While the coronavirus pandemic has kept salons closed and would-be clients committing to #stayhome, maintaining dyed hair has become an at-home activity. While there’s much you can do to preserve your color, to start, the latest crop of DIY dye kits will help conquer gray streaks, dark roots and brassy blonde hues. For expert advice, the best first move is to schedule a virtual appointment with your colorist, but there are also some immediate answers for those who need to take matters into their own hands. "If you have to do something, keep it really simple," says New York City-based colorist Rachel Bodt, who's the pro behind the brilliant strands of Marisa Tomei and Georgia May Jagger, among others. Here, she shares more tips to tide you over until the salon reopens.
Before experimenting, call your colorist. "Ask a few basic questions about the shade they usually use to color your hair, so you know what kind of shade to purchase," Bodt explains. If you are still unsure about which color to go for, Bodt stresses the importance of erring on the lighter side. "Start out with the lighter shade or mix the two together," she says, since it's much easier to go darker.
Before mixing your desired color, Bodt recommends slipping on a button-down shirt. "Grab a collared shirt you don't care about," she says, "you can take it off and run into the shower the second the timer goes off." Next, toss a towel around your neck and section the hair off. "Start by coloring the back of the head," she notes, since the hair at the front of the head is a bit finer and will grab onto color much faster.
To avoid staining your skin with the dye, "be sure to apply a little chapstick or vaseline around your hairline." Should you get some of the solution on your shirt, the pro suggests dabbing a Tide-to-go stick on the area. "It's kind of hard to mess up," she says, but warns against using a dye made of henna. "It sits on the hair shaft and is almost impossible to lift out or change after the fact." Sticking to a regular dye will ensure more flexibility after at-home treatment.
For Blonde Hair
While Bodt suggests leaving highlights to the pros, there are a few ways to brighten your allover base in between appointments. "Most of us are OK with a root, but the second the color starts to look brassy or ashy, it's all about preserving the tone." The colorist recommends using an apple cider vinegar rinse once every two weeks. "It removes mineral build-up and for blondes can get rid of the brassiness." According to Bodt, it also helps clients with psoriasis or eczema get rid of irritation.
As for boxed blonde treatment? "Just wait it out," she advises. "It's really hard to match the color for blondes, and with a double process, your hair is more susceptible to breakage." Although it may be tempting to use bleach, Bodt strongly warns against it. "You could end up frying your hair, potentially costing you more money and hassle in the long run." Stick to an apple cider vinegar rinse and follow up with a purple conditioner to cancel out any yellow tones.
$35.00, Evo Fabulouso
For Red Hair
"The biggest concern for redheads is fading," explains Bodt, who recommends two approaches to the issue: a toning treatment and an overall dye. "If you want to keep the tone vibrant, do a color conditioner treatment," she says. "It revamps the color while you're in the shower for about three to five minutes." Beyond using an Overtone mask every few weeks, the pro also suggests looking into Madison Reed's at-home system. "The colors are really vibrant," she says. "You take a quiz online and the experts calibrate and calculate the best color for you." But for either path, skipping shampoo, rinsing hair with cold water, and avoiding heat styling is key to avoid fading over time.
$27.00, Madison Reed
"Most brunettes worry about their color getting brassy," Bodt explains, mentioning that the easiest way to preserve the hue is by swapping in a purple shampoo for dark hair. But should you be in the mood for a full color overhaul, the pro recommends Garnier's nourishing formula. "It gives hair a really good shine," she explains, likely due to the creme's avocado, shea, and olive oil base. If you have more textured hair, Bodt suggests adding coconut oil to the end of each strand. "The hair may get a bit darker on the ends," since the area is thinner and in turn, more porous. The hydrating base will ensure that during the rinse, the dye won't penetrate the area, ensuring the color stays the same around the whole head.
$7.00, Garnier Nutrisse
For Gray Roots
"When you're doing your roots, be sure to follow the box and the suggested time," says Bodt. Heed her coconut oil tip to keep the color exclusively on the roots. For professional grade solutions, look to L'Oreal's Color and Co: the brand offers personalized color services including instructional hair color videos. Alternatively, should you know your hair hue, dpHue's root kit is a seamless option. The sulfate-free product comes in seven colors and can cover up to one inch of gray hair.
Ultimately, don't sweat it: "If doing your whole head is stressing you out, just stick to the front," Bodt advises, and save the rest for when you can make an appointment at the salon. "Touching up your roots is the easiest way to maintain your color," she says. "It will just get you through this stretch."
Originally Appeared on Vogue