1. Always choose the level of coverage based on the effect you're going for.
To add dimension or shine, or to cover light to moderate grays, look for a demipermanent color, which contains pigments that penetrate the outer layer of the hair shaft and lasts for six to eight weeks, says New York City colorist Mark Debolt. To lighten or cover a full head of grays, use a permanent dye, which deposits color inside the cortex; results last until your hair grows out. For dramatic changes (lightening or darkening by more than two shades), it's best to see a professional, says New York City colorist Dana Ionato.

2. Buy wisely.
Be sure to look at the chart on the side or back of the box to determine what result you'll get based on your current shade. If you're unsure which color will best flatter your skin tone, the most reliable option is a "medium" shade, which is neutral, says Ionato.

3. Create your own salon at home with these handy tools:
A dark towel, an old button-down, a bowl, a one-and-a-half- to two-inch-wide paintbrush (mixing the dye in the bowl and applying it with a brush gives you more control than the squeeze bottle method), a timer, a good pair of rubber gloves, and petroleum jelly (smooth it along the hairline, on the tips of your ears and at the nape of your neck to avoid staining your skin).

4. Don't ignore the manufacturer's directions.
A lot of research has gone into developing instructions that guarantee the best results, says Hill. One additional trick: Don't apply dye to the hairline until you've covered the rest of your head. The first inch of hair around your face is typically the most porous, which means it will absorb color faster, says Debolt.

5. Enjoy your gorgeous new shade!

The 3 Golden Rules of Maintenance

1. Make sure to use the conditioner that comes with your dye. It's typically formulated with dimethicone and/or proteins to coat the cuticle and lock in color. And wait at least 48 hours after dyeing before you shampoo, says Debolt.

2. Shield your hair from the sun with styling products that contain a UV protectant like avobenzone. Heat styling can also cause fading, so always prep with a thermal protectant, says Debolt.

3. It's easier than ever to prolong the time between dye jobs with a root touch-up. Instead of the standard blonde, brown, and black, the newer touch-ups come in a variety of shades, like dark blonde, light to medium brown and red. Plus, the formulas are super lightweight, so they'll blend seamlessly with your existing color.


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