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Question: 
Should I dye my hair at home or go to a salon?

Answer: Despite what you may have heard from hairstylists, friends and beauty magazines, in most cases boxed hair dye is no different than the formula used at the salon—and you can absolutely get a great dye job in the comfort of your own bathroom. Before you decide to take the plunge and do it yourself, you should take into account the pros and cons of an at-home coloring to see if it’s right for you.

Pros of boxed dye:

It’s cheaper. Cost is one of the biggest reasons many women opt to dye their hair at home instead of visiting a salon. The average price of a single process color — which means an all-over color in one shade — is over $60 in the US and in big cities like New York, most coloring appointments are well over $100. You can easily purchase boxed color for under $15. A popular drugstore DIY dye choice is Clairol Nice ‘n Easy.

It’s convenient. Another big advantage of doing your own color is convenience. Anyone who works a 9-to-5 knows how hard it can be to book appointment with doctors, dentists and even hairstylists. By doing it at home, you can update your look whenever it’s best for you—whether that means late at night, or early in the morning before heading out the door. Bonus: you can watch TV, check your email, or get caught up on your work while the color processes!

It’s easy. At-home hair coloring kits have never been easier, so there’s very little chance of doing something wrong and damaging your locks. Just mix, apply, wait, and rinse. Many products come either in very thick or foaming formulas so you won’t drip everywhere.

Cons:

You might miss spots. Even with easy-to-use formulas, you can’t be 100% sure you’re coating all of your hair evenly unless you have a professional applying the color.

Correcting a mistake will cost a lot. Although most home coloring kits are nearly fool-proof, if something does go wrong, it will cost you most to have it corrected than it would have cost to go to the salon in the first place.

The color might not turn out exactly as you hoped. A lot of factors — like your hair texture, whether you’ve previously dyed it— determine how your color will turn out and you can’t always go by the picture on the box. If you’re really particular, see a stylist.

Even if you decide at-home coloring is right for you, there are times when you should never dye your own hair at home. Leave if up to the professionals if you’re considering any of these changes:

  • Changing your hair color by more than 3 shades: the more drastic of a change you try to make, the more chance the color won’t turn out the way you’d like it to.
  • Adding highlights or lowlights: unless you plan to dye your hair with an all-over color, definitely see a professional. Otherwise, you could end up with chunky streaks — yikes!
  • Bleaching your hair to go lighter: since the harsh chemicals in bleaches and hair lighteners can do major damage to your hair, definitely head to the salon if you’re thinking of going blonde.
  • Correcting an unwanted coloring job: if you’ve already dyed your hair at home and aren’t happy with the results, don’t try to fix it yourself. You’ll risk making it worse or damaging your hair.

Tips:

  • Most salons will provide a free consultation, so take advantage of it if you’re considering a big change.
  • Semi-permanent dyes are a great way to experiment with new colors. They wash out after about six weeks and are the least damaging of dyes. Just remember that they can’t make your hair lighter.
  • If you’re a fan of getting your hair colored at the salon but cost is a factor, keep roots fresh between colorings with a root touch-up product. One of our favorites is Clairol Nice’n Easy Root Touch Up. It goes on in just 10 minutes and will hide root regrowth until your next salon trip.

Have you ever dyed your hair at home? How did it compare to the salon?