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Student Guide to Home Hair Colour: Do’s and Don’ts

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Southampton chapter.

Are you forever longing for luscious blonde locks or vibrant red hair, yet forever struggling on a student budget? Well, I’m here to tell you that home hair colouring is the way forward, and isn’t nearly as scary as you may think.


1.Pick a hair colour that suits you.

One of the most important things to consider way before purchasing any dye is whether or not the colour will actually suit you. For instance, if you have very dark eyebrows but lust after bleach blonde hair, this would definitely not be the most sensible colour to choose. Also, if you have a very fair complexion, a dark brown or black may wash you out, or worse, make you look like someone from Twilight…

2.Choose a good brand of dye.

I cannot emphasise this point enough. There are some great brands out there that produce really decent quality products that are brilliant value for money. As with going to the gym once and hoping to come out with the body of Miranda Kerr (we all can dream), dramatically changing your hair is not going to do anything spectacular. You will probably be left regretting your foolish decision of believing that you will end up looking like this.

When you really appear more like this…

I won’t name and shame brands, but what I can give to you is a list of my most favourite hair dye brands that I’ve used consistently over the years, and can guarantee are really great.

Schwarzkopf XXL Live

The dyes they produce are incredibly long lasting, easy to apply and their range of vibrant hair colour is excellent. After going through numerous boxes of the big name hair dye brands, Schwarzkopf outperformed all of them, and even on their price tag. Whether you’re going for a daring red, pink or purple, or looking for a more natural tone – Schwarzkopf has them all.

Jerome Russell “B blonde” hair lightening kit & cream peroxide

If you’re interested in producing the ombré effect on your hair, B blonde should be your first port of call. The box does not include peroxide, so you have to buy the matching cream peroxide bottle – but the lightening ability of this brand is very good. This brand has taken my dark brown hair to a platinum blonde before, so producing the ombré effect is no problem. What I will say, however, as with most bleaches it is important to choose the right volume of peroxide. This brand does 10%, 20% and 30% volume in bottles; to avoid frazzling your hair, avoid the high percentages. What’s more, as any hairdresser will tell you, its important to tone blonde hair after its been bleached to avoid a yellowish blonde tint. There are a wide range of toning shampoos and treatments available at hair retailers – make sure you use one!

Crazy Color & Directions

If you want to go for a trendy dip-dye effect, Crazy Color or Directions are awesome brands that have a fun range of bold hair colours. These dyes are semi-permanent and wash out pretty quickly, this makes them great for changing your dip-dye colour regularly. When applied onto naturally light or bleached hair, the colour results are fabulous. This brand works well in conjunction with Jerome Russell’s B blonde lightening kit.

3.Follow the instructions!

This may seem like an obvious point, but it is incredibly vital if you want to achieve the perfect colour results. I would advise that you keep a timer on your phone in order to keep track of how long the product has been on your hair.

4.Invest in some large hairdresser-style crocodile clips.

Possibly the most daunting part of dying hair yourself is actually applying the product to your hair. With crocodile clips you can section your hair into 4, 6 or 8 sections depending on how thick your hair is. If you do this, and start from the lower back of your head up, the task doesn’t seem quite so bad.

5.Deep condition your hair.

If this step is avoided, the condition of your hair will be dreadful. This is for no other reason than the fact that hair dye has damaging effects to your hair, full stop. Whether you get your hair dyed at the hairdresser or do it yourself, it will always have some sort of detrimental effect. In order to ensure that professional sleek feel that you get when you leave the hairdressers, condition your hair! A good product to use is Wella Proffessionals BRILLIANCE hair mask for coloured hair. You should deep condition your hair around twice a week, which to be honest, you should be doing anyway.

6.Re-dye your roots.

Keeping your roots in tip-top condition is essential to having beautifully coloured hair. Your hair grows around 1.25cm per month, and for this reason it is advisable to re-dye your hair every month or so. On the plus side, this is a lot more affordable considering the price of home hair kits, as opposed to the salon price.


1.Don’t dye your hair at home before an occasion or special day of importance.

Although I’m trying to persuade you that home hair dying isn’t so bad, dying your hair before a special day (eg. Prom, a wedding, a birthday etc) is always going to be a bad idea. This can be for one of two reasons: 1) there is always a risk that the colour might not turn out quite as you’d hoped, usually through a fault in your hair dying procedure, or 2) because freshly dyed hair is a lot like a pair of new doc martins… it will look a lot better once worn in. The day after you’ve dyed your hair won’t always be a valid representation of the colour it will be once washed and blow dried a couple of times.

2.Don’t wear nice clothes, or use nice towels when dying your hair at home.

Speaking from experience, do not use any nice object when dying your hair unless you want new white towels or t-shirts covered in dye stains. You should, ideally, invest in a black towel specifically for dying your hair and washing it in the weeks after it has been freshly dyed. Wearing an old baggy t-shirt is also a sensible idea when dying.

3.Do not get hair dye or bleach on your skin!

Getting hair dye on your fingers, arms, neck and face are pretty much unavoidable when dying your hair at home. However, you should always clean up this dye as quickly as possible with warm water and soap… unless you want a discoloured forehead for a day. As for bleach and peroxide, getting this on your skin not only stings but also it can drain the colour from your skin. Always wear gloves!

4.Do not dye hair that has already been coloured without proper research.

There is nothing more embarrassing than trying to dye red hair ash blonde, and it turning green, trust me. If you already have dye on your hair, whether it’s from a home dye kit, or from the hairdressers, always look up relevant colour chemical reactions. For example, when bleach is put on red hair, it will go orange. Or when purple dye is put on blonde hair, it will fade to grey. You should always look up what to expect from different hair colours reacting with each other. If you already have dye on your hair, you can either purchase colour-correcting sachets from hairdressing wholesalers, or manipulate colours to your advantage. For example, you can turn yellow blonde hair platinum/white blonde by applying diluted purple dye or purple toner shampoos.

5.Do not underestimate how long dying your hair takes.

If you have a particularly busy day with tasks to do, maybe save dying your hair until the end of your day. For some reason, dying your hair at home always seems to take longer than planned. If you’re a particularly disorganised person like me, you don’t want to be caught in a halls fire alarm drill dressed in a dressing gown and uggs with hair dye on your head (true story).

I hope that this handy do’s and don’ts list has persuaded you to take the plunge and dye your hair yourself. After all, you only live once (yes I did just essentially make a reference to ‘yolo’, I apologize). Although I am by no means a professional hairdresser, after over 4 years I would like to call myself an expert in the art of dying hair well whilst on a budget. So if you’re looking for a new style and hair colour, get it and do it – at home.

My name is Emma and I'm a first year history student from the University of Southampton. I have an interest in style, healthy eating and fitness. In my free time I like to paint, horse ride and have an interest in animal rights. You can check my twitter out here: http://twitter.com/emma_briers and my instagram here: http://instagram.com/emma_briers