This is Why I Pay for A Pro

During our time at business school That Husband won’t be working, and we’re going to have to work really hard at staying under budget if we want to leave business school without any debt (I won’t be going into detail regarding how this is possible, I know it sounds crazy but we have savings and help from outside sources that will get us there). Happily TH has a guaranteed position as a consultant with Company X right after he finishes his MBA program so we won’t have to spend any time job hunting and stressing that a post-MBA position isn’t going to materialize.

As part of this effort to cut back on unnecessary expenses I decided I was going to dye my own hair, instead of going to a salon like I usually do. I realized it was absolutely necessary after TH took this picture and showed me how nasty my roots have become.

Here is what I started with. TH laughed when I told him I wanted to make a serious face for the picture because that’s what you do when you take a before picture.

Look at those bleached ends and dark roots!

After a considerably long time spent in the hair color aisle I decided on Clairol Natual Instincts 24-Clove. I kind of wish I had gone with something lighter like 18-Medium Golden Brown but oh well!

The problem isn’t with the shade, as you can see, the problem is that I did an awful job of evenly distributing. I used two boxes, just like everyone on Twitter and Facebook advised, but I think my mistake was twisting it all up on the top of my head and stuffing it into a shower cap for the 10 minutes it was supposed to set.

I don’t think these pictures do it justice either. TH agrees that it looks much worse in real life.

I do like the way the shade makes my eyes pop and I’m going to buy another box and try again. This time though, I’m thinking I will cover my body in vaseline, have wet towels at the ready, apply the stuff and then stand there with my hair dripping dye until it’s time to rinse. If it comes out wonky again, I’m just going to go and get it done somewhere.

Anyone else have a better suggestion for how I can ensure a completely even result?

55 thoughts on “This is Why I Pay for A Pro

  1. We have all done this. As a hairdresser, you should just go get it done. But since you are saving money (and I am ALL about saving money) put the hair color on the midshaft and pull through the ends. Let that sit. You shood be able to still put a shower cap on, just dont twist or bunch your hair up a whole lot (a little bit is okay) When there is about 10 minutes left on the timer, then add the color to your roots. That should help with your problem. Let me know how it goes.

  2. Have a friend or even TH do it. There is no way that you can get the back of your head to have the dye evenly distributed yourself! You need some help! 🙂

  3. I agree that you need someone to help you do it who can see the back of your head. I used to have my sister do it for me since it never came out even when I did it myself.

    Also, since your hair is long, start with the bottom part first to get the strands that didn’t seem to catch the color. Definately let it sit in a shower cap. I usually wrap a warm towel around the shower cap to help the color set.

    Really, I just think you need another pair of hands helping.

  4. Oh no! Are there any beauty schools in your area? Students typically do hair for a much lower price, and there are a lot less worries about bad turnout!

  5. Jenna, if you’re looking for an affordable dye job, check out the Aveda Institute on Clark in Lakeview. It’s all Aveda students but their instructors are watching everything, and though it takes longer, you still get a great dye job for cheaper. Plus, Aveda products are much easier on your hair and stay in longer.

    Cathy Reply:

    I agree with Anni and love Aveda products. I have a friend that goes to the Aveda Institute and has had good results.

    ashley Reply:

    Yes, Aveda stuff is the! (I’ve been a reader for a while (reedaboutme on formspring, but this is how passionate I feel about Aveda – it is making me comment!). And I’ve gone to an Aveda institute before – I couldn’t tell the difference between that and my normal (at the time) $80 dye jobs!

    Andrea Reply:

    I go to a place like that here in SC and though I don’t dye my hair I do get it cut there. They do great work and yeah the instructors come around and check and I think with the dying they do stand there the whole time.

  6. If it’s possible, COMB your hair after you put the dye in. I know that gets harder with longer hair, but with mine I always try to comb the gooey dying hair — therefore helping to distribute the dye throughout the strands.

  7. Oh the home dye job…I suck at it. 🙂 There is dye splattered along my bathroom door to prove it. My hair is dull light brown, and I usually just dye it a shade darker if I’m doing it at home. I agree with the need for an extra set of hands since your hair is so long. Good luck!

