Dying your hair at home is much more affordable than going to the salon, but it is also a lot riskier for your hair. Part of the risk comes from common mistakes and misconceptions about the boxed hair dyes you buy at the store. Luckily, lots of at-home hair dying mistakes are quite easy to avoid. Some mistakes in particular are essential to avoid if you want to walk away from the experience with the best results possible for your hair.

Stay Within Two Shades Of Your Color

Often times when we dye our hair, we’re looking to make bold, drastic changes. However, doing that in one swoop with a box dye can cause a range of negative results. What usually happens when you try to change your hair too much with a box dye is it ends up looking orange, brassy, or otherwise damaged and disappointing. So if your hair is dark brown or black and you want it blonde or red, or if your hair is blonde and you want it black or dark red, skip the box and go straight to a professional. Otherwise, you might have to go to a professional anyway to fix the mess you’ve made.

For drastic changes, many salons will opt to do it in more than one sitting so that you can properly transition from one color to another without causing too much damage to your hair. Since putting all that dye in with who-knows-what-chemicals in a box dye, even doing it at home step-by-step like a salon would will likely still lead you to damaged hair. That’s why you should always stick to a close color when opting to dye your hair at home.

The Color On The Box Is Not Exactly Accurate

Generally speaking, the color you see on the front of a box of hair dye is not going to be the color of your hair after you dye it. Depending on the color of your hair to begin with, the dye will affect your hair differently. Pay more attention to the color swatches on the side or back of the box instead. Check which before-swatch matches most closely to your hair to get a better idea of how the dye will turn out on yours.

It’s also a good idea to look at the description of the color on the box rather than just the color. It will generally mention the tone, either golden or ashy. Golden leaves hints of red, whereas ashy takes out redness. If you have naturally red tones in your hair and want to avoid any potential brassiness, it’s safer to go with an ashy color, regardless of what the color looks like on the box.

Four Hands Are Better Than Two

It can be tempting to try to dye your hair alone, but resist the temptation. Find a friend to come over and help you. It’s nearly impossible to dye the hair on the back of your head evenly and without missing spots unless you have someone else who can actually see what they are doing helping out.

Never Leave It In Too Long, Or Too Short

Taking the dye out before its time won’t allow the color to process properly. You might end up with a color you didn’t really want as a result. Leaving dye in too long can have pretty negative effects on your hair as well. It will be left dry, brittle, and overall damaged. Plus, it will take a long time for it to come back from the damage, so it’s best to just get the timing right in the first place.

It’s also not a good idea to leave the dye on the entirety of your hair for the same length of time. You can avoid an inky, flat, and unnatural color by leaving the dye off the ends of your hair until the last five minutes of processing.

Leave Your Damaged Hair Alone

Dying damaged hair at home is never a good idea for more reasons than one. First of all, it’s just going to damage your hair even more, leaving it extra dry and hard to manage. Hair dye from a box is cheaper than dying your hair at a salon in part because the dye is not as high quality. So, using lesser-quality chemicals in already damaged hair is not a good idea if you want good-looking hair.

Another reason to skip dying already damaged or treated hair is that it can easily come out much darker than you want, particularly at the ends. Having a crown of beautiful color and darker ends is probably not the result you’re looking for. Best to leave hair dying to a professional if you’re starting out with damaged hair.

Don’t Wash Your Hair Too Soon After You Dye It

Most people dye their hair then think they’re good to go, but this is simply not the case. Immediately after dying your hair, the best way to prevent your hair from damage is to apply a moisturizing, conditioning mask and leave it on for 15-20 minutes.

For 48 hours after dying your hair, it’s important to treat your hair correctly. If you don’t, you can mess up the results of your dye. Washing your hair earlier than 48 hours after dying your hair can cause the color to drastically fade as well as cause your ends to weaken and split. It can fade even worse if you use hot water instead of cool water.