The Best Hair Dyes to Touch Up Your Color at Home

Before experimenting, call your colorist.

By Jenna Rennert

While the coronavirus pandemic has kept salons closed and would-be clients committing to #stayhome, maintaining dyed hair has become an at-home activity. While there’s much you can do to preserve your color, to start, the latest crop of DIY dye kits will help conquer gray streaks, dark roots and brassy blonde hues. For expert advice, the best first move is to schedule a virtual appointment with your colorist, but there are also some immediate answers for those who need to take matters into their own hands. "If you have to do something, keep it really simple," says New York City-based colorist Rachel Bodt, who's the pro behind the brilliant strands of Marisa Tomei and Georgia May Jagger, among others. Here, she shares more tips to tide you over until the salon reopens.

The Rules

Before experimenting, call your colorist. "Ask a few basic questions about the shade they usually use to color your hair, so you know what kind of shade to purchase," Bodt explains. If you are still unsure about which color to go for, Bodt stresses the importance of erring on the lighter side. "Start out with the lighter shade or mix the two together," she says, since it's much easier to go darker.

Before mixing your desired color, Bodt recommends slipping on a button-down shirt. "Grab a collared shirt you don't care about," she says, "you can take it off and run into the shower the second the timer goes off." Next, toss a towel around your neck and section the hair off. "Start by coloring the back of the head," she notes, since the hair at the front of the head is a bit finer and will grab onto color much faster.

To avoid staining your skin with the dye, "be sure to apply a little chapstick or vaseline around your hairline." Should you get some of the solution on your shirt, the pro suggests dabbing a Tide-to-go stick on the area. "It's kind of hard to mess up," she says, but warns against using a dye made of henna. "It sits on the hair shaft and is almost impossible to lift out or change after the fact." Sticking to a regular dye will ensure more flexibility after at-home treatment.

For Gray Roots

"When you're doing your roots, be sure to follow the box and the suggested time," says Bodt. Heed her coconut oil tip to keep the color exclusively on the roots. If you know your hair hue, dpHUE’s root kit is a seamless option. The sulfate-free product comes in seven colors and can cover up to one inch of gray hair.

Ultimately, don't sweat it: "If doing your whole head is stressing you out, just stick to the front," Bodt advises, and save the rest for when you can make an appointment at the salon. "Touching up your roots is the easiest way to maintain your color," she says. "It will just get you through this stretch."


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