  8. I dye my hair (at home) all the time. Two boxes is a must for hair your length. When my hair is short (shoulder-length or above) I can do it alone. With longer hair, someone needs to do it for you! TH or a friend.

    I use the Revlon dye from the grocery store. It is about $3 a box, and works better (in my experience) than the 2x I’ve gotten mine done professionally.

    Sophia Reply:

    That was my experience as well. I had my hair dyed professionally twice, at various points while I was also dying my own hair. With the first person I spent *6 hours* there, and she still couldn’t figure out how to bleach my almost black hair light enough to get highlights to show up. The next time I had very short hair and wanted to go blonde, so I went to a very highly recommended, very expensive person.So… he mixes stuff wrong, puts me under the heat lamp for too long, it turns to boiling liquid that runs onto my scalp, I start freaking out, he’s rinsing it out and everything smells like burned skin/hair, and I’m left going to the ER for a serious burn that left me with a bald spot that was larger than a silver dollar :/

    After that, I just went at home all the way, with great results (and it’s far cheaper!)

    Logan Reply:

    Luckily I never had quite that experience. At home dyes just had brighter color and lasted longer than my salon jobs.

  9. There’s a box dye I tried recently that has a comb kind of attachment- it made the whole process a million times easier. My hair is about half the length of yours and it was STILL frustrating to do, so I can only imagine the time it takes you to! Definitely have a friend help you- it makes a big difference too.

  10. That happened to me the one time I tried to do it all by myself. Usually I have my mom help me (who’s dyed her own hair for years) since she can get the back side better then I can. Maybe get someone to help you since it’s difficult to reach your back?

  11. You definitely need TH to help you! At home dying isn’t so bad if you have a helper. It looks like if you start at the middle (where it’s showing really light) you should be ok. Throw on a ratty old tshirt or put a rag towel down your back and just leave it down while you let it set (probably easiest while T1 is asleep!)

  12. I color my own hair at home (mostly because it’s short and grows so fast I would spend a fortune at a salon). I would suggest using a VERY wide tooth comb to evenly distribute the color. I stress ‘very’ since haircolor makes your hair very tangled and it sticks together. Also, try to get someone to help you since your hair is so long. And definitely wear a very old shirt you don’t care about anymore.

  13. Barter!!! You have such a perfect skill (photography) for trading! You could offer to a 1-2 hour session in exchange for a dye job from a professional. I’m sure you could find someone who would be interested.

    Cécy Reply:

    That’s a good idea.

  14. I’ve pretty much never colored my hair. I think about it sometimes and then decide that it’s too expensive and that I won’t bother.
    I don’t really have any tips as far as coloring, but when it comes to protecting yourself from it. You could do what I do with kids when I let them paint. Turn a garbage bag (clean of course) into a protecting tunic, just cut holes for the head and the arms and put it on. That way you’ll protect your skin without using the entire tube of vaseline.

  15. I’ve always like the Ion dyes from Sallys–they are what some of the pros use and the Sally’s ladies can help you get what you need.

  16. Oh man me and the box dye are NOT friends! I ended up turning my hair black one time and orange another. So I think your hair turned out so much better than I could have ever done. But maybe just do the bottom length of your hair this time around but really that may be the worst advise I’ve ever given. I’m sending you luck though!!!

  17. I outsource all beauty. I would rather not eat… and it is one reason why I work while the hubs and I are in school — I can’t give up the little things. I’m horrible and anything beauty – hair, make up, whatever.

    Once, in desperation, I did make the husband dye my hair, using a box. And I can’t believe you did it by yourself! Make the husband do it with you, or grab some friends. In college, we always dyed each other’s hair. Crazy, yes. Getting it on even is mucho important!

  18. The good thing is that color looks great on you, and you’re right it really makes your eyes stand out!

    I colored my own hair, and all my friend’s hair, at home for all four years of college- even getting all crazy with foil to give highlights, tipping the ends, etc.- and I agree with others that you probably just need another pair of hands. I had a dedicated towel that I would wrap around my shoulders to I could leave my hair down, after I had vaseline’d my ears/neck/hairline. The comb is a good idea because sometimes the hair clumps up in little dreads, where the outside strands are soaked in dye, but the inside is dry.

