The right hair color can be face-enhancing, mood-lifting, and life-changing. The wrong hair color will have you hiding under the covers—or collecting headscarves. To ensure you’re happy with your new hue, always follow these guidelines:

1. Thou shalt speak up. Open communication with your colorist is key to a positive outcome. Share your ideas (subtle highlights), expectations (low-maintenance), and concerns (roots), and don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

2. Thou shalt try on colors first. With ingenious web tools like, it’s easy to get a sneak-peek of how you’ll look in a different hair color. Simply upload a photo and start experimenting. 

3. Thou shalt bring photos. Visuals of what you want your hair color to look like (or not to look like) are the best way to ensure that you and your colorist are on the same page.

4. Thou shalt keep expectations in check. If you’re fair with fine blonde hair, don’t expect to come out of the salon looking like J.Lo. Hair texture and skin tone play a big role in the finished product.

5. Thou shalt look at the back of the box. If DIYing, don’t use the color on the front of the box as your gauge. The shades on the back, which take your natural color into account, are a more accurate illustration of the finished product.

6. Thou shalt not be cheap. If your hair is long or thick (or both–lucky you!) and you’re coloring it yourself, you may need more than one box of color.

7. Thou shalt learn the language. Colorists have their own, you know, and there’s no dictionary for it. If you think toner is just something you put in the printer and balayage is an island off the coast of Tanzania, start asking for clarification about the process and products.

8. Thou shalt proceed with caution. Never go two shades lighter or darker than your base color in a single session—anything more drastic could destroy your hair. Instead, if you’re looking to make a major change, work your way up to the desired color over several visits to the salon.

9. Thou shalt not freak out. If your hair color doesn’t turn out how you wanted, remain calm and explain your concerns to the colorist. Chances are good that there’s a fairly simple solution.

10. Though shalt protect the goods. Please don’t wash a fine color job down the drain by using harsh shampoos, skipping the conditioner, or by overdoing the heat tools. Take care of your hair and the color will last longer.  

Read more of Elizabeth's musings at Beauty Bets



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