Surprisingly, I get a lot of clients that look at me puzzled when I say that box color is bad for their hair!

I’ve always known this to be common knowledge and a few of those reasons you can guess without any background in haircolor.

I hear clients say things like- “Doesn’t all color make your hair dry?” and, “The box doesn’t” say anything about that!”.

As a certified haircolorist it’s difficult when a client questions my suggestions or training, they are seeking me for haircolor help for a reason. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that the client has failed at creating something to please themselves with products from the supermarket.

 “I don’t know what happened, it’s the same box I always get.”

You probably don’t trust your friends with your color by now, and you know you’ve made one too many mistakes attempting to do it on your own. Now it’s time to trust a professional.

The reasons to trust a professional colorist are infinite! Becoming a certified haircolorist is no piece of cake! The pass rate is less than 20%, and some of the most seasoned stylists have attempted certification 4-5 times…and still don’t pass.

Remember, just because someone is a licensed stylist does not mean that they are good, well-trained, knowledgeable, experienced, etc.!

I tackled 7 grueling months of intense studying and practicing to further my understanding of color from chemistry to psychology, and more. We are color perfectionists and consider box color to be the lowest of the low that you can go with coloring your hair. So trust me or any other colorist that you admire, relax, and wait for the final result!

I have quite a few clients who come see me monthly and are willing to pay top dollar for a haircut but won’t pay for professional haircolor. You’re too scared to let an entry-level stylist give you a haircut, but you trust yourself(a non-professional) to make decisions on chemically altering your hair? If you’re one of those people consider this…pay $40 for a great haircut then fry it off with an $8 box of color.

I’ll let you in on a little secret…it doesn’t matter how great your haircut is if your ends are over-processed. I know haircolor forwards and backwards so I’m going to tell you the reasons why you should get it done at the salon.

10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t

Use Box Color

1. One size does not fit all.

Camel Toe : Box Color

I consider box color to be “one size fits all”. The idea of something like this is not perceivable in the world of professional haircolor and it cannot be relied upon.

In order to achieve the color you want a stylist considers several factors and customizes a formula with different hues to make the perfect shade.

Box color is made so that it can potentially alter a wide range of hair types & shades with no guarantee.

I may choose to use a 3% developer on one person and 9% on another with the same color but the outcome will be immensely different. Most box colors use 12% or higher to ensure that it will at least do something to any hair type and that’s just getting dangerous!

As a woman, do you believe in one size fits all pants? I certainly don’t! They might fit the size 6 figure but they won’t fit the size 14(and if they do you’re going to have a camel toe and a muffin top coming hot!).

I know this…that’s why I don’t buy one size pants, and the same applies for box color. That beautiful buttery blonde shade might look great on your sister, but it’ll turn out orange on you. In this situation think of the camel toe you don’t want in the same sense as a bad color with fried ends.

Do you really want to walk around looking like that?

2. Haircolor must be customized for each person.
We are all unique in many ways and that applies to hair as well. I mentioned that professional stylists must consider several factors in order to give you a proper color service.

For those who don’t realize the thought process it takes to come up with your formula I’m going to give a brief overview.

Here are the main factors we consider when customizing your color service:

  • Natural level & underlying pigment
  • Skin Tone
  • Level of Porosity
  • Previous artificial pigments
  • Percentage of gray(if any)

3. Do you know what demi, semi, and permanent really mean?


Manic Panic is not a “semi-permanent” haircolor!

In the world of box color there isn’t a whole lot of difference between demi, semi, and permanent haircolor. Yes, the box may claim that it washes out in a month…but will it?

In most cases it doesn’t. This goes back to customization again, even with colors that “wash out” there has to be a process to consider what level and shade will give you what you’re looking for.

It’s important to remember that no color really washes out completely. In the salon there is a huge difference between the three types and each option has its own factors for successful application.

There is no way that a box can figure out all of those things for you.

There is ONE exception when it comes to finding a haircolor that washes out. That would be semi-permanent(temporary color), and it is in a completely different category whether you are talking about box or professional color.

Temporary colors only stain the outside of the hair strand and should last 1 to 2 weeks at most.There can still be a hinkering of tint left depending on how light your hair is.

4. There is nothing like professional application.

When i hear the word “bottle” in reference to haircolor it makes me cringe.


Bottles are only good for one thing- toners, which is also something that should not be attempted at home. There is no such thing as a good bottle application of color.

In order to keep your hair healthy and avoid banding of color it must be applied precisely from the regrowth to the demarcation line.

Do you think you can do this in a poorly lit bathroom leaning over your…sink using a bottle?

Even if you’re using a brush(or trying)…you can’t see what we can see. If the color overlaps you will create banding(darker spots) and that’s not pretty.

You’re also getting into damaging your hair on a whole new level.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done a haircut on a box blonde,and it’s white-ish…yellowy…orange…burnt orange…basically splotchy all over. Just because you got your blonde hair doesn’t mean you’re looking good!

Here comes Ms. Cheap-and-Unattractive!

5. Your hair WILL feel like straw.


Dry, damaged hair…and it’s only the beginning.

I’m convinced that the reason why some of my clients and other box color users out there accept the straw-like hair texture is because they just think that’s what’s supposed to happen.

This is a huge misconception resulting from an uneducated public when it comes to haircolor.

Companies that put box color on the market are clever advertisers and they’re doing a great job brainwashing everyone.

When you come to the other side and experience professional color your hair will  feel better than it ever has. It is possible to be a platinum blonde with shiny, healthy hair, but probably not with a box.

The reason why your hair feels like straw is because it is traveling further and further down the porosity scale. This means that the damage level is rising and you’re getting close to losing some hair.

Most people get a box and put it on all over the entire strand. I’m not sure, but I don’t think box colors include directions on applying to the demarcation line and refreshing ends only when needed. This is why that beautiful rich chocolate brown that you once achieved is looking black on the ends…also resulting in more and more straw-like texture, difficulty styling, and frizzing out of control.

I can’t even begin to tell you the difference between doing a blow out on hair that I colored versus box colored hair. It’s excruciating, difficult, and hair is breaking off every 2 seconds!

6. The outcome of box color is usually an unwanted new haircut.
Do you like your hairstyle? Whether it’s long or short…it doesn’t really matter because I’ve seen these disasters with all lengths.

Damage is almost certain with repetitive use of box color. Generally…the ends to the mid-shaft are affected, and in some extreme cases it can be worse.

We’ve all seen those dry, frizzy ends on someones hair…and there isn’t much a flat iron can do for that. There comes a point where if you want your hair to look good again-cutting a few inches off is the only option.

If you’re not ready to do a total 180 with your hair you may want to think before you pick up the box!

I have a wonderful client that I’ve been working with almost 2 years now. She would like to get professional color but she either doesn’t have time or can’t readily afford it considering the rapid growth and gray that shows. I understand that so I feel for her and we’re working to get her hair healthier. We initially had to cut a lot off, and we do regular deep conditioning treatments. With my instruction she is doing much better, but she went through a year of suffering with hair hassles.

She didn’t understand why this happened, she followed the directions, but boxes do not explain the danger of porosity. Porosity has a different meaning when it comes to haircolor so I’ll give you a short explanation and you’ll soon understand why it matters.

Which one do you have?

If you’re not sure if you’re hair is damaged beyond repair take my quiz- How Damaged Is My Hair?, to find out more about your hair’s porosity!

7. Cap highlights are an accident waiting to happen!


Not all things from the 80’s are great!

Most of you have probably heard of “polka dots” or “bleed lines”,  and you may have experienced them yourself.

This is not a pretty picture, and also not easily reversible at home. I don’t believe in cap highlighting at home or in the salon.

Sorry if I’m offending any “professional” haircolorists out there, but there is simply nothing professional about pulling hair through holes with what looks like a latch hook and slapping bleach on it.

The 80’s were great, but it’s time to move on and leave the cap behind.

Here’s an interesting tidbit about cosmetology education in the 2000’s:

Cap highlights are not even spoken of to students in most cosmetology schools. Some schools may be a little outdated and still carry and teach the cap method, but the more elite institutions don’t even consider it.

After we were taught how to foil and finished our basic color knowledge course I asked about the cap out of curiosity. My learning leader just looked at me and said…

“No, honey….no…we don’t do that anymore.”

There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t use cap highlights at home or in the salon. I hope this technique slowly slips out of all stylists and clients vocabulary!

8. You’re not going to look like the celebrities in the commercials.


I know what you’re thinking, her hair looks great!

Do you think that Eva Longoria really uses box color? NO WAY!

She pays ungodly amounts of money to a top stylist for her haircolor. Same with Gwen Stefani and Beyoncé…two other huge box color endorsers. They are getting paid thousands to endorse at home haircolor for big companies.

Sure, you want to have hair like hers, but she is paying well over the hundreds for her haircolor and you are paying $8. Yea, not going to happen.

If you want great haircolor mimicking celebrity hair icons then find a certified colorist and make an appointment!

If you’re interested in learning about why certified colorists have more satisfied clients, or would like to get certified- read my article on Becoming an Expert in Cosmetology & Beauty. Even if you’re not in the beauty industry you will love the idea behind why I am so motivated when I do what I love!

9. It may be affordable now, but not for long.


Fixing Box color can cost a pretty penny!

So, you say that you cannot afford professional color.

Well, if you can’t pay the $50 for a professional then should you really be spending $10 on a box? Probably not if your situation is that tight.

Just because you can’t afford the more expensive option doesn’t mean you can afford the lesser.

Let’s say you get a box color and the outcome is not what you expected, which is usually the case.
In fact, it’s even worse than you expected and you have a big interview or social event coming up. You may decide to grab another box and fix the problem yourself…piece-of-cake.

It’s not that easy. Now, you’re over-processed and your only option is to crawl in a salon begging for a miracle. This would be true even if you didn’t attempt at fixing it yourself.

Most salons charge $100 per hour for corrective color services, and only a few stylists generally offer  that service. Now you’re hoping to get someone that knows what they are doing and probably paying $200-$300 for the fix.

That $8 box ended up costing a lot more than you expected!

You don’t have to go to a top salon, but find a credible stylist and explain your concerns. Your stylist will work with you to come up with something affordable. I have a client with gray that only comes in every 3 months for color.

I came up with a solution that doesn’t show a huge demarcation line when it grows in, and it averages out to about $16 per month. Doesn’t sound so bad does it? It gets better…if you have solid gray hair there are products out there like colored mousses, dry shampoos, and hair markers that can stretch you to your next color service!

10. If you decide to switch it’s not going to be easy.

If you’ve ever gone to a salon for professional color after coloring your own hair for any amount of time…you know what I’m talking about!

You probably get a look that says- “Do you think I have a magic wand?”. Box color is so different from professional color, so we cannot accurately predict what may happen when we apply our color on top of box color. It’s going to be a process and you have to be patient.

The most common result is an odd shade of green shining through, or even purple. I’ve had clients come in with similar situations a few times and it’s not an easy fix. Applying color on top of color DOES NOT wipe the slate clean. You may have months or years of various pigments hiding in there and who knows which ones will pop out!

You will end up spending more money to get your hair back to normal than you would have if you had it done professionally in the first place.

I know I said ten reasons but there is one more…

11. Box “formulas” may change, but professional formulas don’t.
Box Color on Sale ClearanceHave you ever been to a Big Lots or Ollie’s…and there it is…on the top shelf- discounted box color! You get excited!
You’re already “taking a leap and going cheap”…now you’re getting it for less than you thought!

This is not a good thing.

Just like everything else at discount stores, it’s there because it is OLD or EXPIRED. Remember, that doesn’t mean that some products in grocery or superstores  aren’t expired…and still on the shelves for sale.

If you buy an old box of color there’s a good chance that it will not turn out anything like you think it will. The same goes with a “new” box color, of course.

Don’t let them fool you…companies can change their formulas but, it still looks like the same box. It may say- “New Formula!”, and the consumer just assumes it’s going to be an improvement in their favor.

It could be “improved” by changing hues or levels of developer, which means your hair isn’t going to turn out the same as it did last time. I’ve often heard…

“I don’t know what happened, it’s the same box I always get.”

You might think that you’re buying the same box of haircolor, but you’re not.

Aside from all of the obvious…I think it’s clear that the main problem with botched haircolor is the word “box”.

Hopefully many of you will be wiping that word from your vocabulary and switching over to the wonderful world of professional color! If you can’t or you’re simply happy with your box color…go over this checklist for before you color at home.

Still not sure? Here are 5 More Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Box Color!


What's your first thought when you want to change your haircolor?

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Sources: The ABCH Study Portfolio

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“I went to an expensive and reputable hairstylist, but I didn’t get the results I was looking for!”

…before you leave the comment that’s on your mind!

About The Author


Professional Hairstylist | American Board Certified Haircolorist | Makeup Artist | Beauty Blogger

418 Responses to 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color

  1. Mila says:

    This article is helpful but there’s a few things you need to edit.
    For one, Eva Longoria actually does use box color and recently did a video applying it herself at home- Straight out of the box. No deception.
    And second, a tube of pro color rarely costs more than $8, so the pricing isn’t that much different unless you also buy the developer from the same company.

    • Erika says:

      I wrote this article 9 years ago, so sure some things may not be exactly as they were then.

      Definitely not editing it because I don’t need to and here’s why:

      1) If you believe that celebrities box color their hair because of a video…okay, but I don’t. Companies use celebrities in their ads/commercials all the time, but that doesn’t mean they use that product on the person in their advertisements. In some cases that may have changed since COVID-19, but so have a lot of things. We are living in a different time and much of what is happening now is not the norm/relevant 9 years ago.

      2) Professional color prices vary(although I won’t argue that $8 is a good average price point). Does that change the fact that professional beauty supply stores are not open to the public? Is it relevant when you’re talking about how much it costs to get your hair colored professionally? No. Salon clients are paying for a service provided by a licensed professional…the price of the color has nothing to do with it(generally).

      3) Many professional color lines are formulated to work with certain types of developer and literally will not process properly without the correct developer. Depending on the size, the cost is about $15-$50.

  2. Charlie says:

    So many people are oblivious to the fact that fast hair growth shampoos (of course with no sulfates, no parabens and no DEA) even exist. We all can now enjoy longer hair and achieve more possibilities. Surely worth exploring. If you’re talking about alopecia, damaged hair, avoiding skin disorders, hair growth, hair care at large, the same principles apply. For the most part, you should try to steer clear of hair products and treatments that contain chemicals such as parabens, DEA or sulfates. What’s good for your hair is good for your skin as well. Clearly your content on this page is so useful for various reasons. It avoids the accustomed pitfalls and errors too many fall into- getting bad alternatives. Thank you so much!

    • Natalie says:

      I used to use box dyes a lot but for the passed 2 years I’ve been going to my salon. I’ve asked for blonde everytime I went my hair was a mid brown beforehand and after visiting say every 12 weeks for 2 years my colour is always the same dull brassy colour after my first home wash. And I don’t understand why my colour never lifts lighter? it tempts me to just stick a bleached blonde box dye on on but I know I don’t want to be rocking 1999 Marshall mathers

      • Erika says:

        I need to know more to give you the exact reason this is happening- so here are the possibilities and my thoughts:

        1) You need to go to a better colorist. I’m saying this assuming that you’ve expressed your concerns/expectations during your consultations(a good stylist will give you a mini consult every time even if you are a regular). There’s no reason why you can’t have lighter hair unless your hair is very dark or damaged.

        2) Your stylist is using the wrong formula/product/technique. If you’re getting an all-over color application then it can be tricky when it comes to formulation(also if you still have artificial pigment on your hair then getting a single process color will not lift out the old color). Going lighter with an all-over color application is usually only an option for people with virgin hair.

        3) If your stylist is using lightener(all-over or highlights)- the level of developer may not be strong enough to achieve the level of blonde you want. This could be because of inexperience, or if your hair is very damaged your stylist would do this to more safely lighten your hair.

        4) One thing that confuses me- you said your color gets dull and brassy after one wash…but you also said that you don’t know why your color doesn’t get lighter. So, is it okay until your first wash…or is the color never light enough?

        If you have hard water this is definitely the problem. Mineral deposits will make blonde dull and brassy very quickly depending on how hard the water is. If you have a water softener then it needs to be refilled with salt regularly(monthly in some cases). If you don’t then you can get a shower head with a filter on it(lots of my clients have these and love them). Here’s the link:
        Filtered Shower Head

        You can also do a Malibu treatment, which will remove the hard water mineral deposits. Here’s the link:
        Malibu Hard Water Kit

        • juan says:

          why does loreal blond dye box not sell in Indonesia?

          • Erika says:

            I don’t know for sure, but most likely because people from Indonesia have very dark hair. Blonde box color would turn black/dark brown hair a burnt orange or very light warm brown color(nowhere near the desired blonde that most people are looking for).

            So, it’s probably to prevent the thousands of box color accidents that would happen in your country!

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  4. H says:

    Would be nice if the article was a bit more positive for those wanting to make the change from box to salon dye. According this piece it’s going to be a horror show and now I’m scared to make the jump! I get that point 10 is probably targeted at people thinking of using a box colour for the first time (to discourage) but some readers might be in my position where they now have the funds to get it done at a salon, but feel gloomy after reading this!

    • Erika says:

      I understand what you are saying, and I wrote this to help people understand that box color isn’t as easy as 1-2-3 like the companies want consumers to believe. It should scare you a little bit…at least enough to do some research before coloring your hair with a box.

      It’s not because I want everyone to go to the salon…I understand that not everyone can afford it. I came up with this article after years of seeing clients come in(some new and some returning) because they needed help after a box color disaster. Some of these clients didn’t think they needed help…and thought their hair looked great…and some of them did look good.

      It all depends on what you are starting with and what you are trying to achieve.

      For example, if you have color on your hair and you try to change your haircolor with a box(depending on the tones/level)…it probably won’t work. BUT, if you are coloring virgin hair(hair that has never been colored before), then you have a pretty good chance of it turning out well.

      There are lots of “ifs, ands, buts, etc.” when it comes to haircolor…especially box color because it is not specifically formulated for YOU. Everyone is unique and so is their hair…

      • Mellie says:

        How is Sally’s products NOT professional exactly?? It’s the SAME THING the salon’s use… The wella wella colors, ion colors, loreal… I’m not trolling I’m wondering why you say that??

        • Erika says:

          Ion is not a professional brand.

          Wella and L’Oreal have a professional sector and a non-professional sector- both of which produce different products for separate distribution. That’s why in the salon it is called “L’Oreal Professional”, for example.

  5. Francis says:

    Nice blog post and nice comments

    • Gigi says:

      Use Sally’s dye for now to cover grey or to do at home color . It’s considered a lrofessional color line for all . Start getting haircuts to remove old box dye color and after 2 years of haircuts your hair should healthier

      • Erika says:

        Sally’s Beauty products are not professional grade…at all.

        • Melissa says:

          How is Sally’s products not professional?? It’s same products that salons use

          • Erika says:

            No, it is not the same.

            • lynda webster says:

              Well as we cant go to hair stylists atm because of the home isolation thing we dont have much choice do we

              • Erika says:

                I wrote this article in 2012, so I think your comment is a little undeserved. At the moment, I’m working on an article with tips to help people during this time that need to color their own hair as well as an instant chat link for anyone that has questions/needs help now with their hair.

                I always offer free advice for those that can’t go to the salon via the contact page.

            • Jane Chang says:

              Gigi,Melissa and Erica you are all right, Sally’s Beauty have a mixture of both professional and not professional products. And an example I usually use redken, Pravana and matrix for my toners and vivid color, but sometimes I don’t have the color, my salon is 2 Minutes walk from Sally’s, so I would grab a toner like ion Demi and ion semi vivid color. It is good, I promise you the ion permanent, Demi and semi is so gentle to your scalp and I did a highlights over an ion Demi color it lifted amazing.

              • Erika says:

                I’ve used Wella Color Charm from Sally’s on my grandma(we don’t live close to a CosmoProf or Salon Centric and she insisted). What I don’t like about it is the unpredictability…I found that the levels were off and it turned out darker with the same formula even though the level systems were identical.

                That’s one reason why I don’t trust it, but I think that people interpret what I’m saying in a negative way because that’s what they expect. The problems arise when someone doesn’t know how to properly formulate for their hair color/type and/or they have previously colored or permed hair.

  6. It’s good to know that coloring your hair by yourself can result in disaster since hair color needs to be customized for the individual. My daughter wants to dye her hair blue, and she’s wondering if she should go to a salon or do it herself. I’ll pass this information along to her so that she can go to a salon and avoid disaster.

  7. […] you would like to see other hate comments on beauty posts, check out 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color…it’s my most “controversial” post since 2011 and lots of people have […]

  8. Sara Recor says:

    Arrogant, self-righteous count, table for one.

  9. Jen says:

    I know this post is a bit old but I saw other recent comments. I will NEVER use box hair dye ever again. Only salon quality. I was dying and ruining my hair for a decade of box dye. I had to do a color correction after ‘clumps’ of hair was falling out of the shower. My hair started off very thick to thin. I’m finally getting new growth back but I wish I could of saved the hassle from a long period of damage.

    Luckily, my hair follicles weren’t permanently damaged from the hairs that did come out in clumps. I spent about $500 for color corrections, new hair color, better products, etc. But it was all worth it in the end. I’ll never go back to box dye.

    So what if you have to pay $60 for hair color in salon. It’s better quality and it doesn’t have metallic salts in the dye which damage your hair. That’s why box dye is so cheap. Not to mention box dye has potential cancer causing effects. It also includes, coal tar in product. The darker the dye, the worse it is. I’ve done a lot of research lol but I’m glad. People need to be more aware of how bad box dye really is. I think the companies should be held responsible for people’s hair getting damaged by false advertising.

    Thanks for your article! Very informative! Never again with box dye! lol 🙂

  10. Mindy says:

    I have a question. If i have a client who is a natural level 2 and has 2 inches of regrowth and the rest of the hair is a level 6 box colored with orangey/red tones. She wants PM 5VR all over. Can i do 30 vol on the regrowth and 20 vol on the rest? To even it all out

    • Erika says:

      You will most likely need to use two completely different formulas to achieve the look of 5VR. For example, her hair already pulls warm so you would use a different color to achieve the violet-red because she already has red undertones. You can use a demi-permanent color from the regrowth to the ends and permanent for the virgin hair.

  11. Corina says:

    Overall I agree with everything here! When I was like 13 or 14 I used box dyes for a few years and had no issues and my hair stayed silky and thick and healthy. The color turned out how I liked, but it was just black so it’s kind of hard to mess up haha. I DO agree though after research and seeing others experience that box dye is a no-no. But I don’t agree that you need to go and spend all that money on a stylist all the time. I use professional dye that my stylist friend gets for me and no matter what I’ve done it turns out beautiful. Black, blonde , highlights , ombré all f it turned out well but I have devoted a lot of time to perfectly my skills on this and learning from my friend. So in general I agree it’s best to go to a stylist but there a people like me that do great themselves.
    This is a great article and very well written!! Thanks for sharing !

  12. […] are many factors that haircolorists need to consider before customizing your hair […]

  13. Becky says:

    I agree with most of this except the cap. I have some clients with hair you can not foil (too short) and the cap does beautiful work.

    • Erika says:

      Yes, that’s true as long as the person using it knows what they’re doing. My school didn’t even talk about it or teach it and our learning leaders weren’t really supposed to answer questions about it(or so it seemed).

      People with medium to long hair, or that pull too heavily/in obvious areas that should be avoided like the hairline….those are the cases I’m referring to.

  14. Aaliyah says:

    I’m curious as to whether you see people who use professional colour at home? I used Elumen and have been thinking of Chromasilk – the reason I dye my hair at home is because where I am (the perks of being on a small island) there is no certified colourist, and almost no hair salons stock blue colours that don’t wash straight out again. Does the same damage happen with these? I ask because my hair has been becoming frizzier despite deep conditioning all the time (although the dye is only on the ends of my hair). The colour lasts me forever so I have only retouched it 4-6 months apart (basically just two dye jobs).

    • Erika says:

      Chromasilk is awesome! Are you going for temporary or demi/semi/permanent haircolor? I can help you choose the best product for your hair if you give me a little more detail.

  15. Meganb says:

    Goes to show how uneducated some “qualified” hair stylists are- scary stuff!

  16. jay says:

    This is a very useful pos Erika!

  17. Barbra says:

    Been using boxed hair colour for several years.
    My hairdresser loves the colour of my hair.
    Been using the hair colour from either Garnier or L’Oreal with EXCELLENT results.
    Have short blonde hair with some white hair now.
    My hair hasn’t fallen out nor has it gotten thinner.
    I’m also 58 years old now and I’ve never looked better!
    Also you can buy Swarzkopf hair colour too.
    May I suggest you do further research before you tell people not to use a boxed hair colour.
    And FYI some hairstylists really botch a hair colour and then people use the boxed hair dyes for a better result than at a salon!

    • Erika says:

      Maybe you should.

      • Paul says:

        Basically every reason comes back to, “good professionals do it better”

        But, can you site your sources? You claim most boxed hair dye ventures end badly… Please show your data on that.

        Also, any data on hair health would be appreciated. Boxed hair dye can’t always be bad unless you’re ok making blanket statements as long as they suit you.

        • Erika says:

          Everything I write is based off of my personal experiences as a professional hairstylist. I don’t write about topics that I haven’t experienced personally unless someone asks for my opinion.

          I did a lot of damage and had SOOOO many hair disasters in high school and college. I cap highlighted my hair until I literally looked so ridiculous but thought it was awesome. I went from light to dark auburn, shades of brown, etc. I even got a PERM in 10th grade after using box color….then I used another box color about a month or so later because I was unhappy with my lifeless hair.

