- Hairstyling and coloring is something many people feel is best left to the pros.
- Sometimes, making a salon appointment isn’t always an option, even if you feel you desperately need a trim or root touch-up.
- Insider spoke with three professional hair colorists and stylists to create an all-encompassing guide to hair care at home.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Unlike celebrities, the average person doesn’t have a salon professional at their disposal to tend to hair emergencies at home.
At the salon, a basic wash and blow-dry can leave hair glossy and voluminous, but at home, it’s not always as easy to yield the same results. The same goes for hair coloring and highlights — many people leave the fate of their roots in the hands of a trusted stylist.
But when heading to the salon for a regular appointment isn’t an option, trying to mimic the same treatments at home is the next best thing.
In interviews with Insider, three professional colorists and hairstylists shared their top tips for how to maintain healthy locks, safely refresh color-treated hair, and create an accessible regimen for at-home hair care.
First, focus on what you’re able to control at home
If you’re unable to get to your stylist for your regular appointment, maintaining hair health with products and practices at home becomes even more important, said Joy Williams, a professional CHI hairstylist and colorist and owner of JW Studios hair salon in Houston, Texas.
“Stylists can do anything with healthy hair,” Williams said. “What hair really lacks a lot of times is moisture, and sometimes when people come into the salon, especially if they have color-treated hair, we have to charge extra to give them a deep hydration treatment.”
“Now is the perfect time to do hair masks and conditioning at home, so when you get back to your stylist, you’ll spend less time and money repairing it,” Williams said.
“It will really repair the hair, which is especially important for color-treated hair. People don’t do this often enough, so if you’re spending time at home, it’s really the best time to do deep conditioning,” Williams said.
People with finer hair, Williams said, can opt for a hot oil treatment to repair their locks.
“People with finer hair tend to shy away from leave-in conditioners because they feel it will make their hair weighed-down,” Williams said. “They can use a hot oil treatment by applying a natural oil or reconstructive serum on their scalp and wearing a plastic cap for about 30 or 45 minutes, then shampooing it off.”
At-home haircuts are best left to trained professionals, but avoiding heat can help prolong healthy ends
While some people may be tempted to reach for the scissors to trim bangs or especially bothersome split ends, and despite a flurry of at-home trim tutorials available on YouTube, Williams advised not to attempt an at-home cut. “It can wait,” she said.
In lieu of trimming hair at home, no matter how frustrating grown-out locks may seem, stylists recommended simply showing hair extra love by laying off the heat.
Reducing the use of hot tools may sound like an obvious hair-care recommendation, but it’s a crucial step in promoting hair growth and preserving healthy ends without visiting a salon, said Nisa Anderson, a certified Mayvenn hairstylist and CEO of Honest Hair Salon in North Hollywood, California.
“Maybe it’s wearing a protective hairstyle like braids, or finding a hair wrap or accessory you like and wearing that around the house — whatever it takes to lay off the heat can really be beneficial for all hair types,” Anderson said. “Using a heat protectant before blow-drying or using other hot tools only does so much to prevent damage and dryness.”
To touch up roots, grays, or highlights at home, experts recommend using semi-permanent hair color
Williams said that most trained stylists and colorists would agree that permanent color is something to leave for experts and professionals in a salon setting.
She explained that because the application of permanent dye alters the chemistry of the hair, one mistake at home might make for a longer and more expensive trip to the salon down the line.
“Trying to dye your hair with permanent color at home, especially if it’s your first time and you don’t know when you’ll be able to get to a professional stylist, can lead to damage that could be hard to reverse and get back to health down the line,” Williams said.
However, semi-permanent color products are safe alternatives for at-home use and can give people the hair touch-ups they’re seeking.
Semi-permanent hair color can come in the form of brush-on, temporary root color products, or glosses that help revive hair color that may have faded over time. Color-refreshing shampoos and conditioners, which add vibrance to previously color-treated hair, are other safe and accessible options for at-home use, Williams said.
Color choice is the most important factor in having a successful at-home root or highlight touch-up
Shvonne Perkins, who leads the training and education program at Madison Reed, which specializes in at-home hair color kits and resources, told Insider that one of the most challenging parts for people is not applying the color product — but rather color-matching themselves without the expertise of their trusted stylist.
“Most people have the skillset where they can follow directions to section their own hair and mix the coloring products themselves,” Perkins said. “But color choice accounts for 90% of the success of doing your hair color at home.”
To alleviate the intimidation factor surrounding hair color selection, Perkins explained that Madison Reed offers a quiz that helps customers find the ideal shade, as well as step-by-step videos that show people how exactly to apply the products.
“It’s like having a professional hair colorist whispering in your ear,” Perkins said.
Beyond taking a hair color questionnaire, like the one offered by Madison Reed, Perkins said it’s important for people at home to take into account what dyes or colors have already been applied to their hair.
“You have to know that hair color isn’t just choosing you. The color you choose is so dependent on your starting point and what we’re coloring over,” Perkins said. “A lot of people don’t realize that applying new color doesn’t lift other hair color.”
Switch to sulfate-free, paraben-free shampoos and conditioners if you’re not already using them
Perkins said that using sulfate-free, paraben-free products can help maintain color over time, as shampoos and conditioners free of the mentioned ingredients are less prone to stripping the hair.
Perkins said that people can also look for shampoos and conditioners that contain UV filters, which help protect hair from environmental pollutants that fade color.
Sulfate- and paraben-free hair products can also help preserve hair moisture and prolong keratin treatments that have been previously applied, Williams said. In addition, the stylist recommended using a clarifying shampoo, which helps to detoxify the scalp and remove buildup.
“Even if you’re spending more time at home and think you don’t need to be as diligent about washing your hair, you can still get buildup from dry shampoo and any products you’re using in your hair,” Williams said. “You should still be washing your hair regularly. Cleansing with a shampoo labeled as ‘clarifying’ about once a month is also a good way to keep the scalp extra healthy before you can get to a salon.”
Taking proper care of your hair at home can save time and money for when you do return to the salon — but it’s also an act of self-love
Perkins said that she hopes people can feel empowered to take care of their hair on their own. She wants hair care novices to know they’re not alone.
“I think it sort of just comes down to a moment of taking this time for yourself,” Perkins said. “Likely, where [people] are right now is that they’re not able to access their normal beauty routines. I think it’s totally accessible and really necessary to treat yourself and do any of those things that make you feel like yourself, or feel most in touch with the best version of yourself.”
Perkins continued: “Everything feels so out of control, and this is one thing where it’s like, ‘I’m going to do this for myself. I can control this element of how I look and how I feel.'”