The truth about using professional hair dye at home

If you color your hair, it might seem like you're limited to two rather extreme options: You could spend several hours at a fancy salon as an expert fusses over you, plying you with wine and women's magazines, and then sending you on your merry way with hair that turns heads — but a bill that makes your eyes bulge. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you could just pop over to the drugstore and spend a few bucks on a dye that's got a sassy strawberry blonde on the box but turns your hair the color of canned peaches.

But what if you could replicate the magic of your colorist without leaving your house? Many shopping sites now offer professional hair dye that you can apply to your hair yourself, following simple instructions, for a lot less money than your typical salon visit. However, without an expert eye, you still could end up choosing the wrong color — and that could be one expensive mistake: "One bad color job will take a professional colorist two or three salon visits to correct," New York City colorist Sharon Dorram told Harper's Bazaar.

Get professional help when choosing your color

The safest way to get professionally colored hair from your home actually requires that you invest, at first, in a salon visit. Your colorist will work with you to find exactly the right shade to achieve the look you want. You just need to make sure she shares that information with you, so you can buy the dye and repeat the process yourself when the color fades and you start seeing roots. Some salons even recently started sell color-at-home kits (per NJ.com), though it's unclear if this trend will continue and spread to other salons. 

If plunking down cash for a preliminary salon coloring isn't an option, you can still consult a professional on which hue to choose. New York City-based colorist Rachel Bodt told Allure that she will FaceTime with clients. Websites like Madison Reed provide a detailed online quiz to determine your best hair shade, and then allow you to live-chat with a color expert who can guide your decision. If you're not familiar with this brand and would rather use one that you can find in many salons nationwide, L'Oreal Professional has a website, Color & Co, that also provide live assistance selecting a L'Oreal Pro color. 

Keep in mind that in-home professional color is your best bet when you're trying to maintain a simple color. If you want to add highlights, go ombre, or change your natural hair color by more than two shades, you're probably better off going to that salon, after all (per Racked).