At-home hair coloring is one of those things that you either embrace or shun — there’s no middle ground. But just because you had one traumatic color calamity (hello orange-ish blonde, a.k.a. blorange) doesn’t mean you have to swear off drugstore hair color forever.We asked celebrity colorist Mike Petrizzi, of the De Berardinis Salon in NYC, to give us his tips for applying color like a pro. Follow his advice and you’ll not only end up with beautiful, natural-looking hair color, but also save a ton of cash in the process, by skipping all those high-priced salon visits. 

1) What’s Your Number?When selecting a shade, don’t be wooed by the model’s hair on the box — your color won’t necessarily turn out that exact shade. Instead, Petrizzi says to match your hair color up with the ones on the back of the box, which will tell you how that shade will affect your starting shade.MORE FROM REFINERY29: This Season’s Top 3 Hair Color Trends2) Avoid The OrangeIf you’re looking to go darker, Petrizzi suggests skipping anything in the warm brown family. “Unless you want orange hair, steer clear of this inviting, snuggle-up-to-me color,” he says. When dying your hair darker, those tempting ammoniated colors will actually just develop brassy. Going lighter? It may sound counterintuitive but choose an ashy shade. “It will do anything but singe your hair and will actually balance out any brassy undertones that may pop up,” says Petrizzi.MORE FROM REFINERY29: How to Fake a Salon-Worthy Blowout3) Be A Mix MasterBuying two different shades and mixing them together is the best way to get beautiful, believable hair color. Think about it: A colorist at the salon doesn’t use just one shade on your strands. They use a mix to create an end result that’s full of both highlights and lowlights. So grab a box of color that’s one shade darker than your natural shade and one that’s one shade lighter, and get mixing! “Apply the darker shade on your roots and to the first inch and a half of your crown,” says Petrizzi. “Add a little overlap on the roots with the lighter shade, then marry the two shades by pulling the lighter shade into the lower part of your hair. Voila! Perfect, salon-quality color that looks like you were born with it.”MORE FROM REFINERY29: 10 At-Home Tips to Get Your Hair Back in the Game