We're in week six (seven? eight? who knows) of self-quarantine, which means most people haven't been to the hair salon in months. For some people, that's no big deal, but for people with short haircuts, dyed hair, or other hair treatments, a few months feels like forever.

So it's no surprise that people are cutting, dying, and treating their hair at home. And while I have absolutely no experience cutting my own hair, I've been dying my hair at home for eight years. My hair has been dyed red for the better part of the last decade (with a few side-steps into pink and ombre). 

Since I've been dying my hair at home for years, here are my tips for first-time at-home dyers!

Know Your Base Color

photo: Ileana Paules-Bronet

Before you do anything else, figure out what your base hair color is. This may not necessarily be your natural color, but you basically need to determine if your hair is light, medium, dark, or gray. Depending on your hair color, you'll need different hair dye/developer.

Talk To Your Hairdresser

photo: Ileana Paules-Bronet

The very first time I went red, I had my hairdresser dye it. I can't recommend this strongly enough — it's a lot easier to dye your roots if a professional has done the first dye. If you're set on dying your hair yourself, ask a professional for advice! Check with your hairdresser to see if they have any tips for you. They know your hair color, style, and hair type, so they might have some great advice for you before you start dyeing.

Skip The Drugstore

photo: Ileana Paules-Bronet

My biggest piece of advice for anyone dying their hair at home is to skip the drugstore! Instead of buying boxed hair dye, go to a beauty supply store (or order from a beauty supply store online). Most boxed hair dyes cost $5-15 — at beauty supply stores, you can get all the supplies/materials you need for the same price! And at a beauty supply store, there are so many options. Instead of just choosing from a few different brands and colors, you'll have choices of color permanence (permanent, semi-permanent, demi-permanent, temporary), types of dye (cream, liquid, powder), developer levels, and tools! For the same amount of money, you can get exactly what you need, instead of just choosing a boxed dye that's "good enough."

Protect Yourself & Your House

photo: Ileana Paules-Bronet

Before dying your hair, make sure you protect yourself and your house. At the salon, you wear a big black cape — so do the same at home! My favorite way to protect my clothing and skin is to wear a garbage bag. I'm not joking. Open up a garbage bag, cut a hole in the top for your head, then cut arm holes. You might feel kind of silly, but I promise it works! 

photo: Ileana Paules-Bronet

If you're more confident in your abilities, try tying a plastic grocery bag around your neck — this will protect your neck, shoulders, and back. If you want to protect your furniture, turn once again to plastic bags!

Follow The Instructions

photo: Ileana Paules-Bronet

This might sound obvious, but FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS! I don't care if you've gotten your hair dyed once or a thousand times, read the instructions. This will tell you what kind of developer to use, how long to let the dye stay in your hair, and how to wash the dye out properly.

Get An Assistant

photo: Ileana Paules-Bronet

I'll be honest here — when I say, "I've dyed my own hair," I mostly mean I convinced my friends to dye my hair. But having an assistant is so important! No matter who you are, you can't see the back of your own head. If you have someone who is willing — like a significant other, roommate, or family member — ask them to be your hair stylist (I'll admit I've bribed friends with coffee and meals). Even if you're dying your hair yourself, it's good to have someone who can take a quick look and tell you, "Oh you missed this spot."

Don't Rush It

photo: Ileana Paules-Bronet

Go into the process knowing that it's going to take some time. It usually takes an hour or more for me to dye my hair. If you're rushing through it, you're definitely going to miss some spots — so take your time and be patient!

Don't Expect Perfection

photo: Ileana Paules-Bronet

I'll just tell you this right now: your hair won't look perfect. No matter what, it won't look like you got it done at a salon. You'll probably end up with some hair dye on your face or ears, it might be bolder than you expected, or it might end up being a different color than you were prepared for. That's okay! Immediately after washing out the dye, the color will be very vibrant — after a couple of washes, it'll fade to its permanent color.

Finish Up With A Mask

photo: Ileana Paules-Bronet

A day or two after dying your hair, follow up with a nourishing hair mask! The chemicals in hair dye can be tough on your hair, so hydrating your locks with a mask will keep your hair looking healthy longer.