Whether you’re considering dyeing your hair for the first time or you can’t even remember what your natural hair color is without looking at old Facebook photos, there’s no better time than the dog days of summer to give your hair color an instant refresh. It’s more transformative than a swipe of bold lipstick and has the ability to withstand summertime sweat and humidity (unlike, say, a blowout). But before you take the plunge, consider these pointers from the pros so that your next dye job is a positive experience.
Tailor the color to your features.
“Sometimes, women see a hair color on a celebrity and automatically think the same look will work for them, too. But just like your cut, your color should complement your unique skin tone and texture. Talk to your colorist for a consult before getting started and discuss how a color that you love on the red carpet can be tweaked to look flattering on you in real life,” says colorist Ryan Pearl from Cutler/Redken Salon.
Don’t try a trendy color fad at home.
“It’s already tricky enough to use an at-home box of dye properly. If you’re also incorporating complicated blending techniques like ombré, it’s even more difficult to pull off—especially if you’re trying to transform naturally dark hair to a lighter color,” says Studio B colorist Beth Minardi. You can get away with a starker dip-dye look at home if you don’t mind a huge contrast, but if subtle is your end goal, it’s best to get it professionally done.
Avoid drastically switching shades overnight.
“If you’re going dramatically darker or lighter, it’s best for your hair’s health to make a slow transition to your new look. Avoid trying to get it done [by yourself or] in one appointment,” says colorist Will Francis at Sally Hershberger Downtown. If you’re going from jet black to blonde, for example, it may take several sessions over several weeks; otherwise, you may wind up with severe breakage or damage to your hair.
Consider your lifestyle.
“Coloring your hair is not just a one-and-done process if you want to maintain the look. You really want to think about your lifestyle and how much time to you want to commit to your color’s upkeep,” says Pearl. If you don’t have time to go to the salon every 4-6 weeks, consider a a more subtle color transformation so that the growing-out process is less awkward.
Protect color-treated hair before a swim.
“Salt water can bring out the prettiest beachy waves, but it also seriously damages your hair and strips away color,” says Pearl. “Try wetting your hair at one of those rinse-off stations before diving into the ocean or pool; your hair will absorb less salt and chlorine. Then, give it another rinse when you’re done swimming so that the harsh chemicals aren’t soaking in your strands as they dry.”
Avoid product buildup.
“A sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner (try: L’Oréal Paris Advanced Haircare Color Vibrancy Shampoo and Conditioner, $4 each) are obviously essentials to your hair care routine, but be mindful of your other products as well. Overusing summer hair staples—like dry shampoo and sea salt spray—can dull its appearance,” says L’Oréal Paris celebrity colorist Kari Hill. Use a clarifying shampoo (but no more than once a week) to help remove buildup and add shine.