Plenty of beauty products will freshen up your look, but for busy gals, none seems quite as perfect as hair color. Unlike wrinkle creams (which can take weeks to show results) or lipstick (which wears off faster than you can reapply), dying your hair delivers shiny, more vibrant color almost instantly — and you get to enjoy the results for weeks without any upkeep. The best part: You can do it at home.
You may think hair dying is too scary to undertake yourself, but once you learn a few tricks about choosing and applying hair color, DIY dying is a snap, says Kathleen Hui, a senior colorist at AKS Salon in New York City. Even a subtle update is all it takes to breathe new life and warmth into your look. Try these strategies for the ultimate no-fuss beauty boost:
1. Choose a demi-permanent formula.
Of all your hair-dye choices — permanent, demi-permanent or temporary — demi-permanent requires the least maintenance and looks the most natural. The color lasts about four to six weeks and gradually rinses out as you shampoo. That means you don’t see noticeably lighter or darker roots as your hair grows.
2. Stay within two shades of your natural color.
Depending on your hair color, the end result can look different from the box, Hui says. If you stay within one or two shades, either lighter or darker, you’ll get more predictable results and a color that looks natural on you. If you have light-brown or hazel eyes, you can look at the flecks of color in your iris: Go with a color (still within two shades) that picks up the bronze, gold or caramel hues in your eyes, and your peepers will look brighter too.
3. Color clean hair only.
Wash your hair the day or morning before you dye it. Otherwise, oil, styling products and other buildup can block the pigment from absorbing into strands, says Hui.
4. Apply for best results.
After mixing up the dye, separate hair into six or eight sections. While wearing rubber gloves, work through each section. Hair tends to be naturally lighter in the front and on top, where the sun hits it, so if you’re going lighter than your natural shade, apply to those sections first. If you’ve chosen a darker color, start with the back and bottom pieces.
5. Let the color sit for 10 minutes.
Even if the directions on the box say to leave the dye in for longer, Hui suggests washing it out after 10 minutes. “You can always go back and add more,” she says.
6. Lather and rinse.
To cover any missed strands, get in the shower and work the dye into a lather, massaging it into your hair. Then rinse until the water runs clear. Follow this with a deep conditioning treatment.
7. Maintain your shade.
Daily shampooing strips away color quickly, so wash no more than every other day. You’ll still need to repeat the process in four to eight weeks, when your color has faded or lost its luster. But it’s a small, inexpensive and easy price to pay for weeks of beautiful, shiny, healthy-looking hair.