DIY Home Hair Color

Step 1. DON’T.

DIY Disaster

Just stop.  Stop perusing the aisle of Walgreens or Sally Beauty Supply looking for your next DIY project for your hair.  Don’t look at the model on the box and imagine that you’ll look great in that cherry red color they’ve photo-shopped onto her head.

I am a trained professional.  I went to school specifically to learn how to use chemicals on a human.  I learned about color theory, about hair structure, about what happens to hair when exposed to said chemicals.  With all of this knowledge floating around in my brain (not to mention my undergraduate work that went much deeper into anatomy, physiology, and body systems) I still sometimes have to really THINK about what I need to do to turn someone’s hair color to their desired shade.

Let’s consider this scenario…

Box Color CRAP

Let’s say Sandra with bleached blonde hair goes to the drug store and runs into her friend Cassie who’s a natural dark chocolate brown.  They chat about how they’re so bored with their color and head over to see what their options are.   They both set their eyes on a shade of red that is sure to be a show stopper.  The model on the box looks so good, and so happy.  Now this color they want is several shades darker than Sandra’s bleached blonde hair, and several shades lighter than Cassie’s dark chocolate brown.  They must have a different kit for Sandra and something else for Cassie, right? WRONG.  That same magical box is supposed to do two completely different processes on two different people with completely different hair situations.  What does that mean?  It means there’s very harsh chemicals in there to make that magic happen, and what that means for your hair is that it will be damaged and resemble your dog’s chew rope after he’s been particularly stressed out.

But Shreeda!  Eva Longoria, Heather Locklear, and Sarah Jessica Parker all endorse box color and look how fantastic they look!

Ok, seriously, you think these women shop at Walmart and do their own color at home over their $10,000 ivory encrusted tub molded with the tears of 1000 virgins?  NO.  Did you know that cosmetic advertising only requires ONE STRAND of hair to be colored with the product in order for it to be considered authentic advertisement?  That’s right.  So, lovely Eva Longoria, has a $500+ chemical job on her hair and that one piece on the side has the actual box color in it.  But are you focusing on that one strand or are you looking at her thinking “that is a beautiful, dimensional color, I want it.”?

But Shreeda, you use such harsh chemicals in your salon, I found this box that says No Ammonia.  It should be safe to use, right?

WRONG.  Just because it says “no ammonia” doesn’t mean they aren’t using a harsh ammonia derivative.  Don’t be fooled.  The only way you can be sure to protect your hair and make sure it isn’t damaged is to have a professional color your hair.  And let me be the first to tell you that professional color comes in no ammonia forms as well.  So just ask for that.

Here is what goes through my mind when I have a color client…

1. What is their natural color?

2. Do they have previously colored hair, what was used?

3. What other chemicals have they done to their hair, did they have any reactions?

4. Are there different shades in the hair or does it look like an even tone?  What is the undertone I see?

5. How damaged is the hair?

5. Do they have gray?

6. Is the desired color lighter or darker than what is happening right now?

7. Will I need to add back any pigment if they’re going darker?  Will their hair withstand going lighter?

8.  And then with those and a few lifestyle questions (not to mention a gut instinct) I come up with my formula.

Color is a process, and if you don’t know the first thing about the chemicals you’re putting in your hair, you should not be doing this at home.  I almost had a heart attack when I saw the ombre kits go on sale at the drug store.  Bleaching hair is a whole other animal.

DIY Disaster

I hope this clears up why it is worth every penny to get your hair colored professionally.  Because a color correction is far more expensive and a very tedious process.  A lot of times, it can’t be fixed in one visit and none of that is worth a $6 box of hair color.



179 thoughts on “DIY Home Hair Color

  1. Carrie coo says:

    You don’t have to go to a salon. I have been dying my hair from light brown to a beautiful shade of auburn for the last decade using henna twice a month. My hair is soft, beautiful and most people swear they never knew I used a box until I tell them. You have options. Organic options people, don’t feel forced into salons.

    • You Break Mirrors, My Dear. says:

      Well, good for you. Want $10 to go fix the shitty $2 one you have now?

    • Littlereddragon says:

      and if you ever want to change your hair color and need to use bleach, your henna WILL NOT lift its pigment. I am also a professional hairstylist.

  2. Peggy Hebert says:

    Love my hairdresser but I just can’t afford to have her color, cut and style. $50. to $150.. in my household is a lot of money. I’v not heard of a loan company that loans money for HAIR!