          When I hear of women in their late 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, etc. making the SAME mistakes I did at 15 with chemically altering my own hair…I want to save them from making a really bad decision. I’m lucky that I got “the itch to change things” out of my system at a young age. It’s much easier when you don’t have to worry about adulting with a bad haircut or botched hair color.

          • peegee says:

            This article makes too many absolute conclusions. The thing about a box dye is that it depends what you are doing (especially how drastic a change you are going to make) AND how much research you undertake. Lots on the internet now to inform you to lower the risks of box dyes.
            I used to have a monthly colour in a salon as I’m close to 50% grey at the temples and a little less over the rest of my hair. For about 3 years now I have been colouring my own hair. In the 1st year the ends got damaged with me constantly dying my entire head of hair. However, thereafter I learned the technique for doing root touchups and my hair has reverted to its original healthy condition. I also switched to using Loreal Casting Creme Gloss in dark brown, which is a demi permanent but which surprisingly covers the greys and does not wash out for me. My hair colour has depth and most people are surprised when I tell them it has been coloured.

            A lot of damage can arise from using an incorrect technique based on lack of knowledge such as always pulling the hair colour through, or not knowing the difference between dying virgin hair vs previously dyed hair, or dying over chemically treated hair too soon. I.E. It is not the box per se as even professional dye would have the same consequences.

            • Erika says:

              Yea, I get that…and I also mention that all of this depends on the circumstances. This article is not about other things that can go wrong or cause damage when you get your hair done professionally or DIY. It’s about what CAN happen when you use box color.

              Everyone has a story about how they had a bad experience in the salon or with at-home hair color. Everyone is different, which is why what works for you may not work for someone else and some people are looking for answers.

            • Becky says:

              I work in a salon that’s budget friendly and understand not everyone can afford 45 dollars a month for a root touch up. I inform all of my self coloring clients to just do their roots and pull through every couple of months to retouch 🙂 I know box isn’t the best but hey not everyone can afford professional!

              • Erika says:

                I agree with you there! Some people can and want to, others can’t or would rather do it themselves. I’m not knocking it totally…and I have given advice to clients on the best way to do it if they’re going to use box color.

    • Rae says:

      You should really be the one doing your research instead of telling a hairstylist of all people to do hers. Most color corrections and chemical cuts come from at home jobs. These almost always come into a salon looking disastrous and take tons of time to correct. Most hairstylists will cringe at the sound of their client confessing to a box dye job as this almost always means we have to take the time to strip your hair before applying the correct color. This can take anywhere from days, to weeks and even months to do when it could have been avoided in the first place had you not decided something that requires almost a year of schooling and a state regulated license was easy enough to do at home. We almost always notice when you do your hair at home as the undertones and texture aren’t near as flattering as you think when you come in. Hair coloring is no walk in the park and there’s a reason it requires at least 11 months of school, a state test and a license to do. It’s all chemistry, formulations, calculations and color wheels. Telling a hairstylist to do her research after stating how terrible box dyes are, as would any hairstylist when they hear the words “box dye”, while you have zero experience or education in the field, is actually an insult to her education, career and hard work as well as being somewhat offensive.

  18. Hair Cuttery Places Near Me | Best Hair Spa Guide says:

    […] 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color – Surprisingly, I get a lot of clients that look at me puzzled when I say that box color is bad for their hair! I’ve always known this to be common knowledge and a … […]

  19. elaine says:

    I have been using ‘box’ color for nearly 30 years. I have straight very thin hair. My color comes out the same every time I use it…I get it at Walmart for $6.99…I have had to switch blondes over the years maybe 3 times when they changed/discontinued a color, but that has not mattered…HOWEVER…I see a big difference between say Garnier Nutrisse (my preferred color currently) and the very cheapest $3.00 stuff, but I have a friend that has thicker naturally curly gray hair that has been using the cheapest stuff in a red shade and it always looks great. My mom has been trying to get ‘auburn’ hair her whole life and been to many salons and it NEVER comes out the way she wants and she has paid $80 before. Her hair has gray and is also very thin and fine like mine.

  20. Jennifer Boswell says:

    Hi, I enjoyed your article re box dyes. I’ve had horror stories about using boxed and bleach from Sally’s. It was enough to send me to the salon. I had a fantastic stylist that helped me achieve the medium ash blondewith light highlights. Then I moved out of state and the hair dresser I use now was good in the beginning and suddenly my hair has been turning very copper. Its horrible and I try to tell her without hurting her feelings and she never fixes it. She claims my hair is just too dark to get the ash I desire. My hair is awful now and I don’t know what to do. I’m looking into different stylists but she’s the only one that works around my busy schedule. Is there anything I can do to take out the copper and reds? Thanks so much!

  21. Natalia says:

    Hi! Im thinking of dying my hair darker… right now its a light to medium brown, but I want it around 2 shades darker. I asked mi madre and she said that I should try a temporary dye to see if i like how i look or not, so she told me to use box dye.. Im nervous because I do not want my hair to be really damaged. It is soft, thin and very oily… but if i go to a hair stylist they might color my hair and i might not like how it looks on me. Should i use the temporary box dye? Thank you for this article!

    • Erika says:

      Do you have any color on your hair right now, or have you highlighted your hair in the last year? Previous chemical services are what make box color more complicated….aside from choosing the wrong shade and over-using box color.

      I prefer demi-permanent hair color for someone like you because it’s not a huge commitment if you don’t like it. You’ll also preserve some of your natural dimension, which looks so much better than one flat hair color(usually the case with permanent box color kits).

      Which temporary box color do you plan on using? If I know what you’re thinking about using I can give you better advice about how it will turn out! Thanks for reading and I’ll keep an eye out for your reply!

  22. Kim says:

    Great post. I fried my hair with box dye in high school thinking I could dye my whole head every time.

    I have a question for you. I’ve been coloring my hair at home with Wella Color Charm from Sally’s and would like to switch to getting it done professionally. I’m a former natural strawberry blonde faded to blonde with some white. I mix 8GR 50/50 with 8G with 20 volume developer and love the color. When I asked my stylist about getting my hair colored in the salon she said I can’t do that color because Redken doesn’t have the same colors. I don’t want to change my hair color. Do I have to find a different salon that carries a different line or is there a way to achieve my color?

    • Erika says:

      You can go to a salon that uses Redken. A GOOD haircolorist will know how to create that color with any brand. We use Redken at Ulta Beauty and there are tons of ways to formulate that color.

      It’s hard to say exactly what should be used without seeing your hair and knowing more information, but I would consult with someone else if I were you. We definitely have 8GR and 8G in Chromatics….there are also some colors in Color Fusion that will come out beautifully!

      • Kim says:

        Thank you so much for your response! It was very helpful and I’ll definitely consult with someone else.

        • Erika says:

          Your welcome! Thanks for reading!

          If you’re not sure where you start, you can search for an American Board Certified Haircolorist in your area here. Even if you don’t have your hair colored by that person….a consultation will tell you so much! Good luck!

          • Leesa says:

            I used the link to try to find a certified colorist in my area. Turns out there are only four in my state! The closest one is 65 miles away.
            What does this mean for me and my hair exactly? People get their hair colored here all the time, and several salons in my city charge hundreds of dollars to do it.
            Does a certification in your field necessarily mean that the hair colorist is better or that I should trust them more? Am I going to have to learn to live with my gray-blonde hair at 24?

            • Erika says:

              Certified Haircolorists(ABCH) are the absolute BEST haircolorists! Some people claim to be certified haircolorists, but they are only certified in things like Redken color…ABCH is completely different.

              I suggest searching on instagram using different tags like “highlights” or “haircolorist” then see what pops up in the “near me” results. That’s a great way to find a haircolorist if you don’t have any personal recommendations from friends or family. Also, if there’s an Ulta Beauty near you….we always have really good coupons and offers for the salon.

      • Candy says:

        Ulta are responsible for my fear of going to another hair salon for color. They were the last straw for me, every time I wanted a “professional ” to do my color, they messed it up. I have been doing my own color since I was 13 , I’m 33 now. I went to Ulta, thinking I was getting the best, I wanted my hair lightened and Pravana unnatural purple, blue, turquoise and pink tips. I had done it myself but, it had faded and was due for a refreshed look. The only thing different that the colorist had to do was lightened as to make it more vibrant and add the pink tips as I didn’t have that before. She wasn’t able to lighten it enough and the colors were so dark, it looked black, like a midnight blue and the pink was nonexistent. When I say “they” in the beginning of my post, I don’t mean that only Ulta, even though they were the last salon that I went to. I paid $120 For a color that didn’t even show up. I reluctantly went back to complain and the head stylist or manager offered to fix it, she even told me that she would order Oleplex to do exactly what I wanted, so I agreed. I go in for my appointment and she wanted to put a couple streaks of bleach towards the ends of my hair, so none of what she told me that she would do even happened. No Oleplex, no lightening of the rest of my hair was done, she lied. Apparently she was having a bad and stressful day and didn’t feel like doing all that work and not receiving any money for it herself. That’s why I do my own color, my 3 daughter’s and this weekend I’m doing a friend of my daughter’s, because she loved my work. I’ve had people stop me to complement on my hair. I so wanted the professionals to work because I have a bad back now but, I unfortunately have to do it.

        • Erika says:

          Is “Ulta” responsible, or is that specific salon/stylist responsible for your unpleasant experience? Like I’ve said before…there are good and bad apples everywhere.

          It sounds like your hair was dark when you went in for your appointment. Was it previously colored or natural? It can take a few appointments to SAFELY lighten your hair to the level needed for Pravana Vivids(unless your hair is virgin or in good shape). It’s also much harder on your hair if you’re lightening the tips rather than doing a few “peek-a-boos” of vibrant color. If your hair had been colored one or more times before attempting to lighten it then your ends would be even harder to lift.

          That doesn’t change the fact that your stylist let you down, but the error is in the consultation. Your stylist should have asked you for your hair history and told you the reality of the results you would get. This happens a lot with vibrant colors because your hair needs to be very light. Your stylist should also dry your hair before applying the Pravana Vivids color or it will not work as well.

          About Olaplex…
          It’s great, but if your hair is really damaged then it’s not going to work miracles. There’s a big misconception around this product, and while it’s great at preventing more damage…it works best if it’s used from the start. It can’t reverse damage that’s already been done.

          Also, I don’t know when you went to an Ulta Salon, but we do not carry Olaplex and it’s not available to order. We offer a similar add-on service by Redken. It’s called a pH-Bonder and is very similar to Olaplex.

  23. Lynn says:

    Erika I have a big THANK YOU and also some QUESTIONS for you!

    A while back I asked you about going from a mix of box color (I’d used it to go back to my natural color after getting streaks throughout of fantasy color, it matched my color perfectly, but I hadn’t realized what a pain it was to get out) and dark natural color (not blue black but brown black) to a fantasy color (purple) and you gave me some great recommendations for some between-salon visits fantasy color dyes to use since fantasy colors fade after SO few shampoos! I’ve tried a few of your recommendations, all great, mostly just color preference.

    When I went to my colorist – she had to strip the boxed color from my ends (your blog was what stopped me from trying to do that myself, thanks!) and it took us quite some time to get that out and get my natural color out as well. It took MUCH longer than normal, according to both my colorist and common sense, to get the color out. We decided to do it “hombre”, not throughout, so that 1) damage could be cut out more easily if I got tired of it and 2) upkeep would be simpler for re-applying the color as frequently as would be necessary to maintain it.

    So, after stripping the color out my hair is definitely damaged – not so damaged that I have to cut it all off, but… noticeably drier on the ends than it was before. I will just note here that the boxed color left it shiny and it was definitely the stripping it out that damaged it, in case anyone else finds that useful. Had I just wanted to go back to my natural color and then leave it alone – it probably would have been fine.

    What I’m doing so far to attempt to minimize the damage is… I’ve been using per your recommendation the It’s a 10 hair mask and leaving it in a bun (for a few hours a week while I’m doing something else) and washing only the roots when they are dirty and not the rest of the hair. Of course I’m using color-safe shampoo. I’m also using dry shampoo so that I don’t have to wash my hair as often when possible, and try to use cooler / warm (but not hot) water.

    Questions! 1) is there anything else I can do to condition the hair and mitigate the damage? I’ve tried some “oil pack” type things and just ended up oily so I wanted to see if you might recommend anything else, since I’ve had great luck with all of your recommendations 2) For the last 6 months I’ve been using a product called overtone ( that claims to be a vegan fantasy color depositing conditioner. That has REALLY kept the color beautifully (and has helped me save some money), I have to say. I DID tell my colorist about it and she was FINE with it and even impressed by the vibrancy of the color which was very close to the custom color that she mixes. Their purple is really vibrant and lasts through more shampoos than the dyes, no kidding. This seems odd to me, since it’s supposedly NOT a dye, but is a color depositing conditioner. I don’t really understand the difference. It doesn’t smell chemical-y, but rather minty and fresh. (I like the weekly conditioner, the daily is just meh, doesn’t do much). Is this safe to use? How is a depositing conditioner different from a dye? Why do I care if it’s vegan? It seems every company touts that. And finally, 3) I’ve started to grow out enough that it is time to have some more color taken out of the natural colored hair to “add” to the hombre at the ends… any tips to mitigate the damage or questions I should ask my colorist about what she is using to lift the color? When we did it last I was sitting for a while under the dryer and it took two applications to lift it out. I’m assuming we wouldn’t do the ends now and risk more damage, but would head the the middle non-purple bits. I just wanted to make sure I’m the one who damaged my hair by using the boxed color and making her take the color out – and that it wasn’t something that she did! Thank you so much for your time and expertise.

    BTW, when I watch everyone getting super defensive here I always want to say – ok, ok, she’s not saying it’s bad for everyone! You also very VERY graciously said that it WAS FINE to use it to cover a few grays I get around the temples… it’s much cheaper and as long as I’m not looking to change colors and it’s just a little bit, it was ok to save the money. I feel as though you’re balancing practicality here with just warning people so that they know WHEN it’s ok to risk it and when NOT to – like when you’re lifting color or making a drastic change… PAY A PROFESSIONAL!

    • Erika says:

      First of all, thanks for your comments! I’ll try to address all of your concerns, so if I leave anything else please let me know! Ombré is great when it comes to low maintenance hair color because you don’t need a retouch as often. The downside is that lightening your mid to ends is more damaging than lightening new growth(like with highlighting). It’s especially damaging when color needs to be removed(like what you had to do). That’s not to say that it can’t be done, but the process should be approached with caution and patience. Also, removing any darker hair color(box or salon) will do a number on your hair, but most people are willing to accept the damage to get the hair they want 🙂

      1)It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask is amazing, and it’s a great start! When my hair was damaged in school it was a lifesaver! I used it with their leave-in treatment(daily after towel-drying my hair). Depending on the level of damage….reversing it is really up in the air…and sometimes not possible. You can make it better and repair your hair, but some damaged hair just has to be cut off. In some cases that’s better because you can avoid splitting and start growing it back out faster than if you “hold on” to the damaged hair.

      There isn’t much else that you can do besides avoiding heat, using repair products(like Redken Extreme Anti-Snap…a classic go-to for damaged hair), and deep conditioning.

      2)Color conditioners are fine….they are different because they are “deposit only”. They just coat the hair with pigment where “dyes” rely on a chemical process to open the hair cuticle and pack it with pigment. That’s how damage happens with repeated coloring/lightening…

      3)If you feel less than confident about what your colorist is doing then it doesn’t hurt to ask….the same goes for someone you trust. Personally, I do not recommend using heat to lighten the hair….in ANY circumstance. It’s more damaging and it isn’t necessary. Stylists use heat to speed up the lightening process to save time, and speeding up the process promotes damage. Slowly is safely….that’s my motto!

      I would suggest a “bleach wash” because it’s easier on the hair. It’s slow, but it works more safely(if color placement allows for this type of lightening technique). Next time….if there is a next time…I would request a color remover rather than using lightener/bleach to lift the color from the hair. Paul Mitchell has a color remover called “Back Track”, it’s more effective and it’s safer than other methods of lifting hair color.

      You didn’t necessarily do the damaging….most of it probably happened when your hair was lifted. This confuses people because they think that professionally means avoiding damage. Professionals can do it more safely, but whether it be in the salon or at home…lifting hair color will cause damage in every case…..the difference is how much damage and how even your hair color will turn out.

  24. Annie says:

    I’ve been coloring my hair for years, and ok with it, except my hair grows fast and the roots are grey in 10 days or less……so I’ve decided to let it go grey… I have to grow it out, or is there an easier way to get to my own color (grey) hopefully it’ll be white if I’m lucky, the roots always look white…..Hairdresser said I cannot die it grey….??

    • Erika says:

      No, we can’t color it gray. If you go to a haircolorist they will give you a number of options that work, but will have you coming back every month or so. A gray reduction is the BEST option, but few hairstylists(other than American Board Certified Haircolorists) will suggest that as the best option.

      I’ve even tried to get the girls in my salon to do it and they don’t understand it, so they go with the easy route-like coloring with a demi permanent or doing a highlight. Those options are okay for some people-like those that want to go lighter, but not gray yet.

      A gray reduction is when you get low-lights of the color you’ve been using to cover your gray. Your stylist will do it a little heavier the first time, and after that keep doing less and less foils until you’re there. Some tips for your stylist…always weave, don’t slice;use cool to neutral colors unless your artificial color is very warm.*This does not mean that the formulation should always be cool to neutral! They should formulate for a neutral result.

      • Lynda says:

        I use a box colour to remove grey roots once every 6 or 8 weeks i have mainly blonde hair so it blends well not everyone has a disaster with box colour and as im 60 yrs am on a small pension cant afford a hair colourist so do it myself or one of the family helps

        • Erika says:

          Yes, as I stated in the article….it can work for some people with certain types of hair if the RIGHT shade is chosen and it is applied properly. Most people are not as fortunate as you are. Someone with brown hair that needs to cover gray will have trouble with color matching, hot roots, dullness, etc.

          I have a client that recently went through a divorce and she needs to cut back on spending, so she box colors her hair. She stopped by the salon and told me the troubles she was having with the box color and I gave her a few pointers for better results. Many people read this article and miss the point- thousands of women out there are ruining their hair on a daily basis and this information is meant to prevent those disasters.

  25. Jesse says:

    I so agree with everything you have said here! I dyed my hair with box dye for years and I could not figure out why I kept using light colors but my hair kept getting darker and darker then I learned about color buildup! I had to get a bleach cap done to break up all that old yucky color and then my wonderful stylist put a good healthy natural looking color on with some beautiful highlights that looked so natural. I was like night and day!! Don’t ever kid yourself into thinking your are saving money by doing this at home. You can stretch your salon visits out longer than you think because the color is SO much better. It lasts longer, it doesn’t damage and the line of demarcation is softer (my opinion). Just invest in a decent shampoo and filter your water if its hard or has a lot of chemicals and you are good to go!! You will never ever regret it not even on the tightest of budgets.

    • Erika says:

      Thanks for your comment!This is SO true and there are many more out there just like you.

      Did you “get lucky” and happen to find a great haircolorist to fix your color, or did you do research and schedule a consultation to find someone you could trust? Most of the negative comments I read are from people that say a stylist has “ruined” their hair and that they can do it better with a box. I just wish everyone would take their time and find a true haircolorist….that would prevent many bad experiences from happening!

      Color correction is very expensive, but there are ways to get great haircolor at a decent price! For example….at my salon we have a $60 cut and color special Monday-Wednesday with a Designer I or Designer II. Lots of our clients take advantage of that special so they can be pampered and have great haircolor!

      Here’s the online booking link for those of you that live near an Ulta!

      • tracycoach says:

        It’s the finding the good colourist that can be expensive – and if you’re a recent ex-pat it’s even harder! I’m in Andalucía where almost every local has warm skin tones/hair colours, and it suits them – I’ve got a pink skin tone and always got ashier-than-you’d-think colours in the salon as after a couple of weeks my hair would ‘warm up’/keep the red tones longer. My long-term hairdresser – now retired – told me I’ve ‘diffused pigmentation’; it took him years to get used to how my hair worked with colour but we got there! A new hairdresser then gave me a horrible reddish brown colour 2 years ago – tried to fix it and same thing happened. I’d warned him/his colleagues who consulted about the need to over-correct on the ash side and they didn’t believe me ’til they saw the results – twice. So, hating my colour, I decided to experiment and bleach my hair – knew I couldn’t keep it for very long but figured I couldn’t be worse off (worst case I’d cut it all off, tho’ short does not really suit me). I loved it, but for the sake of my hair’s health started growing it out 7 months ago. I went to a Spanish hairdresser’s last week on a friend’s recommendation and asked for a brown very close to my natural colour for easy maintenance (I’d considerable virgin hair regrowth – I think it’s a 6.1 or .2 or 7.1 or 2, depending on brand). I showed him a photo of a girl with brown hair with distinct beach-blonde highlights for a bit of texture and asked if I could have that, he said yes. I was expecting there to be 2 different dye jobs on the virgin regrowth and bleached parts – ash brown on the former (I asked for ‘cool brown’ and explained my hair would warm up in the weeks after a colour) and a process of re-adding blonde and red tones before brown tones on the bleached bits. Instead, he put an all-over warm brown and then a load of highlights which has resulted in long copper roots (that 7 months’ regrowth) and a kind of muddy blonde on the lengths. I’m gutted, it’s worse than the original warm brown that led me to bleach it, and I wasted 7 months of wearing a ponytail constantly to get to a point where I could get it fixed. I’ve to create a load of videos for my business (and music) and don’t want to do those whilst I’m feeling like I don’t look like myself!

        He was a friend of a friend, and is a nice guy, but I’m concerned that after dismissing my concerns (I said straight off that the brown going on looked too red and he said it woudln’t come out red – everyone is commenting now on my ‘new red hair’) he told me he preferred the warmer colour as it adds ‘vibrancy’. It certainly would on many other people but it does not suit me at all; I’m 39 and I know what suits me (and my wardrobe) and it took many long years to get a process that worked. I asked for a cooling toner and he said he couldn’t do that because it would make the bleached parts grey (probably right, tho’ the highlights he put on top of the reddish brown all-over colour on top of the bleach have confused me) and possibly break off. He said to come back in a month and try again – I’m distrustful because he didn’t discuss with me what he was planning/doing and dismissed my concerns (I said when he started adding the brown that it looked too red and he insisted it was fine) and said that as my stylist he was recommending warm colours. If he’d told me at the start he ‘preferred’ warm colours and was going to give me that, I’d have asked for just the cut and kept regrowing.

        …So, I bought a Garnier colour sensation permanent box dye today, 6.0. I’m hoping the reddish brown he’s put in all over could act as the ‘phase 1’ of restoring the bleach to brown, and that it’s neutral enough that it’ll ashen down the long roots. I wish wholeheartedly I had a hairdresser I trust, but since I don’t, it’s hard not to just go with the box. How can I find a colourist who understands my ‘foreign’ hair without a lot of expensive trial and error? Not to mention travel – I’m in the back end of nowhere, the nearest big city is Seville, 2 hours away. How much of a risk when I already hate my hair is it to go for a neutral brown box job? (Sorry for the long post, but I’d love your professional opinion!)

        • Erika says:

          Thanks for your comment! It’s especially hard when you’re in a country where certain hair types and colors are dominant. One of my clients lived in Guatemala for 4 years and in her last year there she found a hairdresser from the U.S. that could give her the highlights she was looking for! Before that, she tried several places, and she knew that they just weren’t familiar with blonde/lightening the hair. She did not blame them, but it was frustrating!

          Military bases are a great place to find a haircolorist if your abroad. Try connecting with moms in military Facebook groups or blogs. A lot of them know a hairstylist that works from home(they do that because they move too often to settle down at a salon). It may take time, but the internet will be your friend in this case 🙂

          I’m about to head into the salon, so I will write more later this week! Thanks so much for reading!

        • Erika says:

          Hold off on the box if you haven’t done it yet….if you can send me a photo of your hair I will let you know if that’s your best bet. It is possible to go to a more neutral, light brown from blonde, but the hair must be “filled” first. The reddish brown is going in the right direction, but it won’t totally work. From blonde, you would need to color your hair a level 7 copper(seriously orange). Then you can color your hair the desired neutral to cool brown without ashy/gray tones. The color needs something to “hold on to”, which is what the copper will do.

          • tracycoach says:

            Hi Erika! I’m so sorry – I didn’t set up notification properly and so didn’t see your replies. Happy Christmas/New Year? 🙂 Thanks so much for reading – mine was a very long comment..!

            I still haven’t attempted to fix my hair, as I’ve kept oscillating between going back to the hairdresser or using the box dye(s)! I’m with you in principle, but the ‘how much worse could it be’ is strong too… Here’s a current pic – you can see how much redder the dye was than I’d hoped!


            I have both the Garnier Color Sensation 6.0 (Rubio Oscuro/Dark Blonde) and a Wella Kolestint 7.0 (Rubio Mediano/Medium Blonde) – both Spanish brands, don’t know if the colour scale is different. Looking at Wella Koleston charts online I think I’m maybe a 5 rather than a 6, not sure…

            Anyway, would love your thoughts if you’re still happy to look at the pic! need to fix one way now it’s had a few months’ rest. 3 colours and none of ’em nice… sheesh. 🙂

            Thanks again,

            • Erika says:

              Hi Tracy!

              What do you want your end result to look like?

              • tracycoach says:

                Hi Erika, not sure if my reply’s not posted or is in moderation! This was the photo I gave the hairdresser:

                …but for handiness’ sake, would be happy with something like:

                Thanks for your quick reply! 🙂

                • Erika says:


                  I think that hair color is possible to achieve….professionally….but it most likely will not happen the first time. You may need to do this in phases so your hair doesn’t get too damaged(first appointment now, second late March/early April). The second photo wasn’t available, so it may have been taken off Pinterest.

