9 Tips And Tricks For Dyeing Your Hair For The First Time

Read this before booking that salon appointment!

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Whether you're looking to emulate the 'angry pink' hair colour trend that took New York Fashion Week by storm, or want to shake up your current lengths with a hint of balayage, dyeing virgin hair can be a pretty daunting and intricate venture.

First, there's deciding whether you want to go it alone or hand the reigns over to a professional. (We'd suggest the latter if you want a perfectly Instagrammable 'do, just saying).

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Then, there's the maintenance and that's before we've even touched on what to do if you have a sensitive scalp.

We enlisted the experts to tell you everything you need to know before switching things up and dyeing your hair for the first time.

The Right Way To Explain What Colour You Want

Red, cream soda blonde, caramel highlights... Colour lingo can mean completely different things to different stylists, which means you could run the risk of not getting the exact shade you want.

Cue a mini post-salon breakdown. We've all been there.

The safest solution? To bring a selection of pictures along for inspiration.

'In some cases, clients think they want an ash dip dye, but the colour is more a beige balayage,' says Paco Latorre, Live True London Artistic Designer and Senior Colourist, 'or they may want a chocolate brown but the colour is lighter and may require a few appointments to achieve it.'

Green Goblin enders by @tori_stewart93

A post shared by BLEACH (@bleachlondon) on

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He continues, 'Show your stylist pictures of hair colours that you love and also those that you don't. Ask if you could see images of their work or even visit the salon's Instagram feed for inspiration,' - something which Casey Sullivan, Colour Director at Daniel Galvin Kensington, seconds.

'Definitely bring in photos of what you don't like because everyone has different interpretations of colour. That way, your colourist will know what to avoid.'

Book A Consultation And Always Be Realistic

That rainbow dip-dye might look super-cute on Pinterest, but is it attainable?

'Listen to your colourist,' says Aaron Carlo, TRESemme's Ambassador and Session Stylist. 'He or she will help you achieve what is best for your hair and features.'

It also pays to take your skin tone into consideration when choosing a colour; you want it to complement, not clash. Most salons have real hair wefts in a number of colours on hand, so that you can see the shade next to your skin and get a better idea of whether it'll suit you before biting the bullet.

Scandi blonde bob @emmadavisonhair

A post shared by BLEACH (@bleachlondon) on

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Protect Your Scalp

It's important to carry out a patch test at least 48 hours before your salon session to ensure you aren't allergic to the particular hair dye used. But even if there isn't a reaction, it's still a good idea to take precautions to safeguard your scalp.

Painful red scalps are so not hot right now.

'If you do have a sensitive scalp, argan oil can be added to the colour to prevent any discomfort or irritation,' reveals Paco.

But don't worry - it won't undermine your colour or prevent it from taking properly. In fact, at Jo Hansford, colourists mix a bespoke oil in with tints to prevent irritation, while Aaron recommends putting coconut oil on the scalp the night before (especially if you are bleaching your whole head) to deeply nourish the skin.

'The oil replicates a build-up of the hair's natural oils,' he says, 'and the bleach will sift through it.' Genius.

Other options are choosing an ammonia-free colour (yep, they do exist, just ask your stylist) or opting for highlights or lowlights.

'With this option, the colourants stay inside the foil and don't actually touch your scalp, says Casey. 'They also require way less maintenance!'

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Don't Wash Your Hair Beforehand

We know how annoying it is when you're hair-washing routine doesn't align with your plans, but don't make the common mistake of rocking up to the salon with fresh tresses, especially if you're having an all-over tint applied.

Not only could you sabotage the end result (clean hair can be too 'slippery' and a little oil will give your chosen colour some grip), but according to Fie Karayannis, Senior Colorurist at Jo Hansford, you'll strip your lengths of their natural shield against harsh chemicals.

'It's actually better to leave your hair dirty,' she says, something which Paco echos.

'I suggest you don't wash your hair in the 24 hours (48 hours if bleach is being used) leading up to your appointment,' he advises.

Got it.

Be Prepared For Multiple Appointments

If you have dark hair and are looking to go considerably lighter, it's likely you'll be in for the long-haul, and that can mean a number of trips.

'It may take more than one appointment to achieve the colour you want,' says Aaron. 'In order to save the condition, you need to make any drastic changes gradually so that your hair has time to repair itself.'

'For this reason, it is best to sit down with your stylist and chat through your images first,' adds Paco. 'This is so that they can create a colour that you'll love.'

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Ditch Your Current Shampoo And Conditioner

It's likely that your current shampoo and conditioner just won't cut it when it comes to looking after your new hue. That BOGOF two-pack you picked up with the weekly shop? Chuck it.

After one process, hair automatically becomes more porous and dry as the cuticle is opened up - especially when it's exposed to chemicals like bleach. So, to stop your lengths from resembling something like straw or your colour fading away after the first wash, you need to bring out the big guns.

