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How to Dye Your Hair the Right Way

Updated on November 4, 2011

Pick the wrong color hair dye and you might end up looking like some Disney superhero. Unless you want to pretend that Halloween came early this year, you need to find the right way to pick a hair color and apply the color. Hair dye consists of the same basic ingredients from manufacturer to manufacturer, meaning that cheaper hair dyes often look as good as the more expensive versions.

The main differences sit in the consistency of the dye and how long it lasts. Semi-permanent hair dye only lasts for up to six washings. You might thing that permanent hair dye is a permanent color, but that is not true. Permanent hair dye can last for several months, but lasts less if you wash your hair frequently. As the roots of your natural hair grows out, the new color starts fading into the background.

Picking a Color

Experts recommend that you pick a color similar to your natural hair color. Going from a dark shade to a lighter shade is difficult and often involves a chemical stripper that removes your natural color. Take a friend to the store and compare your natural color to the color on the box, finding one within a few shades of your natural color. Keep in mind that if you have darker hair, the end result often looks different than it does on the box.

When picking a hair dye color, you must choose between warmer and cooler shades. Warmer colors contain golden undertones that work best on those with warmer or darker skin tones. Cooler colors have a slight gray or blue undertone that works better on paler skin tones. You can also find neutral hair dye colors that contain elements of both types.

Foam vs. Liquid

Manufacturers are now producing foam-based hair dyes, similar to the ones used in some professional salons. The foam products have a number of advantages over the liquid products. The foam has a rich and thick consistency that clings to your hair. The foam does not drip onto your face, head, and clothes like the liquid version does. The downside is that only a limited number of colors currently exist.

Before You Dye

Before applying the hair dye, take some time and prepare yourself. Read through the instructions carefully, especially in regards to mixing the dye. Decide on a location for your hair dye experiment and carry your ingredients into the room. It is helpful to apply the dye in the bathroom, where you wash out the dye. Wrap a towel, plastic shower curtain, or a trash bag around your shoulders. While wearing rubber gloves, mix the solution.

Applying the Dye

Carefully apply the hair dye to your hair, working from the roots down to the ends. After you thoroughly saturate your hair, run your fingers through to distribute the color. Twist your hair into a knot at the base of your neck and tuck it under, which keeps the dye from dripping down. Leave the mixture on your hair for 25-30 minutes, depending on the timeframe specified by the manufacturer. Rinse your hair under warm water, until the water runs clear and you remove all traces of the dye.


Most manufacturers now include a conditioning treatment with hair dye products. The conditioner moisturizes your hair and reduces the risk of the color fading. Use the conditioner at least once a week. A combination of shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair is the best method of protecting your color. The products do not strip color like traditional shampoos do, but still keep your hair properly moisturized.


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