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7 Tips for Achieving Flawless Hair Color

by Madison Reed June 29, 2021


Image by Madison Reed

We get it—keeping your colored hair looking fresh can feel like a full-time job. Well, here at Madison Reed, we have a few tips and tricks that can make coloring your already-colored hair at home just that little bit easier. Whether you’re touching up your roots, making your hair darker, or perhaps going a completely new shade—these tips will get you coloring at home just like a professional colorist!

1. You don't need to color all your hair every time

We already mentioned how different parts of your hair absorb hair color at a different rate due to the porosity of the hair. When there’s existing dye in your hair, applying hair color repeatedly leads to buildup on the lower portion of your hair. This can result in a darker shade at the ends than roots—which may not be the best look! Instead of coloring your whole head of hair every time, just touch up your new growth with either Root Perfectionor the Madison Reed Permanent Hair Color. While either of those dyes are working their magic on your roots, we recommend applying The Madison Reed Semi Permanent Color Reviving Gloss to your mid-lengths and ends to freshen them up and keep them looking fabulous.

Root Perfection Application, Brush on head

2. Timing is everything 

When it comes to cohesive hair color, timing really is everything. Think of your hair as three distinct sections—roots, mid-lengths, and ends. Hair color is meant to be on these sections at different times.

  • Roots: Often, this is where we start when applying hair color—whether you’re covering grays or changing to a completely new shade. The roots are your newest, freshest hair so it takes a bit more time for the color to perform when coloring hair roots.

  • Mid-lengths: This hair is a little more porous. It has been exposed to natural and unnatural elements such as sun exposure, previous coloring, highlighting, and heat styling—which means the hair shaft is a bit more open than your roots and receives hair color more easily.

  • Ends: The most porous of our hair, the ends, have been through the most. They accept color very easily and don't need as much time to process as your roots.

So, should I dye my roots first or last? It’s always a good idea to give your roots the most time to absorb color—say about a 20-minute head start from the rest of your hair. After that, you can gently comb the hair color down your hair, adding more color to your mid-lengths and then finally to the ends.

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3. Changing shades? Start with a strand test.

We always recommend doing a strand test if you are coloring your hair with this shade for the first time. This helps determine optimal timing and color results. Here’s how it works.

  • Take a ¼” wide strand from the underneath of your hair near the nape and secure in a hair tie or clip.

  • Use a small mixture of 1 part Radiant Cream Color (a pea-sized amount) and 1 part Conditioning Color Activator (a pea-sized amount) and apply to the strand of hair.

  • Start timing. After 15 minutes, check the strand. If the strand is not the color you want, return and check the color every 5 minutes for up to 35 minutes. To cover resistant gray, it may be necessary to leave the hair color on for up to 45 minutes.

4. Total Saturation

When performing a root touch up with the Madison Reed Root Perfection or the Madison Reed Permanent Hair Color,total saturation is absolutely key. To fully saturate your hair with dye—part your hair into four sections and apply hair color patiently and methodically, really massaging the hair color into the new growth so that you don't miss any areas. Your goal is to get every strand of hair—not just covered, but saturated—with all that luscious dye for the best results.

5. Going lighter? Know your limitations

Don’t let those hot roots get to you! Hot roots happen when you try to color your already-dyed hair a lighter shade and the roots end up looking noticeably warmer than the rest of your hair. Hot roots happen when the hair closest to the scalp lifts lighter and faster than the rest of the hair due to the heat coming off your scalp. Remember friends—“color can not lift color.” So if you have any type of dye on your hair, a lighter hair color will not be able to make your hair lighter. You’ll need a lightening kit like the Madison Reed Light Works Balayage Highlighting Kit to lighten your hair and get those gorgeous sun kissed highlights at home—just like a professional colorist. 

How to color previously colored hair? Before and after

6. Comb it down. Escape the band

When you’re touching up your roots with the Madison Reed Root Perfection, the hair color will overlap your already colored hair, creating a darker band where the new color is touching the previous color. Escape this hair faux pas by applying hair color just to your roots. If you’re coloring your whole head of hair with the Madison Reed Permanent Hair Color, listen up. Any time the dye overlaps with already-colored hair, simply comb it down and that easily prevents the dreaded band from appearing!

7. Finish strong

To get the best results after coloring, make sure you use the Madison Reed shampoo and conditioner that comes in your hair coloring kit to lock in that fresh color. Continuing to use the specially formulated Madison Reed Shampoo and Conditioner is also the best way to preserve your color and keep your hair looking its best. 

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How to color previously colored hair at home? Conclusions

There you have it! Seven tips to touch up your already-colored hair, just like a professional colorist. For the best results, check out the Madison Reed Virtual Hair Color Makeover Tool or visit a Hair Color Barfor free color consultations and at home coloring tips. Happy coloring friends—you’ve got this!


Originally Published: 9/23/14

Updated: 6/29/2021