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Going for a new hue in the New Year? Whether you’re getting it done professionally or hitting up the at-home hair color aisle, check out these tips to make sure your dye job is to die for!

1. Figure Out Your Natural Hair Color
Before deciding on a new hue, it’s important to identify your natural shade; that way, whether you’re going lighter or darker, you pick a color that works for you.

2. Set Realistic Expectations
If you’re making a drastic change — like going from deep black to platinum blonde — don’t expect to get the results you want in just one application. To avoid brassy, ashy tresses, and other disappointments, plan for a subtle shift in color.

3. Wig Out!
For anything more than three shades lighter or darker than your natural color, find a wig in the same hue and take it for a “test drive” before committing.

4. Find a Shade Lighter than the Color You Want

Take it from Ursula Stephens — the pro Rihanna trusts when coloring her tresses: Hair dye always comes out darker than the picture on the box. To get the color closest to your desired hue, buy one that’s one or two shades lighter. “It is easier to amp up a color’s intensity than it is to tone it down,” advises Stephens.

5. Find the Right Formula
Foam, gel, liquid…. As if there weren’t enough decisions to be made when it comes to at-home hair color! But the type of formula that you use for your dye job is just as important as the actual color. Foam dyes are recommended for those with sensitive skin, since they don’t drip onto the face or hairline. For thick or curly hair, opt for gel or liquid formulas for better coverage.

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