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First Time? How To Color Your Hair At Home

by Susannah Murdock {{"2020-03-24T18:18:00.000Z" | blogDate:'MMMM d, y'}}

Image by Madison Reed

Maybe it’s your first time coloring your hair, or maybe you just haven’t done it since using spray-in hair lightener in junior high (yikes). Whatever the reason, you might be nervous coloring your hair at home, but we’re here to help you. Every. Step. Of. The. Way. Ready? Let’s do this…

Ok first time at-home hair colorers...want to know the #1 Hair Hack for coloring your own hair? Here it is: you only color your whole head of hair if you are coloring your hair for the first time, or are changing shades. So if this is your first time using Madison Reed, this may apply to you. But, after your first time, you really only want to color your roots. If you feel like the rest of your hair needs freshening up, use Color Reviving Gloss on your mid-lengths and ends. This is what professional colorists often do in salons—they touch up roots, and apply a gloss to mid-lengths and ends for gorgeous shine and a boost of color. Luckily, it’s not as hard as you might think. Even luckier, we made a video tutorial showing you just how easy it is to be a total color and gloss pro…

If you have just bought your first Radiant Cream Color Kit, never fear...our printed instructions that come with your color kit have both instructions on them—Option A: Touching Up Color (a.k.a. just doing your roots), and Option B: All Over Color (a.k.a. coloring your whole head of hair). So either way, you’ve got the instructions you need. 

If you have gray roots or root outgrowth with partial highlights, you should only apply the color at your roots. If you want to revive your highlights, you can also apply Light Works® Toning Glaze to your mid-lengths and ends.

Let’s make this fun, so put on your favorite playlist, and a shirt that buttons up the front. Your hair should be dry and unwashed (the day after your last shampoo or so). Make sure your hair is free of styling products as they can coat hair and block the color. The processing time ranges from 35 minutes to 65 minutes depending on the application that is right for you and the amount of gray you have, so call your mom, your sister, a friend to chat away the time, or get comfy with a good book.

You know how big problems can seem less daunting if you just approach them bit by bit? Well the same can be said for coloring your hair. Don’t just attack your head haphazardly with the applicator bottle in hand. Take a deep breath and section. It’s easy, and makes the whole process easier. Simply part your hair in the middle, and then split each of those in two so you have four sections of hair. Work on one section at a time. This allows you to work more precisely and to fully saturate your hair. Like a pro. Seriously. Here’s a handy blog post, and here’s a quick video showing you how to section:

Some people apply their hair color using a bowl and a brush, and some people prefer just using the applicator bottle. Either way is fine. Refer to your instructions for how to mix your hair color...wait—did you lose your instructions? No problem! Here’s a link to our instructions, plus a bunch more how-to videos to put you at ease. What can we say that’s not included in your instructions? One word: saturate. Make sure you apply enough color to truly saturate your hair, especially at your roots and on any gray hair you may have. If you have long or thick hair, this might mean you need two Radiant Cream Color Kits. This is true of any at-home hair color, but we made it easy to add an extra tube of color without having to buy a whole extra box. Simply check the box titled “Long Hair?” at checkout, and we’ll add an extra tube to your order. Of course if you’re just touching up your roots, one box will be enough.

Gray hair can have its own personality—uncooperative and a bit stubborn. Its texture can be coarser than the rest of your hair, which makes it more resistant to color. So you always want to make sure you apply your color to your grays first as they need more processing time than the rest of your hair. Want more tips for covering gray hair (plus a few videos to show you how)? Here’s a blog post with 7 tips, just for you.


One of the questions most first timers ask (and let's be honest—even people who've been coloring for awhile sometimes have questions)...is how do you color the back of your hair? Valid question, with an easy answer. We even wrote a blog post called How to Color the Back of Your Head in 6 Seriously Simple Steps. Check that out, or just watch this easy peasy video.

So there you have it—easy, do it yourself at-home hair color. We swear, you’ve got this, with all the video tutorial hair color application instructions you’ll ever need, plus a few hair hacks to make you color with total confidence. And if you still feel even the teensiest bit nervous, our Color Crew is available by phone or chat to answer any questions, or just to be your hair color cheering squad. 

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