                  It’s hard to tell from the photo you sent me of your hair, but it looks like you’re about a natural level 5…artificial level 6,7, & 8. If you’ve box colored your hair more than 1-2 times then it may be more difficult to achieve the look you want. It also depends on whether or not your hair was color from roots to ends every time, or if the regrowth only was colored. In most at home box color situations the hair was colored all-over multiple times(it’s hard to lift out and there are often multiple artificial undertones unless the same color was used).

                  I’ve lifted box color out of a clients hair and instead of getting a copper-gold color it came up green! We couldn’t get it all the way out until a few weeks later and when I tried to cover up the green the hair would not take the color because it was so porous. I had to use a temporary color(it’s like a stain) to cover the green hues….so that’s what I’m talking about when I say that you never know what you’re going to get.

  26. tainawi says:

    I dye my hair black, no matter which brand it becomes black, I use non-ammonia (ammonia itches). It does say to dye only roots first in every box. My hair is very shiny with no split ends ever (I cut it a couple of times a year). Maybe North-european thin glass-like hair is so different from other types. I would not use box color to my daughters type 3 mixed hair.

    • Erika says:

      I know someone just like you! She used to be our receptionist at Bubbles Salon and she would rarely let us cut her hair….and I don’t even think we ever colored it! She didn’t like to hang around after work and it’s hard to mess up black hair, so she did it herself.

      Definitely apply on the regrowth only and feather through the demarcation line for the last 5 minutes or so. That way you’ll keep damage to a minimum and your ends will not get awkwardly darker than your new growth to mid.

  27. Abbi says:

    So I was wondering if it would be rude to ask my stylist about using a vegan semi- permanent hair dye called artic fox at home. My hair is currently virgin. I dont plan on bleaching it but just applying it over. The dye doesnt have any ammonia or anything else bad in it. It is also known for being non-damaging and conditioning.

    • Erika says:

      I don’t think it’s rude….I get asked questions like that all the time! I just give them my advice to help them make an educated decision. If you have truly virgin hair then I would not color it at home…or at all. You’ll regret it later if it doesn’t turn out, then you’ll have to fix it, then it’ll be damaged…the cycle just keeps going.

  28. […] hue and shine for a smaller cost than getting a full color. Taking matters into your own hands with home dye can produce less than stellar results, so it’s best to consult your hair stylist. Then before you […]

  29. Michele says:

    Oh my god! Thank you! Color correction is the most frustrating thing I’ve dealt with. Not a lot of people really know what it takes to fix a color that the outcome is almost unknown.

  30. Lily says:

    Not coloring my hair anymore is the best thing I’ve ever done. It took a long time to grow it out, but virgin hair feels so nice. Not sure what I’ll do when it starts turning gray but hopefully that’s at least a decade away. I used to use box color on a regular basis and my hair was completely ruined for a long time. I had to keep cutting it short which I didn’t like. It probably made it worse that I changed the color all the time instead of sticking with one. The only color I will use now is a streak or two of Manic Panic or hair chalk.

    • Erika says:

      Thanks for your comment! Natural hair is a great idea, especially if you don’t have any gray yet. When the time comes, you should look into “gray reduction” haircoloring techniques rather than all over color application. Gray reduction coloring doesn’t need to be touched up as often and it seamlessly blends your gray with your natural haircolor!

  31. […] Beauty Supply please contact me for more information! You may also be interested in reading 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color and Should I Box Color My Hair At […]

  32. Carolyn says:

    Erika, I was just wondering, I have really really dark brown hair and I want to get some lighter highlights today at 5pm for the summer, I was thinking maybe a strawberry blonde since reddish colors are my FAVORITE!!! Do you think that would look okay. I have really fair colored skin, blue eyes, and dark dark drown hair.

  33. Yanna says:

    Thank you for answering my question. It’s tempting to sometimes want to go in and buy box dye but I’ll stick to professional dye.

  34. Yanna says:

    I stumbled upon this article because I wanted to know the difference between professional hair color vs box hair dye. I read the article and all it pretty much talked about was how the results can be different…that’s it.
    I started with box hair dye and always had a dark brown color. I wanted to go lighter after several year and it was a long process. My hair was extremely healthy and thick throughout every process except for the last stages of going lighter. After cutting a good chunk of my hair off I decided to stay with a brown color. My hair stylist would buy me hair dye and developer and I’d have my sister do it for me. My hair was finally going back to how it first started. I don’t use box hair dye any more I use professional hair dye and developer and I don’t see a difference except in price. At a store professional hair dye cost $8 and developer is a few buck but then stylist would charge anywhere from $40-100 just to dye hair one solid color. It’s not like I’m asking them to apply any skills, just for them to mix it and slap that stuff on. So when stylists say it’s better to dye your hair at a salon, it’s like ok I’m sure a lot of people would if they didn’t charge an arm & a leg and expect a tip on top of that.
    So I still want to know the difference, chemically and physically.

    • Jessica says:

      Sure – we could charge you $8. No problem at all. Except that you’d be sitting in the dark because we couldn’t pay the electric bill. We wouldn’t be able to shampoo your haircolor out because we couldn’t pay the water bill. Instead of sitting in a salon chair – you’d be sitting on the floor because we couldn’t pay our booth rental.

      Think before you comment.

    • Erika says:


      Thank you for your feedback! Professional hair color vs. box dyes is a very broad topic, so I’m going to give you a few bullet points on the chemical and physical differences.

      When I read your comment this morning I realized there may be lots of other readers with similar questions! So, I’m writing a post with more in-depth information on why professional hair color and box dyes are different. I will share it with you later today when i’m finished 🙂 ….in the meantime here are a few facts about pro vs. home hair color:

      -Ammonia content is much higher in box hair color, so it is more damaging than professional hair color.
      -Peroxide levels are higher and cannot be customize to your needs with box color. Professional color enables the colorist to choose the correct level for their client. Haircolorists rarely use the highest level of developer whereas box hair color usually contains the highest levels whether you need it or not. Peroxide is what damages the hair.
      -Box hair dyes often turn out inconsistent where professional hair color does not

      *Keep in mind that all of these factors are true as long as a salon professional is using hair color products PROPERLY.
      For example: If you have very dark brown hair and want to be a light/medium neutral brunette then your haircolorist must use the proper level and tone of hair color with a strong enough developer to achieve the desired results without over-processing(damaging) the hair. If you were to try it at home you would not be able to predict the outcome based on facts because the box does not tell you what the “formula” is. Everyone just looks at the “results on light/medium/dark hair” photos and that’s all you can do when it comes to choosing a box hair color.

      ❤Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for the post later today!

  35. Becca says:

    This article is super judgemental and negative, and there is a lot of harsh defensiveness in the comments as well. Also, the part about spending 10 dollars when 50 is too much is incredibly rude.

    • Erika says:

      It’s all in how you read it. Some people don’t know the pros and cons of using box color, and that’s what this article is for. I do not judge those that use box color…I even have other articles to help those that do use box color because I understand that some people can’t afford quality salon services, they don’t have time to go to a salon, or they’re simply happy with their box color. It does work for some people, but the box color industry misleads consumers into thinking that it’s easy and that it will not damage your hair.

      So, hairstylists are naturally defensive about this subject because the general public does not understand how much skill and education goes into being a truly great colorist. I think it’s worse to read comments from those that are not licensed cosmetologists that say our skills are of no value. Hair colorists are proud of their craft and they respect those in other industries whether they think they can do it themselves or not. I wrote this article because I have had clients that come in complaining about their dry, frizzy hair as a result of box color. They think it looks fine, but they’re ruining their hair and they never want me to cut much off(even though that’s the only way to fix very damaged hair). Call it judgmental and negative if you want, but being straightforward and blatantly honest is really the only way to get through to people sometimes.

      There’s a comment on this article from a professional baker. She states that she understands my points and knows that it’s not about whether she uses box color or not. She gets offended when people say that they can just as easily make a cake from a box that will be just as good as hers and/or look comparable to hers. If I could not afford one of her cakes I still would not say that my box cake is just as good or better than her professional cake. I know it’s not as good, but I’m okay with that because it’s cheaper….doesn’t mean it’s better.

    • Eva says:

      Yes I agree.

  36. […] are all valid questions that should not be taken lightly! As I’ve mentioned in 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color…it’s not always going to turn out the way you think it […]

  37. Olyvia says:

    I do not agree with everything stated in this article. I have been using box dye for years.. My hair is thick shiny and healthy. I even get asked where I get my hair done by many people. I have also paid A LOT of money to get my hair dyed in NY,NY by Ashley Ferrett at the John Frieda salon. And my hair comes out beautiful! The point is, I couldn’t even tell the difference lol I’ll stick with box dye, it does the job and looks professional on MY hair. I will agree with what you said about everyone having different hair, but just know box dye looks wonderful and works well on mine! So no its not a horrible thing for everyone lol

    • Erika says:

      So, you’re telling me…a certified haircolorist…that I should “just know that box dye is wonderful”? That’s kinda funny.

      There’s a big difference between professional hair color and box hair color. You don’t have to understand why, but that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong.

  38. Sarah says:

    I agree with both sides of this blog. There really is no right or wrong here. Professionals generally know what they are talking about. My hairstylist/colorist often told me about hair porosity, chemicals, and things like that. But she said that if I used a boxed color, which I have since I was 15, that as long as I “moisturize moisturize moisturize” then I would be okay. She was right. Have there been times where my hair has been frizzy or untamed because of hair bleach and box color? Of course. (It’s mostly due to my impulsive streak, because I get impatient and dye it when I’m not supposed to. Luckily for me, this has only happened a few times).And it’s easily fixable if your hair is not too damaged. A few good deep conditioning agents for a few weeks and your hair SHOULD be back to normal–or as close as you can get anyway if you use a box color.
    As long as you take of your hair, read up on everything about hair care, talk to your hairstylist, then you should be alright. If you don’t follow the directions with boxed color, yes it will mess up. I haven’t been to my hairstylist for a coloring in a LONG time. It’s not that I don’t trust her with my hair (I go to her to have it CUT LOL), it’s just I’d rather do it at home and take care of it that way. I know the chemicals are bad for my hair, but as long as you take care of it, then there really isn’t any reason not to use box color or go to a salon to have it done. It’s really a case of “either or”.

    • Erika says:

      Thank you for your comment! It’s great to hear from someone that understands that I’m trying to educate people about box color!

      I get so many e-mails and comments asking for help because of chemical damage(color or perms)…it’s from box color users as well as bad salon colors. I feel that this information helps the public to make an educated decision before choosing a method of coloring their hair.

      A lot of people take it personally and think that I’m shunning them for using box color. Or, they say they’ll never trust another hairstylist to color their hair because of one bad experience. Not all haircolorists are great, and not all box color is either!

  39. […] 1. If your hair was darker than the color that you chose then it absolutely will not wash out. It’s just not chemically possible to go lighter without peroxide. The box is lying. […]

  40. Alma says:

    I am currently in cosmetology school and I have a client who has box color, she wants me to bleach it to do an ombré. But I’m scared that I am going to fry her hair. Would it be safer if I coat the hair with a professional hair color and then bleach it ?? Or what do you recommend.

    • Erika says:

      If you were to put professional hair color on her hair before bleaching it that would not be “safer”. It would only make it harder to achieve the ombré look. The more someone has colored their hair the harder it is to lighten.

      You need to ask her…..
      1)How many times she has box colored her hair.
      2)If she applies the color from roots to ends every time.

      You need to consider….
      1)How dark her hair is. If it is darker than a level 6 then you may have to use a stronger developer with the lightener to get to a desirable shade. In some cases you can use a level 10 or 20 developer to safely lighten the hair and reapply if it doesn’t get light enough. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be damage…it’s just better than using 30 or 40 volume.
      2)The color may be inconsistent after lightening. You don’t know if she evenly saturated her hair when she colored it. You don’t know if she used different colors or products. Her hair may be porous, which will also give you an inconsistent result. (In this case the client needs to know that you will have to tone it to achieve an even and beautiful color. This may be a shade or two darker than your client is expecting, so explain to her that it’s a process)
      3)Damage will happen.

      • Stephanie c says:

        Do you know any good Sally products good to use?, I had red hair before, then used color oops a color remover to remove my red hair which did. I got it left with an orange and dyed it with a box dye that I didn’t know box dyes had contained some red undertones, well after that I went to a hair salon on which the girl left me with 4 different colors when I had told her to simply remove the brown dye on top and cancel out the red, anyways I had contacted another salon and this girl worked magic! She canceled out the red and added cool undertones, making my hair look better than before. Right now I’m not financially ready to go to a salon and achieve a dark brown hair color, my roots are starting to peel in a lot, and I’ve heard there’s great Sally products to achieve a color you want you just need to know how much to use and which products and that’s the hard part for me because I don’t really know what to use or how much of what. Do you know any good brands in Sally’s ? That can help achieve a cool dark brown (:

        • Erika says:

          It’s great to hear from someone that had a successful color correction! The first stylist was probably afraid to use cool tones because they can be very dominant if they’re used on hair that does not need cool tones. Some hairstylists are not true colorists…they do not understand natural or artificial undertones and how those will “intermingle” with the formula they choose for a client.

          It is possible to get something at Sally’s that will work. A custom formula is better than a box in any case, but you must know what to buy and what to do with it.

          The downfalls are….

          1) At home application will not give you the most even look unless you know someone that can apply it and knows what to do. Your retouch should be applied ONLY from the scalp/root to the demarcation line(point where the previous color was applied. Then…it should be “feathered through” slightly…this is best done at home with a medium-toothed comb. The amount of color that’s feathered through the demarcation line depends on how much your previous color faded and the shade that you are using to color your regrowth(roots).

          2) The color product quality is much lower. I’ve used color from Sally’s for an experiment and it didn’t turn out as expected. Professional hair color is much easier to formulate for a correct/desired result. It might be 1/2 a shade to 1 full shade different than expected. The tones may also be stronger or not as strong compared to the consistent tones in professional hair color brands.

          3) Don’t ask the Sally’s Beauty associate any questions. They’re not haircolorists…if they were good then they wouldn’t be working at Sally’s(if you come across one that happens to be a licensed cosmetologist). They give bad advice and besides that…they aren’t really allowed to give advice!

          In order to give you a better idea of what you need I would have to see your hair. You cant contact me for more advice on what you can use until you are able to visit the salon again!

          • Sara H. says:

            i am a licensed cosmetologist and i worked at sally’s as well. Though most employees of sallys are not cosmetologists they all do receive continuous training on the color process and we are allowed to give you instructions on achieving the color you chose, which is not advice it is instructions on using the products correctly, they are not allowed to pick the color out for you but come with a question of how to achieve a color you chose and the employeeshould be able to answer any questions or get a more knowledgeable employee who can & if they cant ask for customer services number or call the 1800 # for the brand of color youve chosen& they will be able to make sure you get the correct info(the # will be on the color box or color charts/swatch books).so before you want to…
            *This comment has been flagged for excessive length/ranting. To continue reading this comment please click here.

            • Erika says:

              In my opinion, a well educated professional is far better than a 1-800 number or store clerk(at any beauty supply).

              How can someone give hair color advice/instructions over the phone? That person can’t see the callers hair. They can’t give proper instructions on application or formulation this way. If you think that’s better than going to a salon then I’m not sure why you’re a licensed cosmetologist.

  41. […] never say this again, but you might be better off using box color….for real. At least that’s a no brainer when it comes to mixing. It might not be […]

  42. Bella says:

    I lost interest after reading your instead of you’re.

    • Erika says:

      I’m not sure where you read such a horrible grammatical error in my article. If you lose interest so easily then you probably miss out on a lot of great information on the internet.

      I catch errors in newspapers, national news websites, and plenty of other publications where a paid professional make mistakes. A few words of advice….there are already enough snobs in the world and if you don’t like something just look away. There is far too much negativity out there as it is.

    • Jessica G says:

      Good gravy. This is amusing. The inept trying to call out others they FEEL is inept. I can tell you, I will still read and follow this ANYWAYS. It’s informative for you inept that like to use CHEAP garbage in your hair and on your body. I NEVER buy my body, nail, and hair care out of a supermarket or a box store like Walmart. Sorry, I flat out refuse. I have always had a professional color my hair. I am FAR from rich, I don’t use ANYTHING that can harm my skin or hair by compromising quality. The, “You get what you pay for”, concept applies here. If you want to call out someone on syntax as it’s obvious you do it often, then perhaps you should consider not reading ANY form of print media. She is a beautician NOT a tailored writer. I have wrote and had my material published. I didn’t see anything wrong with her syntax. I think it’s funny the self righteous internet goons such as yourself, do not look at the way you type. I see people of your caliber on social media all the time. I am HIGHLY educated and I don’t go around lording it on others. As a matter of fact, I know some of you “internet intellects” are NOT the real McCoy. Your type is what we call pretentious. I’ll break it down in lay men’s terms. It means feigning FALSE/FAKE intelligence. Go ahead and NOT follow she doesn’t need simpletons and charlatans like you as a fan base anyways.

      • Erika says:

        Thanks for your comment! I forgot to point out in the past that I’m not a writer…lol. However, I think I’m pretty good at it considering I only went as far as college English and communications courses. I’ve read this article at least a hundred times and I found mistakes or typos years after I wrote it that I never noticed before. That’s the journey of writing…it can always be improved and in some cases there is no right or wrong…only opinions.

        I would touch on your comments about hair color and salon services, but there’s plenty of that in this thread 🙂 .

        ❤ Thanks for reading and for your support! Happy holidays!

  43. Lisa lukacsko says:

    I colored my long, beautiful, platinum blonde hair that I got from using a box for 6 years every six months. I had a family member color it for me. My hair was full thick and beautiful. I went to a highly reputable hair stylist in Vegas for the first time because I moved and didn’t have my family member to dye it for me. She told me the box wa sooo bad. She did my hair once and fried it. I ended up in wigs and devastated for a year. It still isn’t back to normal. I will take the box any day over any hair dresser. They do the most damage and all blame eachother

    • Erika says:

      Going to one bad hairstylist does not mean that using box color is better. I don’t know why you thought that stylist was “reputable”, but you obviously didn’t do your research. There are tons of board certified haircolorists in Las Vegas that would not have done that to your hair.

      Hairstylists may be considered “reputable” for many different skills, but that doesn’t mean they are masters of everything. If you hear that someone is a “great hairstylist”…that person might be known for doing amazing bobs. All hairstylists have strengths and weaknesses, but few have mastered all skills.

      What do you do for a living? What if someone in your industry made a mistake and the displeased customer bashed everyone in the field….saying that “they all do horrible work, or are untrustworthy, and “blame” each other”. How rude of you to speak poorly of an entire industry of talented people based on one bad experience!

  44. […] Styles for Curvy Women 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color […]

  45. […] trip to the salon in your budget just like your electric bill. If not, you may end up resorting to box color or a chop […]

  46. […] originally wrote 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color because my clients were always asking me questions about it. Some of them did not have time to come […]

  47. Lynn says:

    This is a VERY helpful article, I’m so happy to have found it. What if you have dark hair and want an outrageous color (purple, in my case)?

    ABOUT my hair: I’m fortunate, my hair is hard-to-damage. I am half Chinese and have long dark thick hair. Stylists usually thin it out in layers for me a bit when I cut it. It does not hold curl well but is shiny not coarse. It’s too dark to be called brown and isn’t blue black… so, it has to be VERY dark brown/natural black. My natural color is pretty close to this (Feria’s box natural black/black leather):
    I’ve had my hair colored professionally AND have used whole-head box color before as a color-corrector when I hated the way a professional dark reddish / auburn job was fading / changing) – it worked like a charm, perhaps because it was the same as my natural color, so the roots were undetectable from dyed parts.

    I had 2 areas with questions, on graying and on wild colors:

    I’m just starting to get some grays and have used this just to touch up a few that fan around my face (very few, 2-3 pea sized bits of color covers it all):

    It seems silly to go to a salon to cover that little bit… and since you’re not putting color on top of color…. is that really so awful?

    And second, I wanted to do a purple hombre (professionally, not myself) and have done purple highlights before (also professionally) – however, I didn’t care for the maintenance of the highlights, it faded quickly and digging them out to re-color them was time-consuming, seems hombre would be easier – also easier to just cut off any damaged or over-processed hair if needed.

    It faded so fast last time that I did I ended up using sally brands to just refresh the highlights – more so I didn’t have to have weird blond streaks in my hair as the purple faded.

    I want an intense purple, something like this:

    So, what did I or my stylist do wrong? She did have to bleach it 2x to get both the natural and box color off of it. With a wild color are you just resigned to getting it re-done every 4 weeks? Were my expectations just too high? Can I stretch it out a bit by doing the touch-ups with box color if it’s at the ends of the hair and I’m willing to cut it off when it’s damaged, or would you stay away from it even then? And so that you know, I only wash my hair every couple of days, never daily. I don’t ever blow dry it, curl it, flat iron it, or otherwise damage it. Pretty much a wash n’ wear kind of girl.

    I even explored getting extensions if the color would be more intense / stay longer (these were the ones recommended by the salon:, they said they’d dye blonde extensions) … but I’ve never had them before and I’m not sure about the extra expense and potential damage to the hair. Plus, frankly, I’ve got quite enough hair on my head as it is, more is really not necessary.

    I know this is a pretty specific question, but I was just so disappointed in how fast the color faded and the intensity died…so any guidance would be deeply appreciated!

    • Erika says:

      On covering grays:
      That’s not horrible, especially if it’s just a few. Just make sure that you don’t overlap the color….only put color on the new growth. Also, if you want to really change it up later it will be harder to do. It doesn’t sound like you want to, so you’re okay.

      On bright colors:
      That’s normal for very vivid colors because they are semi-permanent/temporary colors. The purple was probably “deposit only, and other types of color chemically alter the hair, while semi-permanents do not. So, the color is really just tinting/coloring the outside of the hair, where demi-permanents deposit color into the hair.

      First of all, your hair needs to be light enough. Was your hair at least a golden blonde? The lighter the blonde, the brighter the purple will be.

      Secondly, you may notice the purple fading within 7-10 days from the day it was applied. It will last longer if the hair is blow dried before applying the purple color. Some stylists skip this step, and that’s one reason why it fades faster. You can also put a processing cap on and sit under a dryer for 10-15 minutes after applying the purple color. I can’t say how much longer this makes it last, but it does help.

      *The purple color at Sally Beauty won’t hurt you, it doesn’t contain ammonia and it doesn’t require developer. I discourage at-home use for people who don’t realize that their hair must be lifted first, or for those that want to try to lift their hair at home. It sounds like you’re already there, so you may want to keep some temporary color at home and apply it every 7-10 days in the shower. Let it sit for about 10-15 minutes, and rinse.

      • Lynn says:

        Wow, thanks so much for the speedy reply and the great suggestions.

        I read the reviews on all 3 and the Pravana purple you suggested seems pretty long-lasting (great reviews all around, and one reviewer said it lasted more like a demi), so I’m going to order some of that for touch-ups. The two brands at Sally I had tried in the past were ion & manic panic – and I just looked them up, you’re right, both were semi… THANK you, I’m hoping that maybe the Pravana will stay darker a bit longer!

        My colorist DID get my hair stripped to a very light blonde in 2 stages (very little color left at all) and she did blow dry before applying the color and she also did have me under the hair dryer helmet for quite a while before rinsing out the color. So, it sounds like she did do her best and that 7-10 day fade is just normal. I feel MUCH better that it won’t damage my hair to stretch the style with some box “deposit only” color (that made complete sense, when you say it like that).

        I can’t wait to try those suggestions and I already feel as though I’m better armed this time…! Also, I’m going to try the 10 minute miracle hair mask just for fun – thanks for answering all these questions!

  48. […] a 16(hoping to be a 12 again in the near future)….anyone that’s in my boat knows that “one size fits all” pants are not a good idea. The only thing I own that’s “one size fits all” is a […]

  49. […] if you want awesome color but don’t want to go to the salon…read 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color before you hit the […]

  50. Jill says:

    Erika, in my case you are 100% correct about box colors. I do believe my hair is permanently ruined after using them for years. I used to have beautiful shiny, silky hair… Not anymore. I have forever dry, very porous hair that frizzes, kinks and poofs at the slightest amount of humidity. My hair never frizzed when it was in good condition. I’ve also lost my beautiful natural color.
    I started taking Biotin, I’m going to continue to have my hair salon colored and I’m going to get conditioning treatments professionally done to try and improve the condition of my hair. Any suggestions you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Erika says:


      Don’t worry! There’s always new hair growing, and it takes time but you can get your old hair back. Just make sure that your haircolorist knows what she is doing. Salon color can damage your hair as well if it’s not used properly.

      You may also want to use a good leave-in conditioner everyday or after you shampoo & condition. When my hair was very damaged in cosmetology school I used It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Conditioner and the It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask a few times per week(it just depends on how damaged your hair is…once per week might be enough for you).

      Getting deep conditioning treatments is a great service to add on when you get your color. Most salons have a package deal for a cut + color + deep condition that’s discounted. Some hairstylists won’t like this suggestion…..but I think that doing the deep conditioning treatments at home in-between color appointments is a great way to save money. For $25 you can buy the quality hair mask, and that’s about the same price as a single service deep conditioning treatment at the salon.

  51. The Truth Behind The Box | Hair By Mallory says:

    […] you’re still unsure why box dye is really all that bad,  here’s an article written by another professional stylist I found to be very […]

  52. Carly says:

    Yes that would be awesome! Thank you so much for all of the information! And your assumption is pretty right. After I made the appointment I was already dreading having my hair be a solid blondish color for a month. Also, I’m from Texas, so summer starts to appear around March. I’m trying to get rid of the red before then because I hate how bright it looks in the sun haha.

