Lisa Duff admits that she messed up when she began coloring her own hair as a cost-saving measure. One time, she turned her hair orange. Another botched dye job left a red stripe down the middle of the 41-year-old Minneapolis brunette's hair.

Still, Duff and a growing number of women are committed to doing it themselves. They're spurring new products and businesses -- including a store in Maple Grove -- that promise to make out-of-the-box hair coloring easier, safer and faster.

"Getting my hair colored by a professional cost two or three times more than doing it myself and I usually wasn't happy with what the professionals did," said Duff, who eventually found the right recipe for her hair. "Plus, why sit in a salon bored for hours when I can do it myself in half the time and be done?"

Those sentiments are boxed gold for makers of home hair dyes. Nearly 150 new hair color products were launched in 2010, making home hair color among the fastest-growing beauty products of the post-recession era, according to Women's Wear Daily, a New York-based fashion-industry trade journal.

Realizing that they can't keep their clients out of the drugstore aisles, some color professionals who previously steered clients clear of boxed hair dyes are now touting DIY hair coloring as a viable option -- at least some of the time.

At the Hair District in Edina, stylist Jill Bergerud said her clients are still coming to her for their color, but they're stretching out their visits to save money. Although Bergerud doesn't recommend her clients use a box dye for an all-over color, she has recommended a root touch-up kit like L'Oreal's Root Rescue (Target, $5.99).

'That's the trend right now," she said. "A touch-up kit can hold them over until they can make it in to see a professional."

Not all stylists agree that DIY is the way to go.

"We are seeing more business for corrective color than ever," said Ali Yanez, the national operations manager for Chanhassen-based LifeSpa and Salon. "Not only is the quality of boxed products unpredictable -- many times they use harsh industrial-grade color that's used in coloring household items like fabric -- but it should be applied by a pro. We use a technique that's difficult to achieve at home."

Despite improvements, commercial boxed dyes continue to get a bad rap, in part because consumers don't know which color to choose, said Bergerud.

A new business in Maple Grove thinks it has a solution. DpHUE aims to take the guesswork out of color selection by enlisting professionals to do it for you.

"We're bridging the gap between boxed hair color and the salon experience," said dpHUE president Brenda Boehler, who launched the company in partnership with owner Donna Pohlad, the wife of Twins CEO Jim Pohlad.

At dpHUE, certified colorists offer one-on-one consultations and how-to instructions. For $38 to $43, customers leave with a kit that includes everything they need to color their own hair at home.

DpHUE's chief color consultant, Pamela Cruz, who owns Bella Salon, said she's seen a sea change.

"We've spent years warning our clients of the effects of coloring their own hair, and here we are encouraging them to go for it," she said. But instead of "fixing someone's hair after they picked the wrong product, I'd rather help them get it right the first time."

Although dpHUE feels like a salon, it offers no salon services, unless customers want to use the space to color their own hair. DpHUE also has space available for customers who want to try a new twist on the girls' night out: wine, hors d'oeuvres and DIY hair coloring.

Even Pohlad admits that home coloring isn't the answer for all women all of the time. While she uses dpHUE for her base color, she said she sees a professional colorist two or three times a year for highlights. And her staff doesn't recommend that customers do their own highlights or make drastic changes to their color. But for all-over colors within a shade or two of a person's natural color, out of the box seems to be the way of the future.

"Hair color is a complex thing," Pohlad said, "but it can be made relatively simple."

Aimée Tjader • 612-673-1715