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What is a Root Touch-Up?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 21, 2024
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When hair has been colored using hair dye, the roots tend to be the first places to show it, since that is where the new hair comes in. A root touch-up is simply an application of hair dye to the roots of the hair, to disguise the fact that hair has grown out, and to make a hair coloring last longer. Root touch-ups may be done at a salon or at home.

Generally, hair will need to be colored every four to six weeks, but a root touch-up can increase the time between appointments or home colorings. There are two ways to do a root touch-up at home. The first is to simply use a standard box of hair dye; it may be a good idea to purchase two boxes when first buying the hair dye, to be certain to get the same color. The box will include directions for dyeing a whole head of hair or simply the roots; follow the directions for dyeing the roots.

In addition, there are now root touch-up products that are only used for root touch-ups. These include a smaller amount of hair dye as well as a comb to get the product exactly where it needs to be. The colors may be less specific with these products, though most of them work quite well, and they may be less expensive than a whole new box of hair dye.

It is important to always follow the included instructions when using hair dye for a root touch-up. In general, it is a good idea to wear the included plastic gloves as well as an old shirt to prevent stains. Apply petroleum jelly around the hairline to avoid getting any dye on the face. Typically, when touching up the roots, it is necessary to apply the dye to the roots and leave it on for approximately 15 to 25 minutes, then comb the color through to the ends of the hair and leave it on for another five or ten minutes. This ensures that the color appears even and uniform over the entire had.

A root touch-up may also take place at a salon. For the longest lasting results that look most like the original hair dye color, a salon is the way to go. It is also the most expensive option, however. Those who have highlights will likely want to go to the salon for touch-ups, because it can be difficult to keep it looking natural.

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Discussion Comments
By bythewell — On Jun 05, 2011

A hair salon is also the safest place you can get your hair done. I know those home box sets are supposed to be mostly safe, but some of them are very cheap, or sourced overseas and can contain very harsh chemicals, particularly ones that use bleach.

Plus, no one ever does the spot test, which you should do every single time.

My aunt once tried one of those home kits and managed to burn her scalp, and now she won't do anything with her hair in case it happens again.

You never know when they might have changed an ingredient, or when your skin might have changed and might have an allergic reaction, so be very careful when doing this at home. In the long run, you won't be saving money if you hurt yourself.

By umbra21 — On Jun 03, 2011

If you get your hair dyed so that it looks natural in the first place, with streaks of different color and so forth, and if you get it done only a few shades away from your normal color, roots aren't so bad. You can hide them with some hair styles, or just ignore them. Most other people will as well.

Personally, I think its better to just use hair dye as an accent rather than putting it all the way through, simply because sometimes I don't have time to get the roots done up. But I know some people have graying hair or a particular look that's important to them and more power to them.

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