7 hacks you *need* to know if you’re colouring your hair at home

When hard times hit and we’re feeling low, there’s one sure way to perk us up: a fresh new head of hair.

It may sound silly to some, but treating our dull, drab ‘do to a spangly shade-refresh makes us feel like a whole new woman. Farewell negativity, social anxiety and other nasties that come with feeling bleurgh. Hello, glossy, freshly-coloured locks, bags of confidence and pure, positive vibes.

It’s such a great feeling, we wish the monthly upkeep was actually possible. Sadly our damn, dusty wallets won’t allow it. Not if we want salon results at least – that requires professionals, the background whirr of twenty hairdryers and a sink that looks like a cloven hoof. Right?

Wrong. Actually, you don’t even need to leave the house for salon-esque colour. Think about it – all those snazzy tools, and what do colourists actually use? Two hands, a bowl of hair dye and a few skills. Well, hands you have, hair dye you can buy, and the skills you can learn. We’ll help…

7 hacks you *need* to know if you're colouring your hair at home

Colour first, cut second

Considering two packs of hair dye to cover your Rapunzel locks, and then slicing it off into a pixi crop? Stop right there. Not only is that a massive waste of virgin hair which could be donated to Little Princess Trust, think of the pennies. Sure, that’s an extreme example, but the rule still applies to subtler snips – if you want to get the most bang for your buck, colour should be part two of your tress transformation. Layers, fringes, or even a trim are all chances to chop away your hard colour work.

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Read and (don’t) weep

Rules are there to be broken, right? Well…sometimes (we do love a rebel) but when it comes to hair-dyeing at home, freestyling is an absolute nono. Luckily, the brands behind the packet dyes take their jobs very seriously and have no doubt included a detailed pamphlet of instructions, broken down into little bite-sized steps, just for you. These are golden. Use them.

The two-shade bracket

We live for Mondays when a colleague waltzes in and debuts a completely new look. New year, new them! But when it comes to DIY, it’s important to exercise restraint. Two shades lighter or darker than your natural colour is a sure way to keep things looking legit. Oh, and take a watch, clock or timer into the bathroom. Before you start. Noone wants to run around the house trying to ‘Mississippi’ count while their hair shade slowly creeps towards a colour disaster.

Prepare to change

They aren’t joking when they say ‘permanent’. Wear disposable gloves (a crinkly plastic pair are usually included in the packet), don an old t-shirt that isn’t woven with nostalgia, and avoid that spa-worthy fluffy white towel at all costs. If you’re going to the dark side, we also recommend swiping a barrier of Vaseline around your hairline – this will protect your forehead from a temporarily tattooed fringe.

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Shower power

For the following few weeks, turn down the shower temperature to help that new shade stick. Why? Heat causes hair cuticles to open up, which increases the risk of your hair colour being released and washed down the drain. Also, try a shower filter. These nifty little nozzles are designed to remove harmful chemicals and chlorine from your water. Result? All those lovely essential oils in your hair stay put, as does the colour they hold in.

Smooth talking

At-home kits will often come with a sachet of conditioner. But once that’s finished (a.k.a. five minutes later), the hydration situation is down to you. To keep hair in a soft and silky state and stop the colour being stripped from your strands, switch out your regular conditioner for a colour-protecting hair mask. Your freshly-dyed locks will thank you for the extra boost of nourishment. Going sulphate-free will also help to keep that colour and moisture locked in.

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Skip the ends

Hair naturally lightens towards the ends – that’s the hair that’s had the most sun after all – so avoid giving those tips a double dose of dye (brunettes, we’re talking to you). When topping up colour or patching up regrowth, focus on the roots of your hair, then let the colour naturally drag down as you comb – don’t worry about the dye stretching all the way down.

Now, wash, blow-dry, and get ready to show off that beautiful new barnet. Just be sure to add a little hair flip and coin jangle when strutting past your local salon. Need some colour inspo? Have a scroll…

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