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How to Use Home Hair Color

How to Get At-Home Hair Color Right

Even Frédéric Fekkai has made home hair color cheap, with its Salon Color ($30) line, but it doesn't mean your results have to be any less impressive than salon color. To help you do it right when you're doing it at home, a few tips can make a world of difference. To see my home color solutions, just keep reading.

  • If you're trying to choose between an all-over color and highlights, do highlights. Highlights add more dimension to your hair, giving it the multitonal look that salon hair color has. Highlights are also more subtle than all-over color, and since you can grow them out without major roots, they're much less commitment.
  • If you highlight, keep the pieces fine, never chunky. Unless you want to look like Ginger Spice circa 1998, you should highlight many small sections of hair as opposed to a few larger sections. Fine highlights look more natural.
  • Don't go more than two shades lighter or darker. This is a general hair rule, and when you're doing the color yourself, it's smart to play it safe.
  • If you're going darker or only one level up, try a semipermanent color. Permanent hair color is a big commitment, and the ammonia in it can damage your hair. Semipermanents, on the other hand, use a gentler chemical, MEA, and it's easy and inexpensive to put the color back in every couple of months. If you're not sure you want to go with your new shade indefinitely, semipermanents are also a good move.
  • Pick a shade that's good with your undertones. Cool skin tones look best in cool colors, which will be labelled as such, or as "beige" or "ash," and warm colors in shades like "golden" or "copper."
  • Natural or neutral shades look good on all skin tones, so if you're confused, they're a safe bet.
  • A simple tip, but easy to forget: wear an old t-shirt or button-up top while you color. Having to pull a garment off over your head can ruin your clothing and your color.


Join The Conversation
Pistil Pistil 7 years
Shayna: I thought the dye adheres better when your hair isn't squeaky clean? I really want to be able to do highlights at home, but I'm too chicken to try it myself.
ShaynaLeah ShaynaLeah 7 years
Thanks for the tips! One more - make sure you have shampoo/conditioner for color treated hair - especially in the summer, so your new color doesn't fade out. And if your hair tends toward the greasy side (gross, I know), wash and dry it before you do your color, because when you rinse out the color you're not going to shampoo it.
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