Should I Color My Hair At Home Or Stick To The Salon? Hairstylist-to-the-Stars Answers

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Playing Coloring Your Hair At Home vs Salon | Tips From Harry Josh, Stylist to Karlie Kloss + Gisele Bünchden
Coloring Your Hair At Home vs Salon | Tips From Harry Josh, Stylist to Karlie Kloss + Gisele Bünchden Aired July 29, 2019

We're all for anything we can do on a budget, especially if we can achieve professional-level results for less money.

When it comes to coloring your hair at home though, is saving some money worth the risk, or should you stick to the salon? This is one DIY you can't really hide, after all!

We checked in with celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh, whose star-studded client list includes former Victoria's Secret Angels Gisele Bünchden and Karlie Kloss, to get the lowdown on coloring your own hair at home. 

While the quality of drugstore dyes has improved, Harry says there is always going to be a limit to what you can do color-wise at home. 

"Application has become easier, but without the education, it's still a disaster," he says. "You really have to understand … what's possible and what's not possible."

RELATED: Avoid a DIY Hair Color Disaster with 4 Simple Tips

Many people choose box dye based solely on the photo on the front, because they like the model's hair color.

But the reality is, at home you can only change your hair color up two levels or down two levels.

And what is a level? Basically, it's the number that corresponds to how dark or light your natural hair color is.

HAIR COLOR LEVEL GUIDE

Level 1: Black
Level 2: Very dark brown
Level 3: Dark brown
Level 4: Medium brown
Level 5: Light brown
Level 6: Dark blonde
Level 7: Medium blonde
Level 8: Light blonde
Level 9: Very light blonde
Level 10: Lightest blonde

You can go from dark brown (level 3) to light brown (level 5) at home, for example. But if you have dark brown hair (level 3) and you want to go very light blonde (level 9), you'll want to go to a salon.

In addition to the numbers, hair color codes also use letters, which correspond to specific tones, Harry says. These tones are either warm or cool.

The hairstylist shares a helpful chart that covers four main letters and what they mean.

DIY Hair Dye Chart
Rachael Ray Show

HAIR COLOR TONE GUIDE

A IS FOR ASH (COOL GREEN TONES)

"Ash colors are for those women out there who find their browns always look too red for them," Harry says. "You want to put ash into your mixture. You want to pick an ash tone."

G IS FOR GOLDEN (WARM YELLOW TONES)

On the flip side of the spectrum, if you're a brunette who feels your brown is mousy, add a golden tone into your brown mixture to achieve the luster you're looking for, the pro explains. 

V IS FOR VIOLET (COOL PURPLE TONES)

Violet is for blondes who think their hair looks brassy, Harry continues. "Violet is really designed to neutralize that brass and give you a nice cooler, icier shade of blonde."

RELATED: Here's How To Copy Kim Kardashian's Trendy Snow Bunny Hair

N IS FOR NEUTRAL (BLUE TONES)

If you're someone who's happy with your natural hair color but you just want to get rid of your gray hair, pick a neutral tone, Harry says.

Once you understand what they mean, it's easy to use the letter-number codes to determine whether your goal color is something you can achieve at home or not.

For example, if your ideal hair color is 4A, or a medium ash brown, you should only try it at home if your starting hair color falls somewhere between levels 2 and 6.

WHEN TO GO TO A SALON

In addition to making a major jump between levels, the other time you should definitely go to a salon is if you've messed up your hair at home. Once you've made a mistake with box dye, don't try to fix it with more box dye, Harry warns.

"You cannot fix a mistake easily. Color cannot lift color," he says. 

When in doubt, go to a pro and get them to fix it once. It will be worth it!

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