Your At-home Emergency Guide to Coloured Hair

Your At-home Emergency Guide to Coloured Hair
May 6, 2020

Rachael Waine

Colouring your own hair doesn’t have to be scary if you take some precautions. In fact, at least 1 in 5 Australian women have dyed their hair in the last six months. If you’ve never tried to colour your own hair, it’s understandable that you’ve got some concerns. Relying on your hairdresser is a smart choice, especially if you are doing a radical colour transformation. But, sometimes, when you need to touch up here and there for reasons beyond your control, you may need to resort to colouring it yourself.

How to Dye Your Own Hair

The market choice may be overwhelming. Online and retail shops have all these confusing labels. There are permanent, semi-permanent, demi-permanent colours. Additionally, you’ve got toners or non-permanent colours, colouring masks, and direct dyes to select from too. Moreover, they have varying instructions. Where do you start?

Safety first: you might want to go for semi or demi-permanent hair colour which fades quickly, usually lasts no longer than 6 weeks. Also, it won’t damage your hair as much as a permanent colour would do when done unprofessionally. 

You must be aware that most colours alter the hair structure a bit, and permanent colours are most pervasive. That’s because they need to penetrate the cuticle and change it. 

That doesn’t mean that your hair will look like a mess though. Modern colouring brands include nourishing oils and conditioners that will make your hair smooth and silky. It will be looking even better than before you dyed it!

Choosing Hair Colour

Semi-permanent hair colours typically only deposit on the hair without affecting the shaft. However, you cannot use them to lighten the hair, so if you want to push a few shades lighter, choose at least a demi-permanent or permanent colour (bleaching may be required). 

  • Temporary (semi-permanent) colours are also known as direct dyes because the oxidative process happens before the application, many times in the package box itself. They do not contain peroxide and will be the safest choice. 
  • Demi-permanent colours contain 1% to 2% peroxide and can cause mild hair lightening. 
  • Permanent colours contain 3% to 6% peroxide and do not wash after application although they will fade with frequent shampoo washes. 

When you are buying, read the label first because not all hair dye manufacturers name their colours with the same name. So, its best to check ingredients. 

Next, pick up the shade you want, always considering the permanency of the colour and the number of shades you want to lift.

In case you are into maximum safety, explore for your first at-home dyeing session by using toners, non-permanent colours, or colouring masks. Of course, this is only an option for minimal hair coverage, colour correction, or to safe your roots while waiting for the next salon appointment. You can even ditch liquid hair colours altogether and try using a wax cover that contains mineral powders that don’t dissolve in water unless combined with shampoo surfactants: they are great for handling grown roots.

Wet or Dry Hair?

While most hair colours instruct dry hair application, it is possible to use hair dye on wet hair. You may have noticed this hair colouring hack in salons during bleaching procedures that require toning. Hairdressers usually leave the hair damp or partially wet to prevent further hair damage of the additional chemicals in the toning colour. Well, you can do the same at home. By dying your hair wet, you may save on colour and get more even results as you will be able to distribute colour more easily without damaging your hair.

What You Need to Colour Your Hair at Home (How-to Bonus)

Here is how to effortlessly revamp your own hair at home with a fresh new colour: 

1. Wear old clothes. An old tank top is best to avoid staining a garment you like.

2. Work in sections. Separate your hair in sections using a comb and keep it in place with clips.

3. Protect your skin. Get a heavy face cream or petroleum jelly and cover your forehead line, ears, and neckline on the back of your head with a thick layer to avoid blotchy colour leftovers once you wash your hair.

4. Get hair colour wipes. Alternatively, use a bottle of 10 vol peroxide and cotton balls to wipe out dye that ends up on your skin by mistake.

4. Find a  plastic, ceramic, or glass mixing bowl and a tint brush, even if there is a bottle applicator. Don’t use metal bowls because they can interact with the hair colour chemicals. 

5. Use disposable latex gloves for hand protection.

6. Two mirrors will be necessary for improved visibility of the back head area. 

7. Start with your hairline and go all the way around your head. If you wear a ponytail, this is very important for good at-home colouring. 

8. Brush each section, saturate it with dye and brush it again to distribute the colour evenly. If you are colouring roots only, then leave the distribution and combing parts for the last 10 minutes of the application time or avoid the ends altogether if the hair is dry or damaged.

9. Wrap the head with a plastic bag or a shower cap to keep the heat in as well as avoid any colouring stains on your clothes while you wait for the application time to pass.

10. Follow the application time on the colour box. Most colours need at least 20 minutes to act. Some require longer application time, which can be up to 45 minutes. At home, it is best to veer on the side of safety and don’t keep the colour on your head for too long. You can always reapply another tube of colour, while, repairing your hair will take much longer.

Maintain Your DIY Coloured Hair Like a Pro

DIY colours may not be as spectacular as salon colouring but it is an excellent solution for emergencies. Provided you follow instructions and don’t experiment, you can be pretty pleased with the results. 

Who knows, you may decide to use your newly learned skills save on hair budget by using direct dyes between sessions or when your hairstylist is too busy to see you. 

Keep in mind that each shampoo application can cause the colour to fade. Use dry shampoo to maintain the colour or cover your hair with a cap if you can help it while taking a shower. If you are a blonde, go for a no-yellow shampoo. If you have dark hair, reapply a colouring mask or colour depositing shampoo for colour refreshment with minimal damage.  

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