Coloring your hair is easy. Getting a good hair color job is harder. Here are some things you should keep in mind as you consider coloring your hair.

  • There are different "levels" of color based on how much light each color reflects. Black is a 1 on the scale because it reflects very little light, while light blonde is more like a 10 because it reflects a lot of light. Most hair colors go by this system, so realize that the higher the number, the lighter the color.
  • Permanent hair color chemically alters the hair and can't be washed out or undone. It's usually expensive and can potentially be damaging to hair, so make sure you're really ready to color your hair before you do this, and leave it to a professional.
  • Semi-permanent hair color doesn't change the hair as much as permanent, but it also, can only darken hair. It's great for covering gray hair, but it has to be reapplied as it fades out if you want to keep the same color. It can be done at home by an amateur (as long as you do your homework). Most semi-permanents are what's called "single process," meaning that it only takes one step to get the right color. Double processes (bleaching and then coloring) are trickier and can come out horribly wrong if you don't know what you're doing.
  • Deposit only color is nice when you just want to change your hair color one or two levels - to brighten it or darken it a little. Glazes and translucents are less damaging to the hair because they take very low levels of peroxide to enhance your color.
  • Lightening dark hair is risky if you're doing it yourself, even if you can buy products at home that will do it. If you want to improve your appearance rather than detracting from it, do your homework about what you want to do, and consider going to a professional if it isn't a process that's conducive to home coloring.
  • When you lighten hair, it produces undertones, usually red or yellow. The problem is when those mix and produce orange hair. Adding warm tones to cool-colored hair won't produce as much orange as adding more warmth to already warm hair, but it's still a risk if you don't know what you're doing. Try doing strand tests to make sure you know how it's going to come out before you dye everything.
  • Don't try to color long hair by yourself. In order to get even color, get someone to help you, and apply color to the ends last.
Don't be impatient with hair color, especially if you are doing it yourself. Learning all you can could be the difference between great color and orange.