If you're not a professional, there are plenty of opportunities for a DIY hair color to go wrong, which is why you should listen to the pros when they offer up their expertise on how to make the task easier for all of us. Our favorite advice of the bunch? These tips from Brad Mondo, New York City-based hairstylist and founder, CEO, and creative director of XMONDO Hair's latest video tutorial.
Step 1: Start With Dirty Hair
If your hair is oily from skipping a wash day or two, or even if you're dealing with a little bit of product buildup, you might be tempted to shampoo before the process to start with clean hair. But according to Mondo, that's not the best idea, since when you wash your hair, you're creating tiny abrasions on your scalp that the dye or bleach you use can then easily slip into once you start the coloring process.
"This is going to make coloring your hair very painful," he said. "If you're using bleach, that bleach is going to seep into those little, tiny cracks in your scalp, and it's going to sizzle and burn."
Step 2: Brush Your Hair, and Section It Off
Whatever you do, don't try to color your hair while it's tangled; the product is bound to be unevenly distributed. Brush out your hair first, and then divide it into four sections: "Part [it] in the middle all the way back, down to the nape of your neck," he said. "That's your first section, those are your two. Then go to the apex — you can find the apex by laying the comb on your head and finding the highest point of your head — [and] make a section from the apex to behind the ears."
Step 3: Pay Attention to the Developers You're Using
Not all developers — the liquids that you mix with bleach or dye to activate the color — are created equal. Lots of hair dyes work with developers that come at different volumes: 10, 20, 30, and 40. In the video, Mondo explains that 10-volume developer is normally used for anyone trying to permanently darken their hair since it doesn't have any lightening effects — it just helps deposit the color.
On the other hand, 20 volume helps to darken or lift the hair while also covering up gray hair, while 30 and 40 volume can both lighten naturally dark hair by a few levels, though ideally if you've never lightened your hair before, you shouldn't go above 30 volume.
Step 4: Do Your Roots Last
To avoid what Mondo calls "hot roots," which occur when the color applied to your roots develops more than the color applied to your ends, don't start coloring your hair from the roots. The heat from your scalp can cause the color to develop faster, meaning you should always start coloring from the ends up.
Step 5: Rinse With Warm Water
Because dyeing your hair can cause your head to emit more heat, it might seem tempting to rinse out the product with cold water, but this might shock the cuticles and lead to breakage later. Once you get to the cleansing stage, gently massage your scalp as you rinse out the product under warm water.
Step 6: Take Proper Care of Your Hair Afterward
The work doesn't just stop at coloring your hair; you also have to take care of it afterward. That way, should you need to go back and touch it up, it's in a healthy condition to take more color.