How to get to-dye-for color.

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We’re not going to sugarcoat it, coloring your hair at-home can be a scary feat. Even the most seasoned box brunettes have a teeny quiver of self-doubt before touching-up their roots with a new formula. However, if you know the facts, an at-home dye job is an amazing way to save time and money. We chatted with Miguel Angarita, Master Colorist at Mizu Salon, about what to keep in mind if you’re taking hair color into your own hands.

1. Know your limitations

“It’s key to go for tones closest to your natural color in situations like covering grays or warming up strands,” says Angarita. A good rule of thumb is to stick within two levels of your God-given hue. That means you can go two shades darker or two shades lighter— anything outside of that range will likely lead to an unflattering result. Keep in mind your skin tone as well: Cooler complexions work with cooler-toned hair color and vice versa. Also, always make sure to reference the samples of dyed hair for color comparison, not the image on the box.

2. Have realistic expectations

As glamourous as the celebrity or the model looks on the cover of your kit, know that their hair was most likely not a product of what they’re promoting. “None of these celebrities do their own hair,” says Angarita. “Some people truly believe that this box will make your strands feel and look red carpet ready and unfortunately that’s not the case.” While boxed color can definitely brighten up or tone down your appearance, there’s a lot more TLC that goes into achieving a lustrous, healthy head of hair.

3. Follow the directions

Even if you're a pro home colorist, never freestyle any steps of the process—especially if you're testing out a formula you've never used before. With the constant developments in technology, it's always better to take a few extra minutes to read over the required steps and follow them thoroughly.

4. Leave highlights and drastic changes to the pros

Despite many at-home highlighting kits at the drugstore, it’s safer to go see your colorist. “You really should never attempt to highlight your own hair,” says Angarita. “There are so many details and facts to take into consideration before any lightening is done.” The same goes if you want to go from one end of the color spectrum to the other. A drastic change requires the knowledge and expertise of a stylist—otherwise you could end up seriously damaging your mane.

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5. Maintain your color

Once you’ve achieved your desired hue, keep it vibrant. For a big boost, try a gloss or semi-permanent glaze to enhance its tone every two to three weeks. For a more subtle enhancement, use a color-toning shampoo twice a week. “All these things are a great way to maintain fresh-looking color and help extend its longevity,” says Angarita.

6. If a color catastrophe happens, head to the salon

A strand SOS calls for scheduling an appointment immediately. “Whatever you do, don’t try to fix it yourself,” says Angarita. “Chances are you’re just going to make it worse.”

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