My hair has been every shade of the rainbow. I’ve done the jarred stuff you buy at the record store, I’ve done the $200 salon treatment and I’ve also done the box thing. Here are a few ways to help switch up your look without dropping a ton of money.

I don’t particularly enjoy coloring my hair myself, but don’t always have the cash or time to go get it done. Sometimes that has backfired on me, but then I just file it away for the next time. If you’re going for a drastic change, going to the salon is absolutely the best option. If you’re not sure how to approach do it yourself color at home, ask for a consult at your regular salon. Ask for what keywords you should use (golden, cool, neutral, ash) and any tips or pointers they can give you and follow the directions to the letter.

If you’re looking to stick to your same color and cover grays, use a permanent color. Gray hair is very porous so it grabs the color well, but it also washes out very quickly, so a semi permanent color will have you coloring every 28 shampoos, whereas a permanent color lasts until your hair grows out. When you’re coloring, start where you have the most gray and don’t skimp on the color around your hairline and on the roots. If you’re using a dark color, rub Vaseline on your face and neck along your hairline to prevent staining. If you do get stains on your skin, baby wipes are awesome at removing stray streaks of color.

I went blonde for a long time and I loved it. My hair grows really fast so I was literally coloring every three to four weeks and I went to the salon to get it done. What I didn’t love was the $110 it cost per visit before tax and tip, it got really expensive to keep it up, but I did it because it was so different than my natural color, then I asked a pro what the process actually consisted of and it turns out they use one permanent color to lift and lighten, then they use a semi permanent to tone the blonde color. Whatever you do, do not try and go blonde yourself at home. It will be a disaster, your hair will turn orange and you’ll have to spend a lot of money to fix it. If you’re looking to go blonde for summer, it’s best to make an appointment to have it done by a professional and do the upkeep at home.

One way to keep your color from fizzling out and looking drab is to protect it from the sun. If you’re going to be outside in the sun for a long period of time, wear a wide brim sun hat. Sun, saltwater and chorine can also wreak havoc on your hair, so make sure your hair is well hydrated. Shampoo just a couple of times per week, and the other days, use just conditioner or if your hair looks a tad oily, try a dry shampoo. Another good idea is to use shampoo and conditioner that is specifically formulated for color treated hair.