Coloring your hair at home can be daunting, but in reality it’s quite easy if you know what you’re doing. Whether it’s covering grays, giving natural color a little bit of a boost or going all out with a fun fashion color, we got advice from some master colorists.
If this is your first time coloring your own hair, Megan Graham, owner and master colorist at Megan Graham Beauty in Boston, has a few quick tips. “Be reasonable,” she says. “Staying within two shades of your natural color is achievable at home. A major color change is left to the pros.”
And those who have good relationships with their colorists should reach out and ask for some direction. They may be able to help you match your color, based on their knowledge of your custom blend, and give you advice about managing the process.
Best at-home permanent hair color
Coloring your own hair and covering your roots is easier than you think, even if you’ve never done this at home. Miguel Angarita, master colorist at Oscar Blandi Salon in New York City, shares some advice. “Applying the color only on the visible areas minimizes mistakes and prevents you from getting overwhelmed,” he says. “So apply only the part and the hairline. Do not run any permanent dye on ends of hair. This can darken or make ends flat.”
Another key tip? Follow the directions to the letter. “Any brand can be safe, but it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s directions, as well as to perform a patch test to rule out any color allergies,” says Graham.
L’Oréal Paris Feria Multifaceted Shimmering Permanent Hair Color ($19.64; amazon.com)
If you’re looking to match a salon color, the L’Oréal Paris Feria line offers a rich color with great definition. The line has a large selection of red tones, and is worth looking into if you’re having difficulty matching your salon red. More colors may also be available at Target for $9.99.
Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme ($7.69; target.com)
Made with a blend of avocado, shea and coconut oils, this gentle hair color line has 45 colors and is priced for every budget.
Clairol Nice’n Easy Permanent Hair Color ($6.99; target.com)
With 24 color options, this color creme from Clairol is another effective and cheap option for permanent color, plus it has conditioners built into every step to ensure soft and shiny hair.
Best at-home semipermanent hair color
A semipermanent color can last around six weeks, with proper application and maintenance. “Buy more hair color than you think you need,” says Graham. “The amount of color in a store-bought kit is usually very small.”
Also, give yourself time. “Plan plenty of time, and be patient,” she says. “Leave the color on for long enough, since proper processing ensures beautiful results. Do not wash your hair the day that you intend to color it. Your scalp will thank you!”
Clairol Natural Instincts ($6.99; target.com)
This box color has been a favorite for years, and it’s no surprise, as the ammonia-free formula leaves hair shiny and healthy, without the look of over-deposited color. The line has a wide array of shades, so matching your hair color shouldn’t be difficult.
If you’re just bored with your look and want a drastic, colorful change, but not one that’s going to stick around forever, “then a gloss, semigloss or semipermanent is recommended,” Angarita says.
Good Dye Young Semipermanent Hair Color ($18; sephora.com)
If you’re touching up a fashion color, this line has a solid selection, including pink, purple, green and bright red. These semipermanent colors have a rich pigment level that will upgrade your shade.
This collection of glosses is meant to enhance your natural color or perk up an existing color and add dimension and shine to your look. It’s packed with conditioner, so your hair will be left soft and shiny.
Manic Panic Semipermanent Hair Color Cream ($11.63, originally $14.99; amazon.com)
This classic line has been offering fashion colors since the ‘90s, and is a great bargain at under 15 bucks. If it’s your first time using it, be sure to have an old towel handy, as the color can get everywhere.
Lime Crime Unicorn Hair Tint Semipermanent Hair Color ($16; nordstrom.com)
In colors like sky blue and lilac, this adorably packaged hair dye leaves a light wash of color on your hair.
Best at-home hair color for root coverage
This celeb-loved line created by colorist Rita Hazan is the best spray root concealer on the market. If you’re nervous about coloring your own roots, this spray is a great option. Just know it will wash out, so daily application is necessary.
Oribe Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray ($34; dermstore.com)
Beloved by the beauty community for years now, this touch-up product sprays microfine pigments to match black, blond, dark brown or light brown hair.
Clairol Root Touch-Up Permanent Hair Color Kit ($7.99; target.com)
For permanent root color, this mainstay from Clairol includes a brush for super-easy application and has a wide array of colors to choose from to make sure you can find your match.
Best blond at-home hair color
Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Creme ($7.69; target.com)
One of our picks for permanent hair color, this option from Garnier is also great for dyeing blond hair.
L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference Fade-Defying + Shine Permanent Hair Color ($9.24, originally $9.99; amazon.com)
This fade-defying permanent color from L’Oréal is another solid pick for those with blond hair due to its long-lasting color and shine.
Best at-home hair color for gray coverage
L’Oréal Paris Magic Root Cover-Up Gray Concealer Spray ($9.99; target.com)
Another drugstore spray, this fan favorite is available in nine shades.
Revlon Colorsilk Beautiful Color Permanent Hair Dye (starting at $2.55; amazon.com)
This permanent dye from Revlon promises 100% gray coverage while being ammonia-free and available in 41 colors.
Best at-home hair color for highlights
L’Oréal Paris Frost & Design ($10.35; amazon.com)
For precise, professional-looking highlights, this kit from L’Oréal is a must-have. An overcap is included to prevent accidental spills and drips.
L’Oréal Paris Feria Highlighting Kit ($16.99; amazon.com)
This highlighting kit from L’Oréal comes with a clamp brush to easily apply highlights to small swatches of hair.
Best pro tools for at-home hair coloring
New AF Bowls and Brushes ($7.99; arcticfoxhaircolor.com)
A bowl for your hair dye and a brush (which is great for roots) to help delicately swipe it on, all in a cute lime green color.
Hair Coloring Kit ($10.99; amazon.com)
If it’s highlights you’re after, then this kit has all the tools you need, including tipping caps that you can pull your selected soon-to-be highlighted hairs through, styling tools, disposable shawls and gloves.