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Published: May 03, 2023

Written by: Megan McIntyre

Young woman looks in a mirror while applying an at-home hair dye.

Discover the dos and don’ts of do-it-yourself (DIY) hair dyeing — plus insights on ways to keep your color vibrant and shiny.

If you’ve never dyed your hair at home, one trip down the hair color aisle might be enough to send you straight back to the salon. Semipermanent, bleach, temporary color — what do they all mean? And what is a shade called Double Mochaccino Deluxe Foam Frost actually going to look like on your head?

But done right, at-home hair color allows you to get the color you love at a fraction of the cost. While you won't have the usual pampering from the salon, coloring your hair at home can also save you time - so win-win. Your most important decisions are which type of hair color you should use and how long you want that color to last. Consider these hair coloring tips to make it that much easier.

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Different types of hair dye

You'll find three main types of hair color in the hair color aisle: temporary, semipermanent and permanent. Each of these ways to dye your hair has pros and cons.

Temporary hair dye

Unlike permanent color, which actually enters the hair cuticle and chemically changes the hair, temporary color simply sits on the surface and makes a purely cosmetic change.

As a result, "this type of color is easily removed with your next shampoo," says Wendy Gutkin, research hair stylist at Henkel, a multinational corporation of consumer and industrial brands. That makes nonpermanent hair dye a great way to try on a new color without committing. "A temporary color can also be a great solution for gray hair if you are running a bit behind on your root touch-up," she says.

Semipermanent hair dye

Semipermanent hair dye usually lasts around six to eight washes, according to Gutkin, who likes these for amateur colorists since these formulas don't require a peroxide activator to develop the color. That tends to make them easier to use at home because they don't require any mixing, and they are also less damaging on your hair.

Consider trying this type of hair dye for highlights. "Semis are usually best for adding sparkle to any natural shade or doing a slightly darker shade than you are currently wearing," Gutkin says. For instance, they can make brown hair look richer or cool down brassiness in blondes.

A good example of a semipermanent hair color is a gloss, like the L’Oréal Paris Le Color Gloss One Step Toning Gloss. This in-shower deep-conditioning and temporary hair color hybrid instantly boosts color, tone and shine, and its full effects last for up to 10 days per application.

Permanent hair dye

"Permanent hair color is used with a developer, which opens the cuticle of the hair to either lighten or darken the hair," says Gutkin. "These colors are removed only by cutting the hair or by using a bleach. Permanent hair color works for all hair types and is the best choice for coverage of grays."

Celebrity hairstylist and L'Oréal Paris creative director of style and color Jonathan Colombini calls permanent hair color your "heavy hitter," since the formulas are your most powerful pick. That said, if you're coloring your hair at home for the first time or have severely damaged hair, it's generally recommended that you stay away from permanent color, as you run the risk of damaging your hair if done improperly.

Probar L'Oréal Paris Excellence hair color if your hair is damaged, since it contains a keratine mixture that helps protect hair. Those with dry hair can consider Garnier Nutrisse - Tinte en crema nutritivo, which includes a separate packet of grapeseed oil to moisturize hair while it works and comes in 45 shades. And finally, Revlon ColorSilk ammonia-free permanent hair color features the brand’s 3D Color Gel Technology for vibrant, multidimensional color.

How to choose a hair color

For the most natural-looking color, you'll want to stick close to your own hue. "It's best to stay within one to two levels darker or lighter of your natural color," says Gutkin. Going too far afield colorwise can result in unevenness.

How to dye your hair at home

When it comes time to color your hair, there are a few key steps you should take, according to Gutkin, to get the most vibrant and natural-looking hue:

  1. Use a clarifying shampoo the night before. Don’t wash your hair on the day you are going to be applying color because there is an increased risk of scalp irritation from stimulating the skin with shampoo.
  2. Make sure hair is completely dry when applying your color.
  3. Section your hair into four quadrants: from ear to ear and from the middle of the forehead to the back of the neck. Within those sections, apply color on thin sections to ensure full saturation of color on the hair. If you are trying to cover grays, apply your color right around the hairline as your first step, because this is usually where the most resistant grays are located.
  4. How long do you leave the dye in your hair? Easy: Hair color should always be kept on for the full amount of time suggested on the directions of the color product. This allows the chemicals in the color to finish the job they were meant to do. Colors will also last longer if they are kept on the full time.
  5. When rinsing the hair, always make sure you rinse all the color out first to reduce any type of scalp irritation or itching. Apply a conditioner after rinsing using a wide tooth comb to make sure the product reaches the very ends of your hair, which usually need the most attention. A final cold rinse helps to shut the cuticle down and give the hair extra shine after a conditioner.

How to take care of color-treated hair

The three biggest enemies of your freshly dyed hair are water, heat and the sun. To keep color looking fresh, wash your hair with a color-safe shampoo and conditioner. Also, says Colombini, don't wash your hair every day. This will wash your color quite literally down the drain. And invest in styling products that will guard your hair from the harmful effects of both sun and heat; Pantene Miracle Rescue 10-in-1 multitasking leave-in conditioner spray hydrates and detangles while protecting strands against heat damage and ultraviolet rays.

Este contenido es solo para fines informativos y no constituye un asesoramiento médico. Consult with your health care provider before taking any vitamins or supplements and prior to beginning or changing any health care practices.