Many people, myself included, see nothing more thrilling than an evening of sitting on the side of the bath and staring at your own reflection with your hair piled on top of your head, coated in dye. How will it turn out this time? Will jaws drop in awe or sympathy as I walk past tomorrow? This is semi-permanent, isn’t it? Millions of questions race through your head as the dye takes hold of your locks, but one goal remains the shining beacon of light among the others: getting the perfect Instagram selfie afterwards.
Why dye your own hair?
Choosing to opt for an at-home hair dye experience isn’t for everybody, but can be a fun and time-saving activity if you do. Having your hair professionally dyed can be extremely expensive, along with taking several hours and usually requiring you to book a day off work. Temporary dyes allow you to express yourself and your personality through your tresses, giving you total control over the finished outcome.
Brands like Bleach London, Fudge and evo Fabuloso (to name just a few) can be applied to wet or dry hair and take hold in a matter of minutes (depending on how deep you want the colour to go) and come out after just a couple of washes. If you are prone to changing your mind a lot, a cheerful at-home bottle dye could be the answer, leaving you with very little time to get bored of your new colour. Semi-permanent dyes and coloured shampoos or conditioners are a lot better for the health of your hair in the long run, with bleach and harsh permanent dyes being very drying and potentially damaging.
How do I know which dye is right for my hair?
At-home dyes take to hair that has already been bleached a lot better than hair that hasn’t, allowing it to achieve a more vibrant payoff and last for longer. If you are craving some pastel excitement, lighter colours like baby-pink, lilac, silver and lavender, then already having very light hair is crucial, as these colours will not show up on darker hair.
If your hair is naturally dark, opting for something deep and dramatic like a purple or red will leave your locks with a glossy, subtle tint, depending on how long you choose to leave the dye on for. Brands like Lime Crime, L’Oréal and Wella are renowned for their huge array of darker, smouldering colours, making them ideal for people with deeper hair tones.
Hair that is already slightly frazzled by heat and colouring wouldn’t thank you for using a permanent dye, so one like I Heart Revolution Rainbow Shots (a shampoo and conditioner formula with a hint of striking colour) would be more suitable. Applying more stress to hair that is already in need of some TLC is probably a bad move, so try waiting until your hair is a little happier before experimenting.
What does the at-home process actually involve?
Emotional preparation for disappointment, as a lot of times, the dye will not take to your hair the way it has done on the little photo on the bottle. If you go for a very pale shade, it is more than likely going to end up looking very subtle (unless, like I said before, your hair has already been bleached like there’s no tomorrow).
If you are not ready to commit fully to an all-over colour change, you could dip your toes into the waters of dip-dye. My sister, who has hair that is almost black, bleached the ends of her locks and applied a deep Bleach London purple, resulting in a shockingly cool splash of colour. Despite not being a full-head commitment, still think of this method as a long-term relationship. You need to see longevity. The colour will take a long time to fade thanks to the bleach, and may not even return to normal if a darker box dye is applied on top. Like my sister found out, the colour applied to the bleach will also change as you wash it, possibly even shifting to a totally different hue. Her ends eventually turned green, which I loved, but sadly she did not.
Although at-home dyeing can be done alone, it is usually useful to have an extra pair of hands to help wash the formula out for you, along with offering moral support. You also need to be equipped for some stains. Whether they are on your shower, bath, towel, floor or top, they will be there. Make sure you scrub them straight away to avoid your mum or flatmate holding a grudge for the rest of eternity.
The final rule is that washing your hair daily will have to become a thing of the past, along with washing with very hot water. Cold water helps to close the cuticles of your strands, avoiding hair becoming overly frazzled and lack-lustre. Letting your locks dry naturally is always a safer option unless, like me, this causes your hair to turn into genuine fluff. If so, a quick blast with a Babyliss hairdryer on a low heat should allow your colour to stay bold and radiant.
What if I just want my roots done?
Thankfully, there are now so many hair dye alternatives to going to a professional to have your roots touched up. Sprays and mascara-like wands make covering up grey, dark or blonde roots quick and easy, allowing you to put off the professional touch-up for as long as possible.
If you are very lazy, like me, the root touch-up alternatives are perfect for popping into your bag if you are prone to being on the go, meaning nobody will ever know your secret. Definitely safer to do in front of a mirror and always make sure you have a towel round your shoulders, if you ever want to see that T-shirt clean again.