    You’ll get the hang of it and then you’ll love it 🙂 When I was dying my own hair I would get compliments, people would ask who did my hair, and my friends would get compliments on the dye jobs we did for each other as well. To me, when it comes to a basic dye job with no highlights, where you just want to change the overall color, once you get it down you really don’t need to go to a professional and you’ll still look great. Good luck on the second attempt- with TH helping! 🙂

  19. I did this once too. Mine turned orange. Have you thought about going darker and just doing an all over color. I heard that you are supposed to mix two colors to make it better, but I have no idea.

  20. You’re just gorgeous either way, blotchy or not 🙂

    I got tired of bad results with at-home color so instead, I go to a salon twice a year for very very very subtle high and low lights. I tell my stylist that I only get it done twice a year so make it subtle enough to grow out smoothly. No large skunky streaks! It costs me about $150/year which is probably what I’d spend on boxes of color.

  21. I’m going to second what someone said up there about bartering! You have such a great skill. If you find someone you know who does hair, you should do it.

  22. use 3 boxes and comb it through with the widest comb you can find. i think you and i have the same hair texture. mine is barely to my shoulders and i use 2 boxes. you could also use a high lighting kit instead of all over color.

    amanda Reply:

    also, separate your hair into 4 sections; upper and lower right and left. work the color through each section until it feels completely saturated, then comb it. if you have salon clips (seriously, like $5 for 6 at sally’s) you can clip the colored section to your head, like a bun. do the same for the rest of the sections. before you start the timer, feel around to see if any sections are dry; if so, add more color. use shampoo to get any excess color off your face, neck and ears. i hope this helps!

  23. I used to help my mother cover her grey roots, and her hair wasn’t even shoulder-length, and it was STILL a mission! With your long hair it must be really hard to do alone. I think you definitely need TH or a friend to help you!

    Why are you colouring your hair, anyway? Don’t you like your natural colour? (No argument there; I have blonde highlights myself because my hair is just drab without them! I was just wondering).

  24. i’m with the other commenters – you need another pair of hands! my mom does mine, and even though she was a hair dresser for a long time we use the box color from walmart. she squirts the color directly on my hair, and then uses her hands to massage is all over like shampoo. she then uses a wide tooth comb to even out the color and make sure everything’s covered. we then twist it up on top of my head and wait. i haven’t had a streaky color yet (knock on wood), so maybe try having th help and using a comb! 🙂

  25. Again, I also agree with having someone help you dye your hair. I think our lengths are pretty close and I could never do it myself. Props for giving it a chance! You’re way braver than me. I usually have my mom do it for me since we both are from-the-box-hair-dyers. Also, this is just me being a rebel, but I only ever use one box and it seems to get evenly distributed. After doing it at home once and then getting my haircut, the gal was surprised I only had to use one box with the length of my hair and the thickness of it. I just don’t like spending all of the money to do it and don’t want to spend any more than I have to.

  26. to save money you should probably just stop dying your hair and let your natural color grow in it is also much healthier for your hair. i am sure the price of salons will be quite steep in chicago compared to texas.

  27. Okay, you can totally do this. I promise. I have hair about your length and it’s frizzy and out of control most of the time and I still manage. I do this all the time too so I think I can be a quasi-authority (plus my mother was a beautician so I’ve been instructed properly).

    First, don’t start at the roots at your forehead. Do those last. Split your hair into bottom layer, middle layer, and top layer. Pin up the top and middle layers.

    Start at the root, cover your hair on the bottom layer. And I mean, COAT it. Every strand should be covered in goop. If you have to use three boxes, so be it. (For the record, I really like Feria because I think it coats best and has really nice color.)

    Take down the mid layer. Apply LIBERALLY. If you need to use TH to help you check, or a hand mirror, do so! Just coat it completely. I actually just squirt it all over and then massage it in so all the strands get equal attention. Then apply a little bit more to make sure you’re fully coated.

