Should you ditch the DIY hair dye We challenged three women to swap their home colouring kits for a salon treatment — with very surprising results…



03:58 GMT, 6 August 2012

Cheryl, Davina and Rihanna are not the only ones fuelling our obsession with changing our hair colour — women have been dyeing their locks for more than 4,000 years. Ancient Greeks used toxic lead oxide to dye their hair black while wealthy Elizabethans used saffron mixed with corrosive chemicals to emulate their Queen’s fiery hair colour.

Fortunately, when it comes to dyeing your locks in 2012, the options are far less caustic. But while many of us ask the professionals to top up our tints, six out of ten of us turn to home dye kits because they’re cheaper. Whether it’s a wash-in, wash-out water-based rinse for a quick colour boost or a permanent dye to cover up grey, colouring our hair at home has never been so popular.

In fact, sales of home colourants have increased by 12 per cent to an estimated 321 million in 2011. Permanent hair dyes are the greatest sales generator, accounting for 80 per cent of the market, according to retail researchers Mintel.

Linda: Doing my hair at home means I can make it as blonde as I want

Linda: Doing my hair at home means I can make it as blonde as I want

Linda: ‘Doing my hair at home means I can make it as blonde as I want’

There’s been a huge investment in
at-home hair colour products by brands such as L’Oreal, John Frieda and
Wella, who have developed gels, glosses and mousses that are easier to
apply. Plus, there are now so many colours to choose from — subtle
tweaks and drastic changes can be achieved from the comfort of your own

Ranging in
price from around 3.49 to 11.99, home dye kits are much cheaper than
even the most basic salon where a colourist can charge around 45 for
touching up roots. Top London salons charge more than four times this
amount. So is there much difference in the finished result

Glenn Lyons, at the Philip Kingsley clinic in London, says:
‘Aesthetically, coverage will not be as good with a home colour because
you can’t see the back of your head. A hairdresser is more experienced
and attentive in getting an even result. Home dyes can look fantastic if
used correctly but I’d always advise women to go to a salon.’

can also create bespoke shades to suit clients’ complexions rather than
home dyes, which are always going to be ‘one-shade-fits-all’.

asked three women who regularly colour their hair at home to apply
their usual colour then wait six weeks before having a comparable colour
done at Richard Ward’s salon in Chelsea, a favourite with celebrities
and the Duchess of Cambridge. Which method did they think worked best
and was the best value for money

Cathy: A professional tint took years off me, Ive had lots of compliments'

Cathy: A professional tint took years off me, Ive had lots of compliments'

Cathy: ‘A professional tint took years off me, I’ve had lots of compliments'

Linda Monk, 44, is a married full-time mum with two sons aged six and four. She lives in Chorley, Lancashire, and says:

My hair is naturally brown but I’ve
dyed it blonde for as long as I can remember and it’s much quicker and
cheaper to colour it at home. I’ve been this ice-white blonde for about
six months and it suits me because it’s so dramatic.

use a Schwarzkopf dye, which I can get for 5 from the supermarket, and
the whole process usually takes about an hour. My mum, sister and two
grown-up nieces come over and we do each other’s hair so that the colour
is even.

I love the
fact that my sister isn’t scared to take risks that hairdressers won’t —
like putting extra peroxide on it to make it blonder. I do sometimes
worry that it is damaging my hair, but I always use intensive
conditioners afterwards.

I went to Richard Ward’s salon, I knew they’d want to tone down my
bleached look and I was right. I did feel quite smug, though, when they
said they thought my hair had been done professionally. The salon colour
took around two and a half hours because the colourist used foils
whereas at home I tend to slap it all on and wait for just half an hour.

They gave me
lowlights and highlights so it’s a more sophisticated look than I can
achieve at home but at 20 times the price. To keep the salon look would
cost me around 100 every six weeks. I think I’ll stick to asking my

VERDICT: Will stick to home hair dye kits

Kate: The salon colour is more vibrant but still not worth the money

Kate: The salon colour is more vibrant but still not worth the money

Kate: ‘The salon colour is more vibrant but still not worth the money’

Glynn, 46, is a care administrator for an addictions service. She lives
near Matlock, Derbyshire, and is married with three sons aged 27, 25
and 22, and a daughter, seven. Cathy says:

I need to re-touch my roots every
four weeks as I have grey hair. Colouring it at home is cheaper and
quicker than having it done at a salon and the last shade I used was
Clairol Nice & Easy in medium brown. I picked it because it was on
offer for 5 and looked similar to the colour I usually apply.
left the colour on for 25 minutes, and although the end result was good,
I could still see some grey hairs where I’d missed a bit.

Richard Ward, the hairdresser said my hair was in good condition
although there was a build-up of old dark dye, which meant my hair was
not as shiny as it could be.

lightened it, added some auburn highlights to give it more depth and
applied a special conditioning treatment. She also put a toner on it,
which made the highlights look more natural — another thing I can’t do
on my own.

There’s no
way I’m going back to home dye. I’ve had so many compliments about this
colour and it’s made me look ten years younger. But, of course, I can’t
afford to pay out up to 150 each time so I’ll look for discounts.

Hair stylist Richard Ward styled Kate Middleton's hair for the Royal Wedding

Hair stylist Richard Ward styled Kate Middleton's hair for the Royal Wedding

VERDICT: Will change to salon treatments

Kate Sutton, 41, is a freelance writer. She is single and lives in Rainham, Kent. She says:

I’m a natural blonde but have gone through a whole range of different colours from auburn to brown and finally to this flame orange-red in a bid to find my own ‘identity’.

I think this colour suits my skin tone and blue eyes so I’ve stuck with it for two years. Each time I’ve changed colour I’ve dyed my hair at home.

Even though I’ve tried various home dyes I find a 3 box from Superdrug’s own range suits my hair the best. I use two bottles because I’ve got thick hair and it usually takes me an hour to apply and wash off.

Thanks to the conditioner that is supplied with the dye, my hair is always left feeling soft and shiny. In my opinion, 6 every six weeks is much better value than paying 160 for a colour and cut in a top salon. I was pleasantly surprised with the salon colour though. It’s a deeper shade, more vibrant and fiery, so I’ve had lots of compliments, but I still don’t think it’s 154-worth of different.

If money were no object then of course I’d treat myself every six weeks because a professional colourist can do a better job. But for now I’ll stick with the home hair dye.

VERDICT: Will stick to home hair dye kits


Adam Russell, premier technician at the Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa, gives his top four hair colour tips. . .

Always use a colour-saving shampoo and conditioner, and invest in weekly hair treatments to keep your colour vibrant and prevent fading.

Buy a colour gloss rather than permanent hair colourant because these contain less chemicals and are designed to enhance your natural hair tone giving a more natural look.

f you want something that lasts longer, go for a semi-permanent shade which is free of PPD. This is the chemical responsible for the majority of allergic reactions.

If you’ve just coloured your hair, don’t wash it for at least 48 hours afterwards as it will shift the colour, causing it to fade more quickly.

Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa, 020 7730 1222,