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How to use hair dye at home

Hair colouring is something that's often left to the experts, but you can become an expert of your own with research, planning, and practice. For most people, the toughest part of dyeing your hair at home is reaching around to every area of your hair without missing any patches. If you're struggling to achieve a beautiful, even result on your own, try grabbing a friend for a fun, creative night with hair dye.

How does permanent hair dye work?

Permanent hair dye works by depositing colour into your hair, underneath its outer protective cuticle. Each strand of your hair is made up of a cuticle, cortex, and usually medulla. The cortex, which is the middle section of each hair strand, holds your hair's natural pigment, called melanin.

Permanent hair dye works with a hair developer, often purchased separately, by gently opening the cuticle of your hair to access the cortex. There, it will either deposit additional colour or remove existing pigment. As the name suggests, permanent hair dye lasts until your hair grows out, though it may slowly lose its vibrancy over time.

Permanent, demi-permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary hair dye

Permanent hair dye lasts the longest out of any type of dye. It can change your hair colour more effectively than any other hair dye product, lightening or darkening your colour by up to three shades and offering 100 percent grey hair coverage.

Demi-permanent hair colours last the next longest, adding colour that coats the surface of your hair shaft rather than dyeing the inner cortex. They offer colour that lasts for up to 24 washes, but can't change the lightness or darkness of your hair and can't fully cover your greys. Demi-permanent hair colour slowly washes away over time and is less damaging to your hair, which makes it a popular choice for people looking to make subtle changes to their colour.

Semi-permanent hair dye lasts for only 1-2 weeks. Like demi-permanent hair dye, it only coats your hair in translucent colour, and washes away quickly without causing damage to the cuticle of your hair. It works best on light blonde hair, as it offers no lift and often doesn't show up on dark brown or black hair.

Finally, temporary hair dye and coverups wash out with shampoo. Depending on the product you use, it may transfer colour even when dry, so be careful where you rest your head while wearing it!

Can hair dye change my natural hair colour?

Permanent hair dye can change the colour of your hair when mixed with a developer, but only up to 2-3 shades. To achieve bright, vibrant colours or a hair colour that's very different from your natural colour, you may need to add a colour gloss, toner, or bleach step to your hair dyeing process.