While salons were closed, you may have reached for box dye for the first time or attempted a DIY bleach session. Now, even with salons reopening (but having safety protocols in place and less available appointments), you might be considering revisiting at-home hair color.
We get it—quickly concealing your grays or touching up your roots in the comfort of your own home can be tempting. We have an in with the pros, however, and every stylist will tell you the same thing—now is not the time to color your hair at home.
We tapped Amanda Epstein, Krystal Mcleod, and Rachel Graham, Matrix artistic educators, to explain why leaving your hue in the hands of salon professionals is worth the wait. They even share their best tips on how to care for your color between appointments.
Is coloring your hair at home a good idea?
Simply put, it’s always better to get your color done at the salon! When you hit the salon for professional color, think of your colorist as an artist and your hair as the canvas. Salon professionals are specifically trained to formulate your perfect hue and master different techniques to ensure a precise, flawless application.
“We have taken years of education to specifically formulate the perfect color for you...That includes the type of dye, tone, and level of developer,” Epstein explains. “With that, we know exactly what is on your hair and how to work with it. It will end up costing you so much more in the end when we would have to fix it with color correction and could take several sessions.”
Whether you’re waiting for a salon appointment or you’re bored at home, you might have the urge to pick up a box dye from your local drugstore. Experts warn, however, that a lot can go wrong when using box dye formulas.
“Box color is usually very high in chemicals, whether it be ammonia, metallic dyes, or other activating chemicals, you aren’t sure what you are getting,” Graham says. “These chemicals can be damaging to the hair and a lot of times professional, high-quality color has way lower amounts of these chemicals and sometimes none.”
Aside from damage, Epstein says using box dye at home can also leave your mane with hot roots (where your roots are two to three shades lighter than the rest of your hair) and banding.
“All of these things are extremely hard for us to fix and will end up resulting in multiple sessions of color correcting services,” Epstein says.
Another important thing to note is that color doesn’t lift color—so if you already have salon color on your strands, attempting to lighten your hair with box color will only lighten your new growth.
“When lightening, your hairstylist carefully chooses the color based on how dark your hair is and how light you want to go...A lot of times, foiling and balayage are better options in lightening your hair and should be left to a trained professional,” Graham says.
All in all, while picking up a box of hair color at the store is tempting (and no judgments if you do!), we firmly believe that a professionally done color is always worth the wait.
What is the best way to conceal roots between salon appointments?
We totally get it, noticeable hair growth can be bothersome. If you’re not heading back to the salon just yet, there are a few easy ways to conceal your roots (aside from wearing a hat every day). Option one is to pick up a root touch-up spray like L’Oreal Professionnel’s Instant Root Fix Touch-Up Professional Root Concealer. This temporary root concealer spray instantly covers grays with natural instant coverage that lasts one shampoo.
According to Epstein, another temporary solution is adding texture to your hair.
“If you have natural curls, let them rock...If you don’t, add some waves or use a texturizing spray like Matrix Style Link Texture Builder and tease into a cute messy bun,” Epstein says.
If you don’t have a texturizing spray or root-concealer on-hand, you can also use eyeshadow.
“Find an eyeshadow shade that looks close or a level or two darker than your color and just lightly brush it on,” Epstein says.
While you’re hanging around the house, Mcleod also suggests hiding regrowth by getting creative with your styling routine.
“Some ways of hiding or covering your new growth temporarily are wearing hats, headbands, or other hair accessories,” Mcleod says. “You could even learn a quick new hairstyle like a braid, or switch up your part, deepen it or try a zig-zag part.”
How to care for your color-treated hair between salon appointments.
While coloring your own hair is off the table, that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your precious color at home. In fact, your at-home hair care routine is an essential part of keeping your color-treated hair looking it’s best.
Start by always using a shampoo and conditioner system formulated for color-treated hair like Biolage R.A.W Color Care Shampoo and Conditioner. This system nourishes and protects to help maintain the depth, tone, and shine of color-treated hair.
To preserve the vibrancy of your salon color, Graham also recommends giving your mane a break from shampoo and heat styling as much as possible.
“The less you wash your hair, the less the color will fade away, and the less heat you use on your hair, the better, as well,” Graham says. “Flat irons and really hot blow dryers can burn the color out of your hair.”
If heat styling is a must for you, Graham always says to use a heat protectant like Biolage Thermal Active Heat Protectant Spray.
You know that toning shampoo you’ve been thinking of picking up for months now? Now’s the time to do so. Adding a color-toning formula to your routine once a week is key to keeping your mane in top shape between salon visits. Pro tip: If your at-home color turned out too brassy, a color-toning shampoo could also help fix it.
“For blondes, I recommend using a purple shampoo like Matrix Total Results So Silver Shampoo to keep the color bright and cool. For brunettes that don’t like red in their hair, I'm obsessed with the Matrix Total Results Dark Envy Shampoo,” Graham says.
If you’re a brunette dealing with brass, pick up a blue toning shampoo like Redken’s Color Extend Brownlights Shampoo to neutralize brass and orange undertones.
Keeping your color-treated mane hydrated and healthy is just as important as the way it looks. That's why Epstein recommends a weekly hair mask like Biolage ColorLast Deep Treatment Pack. This multi-use hair mask maintains and restores color-treated hair for shiny, vibrant results.
Interested in more expert hair tips? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.