I have been a professional hairstylist for more than 15 years, so most of the time when I see the results of at-home hair color, it is because I am correcting a job gone wrong. But a few of my clients have successfully colored their hair at home for years and are very happy with the results. When can you attempt to DIY, and when should you see your stylist?
If bleach is involved, do not attempt the job at home, go to the salon. Whether you are just trying to lighten your natural color, or remove artificial dye, lightening is a tricky process, and can severely damage the hair. Different porosities cause the hair to lighten at different speeds, and even body heat can cause lighter spots. I have seen one too many heads of hair that have been lightened to the point where the hair strand is translucent. At this point there is no repairing the hair, it will need to be cut off.
We all have that one friend who assures us that they do their own highlights at home and they turn out better than if they had them done at the salon, but more often than not there is unevenness and stripes. It is impossible to properly place highlights on your own head, because of the angle at which you will have to apply.
Many people assume that color remover is a safer option for lightening or removing artificial pigment. While it’s chemical makeup varies slightly from bleach, it works in the same manner and can have the same disastrous results.
Any time you want to make a very dramatic change, be it lighter or darker, skip the box and head to the salon. We have already discussed the dangers of lightening at home, but going darker can be equally as bad. When hair is lightened all of the underlying pigments are removed, so if you attempt to darken without replacing those, you will end up with a muddy or even green color. I always recommend that people head to the salon for their first appointment when making a dramatic change, and if they can’t afford subsequent visits, upkeep will be much easier than the initial color correction.
So when is it ok to color at home?
Staying Within 2 Levels of the Natural Color
Whether you are trying to cover gray, or just want a subtle change, most box colors’ formulations are ideal for this range. This also leaves less margin for error as far as over-lightening, or muddy ends.
Want to add a pink streak to your hair? Go ahead and try it at home! Fashion colors like pink and blue do need to be applies to blond, or pre-lightened hair, but they are usually temporary and hard to mess up if you follow the directions. Just be aware that once these colors penetrate the circle of the hair, they become permanent and cannot be removed.
There is a saying among hairstylists that it is always cheaper to have it done in the salon the first time, than having to correct it later, so use common sense when attempting to color at home.