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My experiences with home hair colour ended in my teens. I threw in the towel (literally) after nearly knocking out an entire city block with the toxic stink radiating off my chemically fried head. Innocent bystanders were left gasping for breath with one flick of my distressed, tabby-cat-orange hair.
Luckily for all of us, in the past few years new technologies and ingredients have made DIY colour look, smell and feel better than ever.
"Home hair colour has improved greatly in terms of technology and shade depiction," says Marcy Cona, global director of colour and style at Clairol. "What you see on the box is what you're going to get."
Modern kits strive to protect the integrity of your hair by leaving the cuticle closed after colouring. This allows light to more easily reflect off of hair, making it look shiny and healthy.
If getting rid of grey is your priority, go for a permanent or demi-permanent colour. Permanent dyes can both lighten hair and cover grey because they can penetrate the internal structure of the hair. The major con: As your hair grows, you'll have to do regular root upkeep or your secret will be out. A demi can give a more understated change, blending grey with a hint of highlighted colour that gradually washes out.
Don't skip the allergy test as advised on the box, and take heed: If your hair is severely damaged or you want to lighten it by more than three shades, put the package down and get thee to a professional.
Remember to treat coloured hair gently — use specially formulated shampoos and conditioners that are fortifying but won't strip colour. My recommendation to keep colour vibrant? Nexxus Colour Assure Replenishing Colour Care Shampoo ($10) and Colour Ensure Replenishing Colour Care Conditioner ($15).
Finally, try not to get overwhelmed by the process. "It's not about trying to do a complete makeover," says Cona. "It's a subtle adjustment that can give you a whole new feeling about yourself."
Products we love:
Garnier Belle Color Root Touch-Up Kit ($8) is designed to blend with the tones of your hair.
Clairol Nice'n Easy Perfect 10 ($16) provides high-gloss, permanent colour in just 10 minutes.
Want less commitment? Try a demi-permanent colour like Clairol's Natural Instincts Champagne Indulgence ($11), which lasts up to 28 shampoos.
The protein-rich pre-treatment cream included with Fekkai Salon Color ($32) leaves hair silky soft.
The Ceramide R molecule in L'Oréal Paris Excellence to-Go permanent colour ($14) protects hair and keeps it healthy.
Gentle and easy to use, Revlon Custom Effects Highlights ($15) accents hair without brassiness.