It may come as no great surprise that a hairdresser would recommend we don’t attempt to cut or colour our own hair at home. As top Auckland stylist Lauren Gunn explains, there are plenty of very good reasons why and offers some much easier solutions.


Image courtesy of Colleen

What is your advice for anyone starting to get regrowth and thinking of taking care of this themselves via the supermarket and their own bathroom?

It’s a big call, but I believe the state of our hair is intrinsically linked to our sense of wellbeing. Anybody who colours their hair will be dealing with a bit of lockdown regrowth now and will be feeling tempted to reach for a packet of box dye at the supermarket. Before you do, try experimenting with some different ways of wearing your hair to refresh your look. Tie your hair up in a scarf or try a new braided style. Switch your focus to restoring the condition with at home oil treatments and masks. If your hair is dark, you can do little touch-ups using mascara from your make-up kit.

What are the main differences between a supermarket colouring solution and something you might find in a good salon?

Supermarket colouring solutions are likely to contain harsher chemicals. They almost always use a higher volume of hydrogen peroxide, which is a bleaching agent used to remove hair’s natural pigment and allow the new colour to oxidise and replace it. Salon colours also use hydrogen peroxide, usually at lower levels that are precisely titrated to minimise or prevent damage to your scalp and hair. Supermarket solutions are also likely to contain high levels of ammonia, an alkaline compound that softens and opens the cuticle, making it easier for the hydrogen peroxide to do its work. It does such a good job that it makes it really difficult to remove the colour from your hair down the track. A key catalyst used in most supermarket colour solutions is paraphenylenediamine (PPD). Here’s what Consumer has to say about it: “PPD is classified as an extreme sensitiser and is identified as a key cause of allergic reactions to hair dye. It’s estimated PPD is used in more than two-thirds of permanent hair dyes you can buy off the shelves, including products marketed as ‘natural’.”

Surely there’s something to be said for a professional dyeing your hair too, right?

Of course. The key word being professional. Your salon colourist has made a career out of being good at colouring hair, and that means not just about fashion and what’s cool for hair colour at this moment in time. A professional colourist will have in-depth knowledge of the science and chemistry of hair and hair colour. Combine that with technique and experience.It’s also a really complicated process to undo a bad dye job. It can take up to a year and a bucketload of cash to return to your pre box-dyed hair. Unless you’re prepared to get a pixie cut, just don’t do it.

If you’re really worried and want to look your best for that next Zoom meeting, what products can help provide a temporary solution to keep you looking sharp?

Wearing a beanie in a Zoom meeting is definitely not a ‘look’. Using a touch-up spray is a great option — Kevin Murphy Retouch.Me sprays are great and so are Oribe’s Airbrush Root sprays. I always think that you can ramp up a look and make it really chic with lots of product — gel and wax are great for this and shine serums too.

What about those worried their hair has grown too long or gotten out of condition during lockdown? I imagine the same risk applies?

Focus on condition. Mask your hair at least once a week with a formulation that is specific to your hair needs. Don’t cut your own hair — most household scissors are going to shatter your hair shaft and cause irreparable damage.

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