Photo by Ari Michelson
1 When choosing your color, stay within two shades of your current hair color, lighter or darker.
2 Learn the lingo. Semi-permanent lasts 6 to 12 washes and is best for a subtle shade change. Demi-permanent is a more opaque formula—it stays in hair for 12 to 24 washes and is a good choice for going darker. Permanent color can lighten or darken hair and grows out.
3 Buy two boxes of hair color if you have thick or long hair, but open only one. If you end up not needing both, you have hair color for the next time.
4 Before starting, have everything you need ready: clips, a comb, an old dark towel and a timer. Always apply in the bathroom and wear a button-front shirt or robe so that you won’t have to lift a top over your head when it’s time to rinse.
5 To avoid staining skin, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly along hairline and ears (or use a clear solid lip balm).
By David Prince
6 If you have a sensitive scalp, color hair when it’s a little dirty (one or two days post-shampoo). The skin’s natural oils will prevent irritation.
7 Separate hair into four sections: front, back and sides. Start with the back section to avoid getting the front pieces too dark.
8 Use a lot of product to completely cover and saturate each area—this will ensure better coverage.
9 When touching up roots, apply color just on that area. There’s no need to cover the entire strand unless you’re doing a complete color change.
10 Stick with shampoos that are safe for color-treated hair. Once a week, apply an in-shower gloss treatment—like Rita Hazan True Color Ultimate Shine Gloss (ritahazan.com, $26)—to boost shine.
Click for Color!
Boxed In: The Latest and Greatest Formulas, All in Drugstores
Calling all sensitive scalps! This dye reduces the risk of allergic reaction. Bonus: the sweet floral scent. Clairol Nice’n Easy Color Care, $8
Nice N Easy
A mega-moisturizing formula with a blend of three butters: mango, shea and coconut. Revlon ColorSilk ButterCream, $6.50
New blonde shades have rosy undertones to add even more dimension. L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference Color of The Year Rose Blonde, $10
Stubborn grays—no matter how wild or wiry—are no match for this full-coverage hair color. Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Coverage Nourishing Color Creme, $9
Say goodbye to breakage, thanks to this color and deep treatment hybrid. Schwarzkopf Keratin Color Anti-Age Haircolor, $10
Quick Fix: New Touch-Up Tools
These new touch-up tools really get to the root of the matter. Each will last until your next shampoo, so pick your preferred formula and cover up.
eSalon Color Kiss Temporary Root Touch-Up, esalon.com, $15
Oribe Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray, oribe.com, $32
The precise nozzle hits the right spots. Spray strands from 8 to 10 inches away for a natural look.
Madison Reed Root Reboot, madison-reed.com, $25
A longer-lasting fix, this concealer is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Mix the liquid color with the activator, shake and swipe it on.
John Frieda Root Blur, ulta.com, $20
Customize your shade with two complementary tones.
Get expert step-by-step video tips for coloring your hair at home below.