I am uniquely qualified to discuss hair color, as I’m pretty sure I’ve tried everything and made every mistake in the book. I’ve gone dark; I’ve gone light. I’ve dyed my hair in a box; I’ve dyed my hair in a salon.I dyed it until it broke off in chunks and I had to shave it off. Yup, I’ve pretty much done everything. And yet never once did I really stop to consider any of the question to ask before dyeing your hair? The important things, that is — not whether to buy the $14.99 box of dye or the one that's on sale for $9.99.

It’s actually not the most complicated thought process in the world. The three main things to consider are the shade you’re looking for, whether your hair is healthy enough to withstand a dye job, and how your budget figures into the process. All of these things can be discussed with a stylist — ideally one who cares about your needs, that is. “This is a relationship about communication, and the more clearly you can get your vision across, the better,” says Brooke Jordan Hunt, owner and head stylist of The Bird House studio in Brooklyn, New York. Start the dialogue with the following seven things that everyone should consider when they fantasize about switching hair hues.

1. How Healthy Is Your Hair?

“​The first thin​g you should consider is the ultimate health of your hair,” warns Hunt. “If you've never dyed your hair before, your hair is probably in decent condition — unless of course you have an obsession with your flat iron, like so many of us do.” So how can you tell if your hair can withstand the dyeing process? Elizabeth Maloy, stylist and color specialist at New York City’s Paul Labrecque Salon gave InStyle a simple trick you can do at home to test the health of your hair.

2. Are You Prepared To Risk A DIY Dye Job?

“Unless you're a licensed cosmetologist, you're always taking a risk dying her own hair at home,” says Hunt, who points out that the color on hair dye boxes isn’t accurate. ”I can't even tell you how many times I've done color corrections at my salon for women who have had box-dye nightmares."

3. Can You Afford A Salon Visit?

Think carefully about this. If you try a DIY job at home, and it doesn’t work out, you’ll have to fork money over to a stylist anyway. Maybe it's best to skip over the boxed dye and go straight to the salon.

4. Can You Afford Multiple Salon Visits?

Dyeing your hair isn’t just a one-shot deal. “You also need to consider the upkeep,” says Hunt. “Typically, dying your hair requires frequent visits to the salon to get your roots touched up. And on that note, think about your budget and what the best kind of color will be for your wallet.”

5. Do You Have Good Communication With Your Stylist?

Your budget is just one of the reasons you should be able to have a satisfying, informative conversation with a stylist who cares about your vision and your wallet. Hunt often suggests lower maintenance and lower cost options to her clients, such as balayage highlights. “It's more usually a bit more expensive on the front end than traditional foiled-highlights," she says. "But it's actually a great money saving solution because you can let the highlights continue to grow without having that harsh root demarcation.”

6. Do You Have A Vision?

In order to talk about your vision with a thoughtful, communicative stylist, you need to actually have a vision. “Something red, like between the Little Mermaid and Emma Stone in Easy A.” isn’t going to cut it. Try finding pictures to help you articulate what you’re looking for. “I always really appreciate it when [clients] have multiple pictures and ideas of what they're looking for,” says Hunt. “At that point I can tell them which style and color is going to be the most flattering for their skin type.”

7. Are You Ready to Upgrade Your Product Supply?

Your shampoo, conditioner, and styling paste may not cut it once you change the color of your locks. Although it might be daunting to shell out even more money for products, keep in mind that your new hair serum, shampoo, and conditioner will preserve and enhance your new shade, and that's worth the extra bucks. (Ask your stylist about products that are good for color-treated hair.)

Images: Courtesy of manicpanicnyc/Instagram, Giphy (7)