I already know what you are thinking, this is SO contradictory to what I do and what I preach.

The reason for this short list of guidelines is because I get SO much grief from people that say the following:

  • I’m offending those that cannot afford a professional haircolorist.
  • Some people don’t have a really great salon in their area.
  • Some people are frightened because of previous horrible experiences (which you should not use to judge the work that another stylist may be capable of).
  • Some people don’t have the time to go to the salon (I’m not going there in this article).
  • I just hate box color, I’m “narrow-minded”, etc.

Those are just a few of the negative reactions that I get from my popular post:

10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color

I’m okay with the conflicting opinions because everyone is entitled, and everyone is different.

I do understand that some women cannot afford it, and I give them advice whether the “nay-sayers” see it or not. I feel for those people who can’t get a great professional color no matter what the situation is that prevents them from doing so.

I started this blog to help people, so it would be very hypocritical of me to not help those that just don’t have any other options. This doesn’t mean that I recommend box color as a great choice, but if it’s all you can do….I’d rather you make a better choice than the worst one.


How to Choose a Box Color

For everyone with any hair type:

  • If your hair is damaged, brittle, splitting, hard to comb when wet, etc.-don’t color your hair.
  • Cap highlights are the WORST…and even WORSE when you do it yourself. I simply can’t recommend a guideline for using a box color kit for highlights…you are on your own.
  • Don’t choose anything drastically different from your natural color!
  • Choosing a semi-permanent haircolor is always safer. Most haircolor does not truly “wash out”(only demi or temporary colors do).
  • If you already have color on your hair…don’t apply color from roots-to-ends. It won’t look right…..
  • If you have a different shade of box color on your hair than the one you would like to apply- There are too many variables here and you should contact me before moving forward 🙂

 If your hair is light (blonde to light brown):

  • Choose something that is not darker than medium brown.
  • If your hair is on the “darker” side of light….don’t choose the lightest color there is.
  • Cap highlighting kits are the worst kind….choose a single application color if you can.

 If your hair is medium (brown in it’s many forms):

  • Choose something that is not very light.
  • If your hair is very warm, don’t go too much lighter as it will turn out brassy.
  • If you don’t like red or warm tones at all, choose a cool tone because browns naturally have more warmth in their undertones.

 If your hair is dark (brown to black):

  • Don’t go any lighter than medium brown with a box.
  • The lighter the shade is that you choose, the warmer (red/brassy/gold) your hair will turn out.
  • Definitely don’t go for something lighter than brown if your hair is closer to dark brown/black.

 If your hair is red:

  • What the hell are you thinking?!
  • Don’t color your hair!

 If your hair is gray:

  • The type of color you choose will depend on the look you would like to achieve, how long you plan on keeping up with the look, etc.
  • Your percentage and placement of gray is also a factor for choosing a color.
  • Use semi-permanent (most of the time) if you have less than 50% gray and just want to slightly cover it, blend it in, or “freshen up” your look.
  • Choose a shade that is closest to your natural and has warm tones (unless you are 25% gray or less and your hair is naturally warm).
  • If your hair is 50% or more gray choose a permanent shade if you plan to maintain it regularly, choose a semi-permanent shade if you don’t plan to maintain as often or if you’re not as concerned with full gray coverage.
  • To fully cover gray you will need a permanent hair color.

*Disclaimer:These are generic guidelines for choosing a box color to use at home. These rules do not always apply to professional coloring because your stylist should know how to achieve a certain color without pulling too much warmth or damaging your hair, for example.

These guidelines will not work in every situation as there are many other variables, and I cannot possibly include each one. If you have a lot going on with your hair, you should contact me first for more advice.

Lastly, I am not responsible if you screw up your haircolor, hair health, etc. by doing your own haircolor. I do not recommend it, as haircoloring is an art that should only be performed by a licensed professional.

2 Responses to How to Choose a Box Color

  1. Vail says:

    I saw that word, “Box”, and finally realized what it must feel like to be in your shoes! I am a baker who is very serious about my ingredients. I have a very large metaphorical cow if a recipe for “home made” anything has “One box of cake mix” in it. Who knows what is in that stuff, I promise it will not taste as good as my baked -with-love and I trained many many hours to learn to make desserts.

    But, some days people just cant muster up the energy. And something in a box is faster. Not better but faster. And cheaper and a bunch of 5-year-olds can’t tell the difference.
    But I still know mine is better! :0)

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