It has always felt very unfair to me that a person should be barraged by aisles of beautiful ladies on hair color boxes promising shiny and natural looking results, only to screw up their own hair so bad that they have to at worst cut it all off, and at best, live with shitty looking box-color.
There are some real intricacies to coloring your own hair at home. There is a reason why hair stylists must complete several years of schooling….The chemistry and color theory that must be understood to be able to achieve predictable color is very detailed, intensive, and different for every head of hair.
That said, it is NOT impossible to get great hair color at home….but there are some basic rules and points that your box-dye instructions won’t tell you, that I think you should know because I want your hair color to be beautiful, and I don’t want to have to fix it for you when you fall pray to the false promises of your un-informed box dye escapades. Before you dive in, here is what you should know.
The chemicals in this box are safe!
Unfortunately the chemicals in your box color are the same chemicals that other industries take very strict precautions to avoid having any contact with. Real talk. Not at all safe. Proven unsafe. Unfortunately, the hair color industry has not progressed very far from it’s original formulations.
The chemicals in box hair color are heavy chemicals, and they are being applied right onto your head. And rinsed down the drain, into your water system, and then into the ocean, contributing to the mass poisoning of our ecosystems and our bodies.
This may not stop you from using hair color. Strangely, It hasn’t stopped me. But it has made me think hard about the risks associated with it. And it has inspired me to seek out alternatives, like Bay Area based at-home hair color company Madison Reed, who are not using Recorcinol in their formulations, and are working hard to find new innovative and safe ways to formulate hair color for the public.
You can lighten your previously colored hair with box-dye!
Nope. Rule number one in color chemistry. You cannot lighten hair color with hair color, BB’s. That is what bleach is for. If you have ANY kind of artificial hair color in your hair, permanent, semi permanent, henna, etc, you CANNOT lighten it out with box dye in a lighter shade. What will happen is that your un-dyed roots will lighten up nicely, and the rest of your hair will get lot’s of unnecessary damage, and barely (if any) color change at all.
You won’t get brassy, we promise!
The nature of our hair is that when it is chemically altered, it will always want to be ‘brassy’. It will always tend-towards warm tones. No matter what cool, gun-metal brown hair dye we use to eliminate those gold and red tones. The brass will always come back. SO, the best thing to do is to be realistic and accept this reality. No magic will change this reality.
Instead, have a plan to control those brassy tones using a Color Reviving Gloss treatment or add some veggie-dye like Manic Panic to your conditioner and use it regularly. If your hair is looking orange, use a blue-violet. If your hair is looking yellow, use a purple, and if your hair is looking red, use a green. Consider it your DIY perfect tone secret. Shhh!;)
Color-safe shampoo is the best way to keep your color fresh and bright.
Nope. Sorry. The best way to keep your hair color fresh and bright is to not wash it. At all. Just rinse and condition. Just sayin;)
You can remove permanent color with products like Color Oops!
I can’t tell you how many people think that Color Oops will give them their natural color back after they have a hair-dye disaster. It is so hard to accept that your hair has been permanently altered after a dying mistake. Color Oops does remove hair color, but it will leave your hair is dire state of patchy uneven color and make future coloring very unpredictable. I always suggest using a less harsh approach to removing color, along with patience. Or, if you are desperate, call in a professional.
You bleached your hair, now you want it dark brown again. No biggie!
This is the most common way that people end up with green hair accidentally (myself included, age 11. Hair disaster story for another day.) When you are planning of going from very light hair to dark hair, you must first ‘fill’ the hair with an in-between shade that will restore the missing warm pigment to your lightened hair, giving it the base it needs for the dark color to be rich and deep instead of dish-watery and dull. My go-to filler? I love Madison Reed Color Reviving Gloss in Miele as a universal filler. After filling the hair, you can dye right over it with your desired shade.
When you touch up your roots with permanent hair color, just pull the color through the ends to refresh it!
Can you do this? yes. Should you do this? no. If your previously colored hair needs freshening, use a semi-permanent color or a gentle Color Gloss Treatment to brighten it up while your roots are processing. Continually coloring hair with permanent color will just lead to extreme dryness, dullness, and muddy-looking strands. Not to mention split ends!
Choose a gloss shade to match your root shade to minimize damage and maximize vibrant, fresh color…. Madison Reed makes it really easy by sending your root color and your gloss treatment to your door every month so you don’t even have to think about it.
I sincerely hope this little guide helps you understand a little bit more about at-home hair coloring. Here is to dispelling myths, clarifying details, and being informed. May your at-home hair color days be bright and predictable! For more detailed DIY hair color information, check out this guide, the Do’s and Don’ts of DIY Color.
As a DIY hair blogger who is committed to quality information and tips for better hair care, I am a proud affiliate of Madison Reed as well as many other companies who’s ethics and goods I personally use and believe in.
Cheers to great hair!