How to color your own hair

There are many benefits to having your hair color done professionally. If you can afford to have someone else do it, a colorist can not only give you dimensions and effects that are impossible for you to achieve but the experience is so much nicer than do-it-yourself.


Coloring your own hair is a lot of trouble and usually is a big mess to clean up when you are done. It can also cause some seriously damaged hair.

But even with an improvement in the economy a lot of people are still scraping by just to pay their bills. Many single moms cannot afford the luxury of having their hair colored by a colorist or they get more pleasure out buying something for their kids instead of spending money on themselves.

In any case, where financial difficulty is a problem, I can appreciate the fact that you care enough about yourself to go to the trouble of coloring your own hair. Here are some questions and answers so you can get a little nicer result.

Dear Scott: When I color my hair, the ends are always darker than the roots. It looks funny. Why is it like this?

Answer: You are probably putting the color on all of your hair at once in a big smushy blob. Example: shampoo in color where you put it all over and it foams up. Try doing the root area first. The scalp emits heat that processes the color differently than the ends. The warmness of the scalp will cause the hair to “lift”” and the porosity of the ends of the hair will cause them to suck up the color and be too dark.

Use the tip of the applicator bottle as a tool to section off the hair. Apply it to your scalp instead of your hair. This way you are less likely to get it on the ends. When using a color product with peroxide, pick a color that is one shade darker than you want your hair to be to compensate for the scalp heat phenomenon. You can darken the ends during the last 10 minutes of processing or leave them alone to get a highlighted effect.

Dear Scott: I have my hair colored and highlighted and the highlights look white. It won’t hold any kind of curl even when I use a curling iron. It has always held a curl, and now it doesn’t. Is it because I’m getting older?

Answer: Probably not. It sounds more like your hair has been over processed and has lost its elasticity.

You know how when you are making curly ribbons for a present and every now and then the ribbon doesn’t curl and the ribbon is all stretched? No matter how many time you try, still no curly ribbon. Once the hair has been damaged it is stretched past the point of accepting a curl pattern even with heat. You can curl it and put more products in it until you are blue in the face and you still won’t get curl. You could try asking your stylist if it would be possible to either skip one of the processes of color or if platinum blonde is not your goal, go with a little more yellow or gold in the highlights so the hair doesn’t process so much.

Tip of the week: If coloring your hair for the first time, be sure to do a “patch” test to be sure that you do not have an allergic reaction. The directions about how to do this are on the box.

Scott Terwilliger, an Aiken salon owner, can be reached at