We all go through periods of transformation. For some, that means moving to a new city or refreshing your wardrobe, and for others it can be as simple as changing your hair. For such a small alteration, the effects can be significant. A new haircut can make a person feel different — changing a hair color can bring out a new personality or grow a person’s confidence. But all too often these changes come few and far between because of the growing expense of professional salons. Now don’t get me wrong — I am all for the luxurious experience that includes everything from a massage-like shampoo wash to the perfect cut that you just can’t accomplish on your own. But dyeing your hair at home is actually much more achievable than one would think. So if you have been thinking about adding a splash of color to your head, or maybe considering a more subtle change to your style, listen up. This is a beginners guide to at home hair dye.
As someone who has spent hundreds of dollars at salons to get the style and color I wanted at the time, I’ve been skeptical of at-home dye all my life. And while I admit that sometimes to get the perfect color it’s best to leave the job up to professionals who have years of training, experience, and more advanced tools than the Walmart scissors and plastic bowl available at my expense, dying your own hair can be fun, easy and incredibly more affordable.
Though hairdressers are talented artists whose work SHOULD be paid for, most of the time ya girl can’t afford to be visiting the salon every month, let alone every few weeks to maintain a vibrant color.
One of the first steps to dying your hair at home is figuring out the look you are trying to achieve. This one may seem obvious but knowing exactly what you want will save you time and frustration when it comes time to visit your local Sally Hansen or Ulta. Going from a dark color to a lighter one will involve bleach and multiple sessions, putting in highlights may require a special cap where you pull strands through to lighten them. Personally, with my skill and knowledge of hair, I usually go with something simple and easy to maintain. Use a Pinterest board or the flagging function on instagram to create a lookbook, making sure to consider face shape, eye color, skin tone and of course hairstyle. If you are totally new to this, go for something basic. The pastel hair trends are much more difficult to achieve than you would think unless you’re starting from bleach blonde, and the more colors you include, the more complicated the process will be.
Once you’ve decided on a color, it’s time to choose a product. Apart from choosing a dye with the color you like, you can also consider if the product is prone to staining clothing or carries a scent you like (or despise). Buying a cruelty-free dye may be important to you, or making the choice between permanent and semi-permanent color (semi will fade faster–usually 3 weeks–and doesn’t contain chemicals such as ammonia or peroxide) One big factor to consider when looking for the right dye is if it requires developer. Developer contains hydrogen peroxide and helps with bleaching and toning the hair by opening up its cuticle and allowing the color to soak in. They come in different levels depending on the amount of peroxide, and the higher levels can be damaging to your hair- Volume 10 has a lower amount than a Volume 40. Developer can come in either powder form or liquid form and will usually be mixed with one part developer and two parts color or toner. Always follow the instructions and don’t be shy to enlist the help of a Sally Hansen staff member or other person knowledgeable on the topic of dye. My personal favorite for vibrant colors is the brand ArcticFox. It’s cruelty-free product that is made with a conditioner that leaves the hair softer than before, is generally affordable for the amount you get, and smells amazing (the purple ones will have your hair smelling like grapes for days).
While you’re out and about, don’t forget to purchase the necessary tools to complete the task. You can usually use a plastic or paper bowl, but mixing bowls are cheap at Sally’s, usually around $3. You’ll also need a brush and gloves to apply the dye, I tend to use my hands to pull the color through.
Once you’re ready to begin the transformation process, take a deep breath and remember that it’s only hair- if you make a mistake you can always go back over it, cut it, or wear a snazzy hat for a few weeks! Put on a good Netflix show and give yourself at least an hour to dye each section of your hair thoroughly. I usually have two or three hair bands on deck to tie up the sections I’m not working on, and to put the whole thing up in a bun once I’ve coated my head in dye. While the use of gloves helps immensely, there is bound to be some mess, so I recommend putting a few towels down and having some Clorox wipes on hand. Most products need to soak in for around 20-45 minutes depending on your desired intensity, reading the instructions on the bottle will inform you on if heat should be applied or what temperature water should be when rinsing.
Aftercare is generally simple — put a towel over your pillow for the next few days and try to avoid shampooing every day to maintain vibrancy for as long as possible. Bleached hair may feel dry and damaged, so using a weekly hair mask of coconut or olive oil is a good idea. Most colors fade in a few weeks depending on sun exposure and number of washes, but permanent dyes can last as long as six weeks.
So there you have it — remember that changing up your style can be affordable, fun and totally doable in your own home!