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At-home hair coloring saves money and increases in popularity as products continually improve. In order to obtain the best results, whether you’ve been doing this for a while or are new to coloring, you should know these five important at-home hair color tips.

Know What You’re Getting

Going darker than your natural color is always easier and fairly straightforward. If you want to lighten your hair, enlist professional help, unless you’re only lifting hair a maximum of three shades. Keep in mind that going red equals lightening your hair, unless your hair is naturally blonde and lighter than the shade of red you have in mind. You should also consult a professional when you already have colored your hair and want to change the shade.

You will not get the exact color that’s pictured on a box, unless you start with a blank slate. This means the result on the box only applies when you add the product to hair that has been stripped of its natural color (pre-lightened). To find the approximate shade the dye will give you, consult the chart that’s usually listed on the side or back of the box. This will also tell you if the product will work with the natural color of your hair.

Perform the Allergy Test

Many people fail to perform the allergy test because they’ve colored their hair for years. However, even if you’ve been using the same product for a long time, you have to test for allergies every time you use it because adverse reactions can develop at any time. To test for sensitivities, apply a small amount of the product on a patch of skin and wait at least 24 hours.

Perform a Strand Test

To avoid disappointment, color a small piece of hair that’s not visible beforehand. You can do this at the same time as the allergy test. However, don’t leave hair color on for longer than 40 minutes because it loses its effectiveness after this time frame.

Don’t Apply Hair Color to Freshly Washed Hair

You should wait at least 24 hours after shampooing before applying hair color. While you might think that clean hair would easily absorb color, the opposite is true. Hair color will hold better on unwashed hair. However, the main reason for not washing it right before coloring is that you’re more likely to cause irritation because your scalp will lack the protective natural oils. This especially applies to products that bleach hair.

Protect Your Skin and Clothing

Protection is key when working with hair dye. Use gloves during the coloring process, and apply petroleum jelly to the skin around the hairline before coloring to avoid staining. Wearing old clothes or a smock is always a good idea as well.

When asking around, you’re likely to get contradicting advice such as that it’s OK to forego the allergy and strand test when you’re used to a product. However, spending the time to do things right will give you peace of mind and help avoid potential disaster.

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