At-Home Hair Color — How to Color Your Hair like a Pro

If you have never done your own hair color at home before, you may think that it would be a difficult process. Perhaps you have seen a stylist at a salon doing hair color on someone (yourself, even), and you noticed that the stylist mixing up a bowl or two of creamy-looking liquids that she applied to the hair with a brush. Or maybe you have seen a stylist working on giving a person highlights, using hair color in a bowl and squares of aluminum foil. None of that looks too easy, does it?

Don’t worry-at-home hair color is so much simpler than anything you have seen done at a salon. It doesn’t require any specialized training. All you need is some simple preparation and patience and you can color your own hair.

First of all, decide where in your house is the best place for you to color your hair. Since the final step of any at-home hair color application is to rinse the color out of your hair, you would be wise to color your hair near a sink or a shower. Personally, I find it to be easiest to color my hair first thing in the morning and then hop in the shower when it is time to rinse the hair color out (basically killing two birds with one stone).

Next, you need to gather the necessary materials. It is best to make sure that you have everything you need all in one place before you start because you don’t want to have to walk through the house in the middle of the hair color application. Keep in mind that the entire hair color process, from the beginning of application until time to rinse out the color, will take around 45 minutes to an hour (depending upon how quickly you apply the hair color and how long the instructions say to leave the color on your hair). Here are some basic items you should make sure to have handy:

Petroleum jelly: Swipe a dab of this along the edge of your hairline before you begin and it will keep the hair color from getting on your skin.

An old nightgown or shirt: Make sure to put on a nightgown or shirt that you don’t mind getting stained, because chances are you will get at least a drop or two of hair color on it. Afterwards, wash and keep the garment to use again the next time you color your hair.

An old washrag: Get an old washrag (one that you don’t mind getting stained) wet with warm water and keep it nearby when you are coloring your hair-use it to wipe any stray drips that land on your skin. Wash and keep the washrag for your next hair color application.

An old towel: Most hair color instructions say to loosely pile your hair on top of your head; however, if your hair is long or thick, it may fall from the top of your head. So that this isn’t a problem, drape an old towel (again, one that you don’t mind getting stained) around your shoulders-now, if your hair falls, it falls on the towel and can just lay there. As with the washrag, you can save the towel for next time.

A timer: You will need to keep track of the amount of time that the hair color is on your hair; setting a timer is the easiest way to do this.

Something to do while you wait: Depending upon which hair color you are using, the color will need to sit on your hair for about 30 – 45 minutes. You will be bored unless you bring in something to help occupy the time. I usually play a handheld video game or read a magazine, but you could knit, do a crossword puzzle, or chat on the phone.

Each brand of hair color is a little different, but most brands are now formulated to be used as a “shampoo-in” process, to be done on clean, dry hair. All brands caution to do an allergy test 48 hours prior to coloring your hair. You are also strongly suggested to do a strand test on a small bit of your hair so that you can see how the hair color will affect your hair. Instructions in your hair color box will tell you how to perform each of those tests.

Besides the test instructions, your box will contain instructions on how to apply the hair color. But, here is a general guide as to what to expect for first-time hair coloring:

Step 1: Put on the enclosed gloves. Open the developer bottle and the hair color tube; carefully pour the hair color into the developer bottle.

Step 2: Shake the mixture in the developer bottle (covering the hole at the tip of the bottle with a gloved thumb) for about 30 seconds, or until well-mixed.

Step 3: Using the tip of the developer bottle to part your hair into sections, apply the hair color all over your head. Saturate the hair well, using the entire contents of the bottle. Pile hair loosely on top of your head and set your timer for the amount of time indicated in your instruction guide.

Step 4: When the time is up, get your hair a little bit wet and lather it up as you would a shampoo. After a moment of this, rinse the hair color out completely. You will know that you have rinsed it all out when the water begins to run clear from off of your hair.

Step 5: Apply the enclosed conditioner to your hair, leaving it on for about three minutes. Rinse well, then style as usual.

As you can see from the above steps, doing at-home hair color really is pretty simple. As long as you have prepared well by gathering up all of the necessary materials, and as long as you have the patience to wait for the entire recommended time before rinsing out the hair color, you will likely have results with which you will be pleased. Give it a try, and soon you will be doing your own hair color like a pro.