    Take down the top layer. Again, apply all over and make sure you coat the entire strand with goop. Your hair should actually be so coated that it feels like it would if you were doing a deep conditioning in the shower. You can totally pin it up (I do!), just make sure that once it’s up, you coat the whole thing with one more squirt of goo. Do make sure you get all the way to the roots in front, just don’t start there. Roots in the front will absorb the color faster than mid-shaft in the back so you just don’t need as much time.

    Also, make sure you leave it on for a good 25 minutes. Personally, I color my hair sans clothes because there’s just no way to keep long hair off of clothing….plus if it hits cotton it could absorb some of the color and take it off of your hair. I just do my best to keep from getting completely covered. Then, as soon as it’s up, I use an old wash cloth and some bar soap to wash off any spots that I’ve got on my skin and make SO help me get rid of any spots on back that I can’t reach.

    On a side note…I’ve been to the Aveda Institutes before as well and they’re okay, but they take a LONG time and it’s not that much cheaper. $60 for highlights, to me, is still a lot. You can totally do the box kind on your own. Live and learn, right?

  28. Jenna Jenna Jenna….haha i love this! Just get 2 more boxes and do a really good job, brush every strand with the color on it. The reason the front looks good is because you have less hair the backs a bigger job. Have TH help you have make sure you have a comb to brush the color through your strands its really not that hard you can do it!

  29. I have to second (or third) all the people who suggested looking for a hairdressing school. I’ve had my hair bleached, coloured (to fire engine red from burgandy) and cut for CAD$35. Which (at least in Canada) the same cost or slightly cheaper than three boxes of hair dye.

  30. I wish I could help you, but I’ve always been too scared to dye my hair on my own!! You’re gutsy, and that’s great! 🙂

  31. don’t have any advice for dying (I’ve never colored my hair), but just wanted to chime in that since I moved to Chicago, the number of haircuts every year has decreased drastically. A basic haircut that cost me $30 in college now costs about $80. Ugh! It is so expensive here. I started wearing my hair in its natural wavy state so that I could get away with going between haircuts longer, to save money. I have heard good things about the Aveda institute that was recommended above though, if you decide to go that route! (I opt not to because it supposedly takes longer.. and a normal haircut for me takes 1.5 hours, which is long enough, thanks!)

  32. Again I would do this for you if I was anywhere near. I have LONG hair and what I do is turn my head up side down. It’s never spread evenly ever, always looks good. So I would give that a try.

  33. I’ve never dyed my hair. So I don’t have suggestions on what to do. I need to get mine cut but somehow spending 40 bucks (I have naturally curly hair so I don’t feel safe going to just any place, did that once and I ended up having a curly afro) on my hair doesn’t seem justified. I think I should treat myself to nicer things more often.

  34. the first time you dye you hair is the hardest, but it gets much easier afterwards, because you just have to color the roots ! have your husband help with the back of your hair, it is really not as hard as it seems !

  35. Okay I also have long hair, and I know just where you went wrong because I did it once! Where your hair has been dyed it has been altered, and it won’t pick up color the same way that your “virgin” hair will. My hair was dyed darker than my natural color, so when I colored it with Feria I got bright roots and still dark hair on the rest. If you go with a darker color all over you’ll probably be able to even it out. I don’t ever lift color at home (go lighter), I only maintain. I got some highlights in the spring, and now I use developer and color from Sally (the total cost of both was around one box of color, or $8, and I have already used it over 10 times, so you’ll save a LOT). So I color my roots about every 3 weeks and leave the rest alone. I’d say if you don’t want to go darker all over, or you try color again and it doesn’t work, get it professionally done once, then maintain it with color from Sally for another 6. 🙂 I use the gloves to massage it into my scalp and spread it through my hair, then i comb it, clip it gently (plastic only) and plop it on my head. When i’m only doing the roots it’s fast and easy, and I don’t have to worry about the back. Email me if you ever need help–I’ve learned a bit through trial and error! 😉

  36. I didn’t think it looked that bad in the first place, but my suggestion would be to use 3 boxes instead. You’ll have enough dye and will still be able to wrap it up without any issues. Since you have such long hair (and I did too when I used to do it myself), you just have to use more.

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