How to Get Professional Hair Color Results at Home
With Color by Robert Craig
If you've never colored your hair at home you are in for a welcome surprise. We are about to demystify the coloring process. Today, changing your hair color is as easy as changing your makeup. Today's products are very gentle and are available in every range from temporary to permanent, subtle to bold. Whether you are covering grey, highlighting, going punk or just want to punch up boring, dull color, here are some tips to make this experience as easy and fun as possible.
How do I decide what to do?
If you have never colored your hair before, then I suggest starting out with something subtle. A few highlights, darken your natural haircolor a shade or two, or change the tone of your hair color. One thing to keep in mind is it is always easier to do more each time you color than it is to undo what you have done ie., going darker, lighter or adding more highlights. Once you have the hang of it you can experiment further.
If you are experienced in coloring your hair then adding some sparkle with a few well placed highlights would be a nice addition. If your hair is continually getting brassy, then getting a handle on this would be nice.
What colors will look best on me?
Unless you are going for the bold dramatic look, colors that compliment are the ones you should use. Looking at your eye color, your skin tone and your natural haircolor will help determine this. A personal consultant friend of mine commented that figuring out if you are warm or cool toned is easy. "Any two wins", she said. "If you have warm skin and warm hair, then warm tones will look good on you. You can also use the colors you look best in."
What kind of products should I use?
There are basically four groups of hair color to choose from - temporary, semi or demi permanent, permanent and special effects. Each has its differing benefits and limitations.
Temporary haircolor is just that. It only lasts a day. It can be messy and can run off your hair if it gets wet. It cannot lighten hair. This product would be good if you needed or wanted to color your hair darker for one day only or if you were thinking of covering your grey and wanted a preview, you could use this.
Semi or Demi permanents are excellent to darken your color or blend grey turning it into highlights. They generally last from four to six weeks and gently fade from the hair. They cannot lighten your hair. A semi permanent contains no ammonia or peroxide and works by coating the hair. This is ok for a while especially if you want a change for a few weeks but continued use will build up on the hair making it dull and possibly darker than you originally wanted. A demi permanent contains no ammonia but is mixed with a gentle amount of peroxide. Demi's will last up to six weeks and are more of a permanent hair color in nature. They are great for blending grey or adding color to lighter hair.
Permanent hair color lasts until it grows out. Some permanent hair colors can lighten your hair, cover grey completely and give you a definite change. Permanent hair color generally has to be touched up every four to six weeks. Most permanent haircolors contain ammonia and peroxide and work by lightening the hair as well as coloring it. Because these two things happen during one process they are referred to as single process hair color.
Special effect hair colors are the kits you buy to add highlights or bold streaks to your hair. They generally contain a bleach that is safe for hair. They are available in varying strengths depending on what it is you want to achieve. With some of the kits you can add highlights to natural uncolored hair only and with others you can add highlights to already colored hair.
I group double process haircolor (bleaching and toning) into this category as well. This is something that I don't recommend one attempt at home unless you are really bold and love to experiment. Bleach, safe for hair, can be purchased at the beauty supply store but there are no directions that come with it except how to mix it. If this is something you have mastered, great. You might consider using our Color by Robert Craig hair color as a toner. Due to it's no ammonia no peroxide formulation it is the perfect permanent hair color to use after prebleaching.
Be sure and read the box and enclosed instructions before buying and using any hair color product. Knowing the limits of home hair color can also prevent the dreaded brassy look. It is best to stay within three shades of your natural hair color. Trying to color medium or dark brown hair any blonde shade will ultimately end up with an orange result. Do not assume the color on the box is going to be the end result. Look at the color swatches and what the result will be on your own hair color. If you have used a color and want it lighter, using another hair color will not effect the dye. It will lighten your natural hair color a little more but the result will be unpredictable.
How do I start?
For best results, you will want to gather a few materials before you start. If you decide to continue coloring your hair, making a hair color basket will be a great convenience. You will want an old shirt to wear preferable without a collar. Two old towels that you don't care if they get stained. A box of hair clips, a minute timer. Often it will pay to invest in a box of professional vinyl gloves that can be easily purchased at the drug store. Ask your pharmacist. A box of 100 is usually around $10.00 and come in different sizes. A mirror, some cotton or an old washcloth, a hand mirror, a blow dryer, and some good music. Keeping these items together will make your coloring experience a pleasure and help avoid having your bathroom redecorated because of hair color stains.