  3. krissy says:

    I have been doing hair for 11 years. I work in a salon that has nation wide salons. I am not scared to tell you I make minimum wage $7.25, or commission. Not many people that go and pay for higher education get paid only min wage. So the only way I get a raise is by getting my prices raised or my commission raised. And there is a cap on both of those things. Highest haircut price we go to is $31. Highest comission we have is 50%. You do the math. Plus I pay for insurance and taxes and retirement. Average mothly pay is $800 that I take home. No offense to anyone, but I could make more at McDonald’s. I am still paying off my student loans after 11 years. So stop complaining about it being too much. We have to live too. And I love my job and the people I work with. I have worked in many different salons and still find the pay to be about the same across the board. Ok I’m done 😉

    • Jalal says:

      You should find a salon that would appreciate a great stylist such as yourself and accept nothing less than 50% as your lowest commission. Also a salon that offers free continues education, and a franchise salon. You should be taken between 500-1000 a week. Find a salon that charges $50 a hair cut. A high end salon will solve your problems. Watch out for cattiness thou, ignore the drama and the bitches and focus on your client. Promote yourself and best of luck to you!!!!

      • Jalal says:

        Sorry I meant not a franchise salon!

      • Littlereddragon says:

        I agree with Jalal. I work in a salon that 50$ is my price for a hair and my commission is 55%. My boss is amazing and i have no need to endure catty salon drama as there is none. No one else is responsible to make your life better but YOU. If you’re confident that you do good hair, then go out and get what you so badly deserve.

    • Mel says:

      You may not personally be making a big profit, but your salon is. I don’t think anyone is accusing the stylists on a personal basis. Just the fact that salons jack up prices. And you basically proved our point.

    • Shannon says:

      I understand that you make minimum, and so do I. I also have 3 kids and I am single. I would absolutely love to get my hair done by my stylist. I go to the person every time I get a cut, for the past 10 years and tip generously. When it come to colours, I just cannot afford to pay the price. Wish I could. I believe in salon products and the only reason I use them is because my stylist is a Darling and grabs them at the wholesale for me. I understand what you are saying, but there are some of us that getting our hair coloured in a salon is just not worth a weeks groceries. Wish we could come to a happy medium.

      • Leslie Bjorgum says:

        Sounds like you’ve been a loyal client to your stylist – bet you could find a solution. For example, most stylists have a referral program – if you refer three clients, your service is free (or some variance). Or if she’s an Independent Contractor, do you have a skill you could trade her with? Ask her – you might be surprised!

    • tameka white says:

      Agree whole heartedly :-). I still love being a stylist!

    • Dana Sear says:

      You need to check out Michael Cole. Income and opportunity is limitless in this amazing industry. Perhaps you haven’t found the right mentor. You can find me on FB if you’d like to talk privately. If you’re even remotely skilled, have a bit of talent and a lot of drive, you could be making a LOT more money without gouging clients.

  4. Reblogged this on donnashep6196 and commented:
    Yes…a must read

  5. tyty says:

    when you go to a salon you’re paying for a bunch of different things but mostly talent and knowledge. some looks take a lot of artistry..some just take knowledge and experience..some take both.

    like with a lot of DIY things, if you pick up a book and do research and talk to the right people its possible to do things yourself. if you want to lift your hair or cover grays bad enough and going to a salon is not possible for you..pick up a book. do some research. ask questions. for somebody to say diy color isnt possible is stupid and incorrect. i’ve been lifting my hair to white and toning it violet for years and years. i read how to do it and learned how because i couldnt afford going to a salon. i use professional products, because i learned how to use them. if you can afford it go to a salon by all means! if you can afford to go to school do it! buuut if thats not an option don’t let anyone tell you DIY hair isnt possible..they just want your money..which is fine like make that money grrrrl but some people dont have any to give. do your research and make yourself fabulous! WERK.

    • Moscato says:

      I agree!!! My brother is an awesome stylist and owns his own salon. When I moved away he taught me how to do my own hair and provided me with right products. I however only keep it simple now and go with a color about 2 shades darker than my natural. I would never be able to do it alone without the knowledge he gave me. I did attempt the at home box of garbage before and it took years for my hair to recover from it. If you do it yourself at least find a way to get professional product!!!!

    • Heather says:

      Where are you getting these professional products if you’re not a professional?

    • Sarah says:

      Most of the time you can’t get it right and let me tell you the countless people I have had to fix. Also, even if they do get a book trust me it won’t have all that you need to know about hair. There are many things to be learned in the salon. I am a hairdresser. I went to beauty school and even the book we read from didn’t tell us everything. So no you are wrong. There isn’t a book for dummies that would even come close to tell you how to do it yourself. There are so many factors that play into how to do your hair. They would also need to get a book on the color line they were wanting to use and all this stuff. Even then it won’t tell you everything. Only EXPERIENCE on using the color line will work. Just because you can take bleach and lift your roots and then tone doesn’t mean everyone can do the exact same thing

      • tyty says:

        Coloring hair is not some magical lost art hahaha, if putting yourself and/or your skills as a stylist on a pedestal comforts you be all means…keep doing it. But saying someone who takes the time to learn from a book and people in the industry itself can not color their hair properly is just nonsense. How does doing your own hair for years not count as experience? Everyone that’s saying DIY is impossible on this forum is just using circle arguments and fallacies, you give no specific reasons why its a bad idea. I respect your chosen vocation, I respect the hours you put into your education, and I most of all respect the amount of artistry and creatively most stylist have. That said, belittling people who may not be able to afford a 60$ retouch or a 200$ highlight job is just wrong, what are these people suppose to do? The beauty industry has a really arty/creative base and foundation. Lets celebrate each others creativity and be inclusive, rather then condensed to people who don’t have extra money. As long as you do your research, study the products, and most importantly do everything safely DIY color is an awesome fun thing to do.

