How to Colour Hair at Home: A Quick Prep Guide

Put a little prep in your step with these easy but key tips for how to colour hair in the comfort of your own bathroom.

Seriously, learning how to colour hair at home is so easy if you’ve taken the necessary precautions to prep your workspace, your mane and your skin. These tips for how to dye your hair will make your at-home colour process a cinch—and you won’t make too much of a mess, either!

Step 1: Choose your hair colour product and shade.

Let’s start at the very beginning: how to choose hair colour. For the most natural look, stick to no more than two shades lighter or darker than your natural shade. If your skin has warm undertones, choose a cool hair colour (ash, cool). If your skin has cool undertones, go for a shade with warm highlights (golden, warm).

L’Oréal Paris has a few different shade ranges.

If you have long hair, make sure you have two boxes of dye on hand just in case you need extra.

Step 2: Stock up on hair colour supplies.

The last thing you need when you’re up to your wrists in hair dye is having to run around searching for a comb or a towel. Preparation is key! Have all necessary supplies on hand—laid out on a counter, the floor or wherever works best with the layout of your bathroom—before you start mixing your colour.

You’ll need:

  • One or two boxes of hair dye
  • Petroleum jelly (You’ll learn why in step 3!)
  • Comb (for sectioning your hair so you can cover every inch of your roots)
  • Damp, dark hand towel (or an old towel you can ruin if you’re using bleaching hair products)
  • Dark towels (Again, choose towels you don’t care about if you’ll be using bleach.)
  • Timer (Set your phone, watch or microwave timer. Whichever one you choose, make sure it’s easily visible so you can keep an eye on the time while your dye sets.)
  • Optional: Mixing bowl and dye brush (If you’re wondering how to colour hair professionally—or at a professional level—a bowl and dye brush will help you apply colour evenly and neatly without excess splatter.)

Step 3: Prep your hair for hair colour

Clean hair that’s free of product buildup (such as hairspray, mousse or dry shampoo) is the best canvas for hair dye. That said, it’s good to have a bit of natural oil on your scalp as protection—especially if you have sensitive skin that’s easily irritated. So don’t wash and dry your hair immediately before colouring it. Instead, go a day or two without shampooing or using hair styling products. Then, before dyeing, brush your hair so it’s easy to section. That’s how to colour hair at home for the best results.

Step 4: Protect your skin from hair colour

While staining your skin with hair dye isn’t the end of the world since it will wash off in a couple of days, it’s not ideal if you have to be somewhere, like work, a date or even just grocery shopping. You can avoid most stains by rubbing petroleum jelly on the skin around your hairline—specifically your forehead, around your ears and along the back of your neck. Just be careful not to smear the jelly in your hair because it will prevent the dye from absorbing into your strands. If you drip on your skin while applying full colour or hair highlights at home, wipe off the drip as soon as possible with a damp hand towel.

Step 5: Be ready to clean up afterwards.

To make the cleanup process easier, remove any towels, bath mats, robes or other soft items that could easily become stained while you’re dyeing your hair. Then each time you take a break during the hair colouring process (after you colour your roots and need it to cure, after you’ve pulled colour through to your ends and need it to cure, after you’ve rinsed out the dye and conditioned your hair), take a look at all surfaces in your bathroom, including the walls, floor, doors and windows. It’s easy to accidentally splatter hair dye, and you want to catch it before it has a chance to stain or bleach paint or tiles.

These quick prep tips for how to dye your own hair will help you achieve a flawless, vibrant hair colour minus the mess.

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