A trip to the hair salon can be pricey, especially if you have long hair or are trying out an intensive style, such as rainbow hair or oil slick hair. But box hair dye is a fraction of the cost. You might be tempted by the savings and think: “How hard can it be?”

The truth is that any stylist will tell you of the countless botched box jobs that they had to fix – costing the client more money, more time and more patience as they waited for their hair to look “normal” again. Remember Sun-In??

Really hard, actually.

The hair color that’s sold over-the-counter does not have the same quality or intensity, and won’t give you the same results. You also can’t reach every spot of your hair the way a stylist can, which can leave your color splotchy and miss sections entirely.

Consider this, even most hairstylists so not color or highlight their own hair! So, before you delve into unchartered waters, at the very least GO to the pro’s and learn as much as possible before your DIY journey.

If you are insistent on doing it yourself, here are a few tips that can help you do a better job:

Buy the Best Quality Products
Beauty supply stores and websites sell hair coloring products that are a higher grade than the box dye you can get from the drug store. Buy the highest quality products you can find and afford. You’ll get better results, and your hair will look better.

Use Professional Tools
Box dye has you squirting dye in your hair from a bottle and squishing it around. This is a bad idea, not only for your bathroom but also for your hair. Instead, use professional tools like applicator brushes and foil to apply the dye and ensure consistent coverage. When selecting a dye or color – go for the LEAST damaging ingredients. No alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or other hair “killers”. The damage than can be done is likely not reversible, especially is you are going lighter, so don’t skimp on product!

Get Some Help
Even if you aren’t going to a salon, it’s still recommended to get some help with your dye job. Ask a friend or loved one to apply the product to the back of your head, where even the best mirror setup can’t help you see or reach everything yourself.

Start Slow
Always perform a “test strand” under the hair. This is a no-brainer when it comes to coloring your own hair. Many brunettes end up orange when trying to go lighter and very unhappy. Another invaluable help is to ask someone you know who has successfully used an at home coloring kit to help you. Learn from their mistakes and have them guide you through the process.

Prep Hair
Give your hair a little TLC before coloring. Indulge in a deep conditioning treatment before AND after to keep hair as healthy as possible.

With any luck, you’ll have a passable color job. Otherwise, it’s time to call the stylist and pay for the expertise you need.