New year, new... hair? If the dawn of 2018 has got you itching to switch up the shade of your tresses, we say go for it - but don't rush in without carefully considering your options.
"Any change in hair colour should have a thorough consultation with a professional, so we can manage your expectations and let you know what we think is achievable," says Jack Howard, expert colourist at Paul Edmonds Salon London for L'Oreal Professionnel.
"Many people don't realise that getting to your perfect colour is a journey and cannot be achieved in one hair appointment - and definitely not in one at home box colour."
What would happen if you did decide to grab the first dye kit that takes your fancy and whack it on your barnet?
"Well, be aware of mismatched roots, patchy colour, breakage, bad results ... the list could go on," Jack warns.
"There are so many things that can go wrong with at-home hair colouring."
The colourist is keen to help avoid dye-job disasters, so here he sets out the three things you should always take into account when choosing a new hue, and how a professional can get you there, no matter what your base colour is.1. Your hair condition
"Condition is key," Jack says. "Although we have amazing colours and hair-strengthening bonding products - which can be added during the colouring process - if the hair is not great, we need to start working on the health before we start a colour-change journey. Nothing looks worse than unhealthy, damaged, broken hair."2. Colour upkeep
"For me, whenever considering a colour change, I like to advise clients of ongoing cost, upkeep and time commitment, so there's a general overview of what it means to change your colour and keep your desired new shade," Jack explains. Going back to get your roots done every six weeks isn't cheap, so make sure you know what the upkeep will cost before you take the plunge.3. Your hair and skin colour
This is one area where Jack isn't so prescriptive: "There was a time when skin colour always came into the equation, but when people are looking at extreme changes, quite often it becomes statement hair, and that doesn't follow the same rules."
How is it done in the salon? What to expect if your natural hair colour is...
Black: "If your hair is black, you will need more than one appointment and we are definitely looking at a long journey to go blonde - you would need to think about being golden and copper part of the way through this service," Jack explains. "Products such as L'Oreal Professionnel's Smartbond will definitely help maintain the condition of hair when going from dark base colours to light, but it won't be achievable in one appointment.
"Black to red, as long as it's natural, is pretty simple and I would recommend having this done in one salon visit.
"Black to brunette, again, is not too difficult and should be done in one visit."
Brunette: "Brunette to black or red is very simple - just one sitting appointment," says Jack.
But going blonde is a bit more complicated: "Brunette to blonde is all dependent on your shade of brunette and your required shade of blonde. You could be in a new colour spectrum within one to two appointments."
Red: "Red to brunette would be achievable in one appointment, as long as the customer is okay with being a warmer brown, rather than cooler tones," Jack advises. "Red to black in one sitting is simple, and you should end up being a sultry dark-haired customer."
Going blonde, however, is "much harder and depends on the shade of red you are and how blonde you want to be".
Blonde: "A natural blonde can go any of these shades as you are basically going darker, so a few expert rules and tricks, and a new colour is yours," Jack explains.
"Getting back to your natural colour again, though, is far more complicated."