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Things No One Tells You Before You Dye Your Own Hair

I went in blind, and I've regretted it ever since.

Everyone has wanted to dye their own hair at least once. And it's a completely reasonable desire; hair salons are expensive and time consuming and it's a pain to go back every other month. Self-dyeing can be a great option: if it's done right. Here's a list of things that I wish I knew before I dyed my hair myself for the first time:

1. DO NOT BLEACH YOUR OWN HAIR.

It's tempting. Boxes of dye that you can buy at any Walmart or drug store come with bottles of color lifter in them. DON'T TOUCH IT! The list of what could go wrong is endless: you could chemically burn your scalp, not bleach enough, you can bleach too much, if you don't have toner, your hair can end up brassy before you even color it. Not to mention that you'll probably fry it and it will feel like a pile of straw.

2. Wash your hair and let it completely dry.

This would seem like it's fairly straight forward; it's written right on the directions in the box. But I and several of my friends have thoughts "Well, I washed my hair a day ago, so it should be fine." It won't be. Even if it doesn't look or feel too oily, oil can cause the dye to take badly into your hair and leave patches where it was more oily than others. I would suggest that right before you dye, wash and completely dry your hair (water isn't a good thing either).

3. Dye will get everywhere.

It's inevitable, especially if you're doing it alone. The most successful layout that I have devised thus far (and works pretty dang well if you ask me) is to tape two large garbage bags together and then onto the floor so that they don't move. I also roll any rugs, etc. out of a 10 foot radius (You wouldn't think dye could end up 10 feet away, and yet it always does). In addition to this, I also have found that it helps to have another person with you. Simply having them squeeze the dye itself onto your hair significantly reduces the amount of rogue droplets.

4. It's not going to be perfect the first time.

No matter how hard you try, you're not going to get every single piece of hair the first time around. You're going to have parts that are more dyed than others and the dye might fade in and out between your roots and your ends. It's ok, and it's not the end of the world. Wait a week and dye it again with the same color. But I do have some tips on how to get as even of coverage as possible: Separate the top half of your hair from the bottom half and top knot it. Lay on your back and spread your hair out onto the garbage bags and put the dye in that way. Start from the roots and work down.

5. Use Vaseline.

Unless you're allergic, of course. But putting Vaseline on most of your hair line, forehead, ears, neck ,and maybe even shoulders (depending on how much hair you have) reduces how much skin staining you'll have by the end.

6. Wrap your head.

This is more of a lifehack than anything, but I've found that if you wrap your head in a plastic bag or a garbage bag while it sits, there's not only less of a chance of you getting dye everywhere else, but you also avoid dyeing your neck and shoulders more than you may already have.

7. Don't let the dye sit for too long.

Don't leave the dye on for longer than the instructions say to. But also don't rinse it out sooner than the instructions say to. The time limit is there for a reason and you won't have the color you want if you don't follow them.

8. Use conditioner.

Unless you want your hair to look and feel like the aforementioned pile of straw, then use the packet of conditioner that comes with most box dyes. It's color safe and in most instances helps to lock in the color.

9. Don't wash your hair.

Yes, your hair set with the dye in it, but if you wash your hair again the day after you dye it, you'll lose a lot of pigment. Your hair won't look it's absolute best, but I've found that waiting about two days before washing again leads to the best results.


Dyeing your hair isn't hard, or even scary. As long as you take the time to do it right, you'll look great!

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