Your hair stylist will most likely try to discourage you from coloring your hair at home, but surprisingly, as long as you have some solid application skills and the right color, you can achieve perfect hair color results for around $10.00.
Before coloring at home, the cardinal rule that should never be broken is to never go more than two shades darker or lighter than your natural color. Home hair coloring should only be done if you would like to cover up gray or very subtly change your hair color.
Another rule to follow? Do not attempt an at-home color if your hair is damaged or extremely dry. If you have what I call "special-needs" hair, leave it to the professionals. You'll thank me later, believe me.
I very rarely perform an all-over color on my hair, simply because I like my natural hair color. I like to live on the wild side though, so about once a year I get some very dramatic red chunky highlights done. They last for about four months, and then they're gone, so if you don't happen to see me in that four month time span, you missed it and you'll have to wait 'til next year.
But whenever I decide to do an all-over color it's usually because the summer months sometimes lighten my usually dark brown hair. And then I go with a color just a shade darker than my normal color.
For that purpose, TotalBeauty.com gives Loreal Paris Feria Hair Color an 8.1 reader's pick rating. A couple of products for those in the beginner level at-home coloring class are Clairol Natural Instincts and Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Cream Permanent Haircolor. They are both extremely easy to apply evenly and are great for someone like me who refuses to engage in hair maintenance (believe me, I am high maintenance enough). I refuse to deal with "roots," so it is absolutely necessary that I use a hair color that can deliver a very gradual fade. But keep in mind, the Clairol color is pretty much for women wanting to go darker and not lighter.
To find the entire readers pick list at TotalBeauty.com, check it out here.
Here are a few more tips for all you budding at-home hair colorists.
Single Process Color is the only permanent color that should be attempted by an amateur. Single process means that the color is lifted and deposited all in one step. Double process involves bleaching and toning to achieve the desired color.
Practice parting off thin parts of hair 1/4 to 1/2 inch in width and apply conditioner with an applicator bottle a few days ahead of time to practice using the bottle. I think correct bottle handling is key to getting even results. Use a clarifying treatment to remove buildup before coloring.
Ends are always more porous on long hair, so apply color to the mid-lengths from roughly an inch from the scalp and then the ends. The scalp will process faster due to your body heat, so make sure to follow this application procedure.
Do not re-color already colored hair and keep tabs on the time.
And lastly, do not use heavy conditioners and oil treatments after coloring. They'll lift the color right out.