First published , last updated . Reading time: 10 minutes.
You’re into hair coloring or hair dyeing, but have no clue how to dye hair. You’ve been thinking about it for a while, you wonder which color would suit you, you can’t decide whether or not you should go for it… We say GO FOR IT, because we’ve got your back. In this post you’ll find everything you need to know about hair coloring: from the basics to the most useful, simple & quick hacks.
How does hair dyeing work?
In leigh terms hair coloring is all about chemical reactions between hair molecules and pigment. This means that if you know how hair coloring chemicals interact, and you follow all instructions (never skip the instructions on the bottle!), you will not screw up.
However, because we’re talking about chemical reactions, it’s important to say it again: do not start coloring your hair without reading the instructions.
Basically, dyeing your hair will alter the color you have now. The most common hair dyes are a mix of peroxide (developer) and ammonia. It magic happens when these components work together and interact with hair molecules and pigment.
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How to choose hair dye?
It depends what you are looking for, and how much damage you’d like to inflict on your hair (even if it is safe damage).
If you want a very natural and subtle change:
Stick to natural hair dyes/colorants. If it is your first time dyeing, and you aren’t sure you will like the results, stick to natural colorants such as henna, as their impact on hair is less damaging (and less noticeable) than other options. Only then, once you are used to these natural dyes, you’ll be ready to try more conventional ones.
If you want something stronger that will last longer:
The range goes between temporary, semi-permanent or permanent hair colors.
A temporary hair color doesn’t last longer than a few washes, so if you aren’t sure dyeing hair is for you for you’d like something for intense than natural colorants, this is for you. If you don’t like it, it will soon be off your hair anyways.
A semi-permanent hair dye is a step forward: it lasts up to 10 washes, and it doesn’t open your hair shaft. Basically, it doesn’t really add color, rather it adds more shine (gloss) to your hair.
Then there’s permanent hair dyes. Those definitely add color to your hair, as they put your hair through a more intense process. It all happens by the opening of the hair shaft (in specific, the cuticle of the hair). Ammonia and peroxide act together, so that your current colored is removed, and another is deposited at the same time. Most hair dyes come with a conditioner, as it helps closing the cuticle and maintaining the color.
Note: conventional hair dyes, because of their ingredients, are more damaging to your hair than natural ones, so you cannot skip hair care routine. More on that further on ;)
How regularly do you want to dye your hair?
If you’re thinking about dyeing hair, you need to decide how much time you’re willing to spend on your hair. Not sure yet? Go for temporary hair colors. On the other hand, semi-permanent dyes last longer so you don’t need to touch more more than once a month, depending on how fast your hair grows and how many washes you do. Of course, permanent dyes will last even longer, but you do need to be sure you want to commit to a certain color for quite some time.
Still unsure? Why not go for some highlights or an ombre? They don’t demand a lot of re-touching, so you can opt for any of them if you’re unsure if dyeing hair is really for you. Other tip is to dye a part of your hair that is less visible, so you could even cut it if you reaaally don’t like it.
What do I need to dye my hair
To dye your hair at home you will need more than just the hair dye. Once you’re in the drugstore, get yourself:
A plastic bowl
A small vaseline bottle
A pair of gloves (sometimes they come with the hair dye too)
A hair brush
A cape to protect your clothes
Some hair pins to separate your hair if needed
How to dye hair? Complete guide
Preparing the mix
Before you start, apply vaseline along the hairline, as this will prevent you from dyeing your skin and looking slightly odd for a few days.
Then, open the hair dye box and you’ll find a bottle with the color and another with the developer. If you’re lucky the box will bring a strong conditioner that you should use after you dye your hair.
With the help of your new brush, mix the color and developer in the bowl. The quantity you need depends on the thickness and length of your hair, but it is safe to use the same quantity of both. You can use slightly more color, but not the other way around. After mixing well you’re ready to apply.
If you haven’t yet put your gloves on and start applying the mix to the hair, either with the brush or with your hands. The brush makes it easier to apply only in certain areas of the hair, whereas if you’re sure you want your whole head covered, just apply thoroughly. After, wrap your head with some cling wrap and let it sit for how long it says in the instructions, it should be something around 20 minutes.
