Tips for Stretching Hair Dye Dollars

Salon color services don’t come cheap. Enjoy your lovely locks even longer between visits with these tips.

by Tricia Goss
Tips for Stretching Your Hair Color Dollars photo

None of us wants to seem vain. However, maintaining your appearance can help you feel more confident, pulled together, and simply better about yourself. Hair color can conceal grays, boost your hair’s vibrancy, or perhaps provide you with a much-needed change.

However, who wants to spend money on hair dye when it only fades out after a few weeks and several washes?

The good news is that you can stretch your hair dye dollars and help make your fresh hair color keep its luster longer.

Want even more good news? You do not need to buy any fancy, expensive products to maintain your hair color, either.

Clarify Before You Color

To get started, clarify your hair one to two days before coloring it.

You can make homemade clarifying shampoo by merely adding baking soda to your favorite shampoo brand. Just pour the shampoo into the palm of your hand as you typically do, and then add one or two tablespoons of baking soda to it. Apply it to wet hair from roots to ends. Let it stand for two to five minutes, rinse thoroughly and repeat.

This will strip chlorine, styling products, and even pollution from your tresses, preparing an ideal canvas on which to apply hair coloring.

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Wait Before Washing and Keep Cool

Once you have colored your hair, whether at home or a salon, wait at least 48 hours before washing it again. This may be trying if you are a daily shampooer, but it is crucial to making the hair color fade-resistant.

Waiting a couple of days to wash allows the hair dye to penetrate the strands completely, which means it will not lighten or wash out as quickly.

When washing your hair, always rinse with cool to tepid water, which will seal your hair’s cuticle, which helps lock in the color.

Every wash can fade your color a little, so try to extend the time between shampoos if you can. Embrace updos, braids, or hats on those in-between days, and consider dry shampoo your best friend for absorbing oil and adding volume.

Once a Week Condition Deep

If possible, use shampoo and conditioner made for color-treated hair.

Once a week, deep-condition your hair. You can buy a hot oil treatment product or deep conditioning mask at the drugstore or make your own by combing 1/2 cup of real mayonnaise through your hair. Wrap your head with a warm towel (toss a damp towel in the microwave or dryer for a few minutes) and top it with a plastic grocery bag or plastic wrap. Let it stand for 20 to 30 minutes, and then wash out.

Use Protection

Try to avoid chlorine or saltwater, as they both have the propensity to dry out your hair and cause it to look less lustrous. If you plan to go swimming, consider smoothing conditioner through your hair and then putting on a swim cap. This will protect and help fortify your hair.

Too much sun can be damaging as well. Wear a hat, cap, or bandana over your hair if you will be soaking up the rays for a while.

Try Alternate Styling Options to Beat the Heat

High temperatures from blow dryers, straighteners and curling irons can fade your color and damage your hair.

When you do use heat, make sure to apply a heat protectant spray to minimize damage and color fading. Better yet, explore heat-free styling methods to preserve your color and hair health.

Don’t Let Hard Water Be Hard on Your Hair Color

If you live in an area with hard water, a shower filter might be a game-changer for your hair.

Hard water can deposit minerals onto your hair, dulling color and causing buildup. A hard water shower filter helps to remove these minerals, keeping your color bright and your hair healthy.

Section Your Hair for Touch-Ups

When your roots start showing, you don’t always need to recolor your entire head. Section your hair and apply dye only to the new growth. This method not only saves hair dye but also prevents the ends of your hair from becoming over-processed and damaged, which can lead to more color fading.

Some Tips for Stretching Hair Dye Dollars From Our Frugal Readers

Two-for-One Hair Color

My friend and I have short hair and we like to dye it. We noticed that we’d only use a half bottle or so of the store-bought hair dye when we’d dye our hair. We inevitably threw out the other half. Now, we get together monthly to dye our hair. Together, we use a whole bottle with no waste and only need to buy one bottle! Plus, we have an excuse to get together monthly to catch up and socialize. We figure this saves us close to a few hundred a year since we only have to buy one hair dye kit a month instead of two and we’re skipping the salon color!

Saving on Temporary Colors

I prefer to dye my own hair since I like using “bright” colors and having more outrageous hairstyles. Going to professionals for this kind of styling can be especially expensive.

So, I buy boxes of hair dye when they’re on sale and I have coupons. Then, I go to the beauty supply store and pick up some red and blue color enhancers. I also buy my temporary “bright” colors there, since they are cheaper. You can use blue enhancer directly as a hair dye, giving you nice blue hair. Mixed with red or blond, you can create any hue of purple or green you could want, and they are permanent.

After I have dyed my hair whatever base permanent color I want, I use the temporaries to brighten things up and make the color last longer. The temporary dyes are naturally conditioning so I’m actually doing my hair some good while I’m at it.
Nicole G.

DIY Hair Coloring Tips

If you color your hair, you can save money by purchasing the dye, developer and an applicator or two at a beauty supply store. You can purchase the developer in large bottles, and the dyes can be purchased separately in small bottles like the ones that come in the kits. The application bottles have measurements on the side, making it easy to use just what you need (such as just half of a bottle of dye for touching up your temples and roots). The intense post-coloring conditioners are also available in large bottles.

The cost is far less than a drug store hair coloring kit, especially if you color or touch up every four to six weeks.

Student Savings

A good way to stretch your beauty shop dollar is to use a cosmetology school for haircuts, perms, color, nail care, and skin care. I am fortunate to have one nearby and they do a great job at a fraction of the price. The students are very serious and do a very good job.

Reviewed March 2024

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