Introduction: Hair Color: at Home

For this instructable I will be explaining the best way to color your hair at home. As a licensed cosmetologist, the best thing I could suggest would be to go to a professional in order to get the color you desire. However, if you still decide you want to do it at home, here is the process to color hair without the use of bleach. The process I will be showing can be used on almost any kind of hair, for someone who wishes to color their hair darker or a few shades lighter than what it already is. This process can be used when a person does not wish to use bleach on their hair, since bleach is more damaging to the hair than color. I personally will be going from a dark brown, 2A, to a medium brown with a red tint .

Step 1: Step 1: Pick Color

To start off, you must first decide what color you want, taking into consideration the color of your natural hair. You must also take into consideration if you already have color in your hair.There are different options in colors such as temporary, demi-permanent, and permanent. Temporary colors are colors that you apply to the hair that only last until the next time you wash your hair; such as color sprays or color rubs. Demi-permanent colors can last up to 28 washes, fading little by little with every wash. This type of color can only darken the hair not lighten. Finally, there is permanent color, this is the kind I will be using, this type stays in the hair until it completely grows out; even if it fades, it will still be there. Permanent color can be used with different levels of developer depending on the level you want to achieve; for example, when used with the correct type of developer it can lighten the hair. One suggestion when picking a color is to always pick a shade lighter than what you wish to achieve, so if you are wanting a 5N use a 6N instead. I have learned from personal experience that hair color will end up darker after it has been applied on the hair. In order to go from a dark to a light color, sometimes bleach must be used. If the hair is natural then the color will be able to remove your natural pigment without the use of bleach, however, if the hair has been previously colored that color cannot be removed without the use of bleach. This is important to know because it is always disappointing to go and purchase a color only to realize that it will not give you the look you were going for. For example, if your hair is already colored to a dark brown it is impossible to make it into a blonde without using bleach. If your hair is naturally dark brown you can use color to remove the natural pigment in order to lighten the hair a few shades.

Step 2: Step 2: Choose Developer

Once you have chosen the color, you must decide on the level of developer you will be needing. In order to decide this you must look at your current color and at the target color in order to decide the difference between the two. If you are trying to go more than 3 shades darker the use of bleach will be needed. In order to go one shade lighter you must use 20% developer. In order to go two shades lighter you want to use 30% developer. And finally, in order to go three shades lighter you will need to use 40% developer. In any case, when you are going from a light color to a darker color 10% developer is what will be needed. Another thing, just like there are different brands of color, there are also different brands of developers; whenever I buy developer, I make sure to buy the one that is the same brand as the color. For example, I bought Argan Oil hair color and Argan Oil developer as well.

Step 3: Step 3: Purchase

After you have decided the color you are wanting and the level of developer you will be needing, you will need to decide where you are going to purchase it. Personally I would prefer professional color such as Redken or Matrix, however these products do require a license in order for you to purchase them. if you do not have a way to get a hold of this kind of product the next best option is to go to a beauty shop such as a Sally's. I find that the colors from Walmart do not hold as well and damage the hair much more than professional colors. When buying from a beauty shop versus a drugstore you can purchase the color and the developer separately instead of having to buy a package that already comes with a level of developer which gives you no option and how light you want your color to end up with. Also, when purchasing from a beauty store, the store usually has swatches of colored hair so that you may see what the color looks like an actual hair instead of just the box . Do not let these swatches deceive you for your original color does have an effect on what the end results will be.

Step 4: Step 4: Patch and Elasticity Tests

Before putting any kind of color on your head, it is important to do a patch test, especially if you have never colored your hair before. For this process, you must take a small amount of hair color and apply it somewhere like your arm or behind your ear. This test must be done in order to see if you have any allergies to the color, prior to putting it all on your head. Once the small amount of color is placed, it must be left on for at least a day. If any kind of itching, rash or irritation occurs, stop the process and start over using a different kind of hair color. Another thing you must check prior to coloring your hair is to make sure the hair is healthy enough to color. Although color is not as damaging as bleach, it could still make the hair even more damaged. For this test you need to take a few, around five strand, of hair and get them wet. (I am showing more than five, just so it would show in the picture.) After you get the hair wet, tug on it a little. If it is damaged it will stretch and stay stretched without going back to its original length, maybe even snapping or breaking off. If the hair is okay, it will stretch and then bounce back, like a spring.

Step 5: Step 5: Gather Tools

The next step is to gather all the tools you will need for this process. You will need a color brush, a mixing bowl, combs, clips, and gloves. The color brush can be purchased at a beauty store as well. The bowl the comb and the clips do not have to be anything special just whatever you have lying around, as long as the bowl is not metal since metal can make color react differently. Always remember that the color you put in your hair also stains other materials, do not use on objects, such as nice bowls, that you do not want stained. Also, if you wish to keep your clothes clean, use a cape; capes can be purchased at a beauty store. If you do not have a cape and do not wish to spend the money on one, you can use a simple trash bag with a hole for the head to go in. Color will stain clothes and it will not come out, so it is important to protect it, especially if you are wearing clothes you do not want to throw away.

