If this is your first time coloring your hair, it's probably best to start with a low level of commitment, and then (if you're happy with the results) you can work your way up the commitment ladder. The following are the most common commitment levels used by most major product lines, ranked in order from the least committed to the most:

1. Highlighting. Highlights are usually permanent, and they are a great way to add texture and subtle color to your hair-whether they're red or blond or even blue-without dramatic changes. Beware that highlighting often takes a long time, as you usually have to use a pick to pull your hair through tiny holes in a plastic cap. The more hair you pull through the holes, the more dramatic the results. You can also choose a non-permanent highlighting kit, which involves painting streaks of color onto your hair with a thin brush. You'll look cute for a few days, but the results tend to be too subtle and short-lived.

2. Semi-Permanent Color. Also called "stains" or "washes," semi-permanent products coat the hair with color that washes out after about 6 to 12 shampoos. You won't have any worries about your roots because the color washes out before roots can really show. However, since semi-permanent products don't contain any ammonia or peroxide, you won't be able to lighten your hair any shades, you'll only be able to add color.

3. Demi-Permanent Color. Demi-permanent products last longer (approximately 24 to 26 shampoos) and also contain no ammonia, so again, you won't be able to lighten your hair. However, a small level of peroxide allows you to create a more noticeable color change.

4. Permanent Color. Permanent color uses both ammonia and peroxide, which enter the hair's cortex and create a change that cannot be washed out. Keep in mind that the end result is always a combination of the added pigment and the original pigment of your hair, so the dye may look different on you than, on your friend, the model on the box, or Julia Roberts. But as the name suggests, when you wash with permanent color, if you don't like it, your only options are to wait for the color to grow out or to dye over it (which DEFINITELY requires a pro).

SoYouWanna know more? Check out our full-length article SYW be a model?