wikiHow to Dye Hair
Whether you’re replacing Jennifer Garner on the revamp of Alias, running from the FBI with your wrongfully accused lover, or simply wanting to try out a new hair color without spending big bucks, dyeing your hair at home saves you money and time. You’ll need to learn how to choose the right dye, prep your hair and face for dyeing, conduct a strand test, apply the dye, rinse your hair, and touch up your roots once your hair begins to grow out.
Wash your hair 24 to 48 hours before dyeing. Doing this allows the natural oils in your hair to develop which in turn allows the dye to bind to your hair more easily. The dye will blend more naturally with your hair, and that tends to make it last longer.
- If possible, avoid conditioner when you wash your hair the day before dyeing it. Conditioner eliminates your natural oils, which you need for the dye to set in more easily.
- If your hair is extremely dry, condition it every night for at least five minutes in a hot shower for a week before you plan to dye your hair. Then, do not condition your hair the night before dyeing. This will keep your hair from drying out after you dye it.
Pick a color that you really like. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the hundreds of shades you can choose from. If this is your first time dyeing your hair, its best to stick to a hair dye that is no more than two shades darker or lighter than your own natural hair color.
- If you are new to dyeing, you can also try dyeing your hair with a temporary or semi-permanent dye first. Using one of these types of dyes ensure that if you mess up, you won’t have live with your mistake for long. Keep in mind that you have to apply semi-permanent dye to damp hair.
- Temporary dyes usually wash out after 6 to 12 shampoos. Semi-permanent dyes will rinse out after 20 to 26 shampoos. Permanent dyes generally last for six to eight weeks, but can sometimes last for longer.
3Protect your home and yourself from dye stains. While you want to stain your hair, you do not want weird blotches of cherry red all over your carpet and favorite shirt. Cover any surface around you that might get dye on it and put newspapers on the floor. Have paper towels nearby to deal with spills. Wear a ratty old shirt you do not like, preferably one you are ready to throw away. It is very easy to get dye on whatever shirt you are wearing.
Put a towel or color cape around your shoulders. The towel or cape will catch any dye that may drip off of your hair during the dyeing process. You can purchase a color cape at a beauty supply store. If you decide to use a towel, use one that is a dark color to avoid visibly staining the towel. Secure the towel in the front of your neck with a safety pin or clip.
Brush your hair well. Make sure that there are no tangles left in your hair. This step will make applying the dye easier, but it will also help you to make sure that your hair will be evenly dyed.
6Coat your hairline, ears and neck before applying dye to your hair. You can use Vaseline, lip balm or the conditioner included in the kit (if one is provided). This step is optional, but applying this coating will make it easier to rinse off any dye that gets on your skin.
Put on your gloves. Gloves generally come with a dye kit, but if they don’t, you can simply use normal rubber, vinyl, or latex gloves. Remember that it is imperative to wear gloves when dyeing your hair. If you do not, you will end up dyeing your hands as well.
Use the supplied bottle or a bowl to mix the dye. Follow the directions provided on the box. Most box kits include bottles that you use for mixing the dye. Follow the instructions to combine the dye ingredients into the bottle provided. Then, shake the solution until the ingredients are well combined. If your dye does not include these items, then you will need to purchase a bowl to mix the dye in.
- If your hair dye does not come with a paint brush, you can buy one at your local beauty supply store or just use your gloved fingers to apply the dye.
Mix your dye with a developer. This only applies to some dyes – the box your dye came in will have instructions regarding developer. The developer is generally included in the kit. If it is not, you can purchase it at your local drugstore.
- If you need to purchase your own developer, choose a 20% developer.
Dyeing Your Hair
1Use a comb to separate your hair into four different sections. Use large salon clips (found at your local drugstore) to hold the sections apart. Separating your hair into these sections will ensure that you don’t miss a patch of hair.
Apply the dye to your hair in sections. Break each section of hair up into smaller 1/4″-1/2” subsections as you work (this will just make your dye job more even.) Use the applicator bottle or brush to dispense the dye onto your hair. Use your gloved fingers to work the dye into your hair. Whether to begin applying the dye will depend on whether or not you have ever dyed your hair before.
- For virgin (first time dyeing) hair, start applying dye about 1 inch from your roots.
- For touch-ups, start applying dye about ½ inch from your roots.
- Work the dye into your hair well so that you do more than simply color the top layer of your hair.
Set a timer for how long you need to leave the dye in your hair. Follow the instructions on the box. Do not rinse the dye out before the minimum time or leave the dye in past the maximum time. Make sure to follow the directions exactly. If you have a lot of grey hair, it’s best to leave the dye in for the maximum amount of time.
- Never leave hair dye in overnight. Leaving it in overnight will dry out your hair and it may cause severe skin irritation as well.
Rinsing Your Hair
Wipe excess dye off of your neck and forehead with a paper towel or wet cloth.Do not disturb the dye in your hair. If you want, you can put a shower cap on your hair to keep the dye from going everywhere.
- Once you have put a shower cap on, you can wrap your head in a towel so that the cap retains the heat of your head. This will speed up the dyeing process.
Wait until the process time is up to rinse your hair. After your time is up, either get into the shower or use a sink to rinse your hair out. Use warm water to rinse the dye out of your hair. Rinse your hair until the water runs clear.
- Don’t panic if you see the color run in the shower – this is totally natural and does not mean you’ve messed up the dyeing process. Keep in mind that if the dye is temporary, the dye will continue to run each time you wash it until it is completely gone.
Shampoo and condition your hair. Wait at least an hour before shampooing your hair. Waiting to wash allows the dye to more thoroughly penetrate your hair shaft. After you have shampooed your hair, use the conditioner that came with the dye kit. Rub it thoroughly into all of your hair. 
- Almost every kit comes with conditioner, but if yours did not you can just use what you have at home.
4Dry your hair and style as usual. You can either blow dry your hair or let it air dry. After your hair is dry, style it as you normally would and show off your new hair color! If you are unhappy with your results, you may want to see a hair stylist for color correction. It is also a good idea to wait at least two weeks to color your hair again.