Read and follow all the directions. The time to ask for help is before you start. All hair color companies have a toll free number that can be called for further information. If you aren't sure about something it is best to call now.
Start with a patch test. This is an important step. The patch test checks for allergic reactions that can develop at any time. Although rare, an allergic reaction is less likely to happen the first few times that you use a product. They are more likely after many years of use. Most reactions are from the dyes that are used in permanent and demi products and a few people can develop a sensitivity to ammonia that makes coloring hair with an ammoniated product uncomfortable. Hair color is the most rigorously tested cosmetic and is generally safe if used as directed.
After the patch test a strand test is the next thing to do. This will determine what the end result will be with out making a full head commitment. Simply mixing a little of the product and applying it to a small hair strand can reveal a lot. If you like the result, go for it. If you have questions, ask them now. You may decide that more or less time or a lighter or darker shade is required to get the result you want.
Before starting, put on some music. We want this to be a fun and enjoyable experience. Having a friend or family member apply hair color can make coloring your hair even more fun and certainly easier. For coloring your hair all over, the first time you will want to saturate your hair with the color product. Don the shirt and gloves and use all the product until your hair is saturated. Discard the remainder. You cannot save mixed hair color. It must be thrown away. After you have applied all the color, set the timer per the instructions. Take the hand mirror and check for hair color on your ears, neck or forehead. Use an old washcloth or cotton ball dampened with water to remove this color or it may stain. About half way through the timing, you will want to start doing strand tests. With a dampened towel, begin cleaning off a small section of your hair. You will want to clean it off from the scalp to the ends and use the blow dryer to dry the strand. If it is not what you want, work hair color back into the strand and wait another 5 minutes. You will want to repeat this process until the time is up or the color you want is achieved. Rinse the color well and shampoo following enclosed directions.
For touching up hair color, sectioning the hair is necessary. Four sections work nicely and you can clip each section until you are done applying color to it. Part your hair down the center and from ear to ear making four pie shaped areas. Clip each one in place. You will want to apply the color to the new growth only by taking small sections and laying the color on the scalp. Do not use all the color product as you will need some for your ends. Doing this on oneself is tricky but with practice you can master it. After the color is on the new growth set the timer for about 1/2 to 1/3 of what you did the first time. When this time is up you can begin to color the ends if they need to be refreshed. Set the timer for the remaining time. Rinse the color well and shampoo following enclosed directions.
For special effects you have to decide where you want to put the highlights, how thick or thin and how many. Clipping your hair up can help get highlights underneath if you are using a tool to apply the product. Remember that, you can always do more so for the first few times a subtle hand is best. Follow the directions on this page and enjoy.
What if I don't like it?
Depending on what it is that you have done, almost all hair color mishaps can be fixed. One thing to keep in mind is to ask for help as soon as you know you don't like what you did. This way it is so much easier to suggest the best method of correction. So many times in my salon I had clients who attempted so many things before they asked for help that fixing it was nearly impossible. Most hair color can even be changed at home. Many times a change is shocking and just needs some time for you to get used to it. One suggestion: if the color result is darker than you wanted, you can add a few drops of dish detergent to your shampoo before you use it and this can lift a bit of the color. Be sure and condition well because doing this can dry out your hair. Also check out the 'Simple Fixes' page on this site.
I love it, now how do I keep it this way?
Write down what you did. Keep a record of the product you used, the timing you left it on both the ends and the new growth area. Use shampoos that are safe for color treated hair. Avoid the sun and swimming in chlorinated water. If your water source has heavy minerals or a high chlorine content, a shampoo from the Robert Craig Signature Hair Care line will prevent further damage or discoloration of your new hair color. Avoid heavy protein conditioners and oil treatments after coloring your hair. These can remove hair color. The time for these treatments is a day or two before coloring your hair.
Sporting a new hair color can be a great way to lift your spirits. It is a fact that how we look can directly effect how we feel about ourselves. Color your hair and enjoy. If you have any questions Robert Craig can be contacted at email@example.com.
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