So you’ve got a hair color appointment on your calendar. You’re well on your way to a fresh new look — but how should you prepare? 

To help you out, here are the top tips to help you prep for your hair color appointment — plus, find out what products you really should be using to enhance your hair’s color and shine.

1. Bring Reference Photos 

Bringing up to five inspo hair color pics to show your stylist is one of the best ways to set yourself up for color success. And while you can’t expect your stylist to perfectly match your color to something seen in a photo, providing examples of color options you like will help ensure your final hue is something you’ll love. For bonus points, bring in a few images of colors you hate, so your stylist will know what to avoid!

2. Check In With Your Stylist 

One of the most important things to remember when scheduling your hair coloring appointment is that each stylist has his or her own preferences for getting the job done. Some want you to come in with clean hair, while others prefer you wait a few days after wash day. Ask for your stylist’s preference when you book your appointment to ensure that your hair is prepped and ready to get the color of your dreams.

Also: 6 Hair Stylists Share Their Best Kept Secret

3. Follow Your Normal Makeup Routine

While it’s tempting to show up for your hair care appointment with a bare face, you should stick with your everyday makeup routine unless you normally rock a no-makeup look. Seeing how you present yourself on the daily will help your stylist design a color palette that reflects your natural or makeup-created coloring and prevent you from getting a tone that washes you out.

4. Lay Off the Heat Tools

Using too much heat on your hair is never a good idea, but before you make a color appointment is the best time to give your strands a break. When you use heat-styling products, even with a protectant or diffuser, you run the risk of leaving strands overly dry and prone to oversaturation with your color of choice. Taking a break from heat styling helps ensure your strands will be ready for their close-up. 

5. Use a Hair Mask

Speaking of stressed-out strands, treating your hair before your appointment with a little extra moisturizing TLC is an excellent way to make sure your strands are prepped and nourished before you color them. Instead of your normal conditioner, use an overnight deep conditioning hair mask that hydrates and reconstructs strands right before and after your appointment to help lock in color and shine.

6. Come In With a Clean Cut

You don’t need to go crazy with a brand-new style before your color session, but if you plan on taking off more than an inch in the near future, it’s best to have it taken care of before your appointment. Keeping your hair in shape gives your stylist a nice road map of where your tinted strands will fall and will ensure you won’t have to deal with the hassle of dying split ends. You can even take care of both in one appointment by requesting a dry cut before your color session — most salons will have someone on hand to take care of you.

Read: How to Make Your Hair Color Last Longer

7. Dress for Success

This might seem obvious, but please don’t wear your favorite piece of clothing or jewelry to your hair color appointment! Vivid colors or a major color shift are particularly risky, as they often bleed a few days after. But even the most minor dye job means risking some leakage from foils, shampoo bowls and other sources. Stick to a dark-colored top, and try to sleep on a dark pillowcase or lay down a towel the night after your appointment.

Also: How Often Can You Dye Your Hair?

8. Pack a Snack

While most salons will provide you with beverages like coffee, tea and maybe even a sneaky glass of Champagne, it’s no fun being trapped in the chair when you’re hangry! You can try ordering delivery from the chair, but to be on the safe side, stylists recommend you bring along an easy-to-eat snack from home, like carrot sticks, apple slices, nuts or a protein bar to get you through.

9. Free Up Your Day

Because color appointments can last anywhere from three to eight hours (yes, really!), it’s important that you free up your day. In other words, don’t schedule a dye session right before any important events. Hair can be unpredictable, and your stylist may need a little extra time (or a lot of extra time) to get you the results you want. So try to clear up your schedule, and don’t make any plans right after your appointments' estimated end time.

 

10. Mind Your Maintenance

Last but not least — what happens after the hair color appointment is just as important as the prep you do before. When you schedule your initial coloring session, check in with your stylist to see how much time is recommended before your next appointment. For more subtle dye jobs like ombre or balayage, you can wait for months without a touch-up. However, more dramatic color shifts, such as from dark to light or light to dark, need maintenance every few weeks.

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Photo credit: Kuzmichstudio/iStock

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Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.