.
Finally, find the dye that matches your desired color
It's worth considering how long you want your new color to last. For your first time dyeing your hair at home, you might want to think about only using semi-permanent dye so that any mistakes caused by lack of experience can be easily fixed later. But permanent and temporary dyes are both available if you'd prefer.
2. Do an allergy patch 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 patch 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 color.
The things you'll need are:
- • A cotton wool ball.
- • A plastic bowl.
- • A plastic spoon.
- • Your chosen at-home dye.
Once you've got all that, follow these easy steps:
- 1. Mix a small amount of dye (following the package instructions) in your bowl using the plastic spoon. This should contain no more than a spoonful of color and developer.
- 2. Apply a small dab of the mix to the inside of your elbow or behind your ear, as these are places where your skin is less sensitive.
- 3. Wait 48 hours before deciding whether or not there's been any visual allergic reaction. Signs of reaction to hair dye include redness and irritation. Also, watch out for any negative sensations around the applied area, like itching or burning. Be careful not to wash it off during this time to be sure you get an accurate result.
3. Do a strand test
- 1. Mix a tablespoon of your dye, following the same instructions from the allergy test.
- 2. Then, apply your mixed dye to a small, isolated strand of hair that isn't normally visible (like one near the nape of your neck).
- 3. Now, you just need to wait for the suggested amount of time in the instructions, then rinse and 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, it could be because your hair has recently been washed with products that have left residue. Try the test again when your hair hasn't been washed with products for a couple of days.
- • If it's too dark, it could be because your hair is dry. Try using a moisturizing shampoo on your hair as soon as possible after dyeing it to bleed the color. This should make the dye lighter.
4. Read all instructions carefully
Not following instructions can damage your hair. If you don't follow the instructions closely, it can lead to unexpected results and even damage to your hair. Also, make sure to check the expiration date of the dye before you start. Any packaged hair products will list an expiry date, and ignoring it could lead to unpredictable results.
How to color your hair at home
You've spent a few days considering and testing colors, 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 color!
1. Prepare your hair and your space for dyeing
There are a few things to prepare before you get going:
- • Brush your hair through to remove any knots.
- • Put on your gloves.
- • Get the space you're planning to dye in ready with towels.
- • Use warm water to get damp hair.
2. Ask for some help!
Coloring the back of your hair is hard - ask someone to help you so you don't miss any spots. It's also just nice to have a friend ready to react to your new color! A three-panel mirror can also help you see all sides.
3. Section your hair
Use either clips or bands to divide the hair into sections, keeping a minimum distance of 1 inch between them to prevent overlap when applying the dye.
4. Apply color to your roots first
Start applying the mixed dye about an inch from your roots and follow the application and timing instructions on the box. Work in small neat sections to ensure an even final result. Make sure the color is evenly distributed by using your fingers, so the color is consistent.
5. 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 dye than another. Again, having a friend around can speed this step up and make it more enjoyable!
6. Wait for the dye to develop
Set a timer for how long the instructions say to leave the product in. 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.
7. Rinse through, dry and condition
All that's left to do now is rinse your hair with lukewarm water and dry it. Rinse until the water runs clear.
Make sure you leave conditioning as long as instructed but don't leave it too long, as the dye will keep working until you condition it.
8. Admire your new color
Hopefully, your new hair looks just how you imagined it, in which case you're ready to go and share it with the world!
If the new color doesn't match what you had in mind, our hair gloss treatment, Color Gloss Up, is available in a wide variety of shades. It can help you adjust and refine your color to create the perfect look while adding a layer of shine to your locks and preventing brassiness.
After you dye your hair
How to maintain dyed hair
Looking after your new hair color 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 color:
- 1. Start by using cool water to wash your hair in the shower. Avoid using any hot water that could cause the dye to fade faster.
- 2. Next, use a gentle shampoo without sulfates or parabens specifically formulated for color-treated hair.
- 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 color.
- 4. Comb your hair from root to tip before drying on a low setting with minimal heat.
- 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 color and impact shine, so using moisturizing products can help create a protective barrier for your hair.
- As your roots grow, it's a good idea to use Root Touch Ups to help regain your hair color consistency. Just match the original dye 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 maximizing the lifespan of your color.