What you need to know when making a major hair colour change

From how to pick the right hue to your maintenance must-haves

Ready for a major hair transformation to start the year off with wow factor? We spoke to the experts for their best advice on how to get a flawless hue – and how to keep it that way.

Brunette beauties

To find your perfect shade of brown – from warm to cool or ashy – “pull your hair back and hold swatches near your face to see what pops,” says Nathan Armagnacq, salon partner at Oscar Oscar Salons in St Kilda and Chadstone, Melbourne. While a single shade is classic, a new alternative is strobing. Similar to makeup, you “lighten sections of hair using a contouring placement technique to create a natural sun-kissed effect,” he says.

Maintenance must-have: Dry shampoo. Frequent cleansing may cause your shade to fade, so use a tinted dry shampoo like Moroccanoil Dry Shampoo Dark Tones to soak up excess oil, meaning you can go an extra day between washes.

Protect your strands: Heated styling tools don’t just damage your hair, they can wreak havoc with your colour. A heat protectant, misted pre-styling, will act as a shield. We love Redken Iron Shape II.

Enhance shine: Brunette hair oftens looks healthier than other hair colours, but you need to keep your strands nourished to maximise that glossy sheen. Creightons Beautiful Brunette with Argan & Chestnut Conditioner contains ultra-nourishing pro-vitamin B5 to help enhance your colour and shine.

Moroccanoil Dry Shampoo Dark Tones

Redken Iron Shape II

Creightons Beautiful Brunette Argan Chestnut Conditioner

Blonde ambition

Take a photo of your perfect shade to the salon to help your colourist understand whether you’re after a warm or cool hue, says Monique McMahon, owner of Que Colour in Darlinghurst, Sydney. “The focus should be on the condition of your hair and the right shade for your skin and eye colour.” Toners add reflection to blonde strands, she says, and “they’re also a way to customise the tone.” Keep it fresh with a touch-up every six to eight weeks.

Maintenance must-have: It’s wise to invest in a purple or silver shampoo to eliminate brassy tones. Ask your colourist for advice on how often you should use the product and how long you should leave it on for best results. Try Matrix Total Results Color Obsessed So Silver Shampoo.

Get brighter: With nourishing almond butter and buriti oil, Christophe Robin Shade Variation Baby Blond is a hair treatment that neutralises yellow and grey strands, boosts shine and helps evenly distribute colour for a bright, glossy blonde.

Touch up: Finding it hard to get an appointment at the salon? Mist L’Oréal Paris Magic Retouch Instant Root Concealer Spray in Blonde on your roots to instantly conceal regrowth. Better still, it washes out with shampoo.

Salon treatments to try

Redken Express Color: To maintain your shade between appointments, try Radiant Blur, one of Redken’s new Express Color services. It’s a fast way to brighten blonde and minimise the appearance of regrowth.

Olaplex: This two-step treatment is applied to your hair while it’s being dyed to strengthen strands. It’s ideal for blondes because it lets your colourist go several shades lighter without breakage.

Matrix Total Results Color Obsessed So Silver Shampoo

Christophe Robin Shade Variation Baby Blond

L’Oréal Paris Magic Retouch Instant Root Concealer Spray

Back to black

For jet hair, a high shine finish is a necessity – if it’s dry, it can have a witch-like effect, says Shari Reynolds, head colourist at Barney Martin in Sydney’s Surry Hills. “As a trend, black is having a moment, and the idea is to have the colour as patent as possible,” she says. “Noir can be an exciting hue to experiment with and can carry various makeup looks.” You should take your skin tone into account; consider adding a hint of bronzer to warm up your complexion and avoid looking washed out.

Maintenance must-have: A shampoo like Aveda Black Malva Shampoo that eliminates red and brassy tones. It contains organically grown black malva and black tea to nourish and hydrate dry strands.

Go for gloss: Infused with nourishing argan, cassis-seed and jasmine oils, plus shea butter, Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil is great for darker strands. “It gives the most incredible shine,” says Reynolds.

Care and repair: Ideal for coloured or damaged lengths, Alterna Caviar Repair Fill & Fix Treatment Masque has strand-building proteins to repair the hair cuticle.

Salon treatments to try

Wella System Professional Colour Save Treatment: Using the brand’s 3D technology, it protects your colour from sun damage and fading.

Kérastase Fusio-Dose: This two-step treatment uses concentrates and boosters to treat everything from over-processing to dullness.

Aveda Black Malva Shampoo

Oribe Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil

Alterna Caviar Repair Fill & Fix Treatment Masque

Fiery red

Red hair requires serious commitment because it fades easily, says McMahon. Remember it’s not just over-washing that causes problems: extended time in the sun and swimming in chlorinated water are other contributing factors. While your hair colour will typically require a touch-up every six weeks, McMahon says upkeep is also important: “Your strands will look best when they are vibrant and shiny.” In addition to using a nourishing mask at home, McMahon says you should “make time for a maintenance toner or colour-shine treatment between appointments.”

Maintenance must-have: A colour gloss can be used weekly to encourage shine and add dimension and highlights. John Frieda Colour Refreshing Gloss comes in two shades for redheads, one for cool reds and the other for warm tones.

Boost your hue: Suitable for all shades of red, Joico Color Infuse Red Shampoo brightens highlights and minimises fading, thanks to an antioxidant-rich formula that also strengthens hair.

Protect your colour: Goldwell Kerasilk Color Intensive Luster Mask contains keratin and tamanu oil to condition and hydrate dry hair.

John Frieda Colour Refreshing Gloss

Joico Color Infuse Red Shampoo

Goldwell Kerasilk Color Intensive Luster Mask

Ready to take the plunge? These are the hair salons where our beauty editors get their hair coloured.

For more hair advice from the InStyle beauty team, stop by instylemag.com.au

Main image credit: Getty

Hayley has contributed to a range of online and print titles including InStyle and Gritty Pretty