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How to dye your hair at home: All the tricks and techniques behind a flawless colouring job

How to dye your hair at home: All the tricks and techniques behind a flawless colouring job

A lick of paint

Text: Emily Heng


What is it about quarantine that had us doing questionable things to do our hair? As of late, we've heard stories of many who have cut, shaved, and, now, dyed it a kaleidoscope of colours to varying results. Perhaps it has to do with the impermanent nature of our locks (it grows, right?) or maybe it's all just bravado in the face of troubled times (understandable). Either way, we're all for experimenting and change — provided it's done right, of course. Last time, we heard from our favourite snip connoisseurs on how to trim your mane. This time, we spoke to a professional colourist on aceing an at-home dye job. A fresh new hue with no mishaps, mangling, or mess-ups? Sounds like music to our ears.

What tools do you need?

Before you begin the dyeing process, make sure you're armed with gloves, clips, and a cape. The latter is especially important if you're wearing something you want to keep — it's going to get messy, folks, and it ain't easy getting hair dye out of fabric. I, beauty writer Emily Heng, swear by the DIY dye kits at Daiso. You get everything you could possibly need (including a shower cap!) at the low, low price of $2.

Is there a surefire way to pick the right hair colour?

Valerie Koh, director of Juno Hair, has a lot to say about this. "It's best to seek advice from your go-to stylist on which box dye gives the closest colour to what you're hoping to achieve," she remarks. "There is no definite answer as to which colour suits all. To me, though, it's safest to opt for a shade that is just one tone darker than your current colour. Don't go for too-dark or black shades either — it can create patchiness that will be pain for your stylist to correct, after."

How should you dye your own hair?

First things first, divide your hair into sections. "You want the dye to look as even as possible," Valerie points out. "I'll be honest: the longer the hair, the trickier it is. The more volume you have, the more difficult, too. Use clips and ties to secure said sections."

Don't wash your locks before dyeing either. This is because the natural sebum your scalp produces will protect your scalp. For those with lesser or thinning hair, make sure not to apply too much colour on your roots as it could cause inflammation where it'll feel hot to touch. Those with sensitive scalps should opt for organic dyes that are designed for them.

Once that's done, refer to instructions on your box dye. If you opted for a Bubble Hair Colour option, mix up the formulation before kneading it through locks. Those who've opted for a more traditional type comes with a brush that allows you to paint the colour on, section-by-section.

"Don't ever start from the top of your head because that's where it contains the most heat," Valerie advises. "The colour then tends to process faster thanks to the density and heat from the area." Instead, begin a half-inch away from your scalp and work towards the ends. Then, halfway through your processing time (as indicated on the box dye you've selected), go back and cover those roots.

Should you bleach your hair at home?

It's a no on this front. "I strongly do not recommend self-bleaching," Valerie points out. "Mostly because it can cause serious hair breakage when not done by a professional, and can even scald your skin and scalp to a certain degree where bald patches will form. Yes, your hair can — literally — melt off."

How can you maintain your new hair colour?

A colour shampoo and conditioner does the trick. Valerie finds that the best quality ones are sold at salons, but you can always trawl online for picks from Kérastase, Libel, Shiseido, and Aveda. Go the extra mile and give colour-preserving masks and oils a go, too, while you're at it.

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