    I couldn’t figure out how to post photos in the comments, but here is a link to a photo of the color I’m trying to achieve.
    With kind of a mix of these types of highlights
    I’m not quite sure if following the steps you’re saying would eventually get me to this color, but if not I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. I went 19 years without dying my hair, so I’m pretty uneducated when it come to it. Here I was thinking that a color corrector would be healthier for my hair rather than bleaching it. And the last think I want is severely brittle and unhealthy looking hair. My appointment isn’t until Feb 11th, so I have a couple of weeks to decide. Looking forward to see pictures of your sister’s hair!

    • Erika says:

      Not only that, but it probably will not turn out to be a solid “blondish” color with a color remover. Even if it got that light(which is highly unlikely) it would be so uneven and probably orange, so it would have to be toned down to a brown color.

      That’s why a color remover in this case isn’t the best option…you wouldn’t be getting much of a change.

    • Erika says:

      The reason why lightening (bleaching) your hair with highlights is better….is because it’s not all of your hair and it’s a more controlled process. Lightening the hair can be done safely as long as your hair colorist knows what she/he is doing. It is more risky once you have applied box color, but the key is to use a safe volume of developer. Using something too strong(which is what most people do because they want to break through the red) will be more damaging.

    • Erika says:

      Also…yes, I do think you can get to those photos. I don’t think that should be your initial goal because the ends would be lightened a lot and it’s just not safe. Ombré is best on healthier hair or hair that has not been colored.

      I would go with the highlights now, and think about that hair color in the fall.

  53. Carly says:

    Hi, first off I wanted to say I just stumbled across this article and I found it really informative!
    I have naturally light blonde hair and about 6 months ago I got it professionally died red. At first I hated it because it turned out a lot brighter than I had explained to the stylist. Since then I have been box dying it with an auburn red color (about 5 different times). Honestly I really like the color it is now, but it’s just getting too much to keep up with because of my blonde roots. I’m wanting to go lighter for the spring/summer (medium brown with blonde and caramel highlights). After a consultation with another stylist (one that is reputable in my area), she explained to me that because I’ve been using box color, the best thing to do is to use a color corrector then wait 5-7 weeks to dye it brown. I’m okay with this because I want to “wipe the slate clean” I guess and I knew going into this that it would be kind of a commitment. My question is: If I ever decide to go back to red, will I have to go through this process again if I use strictly professional dye? Because I really like the Auburn look on me and want to maybe do it again next fall, but I don’t want to spend this kind of time/money again on it.


    • Erika says:

      First of all…
      I wouldn’t suggest the color corrector(it’s a very strong color remover that does a lot of damage in just a few minutes.

      It’s worse than bleaching your hair in my opinion. Some color remover products like Paul Mitchell’s —— are easier on the hair, but they are not as strong and sometimes need to be repeated two to three time in one sitting to get a similar result (not a bad thing, the Paul Mitchell kits are more expensive and take more time to process…stylists need something that works fast and is affordable).

      Effasol is very common in salons and it’s not often used, so most stylists are not familiar it. *Please don’t attempt at home! 🙂

      • Erika says:

        Your hair won’t be much lighter if you use a color remover then color your hair brown. You’ll also have no dimension, and it sounds like that’s what you want. That’s also what you probably miss about your hair as a lighter blonde- dimension. You like the auburn, but it’s lacking in variation.

        It may also seem drab, because neutral brown isn’t near as fun as auburn or blonde. For someone like you….brown hair will definitely make you feel like you need to “brighten up your look” elsewhere (like accessories, jewelry, makeup, etc.).

        That stylist will probably recommend that you wait another 5-7 weeks after coloring it brown before you get the highlights. Even then, because of using the color remover your hair will still be fragile, damaged, and probably break off easily.

        With that timeline you’re looking at mid-April before you can actually go lighter, or attempt at getting close to what you want.

        Here’s what I would do:

        If it has been at least 3-4 weeks since you last colored it…

        1) A day or so before you color appointment I would wash your hair with a good clarifying shampoo and do a deep condition. *Or, you could take some samples home if you would like to do it yourself (it’s cheaper that way :).

        2) Do a partial highlight, all over, but only a few highlights below the ears. There will still be some auburn hair, as this is a transition, so you’ll want the bottom to be darker until you get your next highlight. If not, the ends could look unhealthy or discolored because they are more porous/damaged.

        3) I would probably add some “low-lights” while doing the highlights. They would not be darker, probably a nice light gold brown (weaved lightly) to add that middle tone and bring it all together.

        *This option is less damaging and looks better considering what you want. That doesn’t mean that your stylist was wrong as there are many ways to get one result when it comes to hair color. I think it’s common for hairstylists to think that way…because they’re not thinking or being creative.

      • Blue Green Grief says:

        I had the most marvelous fantasy hair colors – rather likened after the northern lights. My stylist has been doing them for the last year. I’ve been going to her for many years.

        I’ve recently had someone in my family ill. Things are finally getting ‘back to normal’ and I contacted my stylist for a cut/color. I want to go platinum. She said it would take a couple of sessions and that’s fine. The thing is-she said she couldn’t fit me in for a couple of weeks. : /

        Now I have this blonde mint green hair that looks like Hell. I’ve managed to fade it using shampoos and hot water. I used Color Oops and it only worked on one of the colors.

        I have seen on YouTube many people using Effasol to successfully remove this mint green after having blue hair. I tried to buy it at Sally’s but I don’t have a license.

        So, I did what every desperate soul would do and I ordered it online on Amazon.

        Side note: when I asked my stylist about this and that living with this ugly color for a couple of weeks would be hard (for professional reasons and because of graduation of one of my children) she suggested that I “go to Sally’s as the salespeople there can be helpful”. What a joke.

        In addition to having this ugly hair I felt betrayed by her that she couldn’t try to be more helpful to guide me. The Sally’s reps tried to sell me a bunch of things that would just make it worse!

        So, I do plan on using the Effasol with water. Any tips? If you were my stylist for so many years who I tip VERY WELL and am friendly with would you have been more helpful to me?

        Thanks 🙂

        PS. I also love the ‘It’s a 10’ products.

        • Erika says:

          In my opinion, Effasol is great for removing color, but be VERY careful! When I use it I always rinse within 5-7 minutes and will reapply if needed. Effasol is like lightener-at a certain point it stops working and the only thing you can do is wash it out and reapply.

          Remember, it can also RUIN your hair!!! You’ll need a deep conditioning treatment afterwards and may not be able to safely blow dry your hair(or iron it). Your other option is to color your hair with a dark to medium blonde temporary color so that you can live with your hair in the meantime.

          Good luck and thanks for reading!!!

    • Erika says:


      Going from auburn/red to blonde is going to be a process if you use box color just as it will be if you go to a salon.

      Here are the pros to salon color in your situation:
      1) You won’t have to color your hair as often.- A good hair colorist will “fill” your blonde hair with a copper/orange hue(varies depending on your hair) when going from blonde to red. This gives the color something to “grab” onto as blonde hair is lacking pigment or “empty”. It also makes the color last longer. That’s why box color fades, because unless it is a more ginger red, then it will fade faster.
      *Filling can also be done in one step by adding pure copper/orange to the color formula, so it doesn’t add any additional time to your color appointment. Only a very good hair colorist will get this right and have the confidence to do it.

      2)Salon color is safer. The developer levers are not as high, so you don’t get as much damage.

      3)Your hair will be healthier overall, and you won’t have to worry about box color accidents. When you start adding and removing pigments without knowing what you’re doing, you could end up with green or purple hair….or worse. I had a friend do and after 3 boxes she called me…green hair and another brown box wouldn’t cover it. SO…there’s something to worry about 🙂 .

      • Erika says:

        By the way….

        My sister is going through the exact same thing! She called me yesterday asking if I can get her back to blonde next weekend. She’s a few hours away at college, and even though I have preached to her about box color….she did it. Covering the beautiful highlights I did :(.

        She’s box colored her hair a dark auburn a few times…probably about the same as you have and you have the same natural hair color as she does! If you want to wait and see the outcome of her hair next weekend I will be posting pics! I’m doing to hers what I suggested that you should do. I’ll post before photos as well!

  54. ems says:

    I don’t really like this article because box colour may be awful, but this article really slates home applications, and home applications aren’t always awful, can be done with professional hair colour products, and can be a genuine way to save money.

    If someone is comfortable with experimenting on their own hair and learning whats best for them, don’t knock it. – the professional colour products can be as cheap / cheaper online, than the box colour at the shop for any non-professional individual.

    I know people that order professional hair colour products online and have amazing looking hair with out being overcharged an absolute fortune to have it applied.

    I personally don’t trust “professionals” with my hair because in my experience (which is with hair cuts too be honest), I always leave the salon feeling sad, and having to pay through the nose for that feeling too. If it was hair colour as well, that’s even more expensive. You could argue that it’s about finding the right hairdresser, but seeing as that takes time (and having bad hair days in the process), you might as well do it yourself and learn from those mistakes.

    All for DIY!

    • Erika says:

      That’s your opinion. This is a great article, and over 14,000 other people agree.

      Finding the right hair colorist is not hard. It just takes a little bit of research….just like anything else. People just don’t have patience, so they settle. Smart people schedule consultations and ask the stylist questions just as much as the stylists asks them questions. I’ve had new clients do this to me, and at the end of the consultation they would say….”Let’s schedule the appointment! You definitely know what you’re talking about!”.

      About the at home application…you’re not a licensed cosmetologist, hairstylist, hair color expert, etc. You have no idea about color application and what’s right from wrong when it comes to hair color. When you pay for quality services at a hair salon you are not just paying for them to “put it on”. I could go into detail about this, but people either appreciate it or they don’t. It’s not up to me to convince you if you already think that “DIY” hair color is better than going to a salon.

  55. […] thing is, even when box dyes of your shade of choice do work for you, users are left at the mercy of cosmetics companies that are free to tweak their non-professional for…. (How many of us have loved and cherished a product for years, only to find out that its newest […]

  56. Beth says:

    This is retroactive, unfortunately, but I’m wondering how box dyes interact with existing salon dyes. Recently I had my hair colored in a salon to a dark red. After a few washes, it lightened to more of a purple/fuschia, which was more intense than what I was going for. I tried washing thoroughly to fade it, but not much of the color was disappearing. Since it was making me self-conscious, I was impatient to tone it down and 5 days after the first dye, I just dyed over it with a dark cool brown from a box rather than wait for another appointment at the salon. It actually achieved closer to what I was going for — it’s now a dark brown with more subtle red/purple undertones. But now I’m wondering if the two dyes could interact harmfully (i.e. from a health perspective) and whether I should return to my salon for a pro color correction, even though my hair has already been through a lot of stress. I appreciate your thoughts!

    • Erika says:

      If you’re okay with the color, then you don’t need to go to the salon for another color. Box color is more harsh on the hair than salon color(mostly because it is not a custom formula and box color uses very high strength developers). People ruin their hair when they use box color repeatedly(it’s more damaging when applied from roots to ends every time), don’t use styling products, use a lot of heated tools, etc. Also, it’s worse when going lighter.

      What color was your hair before you got it colored in the salon? It sounds like your stylist didn’t know what she was doing, or you weren’t using color care shampoo/products(those are the main reasons why color can fade faster, but there are several others).

      When coloring someone’s hair red it’s important to consider the undertones before applying the desired color. Sometimes the hair needs to be “filled” with copper/orange tones(depending on underlying and desired pigments) in order to ensure that the color will be rich and last. It’s hard to say what it will look like in a month or so.

      I’m a little concerned about what color it may fade to, but you can always get in touch with me when the time comes if you need more advice! The reason is because a cool brown won’t fix the first problem…it just covers it up for the time being. The tones on your hair may fade to an odd neutral shade, but I cannot say for sure because I don’t know anything about your natural hair or what it looked like before the first color. Good luck!

      • Erika says:

        p.s.- Color corrections are very expensive, so make sure you schedule a consultation first if you decide that you need it(the stylist should suggest a thorough consultation anyways, if they don’t…run!). My salon charges $200/hour and some charge more. Be careful because all stylists are not knowledgeable enough for color corrections! You may want to find an ABCH stylist in your area because they are very well trained to fix any haircolor issue!

        Color corrections are needed when your hair as been boxed dyed to the state of no return…it’s so messed up that you literally cannot fix it with anything.

  57. Deanna says:

    Hi Erika!

    I box dyed my natural medium brown hair at home last March, wanting something different and hoping that I would get the golden blonde results that the woman on the box portrayed. Boy was I shocked when it turned out to be a bright strawberry blonde! Since it wasn’t the color i wanted, I was going to geab another box and try again but got so many compliments about my hair color that I ended up leaving it. But now after redying from roots to ends once a month to keep yp the color, I have taken more notice of how dry it looks. And I don’t like it. :/ Now that the my roots are starting to show, I’ve decided I want to return to my natural color, to dye it nearest that color and let the roots grow out. After reading your enlightening article about box dyes, though, I am thinking that I should go get it done professionally. Will the salon fix it even thiugh my roots are showing??

    • Erika says:

      Yes, can fix it and it won’t be as harmful as doing it at home. Once your hair has been processed multiple times….any chemical process will affect it in some way. A good hair colorist can get you back to normal and use a product that will put some life back into your hair as well as nourish it.

      With any color process…it’s best to only color the regrowth and feather through. If you put it on all of your hair every time it will get very dry and damaged….especially when going lighter.

      Your stylist will probably apply color to your hair from the demarcation line to the ends…avoiding your regrowth/natural hair(demi-permanent is best for this step…this is called filling the hair and it is meant to even out tones while giving back the pigment your hair needs to hold on to a darker color). This will create a more even canvas for the next/final step of coloring all-over to your natural. Your stylist may choose permanent or demi-permanent hair color. It depends on the condition of your hair and what your desired results are.

  58. mstfd says:

    Hmm. I do use a box for a few greys and have for years. I mix the colors myself and have never had a problem. No damage, shiny hair and the color I want. After reading this, I’m confused since this article hasn’t been my experience at all.

    • Erika says:

      As I state in the article…..everyone’s experience is different. There are SOME people that can get away with using box color.

      Does that mean that it looks professional? No…it just means that it doesn’t look bad.

      Does that mean that their hair isn’t damaged? No…they either don’t know that their hair is damaged or they don’t care. For some people…damaged hair is all they have ever known. They’ve been coloring their hair at home so long that they don’t remember how healthy hair feels.

      I find it odd that you say you mix two box colors yourself. Box colors are not meant to be mixed. Are you using Sally’s Beauty Supply Color?

      Also, hair with grays is more forgiving with box color results than hair without grays. Gray hair is far more resistant to color than hair that is not gray. So….imperfections are not as noticeable.

    • Jessica says:

      Shiny hair doesn’t equal healthy.

  59. Bee Gee says:

    I found this really helpful. I just spent $200 on a hair coloring job. I always get my hair professionally done and I’ve never spent that much before. But my regular stylist has had something come up and will be out for months and I needed my hair done. I wanted dark brown with a tint of auburn (my hair is naturally brown with auburn). I even had plenty of pictures to explain what I wanted. The results were nothing like what I asked for. Nothing like the pictures. It was not even brown. It was blonder than how it started, and then there was the red I asked for. The dark brown did not happen at all. I did not wash my hair for 72 hours to allow the color to set and when I wash my hair I used cold water so the red is not stripped away as quickly. I’ve never had a problem before and I’ve had my hair dyed a lot. Even before I washed my hair 24 hours later, all the color was gone from my hair. It is nothing like what I wanted. Nothing like the pictures or how I explained it. And supposedly the guy that did my hair was supposed to be really good. My hair is blonder than it was prior to paying $200 (and blonder than my natural hair). Usually I spend no more than $80 so now I don’t want to get my hair professionally done because I wasted $200 for results that were gone within 24 hours. I expected to have to get my hair redone a month to six weeks later with the red but there was never even dark brown!

    I literally hate my hair now. Its starting to get this brassy look from the blonde (I did not want blonde! I wanted DARK DARK brown). I want my hair dark like I asked for because the holidays are here and family photos. I do not have the money to spend another $100+ within a month of the last $200 I shelled out so I want to try to get a box with dark brown to do my hair a solid color. Would you recommend against this? I always go darker and I never go lighter.

    • Erika says:

      I think you should call the salon and express your concerns. Try not to sound like you are complaining….just ask to speak to the manager and let him/her know that you felt like you expressed your desires thoroughly and that the outcome was not reflective of what you talked about during the consultation.

      Some people feel uncomfortable doing this, but don’t! I have had clients of 5+ years call me and ask for a “re-do” in the past and it’s usually a result of miscommunication between the client and the stylist. A really great salon (especially one charging those high prices) will want to make sure that you are happy with your hair and do their best to accommodate you ASAP.

      How blonde was your hair prior to the appointment? Going darker from blonde requires an additional step (or a very advanced stylist can do it in one step). Your stylist needs to “fill” your hair with the proper underlying pigment in order to make the darker/desired color “stick”. That means that your stylist would apply two different colors to your hair (shampooing and drying in-between applications)….the filler color would be of an orange/copper/orange-red/red-orange/red base depending on the desired shade and your current shade. After the blonde hair is filled with pigment it is ready for application of the desired color.

      Blonde hair is translucent(depending on the shade)….so the pigment doesn’t hold because the hair is somewhat “empty” or lacking of a base pigment. Even darker blonde hair would need to be filled depending on the desired result. I hope I explained that okay!

      The other option your stylist could have chosen would be to add the “filler” into the color formula that was applied to the blonde. Not many stylists know how to do this properly, and if they know of this method they are probably scared to try it. American Board Certified Haircolorists like myself, and other VERY advanced haircolorists can do this with ease. It’s tricky because the filler has to be just enough of the formula ratio to fill the hair, but not too much because that can affect the outcome of the desired hair color.

      Great color is all about confidence in skills…..if you know that your stylist is confident then you will have great hair color!

      • Erika says:

        Oh yea…if they are like my salon…you will get your hair re-done free of charge. A great salon will want to build relationships and keep you as a client!

        Even though I don’t know all of the details of the consultation, or what your hair looked like….or what your example photos were….this is the color that came to my mind when I read your comment:

        Brown/Copper Hair Color

  60. Erika says:

    This was very helpful, I have been coloring my own hair from a box but I know want to go from black to red but wanted to go to a professional but I don’t know if they will be able to help me since I’ve been using color from a box

    • Erika says:

      Going from black to red isn’t as difficult because red is one of the first tones to show up when you lighten from black. It’s also one of the hardest to break through when you want to go lighter, so going for red is a great option.

      Be very specific with your stylist about what type of red you want. Definitely bring photos! Red is one of the most misunderstood colors when it comes to hair consultations.

      You should tell your stylist how long you have been using box color and whether you applied it from scalp to ends every time, or if you just applied it to the regrowth. That will make a difference in how easily you can switch hair colors with the least amount of damage.

  61. Isabelle says:

    Thanks for the advice Erika – what are your thoughts on purchasing professional dye to use at home? I was thinking of using the Schwarzkoph Igora range (available from an online salon supplier).

    I usually get my hair professionally coloured and every time I’ve been disappointed. My natural hair is the darkest brown and I’ve always wanted a cool ash brown but the salons have never been able to achieve this – probably because of the orange/red undertones that come with Indian hair. I’ve noticed the salons never seem to lighten my hair enough in order to get that cool ash to take. I’m hoping to give my hair a bleach shampoo and dye it with the Igora range (Cobalt Brown colour + oil developer 30 vol).
    Many thanks

    • Erika says:

      Schwarzkoph is only available through a distributor. I can’t say whether or not the online supplier is credible, but chances are that it’s not. Distributors go straight to salons to assist in ordering product, keeping it stocked, etc. As a licensed cosmetologist I can’t even go to a beauty supply store to buy Schwarzkoph color. I would have to contact a distributor…it’s very well regulated.

      The only places you should purchase professional color are at a beauty supply store (need a cosmetology license to purchase), or through a distributor (also has requirements). Schwarzkoph would never agree to sell their product openly online.

      Also, the Igora series is great….but it is a more advanced color system. Doing it on your own is not fool-proof…even some hairstylists are not advanced enough to properly use that color line.

      The reason why you may feel that they don’t lift your hair enough is because it only needs to be lifted to the level of the color you desire. Then a special formula would need to be mixed to achieve the cool brown you want. Applying a cool brown color itself probably wouldn’t do it (depending on how warm the undertones are). The formula would need to include the proper hues to cancel out the red/orange undertones. Your stylist would need to determine whether your undertones are red, red-orange, orange, orange-red, etc. Each one is very different even though they seem similar. The colors you would need to add to your formula in order to eliminate those warm tones would be different for each of the examples I just gave.

      So, I think your stylist just didn’t know how to properly cancel out the warmth in your hair. It’s very specific and a lot of stylists don’t take care in formulating like they should. An ABCH stylist would be your best bet!

  62. Jenn says:

    What are your thoughts on getting hair colored at a beauty school?

    • Erika says:

      That’s a tough one because it really depends on the school. If you decide to get a color service at a school I suggest finding a well-known/highly rated institution. For example, in my area there are 3-4 beauty schools within a 50 mile radius and neither of them are alike. One is exceptional (Paul Mitchell), and another is known for it’s poor reputation. There was a girl at my school who spent a few months at the low-end institution and switched to Paul Mitchell despite the fact that she would lose a lot of money and have to start over completely. That says a lot!

      Our school taught forward thinking and was always introducing us to new trends while making sure that our techniques stayed solid and consistent. For example, foiling was to be done that way it was taught and we could not change it. This assured that everyone was doing quality work all the time.

      Another thing to consider is that instructors may want students to learn from their mistakes. Every color service (at a good school) is consulted with an instructor and overseen during the process. Instructors usually have to approve the service before the student can proceed.

      Lastly, if you’re unsure about it you can ask if there are advanced students available. At my school they were called “Phase 2” and had to audition as well as pass several tests (hands-on and written) in order to qualify for the Phase 2 program. There was also an hour requirement, so you know that the advanced students are close to graduating and are the best of their class!

      Like any salon experience….use your judgement and if you don’t feel comfortable just wait. You can also schedule a consultation and come back for your color. I’ve had clients do that from time to time and they come prepared with questions for me. It’s my job to prove to them that I am qualified to do their hair to their liking. Again, if a stylist doesn’t have the skills then you’ll know and you can try someone else!

    • Erika says:

      I don’t know if my reply posted, but if you didn’t get it then check out this post:

      Should I Get My Hair Colored At A School?

  63. Hi! So I’ve always had fairly porous hair – the first time I dyed my hair (at a salon), it washed out pretty quickly (it was gone within 1-2 months). Not sure if it’s important to note, but I only dye my hair dark-brown and black – my natural color is brown with red highlights. I got it done at a salon a few times, but got tired of paying so much to see my color washing out quickly. I box-dyed my hair for the first time last year, and it was the first time that the color stayed and I was super happy with the result (although after about 8 months that had faded as well). Obviously, if a $8 box is lasting me longer than a $50+ dye, it’s very tempting to go with the box, even though I know the salon would be better for my hair. Do you know any reason why the box stayed better than the salon did, or if there’s anything I should tell my stylist when she’s doing my hair? Thanks so much! 🙂

    • Erika says:

      It could be the type of color that was used and/or developer. If you’re someone that goes to the salon once every 2-4 months, then your stylist may use a semi-permanent color rather than permanent.

      Semi-permanent color is better for people who won’t get their hair colored every month because you won’t see as much of a demarcation line as your hair grows out.

      Box color is VERY strong, but in a good way. The levels of chemicals in it are much higher than what is used in the salon, so it damages your cuticle more while packing in more pigment. Yes, it may seem to fade slower(depending on what you use and what you compare it to) but your hair will not look natural and it will be damaged more and more with use.

      It all depends on what your preference is and what’s most important to you. Some people prefer the natural colored look and like to maintain the integrity of their hair, some don’t. Some people have never had their hair consistently colored in a salon enough to know the difference in really great hair, and not so great hair.

      The #1 problem with salons is that the consultation is not thorough enough or the client does not give the stylist enough information. All of the concerns you told me about should also be expressed to your stylist. I know that some stylists rush through the consultation because they’re ready to get started, but your stylist owes it to you to spend that time talking about your hair. If your stylist doesn’t do a thorough consultation, chances are that you will not be happy with the results!

  64. Yeah it seemed like a hibbity jibbity blog post then it really was at
    “When you can’t afford the $50 for a professional……Just because you can’t afford the more expensive option doesn’t mean you can afford the lesser.”

    Surprise I CAN AFFORD THE “LESSER”! and CANNOT afford the more expensive. And I have never had a spotting problem with those caps just by being careful.

    Yes when it comes to getting my hair cut, I pay someone to do that, but dyed? (I have been using boxed since I was 16 [now 34]and never had a single problem, not even once changing color or with dry hair using several different brands.

    The one time I paid for it. it came out to $90 + tax + tip. After that I tried it a month later with the fully dyed black hair and red streaks. It came out just the same and a colorist from a different place asked who did my hair because she liked it.

    Just know what you are doing and boxed is fine.

    • Erika says:

      The point is that there is only about a $30 difference (more or less depending on where you live and the service). Everyone looks at money and finances differently, but if I cannot afford to pay for something quality then it is not worth it to pay for the cheap and unreliable option.

      Also, when box color goes wrong you will not be able to afford to get it fixed.

