Prepping Your Hair to be Dyed in a Salon

Bottles of hair dye in a salon

 FlamingoImages/Getty Images

The day has finally come, you've decided to bite the bullet and book that hair color appointment with your favorite stylist. You're so hyped about your new color, but you're going to have to wait a few weeks to get it. What's left to do but count down the days? To pass the time quicker, you can prep your hair: if you want your hair color to take better, last longer, and have more shine, there are a few things you can do before your appointment to make sure that happens.

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Get Rid of Build Up and Clarify Your Hair

About a week before your hair color appointment, take some time to put a clarifying treatment on your hair. I like to use a mixture of shampoo and baking soda, but you can use your favorite clarifying shampoo (we like Bumble and Bumble's Sunday Shampoo, $26,) or in a pinch you can use beer or apple cider vinegar. After your clarifying treatment, condition your hair like you would after any other shampoo.

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Got Damage? Just Add Protein and a Haircut

If your hair is damaged, a regular protein treatment for a few weeks—we cannot sing the praises of Briogeo's Don't Despair Repair Deep Conditioning Mask, $36, enough—prior to your hair appointment can help replace the strength in your hair. Any damaged hair should also be trimmed before your color appointment to get rid of the split ends. Seriously damaged hair should never be over-processed, so be sure to discuss your hair's condition with your stylist before you color your hair. If you think it's fried, don't go in and get it bleached. And if a stylist is willing to bleach your fried hair, go see another stylist.

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Deep Condition Your Hair

A few days before your appointment, a deep conditioning treatment (sometimes, not always, different from a protein treatment) is essential for restoring moisture and balancing the pH of your hair. Making sure your ends are moisturized will help to make sure that your hair takes the color evenly. Hair dye will be drying to your potentially already dry hair, and a good deep conditioning treatment can mean the difference between dull mousey looking color, and beautiful shiny color results. For this purpose, we particularly like Joico's Defy Damage Protective Masque, ($22.)

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The Last Shampoo

Although it may be tempting, don't shampoo and style your hair the day of your color appointment. Try washing it one to two days before, but not in the 24 hours leading up. Freshly washed hair isn't the best palette for hair color, and you want to mitigate any drying/damage that will be done to your hair by processing it. A fresh wash can also dry out and rough up the surface of your scalp, increasing the chances of the color causing irritation. However, super dirty hair can end up being ​too greasy and oily—don't show up totally gross. 

While it's not completely necessary, showing up to your color appointment with your hair styled the way you wear it most often will help your colorist understand how you typically like to wear your hair, allowing her to place your color and highlights in a way that will best compliment your personal style.

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Bring Photos

While you can't always get the exact hair as the model in a photo you bring in, saving a few ideas of what you like to your phone can help your colorist understand your personal preferences, and prevent you from ending up with unwanted tones in your final color. Even if you're not sure of the specific color you're going for, a picture is worth a thousand words regarding your likes and dislikes. It's important to remember that people all define "red", "warm", and "neutral" differently, so being specific with photos can make sure everyone's speaking the same color language.

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Honesty is the Best Policy

In order to get the color you want, you're going to have to be totally  honest with your colorist. This means honest about everything going on with your hair: past coloring and highlights done on your hair, at home color kits, perms, smoothing treatments, straightening treatments, medications you may be taking, recent surgeries you've had, if you're pregnant, and even simple things like lightening your hair with lemon juice. They're not going to judge you, but the color formula, type of color used, your final result depend heavily on total disclosure.

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Show Up

Last, but not least, show up with a sense of adventure. Give your stylist enough creative freedom to do what they think is best for you and your hair, but also give them enough information to get your color right in the first place. Remember, at the end of the day, it's hair color—it can always be fixed, toned, or otherwise altered if it doesn't turn out how you envisioned.