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How To Color Your Hair

woman coloring hair at home box hair color

How to Color Your Hair:  Box Hair Color vs. Salon Hair Color

As you walk down the aisle of your local drugstore and try to figure out what hair color product to buy, there are a few things you need to think about. The truth is that most hair color products – whether professional (sold to licensed professionals only) or retail (for sale to the public) – contain the same basic ingredients.

The general composition of both semi-permanent and permanent hair-coloring products is the same, regardless of whom they are sold to. A major challenge in how to color your hair at home, is selecting the hair color that is the right one for your desired end result. You ask yourself, “Do I choose by the picture on the box? Do I make an attempt to decipher the chart hanging on the shelf? Do I take a shot at the instructions on the back of the box?”

Know what you have before choosing a box color

Before you journey into the world of hair color, know what you have. This means knowing the answers to basic hair color questions such as: What is your natural hair color or, as the professionals refer to it, level and tone? What is your percentage of grey?

Once you decide the answers to these questions, you should stay within 2 levels of your natural hair color. It is not a good idea to make a drastic hair color change on your own. Also, a golden rule of hair coloring to know is,” hair color will not lift or lighten previously colored hair.” This is a major misconception. Making your hair color lighter can only be done with a lightning product such as, bleach or color remover, which is usually sold to licensed professionals only.

Dimensional color in a box?

Now for that multi-color or dimensional hair color promised in one step . . . well, they are sold in the  aisle right next to the unicorns . . . in other words, they don’t exist! The only way to get dimensional color is to highlight or lowlight your hair color . . . period!

Good to know!

Before you leave the store make sure you have enough product for your hair. Most boxes of hair color are notorious for only providing you with a few small ounces of color. If you have any more than the less-than-average head of hair, you may want to by two or three boxes. You can always return unopened product.

Don’t forget to . . .

Read the instructions carefully. Find an old shirt that you can take off easily before showering, or, if you wash your hair in a sink, wear something without a collar. Have old towels handy and get your shampoo and conditioner ready (the boxes usually come with very small tubes of conditioner). Applying the color can be as important as choosing a shade.

Your best bet is to apply the product to very small and even sections. You can‘t just shampoo in or lather in hair color and expect good results. If it were that easy this article wouldn’t be necessary, hair professionals would be non-existent, and everyone would have beautiful hair color! Also, be careful that the color is applied on your head only. Removing hair color from tile, bathroom rugs, shower curtains, and skin can be a difficult process – if not impossible.

Choosing a professional

If all of this sounds like too much work, you might be right, but choosing a salon can be just as challenging as picking a box of hair color from the store shelves. The best way to find a salon is to ask around. Look for someone with a hair color that you like. Find a coworker, a mother at your child’s school, or even a woman at the mall or gym and ask them where they get their hair done. People are flattered when you notice. It’s a compliment to any woman and most are happy to tell you where they go.

Ask good questions

Once you find a salon, ask for a consultation before scheduling an appointment. This is a great time to ask important questions, such as: What has to be done to achieve my desired color? How long of a process is this? What is the maintenance or upkeep? What products do I need to use to best preserve this color?

Pictures tell a thousand words

It is a good idea to take a picture of hair color you like. Colorists really do like seeing pictures. This helps them avoid dealing with subjective and highly interpretable adjectives like “ash, brassy, buttery, low lights, etc.” These are words that if not used properly will land you in the color correction chair. But don’t forget one of the most important questions: How much is this going to cost? The last thing you want is sticker shock when you are checking out at the salon. You need to be sure that once you get a color you love, you will be able to pay for it and keep up with the maintenance.

Now that you are armed with the information you need on how to color your own hair or on how to find a profession to color it for you, the decision is up to you. Will it be the drug store or the salon?

Guest author Daniel Galloway of Salon Oasis of Boca Raton has 29 years of experience as a hair colorist, salon consultant, and industry educator at The Hair Design Institute. Follow Dann on Twitter.





2 Comments »

  1. Hi Tanya,

    Coloring your hair at home can save lots of money. Want to learn how to color your hair like a pro? Check out fantastic article How to Dye Your Hair at Home. It will teach you everything that you need to know!

    Have a great hair day!

    Comment by Michelle Skye — May 18, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

  2. I think box hair color is a nice idea for me. So that, I won’t waste much money just to go to a salon.

    Comment by Tanya — May 16, 2012 @ 7:49 am

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