I’ve seen more people recently who have attempted to color or highlight their own hair. Needless to say, the results were disastrous.

Even the “mail order” color that promises it will match your desired color and leave your hair healthy and shiny leaves so much to be desired.

It infuriates me when people say they’re going to “slap on” some color. Chemicals are not to be just “slapped on.”

Yes, sometimes it might work. Yes, I know the do-it-yourself hair color companies would not still be around if the results were horrible every time; however, these are still chemicals. Knowledge and finesse are required.

A few facts might clarify and help you to understand a bit why color is not always easy.

Fact No. 1: The major pigment in all hair darker than blonde is orange. Any time you “slap” bleach on your hair, you are actually lifting natural pigments out of your hair. When attempting to self-highlight or balayage, the results will more than likely be orange, or brassy.

The products sold over the counter are usually not strong enough to lift past the orange without lots of damage.

Fact No. 2: This process of lifting also occurs when coloring your hair. The difference is that the color that was in the box or tube will be deposited over the lifted hair, giving the effect of all one color, maybe not the desired color, hair. It is usually a flat, one-dimensional color.

The problem begins when the artificial color begins to fade. Now you have new growth. Sometimes gray hair is a good majority of the new growth. (See my last article about gray hair and its resistance to color.)

This, combined with the previously colored, faded hair, is what needs to be colored. This is where the spiral to hair-color hell begins.

You “slap” the color on what you hope is the new growth only. This is difficult to do evenly by yourself. If any new color gets on the previously colored hair, it will lift some more before being covered again with flat color from the box.

Different bands of orange begin to show as the color fades once again. This results in not pretty hair and a visit to a knowledgeable stylist who can correct it.

It might look easy, but it is not.

If you must, touch up your roots between salon appointments with one of the many touch-up powders or sprays that camouflage the new growth if you don’t want to come to the salon as often. Your stylist can also just do your hairline between full color appointments to afford you more time. Color can be painted into the top to camouflage the new growth.

There are many other options that will keep the integrity of the hair without orange and damaged hair. But you must visit a salon to get them.

Joy Ross is owner of Style It Salon in Old Town Bluffton. styleitsalon.com