Light-Headed: "I have a hard time doing my own highlights, and I'm an expert," admits Nexxus Color Director Sharon Dorram-Krause. For a little savings, Backe recommends doing a single process at home (to subtly lift your overall color) and splurging on salon highlights every few months. "Pro highlights can blend out any of your amateur mistakes," he says. But if you're really devoted to DIY, try painting thin streaks on the hair just beneath your part and a quarter of an inch from the hairline (to hide any obvious lines of demarcation). "You'll get beautiful dimension and lightness, and no eyesores," says Backe.
Clairol Nice 'n Easy Born Blonde, $9.99
Paint by Numbers: New at-home kits mimic the salon experience by including professional tools like the detailing brush in the U Color by Umberto kit, $12. And single process (one coat of color with no highlights, lowlights, or other frills) is simple to do yourself, as long as you're not going for a dramatic transformation. "My rule of thumb is only go two shades lighter or darker than your natural hair," says Brad Johns, national color director for Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas. "To choose the right box at the store, check the chart on the side of the package. If you don't see your natural tone on the chart, the formula's probably not right for you." Protect your investment with gentle products like Nexxus Dualiste Color Protection Anti-Breakage Shampoo, $11.99.
L'Oréal Paris Excellence To-Go, $9.49