11 Tips For Hair Dyeing At Home – Get It Right First Time.

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Just like painting our nails, de-fuzzing our legs and tweezing our eyebrows, there are always going to be times where we just have to roll our sleeves up, get our gloves on and start dyeing our hair at home.

Maybe it’s cost, maybe it’s time.

Maybe it’s just to try out a new color, touch up our roots or make a dramatic change.

Using an off-the-shelf dye is no bad thing if you can master the basics of how to dye your hair at home.

Here are our top tips to help you get it right every time!

11 Top Tips For Hair Dyeing At Home.

Tip #1 Pick the right shade for you.

Tips For Hair Dyeing At Home - hair dye colors

This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people get this wrong!

Don’t just pick a color off the box because it looks pretty. You need to be realistic about your starting point – the color and condition of your hair – and your desired end result.

We recommend only trying to go one shade lighter or darker than the color your hair is now – your base color.

Always match up your base color with the chart on the side of the hair dye box to get an idea of the color results you’ll get.

What hair color suits me?

Tip#2 Prepare your hair.

A few days before you plan to crack open your box, strengthen your hair with a good oil treatment.

Leave it in for as long as possible to really let the oils really get to work.

A couple of days before you plan to dye your hair at home, wash your hair with a top clarifying shampoo for colored hair to really cleanse it and remove all the product build up.

Do not skip this step! Dirty hair is not good for hair dyeing, as oil, products and other debris will prevent the dye from properly absorbing.

Make sure you shampoo and condition your hair at least 24 hours before dyeing, don’t apply any styling products, and avoid washing for 48 hours after, as this time is needed for the dye to properly set.

This also gives your hair a chance to produce natural oils to protect it during coloring.

“YES, you should wash your hair before you color it. Washing it will remove any product build up, dirt and oil that can act as a barrier between your hair and the color.

Bonus points if you don’t use conditioner before you color either.”

icymoondropz, r/HaircareScience, Reddit

Tip #3 Do a strand test.

woman doing a hair dye strand test

This is crucial! A strand test is where you apply a small amount of dye to a section of your hair, wait the recommended time and then rinse it off.

This will give you an idea of how the dye will look on your hair so there are no nasty surprises! A patch test will also flag up any allergic reactions.

How to do a strand test step by step:

Step 1: Choose the right section of hair
The first step to doing a strand test is selecting the right portion of hair to experiment with.

Always choose a section of hair that is out of sight and easy to cover up, just in case the results do not turn out exactly as you expected.

We recommend selecting a section of hair from the back of your head, near the nape of your neck.

Step 2: Mix your product
Pour the amount of product you will use into a glass or plastic container that will not react to the product.

Mix it according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer, making sure to use a brush or tool to stir the mixture well.

Step 3: Apply and wait
Apply the product mixture to the small section of hair you have chosen, making sure to cover it entirely.

Set a timer according to the instructions on the hair dye, and wait for the recommended time before checking the results.

Step 4: Observe the results
When the time’s up, check for visible changes in the color, texture, and overall quality of your hair.

If the results are what you expected, you can go ahead and use the product on your entire head of hair!

If they’re not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board!

Tip #4 Do follow the hair dye instructions.

It sounds simple but following the instructions that come with the dye is so important to getting the best results when you’re using hair dye at home!

Especially if you’re touching up your roots. Make sure you ONLY do your roots for the first 30-40 mins (you can leave it longer if you’re covering stubborn greys).

If you do dye your hair at home a lot, it’s worth getting touch up brushes to do your roots like a pro.

The rest of your hair should be on for 10 mins max before you rinse it off. Use just warm water- no shampoo! 

Watch and learn: How to dye your hair without ruining it!

Tip #5 Section your hair.

Sectioning your hair and pinning it up will make the dyeing process so much easier and more efficient.

Start by parting your hair in the middle and then work your way down in sections. Use clips to keep each section separate.

how to section hair for dyeing infographic

Tip #6 Don’t layer the hair dye.

The worse thing you can do is ignore the instructions and lather the dye all over your hair, wait 45 mins and wash it off. 

You’ll end up with different colored roots and after a few times of doing this, you’ll find your color will start to get darker. This is called hair color banding and it’s a pain to correct.

Apply the hair dye evenly or you’ll need an expensive trip to the salon to strip all the hair color off!

Hair color banding before and after.

Tip #7 Don’t over-process your hair.

Timing is key. Pay close attention to the clock, and set a timer for the exact recommended time.

Leaving the dye on for too long can cause damage to your hair and scalp.

If your hair has been relaxed, bleached, or highlighted, you’ll need to check the side of the hair dye box for any special instructions.

You’ll see safety warnings to assess your colouring wait time and shade compatibility. For instance, if your hair has been dyed with henna, dyeing your hair is not a good idea!

“Dyes nowadays are usually non-progressive dyes meaning they stop all processing after the 30 min mark. Follow instructions of the brand of dye selected. Leaving it on longer does not mean more coverage.”

Versions Vividamnesia, Master Hair colorist

Tip #8 Rinse your hair thoroughly.

When the timer goes off, it’s time to rinse.

Use cool water, as hot water can damage your hair.

Rinse until the water runs clear to ensure all the dye is removed.

Tip #9 Do use the little conditioner!

Don’t forget the little bottle of conditioner that comes in the box!

It’s usually a rich little softener for your hair after the treatment that smooths the hair shaft and helps the colour to shine. Forget it and your hair could be rough and straw like. Ew. 

Tip #10 Don’t wash your hair for at least two days.

lady washing hair in the shower

Shampoo is marvellous at cleaning hair but also strips away some of the color in the process.

Give you hair at least two days before you wash it to let the color set in.

Tip #11 Don’t use too many styling products.

Try not to smother your hair too much in serums, oils and hairspray etc.

The build up of too many products will dull the shine and color and means you’ll be tempted to wash your hair more often.

Use a deep conditioning mask once a week to keep your hair moisturised, strong and sleek.

Parting words.

So there you have it, folks. After reading this post, you should have everything you need to dye your hair at home like a pro!

Just remember to take your time, follow the instructions, and take care of your hair afterwards. If you do have any doubts, it’s important to seek professional help. Happy dyeing!

This article was written by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!