How to Colour Your Hair at Home: Expert Tips on Colouring Your Hair at Home

We know colouring your own hair at home can be hard at the best of times, so we wanted to share our professional expertise on everything you really need to know to get the best result. From how to choose the right shade for you, how to cover roots or just refresh and the best application techniques. Read on for Josh's tips to become your own at home colour pro.

First up, if you're asking, "How do I find the right hair colour for me?" Here's Josh's advice…

“For first-time at home colourers I would recommend a consultation with a professional if possible, it's by far the easiest route to finding the perfect hair colour for you,” says Josh. It's exactly why we launched our complimentary 1-1 video hair colour consultation service to connect you with our expert colourists, from the comfort and safety of your own homes. And here's the process they'll take you through if you want to try it out yourself.

First of all, identify the result you can realistically achieve at home, are you looking to cover grey or refresh your salon colour? Josh's advice for colouring greys away at home is to go for a natural finish, close to your natural hair colour. It's not the time for a dramatic overhaul, with 'technique' driven services such as highlights or balayage best left to the experts.

If you're looking to cover grey roots, match your natural hair colour in the root regrowth to a Permanent Colour Kit. "Part your hair straight back from crown to nape, clip the hair out of the way on either side, and photograph the middle in natural light. This will help you identify what your base shade is and the colour you should match too. “The most common mistake is going too dark when buying at-home hair colour,” says Josh, “so I always recommend going half a shade lighter than your first guess if you’re unsure.”

For those of you with highlights or balayage, look for products that can keep your hair colour fresh and hair healthy, until you can get back into your colourist's chair. A gloss will add shine, refresh the existing hair colour and boost condition. 

Next, select a tone to suit your skin and eyes

With your hair colour match in the bag, you can think about customising the tones for a flattering finish that’s unique to you. "When a professional colourist looks at a client's hair, we are trying to assess whether they suit a warmer or cooler tone or colour finish.” says Josh. "We look at your skin and eyes and the clothes or makeup you're wearing as most people know what suits them, even if they're unaware that it's cool or warm toned. To help you decide whether you are warm or cool skin toned, start by looking at your vein colour. If they're mostly blue, you're probably cool-toned. If they're more green, you lean towards warm-toned. In general those who are mostly cool-toned should pick a cool hair colour, and warm undertones look best with a warmer tone. If they're somewhere in between, you're neutral and both warm and cool tones will suit you.

So why does this matter we hear you ask? Josh created Shade Shot to allow you to customise your hair colour with warm or cool tones, when mixed into your Permanent Colour Kit. It reacts with your hair to create an array of natural-looking tones that are completely unique to your hair, for a modern, multi-dimensional hair colour finish. So there's zero fear of block colour! For dark brunettes, the Smoky Shade Shot adds cool, dark tones neutralising any unwanted red tones; or Chestnut adds rich, warm, reddy tones. For blondes, Champagne adds warm, golden, sun-kissed tones and Icy gives a clean, cool, ashy finish, neutralising any brassy yellow tones.

Finally, add your Miracle Shot 

For years I’ve been hearing concerns from my clients about the long term damage colouring hair can cause. And whilst we developed our Permanent Hair Colour to be extra kind to hair I’ve always wanted to do more to address these concerns, which is why I developed the Miracle Shot.’ says Josh. Think of Miracle Shot like a multivitamin for the hair; containing Omega 3, 6 and Vitamin E to increase elasticity and hydration, as well as Vitamin B3, which stimulates scalp blood flow, promotes hair growth, and provides additional moisturising benefits. 

'I’ve incorporated the Miracle Shot into my Miracle System, which transforms home hair colour rituals. says Josh' When used together, for the first time, the more you colour your hair, the more you improve the long term condition. Expect softer, stronger hair that looks and feels so much healthier.

It’s time to get started. First things first, a Patch Test 

Any time you colour your hair at home, you must complete an allergy alert test, also known as a hair dye patch test; it’s super important, as even if you’ve used at home hair colour before and had no reaction, each formula is different, and you could react to any of the ingredients. Additionally, your skin has the ability to develop an allergy over time, even if you’ve been fine in the past. 

