Hair Coloring Basics – Where do I start?
So you have decided to take the plunge and dive head first into hair color (pun intended). It is not that you are old or drab, but sometimes things just look better with a fresh coat of paint! That being said, there are still a few things to consider before choosing whether or not you will be a platinum bombshell, a sultry redhead, or demure brunette.
HOW IS IT GOING TO BE DONE?
When you first stare at the mirror and decide it’s time for a change, you must then make the decision as to who is going to tackle the task. If you are going to go the professional route, your job will be easier as the professionals will have a vast array of tubes, bottles, brushes, and foils that can most certainly address your needs. They are prepared to tackle most scenarios and they are able to recover if there is a ‘whoops’ moment. If you do indeed select the salon professional as your color confidant, you can rest assured that the products they use are typically of optimal quality.
However, if you choose to go it alone, realize up front that you cannot take off your head and set it in your lap, and therefore your application skills are more limited. Do not embark on this journey by selecting multi-dimensional color with splash panels of peek-a-boo highlights. It is about baby-steps my friends!
WHICH HAIR COLOR PRODUCT SHOULD YOU USE?
First, let’s start with a very important realization. The boxes on the grocery store shelf were done by professional hairdressers, using professional photographers, add a pinch of Photoshop (or maybe a dollop), and you have the beautiful lure and illusion which is a hair dye box. These boxes are meant to grab your attention so you grab and toss them into your cart. Remember this; just because it is on the box, does not mean it will appear on your head!
As is stated in the article Hair Dye Guide, there are many facets of hair color selection prior to getting to the shade. Aside from how much money you want to spend, you must first decide on what needs you are trying to fill (covering gray, cosmetic enhancement, or a fashion statement), as well as the type of maintenance you are willing to endure. I suggest if you have not done so, check out my tips on selecting the ‘type’ of hair dye product that would best suit you and your goals.
As I also stated in the aforementioned article, it is imperative to align the desired end result with the appropriate skill-set of the person performing the service. You may have the top brand on the planet, but without knowing and respecting the product’s potential and quirks, you may be an expensive color correction waiting to happen. When in doubt–don’t!
THE BENEFITS OF THE SALON
In salon services, cost is affected by a few things. First, the image and reputation of the salon is often a price influencer. Those with the best names, public recognition, awards, and media presence will charge much more for their services as opposed to their up-and-coming counterparts.
Hair salons also have a huge inventory of products to expand your menu for selection. These salons usually get where they are due to a high level of talent, and you will indeed pay for it. This is also because of the amenities you enjoy while receiving the service. If you do not care that the towel used to dry your hair has a spritz of lavender on it or that the mirrors were flown in from the southern coast of France, then you have some margin to play with here. In salons, you pay more; period.
In salon services, you will get more than just a color stained towel in your sink and a sense of self-satisfaction. But you will have a few less bucks to spend on that purse you have been eye-balling.
COLORING YOUR HAIR AT HOME
Do-it-yourself hair color products will generally fall into a range. From the high profile brands, to the obscure imported products, my experience is that they all fall into a price category that is attractive to those who don’t feel the need to spend the big bucks to achieve their new color. Statistically, about 75% of people still tackle their hair color needs in the privacy of their own home so, do not feel insecure about your choice to do so.
The brands from high to low scale will often only be a few dollars in difference. These choices also will typically fall into one ‘sweet spot’ of effectiveness as the high majority of people who color their hair at home simply want to hide their gray and do not venture too far into creative expression (you can usually tell those that try!) So in essence, my first tidbit of advice is determine your goals, decide salon or self, and then (for the sake of this article) if it is self, ‘nibble don’t gobble’ at first.
As I said earlier, the boxes can be deceiving and I do not care how sexy the model, or shiny the box, if you are espresso brown, you will NOT end up a platinum blonde by doing a one process home coloring! The ‘permanent’ hair colors only lift your color by a couple (three max) levels and do have their limits. If you want dramatic or funky-effects, seek the salon (at least until you know your abilities).
Finally, to get the most bang for your buck, realize you can always ‘step it up’ easier than you can ‘step it down’. This means you can go from a semi –permanent, to a similar shade with a stronger developer. However, once you have used a permanent color, by going back to a semi or demi permanent hair color, you will still have the previously compromised hair fabric on your head, you will have regrowth, and the ends will need refreshed.
WHICH HAIR COLOR BRAND IS BEST?
Most big brands offer these options without having to switch ranges. Also (insider tip), the brands that salons use such as L’Oreal and Clairol are also are available in consumer forms. You get the same research and development behind the products at your disposal. They are also within a few dollars of their shelf-sharing counterparts. Just remember, it is the talent that affects the outcome in most cases, so after you choose your favorite brand, come to terms with your abilities (for at least the first time or two).
Bottom line is, if you are going to a salon, do your homework, you will pay more, and salon costs can vary by hundreds of dollars. If you are searching on your own, I recommend a simple approach of choosing brands you have heard of. As I also mentioned, some of the big salon names also have selections available to consumers. They have the history and reputation to back their products.