Whether this is your first or tenth time dyeing your hair, you can never have enough expert advice. It doesn’t matter if you’re only changing to one or two shades lighter or darker relative to your natural hair color, or if you’re doing something a little more extreme – things may not always go the way you plan. Thus, becoming educated on the topic before you start the process could save a lot of frustration, extra time and money if you end up having to fix or remove the color. As such, the purpose of this article is to provide expert tips and best practices for coloring your hair.

The Hair Strand Test

Nearly everyone reads the box where it says to take a few moments and perform a hair strand test, but the sad truth is that very few people actually do this. This is unfortunate because the test isn’t recommended just to waste your valuable time; it gives you an idea of what the actual color of your hair is going to be. For many people, the outcome is not even close to the shade they were looking for.

Prior to the dyeing, it’s also a good idea to dab a spot behind your ear while you’re doing the hair strand test. Many people are allergic to PPD, which is a chemical that is found in the majority of permanent hair dyeing formulas, so testing it on a small area is recommended.

Don’t Wash Your Hair

There’s a reason most hair dyeing products tell you to apply it to unwashed hair; it holds the color better and it’s also gentler on your hair. The natural oils that accumulate on your scalp help to make you less sensitive to the chemicals in the dye.

Protect the Hairline

Prior to dyeing, you will want to protect your hairline from your forehead to the nape of your neck with a product that will help keep the dye from staining your skin. Petroleum jelly, cold cream, or toothpaste all work well. It doesn’t hurt to put one of these protective items on the tips and backs of your ears as well.

Even Distribution

There is nothing worse than looking like a tiger when you’re done coloring your hair. Use a hair clip to section off pieces of hair and make sure that you cover every strand from root to end. You do not want to rub the dye into your scalp, either. If you are simply doing a touch up, follow the instructions; you will typically apply the dye to your roots for a specific amount of time, and then you will comb it through to the ends.

Color Selection

Be realistic about your color goals when you’re dyeing hair; it is a lot easier to go darker than it is lighter. You can’t really lighten more than a couple of shades without using bleach, toner or other special products. If you have dark brown hair, there is little chance you are going to go to platinum blonde in one easy step, regardless of what the box says.

However, if you are already blonde, lightening your hair is much easier, as you rarely run the risk of ending up with brassy or orange hair. If you are a brunette and your goal involves dyeing your hair to a dramatic blonde shade, it may be worth having a professional do it, or at least consult with an expert at the beauty supply store for product help.


Dyeing your hair in the comfort of your own home is not as difficult as some people seem to think, as long as you follow the instructions on the box, the expert tips in this article, and your own common sense. Always do the hair strand test, and always test the dye out on a small, hidden area first to make sure there are no adverse reactions. Also, avoid washing your hair beforehand, protect your hairline, ensure an even color distribution, and make sure you’ve selected an appropriate color in the first place.