An allergic reaction can consist of itchy skin or even blisters on your scalp, so it’s really important to do a patch test to avoid these. 

How do I do a patch test at home?

  1. Mix a coin-sized amount of the activator and the colour together in a bowl.
  2. Use a cotton bud to apply a small amount behind your ear.
  3. Leave it on for 48 hours, this gives it enough time for any symptoms to appear, you shouldn’t even notice it’s there. Try not to wash it off within this time frame.
  4. Tip: It’s very important to fasten the caps on the bottles tightly after you have opened them for the patch test. If you do not, the products may oxidise, and the active ingredients will not work.
  5. If you have any signs of reaction to the patch test, wash it off immediately and do not use the colour.
  6. If you show no signs of reaction to the dye, go ahead and use the colour as instructed.

Now you’re ready to colour it’s time to choose your application technique

No hair is the same and colouring habits need to reflect what will best suit your personal head of hair. Josh shares his professional tips on which products, tools and tricks will get you the best glossy greatness and colour vibrancy, showing you how to tailor your technique.  

Covering Greys - Roots only or refresh too?

It’s a common misconception that you need to apply permanent hair colour throughout your whole head of hair every time you colour your hair at home. If you just need to cover grey at the roots, just touch up the roots. 

Roots only

  • Begin by laying out everything you need in front of you; empty out your permanent colour kit components and make sure you have your Josh Wood Colour towel, comb, and Accessories Kit to hand. Pop on your Josh Wood Colour gown and gloves
  • Thoroughly brush your hair through with a comb. “The less tangles, the less messy the process,” says Josh
  • Section your hair into four sections, using the clips found in your Accessories Kit. The neater the section, the neater the application 
  •  Apply the barrier cream around your hairline. “Put little dots around your hairline, and then you can massage it in,” advises Josh.  “It really helps stop any staining.”
  • Into your bowl, mix the full tubes of A, B, and your Miracle Shot and Shade Shot. Squeeze the colour from the top down, like toothpaste
  • Always apply colour on dry hair and start your application where you feel the grey hair is most resistant, for most people that is on the hairline
  • Using the brush found in your Application Kit push the colour onto your roots
  • Always blend the colour away from your face, you don’t want to pull the colour onto your skin
  • When you’ve finished applying your colour take one side of the stain removing wipe to remove any colour stains now, and save the other side for when you’ve shampooed the colour off 
  • Let the hair colour develop on your roots for thirty minutes
  • When your 30 minute timer goes off, keeping your gloves on, rinse the colour off until the water runs clear. Shampoo your hair and rinse again before applying your deep-conditioning treatment 

If your previous colour has faded more than you’d like, you can refresh colour through mid lengths and ends by pulling the colour through for the last ten minutes of the application, always leaving the last inch of your hair colour-free, for a more natural looking result.' For the most salon-fresh finish, we recommend using a Gloss to revive your lengths and ends between colours sessions and this can work if you have highlights or balayage too. With the Gloss always consider the lightest piece of hair and match the product to this, so a brunette with balayage would use Icy Blonde to cool and neutralise or Champagne Blonde to warm as it refreshes the colour' recommends Josh.

Highlights & balayage

"If you've got a dark regrowth and blonde ends, the dark regrowth needs some kind of ammonia or hydrogen peroxide to lift it,” Josh explains, “and in my thirty years experience, I haven't seen many great successes of this being achieved at home." For this reason, we suggest bleached blondes leave their root work to the pros. 

However, highlighted and balayaged hair can still benefit from a colour refresh at home. Glosses work like a semi-permanent toner to boost the warm or cool tones of your hair. Icy Blonde is skilled at banishing any brassiness, whilst our Champagne Blonde Gloss is great for adding a sun-kissed warmth to hair. The semi permanent hair colour is housed in a deep conditioning treatment mask, adding hydration and refreshed vibrancy to your hair colour.

As for those roots - if your regrowth is getting hard to handle between salon appointments, there is a way to help blend dark roots with your blonde. The trick is to use a root concealer. With careful application, "the Root Marker can even help create the illusion of highlights," says Josh.