        PS. Getting professional products is not hard at all, I use wella, aveda, and redken products :p

  6. Linnea says:

    I have gone to salon’s and paid to have it dyed as well as used boxed dye. I don’t care so much about the color, I like any form of red and I’ve never had an issue with a box dye becoming a weird color. It seems to me like no matter how you dye your hair (professionally or with a box) it will damage your hair. So isn’t the issue then only if you are particular about what color you want it to end up being? I can understand if I want something really specific I would go to a professional, however, I have a lot of hair so going to the salon can cost upwards up 200 just for a color. In my mind I son’t see why I don’t just spend $20 for some red dye and save myself a ton of money. Am I missing something?

  7. Alli says:

    Unless your buying products from a store that requires you to have a’s not professional product.including Sally’s. Their stuff is still better than the stuff you can get at a grocery store or drugstore but it’s not professional. And I just wanted to add .. If I wanted a job to make money I wouldn’t choose to be a cosmetologists and I can guarantee most other cosmetologists would agree. We do it because we love making people feel and look beautiful. We don’t do it for your money. And if your stylists or salon has messed up your hair three times you should try another one!

  8. Mixie says:

    Honestly, every time I pay a professional to have my hair colored I hate the results. I have mousy brown hair but wanted to add some red in, went to a professional – I got purple. It was terrible. Second time, many years later, I tried to go for some red again – got close to tomato! But the cheap box brands never fail to give me the color I’m looking for. And usually after about a week it looses the ‘all over one color’ look and has more highlights and undertones that a professional job never gave me. And yes, both times they were private salons, not chain haircutter places.

  9. Denver says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the author. Years ago, I tried color out of the box. The color was awful!! Nothing like the model on the box! The confirmation came out of the mouth of a 4 yr old neighbor boy, who asked, “What’d you do to your hair? You look like a Cocktail Waitress!” (Now, I wonder where her heard that? :)) I decided it was time to leave it to the professionals. That’s what I’ve done since and been much happier with my results and my hair dresser of many years.

  10. sandi bates says:

    everyone says they “cant afford” coloring services but they drink a night in the club or buy a bottle and you could’ve paid for your hair color almost or you and your spouse go out to eat for $50+ and its gone in 30 min to an hour. Mcdonald’s for instance for my family to eat is $20.00. Make hamburgers at home and steak fries total cost $10.00 to feed entire family. You get what you put into life. general rule of thumb is 4 times a year for coloring for the average affordability. I have done shampoo, conditioner, color, cut and blow dry pkgs for as little as 100.00! That my friend is cheap. We also do 16 foils of one color for $30.00. You can add two foils for $10.00 to your hair and change your entire appearance. YES YOU CAN AFFORD IT!!

    • Evergreen says:

      OK as a mother of two I don’t ‘drink a night’ in a club, if I buy a bottle of wine it’s about £7, colouring would cost me about £70. The last time I went to a restaurant, someone else paid. So no, I really can’t afford it. I don’t even spend that much on Christmas presents for my kids – because I *can’t*.

      • chelsha says:

        I completly agree with this mom. I also have two children & not too long ago a simple trip to mcdonalds for the dollar menu was out of the question. Things have gotten better, and we can afford more but I’d rather spend my $50 spending allowance on a night out with my husband than to pay someone else to do my hair. But then again we are like that. We have money but shop at the goodwill, do our own oil changes, cook dinner at home, and build our own furniture. Come to think of it maybe that’s why we finally have enough spending money to have a date night once a month. I have always used box color & never have I ever had a bad experience, my hair is healthy, shiny, & smooth.

        & to the stylist who told us to stop complaining about the price because she only brings home 800/mth, sorry but most people would rather feed their families than to pay any amount to you just to make you feel validated for all of your education. If it is truly that hard & you make less than you would at mcdonalds, then by all means find a different job but don’t complain about people who are saving money just because you’re not making it.

    • ... says:

      Uhhh this post mad me so angry.. First NOT EVERYONE CAN AFFORD. Are you in there shoes, do you no how they live no. no you dont. so dont tell me what i cant afford.. who gives a crap if i wanna do my own hair, if i damage it, then its my fault right. I agree with if i can save money then im going to, iv been doing my own hair and i havent had anything wrong with it.

