DIY vs salon hair dye

When it comes to dying your hair, is it worth spending that extra money on a professional treatment?

‘Does she or doesn’t she?’ is the catchphrase of the original do-it-yourself hair dye, Clairol’s Nice ‘n Easy, which first graced supermarket shelves in the 1950s. Today, Nice ‘n Easy is one of hundreds of at-home hair dyes. And, while these products may have come a long way since then, one question remains: do DIY dyes cut it when it comes to colour or should we be leaving it to the experts?

Without a doubt, the most compelling reason to colour your hair yourself is the saving of time and money. But what you might not know is that there is not a lot of difference between the ways professional and at-home hair dyes function, nor the ingredients that compose them.

However, a major difference is that a professional colourist can perform colouring techniques that would be impossible at home. For example, they can custom blend a specific colour, control the amount of dye used and put in a corresponding highlight with a foil. At-home highlighting can often end up looking streaky and artificial.

In addition, through experience, a professional colourist also understands how the dye will affect your hair colour and how long or short to process the colour. It is often this lack of expertise that causes damage from DIY dyes. Home colour is a lot more damaging because it’s not in a controlled environment. The chemicals are very strong and if you don’t know what you’re doing with them, you can do some serious damage. For example, if someone was to put a colour on hair themselves, they run the risk of over-lapsing the colour and pushing the colour down the cuticle, which can make the hair snap-off. Sometimes you can also have chemical reactions with different colours. A lot of professional colours actually react with the home dyes.

Getting your hair coloured by a professional is particularly important if you want to lighten your hair by more than three shades. Regardless of how dark your hair is, if you want to have significantly lighter hair, think twice before shopping at the supermarket for a dying product. Even if your hair doesn’t appear to have any red or copper tones in it, don’t be fooled: all dark hair contains some red pigment, which often becomes evident in the lightening process. It is also difficult to lighten your hair in a one-step process.

Don’t be fooled by the labeling of at-home products. Sometimes you’ll look at a packet that is labeled “semi-permanent colour”, when in actual fact, it’s not semi-permanent; it will give you re-growth and won’t wash out in six weeks.

Dying your hair at-home might be cheaper initially but, if it means paying for more expensive professional treatments to reverse the damage you have done, then it is not always worth it.