10 steps that will ensure you nail your at-home hair colour

Your DIY guide to dying your own hair so it looks like you splashed out on a pro

marie claire Contributor / April 13 2018

Colouring your own hair can be daunting, but the time and money you save going the DIY route makes it an enticing option. If you’re feeling the pinch and want to give an at-home hair colour a whirl, read this guide first to ensure you nail the application. 


Pick the right formula

Permanent colour lasts longer, while semi-permanents are ideal for “first-time colourists, covering a few greys, or for those who regularly change their colour”, explains Claire Tapp, National Education Manager for L’Oréal Paris. For a semi-permanent wash in an on-trend colour, try L'Oréal Paris Colorista Wash Out, and for a more natural-looking permanent hair colour try Revlon ColorSilk.

At-Home Hair Colours


Find your match

“Whether you’re going lighter or darker, stay within two shades of your natural colour to ensure your new hue flatters your skin tone and eyes,” suggests Tapp.


Take a test

To keep sensitive scalps happy, do a patch test at least 48 hours prior to colour application to ensure there’s no itching, burning or discomfort.


Don’t over-wash your hair pre-colour

Your natural oils help protect the scalp when using permanent or semi-permanent colour; dirty hair, however, can prevent the dye from penetrating. Apply your home hair colour to second-day hair to get the balance of oils just right.


Follow instructions

“Enclosed information explains how to apply colour for first-time users,” advises Tapp. “For frequent reapplication, it helps avoid colour build-up on the ends.”


Take another test

Mix the colourant with the developer and apply to a strand of hair (root to tip). Leave for the total recommended time, then check the result. 


Protect yourself

Smear some Vaseline around the hairline and on ears to avoid staining (otherwise, use a gentle exfoliant or cleanser to wash 
off stains, or try 1000 Hour Hair Color Stain Remover).

At-Home Hair Dye Essentials


Skip the brows

Never apply home hair colourant on your eyebrows – only use
 a specially formulated brow product for the delicate eye area. Try Maybelline New York Tattoo Brow 3 Day Gel Tint - it's an at-home brow tint that lasts up to three days.

Maybelline New York Tattoo Brow 3 Day Gel Tint


Use the included conditioner

“This eliminates excess colourant and re-establishes your hair’s natural pH balance by closing the cuticle,” explains Tapp.


Toss the rest

Mixed formula loses its potency over time (this is why the components are packaged separately).


If you're after red carpet-worthy hair every day of the week, here are six need-to-know tips from Margot Robbie's hair colourist.

For more hair advice from marie claire, check out marieclaire.com.au

Do you prefer a DIY or pro approach to colouring your hair? Share with us your go-to product or hairdresser below!

Main image credit: Getty

A beauty editor and vitamin C fanatic who has worked across a range of print and digital publications, including Stellar, marie claire, Gritty Pretty and Badlands Journal.