  11. Karen says:

    I personally have a hard time going to salons for coloring. The times I have, I am never happy with what I’ve gotten, and that’s even been with salon switches. I paid very good money at one place only to have it pretty much faded out three weeks later. Another place…i spent almost 5 hours in the chair for a simple hair color. She apparently didnt cover everything evenly so had to do it all over again…but i still saw blotchy spots. Not to mention salon coloring always makes me have allergic reactions. So I’ve been coloring my hair myself the last few years, always have way better results because I put it in just how I like it and I have found a brand that finally doesnt give me red itchy skin! I get complements ALL the time on my hair color. And my hair is healthy! I really have no reason to go back to a salon for coloring anymore. I’ve found what works for me and at a waaay better price. Coloring my hair at home is what works for me. However, I cant cut or style my hair to save my life, so that’s when I go to a salon and find it well worth my money.

  12. cheryl says:

    Okay, usually I don’t do this reply to things like this but I am an in-home and mobile stylist. I have come across people that have tried to color their hair with box color going from dark brown – black to blonde. I had 1 incident where a client of mine tried to use box color because she was in desperate need (before she was my client) for her hair to be done. So she went to Walmart of all places and got boxed color and tried it. The next morning I got a phone call from her asking if she could come see me because I have done my sisters hair and she loved it. So on that Saturday she came over to my house her and her little boy at the time around 9ish and didn’t leave until 5:00pm that same day. When she came to see me her roots were bleach blonde and the rest of her hair was a red, orange, and brown in layers. I could see from those layers how many times she had done her hair. After that day of doing her hair I told her that we needed to cut her hair short (it was about down almost to her but), she was all against it as every person would be because they don’t wanna loose there lovely hair. but after me and some of my other clients that same day convinced her we had cut it short to her shoulders and made it look amazing!!


    • Thank you for taking the time to reply. I’m with you, corrective color is so time consuming and exhausting for everyone involved. Not to mention, it hurts to have to tell someone what they don’t want to hear i.e. we need to lob off 6 inches! I’m so glad you made your client happy!

  13. Joshua says:

    If you can’t afford it, you just can’t afford it. Stylists, location is everything, choose a salon with a high end clientele.

  14. Dee says:

    I would never spend money to go to hairdressing school it’s a waste of money unless you go to somewhere like Paul Mitchell either way I have been doing my own hair since I was about 13 I’ve always used box dye and never had too many problems. The $6-$10 at the store is way better then paying hundreds of bucks especially if you want highlights you can get the kit or look it up on you tube. Or have a friend watch the video on YouTube and do your hair for you. Not hard anyone can cut hair I will stay with box dye even if I had the money to get my hair done unless it was for a big event such as a wedding party etc.

  15. Deb says:

    If you can’t afford to go to a salon then look for a cosmetology school. They need the practice, reduced pricing, they have a professional over seeing their work and honestly it has been the best cut and perm ever for me.

  16. brit says:

    I have never commented on one of these before but I just have to. First of all I’m a mother of 4 kids and have to say I’m a cocktail waitress (just BC of the previous comment about cocktail hair. I’m not even sure what that means). I’m 28 years old and take very good care of my hair. Years ago, I would get my hair done every few months and had the money to do so. I’ve been coloring my hair at home for about a year out of the Walmart crap boxes. Now let me say, I’m not stupid. My hair was a deep dark red for a long time. I am obviously not going to color my hair blonde. Its not going to turn out the color on the box. I know that. I have been gradually coloring my hair from red to dark brown and lighter. I went to my hairdresser yesterday to get a cut. I’ve been going to her for years. She said ‘where are you getting your hair colored now? Its so soft and vibrant’. Her exact words. I don’t over do it. I don’t do it too often and I know my limits. I know how hairdressers feel though BC I’m a photographer and I see people getting pictures done and they look awful and they did it BC it was cheap. That bothers me that people will sacrifice good work for saving money. But times are tough. I just don’t have the extra cash to do my hair right now. Like a lot of other moms. I don’t drink or To bars. We don’t go out to eat BC for all 6 of us it would cost an arm and a leg! Its just not there right now. There are other things that I could be spending money on. I love my hairdresser and I do wish I could go to her all the time. But I just can’t. If I get highlights and a fun color I have no way of knowing if I can afford to keep it up or pay for the next time. I don’t think box colors are all bad for everyone. I get compliments on my hair all the time and people seem shocked when I say thanks, its from a box. I’d also like to add that on top of whatever the cut and color costs there’s a tip. I work for tips and would never short on a tip. Its expensive to be beautiful! My hair cost 22 dollars yesterday and I tipped her 15. So even just my cut cost me. BC I know how it feels to work for minimum wage and hope that someone will appreciate your service. OK. Done ranting 🙂

  17. T says:

    I’ve been coloring my own hair for 7+ years with professional products.. That cherry red you were talking about can easily be achieved, I went from a deep brown/black to vibrant red in one dye, they do make specific dyes for dark hair that are less damaging. I haven’t needed a haircut in over a year and I re-do my red every 6 weeks. It all depends on what you use. I would NEVER suggest box dyes/bleach to anyone, mainly because you have no idea what you’re putting in your hair. But that being said there isn’t anything wrong with DIY dye jobs if you know how to do it properly. I feel sorry for any girl who pays $100+ for something they could do on their own for $30, and end up with the same results.

