A fresh hair color doesn’t only elevate your look, but also boosts your mood, confidence, and, hell, even the ferocity of your head toss. And then there’s the lackluster dye job, which can make you feel like crawling under the covers and never emerging. (“But it’s not just hair!” you wail as you curse Pinterest for not reminding you that strawberry-red only works on a select few—and by a select few, we mean Emma Stone).
Because no one wants to leave the hair salon filled with regret or, worse yet, horror, we’ve put together a little guide to help ensure that your color appointments always go according to plan. And who better to consult than Lorri Goddard, whose clients include Reese Witherspoon, Kim Kardashian-West, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Keep scrolling to read what you should do before getting your hair colored. You'll never regret a coloring appointment again.
#1: Thou Shalt NOT Shampoo
A good rule of thumb is to shampoo your hair at least 24 to 48 hours before your coloring session, unless otherwise directed.
The idea is that you want there to be a natural protective oil layer on your scalp to act as a barrier against the chemicals in the hair dye.
#2: Thou Shalt Shape Thy Hair
Before your appointment, lay off the heat tools and leave your hair freshly shaped, “like a topiary tree,” Goddard says. We imagine this means leaving your hair in its most natural state. “When the shape of your hair is changed, the light and shadow are reflected differently,” she explains. “A fresh, natural shape will allow your colorist to maximize the look.”
#3: Thou Shalt Bring Inspiration
Whether or not you’re picky about your hair, it’s always good to bring inspiration so you and your colorist are on the same page. After all, “beachy blond” to you might mean Gisele Bündchen, while your colorist might be picturing Candice Swanepoel. “I love inspiration photos,” Goddard says. “A picture is worth a thousand words!”
And don’t worry about what’s realistic—your colorist will be able to tell you if the desired hue is doable, how many sittings it will take, and if it will be flattering on your skin tone. “I think we can have a fantasy color for everyone, and a reality check for what’s possible and what will actually enhance them the best,” Goddard says.
#4: Thou Shalt Be Patient
Here’s the thing—that silvery-gray color you’ve been dying to try is possible on your chocolate strands, but it will most likely take more than one session (which also means you may need to factor in extra costs, depending on your hair salon). Even though Goddard did Kim Kardashian West's hair in one sitting (one very long sitting), she says you absolutely need to expect two to three sessions for “wiggle room” if you’re going from dark to super-light.
Your hairstylist should be able to tell you right from the get-go how many sessions it will take, how damaging the shade will be, and if it’s even possible to achieve the color. In the end, it’s important to trust your hairdresser—if he or she says going bleach-blond will absolutely ruin your hair, you should believe them and discuss other options.
#5: Thou Shalt Be Mindful About Maintenance
The amount of time you go between your color appointments can vary. If it’s ombré or balayage, you can go months without needing a touch-up. If you’ve gone from dark to light, you may need to go back every couple of weeks. “It’s a personal choice,” Goddard says. “It could be every two weeks for continuity, or four weeks, or never again depending on what you want your color to look like.”
Ask your colorist about upkeep before you take the plunge—it’s important to factor this into your decision, as it can affect your budget.
If you’re going from light to dark, you have a little bit more leeway, but Goddard does say you should make sure your colorist keeps “a little bit of movement at the ends,” with a few strands half a shade lighter toward the bottom.