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Expert Insider Tips on Home Hair Coloring With Photos

Updated on February 26, 2019
Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren, a Baby Boomer, has taught pre-school through college. She loves holidays, and playing in the snow.

Dye It Yourself Portrait

It takes a brave woman to reveal to the world a photo like this.  Let it be known that I am laughing at myself.
It takes a brave woman to reveal to the world a photo like this. Let it be known that I am laughing at myself. | Source

Yes - You CAN Color Your Own Hair!

Let’s face it. The difference in cost between getting your hair colored at a salon and doing it yourself at home is huge! Stylists’ charges can run from $50 (USD) to $200 or more, whereas kits purchased at the supermarket or bargain department store can be under $10. Here are insider tips to make your home hair coloring a huge success!

I have colored my own hair on and off for quite a while. I also have had professionals do it. There are a few differences, but not enough for me to decide that the home coloring is horridly inferior. Actually, it is usually just as good!

What They Don’t Tell You

Packaged hair coloring kits have tons of wonderful information.Please read it all ahead of time to understand how to plan for your coloring time.They are not withholding information from the consumer.I am just adding to their instructions.

  • Add at least 30 minutes to the time the package indicates is needed
  • Find these additional supplies and have them on hand before the big day

Home Hair Coloring Suggested Supplies

Remember a clock or other time-keeping device.
Remember a clock or other time-keeping device. | Source

Why The Extra Time

You need some extra time before and after the official time descriptions, especially if do your coloring in the family bathroom. Your package might instruct you to mix the dye and apply it, for which you may figure you need 10 minutes. Then, it directs you to leave the dye solution on your head for anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes depending on the brand, your starting color, your desired finishing color, and more. Please add the extra 30 (plus) minutes to your timetable in order to:

  • Usher family members in and out of the bathroom to complete any toileting tasks they have
  • Collect and bring all the extra supplies you need
  • After you have washed you hair according to the package directions, you will want extra time to work on styling your hair. Yes, you will want this. It is the first time that you will be presenting the “new you” look to the world, so it is nice to have it dried and styled in an extra special way, without stressful rushing

Hair Coloring Attire

Old shirt and old rag around neck.
Old shirt and old rag around neck. | Source

Extra Recommended Supplies

  • Ratty old shirt – I use an old man’s long-sleeve buttoned shirt. You do NOT want anything which must be pulled over your head!
  • Many ratty rags – These are to put around my neck and to be available for wiping dye from my face or cleaning up the counter or sink.
  • Paper towels – For cleaning up the sink or counter.
  • Petroleum jelly – The pros use this, too. Wipe a VERY thin bit along your temples and forehead close to your hair line. Also, on your ears if you are a sloppy worker. This repels the dye and prevents it from coloring your skin.
  • A clock or timer - Obvious, I hope.
  • Ratty clean towel(s) – For the hair drying after your first wash. Should there be a teeny bit of dye left in your locks, you do not want to wipe it with your lovely monogrammed bath sheets, do you?
  • Another ratty clean towel or dish towel – This is to cover your pillowcase on the first night after coloring your hair.
  • A waste basket, also called trash bin, right in the room where you are coloring. You do not want to be carrying possibly dripping, and definitely staining, wet bottles and paper towels around your home to get to a waste basket
  • Cleanser – This is to wash any drips in the sink, tub, shower, floor(?), etc right away. Think of the staining power of home hair dye as being like red wine, but magnified ten times. I do not want to frighten you out of doing home coloring, but you need to know that you must wipe and clean-up all along the way when needed.
  • Optional: ratty plastic hair clips – If you have longish hair and would find it useful to have clips to help you hold sections out of the way, find some all-plastic ones that you do not wear in public. They will become stained.

Paper Towels

Paper towels are an important supply during the coloring process.
Paper towels are an important supply during the coloring process. | Source

Old Towels


Waste Basket

Have it handy!
Have it handy! | Source


Cleanser for quick clean-up prevents bigger clean-up later.
Cleanser for quick clean-up prevents bigger clean-up later. | Source

Plastic Hair Clip

If you need to keep part of your long hair away from the "action," use old plastic clips which you do not mind will become stained.
If you need to keep part of your long hair away from the "action," use old plastic clips which you do not mind will become stained. | Source

Additional Tips

Most home hair coloring kits include a package of hair conditioner which they instruct you to use for washing out the dye. My tip is to cut or tear open the notch before you even put on your plastic gloves. I personally can never get them opened when I wait until my hands are wet and slippery with hair dye.

Save the top of the package or whatever part has the color number and color name. If you like the way the color turns out, you will want to be able to buy the same color again. Don’t rely on your memory.

Have the waste basket handy. For disposing of the actual dye bottles, follow whatever your municipal procedures are for potentially hazardous wastes.

After your head is reasonably dry, do a light scrub of the sink or tub with cleanser. Just a little wash 2-minute will be very helpful in avoiding a residual of the potions on your tub surface.

Keep all the used ratty rags and towels together. Do NOT put them in a load of laundry with clothing. Either pitch them, or pre-rinse them and wash in a load of rags.

Even though I follow all directions on the package and rinse out the dye until the water runs totally clear, I have learned the hard way that some dye rubs off on my pillowcase the first night. Therefore, I just put a ratty towel or dishtowel on top of my pillow. The second night seems to go ok.

Save information on what color you used.
Save information on what color you used. | Source

Enjoy Your New Look

With the money you save by doing home hair coloring, you may want to treat yourself and a friend to lunch out. And, you will look FABULOUS!

Protect your eyes.
Protect your eyes. | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Maren Elizabeth Morgan


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