Using Hair Dyes: Hair Color Products, Shades, Ideas and More

Get Tips so You Know How to Dye Hair

Woman dyeing her hair

One of the quickest and easiest ways to enhance your appearance is to change your hair color. People apply hair dye for a variety of reasons; some want to cover gray hair, some just want to try out a new look. Whatever your reasons, if you are considering the use of hair dye, there are a few things that you should know. 

Here are some hair coloring tips:

  1. Get healthy. Since hair dyes can be damaging, it is important that your hair is in good condition before you begin. If it is dry or damaged from sun or chlorine exposure, heat styling or previous chemical treatments, you should wait until it is healthy before applying hair dye.
  2. Go pro. Although there are many high quality hair coloring products available for use at home, there are a few circumstances where it is best to consult with a professional color specialist. He or she can provide hair color ideas specific to your hair and desired look. Plus, the shades they produce will most likely look more natural and along the lines of what you want--especially if you are attempting something difficult with at home hair color products.
    • Big changes: If you want to lighten your hair more than a shade or two, you might want to have the job done at the salon. Transforming brunettes into blondes is a two-step process,  not only is there a greater likelihood of damaging your hair, but unless you are experienced with the components of hair dye, your results may be too brassy.
    • Corrective procedures: If you have applied hair dye colors and are dissatisfied with the result, do not simply apply another color to "correct" the situation -- you may just make it worse. Consult with a professional to correct mistakes and be sure to let the stylist know which product(s) you have already applied. Professional stylists have dealt with many different types of hair and therefore can offer the hair coloring advice you're looking for.
  3. Choose your shade. When deciding on a color, remember that your results will not be a perfect match to the color on the box of hair dye. Hair coloring is formulated to work with your existing color, so results will vary from person to person.
  4. Be subtle. For the most natural look, stay within a shade of your natural color or try merely applying a few highlights.
  5. Pass the test. Always do an allergy test 24-48 hours before applying hair dye. Even if you have colored your hair in the past with no problems, you can still develop an allergy. Mix a small amount of the dye according to package directions and apply to your skin. Do not use the hair coloring products if you have any redness, swelling or irritation.
  6. Assess your needs. There are several types of hair dye; decide what is best for you depending on your desired result. Temporary colors cannot lighten hair, but are good for covering gray hair or enhancing the color and shine of your natural color. Permanent dye is just that, permanent, so be sure that you are choosing a color that you will be able to live with until it grows out.
  7. Watch the clock. Do a strand test before applying dye to your entire head. Simply snip a small lock of hair, secure one end with cellophane tape and apply a small bit of dye. Wipe off the color after the minimum time recommended in the directions and check the result. If it is not quite what you are hoping for, reapply the color and check again in a few minutes. When you are ready to apply the dye to your whole head, you will know exactly how many minutes it will take to get just the right color.
  8. Do it right. No matter what type of hair dye you choose, be sure to read the package directions before you begin and follow the instructions exactly. Brands vary a bit, so even if you are a an experienced colorist, be sure to familiarize yourself with the directions when switching brands.
  9. Gray no more. If you are applying hair dye to cover gray, be sure to leave the coloring on your hair for the maximum time allowed by package directions. Gray hair can be stubborn, so give the dye every chance to do the job.


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