Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: The Home Dye Job


I’m writing you today for a recommendation.  I’m a natural blonde, but I’ve been living the life as a redhead for four years.  I work in DC and therefore have no money, so I’ve decided to start coloring my hair at home to save some change.  Are there any formulas that you (or your lovely and well-coifed readers) recommend?  I’m talking color-wise, price-wise, and general doesn’t-kill-you-hair-wise.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!  Thanks!


Whenever I have a beauty question that I cannot answer, I go straight to the Allure website.  They have the largest compilation of beauty advice on the web, and I find their reviews to be fairly reliable.

I was never brave enough to dye my own hair, but I know that for a lot of women, the price of the salon is out of reach.  So I asked around, and these were the recommendations some of my friends made.

Bliss sells Kelly van Gogh Hair Color, which promises multi-dimensional color and great condition without brassiness or fading.  Sephora sells the Couture Colour system, and one of their employees spoke of it very highly when I asked about it this weekend.  She said that she likes the system because it also strengthens hair.  Lastly, my friend Jane swears by SAMY Fat Foam hair color for its “idiot proof” nature and the fact that it gives great single-process color for under-$10.

If you can afford to color at the salon but want to lengthen the time between visits, you should try a root treatment.  I like Rita Hazan Root Concealer because it covers my gray without looking like I bought a can of spray hair from RonCo.  Oscar Blandi also makes a touch up pen for ladies who just need to soften the line between natural color and professionally applied color.



  1. M.E. says:

    I swear by L'Oreal ColorSilk. It's the only at-home hair dye I've found that makes your hair feel healthier after using it!

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. KL says:

    I sympathize! As a longtime redhead-by-choice, it is really hard to find anything out of the box that looks natural, lasts, and doesn't kill my hair. The only at home color that I've ever liked is the L'Oreal Mega Reds line, that you can find at Sally Beauty or various online retailers.

    At some point, though, I always feel like I need a professional to pull the color through and save me from having different stripes of red in my hair from multiple at-home dye jobs, and when I do seek professional help I HIGHLY recommend Claudia at Urban Style Lab. She knows reds like no one else I've found in the city!

    Best of luck, and if anyone else has works of wisdom, please share!

    October 10, 2012/Reply
  3. BBB says:

    I buy color & developer at Sally's. Typically I buy their Ion line (for reference, I mix one bottle light golden brown [brown base] with 1 bottle light copper brown [red base] for a medium brown that looks auburn under light), but have used Wella Color Charm as well. I save at least $100 every time I color.

    October 10, 2012/Reply
  4. BlondeBunny says:

    For at home color, my sister swears by Herbatint 4N (sold in natural food stores and Whole Foods). Her hair is naturally dark blonde and she gets Brazilian blow outs every 4 months. The color doesn't fade the way most reds do and leaves her hair very shiny and soft.

    October 10, 2012/Reply
  5. lolabolt says:

    I'm with BBB, I use ION products from Sally's. I use their medium red blonde (I think) and I put it on my natural medium/dark brown hair and it turns out to be an awesome color. I also mix in some of the Red red (or red hot? maybe?) protein filler that they sell. I mix half of the bottle in to my dye when I'm coloring it and also mix it in to my condition to maintain the red between dye jobs.

    I save a lot of money doing it myself (I have long, thick hair), but still get the bright red I want from using the ION dyes from Sally's.

    If you have red hair, you probably already do these things, but I also strictly wash my hair with cold water and only wash it twice each week. I tried getting down to washing it once a week, but around day five my hair looked disgusting.

    October 10, 2012/Reply
  6. Grace says:

    I've been coloring my hair with Natural Instincts semi-permanent dye for the past 5 years or so. I have probably had about 100 different people compliment me on the color in that period of time, including several hairstylists at well-reputed salons in DC. I take very little credit for this because it is SO easy to use, and practically foolproof. The downside is that I have to dye my hair every month or so, but I find that permanent dye gives my hair a strange tint after awhile (probably due to the peroxide in it, even though I pretty much match my natural hair color). Give it a shot! You will save so much money!

    October 10, 2012/Reply
  7. gingerr says:

    Your technique when coloring your hair is as important as the product you use. There are a number of good uTube videos on home coloring.

    I have a color brush, long tail, wide brush that I use, and I mix the color/developer in a bowl instead of using the bottle that comes with it. I have more control over placement using the brush with the dye in a bowl. The long tail is good for sectioning.

    I think it's also important to condition and to only color your entire head every few touch-ups. Nothing says home color more than a broom-like head of dried out hair.

    October 11, 2012/Reply
  8. Leigh says:

    For red, I like the Clairol Professional you can get at Sally's. I've had good luck with Ion, too, and I'm currently using Wella Color Charm now that I'm blonde again.

    Buying the dye and developer separately is the way to go. You save money in the long run. And if you go to Sally's, definitely pick up the Ion Color Defense After-Color Sealer. It's on the aisle with the shampoo and conditioner, in purple and white packaging. It kind of smells like Dimetapp, but it leaves hair (well, my hair, at least) so soft and it does seem to slow fading some.

    October 11, 2012/Reply
  9. Rachael Rosenberg says:

    I am also a natural blonde who spent a year undercover as a redhead. The original dye job was done in a salon but I kept uo the color monthly using Clairol Natural Instincts. I believe the color was “spiced tea”, and was the lightest of the reds they offer. I applied it using a brush and bowl, and was always pleased with the result. Since it's a demi-permanent it's very gentle on your hair. The only reason I decided to return to my roots was the monthly maintenance to keep up with my blonde roots. But I highly recommend the color. Hope this helps

    October 15, 2012/Reply