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How to 
Color Your Hair

Simple instructions and expert tips for every hair type.


Before you Color

For at-home hair color, this is as easy as it gets.

Start by taking our Color Quiz. That’s our online tool that asks you questions about your current hair color and what you are looking to achieve with your new color, then helps determine your just-right shade. More questions? Contact our team of professional colorists for advice and recommendations. Call 1.855.742.5916 or chat now.

We highly recommend you do a sensitivity test 48 hours before you begin coloring your hair. Wash your hair 24 hours in advance—next-day hair is best for coloring. Right before you start, be sure you have everything you need in front of you. Our checklist: an old towel (in case of spills), hair ties or clips (for sectioning), wide-tooth comb (to pull color through), an old button-down or smock (wear anything you don't mind staining). Check out our handy accessories here.

If you have never colored your hair, our Radiant Cream Color can lighten your hair color up to two levels. If your hair is color treated and lighter than your outgrowth, you can lighten your roots up to two levels following the Cover Your Roots instructions found on our tutorials page. If you have never colored your hair before and are going either two shades lighter, or going red or copper, we recommend contacting our colorists to discuss your options and find the perfect shade. Call 1.855.742.5916 or chat now.

Can't find what you're looking for? Please visit our FAQs page

Read up on...

Don't know where to start? Start by getting in touch. Our expert colorists love hearing from you. Contact Us

Ready to Color

How to apply the perfect shade for the perfect results

All Over Color - Still Image


Use if coloring hair with permanent color for the first time, or moving to a darker shade.

Going Lighter or Redder - Video Still

All Over - First Time, Going Lighter or Redder

Use if coloring for the first time using a shade that is lighter than your natural hair color or going redder.

Roots Only - Video Still

How to Color Roots and Refresh Color

Use if coloring every 4-8 weeks with the same (or similar) shade. This will help protect the ends of your hair from over-coloring or becoming too dark.

Red Hair Two Steps for Perfect Pair

How To - Roots and Gloss

Meet the Perfect Pair for gorgeous hair: color + gloss

Short answer—no. Wait at least one full day after washing your hair before you color. If you use styling products, comb through your hair before coloring to remove any excess product. If you use any wax-based styling products, you must wash your hair before coloring because these products may prevent color absorption. Shampoo hair thoroughly and wait at least 24 hours before coloring.

The first thing you’ll need to do is divide your hair into four sections. Part your hair down the middle and split each half with an additional part line, so your hair falls into four quadrants. Use clips to secure these sections in place. Then color each section individually. If you need clips, you can buy a set of four professional color clips from our accessories page.Need more info before getting started? Watch one of our helpful video tutorials.

Our Radiant Cream Color comes in a bottle with a nozzle tip designed to easily divide hair into smaller sections as you color. This is particularly helpful when coloring areas you can’t see, like the back of your hair. Use the nozzle to create and color small rows, about a quarter inch apart, one section at a time. Be sure to apply plenty of product to fully saturate roots. Use about half the bottle on your roots, then go back in and massage color into your roots for total coverage before moving on to the next step.

Can't find what you're looking for? Please visit our FAQs page

After you Color

The best ways to protect and revive your color.

We want you to love your hair. If you don't—a professional colorist will help you find a color that you do love, and send it to you, on us. And if you're still not happy? We'll refund your money on your first box, 100%.

Our hair color formula locks in color, but it is normal to see a little residual color in your shampoo (especially if you’ve used a dark or red shade).

Protect and strengthen your color with Madison Reed Color Protecting Shampoo and Conditioner, which nourishes hair and won’t strip it of color. Be sure to use cool water to shampoo and condition your hair. Limit exposure to direct sunlight and chlorinated water.

Can't find what you're looking for? Please visit our FAQs page

Meet our Colorists

Doing it yourself doesn't mean you're on your own. Our expert colorists are always available to answer your questions.