Coloring Your Own Hair? 14 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here is an example of single process hair color
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While box color used to a beauty don't, modern dyes are much more sophisticated and can give beautiful results. Follow these tips to avoid common dye mistakes:

Do Not Go More Than Two Shades Away From Your Color

When you go to a salon for a drastic change -- like going from black to red or brown to blonde, you typically need a couple visits to get the color right. Sometimes your colorist first has to strip your hair before another visit where she'll add the new color in.

Drastic hair color changes should always be left to the pros or you'll be left with brassy hair, orange hair or hair that's just disappointing.

If you do want to dye your hair yourself, never go more than two shades lighter or darker than your natural hair color. For example, if you have light brown hair, a medium or dark brown shade will look nice, but going black might be too stark.

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Do Not Look Just at The Box

Pictures on hair color boxes can be deceiving. Go by the color swatches and the descriptions instead. Most boxes will call out the color (blonde, brown, black and red) and the shade of that color (light, medium and dark). There might also be mention of the tone (golden or ashy).

Don't Do it Alone

Try as you might, it's virtually impossible for you to see the back of your head. Instead, ask a friend or loved one to help you to make sure you don't miss any spots.

Don't Leave it On Too Long

Start the timer as soon as you begin dyeing your hair, rather than waiting until you're done.

Do Not Use the Sink

Kitchen and bathroom sinks don't have enough water pressure to rinse out the hair chemicals completely, which can damage hair. Instead, step into the shower and rinse your hair thoroughly.

Do Not Choose Permanent Color the First Time

Semi-permanent hair color gradually washes out over a period of eight to 10 shampoos, but permanent hair color sticks around until it washes out or you get a colorist to fix it.

If you are going the DIY route, Women's Hairstyles Expert Kendra Aarhus recommends choosing a temporary, semi-permanent, or demi-permanent color.

"It's like the difference between using a sharpie or a pencil on white wall. Sure, you can get the sharpie off, eventually, but the process is much harder than trying to get pencil off," she says in her article, When to Color Your Hair at Home.

Do Not Skip the Instructions

Box color has been around forever, so they've gotten the directions down. If they didn't, women wouldn't buy again. Just because you've dyed your hair before at home with one brand doesn't mean another brand of hair color stays on the same amount of time.

Always read the directions before proceeding.

Do Not Color Damaged Hair

Super dry or damaged hair is very porous. You run the risk of staining your hair darker than expected if you color hair that is super dry, damaged or has already been chemically processed (think straightening treatments such as the Brazilian or the Japanese or even hair that's already been colored).

You may end up with dark ends and beautiful color only at your crown. If you have processed your hair or have dry hair, seek out the help of a professional for your new color.

Do Not Pick a Color That Competes With Your Skin

Most of us would like to think we are both warm and cool. But when it comes to hair color, it's important to know which one you really are (and it has nothing to do with your fantastic personality).

There are basically two color tones to box color: warm and cool.

Women who have red in their skin and burn easily should stick to cool shades described on the box as "ash," "beige" or "cool brown." Warmer colors will only bring out the redness in your skin.

Women who tan easily and who have yellow skin undertonesĀ (most Latinas and African Americans fall into this category) are better off with warm colors described as "warm," "honey," "caramel," "bronze" or "golden." Avoid jet black hair, which will wash you out.

Some women fall somewhere in the middle and can look good in a wide range of warm and cool shades.

Check out Aarhus's article on the language of hair color here before you head to the drugstore

Do Not Be Unrealistic

If you look closely at the hair of a child or a woman whose hair you absolutely love, you'll notice there are many shades of color. All-over color from a box is basically a wash of one color. If one-dimensional hair is not what you're after, you might be better off getting highlights at a salon.

For more on hair color, don't miss:

  • The Year's Hottest Hair Color Trends
  • Should You Color Your Own Hair or Go to a Pro?
  • Help! I Colored My Hair at Home & It's Wrong. Is it Permanent?
  • What's the Difference Between Semi-permanent and Permanent Hair Color?