Are you ready for a DIY hair color change? Great! Now that you’ve selected your dye, it’s time for a few helpful hints the ones they won’t tell you on the dye package. Use these, and say goodbye to tiger stripes, dry ends, and dye stains!

During the week before you dye, deep condition 2-3 times to make sure your hair is super-moisturized. And don’t wash for 24 hours prior to dying your natural oils will help protect your scalp.

Before you begin, perhaps while you’re doing a strand test to preview your color results, gather everything you need at the sink: two old towels, a wide-toothed comb, sectioning clips, a timer, all the ingredients from the kit, and a magazine. (To read while the dye sets, of course!)

Comb out your hair and clip up into four sections, two in the front and two in the back. Wrap one of the towels around your shoulders to catch the drips, and stand on the other towel (some kits can be super drippy). Smear a little petroleum jelly or hair conditioner around your hairline to prevent the dye from staining your skin.

Start your timer, following the package directions. Working from front to back, apply the dye to each section, starting up top and working down to the ends. (The ends tend to be drier and will soak up the dye faster.) If you’re really concerned about stripes, enlist a friend to do the back, or try one of the new mousse foaming kits that offer spot-free coverage.

Once the time is up and you’ve rinsed and conditioned your hair, avoid washing it for a few days, since your hair will be porous and the color more prone to leaching out. After that, wash no more than 2-3 times per week, and always use a color-safe shampoo and conditioner. Continue deep conditioning, too, since dry hair fades faster.

In the sun, use a UV spray or wear a hat to protect your color from fading. Refresh your color after two or three weeks with a shine glaze kit, to boost vibrancy between colorings.

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