Bringing in a kitchen timer is a good idea. Also, I wear a "dress" made out of a lawn trash bag to protect my body from dye. Another good type that a colorist told me was Vaseline-- spread on neck, ears, wrists/ lower arms not covered by the gloves-- makes it very easy to wipe off any excess color that gets on your skin in those places. When covering greys remember that you are going to need to use the maximum time for certain.
This time of year, a case of the blahs is all too common—and that goes for your hair too. Your natural summer highlights are long gone, and your office’s garish fluorescent bulbs aren’t doing your dull hair any favors.
But perking up your look (and your outlook) isn’t a lost cause: All you need is a subtle change in hair color. And that’s a lot more affordable than you think—if you do it yourself.
Yes, it sounds scary, but all you really need is a little color know-how, a bit of prep work, and less than $10. Follow these easy steps to get beautiful, salon-worthy strands in the comfort of your own home.
Find the Right Tone
Picking your new color isn’t just about choosing between blonde, brown, black, or red. To look like you were born with it, your new shade should complement your skin tone.
To find the right tone for you, peek inside your closet and think about which clothes look best on you. If you look radiant in yellow, orange, or a true red, go for warm shades, which have golden undertones. If violets or blues are more your color, go for cool. And if you’re not sure, try a neutral shade, which is a pretty safe bet for your first time dying on your own. (The dye boxes will be clearly labeled with their tone.)
Once you’ve picked your tone, choose a color that’s within two shades of your natural hair color for the most natural look. Try Clairol Natural Instincts, which, thanks to its consistent coverage, shine, and fade resistance, is one of the highest-rated all-over hair colors available ($8.99, drugstore.com).
Prep Your Bathroom
Your salon considers every element of the hair color process before applying one drop of dye, and now that you’re playing colorist, be sure to practice the same level of preparation at home.
Start by reading the directions in your kit, even if you’ve used other hair colors before. Each product is a little different, so reading the insert is the only way to know exactly how long to leave it on, whether it goes on wet or dry hair, or any other special instructions.
Next, put together your own color kit: two old towels (one to cover your shoulders and one to put on the floor), a comb for sectioning your hair, clips to hold back the dyed sections, and everything that comes in the box (the brush, gloves, and dye). Don’t forget to designate an old button-down shirt as your uniform, since you’ll likely end up with a few splatters, and you don’t want to have to pull anything up over your head.
Make it Happen
To make sure you cover every strand, use a comb to part your hair into four equal sections (top and bottom left, and top and bottom right). Starting at the crown and working your way forward, squeeze dye onto a half-inch to one-inch wide section at the roots. With your fingers (safely covered in gloves), massage it down to the ends, and then clip the section up and out of your way. Make sure to aim the dye nozzle down to keep the color from dripping all over you (and your sink).
Once you’re done, pile your hair loosely on top of your head while the dye processes for the amount of time specified on the package. Then, follow the rinsing instructions.
If you’re not sure you want to commit to an entirely new color, consider DIY highlights. The easiest at-home kits (like Revlon Frost & Glow Highlighting Kit, $8.99, drugstore.com) include a plastic comb to “paint” on the highlights. Start by thoroughly brushing dry hair so the comb can glide evenly through your strands. Then get used to the motion of the comb by running it through your hair without any dye.
Once you’re ready to start, place the comb at the root and run it down your hair in one smooth motion. Don’t worry about going back over pieces—once is enough.
Since your ends are naturally lighter, you may want to add a bit more dye there. The great thing about highlights is that they aren’t supposed to be perfect—they should look like the sun naturally created them.
Touch Up Your Roots
Now that you’ve dyed your hair and love your new color, you’ll need to touch up your roots every six to eight weeks. Either buy the same kit you originally used or get a root touch-up kit (like Clairol Nice ’n Easy Root Touchup, $6.99, soap.com). You don’t have to dye your whole head—just apply the dye only to where your old color starts.
If you’re refreshing highlights, use a rattail comb to section off the pieces that need new color. Be sure not to apply color on existing highlights to avoid large blobs of lightening.
Still nervous about turning your bathroom into a salon? You don’t have to go solo. Team up with a friend to color each other’s hair, and use the money you’ll save for your next girls’ night out.
Muses, how do you perk up your winter beauty routines? Have you ever tried dying your own hair? We want to hear your best tips!