How To Color Your Hair At Home Without Destroying Your Bathroom

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Photo: Arian Darvishi (Unsplash)

Are you among the many, many people considering coloring your hair during your confinement?!? I deeply support you fucking around with your hair color right now. (Bangs … not so much. Please do not add to your current state of distress by cutting ugly bangs.)

I want you to know some things before you dive in so that you don’t also end up coloring your entire bathroom — I’m a good source on this one, because in addition to being a Clean Person, I am also a person who has been coloring my own hair since the ‘80s. You, yes, read that right! My first foray into coloring my hair was an at-home jammie involving red henna (I had permission!) as a 13-year-old in 1989.

Since then I’ve sported various shades of red, purple, pink, black, platinum blonde, (unintentional) brassy blonde, and once, during an especially dark time in my life called ‘marriage,’ my natural brunette color. Which is my way of saying this: YOUR AT-HOME HAIR COLORING ELDER IS HERE, HEED HER!

Set Up Is Critical

Before you start mixing up the color, hell, before you even open the packaging, there are some steps you should take so as not to completely wreck your bathroom: 

  • Remove launderable items like hand towels, bath towels, bathrobes and fabric bath matsdye has a tendency to splatter during application, so it’s worth taking the time to remove fabric items so they don’t get stained.
  • Line the surface where you’re working with paper towels ( newspaper also works) so when you set down the bottle or bowl of dye and tools like applicator brushes, combs or clips they don’t stain the countertop.
  • Keep a roll of paper towels and/or a sponge nearby to quickly wipe up any spills or drips that may occur, since the less time dye has on a surface, the less severely it will stain.

Tread Carefully While The Color Is Processing

Once you have the color on your hair, it’s important to remember that the color is on your hair and avoid contact with hard and soft surfaces that will get stained or bleached (depending on which way you’re going with your color) if you accidentally brush up against them. It’s a good idea to have a quiet task or form of entertainment planned for the processing time, so you can just sit down and sit still for the duration and avoid moving about too much.


Post-Color Clean Up

Even with the most diligent preparation, it’s pretty likely that a bit (or a lot, yikes!) of dye will get somewhere it’s not supposed to be. Here’s what to do:

  • If dye has gotten on a hard surface like the the sink or tile flooring, start by wiping up as much of it as you can using a paper towel, being careful not to smear the dye and make a bigger mess.
  • Apply a product with bleach in it to the stained area and let it sit for a few minutes to penetrate the stained surface, the scrub it with a spongebe aware that it may take more than one pass to get the stain out completely.
  • If dye has gotten on a painted wall, a Magic Eraser is probably the best bet for removing the stain, just be sure to spot test in an inconspicuous place to ensure the eraser won’t damage the paint. Magic Erasers may also work on hard surfaces as well.
  • If dye stains towels or clothing, a product called SuperClean Household Cleaner can be used as a laundry pretreatment spray before laundering as usual.

Post-post Color Clean Up

If coloring your hair at home is a thing you do regularly, it’s not a bad idea to have a designated hair towel to spare your everyday towels from staining. It can either be an old towel that you don’t care about getting stained/bleached, a dark colored one that will hide darker dye runoff or a white one if you bleach your hair.