The best at-home hair dyes to achieve salon results for less

DIY beauty on a budget!
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/ Source: TODAY
By Danielle Wolf, Jordan Muto and Camryn La Sala

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When it comes to your hair, whether you're practicing social distancing or your favorite salon is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the perfect excuse for some DIY beauty. In between playing board games and conquering a puzzle, touch up your hair color in the safety of your own home.

Whether you're looking for a fresh change or simply need a quick fix to cover up your roots, you don't need to seek out a professional to get the hair color of your dreams. The best part? You don't need to splurge to get salon-worthy results!

We spoke to professional hair colorists to get recommendations for the best at-home box hair dyes, and application tips so you can get the look you want on a budget!

The Best At-Home Hair Dyes

1. Garnier Olia Ammonia Free Hair Color

Joel Warren, master colorist and co-founder of Warren Tricomi Salons in New York City, loves this high-quality product because it delivers a salon-like finish.

“I like it because it’s an oil-based hair dye that leaves hair in amazing condition," Warren explained. "It's similar to the product we use at the salon and contains no ammonia, which is very important."

2. L'Oréal Paris Excellence Creme Hair Color

Jerami Brown, a colorist at Shin Salon in Los Angeles, likes this L'Oréal hair color line because "they have many options, clear instructions and the highest quality of ingredients."

Another expert colorist Maisha Cogle, at Butterfly Studio Salon in New York City, also recommended using the Excellence Creme for emergency grey coverage.

"It's easy to mix and use. It gives great coverage and results with rich tones plus the additional benefit of conditioning," Cogle said.

Austin Medaris of Ted Gibson Salon is another big fan of L'Oreal and works with the brand's professional line in the salon. When applying color at home, Medaris suggested asking a friend for help so that you avoid missing any spots or putting too much in one place.

"Overlapping can cause color buildup and damage to the hair. Home color is extremely difficult to remove from the hair without causing significant damage," said Medaris. "The developer in at-home colors can also be harsher than those used in the salon, as it is created to work on everyone and not formulated to your particular hair type."

3. Clairol Natural Instincts Semi-Permanent Hair Color

Natural Instincts is a semi-permanent formula, which means it's less of a commitment than permanent color, explained Fred Connors, owner of FRED salon in New York City. "It's ammonia-free and infused with aloe and coconut oil, leaving hair softer and shinier than most permanent colors," he said.

He also advised going lighter than the shade you want when using this product.

"Stay away from warmer tones as boxed dyes can pull more orange than you probably want. Stick to cool or neutral shades — they tend to deliver the best result," he suggested.

4. Wella Charm Liquid Permanent Hair Color

This is a favorite for celebrity hairstylist and creator of the Beachwaver hot tool, Sarah Potempa.

"First and foremost, you need to know what level your natural hair color is considered. Hair color companies will have diagrams and charts that show which color and undertone each color provides," Potempa explained. "If you're going for a drastic change, remember to go slow: one shade at a time. Depending on your hair and skin tone, you will have to do further research on what type of color will suit you."

The Best Root Touch Up Products

1. Clairol Root Touch-Up Kit

Celebrity hair colorist Rita Hazan told us she likes this easy root touch up kit, which is available in 20 different shades. She recommends applying it along your hairline and sticking solely to the roots. Another great tip: When selecting a color, Hazan says to go for a hue one to two shades lighter than what you think your hair color really is.

"At-home hair color tends to be a little darker than salon colors. Look for colors that sound natural like auburn, not cherry bomb," Hazan suggested.

2. dpHue Color Boosting Gloss + Deep Conditioning Treatment

Justin Anderson, celebrity hair colorist and dpHue co-founder, told TODAY that he loves this coloring boosting gloss for the perfect root touch up product to use in-between salon visits.

"Once your hair color starts to fade, and you’re not quite ready to go back to the salon and spend the money, this is an amazing way to re-pigment your hair at home," he said. "This is a game-changer for anyone who colors their hair (at home)."

The dpHue color-boosting gloss comes in 10 colors, including dark brown, light blonde, black, red and more. "You can even mix and match to get your exact color, or you can just pick the one that you need," Anderson added.

3. Rita Hazan Root Concealer Touch-Up Spray Temporary Gray Coverage

This Rita Hazan root touch up spray is a favorite of celebrity hairstylist Irinel de León.

"It’s the ultimate secret weapon for covering any grays or sparse areas on the scalp or hairline," she said. "It also doesn’t leave any residue on your pillow at night, and it’s good enough to use once and last you until your next wash as well."

De León notes that using a root spray like this will not only cover up and incoming regrowth and grays, but it will also make your hair appear fuller in photos. She loves this product so much, she also recommended it in our spring hair colors article!

4. Oribe Airbrush Root Touch Up Spray

Amber Maynard Bolt, a master celebrity hairstylist at Nine Zero One Salon, told TODAY that she loves the Oribe Gold Lust Repair & Restore Shampoo for colored hair — and the same brand also makes a root touch up spray.

According to the brand, it's made with natural mineral colorants, rice starch to absorb oils, and a UV absorber to protect strands from discoloration. The highly pigmented formula is designed to absorb dirt and oil and has a powder-like consistency for a quick dry-down. It comes in a range of colors, including black, platinum white, light brown, dark brown and blonde.

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This article was published in May 2016.