Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

At Home Hair Color Pros And Cons

I have been researching and writing about consumer and professional hair topics since 1995 when I first founded the hair site pre-dating

(Image from Paul Mitchell - All Rights Reserved).

I have also attended cosmetology schools (more than one) and taken more classes on hair, beauty and related topics than I did for my Bachelors, Masters or Ph.D programs in business.  I think its fair to say I know a few things about hair.

I also know that not everyone agrees with me, but all I can do is provide my own personal thoughts.

Can you Achieve Gorgeous Hair Color At Home?

With that all said, I do believe that some hair consumers can successfully achieve gorgeous hair color at home.  I would not go so far as to make that a blanket statement that everyone can do so.  I for one do not do my own hair color at home.  I used to do it.  In fact, I did it for years with a box of Clairol Nice n Easy platinum blonde.

The Blonde Disaster Zone

Guess what?  After a few years my hair was a blonde disaster zone.  The color was uneven, the roots were a mess and the many mistakes I made with my at-home color destoyed my hair.  I had to eventually have it cut from below my bra strap to my chin to remove all the damage I had inflicted.   Yes, I cried while the hairdresser chopped off all my hard won length.

(Image from Paul Mitchell - All Rights Reserved).

Pro And Con Home Hair Color Factors

Is this scenario true for everyone?  Of course not.  I think the ability to achieve gorgeous hair color at home depends on a wide range of factors which include:

1.  Natural base hair color

If your hair is a medium to dark brunette base color and you wish to create a subtle tone on tone change, or even create simple highlights and lowlights, you are a good candidate.

However, if you are trying to deal with covering white or stubborn gray strands, you may not be able to solve your hair color issues at home.  Ditto for someone who wants to achieve a drastic hue change such as transitioning from raven black to platinum white or vice versa.  Going blonde, especially if your natural hair is relatively dark, can be tricky and may need the assistance of a hair color expert.

2.   Available hair color time

Part of my own issues with creating my at-home hair color was that my work schedules never allowed me enough time to touch up my roots.

When I did get around to the root maintenance I had waited too long and wound up overlapping the colors.  The tardiness of my hair color care results in uneven color and chronic damage to the hair where the overlapping of color repeatedly occurred.

(Image from Paul Mitchell - All Rights Reserved).

When I go to my pro hair color expert she is so efficient that I am in and out of her chair in about 2 1/2 hours.  That includes highlighting with foils, shampoo, blow dry and styling.  My hair is then go to go for at least the next week where I don't have to do a thing.  Which saves me tons of time on my hair.  Even when I just performed a at-home root touch-up it could take my the same amount of time for much less perfect results.

If you have limited time to deal with your own hair color, it is worth it to turn that task over to a professional.  Especially if you have suffered through an at-home hair color disaster which can take a long time to fix.  Yes, I have had a few of those too (green ends, orange roots) and my hair looked horrendous and costs megabucks to fix.

3.   Hair color buddy

If you have a close friend or relative that will either do your hair color at home for you or help with touch-ups, you have an added benefit.  Part of my own hair color issues was that even with lots of mirrors, I always missed a spot or two with my color.  To try and prevent missed sections I would overdose with too much color which had a negative effect.

If you have a friend or relative that can apply the hair color or the touch-ups, making sure all areas are appropriately covered, you have a major advantage to achieve great results.  If not, a professional hair colorist might be the better option for achieving great hair color.

(Image from Paul Mitchell - All Rights Reserved).

Another option is to work with a professional hair color expert but explain any challenges to getting back to the salon on a regular basis.  The hair color expert can offer solutions by highlighting and low lighting with colors which show root growth much slower.  The hair colorist might also be willing to provide at-home touch-up kits so you can stretch the time in-between hair color visits while still maintaining healthy and gorgeous hues.

Note: The current trend in Hollywood is to have the appearance of root growth which gives hair color a more natural look.  Remember when Jessica Simpson caused a stir because she had darker roots?  Those roots were created on purpose.

4.  You have the best possible hair color products

After years of having damaged and yucky hair color, I surrendered my hair to the care of professional hair colorists.  Some have been better than others.  My current hair colorist, Rose Zuniga, is a specialist in hair color.  Yes she cuts hair and styles it, but she does color as her primary service.

(Image from Paul Mitchell - All Rights Reserved).

She knows exactly what shades to apply to my hair to look best with my skin and eye tones.  It is also age appropriate.  Rose recently explained to me that some of the most well-known national hair color brands just don't do a good job of covering gray.   Of course you won't be hearing that in the commercials or reading about that in the advertisements.  However, a great hair colorists knows which brands work best for the type, texture, age and condition of your hair.

Rose is also a curly hair expert and she explained why some popular hair color brands just won't work well for natural curls.  Again, something you may not easily discover from reading the box at the drugstore.

If you know what hair color works best for your hair type, texture, age and condition and which shades complement your skin and eyes, you are probably a good candidate for at-home color, especially if all the other at-home hair color options are in play.

5.  Messiness factor

When I did my own hair color at home I managed to get splatter on the walls and ruin some towels and clothing.  I'm not normally a slob but even when I was careful I still made a mess.  If you have a good system for applying your hair color at home without the fuss, you are a good candidate for doing your own hues.   However, for some people, the mess is not worth the trouble.

(Image from Paul Mitchell - All Rights Reserved).

6.  Budgetary Factors

There is no question that going to a hair colorist can be very expensive.  A lot depends on the type of hair color you select.  If you go with a drastic hair color change (from brunette to blonde) you will be required to return to the salon on a frequent basis for ongoing maintenance.  This can be prohibitive in cost.

My own hair is highlighted and lowlighted so that I only need to go the salon every 12-16 weeks with my hair color looking good during that cycle.  That works out to just 3x a year which is definitely better than every 2-4 weeks for a drastic all-over color maintenance.


Maybe even 3x a year is too much for your budget. or taxing on your schedule.  In that scenario at home hair color can still be a great option if you focus on subtle rather than major coverage.  With all hair issues there are always trade offs.  Figure out the pros and cons for you, your time and budget and proceed from that point.

Afterall, ultimately you have to wear the hair color that is one your head so you deserve to love it, whether it is created at home or in the salon.

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