At-home Hair Colour
If colouring your hair at home sounds scary, relax: Today’s hair colouring products are gentler than ever and loaded with botanicals and conditioners. Following a few easy steps, you can use them to get natural-looking colour as well as body and shine.
Colouring Secret No. 1: Stay within your colour
Go only one or two shades lighter or darker than the colour your hair is at the moment. Avoid making extreme colour changes on your own, because hidden beneath the shade that’s apparent to the naked eye are underlying pigments -- from pale yellow to dark red-brown. When hair is dyed, those pigments take centre stage. “I can put the exact same colour on seven medium brunettes, and they’ll each end up with different results”, says stylist Philip Pelusi.
When you’re going from brunette to Lady Gaga platinum or vice versa, prep the hair by filling in the pigments that are being removed, or by removing pigments before depositing a darker colour. This is what’s known as a “double process”, and it’s something you want to leave to the pros to avoid ending up with an orange or green hue.
Colouring Secret No. 2: Choose the right formula.
Start out with a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, and that will lead you to the appropriate type of product.
- Glosses and glazes work in just three to five minutes to boost colour by adding tone, shine and vibrancy. They last up to six shampoos. If your hair is highlighted, opt for a clear gloss that will add shine without depositing a hint of colour that can affect the tone of those finely calibrated streaks.
- Semi-permanent colour contains pigments that coat the outside of the hair fibre and fade after six to 12 shampoos. Semi-permanent colour will only darken the tone of your hair and cover a sprinkling of grey.
- Permanent colour contains ingredients that open the hair’s cuticle, allowing the colour to penetrate the shaft. It can lighten or darken hair and will provide full grey coverage. After four to six weeks, you’ll need a touch-up to cover showing roots.
Colouring Secret No. 3: Select the right shade.
Josh Wood, a celebrated London hair colourist who looks after some of the most pampered locks in the world, has done many corrections on at-home dye jobs gone wrong. “Typically, women have simply chosen the wrong colour because they haven’t identified their skin tone, and skin tone and hair colour go hand in hand”, he says. “The right hair colour will bring your skin to life”.
You want to balance warm skin tones with cool hair colour (look for champagne, ash and beige shades) and cool skin tones with warm hair colour (look for cocoa, pecan, caramel, bronze, honey and chestnut shades). “The foundation you wear will give you a good indication of whether you’re cool or warm skin tone”, says Wood.
Colouring Secret No. 4: Read the hair colour box.
Pay attention to the language on the product box: Words such as “bold” and “brilliant” indicate you’ll get more dramatic results than a natural “true-to-you” colour. Study the colour chart on the back of the box as a guide to the results you can expect, and read the ingredients list for things such as botanicals to nourish the hair.
Secret No. 5: Don’t skip the strand test.
Snipping and dyeing a few strands will give you a precise preview of how the colour will look on your locks and how long you need to keep the product in your hair if you’re covering resistant greys. Remember, don’t start the timer until you’ve finished applying the colour to your hair.
Shelley Levitt has worked as a former editor of several celebrity and women’s lifestyle magazines.