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Tips for coloring short hair

Stephanie Taylor Christensen writes about personal finance, small business, and consumer issues. She is the founder of Om for Mom Prenatal Yoga and Toning in Columbus, OH and Wellness On Less, a site dedicated to prioritized living and c...

Color cues for short 'dos

If you’ve got a short, sassy 'do, you want an equally posh color job to complement your style. Follow these guidelines provided by an expert colorist to get a salon quality color application guaranteed to make your short haircut pop.

tips for dying short hair at home

Kadi Lee, a professional colorist at Serge Normant at John Frieda Los Angeles, has colored the shorter locks of top celebs. She suggests going for a highlighting look when you have short hair. In this two-step process, the key is to focus on the ends of the hair first, to avoid the "spottiness" that can occur when coloring short locks. Here's how to get the look celebs pay top dollar for:

The Prep

To get started,  you'll need a fine tooth comb and long "duckbill clips." Start by dividing the hair into three sections: down the center, and from ear to ear. (You'll leave the back of the hair free). With the long clips, divide hair into three narrow sections on each side. The compartments will help to ensure that you are applying color only where you want it, and to avoid any splotchy appearance. Once you've created your "compartments," spray the root of the hair with hair spray -- and then tease it into a compact form. Lee warns not to skip this important step which "will prevent color from bleeding and will make a nice blended line."

Phase One

Once you've prepped your sections, apply the color mixture with a highlighting or application brush. Scatter onto the hair using nice, even strokes. Remember -- because you are highlighting, the focus of your application is on the ends of hair in this step. Lee shares that one way to keep application mess-free is to place cotton in between the sections you've created. (NOTE: you won't -- and shouldn't -- use all the color mixture in this step).

Once you've applied the color, set the remaining mixture aside and process the hair color for the time stated in the directions. After you've removed the clips, rinse the color out of your hair until the water runs clear. Dry your hair thoroughly.

Phase Two

Dip your comb into the remaining hair color mixture you set aside earlier. Along your part and hairline -- which is now dry -- neatly comb the mixture into the "line of demarcation" only. (This is the line where the natural hair ends and the colored hair starts.) Let the color process again for the amount of time specified in the directions. Once the "time is up," rinse the color out again, and style as usual.

The end result will produce a naturally highlighted look for short hair, with color appearing more natural at the root and lighter at the ends -- instead of a matte all-over effect, which can be "heavy" looking on short hair. Lee says that while it is possible to do this application alone, it will be easier (especially when applying color to the back section) if you can enlist a friend to help!

Expert tip

Mimi DeKasha of Chicago's George the salon: "One of my favorite things to do in sleeker bob type styles, is to pull 'peek a boo highlights' from underneath. This gives just enough pop to a shorter cut, while still keeping the look sophisticated."

Related articles:

Tips for coloring long hair
How to color your hair at home
How to remove hair color from the skin

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