How to Dye Your Hair at Home

Attractive woman with multiple tones of cool hair colors throughout her hair

The Ultimate Guide to Dyeing Your Hair

Want to learn how to dye your hair at home? Doing your homework ahead of time may save you more heartache than you might imagine. Bookmark this guide, and take these steps to help you make good hair color decisions.

Being a professional and trying to describe, ‘how to dye your hair at home ‘ is kind of oxymoron. But, I remember all those years I dyed my hair before getting into the business and I did alright, no major faux-pas. I was a cautious user though, always staying within two shades of my natural hair color, and only used henna dye at first and semi-permanent colors later.

I’ve since that time come across many faux-pas made by DIY’ers that have left them devastated and tearful. My best advice for those of you who want to dye your hair is to take your time, do your homework, always read directions and start slow. Start with a temporary or semi-permanent color and don’t go more than two shades darker than your natural color . . . if you make a mistake, it’s not permanent and your hair won’t break off!

How do you find the perfect hair color?

  1. Determine the current tone and level of your hair color. A tone describes the shade of your hair, and the level describes its lightness. You can find these factors by comparing your natural hair color to the color swatches in a store. Try a beauty supply store like Sally’s Beauty Supply where they have both the color swatches and trained staff to help you.
  2. Decide on a desired tone and level.
  3. Calculate the difference in levels ( lightness) between your current hair color and the desired hair color.
  4. Compare the difference in tones (shade), and use a color wheel to decide what shade of hair color will deliver your desired results. Colors close to each other on a color wheel will enhance a hair color, where colors directly across from one another will create neutral results. For example, if you have orange hair, and you would like to create a natural brown shade, you will want to choose a hair color with a blue base.
  5. Determine the percentage of gray. This is important if you want to cover gray hair. Because natural hair color shades generally contain all the primary colors, using the same percentage of a natural shade is usually quite successful. For example, if your hair is 50% gray, adding 50% of a natural shade to your formula will help you cover gray hair.
  • Every hair color brand is different. Read and re-read the directions before going forward. And, yes, you should always do the recommended allergy test.

What type of hair color is best for you?


  • Very little commitment lasting only until the next shampoo.


  • A moderate commitment lasting 5-12 shampoos.


  • An average commitment that lasts anywhere from 20-28 shampoos.
  • Effective at blending gray hair.


  • Huge commitment because the color is permanent.
  • Permanent hair color is the only type of hair color with the ability to lighten hair and cover gray hair.


Find the right developer for your permanent hair color

Because permanent hair color is able to lighten virgin hair, you are able to choose which volume developer is best for the amount of lightening you desire. The higher the volume the developer the more damage can be done to the hair.

10 volume

  • Good for depositing/darkening color
  • Can lighten hair up to 1 level

20 volume

  • Best for covering gray hair
  • Most common volume found in box hair color
  • Can lighten hair up to 2 levels

30 volume

  • Can lighten hair up to 3 levels

40 volume

  • Can lighten hair up to 4 levels

Applying the hair color

  1. First apply petroleum jelly around your hairline to avoid staining.
  2. Apply the hair color, a color bottle is the easiest way to apply hair color.

More tips on dyeing your hair at home

  • Always, always, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Do the allergy test.
  • Wear protective gloves when you are mixing and applying hair color.
  • Hair color does not lighten artificial hair color.
  • Use a quality color care shampoo and conditioner to prolong the life of your hair color.