Let's say you happened to find a promising box of hair dye during your grocery run. There's no harm in trying it, of course, but would the result turn out better than if you were to have your hair professionally colored? Probably not. But would it have to do while you're in between salon appointments? Definitely.
To make sure you don't end up regretting it though, it's best to know exactly how to use box dyes to your advantage. Not only will you be more likely to get the result you want, it'll save you from needing an emergency SOS trip to the salon, too! Keep scrolling for our step-by-step guide:
How to Color Your Own Hair Using Box Hair Dyes
Step 1: Choose your dye.
When choosing which color to pick up, don't depend on the photo of the model on the packaging. Instead, turn the box to its side and check the table that shows how the color will develop on certain hair colors. This would help you manage your expectations of the color and see if it's actually right for you. (Need some recommendations? Check out some pro-approved color trends here!)
Aside from choosing the shade, you have to decide on the type of dye you want. For a long-lasting color and more drastic change, choose a permanent dye. For subtle changes, semi-permanent dyes are the way to go. The main difference between the two is that semi-permanent hair colors fade faster, don't contain developers like peroxide or ammonia (permanent dyes do), and are safe for processed hair like permed and relaxed locks.
Step 2: Do a patch test.
Before using the dye, apply a small amount of it behind your ear (use a cotton swab or the tip of your coloring brush) and leave it on for at least 48 hours. If you don't develop an allergic reaction to the dye, then you can safely proceed with the coloring! Always do this if you're trying a new brand or formula for the first time, just to be safe!
Step 3: Protect your clothes, hands, and skin.
Hair dye can stain everything from your skin to your clothes, so prepare some protective layers to shield yourself from the color. To protect your clothes, wear an old top that you wouldn't mind getting stained (just in case) and cover your clothes with newspapers or a plastic bag. Apply a layer of petroleum jelly on your hairline, ears, and the nape of your neck to prevent the dye from sticking to those areas. Last but not the least, protect your hands by wearing the plastic gloves that come with most box dyes.
Step 4: Prepare your dye mixture.
Pour your dye mixture into either a bowl and mix it with your coloring brush. Make sure to use either a glass or plastic bowl and avoid metal containers since these will cause the dye to oxidize and change color.
Step 5: Apply the dye.
Most box dyes are designed to be used on dry hair that's not freshly-washed, so you don't need to shampoo or wet your hair before putting on the color unless the product you're using says otherwise. That doesn't mean you should randomly start painting, though! Always divide your hair in sections using clips before applying the dye to avoid the color from ending up patchy or streaky.
Step 6: Let it develop.
Follow the instructions on the box to see exactly how long you should leave the color on your strands. If it's your first time trying the brand or type you're using, follow the time stated just to be safe. If it isn't your first rodeo with this box dye, adding or subtracting five to 10 minutes to get the results you want shouldn't hurt!
Step 7: Rinse and condition.
Once the dye is done developing, rinse it off until the water runs clear. Avoid shampooing your hair right after (you don't have to, promise!) since this would just wash off a layer of your fresh color. Instead, finish off with conditioner in the shower to close the cuticles of your hair and lock in the shade. This is a crucial step, and is the reason why almost all box dyes come with its own packet of conditioner!