    • This post is about using drug store products, specifically for those who do not understand color theory or how the hair is structured and how it reacts to different chemicals. Glad you found some pro products to get you the color you want!

  18. lynn says:

    lynn says, I have been messed up by a few so call professional expensive shops. Thanks for your insight….Advise well taken .

  19. […] nightmare you can imagine.  Picking up a box of color with a gorgeous model on the cover seems harmless.  Easy right, I want my hair to look like that so that’s the one I’ll get that one.. […]

  20. Kathy says:

    So, first of all, you probably never been at Sally Beauty cause we don’t sell boxed colors. They are professional brands that many haidressers come in to buy! Alot of them! It is far from the drug store colors, which we never recommend to any customers. Most of the employees have been working in the beauty field so they know what they are saying. You are probably mentioning Sally Beauty cause you think we steal your clients. False. If they were loyal to their hairdresser, they wouldnt come to us and second, many times we tell them it would be better to go see an hairdresser.

  21. Kelly says:

    I totally agree…hair color is a science and, unless you want to look like a barbie from the bottom of the toybox, you do need to understand it and take it serious. That being said, you can get a good hair color from a box. They have improved over the years, and as long as you understand what you are doing, it can work well. Does the color last as long? No. But for those of us who can’t afford $120 every 6 weeks, that $11 box works great. I’ve had many stylists from many salons tell me they can’t believe how close the color I use is to my natural color, especially when I tell them its a box.

  22. Dana says:

    To all my fellow cosmetologist on this comment feed stop trying to convince woman on here that we are better then box color, we know we are. All these people will just keep saying they love their home color jobs and dont have the money to pay us, they think it looks good and that their hair is healthy and pretty blah blah blah. We know better I can spot it a mile away, and we are to expensive trying to take their money. Some of us are single moms too, I know what we are saying is valid and true but some people just have the Walmart one stop shop mentality and we can argue the point with them until were blue in theface and it won’t change a thing. So for the clients who do appreciate us thank you , we will keep making y’all look fabulous and stand out from the crowd.

    • Evergreen says:

      Can you really not comprehend that some if us are happy with our DIY jobs? Sometimes you get what you pay for. Other times you don’t.

    • ... says:

      your completely wrong. hahah most hairdressers suck and imma keep doing it myself and not spend money for you to screw my hair out.. im 23 and i can probably do hair better then you and im not even a hairdresser.. just be quiet.. keep making your min wage well i make the good old money coming in with my profession.. you can say you do it to make people happy, but happy doesnt pay the bills. lol

  23. DRay says:

    If anyone on here commenting about how much they love their box color could tell me what volume developer is standard in a box color, then alright you win.. Wait no, next question. What is each volume of developer used for? If your hair is at a level 9 and you want to be at a 5, how would you get there? Which colors would you pick to get the proper pigment, depth, and overall look you are going for? Do you need to repigment? And which volume developer should you use? Are there grays, if so what needs to be added to cover that? If you can answer these questions, than awesome, if not, PUT THE BOX DOWN! And yes even Sally’s color is better than box, but not the best. And as a stylist going into Sally’s some of the employees do know a bit, some think they do and have told me stuff that leave me crackin up to think they are giving advice to home colorists! Stylists don’t tell you these things to take ur money, (well some do I’m sure) we tell you to save your hair from color correction, hot roots, lifeless color (which is a dead give away that someone has used box color) and damage to your hair and in some cases scalp! I spent 14,500$ and 1200 hours on my education, to say 20 minutes of research on google makes u qualified to do all over lightener is an insult! Happy scalp burns! 🙂

    • KP says:


    • anna says:

      Double amen to that!

    • jesusismyhomeboy says:

      I’ve had my hair lightened from a natural light blonde to ashy platinum. Done from two different but very expensive and reputable salons/stylists and both times my scalp was fried. I has scabs all over my head. When I used to get highlights from my old stylist I never had that issue. When I boxed lightened I never had that issue (not going to lie the results were not salon quality). Fact of the matter is I don’t want to go pay 150 + dollars for russian roulette on my scalp. If I want to play with colour that will probably fade in a few weeks it’s better to try a box for me personally. Usually the colour I ask for in a salon they cannot do and I end up settling. If I do it at home I can fail and try again knowing it was my own fault. I tried purple at a salon I had pictures and pointed to the colour on the chart. When they washed it out my hair was grey. I spent a few more hours re doing it and it still wasn’t the colour I wanted going in.

