June 05, 2023   11:00pm

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I asked our “Hair” expert Mario for advice on how to cut a few corners to save money when it comes to our hair — and, of course, still have it look great.  When he said: “Do your own color,” that surprised me because HE’s such a great colorist …

Having never been any good at doing my hair color at home (to put it mildly), I also never before thought to ask a professional for tips. As it turns out that’s the first thing Mario says you should do …


Every hair stylist will offer a free 15 minute consultation to give you tips. Just set up the appointment in advance — don’t expect to walk-in and have anyone be happy to see you (even if they love you) when you’re throwing off other client schedules.

Ask what products your stylist suggests to “maintain your color” at home. Ask about “shade;” for example, if you don’t like “red” you may be told to use “ash”. This is something the copy on the hair color box won’t always tell you, and the pictures are inexpensively printed; they won’t match true to your hair.


Before you get going, be sure you have the following supplies:

  • a dark towel — designate heretofore as “the dye towel”
  • a large garbage bag or a plastic cape — keeps the dye from staining you
  • gloves — who wants fingernails to match their hair color
  • hair clips — everyone doesn’t need these but they can help you separate hair
  • vaseline — put around your hairline and ears to protect your skin from color sticking and staining
  • a flat color dye brush — pick this up at a drug store or hair supply house
  • Hair dye — listen to what your hair colorist tells you about what to buy

Also, be sure you’re using a stain free sink like enamel or stainless steel. A sink made of porous stone can absorb some of the dye.

  • Once you’ve mixed the dye, don’t let it sit around while you do something else. Processing time starts the minute you mix it.
  • Think small sections at a time — don’t dye all at once.
  • Work the mixture through, and make sure you’ve saturated individual hairs from root to tip … or for a touch-up where your last dye begins.
  • Cover it as instructions suggest.
  • Pay attention to the leave-on-time the instructions recommend, and, unless your colorist has told you differently, stick to those rules so your hair doesn’t come out too light or too dark. After you’ve done this once, make a few notes (so you don’t forget) of how you’d vary the timing based upon how your color looks.
  • Never re-use the same dye; throw it out when you’re finished with it.


  • Wait at least 24 hours before you wash your hair.
  • Only wash two or three times a week. That’s really all you need.
  • Use shampoo formulated for color-treated hair or shampoos that have been infused with color. The latter add depth and richness. However, if you have lighter streaks, you may want to stay away from the color-infused products as they’ll impact that color as well.


You’ll still want to come in to your salon a few times a year for a professional touch-up.


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