Coloring your hair at home can be scary there’s always the potential to wind up with a major color flub that leaves you wishing you’d just visited the salon. But if you keep these tips in mind, you can easily get your perfect hue at home.

When selecting your dye, you can choose from permanent or demi-permanent dye, which washes out over 28 shampoos. This is a good option if you aren’t sure if you’ll want to stick to your new color.

For best results, stick to a dye within two shades of your natural color; drastic changes, like red hues, are best left to the pros. If you’re torn between two shades, always choose the lighter. DIY dye kits tend to turn out darker than the picture on the package, and if your end color isn’t dark enough, you can always dye it a shade darker after a few days.

If the dye turns too dark, however, your only option for going lighter will be to use a hair color remover and then a lighter dye. Hair color remover is super-damaging to your hair, so it’s best to be safe and go a little too light, rather than to use this option!

Keep in mind that shades marked ‘warm’ enhance the red/gold tones in your hair, while shades marked ‘ash’ or ‘cool’ tone them down. ‘Natural’ shades are neutral. Choose accordingly based on your natural color to avoid going too red or too ashy.

Finally, before you color, snip off a small lock of hair where it won’t be noticeable and tape it to an index card. Apply the color, following the directions in the dye package, rinse, and dry with a blowdryer. This will give you a preview of your color results, and let you decide whether to leave the dye on for more or less time than what is recommended. It’ll also let you know if the dye will do something odd, like turn red!

See, that was easy. Now you’re ready to color with confidence!

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