Formula No 1
“Always go to a salon for a professional colour consultation,” says David Gilson of Carlton Hair International. The colour chart is easily on hand and this will help you decide which shades suit your skin tone, whether you’re colouring at home or in a salon.
If you want long-lasting colour or a dramatic change, go for a permanent dye.
“This is a non-fade formula and grows out. But remember that the further away the colour is from your natural colour, the more obvious the regrowth will be,” says David.
“Your easiest option is to deepen your natural colour or go subtly darker, because semi-permanent dye fades out gradually,” says David.
“Keep in mind that the darker the colour is, the longer it will take to fade, and damaged hair may hold the colour longer.”
At-home hair colour made easy
Want wow-worthy results from the comfort of your bathroom? Clairol colour director Marie Robinson helps you make it happen with these pro pointers.
Gather your kit
1. Get an old dark towel for your shoulders to prevent a “tie-dye” effect on the back of your favourite T-shirt.
2. Make sure you have metal hair clips, a timer, cotton buds, a barrier cream, a fine-tooth comb and a colour kit (longer hair may need two) at the ready. The last thing you’ll want to do is scramble for the right tools at the last second.
3. Avoid a dye disaster by covering the floor with trash bags. Your bathroom will look like part of a CSI investigation, but it will help prevent unwanted stains.
Prep your hair
1. Part your hair into three sections (left, right and back) and secure it with clips. Swab a barrier cream along your hairline to protect your skin from stains.
2. Don plastic gloves, mix the colour and apply the mixture to one section at a time. Make sure you coat your hair from root to tip to avoid looking “patchy”.
3. Watch the clock. Keep the formula on for as long as recommended on the box and not a second more.
Rinse it out
Rinse your hair for at least three to five minutes or until the water runs clear. And check your shower walls afterwards.
Go au natural – no ammonia
Looking for fewer chemicals? Try these colour options.
Ammonia, a pungent chemical regarded as the most efficient way to open the hair shaft so that dye penetrates, can damage hair and make sensitive scalps tingle.
A few ammonia-free dyes are available in some salons, but L’Oréal Professionnel INOA (Innovation No Ammonia) is a nationwide offering (and international celeb colourist Ted Gibson is already a fan). INOA opens the hair shaft slightly with monoethanolamine, a gentler ammonia alternative, so your hair and scalp are happier.
Wary of the additives in DIY dyes?
Opt for herbal-based colourants instead as they’re paraben-free. On our favourites list: Herbatint Permanent Herbal Haircolour Gel (R120), Vegetal Haircolour (R120), Daniel Field Natural Colours (R155)
Save your brilliant shade
Whether your hair colour is thanks to nature or nurture, protect your assets!
1. In the shower…
Some stars wash their hair with Evian, as coloured hair can be porous and minerals in tap water can discolour it. A cheaper fix: put a water filter on your showerhead.
2. Clean gently…
Use shampoos and conditioners that are light on lather and detergents. “Blondes need extra care; look for products that strengthen and protect,” says hair and makeup artist Adele Hendricks.
Blondes can also benefit from a weekly clarifying shampoo to remove minerals that can leave a green tint.
Try Kérastase Chroma Sensitive Caressing Cleansing Balm (R380).
Brunette or redhead? Stick with mild everyday formulas; sulfates in clarifying shampoos can cause fading. Try Pureology Hydrate Shampoo (R200).
Apply a weekly deep conditioner to wet hair, from ear level down. Wear a shower cap, so the steam helps.
Try L’Oréal Paris Elvive Colour Protect Protecting Masque (R69.95).
4. When outside…
Use styling products with UV filters.
“Reds fade fastest, so use serum with SPF like Davines Momo Serum (R235),” says Carlton Hair’s David Gilson.
5. Beat the heat…
Don’t blow dry or flat-iron without protective spray, says star stylist Rita Hazan.
“The heat will burn the product, not your hair.” Try Matrix Design Pulse Iron In (R200).
Box dye – a list of the do’s and the don’ts
* DO a patch test at least 48 hours before dyeing, in case you develop an allergic reaction to the chemicals.
* DON’T try to go from black to platinum by yourself. Be realistic and leave drastic changes to salon professionals.
* DO go for regular trims. Chemicals in hair dye can dehydrate your strands; good care helps keep split ends at bay.
* DON’T forget to use a skin protectant like Vaseline. “It will prevent the skin around your hairline from being stained by a dark tint,” says Adele.
* DO know that your hair might not turn out exactly like the shade on the box, especially if you’re re-dyeing with a slightly different tone. “Layering colour on top of colour goes darker,” says Adele.
I made a mistake. Now what?
If you can’t rush to the salon, reverse the colour at home with Scott Cornwell B4 U Colour Hair Colour Remover (R79). It helps return hair to its natural shade by shrinking the artificial dye molecules that have penetrated the hair shaft, allowing you to literally wash them out and re-colour.
Text: Theresa O’Rourke, Cathy Crawford, Gina Berretta