How To Maintain Your Hair Color At Home Like A Pro

by Marie Lodi
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If you're stuck at home with no way of getting to a salon for a touch-up, you might feel desperate to do some DIY hair treatments to save your highlights or color. But not everyone is equipped at doing their own hair. Some might even still be traumatized from the last time they tried to cover their roots or bleach their locks and failed miserably. For this reason, Bustle is turning to the professionals for advice on how to maintain hair color and treatments at home, from figuring out whether box dye is a good idea, to learning how a good gloss can go a long way. With these tips, your at-home hair game will hopefully look more like Margot Robbie and less like Joe Exotic.

Color Your Hair All Over

Hair dye in a box is a concept you've probably had experience with, good or bad. (Who didn’t have a favorite L’Oreal Feria hair dye model back in the day?) If you’ve ever accidentally dyed your hair bright orange, you know that all-over hair color can be incredibly risky. So, is it worth the gamble? Brooklyn-based hairstylist David Lopez doesn’t mince words. “My number one tip for at-home hair color? Don’t!” he warns. “This isn't the time to try something new or drastic.” While it might be tempting to experiment with a new hair shade out of sheer boredom, Lopez has a point. If something goes terribly wrong, you won’t be able to come crying to your hairstylist for a miracle fix.

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Instead, Lopez suggests using products made to revitalize hair color in between salon visits. “Blondes can keep up their brightness by using toning shampoos and conditioners, like Kenra Professionals Brightening Shampoo and Conditioner.” If you have brown hair, Lopez says Redken has a shampoo and conditioner made for brunettes to help cancel out red tones. However, if the allure of touching up your roots is too hard to resist, Lopez says to not put the color on your ends, just your roots. “Make sure to either match your current shade or slightly deeper. Not lighter than your current shade,” he says. Lopez advises that this gentle, violet-based shampoo cancels out brassiness and keep the hair from getting too yellow or orange.

If you need to touch up your roots, Lopez suggests brands like Madison Reed because not only do they help you with selecting the right shade, but they also send you the brush, gloves, and bowl with instructions on how to color your hair.

Touch Up Your Grays

If you’re a salon regular, it’s probably been a while since you’ve seen your grays. Nine Zero Salon’s Nikki Lee, who works with Emma Roberts and Hilary Duff, says that the first thing to do before you attempt to color your roots is to understand what your starting hair color is. “Are you a medium warm brown? A light cool blonde? Once you understand that, you can work on selecting your color,” she says, adding that if you have really thick hair, make sure to grab two boxes.

It can be nerve-wracking if you have never touched up your roots yourself, so heed the advice of Florida-based hairstylist and makeup artist, Millie Morales, and take your sweet time. “That’s my best advice!” she says. Like Lee, Morales also says to buy more than one box to ensure you get the coverage you need. “To avoid patchiness, split the hair into four sections (two in front of the ears and two in back). Start with both sides on the top and then go to the back.”

If you're looking for an ammonia-free option, Morales suggests the Garnier Olia line.

Preserve Your Blonde

Celebrity hairstylist and Very Cavallari star Justin Anderson is also strongly against using box color of any kind. “There are lots of safe products you can use while you’re at home that won’t damage your hair or mess up your beautiful salon color,” he says. For blondes, Anderson says the best thing you can do is keep your hair hydrated, reduce brassiness with toning shampoos, touch up pre-lightened highlights and connect to your root growth. Anderson is also supporting pro colorists through his dpHUE Pro app, where colorists get 50% off dpHUE sales when their clients order with them.

Anderson developed this product with his client and co-star Kristin Cavallari to help maintain your blonde until you can get back to the salon.

Opt For A Hair Gloss or Glaze

A gloss can be another great way to rejuvenate lackluster hair. “Glosses, or toners, are meant to bring your hair back to life essentially,” Tiffanie Richards, master colorist at Nunzio Saviano, says. “They richen the hair, take away dullness, add shine and can even improve the texture of the hair.” But she says to remember that gloss is not going to make blondes blonder or brunettes lighter. “Glosses are strictly created to remove unwanted tones, richen the existing color or deepen the color,” she says. Richards’s first piece of advice? If you get your hair colored in a salon and have highlights, ask your colorist for their thoughts on at-home glosses. However, if you don’t have colored hair and just want to richen or shine up your natural color, a gloss is a great option.

Richards is a huge fan of Kristin Ess' Signature Hair Gloss for many reasons, one of which is because Ess is a stylist herself and understands the simplicity that is necessary for an at-home color product. Richards also says to keep in mind that even though it’s a gloss, it’s still color. “Unless a gloss is clear, it has the potential to totally change your current hair color. It can totally remove or cover highlights and change the tone or shade of your hair,” she says. “The longer you leave a gloss on, the more pigmented it is going to be, so always begin with 3-5 minutes and go from there.”

Maintain Your Bold Or Bright Hair Color

Pastel or bright hair color can be hard to maintain even on a normal day, so many of the same rules apply when you’re stuck at home. Celeb hairstylist Guy Tang says you can ask your stylist to make a “color bomb” using conditioner and dye. “This way you can create a more intense toning conditioner to upkeep any tone of hair.”

Tang also says to skip washes when you can (let’s be real, many of you are probably washing your hair way less anyway), but when you do, use a color retaining shampoo. And if you decide to give your top knot a rest and style your hair with a hot tool, he says to make sure to use a heat protectant to prevent the color from fading.

For maintaining certain colors, you can use color depositing conditioners, like the ones from Tang's #MyRefresh line. These come in rose-gold, lavender, and silver.