The biggest DIY dyeing mistake is thinking you can go from, say, black to platinum hair at home. Extreme colour changes can require multiple processes, which are best left to a salon colourist who knows how to assess tones and minimise damage. It’s worth considering an Olaplex treatment when you’re doing chemical processes, as it strengthens the bonds in hair strands so that hair can take colour changes without further damage. The treatment is available at Carlton Hair and other leading salons. The shade gauge: ‘Stay within two shades, lighter or darker, of current colour,’ says Kari Hill, L’Oréal Paris celebrity hair colourist. How to judge: In stores, boxed dye is usually displayed in colour order on the shelf. Hold a section of hair up to the box to find a close match, then choose from the next two shades on either side.
BEST FOR BLACK
The key to headturning inky colour that’s lush, like Kerry Washington’s, not flat: super shine. Get glossy by choosing a boxed formula that contains natural oils. TRY: Dark and Lovely Color Intensity AntiDryness Permanent Colour with Olive Oil (R29,95) in Chocolate Brown
BEST FOR BRUNETTE
For results that are anything but mousy (and not stark against skin), look for a shade with rich mahogany hints, like Eva Mendes’s. The trick: mix two boxed hues in sequenti al colour order to add multitonal depth. TRY: Garnier Nutrisse Crème Permanent Nourishing Hair Colour (R104,95) in Dark Golden Brown
BEST FOR RED
The right-now version is ‘softer, with subtle blonde dimension,’ not a harder-to-pulloff orange-red or eggplant hue, says Tracey Cunningham, a celebrity colourist who works with Emma Stone. TRY: L’Oréal Paris Excellence Creme Triple Care Colour (R159,95) in Intense Red
BEST FOR BLONDE
This season’s hot blonde is less platinum, more golden and beachy, Hill explains, with face-flattering warm undertones, as seen on Amy Schumer. And it’s also easier to do yourself. But remember: extremely light shades are best left to a pro. TRY: Revlon Luxurious ColorSilk Buttercream (R99,95) in Medium Neutral Blonde
Here’s a great trick: strip down when colouring to avoid staining clothes. Not in the, um, nude? Put on an old button-front shirt or gown – that way, you won’t have to lift a top up over your head when it’s time to rinse. Extra mess-stopping tip: lay down rubbish bags you can toss instead of covering surfaces (hand basin, floor) with towels or sheets, which can soak through and need washing.
…BUT DON’T STREAK
There’s nothing worse than ending up with stripes of colour on your forehead. Rather than using a gloopy salve to protect skin from dye, glide a clear solid lip balm along your hairline, Hill says. ‘Its small size makes for concise application.’
BUY TWO BOXES!
The last thing you want is to run out of dye halfway through the process, says Karina Löffler, product manager on Garnier Hair Colour. If your hair is shoulder-length or longer, you may need two boxes to cover your whole head, depending on hair thickness. End up with an extra box? Save it for next time!
DO NOT SKIP THE STRAND & ALLERGY TEST
Resist the temptation to jump right in when using a product for the first time. ‘Do a patch test to ensure you aren’t allergic to any of the active ingredients,’ says Garnier’s Löffler. ‘Using a cotton bud, apply a small amount of colour crème to the skin behind your ear and allow to dry. Do not rinse for 48 hours. If any redness or itchiness occurs, do not proceed to colour.’ To check you’ll end up with the right colour, test it on a few trimmed hairs first and look at the result before you commit
T H I N K L I K E A SURGEON
Pretend you’re in the operating theatre and lay out all of your tools. You won’t have to stop and scramble mid-process, which could lead to accidents (as in leaving the dye on too long!). Read through the box’s instructions beforehand too, ‘to get your bearings’, Hill suggests.
STOP SQUEEZING FROM THE BOTTLE
Squirting the dye out and smoothing it all over your hair may be easy (and fun!), but this method can be messy and imprecise. Instead, play salon colourist: mix colour in a bowl and paint on with a colour brush (available at beautysupply stores) for the most even, professional finish.
START FROM THE TOP
Since roots need the most colour (and processing time), apply dye there first, then comb through the rest of the hair to distribute it – you’ll avoid the dreaded two-tone effect. And work in four to six sections, like pros do in the salon, to ensure full coverage.
LO O K I N TO T WO MIRRORS
Colouring the back of your head can be tricky. As you apply dye in front of your bathroom mirror, hold up a hand-held one to ensure you don’t miss spots, Hill recommends.
HAVE WET WIPES ON HAND
Use them to sop up any dye splatters as they happen. If you wait until you’re done to clean them up, they may have already set.
PUT A (SHOWER) CAP ON IT
Once all the colour is on – but before you wander around – cover hair with a disposable shower cap to keep dye from dripping and staining. Then you can feel free to prep dinner or watch your favourite series.
GET EXTRA GLOVES
You slipped on the box’s plastic gloves to protect your hands while putting on the dye, but you need to wear them while washing it off too. Have a fresh pair ready in case you can’t reuse the originals.
SKIP THE SUDS…
It makes sense. Washing hair washes out colour too. One way the US GH Beauty Lab tests colour fading is by repeating washing cycles, because just plain water (not to mention shampoo’s surfactants) can leach dye molecules from strands, the Lab explains. ‘Wash coloured hair every other day at most,’ Hill says.
H I G H LI G H T W IT H A TOOTHBRUSH
Here’s a smart trick for subtle results: use a dye kit two shades lighter than your colour and paint on highlights with a clean toothbrush or mascara wand. Place them sparingly where the sun would hit – around the hairline and stemming from your parting, Hill suggests.
GLOSS YOUR HAIR
Like lip glosses for strands, hair glosses leave a hue-boosting hint of colour and shine. TRY: Goldwell Kerasilk Rich Keratin Care Silk Fluid (R280) or Pantene Instant Protection & Shine Spray for Coloured Hair (R66,95)
AND SWITCH PRODUCTS
Use a colour-depositing shampoo, conditioner or hair-gloss treatment once a week between dye jobs to revitalise hair colour. GH