9 Essential Tips Celebrity Colorists Want You to Know Before Dyeing Your Own Roots

how to dye your own hair root touch up

We’re barely able to keep track of what day of social distancing we’re on, but one thing’s for sure: our roots have gone from “cool-girl-grown-out” to “send help.” Hair salons are one of the many service-based industries that are on hiatus right now, and we’re starting to see the ramifications of it. While staying in good health is (of course!) of paramount importance, for many, being at home with roots full of grays is an irksome beauty concern. 

If you’re ready to take on the challenge of dyeing your own roots at home, we’re here to make the process a little less intimidating. We tapped top celebrity colorists for their advice on what to know before painting your first hair Monet (and we all know how much better those look from far away!).

Dyeing Your Own Roots Tip #1: See if your go-to colorist is making at-home color kits

Why It’s Essential: Getting the right shade to match your hair color is far more complex than just walking down your drugstore aisle and choosing a hue. According to Cassondra Kaeding, who works with Kylie Jenner, Kendall Jenner, and Olivia Munn, besides the actual technique of applying hair color, the hardest part of DIYing dye is perfecting the tone. The next best thing to getting to see your pro in person is getting custom kits, so you can try to replicate their work. “See if your hair colorist is offering at-home hair color kits,” she recommends. “I have created these for my regular clients, prepping their exact, unique formulas — along with all the tools they need and an instructional video, so they don’t have to do the guessing themselves with drugstore hair color.” Kaeding sells her kits for $110.

Dyeing Your Own Roots Tip #2: Use demi-permanent hair color instead of permanent

Why It’s Essential: Our experts agreed that getting a color kit from your pro is the best move, but if it’s not a possibility, don’t opt for permanent box color. According to Matt Rez, who works with influencer Chiara Ferragni, as well as Eiza Gonzalez and Lili Reinhart, it’s too harsh on the hair. “Permanent hair colors are universally formulated, and chances are, you will not have the outcome and color turn out the way you want it to,” Rez warns. “If you must use box color, opt for demi-permanent, which means that the color will only deposit — there isn’t any lift or chance of it turning red/orange.” Rez mentions that this is especially helpful for covering up grays. Many demi-permanent formulas are available exclusively for professionals, so ask your colorist if they can hook you up. Try Redken® Shades EQTM Gloss Demi-Permanent Hair Gloss ($10), which is offered in 100 shades, so you’re bound to have a match.

Dyeing Your Own Roots Tip #3: Prep your hairline properly

Why It’s Essential: If you’re not careful, you might dye more than you bargained for — including your skin! That’s why Lisa Satorn, who works with Anine Bing and Victoria Beckham, stresses the proper prep before coloring your hair. “If you are using a darker shade, it may result in staining your skin, so apply petroleum jelly around your hairline and tops of ears,” she says. This occlusive ingredient will block any dye from showing up where you don’t want it. If you’re unable to get your hands on some Vaseline®, not to worry: you can use a richer lip balm or gloss as a backup. Be precise with your petroleum application, though: “Make sure not to get it on your hair, as it may prevent the color from penetrating,” adds Satorn.

Dyeing Your Own Roots Tip #4: Go a little lighter than you think you should with the color 

Why It’s Essential: This is more of a safeguard for your colorist and future appointments than it is for you. “If your colorist is not providing color kits or color advice, and you’re choosing your own shade, always go a little lighter than you think [you should],” says Lien Scherr, who has worked with Becca Tobin and Halle Berry.  “It’s much easier to correct the color when it’s lighter, [meaning] your colorist won’t have to strip out the color from the roots when you can go back to the salon.” 

Dyeing Your Own Roots Tip #5: Grab an old t-shirt and gloves before you get to work

Why It’s Essential: It’s highly probable that even with the most attention to detail, you’ll make a mess, which is why Kaeding suggests you grab an old t-shirt or button-up that you don’t mind getting dirty. “Plan on getting some color on whatever you’re wearing, so make sure it’s not your favorite tee,” she suggests. “It’s also smart to apply color in the bath tub or outside in the backyard, so you don’t stain anything.” For the same reason, she recommends wearing gloves while washing out your color, otherwise: “Your nails will get stained.” 

Dyeing Your Own Roots Tip #6: Leave the bleach to the pros

Why It’s Essential: We think there are still a few of you who need to hear this: put down the bleach! Don’t just take it from us — take it from Rez. “Do not attempt bleaching roots and/or highlights at home — you are just asking for breakage!” he warns. The biggest concern is overlapping, which is when lightener touches previously bleached hair. Not only will this result in breakage, but you’ll likely have “bleed spots” from bleach running into the rest of your hair, which can result in an incredibly pricey color correction when your salon re-opens. 

Dyeing Your Own Roots Tip #7: Don’t let your work overlap on previous color

Why It’s Essential: In addition to worrying about color-matching and not turning the skin at your hairline a crazy shade, let’s not forget about the elephant in the room: banding. Sometimes called “the halo effect,” banding is when color overlaps on previously-dyed hair, resulting in a stripe that wraps around your head like a band (or halo). “Applying carefully to the line of demarcation — where the new growth meets previous color — is key, because overlapping color will oxidize old color and cause a saturated color band,” says Rez. 

For best results, paint right up to the line of demarcation, but not over. For parts that are hard to see (like the back of your head!), use a dual mirror setup. Simply stand between two mirrors facing each other, and look at one — you’ll be able to see the reflection of the back of your head. (If you happen to be quarantining with someone else, you can also just ask them to help.)

Dyeing Your Own Roots Tip #8: Rinse all the hair color out before you start shampooing

Why It’s Essential: There’s a reason why it feels like you spend a lifetime at the bowl when you’re at the salon — your pro is carefully rinsing the hair color out before shampooing. According to Nina Kairouz, who works with Cara Delevingne, Katy Perry, and Nicole Scherzinger, “If you don’t wash all the color out, it will also color your highlights. They will either be gone or replaced by a dingy, greenish hue.” We’ll pass. 

To avoid this pitfall, she recommends recruiting someone to help rinse you off in the sink, making sure they hold your ends up. The tips of your strands are the most porous, and thus more receptive to hair color — if you’re not careful when rinsing, they’ll soak up all that dye, resulting in a mismatch. “If you’re quarantining solo, add a ton of conditioner on your ends before rinsing to act as a buffer,” she adds. Do not shampoo and condition until all your hair color is off your scalp.

Dyeing Your Own Roots Tip #9: Don’t be a hero — keep it simple

Why It’s Essential: These are challenging times, and not a single person out there expects you to have flawless hair (we’re all in the same boat). This is not the moment to be an overachiever. “Do just the areas you see, like the hairline and part,” suggests Scherr. “The less you do, the less chance of messing it up!” Trust us: when you’re able to see your colorist again, they will thank you.

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