Grey roots, balayage lengths

Greys aren’t just a concern for darker hair colours - those growing out highlights or with balayage are also at risk. So what can we do about it? "At home you would ‘root smudge’ to cover the grey hair using a permanent colour, but you must protect the balayage in the ends,” Josh warns. “In the salon, I would generally put a mask through the ends of the hair, to create a bit of a barrier.” This will protect any sections that have been lifted, “So when you’re washing off the permanent colour from the roots it doesn’t dull the ends,” Josh explains. This can easily be done at home with our Miracle Mask, or you can apply something like a Gloss to boost or tone the colour at the ends at the same time,” suggests Josh.

To target those greys, take your permanent hair colour first. “Start along the hairline and the parting so it gives those areas a bit more development time,” Josh advises. Once all your roots are covered “working from the back to front, as it’s generally easier for you to see,” it’s time to apply your gloss. “The gloss will help to nourish and hydrate the ends of your hair, but it’s also a way to protect the ends as the root colour washes through your hair,” says Josh.

“With the gloss, you’re always looking at the lightest piece of hair” that means, even if you’re a brunette, if sections of your hair have been lifted to a blonde level, either the Champagne Blonde (for a warmth) or Icy Blonde Gloss (for a cooler tone) are the ones to choose. “Squeeze the gloss into your hand, and then work it through, focusing on the ends of hair, where the balayage is,” Josh explains. “Let everything process together, and then shampoo and condition as normal.”

Use tools that help you apply colour with ease 

Whether you're using a permanent or semi-permanent colour, technique really is everything. Professional tools are used for a reason, and can help you get the job done with minimal fuss and polished results. 

Upgrade to our Accessories Kit for precise application.

A salon quality mixing bowl and pintail brush might look scary, but they're probably the easiest things to use. With a bowl and brush, you are able to clearly see where you are applying colour – giving you precise coverage and complete saturation. Plus, the bowl ensures you're able to thoroughly mix components together and use every last bit of product. 

It's important not to use metal when mixing hair colour, as the chemicals might react, so traditionally salons have used plastic. The Josh Wood Colour Accessories Kit mixing bowl and application brush are made using renewably sourced wheatfibre, which reduces plastic content by 40%. So that's one less thing to worry about!

Sectioning hair with clips before application allows you to work faster, and more evenly, and really saturate the areas you need to while keeping the hair you’re not working on out of the way. You're also able to keep track of where you've already applied colour, so you don't miss any areas. Watch below as Atelier expert Saffy shows you how to section your hair using the 'Hot Cross Bun method' that we use in salon.

Keep your hair looking fresher for longer

'Our permanent hair colour has been designed to be as kind as it possibly can be to your hair. It conditions as it colours, so your hair will feel better post colour,' says Josh. Make sure to upkeep the condition of your hair with your at home care regime. 

Keep your hair looking salon fresh all day with our range of sulphate-free blonde shampoo and conditioners. To transform blonde highlights from faded to fresh, try our semi-permanent hair treatment glosses. Choose Icy to banish brassiness or Champagne to add sun-kissed tones.

For brunette hair, boost your tone, shine and condition levels with our range of semi-permanent hair treatment glosses. Choose Caramel or Chestnut for warmth, or Smoky to neutralise any unwanted red or orange tones.

Red heads can refresh their colour with our collection of red semi-permanent hair treatment glosses. Revive red hair with a rich copper hue, vibrant cherry, deep burgundy berry tones or a wash of pinky rose

Whatever your colour, keep the condition up post colour for the best, long lasting results, with shade specific care and a weekly treatment hair mask. Our Miracle Mask multitasks to lock in colour, hydrate, prevent fade and add shine to your hair. Or try a Gloss that conditions as it colours to refresh between hair colour sessions.

Temporary touch-ups 

To prolong the time between permanent hair colour applications and keep your greys at bay, our temporary root touch-ups are a great solution for you. Our Blending Brush is a semi-permanent root touch-up, which last up to three washes. For best results apply the hair colour on clean, damp hair and blow-dry in. Less is more with your application. Gently pump the Blending Brush to release a little colour onto the applicator, too much and it’s best wiped away. Apply lightly and go back over the areas where you want to build coverage. Be careful to paint on your roots only, avoiding your scalp, as this is a concealer giveaway.    

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