  65. Alannah says:

    Hi Erika,
    I was wondering if you have any tips on how to restore my damaged hair. I usually get it done every 8 weeks by a professional. My natural hair color is a dark brown but in May I went blonde and now just do touch ups on the roots and also get a trim. I’ve been doing some deep conditioning treatments and haven’t been using any flat irons as much . When i do use my flat iron I use a heat protection spray . My hair has gotten a little better but still really frizzy and dry and the texture feels straw like . Any advice you can give me will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you !

    • Erika says:

      Do you use any other products after the shower? I think you should swap the heat protection spray for a smoothing lotion (will also protect from heat).

      I’ve never been a fan of flat ironing sprays. Yes, they may protect your hair from heat but most of them lack in the moisture/revitalizing category. I only use those sprays when I’m doing a special occasion style, curling hair that needs to hold for a long time, or ironing hair that is difficult to straighten. Think of it as the starch when you iron clothes, that’s how I see it.

      I use a smoothing balm and a thermal shine spray. The balm goes all over before you blow-dry and the thermal shine spray should be used on the ends. You may be using that type of spray already, but I couldn’t tell which type you were referring to. A good thermal shine spray should have a light oiliness to it. The smoothing balm will moisturize and protect your hair as well!

  66. […] For more information about box color click here! […]

  67. MissFrankie says:

    I’m teaching a color correction class and this article is great! I’m giving this link to everyone in the class. Thanks, Erika!

    • Erika says:

      Thank you! I have some private articles just for instructors, students, and cosmetologists. Most were requested from schools and individuals, so if you would like access let me know! One of the most popular articles is “Bleach and Heat”….you probably know why 🙂

  68. danii says:

    i have used box dyes for years and never had a problem i will not use box bleach tho i wil then go to sallys and pick up bleach

  69. Valkyrie says:

    Hi, I dyed my hair recently with a neon red ‘N Rage bottle dye. im sure this must be like all those other dyes im NOT supposed to use but being my carefree self, since it was at sally’s, I assumed my hair would be okay. The school im going to start going to doesn’t allow any unnatural hair color so my mom is going to take me to a salon to turn my hair light brown and get it cut. I don’t know how faded it will be by then and I can just imagine the frustrated looks im going to get from the salonists… could you give me an idea of what I can expect?

    • Erika Brown says:

      The color you used was probably a temporary or semi-permanent color and those wash out fairly quickly. What color was your hair before you colored it and did you apply it all over or just in certain places? How much time is between the day you colored it and the day of your appointment? It will be okay 🙂

      What you used isn’t as harmful as “box” colors. I’m not familiar with each Sally’s brand, but if you just squirted it out of a bottle and did not have to mix it with anything then you have nothing to worry about. If your hair is light, then it may not wash out completely. The most dangerous at-home color products to use are those that chemically alter your hair during the coloring or lightening process. Products that are “deposit-only” will not be as harmful or leave the same long-term effects.

      • Valkyrie says:

        oh, okay. thank you! I colored my entire head and I think we’re gonna wait until it rinses/fades as much as possible to go to the salon.

  70. […] 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Use Box Color […]

    • connie says:

      Hi Erika,
      I just found your website and would love to see if you could give me some guidance! I am not sure what has happened to my hair but it is dry. split and straw-like. My salon stylist who I have been going to forever and love her would not highlight my hair last month because of this but she did put on a mild color “my natural color” which is a reddish brown …with gray. I have been trying not to use any heating products and was told that I may have been putting on too much protein. I have read that co-wash might help?? My hair is thick and curly/wavy. My underneath hair is in good shape…just the sides, tops and bangs are fried. Leaving on beach vacation in a week and really need to do something before I go. I truly don’t know what to do! I have talked to someone about doing a split end brazilian or a full blown brazilian. My stylist does not do them. I also wonder if a clear or color glaze would at least help it de-frizz a little. I would really appreciate any information and guidance you could give me. Thank you very much. I have found your site to be very informative.

      • Erika Brown says:


        Were you getting highlights regularly before your last appointment? Extreme damage like that can be caused by a combination of things, but using too much protein is not the likely cause. Straw-like and splitting hair strands is more of a chemical/heat damage issue. Too much protein can make it worse, but without the other factors protein will just make your hair feel more dry, brittle, and possibly cause breakage.

        Do you regularly use a strengthening or repair shampoo? If you do, that’s where the protein comes from and you would need to balance it out with a moisturizing shampoo….or just use the restorative shampoo 1-2 times per week.

        If you were getting highlights…then it’s possible that your stylist was overlapping the lightener onto previously lightened hair, which is a major cause of damage in most cases. Some stylists just don’t know any better until your hair starts breaking. It sounds simple, but I’ve seen it plenty of times. Lightener should only be applied on the regrowth to avoid damage. Some stylists overlap it because it’s faster than being careful with where you apply the product. You’d know if this was the case if your ends were noticeably lighter than the hair at the root. The use of heat stylers can make it worse if you’re someone who irons around the face a lot.

        The best product for you right now is It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Conditioner. If you really want to boost up the recovery then I would also use the shampoo and conditioner. I used it when someone fried off my ends and the first time you use it you can feel the difference. It’s not an instant fix, but it does make you feel better about your hair! Here’s a link if you want to check out the product:

        • Jessica says:

          I can attest that “It’s A 10” products are AMAZING. Truly. There’s not a day that I shampoo and condition my hair that I don’t use the leave in conditioner as well.

  71. Tiffany says:

    You are making several blanket generalized statements and making up percentage statistics. Nothing here is fact, just opinion. The opinion of a hairstylist, making this very slanted, and in no way balanced. Terrible article. And criticizing women for having a separate opinion makes you a part of a greater problem.

    • Erika Brown says:

      That’s what a blog is for…expressing opinions. So far 13,262+ people disagree with you, so thank you for your opinion and please think about what you say before you say it in the future.

      I chose cosmetology because I like helping people feel better than they did before they walked in the door, and criticizing women isn’t something I do.

    • Shawn says:

      Well I didn’t see the criticizing women in particular there are several criticisms – generalized criticisms. And who dyes their hair or has it marketed to them most? Look at all those shiny boxes with females on them and then go to the mens section. There is only Just 4 Men in 4-8 colors

  72. Alberta says:

    All of this sounds great BUT….. I used to use box color. Then a few years ago started going to salons for color. Now, I am retired, a female disabled vet, and the cost has now become prohibative. A color a cut cost $86 plus a $20 tip. Oh yes I have tried other salons over the last few years, some good, some not so good, but the cost is always similar unless you go to some of the salons in the shopping malls and such. Then, the cost might be slightly lower, but the stylist usually don’t stay long and you have to keep going through finding a new person who can do your cut and hopefully figure out what the color the other person was putting on. Consider going back to box color or maybe esalon but I just can’t keep this up money wise. I understand a stylist is worth their money, but …. many people can’t afford the big prices now. We’re stuck.

  73. Tori says:

    Hi! I have super curly hair, and I have been using box dye, but the last time I used box dye I noticed after that I lost some of my curl. I’m now thinking about going to a salon and getting my hair dyed and was wondering if that would actually help bring my natural curl back? And if not, is there anything you can suggest to get my curl back?

    • Erika Brown says:

      The curl was probably softened from the strong chemicals that are in box dye formulas. They are much stronger than what salons use, so they cause more damage to your hair. Your curl will probably come back in time, but getting it colored again won’t bring it back.

      You need to nourish your hair, try not to use too much heat when styling, and protect it from UV rays this summer (also if you go the the pool or beach put some conditioner on your hair…leave-in is great…or regular conditioner if you don’t have a leave-in spray) that will prevent your hair from soaking up too much chlorine and salt water. When you do color your hair, let your stylist know what you’ve experienced so she can use a color line that will promote healthy hair. There are several great lines that are ammonia-free, for example!

    • Erika says:

      That can happen over time with box color use, or can be caused by any type of damage. You won’t be able to “bring it back”, but you can restore your hair. As it grows, with regular trims and care, you will get your curly hair back eventually.

      When you color your hair you should only be applying color to the regrowth. If you apply color from roots to ends every time, you are damaging your hair a little more every time you color it.

  74. […] 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. […]

  75. Erin says:

    I really think articles like this are misguiding. I think the answer is highly dependent on the person and what they want their hair to look like. I had my hair professionally dyed for years. I feared the results of box color. I decided to try it once a few years ago because my budget was tight. I would easily drop $300 at the salon, so I decided to spend closer to $20 at CVS. The results were perfect and have been ever since. I haven’t been back to a salon and actually regret spending the thousands of dollars I did over the years at various salons. I’m platinum blonde, and trying to get it as light as I like to at a salon is like pulling teeth. I won’t move away from box color. Salons are really a waste of money unless you’re looking to get extravagant with your style.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Just as you think this article is misleading (and it isn’t because I mention that everyone has different results, expectations, needs, etc.), your opinion is just the same.

      Everyone is different. How can you say that salons are a waste of money when hundreds of thousands of other women disagree with you?

      In a comparison, a box blonde at-home job right next to a professional color will definitely be noticeably different! How do you perfectly apply color to only the regrowth and feather it where needed in places where you can’t see on your own head? If a friend does it….does she care if it’s perfect or know how to apply the color? Most likely not.

      My point is that what is satisfactory to you may not be to all women. This article is for women that seek the best and want flawless color. That in itself can be different depending on who you talk to.

    • Erika says:

      I don’t think you need to spend $300 on a salon visit. Unless you’re in a high dollar area, you can get your hair cut and colored for $100 or less…at a reputable salon. Depending on what you need, it could cost as little as $30-$50(may not include a cut).

      An article that is “misguiding” is one that contains false information and/or very strong opinions that are not based on facts. Lots of people like it, and there are plenty that don’t. I am simply exposing the truth for those that want to know. That doesn’t mean it’s misleading, that’s just your opinion because of your personal experiences.

      Saying that salons are a waste of money is also your OPINION. Millions of women and men feel that salon services are well worth it. Some people want to be pampered, they don’t want to risk ruining their hair, and they enjoy the salon experience. That does not make it wrong, and it certainly does not make this information misleading.

  76. frances says:

    Hi Erika Brown,
    I would love to go get my hair professionally done. But I am too embarrassed and to scared of pick the wrong one . and the big one is don’t have the funds. So I guess my question is , if you had to pick which box hair dye to use which one do you recommended. I am sorry I know you hate them. Thank You Erika Brown for your knowledge and experience . and for your time to write this blog. I appreciate it.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Hi Frances!

      I understand your struggle, as I have that when I’m looking for someone to do my hair to my expectations! If you’re going to do it yourself just don’t get anything that says “permanent”. Choose a product that is a semi-permanent color and choose a shade that is not drastically different from your own for the best outcome.

      I can’t personally recommend a brand or type of box color because I haven’t used them in over 15 years (high school…before my cosmetology education). Even if I knew which brands were better, it’s impossible to recommend something because there is no formula to base it on. It’s really just luck and an educated guess if you use my advice to pick one out…which makes it a better chance of getting what you want.

      Here are a few examples to help you figure it out, and if you still have questions please e-mail me from the contact page.

    • Erika says:

      That’s a tough question because I haven’t used box color in over 10 years. Here are a few tips to choosing a box color:

      1)Don’t use cap highlighting kits. Most highlighting kits will look bad and cause more damage than color.
      2)Don’t use permanent hair color. You don’t need permanent color unless you have gray or the artificial color is very different from your natural. Even then, use permanent once and demi-permanent for all applications after that.
      3)If you’re going lighter….don’t try it if you already have color on your hair. Color will not remove or lift previous color. Don’t attempt to go more than two shades lighter than your natural….it will probably not turn out as you expect.

  77. […] The inspiration for this post came from the many reader comments on 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color. […]

  78. kitty says:

    I was colouring my hair at home with stunning results, and when i decided to treat myself with a visit to a professional (which turned out to be over-charging guy who is nothing but big mouth), paid in total £600 and wanted to just shave my head bold after all of that! Worst mistake ever! Never going to hairdressers again (been to quite a few, well known, expensive), they caused nothing but damage (both to hair and wallet)- cutting with blunt scissors, damaging with lighting (wanted to go blond, after all bleaching hairdressers results were darker than i originally had before!).
    As well as all of this, been using really expensive products, with no results (apart of they smelled good and lathered well), went back to my cheap Garnier Fructis and seeing great results… I so wish it was all different, loved the idea of pampering myself with a good hair style…

    • Erika Brown says:

      It all depends on where you go, and unfortunately there are more of the bad than good out there. That’s true for anything in life….

      1.There are more “bad” people on Earth than there are good.

      2.For every 5-star hotel there are probably thirty 1-stars….or more!

      3.Some women try on 20 or 30 pairs of jeans or dresses before finally finding the right one.

      4.MEN, lol! How many perfect gentleman do you come across? Not many if you’re considering how many more are jerks or just not worth wasting your time on.

      5.Doctors or other service career professionals…are just the same as hairdressers. There are plenty of them out there, you’re not going to like every doctor you have an appointment with, and you may have to try a few out before you find the one you want to stick with.

      Skills aside, our professions are the same. We must complete schooling, acquire and maintain state licensure, attract and retain clients, consult (to identify the problem, asses the needs or wants, and provide a complimentary solution that is in the clients best interest.

      Read This For Reasons Why You Should Be More Open-Minded

  79. Jessica says:

    I mean…

    Come on miss Amanda – people don’t just “glue” in extensions because they have some extra free time on their hands and they don’t know what else to do with it. There was absolutely some communication at some point about said extensions so don’t leave out vital information just to give us all a bad rap.

    Your “whole head of highlights” either means you have a head the size of a 4 year old OR you decided to go with just a partial to save money OR you told the stylist to “do whatever you think looks good!”.

    If you’re not going to tell the whole story – tell no story at all.

  80. Amanda says:

    Every stylist/colorist I have ever went to (from 15 to 23 years old) has messed my hair up horribly. Wanted whole head of highlights, I got 4, and two glued in extensions I didn’t ask for. And a dye job that didn’t change my hair one bit. Oh there’s more…….but I’ve went every color myself, no damage. Probably wasted $500 in salons.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Where did you go? How much did you pay? It sounds like you weren’t very particular with who you made an appointment with, and there was a bit of a lack of communication.

      No one “glues” in extensions unless you ask for them. They are expensive, but not only that….we certainly don’t “glue” them in!

      Either you are exaggerating, or you didn’t portray what you wanted to those stylists. NO STYLIST is going to try to get away with giving you “four” highlights instead of a full highlight. There is one place that tries to give the illusion that you got more than you did, it’s a cheap chain and I won’t mention the name…..

  81. […] are just a few things that you will lose when your hair is damaged from box color, mistreatment, and other harmful elements that we just can’t always […]

  82. Melissa says:

    I have been coloring my hair at home since I was 15 and I am 39 now. I have long, soft, shiny, HEALTHY hair! I have been every possible shade of color too! And btw, my hair stylist that cuts my hair told me my hair is really healthy!

    • Erika Brown says:

      That’s great, and I do mention that for some people it will work without worries. Most people will not have the same experience as you did.

      It all depends on your hair type, color, environment, care, etc. and the results you are trying to achieve. If you did what some women do and try to switch back-and-forth from light to dark or vice-versa with a box….your hair woul not be healthy.

  83. Melissa says:

    I have some gray hairs. More concentrated in the back with a few in the front. I just want to cover my gray. Would you recommend highlights to cover it (that’s what my stylist suggested) or all over color? Also, how often should I expect to go in for touch ups? thanks!

    • Erika Brown says:

      I think that highlights are a great idea…and you will probably want a low light as well for the best gray blending. Low light doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be darker than your hair, just an appropriate color that is darker than the highlight.

      If you do all over color you will have to keep up with it more often, whereas with the highlights you can stretch it a few extra months!

  84. Dakota says:

    As a professional myself, I find these comments to be so entertaining on behalf of the people ” trying to save a dollar ” by using boxed color. You were being super considerate by trying to notify these people about the crap that they are slapping on their heads & they respond by calling you rude and inconsiderate. By all means people, box color your hair but don’t expect us professionals to fix your mistakes when you’re being an ignorant bitch to the people just trying to help. I’ve seen it time and time again in the salon and unfortunately you’re obviously going to have to learn the hard way.

    • Jessica says:

      What I find so funny is that when the box color culprits get defensive – they respond with “…and my hair has always been healthy” or “I don’t have split ends” or “I get compliments on how healthy my hair looks”.

      People! Just because your hair FEELS soft to the touch – DOES NOT MEAN IT’S HEALTHY”. Just because it is SHINY – DOES NOT MEAN IT’S HEALTHY. Those seem to be the only two things that people care to recognize about their hair when determining if it’s “healthy” or not.

      Do you test your hair elasticity? What about the porosity? Do you know what boxed color coats the hair with? Do you know which metallic and vegetable dyes are being processed on your hair and scalp? I’m guessing no. So to the ladies who use the “my hair is still healthy” as a defense – just stop.

      • Andrea says:

        Do you realize that hair is just dead cells? Once it grows past the root, it’s dead. So if someone’s hair feels soft and looks shiny, I don’t see a problem. There is no such thing as “healthy” hair. It’s dead cells, that’s basic human anatomy and physiology.

        • Erika says:

          Everyone knows that. The reason why hair is considered “healthy” or “unhealthy” is an arguable topic. Here’s what I think….

          If you eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, properly manage stress, stay away from toxins(ex: alcohol, drugs), etc. then you will look healthy and glowing on the outside as well. Your hair will look far better than someone who does not do those things.

          Our lifestyle shows in our hair and skin, so if you lead an unhealthy lifestyle then your hair will look unhealthy just like the rest of your body. The same is true for your fingernails, and they are “dead” just like hair is(in your terms…no one refers to their hair and nails as “dead” in everyday conversation).

          So, if you don’t care what your hair looks like because it’s just “dead” to you then that’s your choice. Why are you reading a blog about hair if it doesn’t matter? Most people want “healthy”, shiny, soft hair because it’s better than dry, dull, brittle hair….obviously.

    • Dyann says:

      Wow. Many of you “pros” here seem to be conveying a tone (that I interpret, anyway) to be rather demeaning to those with differing opinions. Pretty unnecessary to be so rude. Here’s a clue: you would do yourselves a favor to welcome and encourage feedback from these intelligent women. Many have valuable insight that YOU could learn from. Experience is a great teacher – pro or not. For example, most women know their own hair best, so understanding how their hair has reacted in the past to different coloring methods, level of porosity, etc., is pretty valuable info indeed. And no amount of training/licenses is going to provide you professionals with ALL the answers for reaching the best results for every client – especially given the fact that so many variables are involved with each patron. Oh and something else I’ve noticed over the years: too many “pros” need some training on REALLY listening to their clients. (And it wouldn’t hurt to tamp down the too frequent snooty attitudes. Not sayin’ all stylists are guilty, but plenty have this ‘holier-than-though’ thing goin’ on.Totally unwarranted.) No doubt about it; coloring hair is a science; a skill that requires the ability to apply said knowledge and training, with a myriad of factors at play with each individual client. I respect the professionals in this field – at least, those that are worthy of said respect. But let’s face it, coloring hair isn’t neurosurgery, stem cell research, nano-physics. etc. So for Christ’s sake, let’s stop acting like it is. Much can be learned by lay people with dedicated research, self-education, effort, trial and error, and so forth. This “ALL BOX COLOR IS BAD” mentality, is simply not a belief to which every consumers ascribes. Doesn’t make them wrong, doesn’t make them less than you “pros”, or anything similar. It is their preference and should be equally respected. Appreciate all women (and men) and if some prefer box color, so be it. No need for the discourteous, egotistical undertones. Just additional food for thought, ‘kay?

      • Dyann says:

        Oops, meant “holier-than-thou.” My apologies.

      • Jessica says:

        Just curious – why do you feel that boxed color ISN’T bad for you? Please list your reasons. Since you stated there are so many variables involved with each patron – that would mean that every patron who walks in, more than likely, needs different attention to their hair/a different formula mixed – correct?

        Then why would you assume that the same ONE boxed hair color formula would work for millions of patrons?

        • I sympathize with Dyann. I live in a community where dealing with kinky curly hair is pretty depressing. Salons will turn me away, and some won’t. Some will show me portfolios of past curly haired clients, but when they get to me, something goes horribly wrong almost always.

          Its not so much that one boxed hair color formula is uniform, but some of us know what dyes to use to get our results, what formulas will dry out our hair, what our hair will tolerate, what it wont. I went to a salon and had an allergic reaction to one of their dyes. I also have terrible anxiety, and usually shake or almost have a full on panic attack if it gets too terribly crowded or busy. Now that ive experienced this, i would never put a stylist through this until i learn more about it.

          My friend’s mother is disabled and she has been doing her hair at home because its hard for her to leave the house. It’s actually sort of fun, she says. It comes with the lack of stares and gossip via local salons.

          I wish that some of the stylists here would understand that salons aren’t an option at all for some of us. That some of us actually don’t have money to go to salons or you know just cant go for medical reasons. They sound so condescending, and it just makes those of us who cant go even worse.

          thank you dyann for posting this comment. I was reading some of the responses and feeling absolutely horrible.

          • Erika Brown says:

            We do understand, but some people take things very personally. I wrote this article because I felt like a broken record. Clients would come in for a new haircut($45), and destroy it with a box color. It’s embarrassing for us when a client says, “Erika is my stylist.”, yet they fail to mention that I was not responsible for their bad haircolor. Our livelihood depends on our reputation.

            What I wrote was initially intended for those clients that can afford “the works”, but say they don’t have the extra hour to spend in the salon(same amount of time to apply at home). Or maybe they are just scared because of previous bad experiences. I wanted people to know that you can’t just pick your hairstylist out of a hat and expect everything to be perfect. Clients must interview us, and if it doesn’t go well…then move on.

            I do have articles on my site for people that can’t go to the salon. They are meant to help people make a better choice when coloring their hair at home. That doesn’t mean that I suggest it, but I do understand that everyone can’t afford it along with the many other reasons out there.

            Just to touch on your allergic reaction….there are tons of people with the same problem and it’s hard to find a salon that carries the products you need. If you ever want to try it again there is a line called “Essensity” by Schwarzkoph that is natural and ammonia-free 🙂 .

  85. Hannah says:

    I’ve been dying my hair since I was 12 and I’m now 22. I’ve NEVER had a problem with box dyes but then again I’m not an idiot. The people that come see you are the ones who fucked up, not the dye! It’s the same shit, just a different name! I think it’s wrong of you to say that no one should color their own hair and just go to a salon onstead. I’ve been to high end and cheap salons MULTIPLE times. I remember one time I was super specific on saying I wanted exactly an inch cut off my hair because I really wanted to keep the length. I repeated myself like 6 times to make sure she understood me. She cut off 4 inches! fOUR. I know because I measured after. I had a stylist melt my hair during highlights. I’ve achieved results doing my hair by myself better than any stylist I’ve ever been to in my life. I’ve saved so much money. That’s why the internet exists, honey. So people can research and learn how to do things the right way, such as doing their own hair at home without some know it all overpriced hairdresser that can’t do shit and is only all about the money.

  86. sher says:

    I prefer to use all the time a box hair dye and my hair is just in good condition, i have had so many bad experiences with “hair professionals” that i don’t trust in them at all. Nobody knows your hair better than you do. And to go to a beauty salon with the perfect reputation of all the world that doesn’t guarantee you a good outcome. So i don’t agree with you in many terms.

  87. Dyann says:

    There is some valuable info here, but much of this is b.s. in my humble opinion. I’ve had horrible results at salons by “expert colorists” (which cost me a frickin’ fortune). Yes, I’ve had wonderful outcomes as well, but let me reiterate – not all professionals are worthy of the title. Additionally, I’ve had great results with box color (and some not-so-great outcomes). Nuff said.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Like I mentioned, some stylists claim to be “professionals” or “pros” and they are not.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Oh yea….I forgot to mention….are you a professional colorist? Let me remind you that if it’s not your field of expertise it’s not your place to call bull shit. Everything I mentioned is backed by the American Board of Certified Haircolorists, so whether you believe it or not…’s true.

      • Jessica says:

        On point.

      • Dyann says:

        Not my place to call certain aspects b.s. because I’m not a professional colorist, Erika? I beg to differ as I have suffered at the hands of one too many unqualified “professional colorists.” BTW, last time I checked, this was America and I’m entitled to freedom of speech. Additionally, I would think you would welcome and encourage ALL insight, opinions and experiences – from your clients (without whom your expertise and livelihood would hardly be necessary.) I was simply offering my personal experiences. We’re intelligent women and though we may not be “professional colorists” our opinions and experiences are valuable and lend much to the subject matter. Your blanket statement that a good result is impossible to achieve with box color is one I do not agree with. I prefer to visit a salon and leave it to the pros; I have no qualms paying top dollar and I tip well above the standard 20% gratuity (regrettably, even when I’m not pleased – something I have to work on.) My point was, I’ve had my share of HORRIFIC results from some of the finest salons, touting “expert colorists.” As I stated previously, when I do use box color, I have had both wonderful and not so fab outcomes. Works both ways. So I’ll reiterate yet again, not all professionals are deserving of the title! One can seek personal recommendations, do endless research (reviews, etc.) online, go in for a consult, etc., – and still there are no guarantees. It’s not that uncommon to be the victim of a horrendous result. I may be misinterpreting your tone, but you sound rather defensive. Lighten up and remember, WE are your paying customers. A little kindness would go a long way and if I were you, I’d welcome ALL view points and past experiences of potential clients.

        • Jessica says:

          Aahhh…the good ‘ol “this is America and I’m entitled to freedom of speech…”. Classic. That one never gets old.

