Top 10 Tips Our Colorists Want You to Know

Looking for home coloring tips, tricks, and basic do’s and don’ts? Our colorists rounded up their best advice on what to know before, during, and after you color. 

Do you ever go to a salon and think, “if a colorist could tell me their best-kept hair color secrets, what would they say?” You’re in luck. Our expert colorists want you to know their secrets, so we rounded up our top 10 most important tips and tricks for getting and maintaining brilliant hair color, right at home. Lean in and listen up.

01 Know how much gray you have.

First things first: get to know your grays. Simply put, grays happen naturally over time as hair loses pigment or melanin. To figure out your amount of gray hair, start by looking at your roots and checking out how much you see. Has only a little gone gray? Most of it? Dig around and try different part lines—you may discover grays that you didn’t even know about. If you’re still unsure of how much you have, we suggest going the safe route by overestimating your amount of grays rather than underestimating them. That way, you help ensure that your colorist will formulate 100% gray coverage for your roots and beyond.

02 Know how often to color.

Everyone’s color is slightly different, and depending on the vibrancy, gray coverage, and tone of your shade, you may need a color refresh more often than you think. On average, hair grows about ½ inch per month, and tends to grow quicker in the summer and slower in the winter. Our suggested color cadence? Find a frequency you are comfortable with and stick to it. If you over-color, you can cause damage. Under-color, and risk dull hair with sprouting grays (we’ll pass, thanks). Speaking of grays, if more than half your hair has crossed over to the other side, you’ll most likely need to color your hair at a rate of 6 weeks and under. Long story short: the more grays you have, the more frequently you’ll need to color. We also recommend pigmented formulas like our Tint Rinse to help to maintain your color in-between applications.

03 If you're not sure, do a strand test.

We get it—you want to jump in and get-ta-coloring! But strand tests are key to ensuring that you're getting your dream color before committing to a full application. Simply take a strip of hair that isn’t super visible, mix and apply your color as directed, and see how the final result looks. Is it everything and more? Needs extra warmth or brightness? Use your strand test to gauge your color happiness. It takes some patience, but we promise it’s worth it. Watch how it’s done here.

04 Use a hair mask the day before you color.

Pretreat your hair to a deep conditioning hair mask a day before you plan to color. (We may be biased, but we think our moisture mask is the best of the best.) By conditioning before you color, your hair’s cuticle will open up, helping your hair color deposit more seamlessly while also retaining moisture. Trust us, your hair will thank you.

05 Unbox everything before you apply.

So your custom color kit arrived and you can’t wait to dive right in (understandable). We say pump the breaks and make sure you unpack and layout everything in your kit first, that way your tools are super easy to grab once you’ve got your gloves on. Also be sure to read through your instructions before jumping straight to the fun. Remember: our instructions are personalized to you, and may change each time you apply or reformulate your shade. Take your time and take it in.

06 Select the right tools for you.

Tools and technique can make all the difference when it comes to the ease and evenness of your color application. Typically, we prefer the “bowl and brush” technique, which involves mixing your color into a bowl and using a brush to apply and press the formula into your hair. This technique is also super precise, so that you don’t miss a spot. For shorter hair, we do have to hand it to the “bottle technique,” which involves mixing your formula directly in your bottle and using the nozzle to apply color. This method will make for a speedier application. Of course, you can always get the best of both worlds and do a combination of the two, using the bottle to apply color directly to the roots and the brush to paint it in. Pick your technique and Color Tools, and become the pro we know you can be.

07 Carefully follow your personalized instructions.

This is hands down the most important tip. Think of your personalized instructions as your passport and your dream color as your destination: you won’t land without it. We advise that you read through your instructions before you begin. Again, they’re made just for you! So making sure that you soak in the steps before you start will ensure that your color is oh-my-goodness-who-did-your-hair good. Oh, and remember: after you apply your color, make sure you process it for the full time indicated. Keep in mind that while your color is processing, it might look different from the color you’re expecting—don’t worry. This is totally normal, and is your color “oxidizing” (fancy, huh?), which basically means oxygen is helping your formula to make its magic. Trust in the process and know that beautiful color awaits.

08 Water temperature matters.

Whether you like your shower sauna-status or waterfall brisk, the temperature matters when it comes to maintaining your hair color. Even though brighter shades like red or violet tend to fade much quicker than other colors, all shades benefit from rinsing with cooler water over steamier temps, which will open the hair’s cuticle and cause faster fade. Our mantra? “Cold closes the cuticle causing consistently coveted color” (say that 10-times fast). Pro tip: a quick blast of cold water before getting out of the shower can help maintain your hair color and even adds a glossy shine.

09 Use color protective formulas.

If you’re not careful, some products can strip away that gorgeous hue of yours. Protect your shade from fade with a shampoo and conditioner that’s safe for color-treated hair. Any product that says “color care” and “sulfate free” is a friend of your custom color.

10 We’re committed to your Color Happiness.

Honestly. If you’re not 100% overjoyed with your color, we can always reformulate and tweak your tone to make sure that we get it juuust right. Your color is entirely customized, and we can even reformulate to an adjustment as small as ¼ of a shade (not even joking). There’s no such thing as settling in our world: just custom color, made especially for you.