We’re experiencing a golden age of hair color. Everything from rainbow pastel hair to gorgeous mermaid hair are popping up not just in shopping malls but on high fashion runways. No color or style is out of bounds, and people of all types are finding ways to express themselves through hair color — not just the “rebels.”

While you might want to experiment with color, you may not want to foot the bill of seeing a professional colorist. You can find all the supplies you’ll need at a beauty supply store, but you’ll need to follow a few tips to make sure you get the best results.

Here are a few things you can do — and a few you shouldn’t — to get the hair color you want at home:

Use a Foam Dye
Coloring your hair at home can make a mess of your bathroom or kitchen. If you’re not careful, the dye will also spread all over your neck. Once you rinse the dye and your hair dries, you’re also likely to find plenty of patches that you missed.

With a foam dye, there won’t be any drips on your skin or your tile. You’ll also be able to spread the dye more evenly and see the coverage better so you know that you are getting the right results.

Lighten Your Hair First
If you want bright colors and vibrant hues, you will have to lighten your hair first — even if you are already blonde. You need a near platinum base to show the new color in its best light. The only exception is if you are going to a darker color like chestnut or raven.

Keep the Right Shampooing Protocol
Typical shampoos are the enemy of hair color, fading it quickly. Use a shampoo designed for color-treated hair, and limit shampooing to every other day to help your hair color last. Using a dry shampoo can help you extend washes even more.

Dying hair can be a complex process, so there is much more to learn, but these basic tips can help you get started and get beautiful color at home.