          I LOVE reminding people that Freedom of Speech of the Constitution does NOT, in fact, mean you can say whatever you please, whenever you please, and to whomever you please. It means that you can say what you please within certain limits. And if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person – you can and will have consequences for your actions.

          Check it.

  88. Gia says:

    Thanks for the information!! I would <3 to be able to afford a professional colorist, but alas I fall into that category of women who simply cannot afford to get her gray hairs covered up every 2 or 3 months by a pro. I have a question though, if you are so kind as to be of assistance. I have not colored my hair in over 10 yrs. But 3 days ago I got fed up with all the new grays popping up so I bought a box of Loreal Preference in Golden Brown. My natural hair is very dark brown, almost black. The effect is quite nice. It looks like I have reddish/brown highlights & my grays are sufficiently covered. My question is when the color starts to fade, will it "fade" back to my natural color or to something different? I'm assuming the ammonia will have lightened my hair and so the color will fade but not back to my original color. Is that about right? Also the color will eventually fade on the grays as well right (I'm not referring to the area of new growth where the grays will start to show up, but to the area that is currently covered.) When I re-do the color how important is it to stick with the exact same color (golden Brown) or can I go slightly lighter? Thanks in advance.

    • Erika Brown says:

      It will fade to a dull and lighter version of what you have now. Your results sound on point for what you used and your hair color. On others the Golden Brown would be more gold to light brown, but with darker hair reddish tones are expected.

      When you do it again I would suggest using the same one. If you want to switch colors check with me first 🙂 . You’ll want to only retouch the new hair to the line where the old color has grown out. Let that process for almost the full amount of time. When you have 5-10 minutes left of processing time take a comb and comb the color through your hair from the scalp to the ends (this will not happen perfectly, but that’s okay)! Results vary from person to person and depend on how long you waited to retouch the color and how much it faded.

      Good luck!

  89. Simonne says:

    Hiya! I live in South Africa and realised as I read this blog that you aren’t a local 🙂 I read on anyway since Im assuming products and processes do not or rather should not vary according to country or continent 🙂 I am someone who has used box dye for 7 years… (* hides face *) …. I have had more disappointments than triumphs, yet I persevered with the box dye hoping to find that magic colour… which Im still looking for 🙂 I recently changed stylists, from going to a professional salon with major traffic in and out all day, to a stylist who used to work in a salon but now works from home. She cut and styled my hair for me and I was thrilled with the result. At the previous salon, I used to see the same stylist for cuts for 9 yrs but she left the salon and I was devastated! So the hunt began for another stylist (I did try one of the other stylists in that salon but I was really disappointed with my hair and just promised never to go back). Anyway, long story short, the cut and style was an “audition” for her, and I am happy to say that she will now be my new stylist 🙂 For the first time however, I will be having my colour done by her. I have allowed my hair to grow out for 7 months and still have some box colour on the ends. I have chosen a crimson red for my hair…. and did consider the box route as she charges R440 for the colour and a box will cost me at most R140. I want to keep the condition of my hair healthy since Ive waited 7 months to apply colour again. So I just googled “difference between box dye and professional dye” and came across this blog. Thank you for putting this information out there! You have sealed the deal for me, and I will never use box colour EVER again!!! I cringe when I think about how over processed my hair was. I too used the awesome chocolate brown but everyone thought my hair was black and I was like “noooo man its brown, cant you see!!” LOL!!! Now I know why!! My friend coloured my hair for me and we never just did the roots, it was always all the hair and I would deliberately leave the colour on for an hour instead of 35 minutes (as the box instructions suggest)… sometimes my scalp would be numb for a few hours after each application hahahaa!!!
    Anyway, thank you again!!! I am proudly converted 😉
    Have a great day!!! xxx

    • Erika Brown says:

      Thanks for your comment!

      Depending on your hair color at the ends and the regrowth….doing it yourself could have been disastrous! Especially when trying to achieve red! Remember that with any stylist you want to try out you can always schedule a consultation to talk about your color first, then go back for the actual appointment. Some people don’t feel like doing that, but those were my favorite clients!

      They did their research and asked me specific questions about their hair and how I would choose to color it. I try to explain this to readers that complain about going to a stylist that doesn’t give them the results they are looking for. It’s up to the client to decide whether we are competent enough to do what they are asking. Good luck and I hope your hair turns out the way you hope!

  90. Anna says:

    I know the professionals like to believe (or make others believe) that all hair color that comes in a box is awful, but it all depends. If the person is trying for a drastic change or wants something complicated (like balayage), then it’s best left to the professionals (most of the time); if they just want a subtle, simple change, a box dye is okay, as long as they have some experience and understand how their hair will react. I have very dark brown (almost black) hair and color my hair a medium brown with one of the cheapest, ammonia-free home colors out there. Guess what? I love it and get compliments all the time. Stylists who cut my hair always comment on how soft and healthy my hair is and how pretty my shade is. On the other hand, I’ve heard (and seen) plenty of stories of folks who had their hair professionally done and ended up with a disaster. “So maybe it was at some cheap salon”, you’ll say. It’s happened to those who use both cheap and top of the line salons, but just because someone can’t afford to pay a lot, it doesn’t mean they’re asking for a hair disaster. If the person doing the job is licensed and trained, clients have a right to expect a good result. Years ago I myself had a few bad experiences with hair coloring at salons and actually did quick fixes with box color. Of course, not all salons are equal, but my point is that there are those who are happier and actually look just fine using home dyes. They’re not all evil, and that goes for both sides!

    • Jessica says:

      You can’t expect everyone who is coloring their hair with boxed color to know the porosity of their hair, what porosity even means, what hot roots are, what vegetable dyes are, what metallic dyes are, what ammonia is, what level ammonia is used with ALL boxed colors, what level of ammonia the condition of their hair can withstand, what a double process color means, what hair density means to hair coloring, how grey coverage works, etc…

      I think the entire point of this blog post is not to say “everyone should be able to afford a salon, so please stop using boxed color and come pay me instead”.

      The point is that the general public is NOT educated enough in the slightest about how to work with hair color. Yes, that may sound ridiculous to you because, well – it’s haircolor. But they are CHEMICALS. That you are using on your body. That are being absorbed on your scalp.

      If you’ve had decent experience with your boxed color – great! Realize that not everyone can pick a “mocha brown” or “sandy natural blonde”. That is absolutely NOT how haircolor actually works. We don’t go by names. We go by a (sometimes) complicated numbering system that involves different tones and shades. Your sandy natural blonde boxed color has no idea that it’s being applied to a level 5 redhead while at the same time that an artificial level 2 brunette is tying to use it on hers. Guess what? You’re going to get different results. Why? Because boxed color can in no way, shape, or form replace a hairstylist and/or colorist.

      End of story.

      • Anna says:

        Which is why I said that if the person is going for a slight change, has some experience with hair coloring and is familiar with how their hair will react, box color may work for them! I know professionals hate to hear it, but some people do have good DIY results. Hair coloring can be complicated in some cases but it’s not brain surgery either.

        • Erika Brown says:

          EXPERIENCE is gained from hundreds of color services, consultations, etc. on various clients asking for different results.

          EXPERIENCE is NOT gained by box coloring your own hair and your friends hair… will make a mistake that we already made in our first few months of school and then you will be puzzled at how to fix it…..

          It may not be “brain surgery”, but it is a hell of a lot more complicated than you think it is. Why do you think that only 1,500 of the 100,000+ hairstylists in the nation have achieved the title of American Board Certified Haircolorist? A title that even a 30 YEAR SALON OWNER has tried 5 TIMES to achieve and still HAS NOT passed!!!

          It’s because this stuff is way over your head and you don’t even know it. What do you do for a living? Do you dare to tell us? I’m not the type to belittle anyone or their education/line of work, but others will. Others probably talk about how little knowledge your job takes to do, but they don’t say it to your face. Start blogging about it if you think you are good enough and see how people respond….

          The world needs more positive people, but that’s just not as much fun I suppose!♥

      • Erika Brown says:


        Jessica- Thanks for putting my thoughts into words when I am away or just can’t find the energy to reiterate my points…lol. Thank you!

    • Erika Brown says:

      If you read my entire article….

      You would know that I mention that some people can use a box and get okay results. It HIGHLY depends on your natural level/shade and the box that you choose (which is an uneducated choice).

      Professionals in the cosmetology industry do not work to “make other believe” that what we do is better. We do superior work and it is better.

      If I wanted to trick people everyday I would have become a magician…..

      • Anna says:

        Experience is not gained from box coloring your own hair? Not on a professional level, no, but enough to let you know what will work on your own hair and what won’t, when using home dyes and aiming for subtle changes. I know what to stay away from to avoid brassy hues, I know not to expect to effortlessly become a platinum blonde (not that I’d ever want to) from a bleach kit, etc.

        What I said is that professionals like to believe or make others believe that all box colors are awful when it isn’t always the case, I didn’t say anything about whether the job you do is superior or not (that’s a matter of opinion, btw, based on each person’s experience with salons). If YOU read my entire comment, you’ll see that I stated that there’s good and bad on both sides (DIY and professional dye jobs).

        What does what I do for a living have to do with anything (physical therapist/caretaker for the elderly and disabled, btw)?I have no reason to blog about it. It’s your choice to blog about what YOU do and as such, you can expect a variety of feedback; some will agree with you and praise you for your advice, others perhaps won’t be so supportive. I’m simply offering another point of view, based on my own experience, to an article that mostly seems to label box color as being something to stay away from at all costs. However, based on some of the replies you’ve posted to comments here, it seems that you ladies take issue with just about anyone who dares to oppose what you wrote here and you try to shoot down their opinions. As I said, if you choose to blog about something on the internet, expect all kinds of responses. Accept it and don’t be so sensitive about it; if you’d rather not deal with points of view that don’t support your own, then disable the comment section or something.

        Have a good day.

        • Jessica says:

          We are trying to make the point of – don’t group us all together with your criticisms. Saying “professionals want to make you believe…” has a negative connotation attached to it. Therefore, you think you know us all and believe we would all do the same.

          Not true. Us as hairstylists get a bad rap sometimes because some people think our profession is fluff. That it’s all beauty and fashion-y and not a “real” job. I had a teacher once say to a family member of mine (years after I graduated high school) that once she heard I was a hairstylist, said “oh, she could’ve done so much more with her life”.

          Uhh, thanks. Remember that the next you visit ANY professional to cut, color, polish, or wax you, lady. Because at one time – you WILL need us.

          Just be more sensitive to our line of work and DO NOT group us all together with any bad experiences you may have had or what you believe “ALL” stylists would say/do in a situation. It’s like saying “all caretakers probably mistreat the elderly at some point and don’t care what meds they dispense…”.

          (That’s why it mattered).

        • Erika Brown says:

          I do give credit to those that have an opposing opinion and express themselves in a positive way without putting others down. Your narrow-minded comments don’t fit into that category.

          I will continue to prove my points because that’s the purpose of this blog. If I simply agreed with everyone then it’d be a waste of time. The reason for this post is to explain why things “happen” to those that are expecting a miracle from a box and don’t get the outcome they are looking for.

          Some people want to pay for amazing color and some would rather leave it to chance. I don’t care about that…it’s a personal choice. The information is here because my clients would ask the same questions over and over again……these are the answers.

  91. Miranda Markowski says:

    Funny, when I go to the salon to get my hair dyed (with no call ahead), they go get two bottles off the shelf, squirt some of each into a bowl, and mix it together then spread it on. And this is an expensive salon. I wonder where this person is, that their stylist ‘custom blends tones’ to each customer, and ‘checks hair porosity’. Must be incredibly expensive then.

    • Jessica says:

      Do you physically accompany them into the dispensary to see what is beig mixed?

    • Erika Brown says:

      So….just because that “stylist” at the “expensive” salon doesn’t give a crap….all hairstylists must do the same thing?

      Like I mentioned in this article and several other posts….seek someone who is passionate about what they do and takes pride in being the best and you will be happy with the outcome. Same with other professions that work with the public. The American Board of Certified Haircolorists are an elite group of professionals that uphold to those standards as well as going above and beyond your expectations.

      Just because you haven’t met one of us yet….doesn’t mean they aren’t out there.

  92. WASTED TIME says:

    This blog and every single comment is a load of superficial horse dung. Get a life instead of arguing over haircolor like a bunch of hoity-toity bitches. Jesus.

    • Jessica says:

      I can’t believe you SURVIVED reading through every single agonizing horse dung comment. How did you do it?! You must tell us your secret!

      My heart goes out to you, really. What a terrible thing to have to be subjected to such horse dung – I cannot believe someone actually forced you to do such an absurd and horrific act. I picture the torturing that must have been inflicted upon you and you’ve lived to tell about it – now THAT is a story to tell.

      Take your disgusting comments to the next blog and move along.

      • Erika Brown says:

        ♥ ♥ ♥

        The funny thing about the internet is that no one is forcing me to read something I don’t like….it’s not school or work.

        If I stumble upon a page while Googling that I absolutely can’t stand or I think is ridiculous…I just go back to the search and keep looking for what I want. I don’t have time to waste on a website that has information I don’t care to read. I definitely don’t have time to comment on it.

        That’s not why I don’t comment though…it’s because I appreciate that everyone has different tastes, talents, interests, etc. and who am I to judge? Why is my negative opinion important? It isn’t…the world needs more positive people and that’s why I smile and keep going.

        Maybe “WASTED TIME” needs a life or something to be passionate about. This brings me to an old favorite…

  93. Whitney Nicole says:

    I had to use Google to get to this blog!
    I was searching “boxed hair color” and this was the first thing that popped up! I was actually reading another article about “how to dye hair at home.” (dye, ugh!) I was actually surprised they suggested using a boxed color, because I always heard how bad they were for your hair. And while I would love to have the confidence of achieving salon results in my bathroom, I don’t. I know nothing about hair, so I won’t even attempt it.
    A helpful tip to anyone that isn’t necessarily concerned with touching up grays or roots, but wants to experiment with some different colors: I get my hair ombred, that way I can have the red/violet tones I love, but don’t always have to go and get touched up. I can usually let my roots grow out for a few months, maybe even longer! Of course, the color will fade, but I still get compliments, even on my faded color. And that I have to credit to my stylist that knows what she’s doing and knows what will look good on my budget.

  94. Cece says:

    Just out of curiosity, what if someone purchases & mixes colors from Sally’s Beauty. I’ve done it before. I’m a natural blonde, went dark. I purchased one color and the color right above it. Did the darker one first, then waited a week and put the other color in. It came out amazing! So, are those products the salon products we are led to believe?

    I have an amazing stylist who is a color stylist here in Vancouver. I don’t have a lot of money to spend on my hair, but I treat myself to her haircuts because she does a fantastic job. I also pay $75 – for a haircut. When I first saw her she was aiming to repair my hair (after years of going dark, then back to my natural blonde). She used color and highlights. It cost around $300 last year. That’s a third of my rent and just way too much – even though I know she does a great job (and would scold me if i come in asking for a different color. I’m thinking strawberry blonde)

    So yes, some color experts are that – experts. I appreciate that. I was a dog groomer for years and constantly fought people that thought $60 was too much for a small dog and more then their haircut (Forgetting that they don’t bite their stylists/crap on their tables/have mani/pedi’s done/teethbrushing,along with some very gross things, etc). Some of your do great work. But sometimes we just can’t afford it.

    Sorry for the long reply. But if I could get an answer on the first part? Sally’s vs. box?

    • Erika Brown says:

      Thanks for reading! First of all….I think dog grooming is totally worth it! Even hairstylists have trouble…it is definitely something meant for a pro!

      Sally vs. Box:

      Box color is pre-formulated. Even though you have to mix the developer in, it is not the same as Sally color. Box color is more damaging because the developer must be strong enough to work on a wide range of haircolors. When you use Sally color you can choose a safer developer level (as long as it’s with the right shade/level of color and being used on the right shade/level of hair).

      Also….Just like professional color (demi, semi, & permanent)…Sally’s carries all types. Your outcome really depends on what is mixed, what was already on the hair, etc.

      Sally color is not the same as professional color. The best way for me to explain this is that Sally is like the “generic” or “dollar store” brand and professional color is the high quality product. You will never see Paul Mitchell, Swarzkropf, Kenra, Joico, or other professional brands in Sally’s. The only place those can be purchased is in pro stores which require a license to buy.

      Think of it like this: Dr.Perky vs. Dr. Pepper, Great Clips vs. Your High-End Salon, $1 Paper Towels vs. Bounty Paper Towels, Drug Store Makeup vs. M·A·C Makeup, and so on.

      Hopefully I answered your question…if not let me know 🙂

  95. Ashley says:

    These girls that are slamming hairstylist I would like to know if u went to the most expensive hairstylist in town or the supercuts or cheaper salons!!! Big difference in us who are passionate and experienced and those salons that are just doing it for a job

  96. Selma says:

    Dear all, I hate having to cover my gray hair at home. I cannot count how many towels and pieces of cloth I have already stained and how many dark spots I left on doors and other parts around my bathroom. Still, nowadays I have to retouch my roots at the maximum every 3 weeks. I cannot afford to have professional coloring that often. It is not only my poor budget but time restrictions too. However, I have seen improvement on the quality of home products. I’m not a professional, but I noticed it. Am I totally wrong?

    • Erika Brown says:

      You’re right! Things have improved!

      It’s all about which products you choose. I have been in a pinch and needed to settle on shampoo, but there are some brands that I would absolutely not use! Try a magic eraser for your color marks around the house 🙂 I have spilled an entire bowl of medium-brown permanent color down the white cabinets in my bathroom….it happens to all of us!

      As long as you remember to only apply color to the regrowth and take great care of your hair…you will at least be preventing extreme damage and inconsistent colors. The other important thing is to stick with the same color or something close. Never try to go a shade lighter with a box or switch from brown to red, or black to brown. Some changes are more likely to turn out decent, but it’s risky!

      I appreciate your comment because I know that everyone cannot go to the salon. I wrote this article for many reasons, but mostly for those that think haircolorists have no talent, knowledge, etc. We are always trying to prove our talents, but most stylists are sensitive to their clients limitations when it comes to pricey services. A great stylist will at least give you advice to help you when you need to color at home 🙂

      • Selma says:

        Thanks for you comments, Erika. I try to do most of what you said. One thing I did not know until very recently is that applying the color to the entire length of my hair would make the ends darker… Only recently a hairdresser elaborated on that to me. I think the box products are better, but the people working on this field is much better educated too (the fact you have this great blog is only an example of that). Nowadays, the trainning is better and more available and on top of that professionals like haircolorists also know how to advise their clients. We have talented people and not so talented in any profession. The bad thing is that when someone had a bad experience with a particular person they start generalizing their impressions on everybody else… You are totally on point when you say that hairdressers could be sensitive to some of the client’s issues. I, at least, really enjoy it. Keep the good work, Erika!

        • Erika Brown says:

          ♥ No, thank you! ♥

          It’s so refreshing to hear from someone that agrees…and isn’t a hairstylist! Some others are looking for advice, and I welcome those comments as much as the negative ones.

          Feel free to e-mail me anytime if you have questions or need advice ! 🙂

  97. Maximiana Garretson says:

    I will never use box color ever again, even if I have to wait months till I get my hair done it’s not worth the damage to my hair. Have went to a professional for 10 years and it’s worth the money. You get what you pay for and the more you pay the better the outcome, like buying a car the less you pay the worse the car and the more issues.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Thanks for commenting! It’s so refreshing to hear from someone that sees the value in going to a professional for haircolor. Most everything is like that….cheaper is not always better!

      I’m assuming that I don’t hear from as many readers like you because women who don’t use box color are most likely not Googling it :)! Second to those that are sticking up for box color are the stylists looking for help with explaining the reasons why box color is not a good choice!

      Thanks for reading!

  98. Christi says:

    It doesn’t matter how detailed I explain what I want..
    I can’t even get a simple hair cut done right.
    Apparently cosmotology doesn’t teach measurements since I haven’t found a stylist who comprehends an inch or 2.
    Let them color my hair?
    Cold day in hell

    • Did you ever think that your measurements are off? Your “inch or two” can mean two totally different things to two people. I will have you know that all combs have a measurement guide in inches along the back side so we can know exactly how much we are cutting off.

      I would suggest verifying with your stylist BEFORE he/she cuts to know how much hair is coming off. A stylist cannot be blamed for an incorrect measurement if you do not fully disclose what you’re after.

      We’re not mind readers. We also do not like to be grouped together as one bunch who cannot “comprehend an inch or two”.

      Cosmetology does teach “measurements”.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Most often the problem is a direct result of a vague consultation. Maybe you are just going to a cheap stylist….ever consider that? Watch this video for a great example about why haircuts go wrong.

      Unfortunately, there are plenty of hairstylists out there that just want to get cutting and get it over with so they can make more money. The sooner you are in and out, the more they make.

      If you go somewhere quality that holds their stylists to a higher standard, then you won’t have those problems. I always repeat what was discussed and ask lots of questions because clients do not know how to describe what they want. I want to make sure we are on the same page because I want them to be pleased so they will be a repeat client.

      Great stylists know that longevity is the best way to make money in the business….poor stylists are all about the”now”.

      p.s.- If you think you can color your hair far better than an American Board Certified Haircolorist….then please, go ahead and show off your skills. Our books are full as well as the wait lists for clients that can’t wait for their next color appointment!

  99. Drew says:

    I’m a professional salon owner on the uk , BOX COLOURS ARE AWFULL ,

    Colour is hard to remove. Colour goes patchy. I hate the retail box colours no colours should be sold to any one that is not trained in our profession

    I was trained professionally by wella international

    And for some one to say we over charge first of all , I will say you for quality in colour , you pay for quality in stylist and salon director!!

    Clients always come running back to us when they have messed up our own hair !!

    Thanks again Drew .x

    • Erika Brown says:

      Thanks for your comment! In my opinion, why ruin your hair with box color when you can enjoy your natural hair at its healthiest? If you can pay for it, get the quality salon service, if you can’t, don’t ruin your hair with the cheap option! Just do something else to make a change like a new style.

      I like this example….

      If you want plastic surgery…a new nose, boobs, or a face lift….but can’t afford it.

      Should you go to Tijuana, Mexico and pray for a great result…or to just live through it and hope you look better?

      Or should you just learn a new makeup technique, get a push-up bra, or some skin cream? Sometimes we want something so bad that we don’t care what the negative outcome of going cheap will do to us. I’ve seen a botchy boob job, a bad face lift, scary looking hair implants, etc., and they were all in the salon getting great color….swearing to never be so desperate again!

  100. Misty says:

    Ericka, then don’t put down women and make them feel inferior or stupid for not being able to afford salon color. That is exactly what you and this so called professional blog are doing. There are very many women who are doing their own hair out there that are very happy with the results. All you and you’re crony are doing is committing intimidation to get them to do otherwise. I can pick out tons of phrases all throughout this trash rag of a blog that is “immature” and insulting. $200 buys my collegiate daughter’s groceries for a month. We do each others hair and we look FABULOUS.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Sounds like you’re the one putting people down…not only me, but thousands of other professionals in my industry.

      Haircolor, manicures, facials, massages, etc. are just a few of the many luxuries in life. The same goes for shopping at Nordstrom, buying groceries at Whole Foods, driving a BMW, living in a luxury waterfront condo, going to the dentist, and so on. In every industry with every product or service there are mediocre options, premier options, and a few in-between.

      Would I “put someone down” because they can’t afford the best clothes? Of course not! I’m sure someone on the internet is raving about how awesome their boutique jeans are and that no one should buy jeans anywhere else because the quality will never compare to what she sells/buys. Is that designer/boutique owner insulting everyone for not being able to afford their clothes? Of course not!

      Would I “put someone down” because they can’t buy organic food at a grocery store that costs twice as much as Food Lion? Of course not! I’ve read lots of articles and watched several documentaries about the benefits of organic/whole foods and why everyone should eat only the best. I wish I could eat like that, but I don’t because it’s too expensive. I settle for the cheaper option and hope to one day be able to eat like that. I don’t accuse the people who are passionate about it and want to share their knowledge with the world of putting those down that can’t afford it.

      I don’t have time to elaborate on every example, and if you don’t get it by now then you won’t. I have clients that get their color done in the salon, and those that do it at home because they can’t afford it. I understand that, so I don’t push them or bring it up when they come in for a cut. Instead, I give them tips that will help if they do use box color.

      I wrote this article because many women have had bad experiences with haircolor and as a result they don’t trust their new stylist. There were times when I felt like a broken record trying to explain why their previous stylist couldn’t please them. I constantly answered the same questions with each new color consultation. I realized that the general public has no clue about what to look for in a truly talented colorist. That’s why I became a certified haircolorist….I needed credibility to ease the minds of new clients and I wanted to make sure that I had the knowledge to back it up. The only other way to prove it is for someone to let you work your magic.

      Maybe some day you will be able to look at things differently. If you read my blog you would know that I have given credit to those who are successful with box color. I also mention that it will not work for everyone and every situation….sometimes a professional is the only way.

  101. Misty says:

    Ya know, you have gone to school to learn your trade, get credit for that one. But I have a few questions. One why are the professional colors not available to the public to purchase? Answer: money monopoly. You scold someone for saying “silly”, yet you’re articles are exceedingly condescending and speak of idiocy to those of us who do not have the money or patience to pay out the rear end for yet another “professional” hair disaster as I and countless thousands of others have had. I am 47 and can’t even remember the number of times I’ve had a hair disaster with a so called pro. So now I’m to the point that I do my own color. Thank God for Google and Youtube to help educate me on how to achieve the looks I want, granted there is some filtering being done. Second question, I get charged $200. What is the profit margin for that? How much did the color cost you? To me its called taking advantage of women who are seeking a boost in their self esteem and confidence and price gouging. What about educating your costumer? Teach her the chemistry of the color of her hair, the reason your using a certain tone so she will not end up turning orange or red. For the love of God no way would a pro do anything like that because the customer may go and do her own hair and take money out of your pocket. To sum it up it sounds to me like you are a scared little blow hard that is seeking to demean instead of educate, real professional.