      I’m not saying all stylists are hacks with big egos and no talent. I am saying that sometimes it’s not economical for a person who wants to experiment to spend a ton of money doing it. Not every experiment in life works but why not try.

      I’m not qualified to do others hair, but don’t tell me I am a joke to you or your peers if I want to play with my look myself. Your offering a service, not a necessity to living. I appreciate the skill that goes into being a stylist, the passion, the time, but don’t tell us we are stupid for our own decisions when you don’t know why we did it in the first place. Maybe you offer cheap packages, services etc but still not everyone can afford that and if we want to make a change to ourselves and feel like a new person then power to us and our box dye jobs.

      • jesusismyhomeboy says:

        I have had wonderful stylist who i was faithful to and they moved on. I respect and appreciate them and i tip well. I am not a bad person who deserves to be belittled because i chose to do something myself. Going to the salon is therapy for me, but again it’s not always feasible and roots don’t suit my taste after a certain point. So please have some respect. I work hard just like you, I eat, sleep, and breathe just like you. We should just encourage people to do what makes people feel beautiful. Whether it be salon service or do it yourself.

    • CAPABLE diy'er says:

      I realize this post is old…but I have to comment. I am not a hairdresser. To answer Your questions 20vol is the standard in box color. Not that I use it. 15vol and below are used for toning/going darker. 20vol is used for one level of lift and best for covering grays. 30vol for two levels of lift and 40vol for three. These are debatable and vary per brand as some say 20vol lifts 2 levels, 30vol lifts 3 and 40vol lifts 4…regardless you get the point of what they are used for. To go from a level 9 to 5 you would need to pre pig 2 levels lighter than your desired level replacing the missing pigments. So a level 7 (red/orange) would work. Based on manufacturer directions this can be done different ways. One way this can be done, apply color straight on the hair, then target shade can be applied over this. I prefer to rinse and dry then apply the target shade. The target shade is applied with a 10vol since no lift is required. Covering grays…I have none, but it is best done using 20vol with NN/double neutral base. I work in heath care and have never been to beauty school, but believe or not, some of us non pros are more than capable of doing our own hair! Why? Not because I don’t enjoy going and getting pampered, but because I’m broke!!! That doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to look great! I don’t claim to know it all, but I know enough to get the results I want. I know I’m not the only one…I also don’t go out to eat EVER, or out to bars buying bottles, because I’m broke and my kids needs always trump mine on the list of expenses.

  24. pennyfinley says:

    Thank you Dana and Dray!!! They just say that they’re happy because it makes the wallet feel better. It’s maybe… okay. It’s never a great color job. The fact that they say “dye” says enough. I have plenty of clients that color their own hair and I just don’t say a word… But if only humans could take off their own heads and see the back and sides. Because; new flash… you can’t see the back and sides. Ask your stylist.

    • D says:

      Anyone can see the back of their head with a mirror. I do my color myself and was taught by my grandmother who has been a hairdresser for 60 years and owned two salons and having gone half way through an actual cosmetology school (only reason I left was school didn’t pay the bills for my daughter and I, and work came first). With my pixie cut it is not worth it for me to pay $60+ to have my hairdresser/stylist apply my color. for $60+ I have enough color to do my hair a few times.

    • ... says:

      you can get mad at you want.. not gonna make people come to you . lol

  25. Addie says:

    First, I’m not a stylist. I feel stuck at the moment to be honest. The last two times I went and had my hair colored at a expensive salon my colored turned out a terrible. First time, my hairstylist colored my black hair brown. She gave me bleached blond highlights as well making me it look horrible and feel crispy. With my olive skin this color did not look.
    Second time was my fault. I went to another posh salon. This young lady told me she knew exactly what to do with my hair without listening what I saying. I should have known. My color ended up light orange. I said never again!
    Now, many years later, I have greys, so I have no choice to color my hair. I’ve been using harsh box color, but of course I’m happy with it either. I think I’m going to try henna again like I used. Hopefully it works on greys and is a healthier option.

  26. Missy says:

    I very much agree when it comes to bleach. I am a natural brunette who is in love with her blonde locks. Would I ever do it myself? Absolutely not!

    However… My mom has brown hair that she was trying to cover just slight graying in and got hers done (at a franchise crappy salon, not where I go) and after 2 attempts at them fixing the horrendous brassy color they gave her I stepped in. We went to Sally’s and matched her roots to a nice medium ash brown color and bought the stuff. I have done a few friends hair at their request while in college, so I had an idea of what I am doing though I am no pro!
    My dye job on her hair looks 200 times better than what a salon attempted to fix, twice! The second fix was even attempted at another salon! So is it impossible to dye hair at home and make it look good? No. Are you wanting a dramatic change? Then go to a salon. But if all you are trying to do is match your natural and cover grey, read the instructions it’s not that hard to do! (though I stay away from drug store boxes!)

