Hair Colouring at Home


It’s a fact of aging that at some stage, our hair will start to go grey. Some of us start as early as our 20’s, whilst others, the lucky ones, don’t start to show the grey strands until they are in their late 40’s or even 50’s. This tends to be down to genetics – there is nothing you can do to delay their arrival. Once the grey strands start to appear, you have two choices – either embrace the grey, or start to cover it (and there is nothing wrong with either choice). If you choose to cover, ie dye your hair, you are faced with a multitude of products – semi-permanent, permanent, wash out (these are fun, but don’t really cover greys), and then there are the formulas – creme, mousse, oils, and so on. And do you get your hair coloured at a salon, or can you do it at home?


It’s easiest if you are dying your hair for the first time, to have it done at a salon. The colourist can advise the best shade for you, and how to care for your hair. If you are going more than two shades darker, or lighter, you should always get it done at a salon too. If however you are a repeat hair dyer, and you only want to cover up the greys, or go one or two shades darker or lighter, there are a multitude of home hair colouring products that are simple to use, and will save you time and money. Read on below to find out about the different types of at home hair colouring, and which one is best for you.

Wash Out Hair Colour


Wash out hair colours are designed to be a bit of fun, and often come in funky colours. They are usually used by younger women (and men), ahead of parties, themed nights out etc. They wash in, and then wash out with the next hair wash. They are not designed to cover grey – just give your hair a fashion hue. If this sounds like you, or you have teenage daughters/granddaughters, try L’Oreal Colorista Spray (available in 5 colours) 75ml RRP $14.99.

Semi-Permanent Hair Colour


Semi-Permanent hair colour, as the name suggests, is designed to last from a week, to four weeks, and will not permanently colour your hair strands. Semi-permanent hair colours come in fun and funky colours, as well as more classic colours. They are great if you want to try a colour to see how it suits your skin tone, wardrobe etc, but don’t want to commit to a whole new colour. Semi-permanent hair colours tend to offer harmonious grey coverage (rather than full coverage), where they offer grey coverage at all. If this sounds like you, you could try Dare Semi-Permanent Hair Colour, for the young or young at heart, which lasts from 3-18 washes (depending on your hair colour – it’s best for lighter hair). Available in 19 funky shades, and a mixer, 150g RRP $19.95. Schwarzkopf Live Colour lasts up to 8 washes, and comprises of fun, funky colours, and more classic colours. Total 14 colours, single application RRP $4.79-$5.49, or L’Oreal Casting Creme Gloss, a creamy hair colour, with no ammonia that gently blends away grey hair and lasts up to 28 washes. Available in 20 classic colours, single application RRP $15.99.

Permanent Hair Colour


It is with permanent hair colour that you really start to get the full coverage of any grey hairs (although always double check the claims on the packaging, as some colours cover grey better than others). With permanent hair colour, your hair strand is dyed permanently – it will not wash out, and needs to grow out. If you decide to change the permanent colour with another permanent hair colour, it is best done by a hairdresser in a salon. Permanent hair colour needs upkeep – you will need to touch up the roots every 6-8 weeks, depending on how quickly your hair grows, but it is the best long term solution to hide grey hair. When using permanent hair colour at home, follow the instructions closely, and only cover your hair lengths every 3rd-4th colouring, otherwise you’ll end up with very dark ends. Having said all of that, there are a variety of permanent hair colours you can apply at home, that are super simple to use. At home hair colours come in 3 main types – oil, mousse, and cream based formulations. Each formulation has a benefit, and which one you choose will depend on your needs of your hair.



Oil based formulations are great for hair that needs extra nourishment, and has a tendency to dry out, as they are superbly hydrating. The oil in the formula propels the colour deep into your hair shaft, and leaves your hair silky soft afterwards. If this sounds like you, try Garnier Olia, an oil based, permanent hair colour, without ammonia, so it doesn’t dry your hair, and is formulated to be gentle on your scalp. Net result – intense colour, softness and incredible shine. Available in 18 shades, single application RRP $16.95.



If you are after a no-mess/minimal mess formulation, then a mousse product could be perfect for you. Just as a styling mousse adheres to your hair, so to mousse colour sticks to your hair, resulting in an even coverage, and no drips or mess, even as the colour develops, and you can apply directly from your gloved hand to your hair – you don’t need mixer bottles, bowls and other tools. Mousse formulas are super simple to apply, and comb through your hair without missing any strands. John Frieda Precision Foam Colour Collection is an at-home, easy to apply, the non-aerosol foam that spreads evenly through your hair, covering every strand completely, even in tricky areas such as the back of the head, roots and hairline. All colours provide 100 per cent grey coverage. Available in 20 shades, single application, (unless your hair is quite short), RRP $22.99.