    • Jessica says:

      Erika, my jaw – LITERALLY dropped. People like that still exist?! It is so easy nowadays for childish and immature behavior to hide behind a keyboard and computer screen.

      Yes, we paid to go to a trade school. Yes, we purchase products to use on you for less than you pay us. It’s also called working a J-O-B. Do we have to disclose to you exactly how much we pay for our products? Absolutely not. Do we set the prices that we pay for those products? Nope. You can thank Paul Mitchell, Redken, Bed Head, Matrix, Logics, Majirel, etc. for that.

      When you walk into the dentist office – would you expect him/her to disclose what he paid for his drill, scrapes, and other miscellaneous tools? What about those plushy leather reclining chairs you sit in while under the scope? Can’t forget about the assistant who prepped you! Wonder how much she gets paid – “I should ask her”! What about those pesky utilities that keep the place running – lights, running water, and electricity…that ain’t cheap!

      My point is – a lot more money on our part goes into us getting you all primped and polished than your little brain thinks. We have utilities in the shop, assistants to keep us running on time who need to be paid, building rent, shampoo and product backbar to properly wash your hair before/after services, scissors, irons, straighteners, razors, clippers, thinning shears, edgers, combs, brushes, gallons of sanitizer for all said tools, capes, towels, laundry detergent so that you get your hair sopped up with something more clean than you, personally, probably use at home. Let’s not forget our continuing education hours that we are required by the State Board to keep every 2 years. You think education comes free my friend? Pff…didn’t think so. Did you know that we have to pay every 2 years for each single hour of education and class we receive to keep our licenses active? Your previous flippant comment makes me think ‘no’.

      If you asked a doctor how to mend a broken bone by yourself so you could save a few bucks – should he tell you? What about asking how to sew your own clothes for far cheaper than it is to buy an item of clothing at the mall? When’s the last time you asked your cable company if you could get the same rates that THEY’RE paying to provide YOU with service? Newsflash: it’s a whole hell of a lot cheaper than what you’re paying. If you expect to pay the exact same amount that professionals do for a service or product – the world would not be turning today. Money would not be made anywhere. And you would not have a job.

      I find your comment to be insulting, aggressive, overbearing, childish, immature, unintelligent, and downright RUDE. To see that you have the pure audacity to put down one’s trade because you’ve been over-paying for salon visits is disgusting. Your 47 year old rear should be ashamed of yourself. Do your research next time you decide to air your dirty little rant on a public forum. And find some human respect while you’re at it. (Probably found at your nearest Walmart – with your boxed color).

    • Erika Brown says:

      Normally, I would not even waste a minute of my time on comments like yours…for obvious reasons. I could say a lot to you, but my blog is not going to be a place for negativity. You can say what you want, I’ll leave it there for the world to see how narrow-minded you are.

      Our products are not available to purchase because you would not know how to use them. BOX color is meant to be “foolproof” for a reason.

      The internet is full of opinions, facts, fiction, etc., but I don’t put down those that I disagree with. Sure does say a lot about your character…”If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

      I am open to opposing opinions or those that wish to challenge the information I share, but do it with class and a fair argument. Calling me names and suggesting that I write and share my stories to keep people on an ignorant level is absurd.

      I know you or someone like you is thinking….she blogs to make money off of people or that I would want to “demean” readers to keep them coming back. If I could make lots of money off writing and sharing my passion all day…that would be awesome! The few cents I make don’t come close to the cost of keeping this site up and running. I do it because I enjoy it and I like helping people.

      If you haven’t noticed yet….hair services & products aren’t the only thing that are controlled by people to make money. Life is just that. The world is…unless you are not at mercy to anyone for anything. In my opinion, the only way to be truly free of monopolies is to live off the land…primitively.

      Do you shop at Wal-Mart? Probably so, that’s where they sell the box color. Like everything else they sell….it’s marked up and you are at their mercy to get the products you need. You must pay the price and it’s everywhere.

  102. Rachel says:

    I found myself so engrossed in your blog that while simply looming for an answer I read every single comment on here and can say without a doubt I learned more from you today than I even knew would have been possible. Thank you for taking time to help educate and to share your passion with us, I only wish that there were more professionals out there like you.
    I’ve got a 2 part question for you. 1) my daughter had 2 surgeries removing 2 brain tumours after which her hair completely changed texture. According to the medical doctors there is no actual reason for this and we can’t seem to get a solid answer as to how to take care of it in its current state. She had hair down to her waist however due to the change and damaged appearance we have since cut it to the middle of her back. It is now very frizzy and fragile, it’s breaking all over the place and the texture is strange in the aspect tbat it’s completely dried out and has a feel like it’s completely covered in conditioner yet wiry and dry. She gets extremely greasy hair now and we only condition halfway up her head, never doing her scalp. We’ve tried treatments and deep conditioning with no success. Due to her medical issue’s we really can’t take her into a salon but any advice for something to help would be appreciated.
    The second question is I know that the salon Is my best option for my own hair color but it’s simply not a feasible option at this point in time, I’ve looked for a professional Who could come to our home and color my hair but in our rural community it’s not a reality either. I desperately miss having my gorgeous brunette color I used to have with natural high and low lights in it. Its now getting a handful of grey hairs through it and it’s lost its shine I’d always had in my youth. I broke down and in desperation I bought a brand new brand from the box and while not horrible it’s too light on the top but the ends are exactly what I wanted for all over color. Its only been a day but I can’t handle the crown areas color. I’m hoping that you’ll have something come to mind that can help me get to my desired results without being stuck with it. Thank you once again for this blog it’s refreshing to see people still care!

    • Jessica says:

      So I know I’m not the author of this blog or creator of conversation but the inner hairstylist in me couldn’t resist adding her helpful option.

      I would say if money is a factor – then you always have the option of trying a temporary fix. Have you ever tried a color depositing shampoo/conditioner? My salon used Artec for quite a while and, if I remember correctly, the “Walnut” might’ve been the darkest shade they had. If used a couple times a week, you can keep your color from looking dull and help to temporarily darken any lighter shades that the box color “lifted”.

      • Erika Brown says:

        Thanks Jessica!
        I appreciate your input and enthusiasm for our profession! I hope that you will continue to add your opinions when you feel compelled. Maybe one day you can be a guest author on a subject that you feel passionate about! Thanks again 🙂

    • Erika Brown says:

      Hi Rachel!
      Your experience with box color is one of the most common. For a simple option you could try a clarifying shampoo from the demarcation line to the ends. Using something strong and cleansing could lighten the darker color a little. Even though you would be lightening the color that you want to achieve, this is the easiest and least complex option.
      Giving you instructions on how to fix that would be difficult and lengthy, so I will send that in an e-mail :).

      As for your daughter, I would need to see her hair and know more about her progress and diet to give you more advice. HOWEVER, I do have an experience to share with you that may help lift your spirits…

      About 4-5 years ago a regular client of mine referred someone to me that she worked with for a color. My new client was pleased with me, so she brought in her daughter for a trim to see if she would be happy with my services as well. Her daughter had been through some difficult medical issues and her hair went from very thick and healthy to extremely thin, brittle, fragile….you name it.

      Her daughter was weary of letting anyone touch her hair…so much that she would worry about someone combing or brushing it too hard because she did not want to lose any of the hair that grew back. After a few cuts she started to trust me and eventually let me color it with care. The new hairs texture was kinky and dry among many other things, so it was difficult to get the results that normally came with ease.

      Now her hair is long, thick, beautiful…and pretty much the same as it was before (I never saw it healthy before I became her stylist, so nothing to compare to.). With every appointment I gave her hope and did everything I could to make her happy. Every time I see her we both talk about how unbelievable it is that her hair has changed so much for the better.

      I can’t make any promises, but I can tell you that it will get better and patience is your friend :).

  103. Donna says:

    I appreciate you for taking the time to caution people about box color. But I do have a question- I have had my hair professionally cut and colored for the past 25 years or so. I have engaged the services of about a half-dozen different stylists over this period of time, changing only when I moved to a different state or different part of the country. They all have charged in the same price range, while taking inflation into consideration. Most recently, my stylist was charging about $200 for a cut and color. He wanted to see me every six weeks. I believe your warnings about box color and I am extremely hesitant to try it. However, I can either pay for my son to go to college or continue to have my hair colored. I would like to know where one can get their hair colored for $50. I don’t think it is possible to find such a service at that price anywhere in the US. I don’t think I have ever paid less than $80 for a color, and that was without a cut, and about 20 years ago. How does one find a salon that might charge a reasonable price?

    • Jessica says:

      I am a hairstylist in Ohio. My salon charges $35 for a retouch, $45 for a partial highlight, and $70 for a full highlight (respectively, considering hair length). I think “salon visits vs. college” seems a bit extreme. There are plenty of salons that charge reasonable prices (under $200) and quite frankly, I’ve never charged nearly $200 for a single visit. Unless you are seeking out high-end salons for a full blown “spa/hair day” – there should be no reason why a normal cut/color is costing you $200.

      • Donna says:

        Thanks Jessica. Your pricing seems to be very reasonable and I wouldn’t think twice about using a boxed product if I lived near you! I think I’ll just need to shop around a bit more and find a “Jessica” in my state.

        To reply to your observation about the “spa day,” my salon visits in the past weren’t for a full blown spa day, although I have done that before with my sister (in Boston), where we paid close to $400 for the day (cut, color, mani & pedi). I live in northern New England and it seems that all the salons, except for the economy places, such as Great Cuts and Supercuts, try to market themselves as day spas. Sadly, they are not.

        Last year I left my stylist, who I adored, mainly because of the $200 charge for cut/color and the salon’s high-pressure insistence that I come every 6 weeks. This may not be the forum to complain about salons, but if it can help other stylists or owners to hear from a customer who reluctantly left a beloved stylist (after 7 years!), I will say that, in addition to the $200 price tag, there were other factors that led me to leave. – Erika, you may simply delete this if you feel it is inappropriate- The salon seemed to be bustling with activity every time I went. The sound of a dozen blow dryers buzzing, and hair dryers humming, drowned out any ambient music. In addition, the stylists seemed to always have their cellphones in hand, taking phone calls and texting friends between stages of the hair service. It was definitely not what a customer would consider a “spa experience.”

        The final straw was when I realized how stressed out I was whenever I left the salon. I attributed the source of much of this stress to the salon owner. My stylist worked in close proximity to the salon owner, who, above the aforementioned noise of the salon, continuously complained loudly about her lot in life. She was so upset because her child didn’t get into Yale, or she was so angry that she had to decide whether to go to Aruba or the Mediterranean on vacation – how dare her husband make her choose one and not both! Or the taxes on her house went up to ten thousand dollars this year, or her husband gave her a pair of one-carat earrings for her birthday and she was fuming that they were so small. As a single mother of a college student, I make a very modest income. To me, a salon visit was a special treat, a reward for managing my finances well, a splurge that I deserved for sacrificing a couple restaurant meals and cooking dinner at home every night. In the end, I simply couldn’t justify spending so much of my income on what should have been a happy and somewhat relaxing experience.

        I hope the stylists here, and my own beloved former stylist, can understand that.

      • Claire says:

        Hi Jessica, where in Ohio are you? I’m living in Columbus, any chance that’s where you are?

        I keep going back to box dyes, because over the last 5-8 years EVERY time I go to get my hair colored it’s a disaster & nothing like what I asked for. Maybe this has to do with box color already being on there as the original blogger suggested, but it sucks so much to pay a lot of money (I usually pay 80-100 for a solid all-over color), and then still have your hair look just as crappy as when you dye it with box color. I’d be willing to invest 2-3 repeat visits if I really thought someone could help me achieve healthy color in the shade that I wanted.

      • Erika Brown says:

        Thanks, Jessica! Also, does your son work or share some of the college expenses? I’m not saying that you should or shouldn’t pay for everything, but I worked through college and my parents expected me to get scholarships, pay for my books with summer money, and I applied for student loans and grants. It wasn’t easy, but college is so expensive and my parents wouldn’t have been able to pay for everything with or without a few sacrifices.

        • Donna says:

          My son’s college costs $54,000 per year. He was awarded $30,000/year in scholarships, he borrows $10,000 per year in a loan that will be repaid when he graduates, he pays $10,000 of his own money that he had saved, and I make up the $4000 difference and pay for his books. He has a 3.8 GPA and ensures me that he will take care of me in my old age!

    • Erika Brown says:

      I understand what you are saying! There are many different types of hairstylists, but right now I am going to compare two.

      1)The stylist that looks at you and sees dollar signs.
      2)The stylist that looks at you and sees someone that needs their help.

      I am the type that never looked at my appointments and calculated my expected weeks earnings. Some would say that was stupid, because the reason we work is to make money. I do hair because I love it and it is my passion. Doing hair will probably never get me a six figure salary, but I never once thought about that and I don’t now.

      I like to make people happy and it’s a great feeling to know that I made someones day. I always spend at least a half hour longer on my color/highlights because I take the time to talk to my client about what they expect, need, and want. I also take the time to apply color/highlights with perfection so that I don’t damage my clients hair.

      A stylist that is thinking more about the money and less about you is doing things a little differently….

      The “money-minded” stylist is considering a few other things first:
      1)How can I get this done quickly(and it not look bad, but may not look the best), so I can squeeze in one more client today.
      2)How can I make the most out of this appointment? Which services cost more and what can I “add on”? (Example: You may only need a single application color, but they will suggest color and highlights…$$$).
      3)Which services/haircuts/styles will ensure that this client will need to come in to see me more often?

      So…I’m sure you can see the difference! I can elaborate much more, but I’ll save that for a future post 🙂

      Good luck in finding the stylist that care about you and your lifestyle more than their own!

      • Donna says:

        Erika, you are a gem! Okay, so no boxed hair color for me. And I’m looking for a new stylist. Thanks for giving me a good idea of what to look for!

      • Donna says:

        Hi Erika!

        Quite a few months have passed since I first wondered if I should use a boxed color on my hair and found your blog. I am happy to report that I have taken your advice and the advice of your readers. I found a salon near my home that charges a reasonable price. The stylist who cut, colored, and styled my hair did a great job and my hair feels and looks fantastic! More importantly- I feel fantastic that I didn’t risk trying a boxed color. At the salon, I was pampered by a stylist who, although she only had a couple years of experience, was professional, attentive to my concerns, and very sweet. I paid a total of $80, which included a $15 tip- a far cry from the $200 that my previous salon was charging me every six months.

        Thanks for all your help!

  104. Cassondra says:

    Love this! Thank you for writing this!

  105. Jenny says:

    Hi Erika! I’ve been coloring it black for about 8 years. The stylist I’m seeing right now went a little lighter than black and she said that she’ll probably have to go slightly lighter every time she colors it. Is that what you would do? It still looks black but I can kind of see some slight brown when the light hits the top of my head. Thank you again 🙂

    • Erika Brown says:

      It all depends…was your “black” color applied just from the re-growth to the demarcation line each time you needed a color? Or…was it applied all over?

      You’re in better shape if it was only applied to the new growth (refreshing previously colored hair when needed with a demi from demarcation to ends). Either way, going a little lighter each time isn’t going to change your previously colored hair.

      If you can see that it is lighter at the root and she will go lighter each time…it’s going to look like you have “hot roots”. You may already appear to have hot roots, but I can’t determine that because I don’t know how much lighter the color was or the amount of regrowth that was colored. Often, “hot roots” are a result of box color because people who use it don’t understand how color works and the box directions are not specific.

      I would go a shade lighter on your regrowth and do a partial highlight with a medium weave pattern. Then, the highlights will need to be toned with a semi-permanent color because they will probably turn out red/red-orange(this is okay because we want brown). Toning the highlights to a brown (I would be more specific, but I haven’t seen your hair.) will help to blend in the new and old color…also eliminating the “hot roots” look.

      Without the highlights…going slightly lighter each time will just look bad. Your stylist should also show sensitivity to your previously lightened hair each time she re-touches your highlights. After your first highlight, lightener should only be applied to the regrowth or hair that has not yet been highlighted. With very dark colored hair it can be more damaging (especially because stylists tend to use a higher volume of developer, hoping for a guaranteed or faster lift).

      There is another option, but I won’t elaborate because it’s more damaging and more risky depending on your stylist. I hope this helps!

  106. Jenny says:

    Hi! This is a great article. Thank you for taking the time to share it 🙂
    I have a question… I’ve been guilty of using box color for many many years. I have premature gray/white hair. Close to about 80%. I have asian hair and have been coloring it black. But the gray stands out so much now that I was hoping to lighten it so when my roots grow back it’s not so obvious. I finally went I a salon and they suggested that I come back every 5 weeks to have professional coloring done and then they will foil it. Do you think this is the way to go? Any recommendations? I would love to have more of a dark chocolate color or highlights 🙂 thank you again! Oh and I’m all for salon color and have decided to totally ditch the box!

    • Erika Brown says:

      Thanks, I’m glad you liked it! How long have you been coloring your hair black? I like the idea of what you want, but it will be difficult to achieve if you have been coloring it really dark for a long time. Also, you will need a stylist that’s very advanced with color because this could easily turn into a haircolor nightmare. It will be a gradual process, but worth it to maintain the integrity of your hair 🙂

  107. […] probably already read 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color and you’re ready for more!  Either I haven’t convinced you yet, or you just love […]

    • Great article! I have dark brown hair, and lately I’ve wanted to go red. I hate the burgundy, purple red that I always seem to get at the salon. Is it possible to get a natural-looking red that is not burgundy? Have I just been misstating what I want when I go into the salon? I used to use a box to color my hair black, and I loved how it looked. The boxed color gave it a straw-like texture, which seemed to almost tame the natural fluff, so I sort of get what Cathy is saying, in a way. But I’ve never been able to lighten it with a box. Never. And to go red means lightening it. Which brings me back to the question. How do I avoid the violet tones? Is a picture of what I want my best bet?

  108. Cathy says:

    Oh, and I have to say that the condition of my hair was a lot worse before I started dyeing with permanent dye- it was frizzy, knotty (literally couldn’t get a brush through it) and dry.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Nothing you’re claiming adds up really….unless you are just an extremely odd case. With hair so long, that is unlikely. I am open to readers expressing opinions that are in favor of my article or opposing it.

      There is no need, however, to be rude or to tell an American Board Certified Haircolorist and Cosmetology Professional that her article is “silly”. Like I have said before…do you have a profession or career? No matter what it is, if you take pride in your work and strive to know everything/be the best….any decent person will respect your professional opinion. I most certainly do, but if I don’t agree I do not bash them because I am NOT a PROFESSIONAL in their line of work.

  109. Cathy says:

    This is silly. Why would I spend thousands of dollars per year on salon colour when I can spend $50 per year? As for damage and how good it looks.. well I’ve been dyeing my whole head with drugstore dye for a decade, my hair is thigh length and I constantly have people coming up to me on the street, clerks at stores, etc, complimenting me on my hair colour, length and thickness. Occasionally it will come up with someone I’ve known for years that this isn’t even close to my natural colour and they will be shocked. People have google these days so you have to be an idiot to botch it.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Silly? You must be curious for some reason if you took the time to read my article.

      Thousands of dollars? Where do you live, Beverly Hills? You can get a great color & cut for $90 every two months and that only equals $540 per year. You say that you only spend $50 per year on your box color, but I find that VERY hard to believe with THIGH-LENGTH hair. There is no way that one box will do the job with such LONG & THICK hair. Boxes are at least $10 and given that I know you need two per coloring…that means you only color your hair 2 to 3 times max per year.

      Some people prefer to spend a little more and be pampered because it is the only time they treat themselves. They love a great blowout and leave the salon feeling like a new person. There’s nothing like having someone else shampoo your hair, give you a scalp massage, and style your hair beautifully for the day. Can you say that you get that “feeling” when you do your own hair? Maybe you should try it and you won’t think it’s so “silly”.

      Also, if your color doesn’t look extremely inconsistent due to bad box color and self application…then it is probably black. With hair that length it would be nearly impossible to achieve a consistent color without a professional!

      Lastly, very few people have such long hair….VERY few…and I doubt they get many compliments other than, “Wow! Your hair is super long!”. It only screams that you are probably attached to it or are weary of getting a real haircut. I don’t know many women that envy the woman walking down the street with “no style”.

      • Jessica says:

        Preach it!!! From one hairstylist to another – I could not have said it better myself. Truly.

        • Erika Brown says:

          Thanks 🙂 It’s not easy as there are so many skeptics. I figure they are either- 1. Unable to afford hair appointments (even if you can go quarterly it’s worth it) or 2. They are convinced that their hair is “Fabulous” when it’s really not even close. Oh yea…don’t forget- 3. “Other” (because someone will say I’m wrong for some random reason)…need to cover all bases 🙂

          Some people just like to argue or try to prove others wrong. The beauty of the internet and blogging is that we can express our opinions and share our knowledge. The reason I started this blog is to educate the thousands of misinformed clients so that they can seek the treatment and service that they desire. Everyone deserves beautiful hair…especially if they’re willing to see a pro 🙂

          There are so many “hairstylists” in this industry that are not passionate about what they do and they only care about “the now”. “Make money now…don’t care what it looks like or if you re-book.” Those people make it so much harder for the truly talented stylists to prove themselves and gain the trust they deserve with clients that have been scared away by “horrible hairstylists”.


  111. Never used a BOX COLOR……..KIM u always did a Fantastic JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JUDE XO

  112. maria says:

    Oh one more thing as I have black hair and I always want to go for chocolate brown . I am interested to dye complete with chocolate brown and then have a caramel balayage highlights. Well that’s my desired hair colour look.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi Maria! I was just reading through this article and noticed your comment. As a cosmetologist and colorist for over 11 years – I can tell you that going from “black” to “chocolate brown” with the use of a single boxed color is never going to happen. Think about it like this: if you take a black crayon and color a solid circle on a piece of paper then take white crayon and color over top of it – is it going to turn the circle white? No. Color does not lift color, which means a chocolate brown color will not “lift” the black color out of your hair and turn it chocolate brown. The only way to achieve an all over lighter color (starting with a dark base) is by lifting what is already on your hair with a professional lightener, then depositing the desired color (chocolate brown) over top. This process is absolutely something a professional colorist needs to do and should not be done by someone who hasn’t had the training as it could royally damage your hair.

      • Erika Brown says:

        Thanks for reading and commenting! I also have difficulty helping others understand that depositing the “chocolate” color onto the lightened hair is not as simple as choosing the exact desired shade. It all depends on underlying pigment, porosity, etc. There are so many people out there that have had a “professional” give them a horrible color, so it’s hard to convince them that there really are great colorists out there who use an in-depth process to get great results.

  113. maria says:

    Yes prices are very high in Australia and i cannot think to have manicure and pedicure as well.
    Well its an average salon and its price list is like the following for colouring only for short hair and I really mean short above the shoulder line.
    Root touch up $62.95
    Semi gloss colour $62.95
    Streaks short $62.95
    And usually for 4 highlight foils charges are $40 and only for short hair.
    I just had a box dye yesterday though I read your information and I am agreed but unfortunately services are pretty expensive where I live and people like us have to go for box dye.:(
    But I will say you are absolutely right with exceptions. 🙂

  114. Emily says:

    Here’s my issue. I’ve always used box dye to go back to my “natural” color (dark brown almost black) and never had any issues, that is why I don’t understand why it’s bad. Also I’m currently a maroon red obre right now and want to back “natural” but can’t afford $100 to get it done, thought of doing the normal box dye but, I’m afraid the color will be crazy since normally I just have blonde highlights and now it’s just red hair.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Unless your hair is extremely over processed….using box color to go very dark usually works. The problem with box color is when it’s applied from roots to ends EVERY time (most with permanent), and the result is very dark mid-shaft to ends. The regrowth that needed to be colored is now lighter than the rest of the hair (usually the color the rest of the hair is supposed to be).

      It’s the same with blondes that use cap highlights. Eventually the mid-shaft to ends are so bleached out and trashy looking…sometimes solid blonde and the regrowth is just lightly highlighted. People without education in hair color or cosmetology don’t understand why these things happen. It’s because professionals have the knowledge, take the time and care to formulate, and use the proper techniques to apply your color or highlights.

      As I may have mentioned in my article or the comments….every situation is different. There are a select few situations that turn out OK. That does not mean that it looks like amazing, shiny, healthy hair. If your goal is for it to look OK, then that’s fine too. Just remember that getting pretty highlights is DEFINITELY going to cost you more money if you have applied very dark box hair color. There is a wide variety of undertones beneath the darker color and highlighting will bring those surprises to the surface. Then you will need a double process, possibly some toning, and it may not be everything you’d hoped for.

  115. maria says:

    Hey, I am totally agreed with you. But as I am living in Australia and we have no hair saloon service for $50 unfortunately.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Are prices there much higher than in the US? I used to work at Bubbles Salon, a higher end chain on the east coast and our face-framing highlight was $45 or $50 with an ABCH or 2nd tier stylist. Of course, it could go up from there and the only thing included is a blow-dry. Single/Non-Dimensional Color started at $50 and $60 for hair past the shoulders. Partial highlights started at $75, and adding a cut to any service was $30. I consider those prices on the better side of average unless you go to a salon in places like NYC or LA. Either way, I had some clients come and go sporadically because they couldn’t always afford it.

