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Splurge or save: Should you dye your own hair, or go to a salon?

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...

The hair dye debate

With plenty of at-home hair color options available for a fraction of what a professional coloring costs, how do you determine when it's right to dye your hair at home or when a trip to the salon is in order?
Woman dying hair

Dyeing your hair can change your whole look instantly. But it can also change your cash flow if your new hue leads to frequent salon visits for maintenance and touch-up treatments. At-home color options are far less expensive, but there are pros and cons beyond money to consider before you decide whether to splurge or save on hair color.

The pros of at-home hair color

1

It's affordable

You'll spend anywhere from $4 to $20 for an at-home hair-color treatment. At those prices, an entire kit will cost you less money than it will for you to tip your colorist when you head to the salon for your hair color.

2

It's convenient

No appointment needed, no waiting under a dryer and you can emerge with a fresh batch of color in under an hour -- all from the comfort of your own home.

3

It's straight forward

At-home hair color kits have simplified the process of coloring hair at home. After you purchase your hair-color kit, all you need to supply is a towel, a few clips, a timer and a place to rinse your hair. The directions are clear and simple to follow, even if you've colored before or are dealing with grays. Many kit providers even offer a help line to call if you have questions along the way.

But before you ditch your colorist, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider before deciding whether to save or splurge on your next dye job.

Tip

"If you're aiming for bright blonde this season, start off with highlights and increase towards lighter locks gradually until you've reached your optimal blonde."-- Jennifer Fontana, colorist and owner of Cristophe Salon in Newport Beach, California.

The risks of at-home hair color

1

You're not a color expert

If coloring at home were foolproof, there wouldn't be a demand (and price) for professional colorists. Though the at-home hair color box can show what "should" happen to your hair color, results aren't guaranteed -- especially if you've colored your hair before or have highlights that are still in the hair shaft. Likewise, the optimal processing time can vary depending on the color and condition of your hair and the way it reacts to the dye itself.

2

You can't make
a drastic change

To see the best results from an at-home hair color, you should stick within two shades of your current shade. If you're simply looking to cover grays or hide roots, dyeing hair at home may be a great option, especially in between standing color sessions. But if you're looking to make a hair color statement or change your hair color drastically, the risk may not be worth the money you'll save by coloring on your own.

3

Mistakes will cost you

If your hair color at home experience goes as planned, you can save as much as $100 in your beauty budget each month. But, if disaster strikes when you color at home, you'll be begging for the first available appointment your colorist has to undo your mistakes. You'll pay for the color correction financially and in the condition of your stressed tresses after chemical overexposure from your color, the correction and the new color leave your hair dry and brittle.

More hair tips and trends

Best reds for spring
Spring hair color trends
Best buys: Hair dryers

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