We're talking clever shampoos filled to bursting with strand-building proteins like keratin (great for caring for highlights according to Aaron) and conditioners packed with ultra-nourishing oils to keep colour and shine on lockdown.

Try...

- Pureology Hydrate Shampoo, £16.50 and Conditioner, £20.50

Sulfates can dial down colour vibrancy, even after one wash, but Pureology's organic shampoo and conditioner duo is formulated without them. Instead, it moisturises, protects and lends a mirror-like shine.

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- Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Wash Shampoo and Wonder Care Conditioner, £18 each.

SLS/SLES-free, Percy & Reed's new shampoo cleanses from root to tip with an army of colour-preserving ingredients, while the conditioner harnesses grapeseed oil and pro vitamin B5 for the ultimate in hydration and softness.

- OGX Brazillian Keratin Therapy Shampoo and Conditioner, £6.99 each

Keratin, avocado oil and cocoa butter will breathe life into coloured or parched hair that has lost its gloss. Going darker? Snap both up, pronto.

- Kerastase Bain Chroma Riche, £18.60

UV filters and vitamin E in Kerastase's Bain Chroma Shampoo give all hair colours serious staying power and incredible lustre without the weighty feel.

Stylist's Tip: 'We always double cleanse our clients' hair,' says Adam Reed. 'The first shampoo deep cleans to remove daily dirt and styling product residue. It's the second cleanse that delivers the shampoo's caring benefits to your hair.'

Be Prepared For Some Serious Upkeep

If you've gone for an all-over tint, you'll need to keep on top of it, which could mean making an appointment as regularly as every month to freshen things up - and the worst thing you can do is leave it.

'People seem to think the longer they leave between colour appointments the better for their hair,' says Aaron, 'but actually, if you go more regularly, and to a trusted colourist, there's less work to do each time and so the upkeep is easier.'

Makes sense, right?

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'It's also important to discuss your lifestyle with your hairdresser and what you can realistically manage in regards to maintenance,' says Fie. 'There's no use opting for a tint which may need refreshing every 3 to 4 weeks if you can only manage to get to the hair salon every couple of months.'

And if you've gone for highlights or balayage? It's a little less time consuming, but if you want your lengths to look more Chrissy Teigen than dry and lifeless, don't miss a beat.

'At Daniel Galvin we recommend making an appointment every 10-12 weeks for highlighted hair,' says Casey.

'And always bear in mind that the ends of your hair are the oldest,' says Fie, 'therefore, you do need regular trims and treatments to keep it all looking healthy and shiny.'

Talking of treatments...

Beef Up Your Hair-Care Routine

The key to keeping your locks as luscious as possible in between salon visits lies in the products you use before or after shampoo and conditioner.

Number one? Don't pick up the straighteners, tongs or even your trusty hairdryer without layering on the heat protection if you're serious about safeguarding your new hue.

Try...

- Lee Stafford's Coco Loco Heat Protection Spray, £5.99

The way it banishes split ends, makes hair feel silky soft and smells like a beach holiday means this a must-have for those addicted to their straighteners.

- Bumble and Bumble Hairdressers Invisible Oil Heat/UVProtective Primer, £21

This gives coloured hair serious muscle against blow-drying, curling, straightening and the sun's rays. Feather-light oils deliver nourishment and hydration to parched, brittle hair, instantly transforming it into silk.

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And to maintain colour, strength and smoothness, invest in a number of nourishing treatments.

Try...

- TRESemmé' Keratin Ultimate Smooth Mask, £6.10

'Do a conditioning treatment before every colour session to build up the strength of your hair,' says Aaron. This strengthens each strand with keratin and nourishes with marula oil.'

- Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector, £32

'We always advise clients to add treatments to their colour service,' says Paco. 'Olaplex will repair and protect the hair from bleach and colour and ensure healthier hair that is strong and glossy.' The best part? You can apply this at home.

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- TIGI S-Factor Serious Conditioner, £17.95

For an extra hit of hydration, use this as a treatment. Thanks to the sunflower seed oil and added silk, the deep conditioner takes rough, parched hair and makes it insanely soft to the touch. A must if you're thinking of keeping up your colour.

Check out our pick of the best hair masks for all hair types here.

No matter what you do, your colour will fade over time, but you can keep your locks looking salon fresh with a 'gloss.'

No, we're not talking Juicy Tubes.

'Daniel Galvin's LOVE Your Highlights Clear Gloss, £18 boosts shine and restores that 'just-coloured' luminosity that can fade after washes,' says Casey.

The Rita Hazan Breaking Brass Ultimate Shine Gloss, £21 is also pretty clever because you can use it in the shower.

You Might Need To Switch Up Your Make-Up Routine

Yes, really.

From eye shadow to lipstick, the shades you swore by before changing your hair colour could potentially clash.

But anything that involves a trip to the Selfridges beauty aisle gets our vote...

'A different hair colour will affect your whole look,' warns Aaron. 'so it may be worth experimenting with different make-up tones.'

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