  27. Jadyn says:

    I worked at a high end salon as a manager for four years and have been independent and have my own salon for three. When I left I lowered my prices and started buying better quality products. Did I lose profit? Absolutely. Did I lose clients? Absolutely not. Over the years I have had clients that have gone through demotions, losing their jobs, divorces, losing their pets, and even having children. I’ve had clients come to me and tell me I would love to come in but I just can’t afford it and honestly I’ve never turned them down. I work within their budget and will do what I can so they still feel good about themselves. Why? Because that’s why I do my job. I go to work knowing I’m gonna make people feel good and look good. That’s my payment. And one day if they have extra money send it my way. If not, that’s okay too because it was a gift from me to them. I haven’t lost any of those clients and once they are out of their situations they keep coming back. I don’t rip people off, I don’t cut corners and that’s why I’m successful. Each client is my boss, and if your hair dresser isn’t willing to take care of you, then I suggest you find someone else who doesn’t see you as just another head of hair.

  28. Jane McGuire says:

    I think, regardless of our profession or how much money we do or don’t have, as women we should be supporting each other. If someone thinks they look good – they probably do because they have confidence. If all a woman can afford is an $8.00 box of color, we should support that. I was a single mom once upon a time and it was really hard. So – to all the professional hair people out there – good job – you usually succeed in making me feel good. To all the women who can’t get their hair done professionally – you look great!

  29. […] in Natural Blonde 9A. I used box color because my mom used box color.  After I read her  Facebook post about DIY Home Color  I felt embarrassed. I felt bad. And I felt ripped off by the commercials and […]

  30. Couch999 says:

    Honestly, I have done both box coloring and professional coloring to my hair, and both worked well for me. It makes me kind of laugh when stylists go on a rant about how complicated dying hair is. Oh sorry, “coloring.” They try to make it sound like they are performing open heart surgery. My hair is beautiful and healthy and the past two times I have colored it were from a box. Many times i have had my hair professionally done and been dissapointed with the results. Stylists will rant on and on about how hard doing hair is. It’s really not that hard. It’s just hair, at the end of the day.

  31. Melissa says:

    OMG! If you are THAT broke, your hair and other vanity issues should be your last priority. Just like Nail Salons, yes you can “paint” your own fingers and toes at home… but does it compare to a professional job? No! I would never do my own cuticles or use a razor to remove calloused since I could end up doing more harm. Same with my hair. Its a small luxury I afford myself every 8 weeks ( I say eight weeks because I actually by the proper shampoo conditioner and styling products to keep my hair from fading).

  32. […] DIY Home Hair Color | The Furry Couch – Step 1. DON’T. Just stop. Stop perusing the aisle of Walgreens or Sally Beauty Supply looking for your next DIY project for your hair. Don’t look at the model on …… […]

  33. […] Diy home hair color | the furry couch […]

  34. […] Diy home hair color | the furry couch […]

  35. hope says:

    How long do you have to weight before dying your hair again? I tried to do the at home high lights and completely messed my hair up I need help! What do I do?

    • I would recommend seeing a professional that can assess the damage. Schedule a consultation. Those are free! Without looking at your hair I couldn’t tell you how soon. Some hair can’t handle it and will melt off with any further chemical process and some hair can really take a beating. A stylist will be able to tell you. But find a reputable one. Not every stylist is pure of heart!

  36. Have you ever struggled? Last time I went to a hair salon to get only color, and I paid 150.00. No. Just NO. No one that is struggling in this economy is going to have that much to just dish out… Well unless you want to eat ramen noodles for the rest of the month. That shouldn’t stop you from being a girl and changing up your look. Just do it the right way. Even in a salon they use chemicals on your hair the only difference is that they use special conditioning treatments and products like “ITS TEN” to give your hair back the oils that its been striped of. Yes a hairstylist uses the best of the best, but you should be more open to the fact that most people age 19-25 do not have money like that, so maybe you should right a blog about safe hair dyes to use at home, and the steps to make sure your hair doesn’t turn the color of a rainbow. At least then you would be giving out helpful information. By the way if you ladies want color mixed professionally for an affordable cost. I recommend (E SALON) you can buy it online and have it delivered! They also let you submit a picture of your hair so that they give you the correct dye for the color you want to achieve. Works great and saves you the problem of going to Walgreen, and hopefully choosing a good one. Check it out! I put the link below 😉

    • Professional salon services are a luxury. They aren’t for everyone. One must adjust their expectations according to their budget, plain and simple. I appreciate your suggestion, but I will never condone at home color/box color. A safe at home color doesn’t exist. Even loreal and schwarzkopf which have professional lines don’t make a safe version. They too cut corners to make the at home version cheap, meaning harsher agents and cheaper fillers. It’s similar to the food issue. People can’t afford to eat healthy and organic all the time. Most do the best they can with what they have. Beauty Schools are an affordable alternative to pro salons.