Step 6: Step 6: Prepare Product and Hair

Before you begin to apply the product you should know that color works the best when the hair is not washed and completely dry. To start off you will need to section the hair out from ear to ear and down the center, for a total of four sections. After you are done sectioning put on your gloves and open your colors. You will need to mix up the color and the developer; the one I purchased was a two to one ratio, two parts developer, one part color. There are some colors that are one to one, so always read the directions on the package. Usually it takes about 4 ounces for a medium amount of hair, I had to use about 6 ounces because my model had long full hair. Always get more because that way if you run out you have extra. Also, the good thing about buying from a beauty store is that whatever you do not mix you can save for later; next time you go to touch up your hair you already have the product. Do not save color that is already mixed with peroxide because, for one, it could be dangerous and also it will not work if it sits for too long.

Step 7: Step 7: Apply Product and Process

Now it is time to start applying color to the hair, You will start from the top with the two sections in the back or if you have a lot of grey hair you can start at the front. Start at the top of the head coloring ½ inch sections of hair and move down towards the neck, then continue doing the same to the other three sections. A little advice is that when doing the smaller sections part in a diagonal way; this way after you apply the color to a section you can put it over the head to keep it out of the way, without having to put it over the face. Make sure if you begin in the back to do both sections so that the color will be more even, this also pertains if you start in the front. As you apply around the hairline, try to keep the color off the skin around because it can stain and it is hard to clean off. Be especially careful when using dark colors around the face because you do not want to be walking around with dark stains all over your face.

Once you are all done applying color, let it process on your head for about 30 minutes. Yet again, if you have a lot of grey hair you could leave it on for ten minutes more. However, developer consists of hydrogen peroxide which is what makes the hair lighter and after 30 minutes it does stop working. Therefore, if you are wanting to get lighter results it is important that the color does not stay on past the 30 minutes because after that it just starts to deposit color which makes the hair darker. Even though many people put a cap or bag over their hair or put it in a bun while it is processing, it is best to leave it down because oxygen helps the product work better.

Step 8: Step 8: Shampoo and Conditioner

After the color is done processing, you must rinse it out. If you are using a demi-permanent color just rinse out with water, most demis have a soap base and do not need to be shampooed out. If you are using a permanent color, you will need to shampoo your hair. When shampooing make sure to keep the color out of your eyes because it could be harmful. It is important to take care of your hair, especially after a color. When washing out the color use a shampoo that is specially designed for colored hair, Matrix has a professional one that is not too expensive. If you did happen to get hair color on the face or other skin you can take and rub more color on it right before shampooing because it will help to get rid of the stain. After shampooing, apply a conditioner and rinse out, or you could use a leave-in conditioner after you are done washing the hair; whichever you use make sure it is for colored hair because it will help to keep the color from fading as fast. Finally, while rinsing your hair it helps to use cool to cold water, as cold as you can handle, because it helps to close up the cuticle and to hold the color in.

Step 9: Step 9: Care

Even though some people do not like the idea of not washing their hair every day, it is a good idea to do it at most every other day. Color fades with every wash, so by not washing it every day you help the color to stay on longer. You might be thinking, “but what it my hair gets very oily if I do not wash it every day.” The head produces natural oils and the more you wash it, the more it thinks it needs to make; therefore, if you start to wash your hair less often, the head will start to get used to it and not make so much oil. As previously mentioned, it is important to use a shampoo intended for colored hair, but not only because it helps to keep the color in but also because it adds the nutrients that the color may have taken out. Hair has moisture and protein and when you color the hair some of that is removed; these kinds of shampoos help to deposit that back in the hair, in order to nurse it back to good health. Another tip to help your hair to get healthy again is to use a leave in conditioner, these can be purchased at beauty stores, drug stores, hair salons. These are a good idea because they also help to put back any nutrients that is needed into the hair.

Step 10: Hair Color: at Home

I have now explained to you how to choose a color; how to choose developer; how to make sure the hair is healthy and that you are not allergic; the tools you will need; and the process of coloring hair. Just remember to always be cautious when using any kind of color on your hair, make sure to always follow the written instructions on the package. Directions vary from package to package, therefore, the steps and processing time I listed on here may not be accurate for all products. One thing I noticed for sure what the difference in mixing portions, as I previously mentioned. Whenever coloring or bleaching is done to the hair it causes damage; sometimes it is just a little bit of damage and sometimes it is enough to completely fry the hair, causing it to break. I have heard many times that it does not matter if the hair gets damaged because hair grows back, but be that as it may, it only grows around ½ inch every month. If you currently have long hair just imagine how long it would take for the hair to grow back to that length if it broke off or became too damaged. The best way to make sure a color is done right is to be careful and follow printed directions, to ensure you are doing the correct process for each product.