Read this before you pick up the boxed hair dye.

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If you color your hair, you might find yourself spending more and more time scrutinizing your roots these days. There are more important matters at hand, of course, but you're probably wondering how to manage and care for your grown-out single-process or highlights now that your go-to salon (and, therefore, colorist) is inaccessible, due to nonessential business closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

woman touching hair looking in mirror
Credit: Getty / Eva Szombat

To help you delay, disguise, or remedy that growing demarcation line, we tapped several experts for their insight. The general consensus? This isn't a time for a permanent DIY hair job. Ahead, how to take care of your colored hair during quarantine—and, if you must, how to safely color your hair at home.

First things first: Try to wait it out.

Waiting is the best course of action for two reasons. First, DIY jobs can go wrong fast. "If you're just bored and want to color your hair, don't do it," says Nine Zero One co-owner Nikki Lee. "And don't try to do a full color change right now—you're going to regret it and you're going to eventually spend hours in the salon and a small fortune trying to get back the color you had."

Second, this self-isolation period presents a unique opportunity to give your hair a rest. "I feel like this is a great opportunity to give your body a nice break from everything," says Wella Professionals global ambassador Briana Cisneros. "In the same way that it is good to give your skin a break from makeup, it's also good to give your hair some time to rest from styling, color, and regular wear and tear."

Upgrade your haircare to stretch out your color.

If your biggest issue with your color during quarantine is the fact that it's not as vibrant as usual, upgrading your haircare routine with products designed to add luster and shine is a relatively easy fix. Cisneros recommends Wella Professionals INVIGO Brilliance Shampoo ($17, ulta.com) and Conditioner ($18, ulta.com). "The INVIGO collection helps the color maintain vibrancy by encapsulating the copper minerals—which can cause color degradation—that are in your tap water," she explains. "It also contains various antioxidants and vitamins that help the health of your hair and control the oxidation as well, keeping your color intact."

Integrate masks into your routine.

Lee is currently advising her clients to consider temporary color-depositing masks. "Garnier has these new pigmented masks called Color Revivers ($6.99, target.com)," she shares. "They're great if you're just feeling like your highlights are a little dull. You can put it all over and it's going to refresh your color. And they wash out, so your hair will be in good shape when you do get back to your colorist."

Cisneros agrees that masks are a must to maintain optimum hair health, not to mention color, in between salon appointments. "Masks are fabulous for using in the shower or even out of the shower to nourish color treated hair," she says. "When I'm really treating myself, I like to emulate how a treatment is done in the salon by taking a damp towel and putting it in the microwave just long enough to make it nice and warm. Then after shampooing and applying a generous amount of the mask, I wrap my hair in the warm damp towel and leave it on for as long as the manufacturer recommends."

Replace your showerhead.

Beyond haircare products, you can swap out your regular showerhead for one with a water filter, like Raindrops ($96, raindrops901.com). According to Lee, this head will prevent brassy hair and dull color by filtering out minerals and heavy metals that can ruin your color.

Reduce how much you shampoo.

Stay-at-home measures means you're doing less—and can probably reduce how much you shampoo. "Spreading out your shampoo days to every other day or a few times a week is my number one tip for maintaining healthy hair and preventing color from fading," celebrity hairstylist Sally Hershberger says. "Shampooing too often will strip the hair of its natural oils, as well as the color."

In addition to washing less, you also want to make sure your shampoo isn't working against your color. For this reason, Hershberger recommends her eponymous line's 24K Get Gorgeous StylePro Shampoo ($32, sallyhershberger.com). "It cleanses away any excess buildup, and has hydrating ingredients, like coconut oil, to rejuvenate hair and protect it from color fading," she says.

Get creative with temporary DIY solutions.

If your roots are gray, but you don't want to try your hand at box dye, Rob Peetoom colorist Linda de Zeeuw says that you can touch them up with an eye shadow or eyebrow powder. "Style your hair in the desired parting and apply the powder on the gray roots and fixate with hairspray," she instructs, noting that wearing your hair up in a ponytail or bun also makes root growth look less extreme.

If you absolutely must, only opt for temporary box dyes.

Lee has one exception to her "Don't DIY" rule, and that's temporary root coverage. She recommends Garnier's temporary root touch-up products—like the Express Retouch Gray Hair Concealer ($11.99, cvs.com). "If [a root touch-up] is going to make someone feel great during this time, use it," she says. "It will wash out and your hairstylist isn't going to be mad at you."

When applying a root touch-up, she says it's always good to use a wide-tooth comb to quickly soften and feather out the color. "Please do not comb it down into the mid-shaft of your hair, but rather just enough so it just softens that line a bit," she says.

Go custom.

Boxed dye is tough for a lot of reasons—the packaging's images or tone charts don't always carry over into real life. If you're looking for a better way to color your hair at home, consider L'Oréal's new service, Color & Co, a personalized at-home color system (from $19.90, colorandco.com) that gives you complete control over the shade you want—with all the professional guidance you need along the way. Answer a thorough quiz, try on the color virtually, or talk with a stylist, and the experts mix you a custom formula that gets shipped to your door. They'll walk you through applying the dye, too, when you're ready to do so.

Prep your hair before any at-home dye job.

Hershberger adds that you should always prep your hair before attempting home color. "Since these at-home colors tend to have harsh chemicals, it can lead to dry and damaged hair," she explains, noting that she always suggests waiting for a professional—but has a pointer if you choose to DIY. "In order to reduce the amount of damage, a hair oil is great to use before dyeing to lock in as much moisture in the hair as possible." Her 24K Golden Touch Nourishing Dry Oil ($40, sallyhershberger.com) is a great option, since it creates a nourished, hydrated base without making hair look greasy. "Having a hydrated base will help the dye go on much smoother, resulting in an even application," Hershberger adds.

Reach out to your colorist.

If you're unsure which product will get the job done for your specific hair type and color, check in with your colorist. You might be able to do a quick FaceTime consultation to determine the best shade. "All Nine Zero One stylists are doing $25 FaceTime consultations to help their clients," Lee shares. "I know a lot of stylists are doing this around the country and it is a great way to support your stylist at this time, as they likely have little to no income coming in." Other salons are even mixing at-home color kits that customers can use to touch-up their hair with virtual help from their stylist.

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