I have broken probably every hair color rule in the book: dyeing it too often, dyeing it from a box, dyeing it shades that didn’t flatter me whatsoever. Luckily, over the years, I’ve had a few great colorists usher me into the world of gorgeous, professional color. I can tell you firsthand that listening to the experts makes all the difference.
We all want the secrets to Pinterest-worthy hair color, but we don’t all have a roster of Hollywood hair colorists at our disposal. So I solicited the advice of five greats: Joico celebrity colorist Denis de Souza, Ramirez Tran colorist Matt Rez, colorist to the stars Lauren E. Hack, and NYC color extraordinaires Anthony Palermo and Ryan Pearl.
These top colorists broke down the eight biggest reasons your color might not be top-level, which you can read below.
1. Stop lightening your hair with box dye.
“This is the biggest don’t of all time. Always go to a professional, especially if you are looking for highlights.” — Denis de Souza
“Attempting to go lighter at home is a common mistake, and most likely, you will end up with a color disaster that you will spend countless hours and dollars fixing at a salon. Do it right the first time around. Leave lightening your hair to your favorite color professional.” — Matt Rez
“Box color is very drying. This kind of color is generic, overexpands the cuticle, and strips the natural oils from your hair, which is why your hair ends up looking fried and frizzy.” — Lauren E. Hack
2. Stop choosing the wrong shade for your skin tone.
“This is always a conflict. What looks good on an actress or model might not be the best color for you. Trust professional advice on a color that enhances your skin tone, rather than one that washes you out. Having that consultation with your colorist is so important.” — Denis de Souza
“Your hair is a part of your identity and a form of self-expression. When you rock the wrong shade, you feel off, and it could even age you. Most women bring a photo of inspiration, but not everyone can be a sultry brunette like Angelina Jolie or a bright blonde like Gwyneth Paltrow. I always suggest staying within two shades of your natural color [with] a natural, tone-on-tone highlight for movement and contrast.” — Lauren E. Hack
5. Stop heat-styling your hair every day.
“I tell my clients to limit the usage of hot tools and to make sure that if you are using a curling iron or flatiron, adjust the temperature to a lower heat setting. Always use a heat protectant or oil before using the tools, in order to preserve the natural oils in the hair when heat styling.” — Ryan Pearl
6. Stop using purple shampoo as a cure-all.
“Purple shampoo is intended to cancel out gold tones in hair. This works for clients with light to very light blond hair color. If your color appears brassy, chances are you have orange and/or red undertones. Therefore, you need shampoos with a blue or green pigment to cancel out unwanted warmth.” — Matt Rez
3. Stop fibbing about your hair color history.
“Many women make the mistake of not being honest with their colorist with their hair history. Sometimes they are embarrassed to say they have colored it themselves, but this is important for us to know because sometimes box color is more difficult to lift and remove than professional hair color. When you work with celebrities who are bicoastal, like Molly Sims, they always share what their colorist has been doing. Molly has the most healthy, beautiful, strong blond hair, and this is because she knows how to take care of it. She also informs me what has been done in the past and if any changes have been made, like when she went from blond to red and back to blond again.” — Lauren E. Hack
4. Stop using products with sulfates.
“The best thing for your hair is a shampoo that is sulfate- and paraben-free. These shampoos do not get as foamy as other shampoos, but that is normal. Believe it or not, the suds are what dries out the hair the most, because they strip the hair of its natural oils. I love Oribé’s Brilliance & Shine Shampoo ($49). This shampoo is super moisturizing, lightweight, has UV protection, and maintains your hair’s natural oils without it looking greasy. It is also formulated without parabens or sodium chloride, and is color- and keratin-treatment safe.” — Lauren E. Hack
“Use a color-safe product line that has no sulfates and fewer detergents than your average line!” — Ryan Pearl
7. Stop changing your colorist so much.
“Every colorist has different visions, techniques, and color lines that they use. As a colorist, I treat every new client I take on as a color correction. Sometimes it may take a few visits to achieve a certain result. By changing colorists too often, you will spend more time and money at the different salons, and you’ll put your hair through distress overlapping [processes] to get what you want. To get the closest to your hair color goal, do your research on which colorist you choose.” — Matt Rez
8. Stop neglecting aftercare.
“Let’s face it—going lighter is a blessing and a curse at the same time! Deep treatments at home are the way to go about keeping the integrity of your hair, post–color services. Olaplex No. 3 ($21) and Shu Uemura Deep Conditioning Masks ($68) are what I recommend to all my clients who want to be light and bright and not compromise the well-being of their hair.” — Matt Rez
“If you have had a major color change and your hair has been damaged or is very dry, invest in some great products to restore your hair back to normal. BLNDN makes an amazing [leave-in treatment cream] called Save You ($36) that does just that.” — Anthony Palermo
Shop the products our experts recommend for beautiful hair color!