Get yourself in the shower, rinse it well, apply shampoo and let the conditioner do its magic for 5-10 minutes. After, rinse it off again and get off the shower. Avoid using hair dryer, and use a towel to help you dry your hair. Be gentle and careful. Wrap the towel in your head and let it dry naturally.
Once you’re hair is damp dry, apply some oil to the ends, as they are generally the most damaged in the process.
Which hair dye will suit me?
Knowing which hair color suits you best is a mix of understanding which is your skin undertones and your natural hair color and tone. Think about blonde: have you noticed how not everyone looks great in the same shade? Some people look better on a platinum blonde, while the same beautiful shade would look awful on someone else.
That mostly relates to your skin undertones. Check the veins on your wrist. If they fall more to blue and purple, you might have a cool undertone. If they fall more to green, you might have a warm undertone.
Not sure yet? Go pick some piece of jewelry that is golden and a silver one. Put them next to your face. Which one suits you best? If golden, you probably have warm undertones, if silver you probably have cool undertones. This technique rarely lets down, but if you’re not sure you might just have a neutral undertone (even better, you have a wider range of colors who would look great on you!)
Why this matters: Warm skin undertones mean that the colors that suit you better are warm tones of blonde and brown, as they create more harmony.
Cool undertones look better with ash blonde/ash brown, platinum and white blonde. Basically, they balance out skin that tends to be red-ish or pink tinge.
Should I bleach my hair?
I you want a drastic change in your hair color, chances are you won’t get there even with the strongest permanent color without bleaching your hair. Of course, permanent dyes do already have a bleaching agent to remove hair color, but it might not be enough. If you want to go many shades lighter, you need to bleach your hair before dyeing it.
How to bleach hair
Now that you know how to dye hair, bleaching it isn’t that difficult. For this process you’ll need bleach powder and developer. They are available in most drugstores.
Add the power and developer together. The developer comes in different volumes, 10 being the weakest and 40 the strongest. Opt for the nr. 10 if it’s your first time, as you don’t know how your hair will react. We strongly encourage that you only try full-on bleaching once you are used to the process of dying hair. Be very cautious, bleaching can really harm your hair if not done properly.
Be careful with bleaching, it can really burn your scalp. Always be careful around bleach, it is really no joke.
Bleach bath your hair
Check how to do a bleach bath at home. A bleach bath is a gentle way of bleaching hair, by adding shampoo to the process to make it less intense for your hair. It is also safer: the mix is not very strong and you can gradually repeat the process until the desired level.
If you have very dark or black hair and you dream about being a platinum blonde, perhaps it is time to reconsider that choice and be realistic. A hairdresser would even tell you that is too risky to even try.
Try to go to the salon the first times you bleach your hair. Notice how they prepare the mix and how it should feel in your head (your scalp will tinkle for sure, but it should never feel like it’s burning). At least, do it with a friend next to you who can help you until you get the gist of it.
How to take care of dyed and/or bleached hair
Once you start regularly dyeing and/or bleaching your hair, you will notice that its texture will change. Your hair will probably become frizzy and dryer than what you were used to. The more stress your hair is under, the more you need to take care of it, if you want it look shiny and healthy. That’s nothing impossible to achieve, just follow our advice below.
Never skip conditioner! This is a golden rule – after shampoo, take a few minutes to comb your hair with your fingers and let the conditioner sink for 5 minutes (min).
If you already use conditioner and it isn0t enough for your hair, skip it all together and just apply a hair mask after shampooing. You can let it on your hair for 10 minutes or more. You’ll see how smooth your hair will feel!
Along with how to bleach and how to dye hair, you must know how to take extra care of your hair. We’re big fans of coconut oil – It helps preventing protein loss, breakage, and keeps your scalp smooth and healthy. Use it as you would use a hair mask, and you get extra results if you let it sit while you sleep. Give yourself a massage, wrap a towel around your head, and you’re ready for that beauty sleep!
Avoid things that make your hair dry. That’s mostly wax, mousse and gel, but it also includes sunlight and heat. Your hair will be and look healthier if you avoid them as much as possible. Go easy with the hair dryer too. Use the slower speed and the lower temperature possible and always point it downwards, from the top of your hair to the ends. It will spare your hair from unnecessary stress.
Never skip the instructions on the bottles of dye and bleach
Be aware that if you previously dyed your hair, it might react unpredictably to next treatments