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How to color your hair at home

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...

Get professional looking hair

Before you take the plunge and color your hair at home, take some tips from the pros to get the salon quality look you envision.

home hair coloring tips

Test the waters

Sandra LaMorgese of Wellness Innovations has more than a decade of experience as a professional colorist. She advises all at-home colorists to remember that whenever you're applying color at home: safety first! After all, applying hair color mixture does involve working with chemicals.

In addition to conducting the "root tests" advised in your at-home color kit to ensure your scalp (and current color) won't react badly to the at-home color solution, you need to take other preventative safety measures. Though they may feel "clumsy" at first, protect your hands with the provided colorist gloves during application, and make sure you carefully apply the color around your hairline to ensure you don't drop any mixture into your eyes or ears. If the color mixture fumes make breathing feel difficult, apply color in a place where you can easily crack a window to keep fresh air circulating and to keep smells at bay. Never try to save leftover color -- dispose of all leftover mixtures immediately and appropriately.

Get the right tools

Before you start to color at home, build your own at-home colorist station stocked with all the right tools. You'll need a mirror, an old shirt that is easy to take off when coloring is complete and a towel to drape over your shoulders. Find a timer and a few easy-to-use hair clips to section hair. Apply hair conditioner or Vaseline around the hairline and ears before you apply the color to prevent staining of the skin. Be close to a sink or shower you can easily access to rinse hair when processing is complete. You should also lay down an old sheet or towel to protect any bathroom carpets or flooring from potential stains.

Be sensible with your color change

It may be tempting to think about experimenting with a bold new color when you see that a notoriously blonde celeb has transformed into a smoldering brunette. But, remember -- it takes hours in the hands of a professional colorist for celebs to get those drastic color changes pulled off successfully -- not to mention the heavy follow-up maintenance bold color changes require. Kadi Lee, celebrity colorist at Serge Normant at John Frieda Los Angeles, says that when you're coloring your hair at home, it is best to stick to two shades within your natural hair color. While you'll always want to start application at the roots and work your way down, most people have slightly lighter hair in the front. If that is true for you and you're dyeing the hair darker, start application up front. If you're trying to lighten your color and hair is lighter in the front, start application in the back.

Start with a clean palette

Coloring your hair, whether at home or in a salon, causes stress to your tresses. A few days before your at-home color session, apply a deep conditioning treatment that will nourish your hair. Once you have applied color at home, remember you only need to freshen roots -- not the whole head -- every six weeks. Coloring the entire length of your hair too frequently can lead to dry hair and patchy color.

Expert tip

Consider trimming dry dead ends from hair before you color at home. They can soak up too much color, leaving an unbalanced color effect. -Sandra LaMorgese of Wellness Innovations

Related articles:

Tips for coloring long hair
Tips for coloring short hair
How to remove hair color from the skin

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