8 Common Hair Color Questions, Answered

What colors look good on you, should you DIY & much more

Should you get foil highlights or balayage
Should you get foil highlights or balayage. Digital Vision / Getty Images

If you are considering coloring your hair, you likely have a few questions. Should you do it yourself? Are you better off with highlights or all-over color (or both!)? Should you go from light to dark, dark to light or is now the time to get your Gwen-Stefani-platinum-hair on?

Here are 8 of the most common hair color questions, answered. 

Should I Do My Hair Myself?

Natural hair color can be a bit blah and could be enhanced a bit either by lightening or darkening your color a shade or two, adding face-framing highlights or covering up grays.

You can do some of these yourself, while others are better left to the pros.

The best candidates for DIY are people who aren't going for dramatic changes and just want a simple over-all single-process color. You are a good candidate if you can check these off:

  • Are you going a shade or two lighter or darker?
  • If you're covering up grays, you are less than 50% gray.
  • You want to do single-process color (meaning one color rather than highlights).
  • You have a friend or relative you can enlist to help.

If you're aiming for highlights, covering up a full head of hair or you're trying to go from dark to light or vice versa, your head is better off in a professional's competent hands. But if you're looking to stay simple, you absolutely can DIY.

While every color professional I know says NEVER DO YOUR OWN COLOR, I think it's because they see a parade of people coming in over the years who have messed up their color and need it fixed.

The fact is more and more women are doing their own hair color, either to save time or money or both. And their hair looks great and costs them a fraction of the price a salon job would.

Avoid common mistakes by first reading my article, At-Home Hair Color: 14 Biggest Mistakes Women Make and then get the full scoop on how to do it in How to Dye Your Hair.

Would I Make a Good (Insert Color Here)?

Almost anyone can go darker, blonder or red, the key is in finding the right shade to complement your skin tone. There are few rules of thumb to follow:

  • If you were blonde or red as a kid, you'd likely look good in that color as an adult.
  • Considering going from light to dark? Try washing your hair and seeing how it looks against your skin. Wet hair is always darker than dry hair.
  • Try on wigs to see if that platinum, red or blonde hair suits you.
  • Never make a drastic change on your own, enlist a professional's help.
  • Because you are using a professional, you don't have to worry about whether you're a cool or a warm or whether the color you've chosen would brighten your complexion or wash it out.

Most women want to go blonde, so I wrote an entire article about it. See How to Tell if You'd Make a Good Blonde. Also, check out Can You Get Away With Platinum Hair?

Should I Get Highlights or All-Over Color?

There's no easier way to brighten a face than adding face-framing highlights. All-over color can look gorgeous on women who want to go light or want to cover up gray. You can do a mix of both, but never try that on your own. A professional will know how to double-process your hair without damaging it.

Learn more in Should You Highlight or Get Single Process Color?

And if you are opting for highlights, consider balayage, which is my hair color vehicle of choice and looks more natural than foils on my hair. And keep in mind that highlights aren't only for blondes. See What's the Difference Between Balayage and Foils?  

How to Cover Up Roots?

Keeping your roots touched-up can be a pain if you have to go to the salon every 4-6 weeks. You can do it yourself at home if you have all-over color or color your hair out of the box. I recommend ditching the nozzle that comes with the box and use a small paintbrush instead to make sure you're really penetrating the hair with color. You can also use a mascara wand to do this.

Get step-by-step instructions in How To Re-Touch Roots 

Is It Safe to Color Hair When Pregnant?

When I was pregnant with my son, I chose to get my hair highlighted in the first trimester.

My research showed highlights were less harmful than all-over color because the color doesn't touch your scalp as much. To ensure my colorist, Mira at Eva Scrivo Salon, kept my safety and the safety of my baby in mind, I told her I was pregnant -- long before I announced it publicly. She joked that she was usually the first one to know among her client's family and friends and she made sure to not paint the color directly to my scalp.

Your best bet is to use ammonia-free hair color and opt for highlights over all-over hair color.

Should I Stay Brunette or Try Something New?

Brunette hair is very popular now thanks to the Duchess of Cambridge. But it looks best when it's shiny, healthy and a color that brightens the complexion. You can do all sorts of things to kick up your color a notch. Add highlights and lowlights, go a couple shades darker or lighter or even add a wash of auburn.

Get inspired and learn how in my gallery of the 20 Most Gorgeous Hair-Color Ideas for Brunettes.

Help! I'm Getting Grays

Gray hair can be stubborn to color because of its coarse texture. Many women hide their gray hair with blonde color. If you want to stick with your natural color and your hair is less than one-thirds gray, opt for a semi-permanent color that's a shade lighter than your natural color (or matches your color). The gray will blend right in.

See How to Color Gray Hair and Hair Coloring Tips for Gray Hair.

I Colored My Hair And It Looks HORRIBLE!

This can happen if you try to go more than two shades lighter or darker than your natural color. If this does happen, a professional can fix it but it could take some time or a couple visits. Don't try to do it yourself. Fixing a bad dye job is a scientific venture and the professionals know exactly what they're doing. You likely do not.

Get the full scoop in Help! I Colored My Hair at Home & I Hate It. Is it Permanent?

Liked this? There's much more on hair color:

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  • Hair Color: How to Protect Your Red Hair
  • Makeup Tips by Hair Color