S. Masyn Moyer dyes Chelsea Flagg's hair at Urban Pearl Salon and Spa in Boulder last week.
S. Masyn Moyer dyes Chelsea Flagg’s hair at Urban Pearl Salon and Spa in Boulder last week.

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and dye your hair.

Which option is best: trying your hand at home dying, or making a salon visit?

Trying to find any salon service on a budget isn’t easy, but Boulder is home to many hairstylists — so all that’s needed is a bit of research. Now for the truly brave, home hair dye is your other option on the cheap.

Hair-coloring tips

For those forgoing the salon and dyeing their own hair at home, here are some tips:

1. Use a coat of Vaseline as a barrier around face and neck to prevent dye stains.

2. Go from root to tip in sections when dyeing, unless using a reddish color then save roots for last so they don’t turn orange. (It’s called hot roots.)

3. If you do get messy, there are plenty of stain removers sold at salons to get dye off skin. Or you can try cigarette ash if you have it lying around. According to the pros, it works.

4. There’s not much to do if you get it on the carpet. So either cut the fibers down, or pony up the cash for a real carpet cleaner.

Picking a dye

According to Women’s Health Magazine, these are the best box dyes for each color:

Blonde: L’Oreal Superior Preference

Brunette: Clairol Nice n’ Easy

Red: L’Oreal Feria

Highlights: L’Oreal Couleur Experte Express

All-natural formula: Herbatint

Gentle formula: Garnier Nutrisse

Many people have a hairstylist they’re bound and loyal to, whether it be in this state or at home. So trying to find someone in the area that’s worthy and cheap enough on the college budget can be quite the feat.

Zing Hair Salon, off Spruce Street near downtown, has a “happy hour” special for those under monetary restraint. It’s seven days a week, from 8 to 10 p.m. During this time, the salon only takes cash or check.

“We made this program to get the ‘home dyers’ out of the kitchen,” said Joy Douglas, owner of Zing. “We wanted to get the students and teachers in as well.”

Douglas said that Zing is considered average price in Boulder, but upscale.

“We don’t want to become elitist,” she said. “You can’t stay hip and keep up with the trends that way.”

At-home hair dye means being brave enough to trust your own hands with the color and basically having no one else to blame if it turns unsightly.

Douglas said the typical correction of a botched home dye job in a salon could possibly be three times the cost of one regular salon visit.

According to Melody Wetmore, the manager of the Sally Beauty Supply store in Superior, there is a difference between the average boxed dyes and the dyes she sells.

“Our dyes in store are going to be better quality,” she said. “Box dyes are metallic dyes, something they put into the dyes that makes the hair shiny, but it’s actually just coating the hair, not dying it.”

As Wetmore said, there’s a significant difference in their dyes versus box dye, and according to Douglas it’s not the quality of the dye, but how people use it.

“People just don’t have great application techniques,” Douglas said. “You’re paying for a hairdresser’s eye and mathematical knowledge of the products.”

Michelle Miller, a sophomore at CU, dyes her freshman friend Hannah Walker’s hair, as well as her own, with at-home box dyes. Miller said she’s done the process several times, but never personally botched either of their hair with the at-home application.

“I feel like the salons are really overpriced,” Miller said.

Walker has had both at-home dye jobs, as well as going into a salon, but agreed with Miller.

Masyn Moyer, the owner of Urban Pearl salon in Boulder, sympathizes with the students’ claim.

“I understand the position a lot of people are in due to our economy,” Moyer said. “So I don’t believe I or anyone should judge how someone chooses to spend their money.”

But Moyer also said that, as a professional, she’d like to be able to have clients come into the salon so they can have professional assistance in achieving the desired look.

So when it really comes down to the choice of salon versus home dye, many students keep their wallets in mind. At-home hair dye can be the cheap and effective alternative if you don’t severely mess it up.

And salons can be more expensive, but they’re staffed by professionals and sometimes run great specials.

The choice is really up to you, your wallet and your hair needs.