DIY Hair: Know What You’re Getting Into

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I’ll admit it, against all hairdresser warnings, I’ve dyed my hair with an off-the-shelf drugstore color. I only did it once, I had a friend help, and it turned out fine. Now I have roots, but that’s because it was over a month ago, and I’ve determined to reclaim my natural color. I won’t tell you not to color your own hair, so long as you follow instructions and take due caution.

Bleach is another matter.

Once, a friend of mine decided to go blond. She’s a brunette with a medium shade, and her hair was very long; past mid-back. She got a buddy, two boxes of bleach, watched an online tutorial or two, and they went for it.

Something like four hours later, it was close to midnight. No stores open, they’d run out of bleach, and there was still about a foot of hair left. That’s fine, just a temporary ombré, right?

Well, not really. Box bleach, on the first round for a brunette, yields an orangey yellow. And because my friends didn’t follow the instructions, which said to leave the lower part of your hair with bleach for 40 minutes and the upper part of it for only 20, the color is varied. Highly. Turns out that the heat of your head can activate the bleach and make it work faster. Add that to an imperfect application, and you have a patchwork of shades between blond and yellow.

To her credit, my friend handled it really well. She didn’t freak out, she didn’t shed a tear; she was totally cool about it.

But she did reject an offer to get more bleach and continue. Instead, she made a salon appointment for the next day, before her parents saw it. Obviously, this costs more than the do-it-yourself. But it also eliminated the stress of all the other things that could go wrong trying to fix it herself.

Now, I’m not saying that some people couldn’t successfully bleach their own hair. But there is a difference between a quick color rinse and a bleach or a balayage. Some things are going to look best when done by a professional or at least done carefully. Before attempting a major change, make sure you can do what you’re trying to, and do your research. Dyes and bleach can take a serious toll on your hair, so if you mess up, don’t assume slapping on more color is the solution. Reevaluate, breathe, and decide if it’s time to get an expert.

But if you do mess up, remember that it’s not the end of the world. There are few things that a salon really can’t fix, and if the job is ultimately disappointing, remember that it grows back.

I'm a lover of words in all forms, sweatshirts in all conditions, and God in all circumstances. I particularly enjoy working collaboratively on the written word and wearing microfiber robes (preferably at the same time). Most of the time I don't get enough sleep, but I make a valiant effort.

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