      • Ty says:

        Did you just liken hair care to nutrition? This is the most vapid exchange ive seen in a looooooong time.

        Hey anyone that can’t afford to get their hair done, don’t buy box color. It’s a waste of money. Just get professional products online :3
        Or at a store, ive been buying professional products for a long time, I was being wella’ s professional line at 15. If you go to a store and they won’t sell to you(this has never happened to me or anyone I know) just do your research and buy what you need online :3
        It’s really easy. Kinda like doing a tint retouch, it’s really easy haha. Salons are great, if you want amazing hair go to a salon but if you can’t afford it figure stuff out on your own. Women have been doing exactly that for centuries.

        – certified stylist/makeup artist

      • That you don’t associate putting chemicals on someone’s scalp to their health and nutrition surprises me. Mind you I have a graduate degree in medical sciences so I have a deeper understanding of anatomy and physiology, but even the basic education that beauty school teaches you covers the ragged edge of the effect of these chemicals on the body. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to leave this comment.

      • Ty says:

        You’re welcome, look your probably not a crappy person and I’m sure your intentions weren’t negative but this post comes across as condescending and patronizing, not to mention completely insensitive. If you don’t believe me, fine…just look at the comments on this post. You obviously offended a lot of people. I blog myself, have many subscribers I understand what it’s like to have people come down on you and unintentionally offend people. Look at what you posted, seriously. Really look at it, from the perspective of say a single mom trying her best to look her best, maybe revise your post with that in mind? Creativity should be celebrated not ridiculed and like I said I don’t think that’s what your intention was but that’s how it comes across. Really. Let’s br inclusive as a community and industry and not insult people that don’t have our training. That’s not kind.

      • I love your perspective! Of course it wasn’t my intention. I don’t expect everyone to agree. And I can’t keep track of how it may offend someone. I speak of what I believe in. If someone is offended, they can probably find millions of other blog entries that share their stance. Never any hard feelings. I’m speaking as an industry professional and nothing else. In my salon, we focus on client education and it is my priority to speak honestly and clearly about what I know. It wouldn’t do my clients or blog readers any favors if I sugar coated things and muddled my ultimate message. It’s just my perspective. Thank you again for your input. I truly appreciate it.

  37. CAPABLE diy'er says:

    I realize this post is old…but I have to comment. I am not a hairdresser. To answer DRays questions 20vol is the standard in box color. Not that I use it. 15vol and below are used for toning/going darker. 20vol is used for one level of lift and best for covering grays. 30vol for two levels of lift and 40vol for three. These are debatable and vary per brand as some say 20vol lifts 2 levels, 30vol lifts 3 and 40vol lifts 4…regardless you get the point of what they are used for. To go from a level 9 to 5 you would need to pre pig 2 levels lighter than your desired level replacing the missing pigments. So a level 7 red/orange would work well. Based on manufacturer directions this can be done different ways. Often this color would be applied straight in the hair, then target shade can be applied over this. I prefer to rinse and dry then apply the target shade. This with be done with a 10vol since no lift is required. Covering grays…I have none, but it is best done using 20vol with NN/double neutral base. I work in heath care and have never been to beauty school, but believe or not, some of us non pros are more than capable of doing our own hair! Why? Not because I don’t enjoy going and getting pampered, but because I’m broke!!! That doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to look great! I don’t know it all, but I know enough to get the results I want. I know I’m not the only one…

    • Wonderful. Also look into demi permanent color because that’s what you would use to “fill” (pre-pig) the hair and to coat again because using 15 vol and permanent color would damage the hair. Also when you address levels you need to specify if you’re using American or European product because that changes everything. The other thing to note would be undertones when lifting or depositing. And it’s not necessary that one would follow that rule with developers as you mentioned. There are times you would not do that and use 30 instead of 20 or even a combination of some sort. Developer strength is more about vibrancy than level lift or deposit so you’re severely limiting yourself with that logic. Another thing to note would be base tones. You wouldn’t always use double pigment colors for Gray coverage at least not right away. You risk losing translucency and shine that way so you’d want to add gold perhaps first before determining that Gray hair needs a double pigment. Some lines have a green base some have blue and some pull more red than other lines. Of course everyone deserves to look great, but keep in mind hair services are a luxury. And just like one can tell a designer outfit from one that is not the same goes for hair. Now if someone told me that the only way to look decent is with a wardrobe from Balmain…I wouldn’t get offended. I would say “Too right…but I’ll continue shopping at H&M until I can do that.” I certainly wouldn’t shit all over an expert and try to convince them I know just as much about fashion as they do.

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