Hair industry experts spill all their secrets about keeping color vibrant yourself

By Kaitlyn Frey
March 20, 2020 02:03 PM
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Now that social distancing and self-isolation are becoming the new norm amid the escalating coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, people are Googling at-home solutions to beauty treatments they used to outsource. So we’re reaching out to experts to share their do-it-yourself tips, from safely removing a gel manicure at home to properly cleaning your nails.

Hair salons in a number of states are temporarily shutting their doors,  and people are turning to their own beauty cabinets to maintain their mane. Celebrity colorist Tracey Cunningham jokingly shared a meme circulating on Instagram that said, “We are about 3 weeks away from knowing everyone’s true hair color 😂.”

Thanks to so many amazing (and easy-to-use) at-home hair coloring products, that doesn’t have to be the case. Read on to find out all the best ways to keep your hair color looking fresh from home.

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Try a Root Cover-Up

If it’s been a while since your last salon visit and you notice some stray gray hairs beginning to grow in, a temporary root concealer is a great quick-fix. There’s plenty of options depending on your application preference, from the L'Oréal Magic Root Cover Up spray and Bumble and bumble Color Stick to the Garnier Express Retouch Gray Hair Concealer and Clairol Root Touch-Up powder.

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“Since these are just temporary, they’re great because if you mess up, you can just wash them out!” says Stephanie Brown, celebrity colorist at IGK SoHo.

No matter which type of cover-up you choose, Brown recommends parting your hair and “applying it in about three or four different sections.” She adds, “For the spray, keep an even, smooth motion about two inches away from the head as you spritz.”

Hairstylist Jim Markham, also the founder and CEO of ColorProof Color Care Authority, recommends massaging in the product after application for a natural finish.

Tone Down Brassiness

Whether you’re blonde, brunette or gray, exposure to pollution, UV rays and hard shower water can contribute to making your hair color look dull and brassy. For blondes and those with natural gray or white hair, that means a yellow undertone, while for brunettes, it means the hue can appear red or orange. Luckily, there are quick at-home fixes.

“I love the evo Fabuloso Color Intensifying Conditionerwhich enables you to refresh your color without any damage,” says Adrianna Norton, colorist at Cutler Salon in N.Y.C.  “You can also use Redken’s Color Extend Blondage Shampoo and Conditioner — which smells amazing! — and neutralizes yellow tones to give blondes a little pick me up. Brunettes can do the same by using Redken’s Color Extend Brownlights Blue Toning Shampoo and Conditioner that will leave your hair shiny and get rid of any unwanted red hues.”

Use a Gloss

Celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess launched a line of at-home in-shower gloss to be used in between salon visits to keep strands shiny and vibrant. While the non-permanent formula enhances your hair color for about four to six weeks (depending on how often you wash), it also deep conditions thanks to a blend of antioxidants.

“I’ve always told you the best way to keep your color fresh is to do a gloss between color services,” Ess said.

While Kristin Ess offers 12 different colors — from Chocolate Cosmo to Golden Hour — for customers to select depending on their hair color, she also created a clear Crystal Quartz gloss for those who just want some extra shine.

Dye Your Hair or Roots

If you’re ready to take the plunge and color your hair yourself, make sure to follow these tips.

Longtime hairstylist and founder and CEO of ColorProof Color Care Authority Jim Markham suggests first getting in touch with your colorist for advice. “They know your hair type and needs,” Markham tells PEOPLE. “Hair color is a tricky science and best left to professionals, however in desperate times, make sure to do your research, select your ideal brand and best shade, and thoroughly read all the instructions before starting to avoid mishaps.”

“Before attempting to color your hair at home it’s important that you understand what color your hair is. Are you a medium warm brown, a light cool blonde, etc.? Once you understand that, you can go on to select your color,” says celebrity colorist and Garnier brand ambassador Nikki Lee. “You must pay attention to the side of the box. If your current hair color isn’t on the side of the box then that shade won’t work for you.”

As for choosing the correct box color, Markham adds: “Choose one that does not stray too far from your natural color. A good rule of thumb is to stay within a half a shade to one shade lighter than your natural color.”

A virtual color consultation is another great way to ensure you get the right hue for you. “A safe option would be Color & Co. because have a live consultation with a professional colorist and get the formula sent directly to your house,” Norton says.

If you’re feeling really ambitious and want to go platinum blonde or get highlights, you’re better off waiting until your local hair salon reopens. “I don’t recommend doing any big color changes at home. It’s always easier to go slightly darker than lighter because going lighter can be complicated and often requires a color correction that should be handled by a pro,” Lee says.

RELATED: How to Safely Remove Your Gel or Acrylic Manicure at Home

Once you select your color and are ready for application, Markham suggests doing a clarifying treatment with the ColorProof ClearItUp Detox Shampoo to remove build-up from hard water minerals, chlorine and styling products. “By creating a clean slate, color can penetrate easier and be applied more evenly,” he says.

“Before getting started, make sure to wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting stained and take extra precautions to avoid contact with your skin. Use a small amount of Vaseline around your hairline to product your skin from the dye,” Markham explains. “Follow all directions carefully and be sure to rinse color thoroughly once processed.”

You’ll also probably want to enlist some extra helping hands if you’re a beginner. “I do recommend a friend or trusty husband assisting you in the application as it can get messy!” says Norton.

Since it’s a bit inevitable that dye can end up getting on places other than your hair, dissolve excess product from your face, neck and hair with Color Oops Hair Color Remover Wipes once you’re done.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes ,PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDCWHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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