Creme, or cream formulations have long been the most popular type of permanent home hair colour, as they are designed to give professional quality colour results from home. High performance formulas cover greys, and seal in colour for long lasting colour and brilliant shine. L’Oreal Age Perfect by Excellence is especially developed for mature, grey hair. With natural blended colour layered tones, the formula harmoniously blends regrowth at the roots, and adapts to very grey hair by creating natural high and low lights. The easy to apply formula also contains collagen to texturise and Ceramide T to repair and protect mature hair. Available in 6 shades, single application, RRP $19.95. Another great permanent Cream based hair colour is Clairol Nice’n Easy, formulated with Colour-Blend Technology™ for multi-dimensional results. Every shade has built in tones and highlights for professional-looking colour, and provides 100% grey coverage. The range  available in 40 shades, with each shade containing at least three tones to ensure the hair colour mimics the tones closest to those found in natural, uncoloured hair. Single application RRP $12.99. An innovation for hair that is frequently coloured, Schwarzkopf brings the salon to you, with the first home hair colouration with professional anti-breakage technology OmegaPLEX. Inspired by the salon revolution – Colour Specialist delivers long-lasting colour intensity and 100% grey coverage, while protecting and reinforcing the hair bonds. The professional 3-step anti-breakage technology OmegaPLEX, ensures up to 90% less hair breakage as well as long-lasting colour retention, for the ultimate in-home hair colour. Available in 13 shades, single application, RRP $18.99.

Root Touch Ups


If you don’t have time to do a full colour, or you’ve been invited to a last minute event, and your roots really could do with a colour, then root touch up products are perfect for this. For a more permanent colour root touch up, try Clairol Nice’n Easy Root Touch Up, which is designed to cover root regrowth and greys that show through around the parting, forehead and temples, midway through your haircolour cycle, in just ten minutes. Root Touch-Up comes in 11 shades which correspond to all  shades in the Clairol Colour Blend range, can can be matched to non-Clairol hair colours. The result lasts up to three weeks, so it will take you through to your next full colour. One application, RRP $12.99. If you are after a less permanent root touch up solution, try L’Oreal Magic Retouch, a clever spray on formula that instantly temporarily covers grey hairs and any other regrowth. The product sprays on, and dries in 1 minute. It is transfer resistant (won’t come off on your clothes), and lasts until you next shampoo your hair. 75ml, RRP $15.99. If you have a hair colour that is hard to match, then the new John Frieda Root Blur is perfect for you. The clever, simple to use, no-mess mineral powder palette, containing 2 shades, allows you to custom blend the precise shade to match your hair colour, and the powder brushes on instantly to cover greys and root regrowth, and washes out with your next shampoo. Available in 5 duo palettes, to suit from blonde to black, and everything in between. 2.1g RRP $19.99 each.

Tips and Tricks


Now you know all about how to colour your hair at home, let us tell you about a few tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years:


  1. Vaseline is your friend. This wonder product, smeared around your hair line will stop any small drips staining your skin. And it wipes right off when you’re finished.
  2. Invest in a colour brush to apply hair colour. There’s a reason they use these in Salon’s – they make application easy, and minimise the chance of drips, to give a more professional finish.
  3. Buy 2 boxes of hair colour. If your hair is longer than shoulder length, you will more likely than not need 2 boxes of dye, and when you’re part way through the application, you can’t rush out and get more. If you don’t need the second box, you can always use it next time, so it won’t go to waste.
  4. Cover your clothes with a garbage bag. Nothing ruins a gorgeous new colour like discovering you’ve got a small, impossible to remove spot, on your clothing.
  5. If this is your first time colouring, always do a strand test. There is a reason they tell you to do this on the box – if you don’t like the colour, you will only have a small patch in a hard to see place – if you don’t do the test, it’s all over your head, and a little hard to hide.
  6. Always follow the manufacturers instructions – they know best in terms of timing, root touch-ups, all over colour and so on. The products have undergone rigorous testing before being launched onto the market, and trial and error has led to the instructions. If you are unsure, or have a question, call the helpline number on the box.
  7. Always lay out the contents of the box before you start, and make sure you have everything. It’s too late once you’ve started.
  8. Wipe up spills and splatters as they occur. The dye sticks to your skin and benches quite well, and if you leave it while you colour another area, you may not be able to get it off.

Do you colour at home? What brand do you use? Are you tempted to try colouring at home? Let us know in the comments below.


Now that you’ve coloured your hair, you’ll want to keep it looking its best. Stay tuned for our article on protecting your coloured hair, in an article coming up soon.


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