      What are the costs of services at a decent, but not the best salon in your area? What color service would you choose if you could go to the salon and the price was of no concern? I may have some alternative suggestions for you 🙂

  116. I’ve never dyed my hair before but I really want to. I’d consider letting a professional do it more if it wasn’t so dang expensive! I’m a poor college student! You make it sound like you want more people to go to a pro, but some people just can’t do that with how expensive it is! Some of us have other things to pay for and cheaper dye has to be our way to go.

    • Erika Brown says:

      You’ve got a great point! I’ve been working on a post about options for people who can’t/don’t want to spend the money on professional haircolor. There aren’t many options that are guaranteed, but for the most part it’s all about common sense. What color is your hair? If it suits you and it’s still vibrant (I’m assuming it is if you’re in college) then try to shake the “I want to change my hair color” itch. Do other things like accessories or new styles. Or…you could get a face framing highlight which is usually $30-$45 dollars in a decent, but not super fancy salon.

      Everyone has other things to pay for, and some women prefer to skip the daily latte so they can afford fabulous color. Box color is NEVER the only way to go! I’d rather keep my natural color than spend $15 dollars ruining my hair, and as a result having to spend more money fixing it. For anyone on a budget simply waiting until you get out of college and get an awesome job is the way to go. Most people don’t take my advice, because it’s natural for most women to have to try it anyways (I have been that person!).

      Sometimes I’m a little too logical, if there is such a thing, and I believe that if your budget is too tight to spend $30-$50 on haircolor, then it’s not a good financial decision. If you do get your haircolored (or do it yourself) remember that it is like a cell phone or electric bill. You will have to keep up with it every 1-3 months depending on the services you choose, so whether it’s a box or professional you will have to continually spend money on it. Not only that, but you will also need to care for your hair because any chemical process will do a little damage even if it’s not visible.

      I have some clients that get a demi glaze color every 3 months and the service is $50. There’s no demarcation line when it grows out because we choose the perfect color, and that may be something that works for you. No matter what you choose, feel free to message me for advice! If you must go box….I can help steer you in the right direction of HOPEFULLY avoiding disaster, or if you go pro there are online printable coupons for some great salons! Also, your stylist should perform a service that you will not have to come back for every month and that is less expensive. Some stylists like to up-charge instead of doing something that you truly need and will work with your lifestyle (that’s where my advice comes in handy!). Good luck and thanks for commenting 🙂

  117. Cole Serigne says:

    Erika, I needed to comment on this because the few comments I read were horrible! I agree with you 100%! Most hair stylist are not perfect and everyone will make mistakes. I have done so much to my hair. I have used box dye, Sally’s products, and salon! I have to admit they all work well for me. I have really nice hair though. Its smooth a little oily and yes a few dead ends. I have been getting highlights now for almost a year at a salon and I love the look. However I dont understand why my stylest can’t get all the way to the roots. But anyway he does a great job! And I wantto tthank you for your article. These women posting rude or disrespectful comments don’t understand your reasoning. But I do! You are passionate about what you do and you want women tojknow what you know about the box! Thanks for your advise!

    • Erika Brown says:

      Thank you so much! I believe that no matter what a persons opinion is, it is always a good idea to understand the flip side as well. Most people who write or voice their opinion feel strongly about their views and those who oppose will always argue it….naturally. No one is right or wrong depending on the individual situation, which is why I bring attention to the fact that some people do make out okay with box color.

      My aunt used a box for years…then one Christmas everyone was like…”Wow, you went dark!”. It was hilarious because she was getting tired of explaining that it was the same box! It said “new formula”, how bad could it be? So, my point is that even the experienced box user can have a flub….as well as any hairstylist. It’s all about education and skill.

      Does your hairstylist apply your highlights fairly quickly or does it seem slower and with more care for precision? My clients love that they leave the salon with no regrowth and it’s because I am meticulous or just can’t move on to the next foil until it’s applied properly 🙂 Those that “speed foil” can’t get as close because without being careful about the amount of product and how it’s applied you will get bleed lines…and that looks horrible. That’s where seeing an ABCH haircolorist comes in handy…not that your guy isn’t great…but one of the requirements for certification is perfect application of highlights. Or find someone that has practiced this until mastering the skill 🙂

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  118. Ask an Expert: Hair Addition. | Pretty. Big. Arkie. says:

    […] Need more reasons? Check this out. […]

  119. mcheramie23 says:

    […] was not an option. I decided to color it. I took my best friend to Kroger and she helped me pick a box color that I really liked. It was a dark tinted red and would give me the “cherry-cola” look […]

  120. Sarah says:

    I hate to admit it, but I have been coloring my hair for 25 years. In my teen years I was broke and relied on a box. When I got my first job I thought I would treat my hair to a real professional dye job. At that point I had taken a break from dying and had virgin hair. I went to a highly reviewed salon and walked out with straw hair, to make matters worse the color was washed out in under a month. I tried in vain for 5 more years to find a salon which was worth anything. Now, 10 years later, I dye my own hair. My hair is soft and silky, I am very happy with the results that the “box” provides. $100+ for a dye job is not worth it for me. Maybe my hair is just weird, but I am more than happy with my routine.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Like I have said in many comments and my article, everyone is different. Depending on your hair type and which box you choose you could have no issues. My aunt uses box color and has for years. One Christmas everyone kept saying “Oh, you decided to go darker!” She’d laugh and say…”’s the same box I always get, but this time it didn’t turn out right.” The company had changed the formula and the box simply stated “new & improved”. There are many points to not using box color, the fact that it is never custom to your hair type or tones is one of the biggest.

      I can guarantee that if an ABCH certified haircolorist does your color you will see and feel the difference….it’s like night and day. Lost of people may feel satisfied with their box results, but it is my belief that they have not experienced results from a true colorist. The public doesn’t see the complexity of haircolor which is why they put all colorists in a category with “the one at that trendy salon”.

      I can’t say this enough…. IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW UPSCALE/HIGHLY REVIEWED THE SALON IS! WHAT MATTERS IS THE PASSION, WILLINGNESS, SKILL, EXPERTISE, & KNOWLEDGE OF THE COLORIST YOU CHOOSE! ABCH is the only way to truly find a stylist with these qualities, I’ve seen all types….worked with all types….there is nothing like a certified colorist. I went from a high-end salon to working at a Hair Cuttery because I’m in a rural area with little options. The salon does not reflect my abilities…..just as a pricey salon does not mean the stylists are top-notch. People seek me at a chain salon for my skills, others seek the salon and get unwanted results.

  121. […] •10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color• […]

  122. […] e-mails and comments.  This infographic is the first of a series that will help explain the difference between salon and box color.  If you just can’t wait for my next infographic…10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t […]

  123. Lauren says:

    I’ve had horrible experiences at the salon. I went to the salon my entire family goes to. We knew the salonist for years–a family friend. With my virgin hair (light brown), I went in asking for a plum purple color… I came out with black. 2 years later, I went to a different salon asking for the same color (plum purpleish); I went to a different salon that my mom actually RECOMMENDED since she goes there regularly; several other people even recommended this guy. The guy bleached my hair from a cold black to a medium blonde (scary). He then applied a color that was bright bright magenta. I complained, so he stripped the color and tried again. I ended up with a dark red with huge orange chunks in the back and black strips towards my frame. Poorly matched roots, and blotches all the way across the midsection of my hair. So I just spent $200 for my hair to have 4 different tones in it? A horrible mess to fix. And this is why I do my hair myself. I don’t care if there are good salonists out there, I am 100% guaranteed that I will get the color I want if I do it myself. I’ve probably dyed my hair myself at least 20 times, and the 2 TIMES, 2 TIIIMES, i leave it up to a professional… they mess it up. I’m fine doing my own hair. Please just respect my decision.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Colorists don’t “disrespect” your decision to color your own hair. I am simply educating the public on the facts…read it or don’t read it….this article is not directed at you or any other box color user. In this case, respecting my professional opinion would be proper….rather than suggesting that I disrespect yours. There are thousands of women that appreciate the information I provide and this article has saved them from repeating the same mistakes. Those that follow my advice and ask for help finding a reputable stylist are highly satisfied.

      A true professional and knowledgeable colorist would have colored your hair to your standards…or better. It doesn’t matter if someone you know recommends a stylist…each situation is different. For example-my friend could have had one good cut with a stylist, but she will still recommend her for color, cut, you name it! As I state in my article, it is possible to have satisfactory results with box color. Every case is different….you may think you will get it right 100% of the time….but nothing is guaranteed!

      There are looks you absolutely will not be able to achieve depending on your haircolor with a box. That’s even more so with previously applied box color that’s still lingering in the hair.

      Do you see a doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc. for professional services? They are licensed and some are board certified….same for colorist/stylists. Can you draw up your own divorce paperwork? Sure. Can you do your own taxes? Self diagnose a medical condition with the help of webmd? Of course….just remember that as professionals we do not disrespect those that choose not to use our services. We know that people who want a pro will see one, and those that don’t will eventually 🙂

  124. Shell says:

    I’ve had many professionals in expensive salons work on my hair and most of the time it turned out bad or just okay. It’s hard to justify paying $200 for something I’m not completely excited about.

    • Erika Brown says:

      That’s understandable, but just like many other professions there will always be bad apples. How many “professionals” have you tried? Did you get referred or just go on a whim? There are so many factors that play into whether you will leave the salon happy with your haircolor or not. I’ve heard a client discuss her desires with a fellow stylist and knew it was going to be a disaster solely from listening to the consultation.
      Its upsetting to know that so many stylists out there just don’t care that much….quick, easy, and decent looking is a goal for some. There is also a HUGE lack of knowledge in our industry when it comes to coloring….a stylist can have 10 years of experience without ever understanding how color works, formulating, and more.

      Have you ever had your hair colored by an American Board Certified Haircolorist?

      I am extremely thorough when it comes to the consultation…I consider the clients wants, needs, integrity of the hair, previous & potential damage, hair chemical/color history, frequency of visits in correlation with their budget, etc. If a stylist can effectively communicate with you and ask the right questions that’s a good sign. Remember that just because someone has been in the business for 20 years, did a friends color well, or works at a fancy salon does not mean you will get the best outcome. I tested with a man that was a salon owner, 30+ year stylist, and on his 5th attempt at certification……he did not pass again.

      Next time ask for a consultation a few days before your appointment. Better yet, schedule a few consultations so you can compare them. It only takes 5-15 minutes and you can walk in most salons to talk to a stylist on-the-spot. Do your research to find 3 “reputable” stylists and you will undoubtedly know which one to make an appointment with. I’ve had a client Google “questions a haircolorist should ask during a consultation” before showing up. She would have left if I hadn’t asked the right ones. She is excited about spending the money on her hair because she knows she found a stylist she can trust…..don’t judge a majority by its underachieved & compassion-lacking participants 🙂

      • Heather says:

        Hi, I also paid a lot of $ at different salons and came out with the same color; dissatisfied! Whether it was highlights or full color, I never had a colorist get it right and sometimes it came out awful. I use clairol nice n’easy and have never been unhappy. Interesting read, but I’m sticking to the box.

        • Erika Brown says:

          It’s easy to blame the “stylist”, I would not call the person that ruins your hair a “colorist”. They are very different things. If you ever get the opportunity to have your hair colored by an ABCH stylist give it a shot! Let me know how it goes 🙂

  125. […] boxes….it’s not a good idea.  If you still don’t believe it read 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color or contact me for specific […]

  126. […]  Those are true of course, but everyone forgets about the damage they inflict on their own hair.  Box coloring, bad products, too much heat, no protection from UV rays or heat, and more are just a few of the […]

  127. Lamara Hand says:

    I have only dyed my hair twice using box color, and i dyed it red. and everything in the article i correct almost. I do end up not liking it at first but after a few days i do like it. But i want my hair to become 100% healthy with color. BUT i trust very little with my hair. I am biracial, i have curly-wavy hair. that is really unpredictable sometimes its thick then. i don’t know anymore The last time i went to a salon my hair fell of to nearly half of the length that it was.And i do use clip in extensions. So what can i do to get my hair to looking and being healthier.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Having healthy hair with color is always possible! You just need someone that knows what they’re doing and will take the proper steps to maintain the integrity of your hair. Coloring with box products will probably not leave your hair feeling great, and the more you do it your hair will be more damaged.

      What condition is your hair in at the moment? If it’s crying for help then I would use an at home deep conditioning treatment like It’s a 10 Miracle Hair Mask. When your hair is in good condition you will be able to think about color again 🙂

  128. Erika Brown says:

    As I state in my article, some people get lucky. It all depends on your natural level and the box you choose. It also depends on whether or not you process the color on the ends every time and if you care for your hair properly.

    Your hair turns orange when you try to go blonde because of your natural undertones. If there was box color on your hair before trying to go lighter that would also be a factor in the orange tones. You are probably around a medium brown naturally, and would need a true pro to go lighter successfully.

    It can be done, but paying $300 doesn’t guarantee that your stylist knows what she’s doing. He/She would need to know exactly what chemicals are already on your hair, determine your natural level & undertones (most don’t do this), and be able to correctly formulate to get the desired result.

    I’ve worked with many stylists….less than half take the right steps to get the results you want. We are not all the same…being a good colorist requires post license education, years of experience & learning from mistakes, truly understanding the chemistry and artistry of coloring hair.

    So, how can you say there’s no difference to your hair if you have never experienced color by a TRUE professional?

  129. […] afford a salon job believe in box color.  In addition to this checklist make sure you read the 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color before you make a decision.  The choice is yours, but remember that lacking education will be […]

  130. Alex says:

    I always box dye now, although I’m trying to stay away from dying my hair in general. I’ve been butchered by almost every hair stylist. I went blonde and I was left with orangey hair (we did it in steps, not all at once it was gradual). I had my hair dyed purple, she didn’t even rinse it out enough and I got it everywhere for a month. Then it continued to come out every shower for 3 months till it was gone. It was apparently “permanent”. I’ve been every hair colour from box and salon color and my hair always felt worse after the salon. I never went blonde from a box though, that’s really taking a risk! You talk highly of hairstylists but I’ve never found anyone who can give me a good hair color or style and I’ve tried many!

    • Erika Brown says:

      I talk highly of hairstylists that are certified. There are few that are great…and most that are not. I’m not saying that you can’t get a great stylist that isn’t certified…but it’s more of a risk. Don’t get certified confused with a “master” stylist or colorist. There is no regulation for that title and anyone can call themselves that at any salon.

      This goes back to some advice I’ve given previously about bad stylists. Here are a few things to consider about past experiences and what to do in the future:

      -Did you feel comfortable with each stylist before they performed a service?
      -Did you ask questions and did your stylist ask more?
      -Did you feel like you and your stylist were on the same page before proceeding?
      -Did you get a proper consultation…this will often make you feel more or less comfortable by the end of the conversation.

      About the purple…it doesn’t come in permanent if it’s the vibrant type that you’re referring to. I can make a somewhat vibrant purple with permanent color but few color lines have something that will work for this and it must be done the right way. 99% of the time it’s a temporary color….so she may have rinsed it but that doesn’t mean it won’t rinse out more later. She should not have told you that it was permanent. Most all vibrant colors are just a stain…heat before rinsing will help it to last longer but it will still need to be touched up in a month.

      Don’t knock all stylists because you haven’t been to a good one. I am the only certified colorist within my city and most surrounding areas…1.5 hours or more to the next one. So that just goes to show we are out there but far and few….

    • Randy says:

      While I have no doubt that Erica is a wonderful colorist, and that “certified” colorists DO have the ability to do wonderful work. I am also aware of 100’s of great colorists who are not “certified”. I have over 30 years as an educator, platform artist, stylist and salon owner, yet am not certified. I never had time, nor felt the need. I agree that you need to choose wisely, when selecting a colorist. Even going to the extreme of an interview is an acceptable concept.

      Not all salons even use professional color, much less understand the importance of a quality consultation and analysis. With all that said, you can never expect to do a good job of color on your own head! It can’t be done, even by a trained colorist. My staff is expected to attend 6 or more classes annually. Not to keep up… but to stay AHEAD of the trends, and new technology.

      Doing quality color work is far more than picking a color, formulating to hair quality/condition and proper application. We work on people, the whole person. Color placement, is just as important as color selection. We arrive at both after consulting about skin tone, body type/structure, head and face shape, personality/attitude, and desired affect/look.

      Don’t give up on the Pro, you just have to find the right one. Pick wisely and trust completely, you will not be sorry.

      • Erika Brown says:

        Thanks for your comments! I agree with you….there are lots of amazing stylists that aren’t certified. Unfortunately, the only way that I can refer people in other states is with the certified colorist program. Other than that I tell people to ask questions and if they don’t feel comfortable with the consultation….thank them and don’t go through with it. Most of the comments I get are from people that probably just picked someone at random and didn’t know what to look for.

        I admire you for holding such a high standard for your colorists. I got certified because I love color, feel confident, and wanted something to back it up. I’ve been in the business for only 7 years…I used to get asked, “How long have you been doing hair?”, on a regular basis. The constant questioning of my abilities drove me nuts! My regular clients trusted me, but I wanted everyone to come in and feel confident that I would do a great job. I didn’t want to spend half the consultation talking about whats on my resumé when we should be talking about their hair. I know I still have a lot to learn, but being certified gave me a great foundation and a head start on experience.

        I also live in a smaller area and didn’t feel that my salon backed up my reputation. It was a great place, but not like in big cities….you walk in and you know you’re getting what you pay for. At our salon it was hit or miss on who you get and I didn’t want to be “grouped” with the so-so stylists. Your stylists are lucky to be a part of a salon that holds its reputation because of hard work, dedication, and truly caring for people!

  131. Jennifer says:

    Hi. I’ve been paying my colorist for years big $ to color & highlight my hair. It is VERY strawlike. I noticed that over time, I have become almost entirely blonde & that was never what I wanted. He says it’s strawlike because there’s lots of gray and the gray’s texture is like straw. I recently decided to only color & quit highlighting because my hair is just awful. So, you’re saying that a colorist should only highlight the previously highlighted strands? I always wondered that. I’ve tried 2 different colorists and neither of them do that. I’m very frustrated and meanwhile, my hair has been suffering… I’ve been using a Paul Mitchell colorist for years. He also teaches for them & I thought he knew what he was doing. Advice?

    • Erika Brown says:

      In my opinion any well educated and moral stylist would recommend a deep conditioner for at home use and would STOP frying your ends! There are two types of colorists when it comes to foiling….those that cover the hair from root to ends every time and those that are careful to only retouch the regrowth. We use a technique called “feathering” to create a subtle blend at the demarcation line. This assures that you will not have banding which makes it obvious where your color was touched. Slapping it on root to ends is necessary in some cases but certainly not every time with bleach. This is what I call the “lazy way”.

      Gray can have many types of texture…it all depends on the individual. Lots of people…stylists and clients…have the general misconception that all gray is course or “straw like” because so many people experience those changes when going gray. I work with a lot of clients that have gray and they range from silky smooth to very coarse. Some clients never experience the coarse texture associated with grays and others experience it like a slap in the face! I have seen so many clients go from normal hair at one appointment to “Omg, what am I going to do with this?!, and that’s the hormonal change you weren’t expecting.

      There is still a DIFFERENCE between coarse hair and “straw like” hair and any good stylist knows that. Coarse hair can still be managed and styled to look lovely. No matter how unruly it is…it will blow out fairly nicely and can be ironed a tad. When you’re dealing with damaged hair(straw like)….it does not take its usual form with a blow out and you’re going to need a lot of product! As the client you probably know this….but you’ve slowly gotten used to it and your stylist strings you along. Bottom line, we know the difference between going gray and going fried!

      Another thing….I have clients with gray that come to me because the color services that I perform actually make their gray more manageable! Doing highlights the proper way can break the cuticle just enough to give you a beautiful glisten and leave the strand softer than it was before. I almost always do a complimentary low-light(low light does not have to mean dark, it can be half a shade darker than the highlight and still work well) with it in a semi-permanent color. This is more gentle on the hair and although it doesn’t give 100% coverage it can do wonders for your color and texture if formulated correctly. It doesn’t sound like you’ve had a low-light if it’s that blonde, and you need it for dimension and not looking bleached out.

      I could keep going….lol. I feel sorry for you because you went to not one stylist but two, and one was an educator. On that note I will say two things…or three, haha. I have learned since school that some of what my learning leaders told me may have not been the best way. I have also seen someone that I sat in class with graduate a few months before me, and become my teacher at the same school. How’s that for experience? Anyone can be an instructor if they get the state license….my theory is that some are great….and some do it because they are scared to go out into the “real world of cosmetology”. They don’t want to be the one that get’s asked, “Hey, can you give me the haircut in this magazine?”, and not know what to do. Good stylists get that way because they have tough skin and they face the fear of screwing up lots of hair before they get it perfect.

      Never be mislead by someones title….I wanted to become ABCH certified for a reason. Besides state licensing and individual certifications, ABCH was the only nationwide & board regulated certification or title that I could get in cosmetology. It’s like looking for a board certified surgeon….you know they went through ridiculous training and testing to get there! That’s why you’d trust them with anything….just like your hair :).

  132. Seriously. says:

    As a cosmetologist, its kind of offensive to imply that we suggest not using box color for the money. Yes, there is a charge for the hours we’ve worked FOR you. We’re basically no different than any other service provider. So no, we don’t work for free. We’re offing a service for your convenience, and also for the health and integrity of your hair and scalp. We’re not sitting there twisting your arm, telling you that there isn’t any other option. We just know later when that someone comes in wanting highlights over hair that has box over box over box color on it, that it is going to be a challenge, and it would have been better for the health of your hair if you would have just let us supply you with your desired color in the first place. Rather than lifting through all that layered waste in your hair.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Great way to put it! We also turn down color services when it is not in the clients best interest….that’s basically turning down pay. I would rather say no, this isn’t for you…or you need to wait 6 months than make the money and ruin someones hair! We care! lol!

      • Jessica says:

        Of course, which is why I love that this post has been made so public. The more educated a client is about what is going on their hair, the better. I just wish everyone could see through the eyes of a cosmetologist from time to time. =]

  133. Beth says:

    Thank you for this great information. I have major hair damage – weak hair from low thyroid, plus I didn’t realize I was using a conditioner daily with protein, which made my hair very stiff. I also used box dye and my hair was fried & broke off. My hair grows fast & I had to do the roots every 3 weeks, which didn’t help. I’ve been trying to heal my hair by ditching the protein and only using semi-permanent color. I use Clairol Beautiful Collection which washes out after a few shampoos. (It’s great, except it doesn’t cover the resistant grey on my temples.) I have to use it at least once a week. What are your thoughts semi-permanents like Clairol Beautiful Collection or Ion Color Brillance (Sally’s brand). They both have protein, but I only use it once a week, so I hope that’s okay. (Plus I’m using moisturizing shampoo & conditioner.) I would go to a salon for color, but I can’t afford to at this time.

    • Erika Brown says:

      I don’t think you should have to use something once a week….that seems like too much work! lol. If you are using it because the condition of your hair won’t be able to handle something stronger then I can understand why. Few semi permanent colors have the ability to cover gray and most of them are professional. You still have to be careful about areas that are a much lighter gray….in the salon I use two formulas in that situation and there is no “rule” for finding how much darker the 2nd formula should be. It’s all case by case so I’ll need more info before I can give you detailed advice. There are also great products like sprays and foams that you can use on your regrowth when it’s almost time for a retouch! E-mail me at with what your hair has been through chemically, about what shade you are, and anything else you think is important for starters 🙂

  134. box dyer says:

    I have been dying my hair with box dye for 10 yrs. I had my hair dyed once at a salon.
    that one time turned me off forever. I paid well over 100 for cut and colour. and my hair was fried when I left. my hair never looked fried. never felt/looked damaged before that (I went to a salon to add highlights. after 8 yrs of box dying my hair. I let them know I that. and at the time it was a yr since I dyed it last. they told me is should be a problem.
    thanks for the advice. but I believe you tell people their only opinion is to go to a salon because thats how you get money. (would you colour someones hair for free… probably not) that is also what is drilled into your head in school…
    I went to fashion school. they did the a similar thing…
    im going to stick with my box dye… ive never had issues with it.

    • box dyer says:

      *shouldnt be a problem

      • Randy says:

        Dear Box Dyer,
        You should have studied the English language. We color hair, we dye clothes. And yes, I have done many “free” colors clients. In fact, I show people all the time why only stupid people do their own color. Perhaps if you spent your money more wisely, and spent time picking a proper colorist, you would know the difference. I doubt it though. You see, your lack of taste and intelligence shows in your writing. Don’t blame the stylist, blame your own overbearing personality.

        • Erika Brown says:

          You’re awesome….I couldn’t have said it any better myself!

        • anna says:

          I think calling someone stupid because they dye their own hair shows how insecure are and scared you are yourself. I use to go to salons to dye my hair, but now i see how much of a waste of money it truely is. If i want a dark brown, it is much cheaper to just go to walmart and get a box. the color actually turns out really good and is just want i want. i went to a salon for a copper brown one time and the lady did red everywhere instead. I even showed her a picture of what it looked like before (which someone else had already done) and she still couldn’t get it right. i looked like a clown. she also try to say she was a professional and that she wouldn’t do the copper brown one dye color like i wanted because she didn’t want me walking out looking like a mess. her way made my hair look like a mess and at $115,ridiculous!!! i use to believe that going to a salon for a dye job was better but now, i think it is a waste of money unless you want an ombre or something. maybe dark hair to blonde is worth it, but i have seen that butchered too so…

          also, this article was very bias in its writing which makes it much less creditable. there are many positives to box dyes or even salon grade dye done at home, none of which were mentioned.

    • Erika Brown says:

      It’s never polite to show a lack of respect for someones profession. Every individual is different…how dare you imply that I am greedy or that you know anything about me at all. You have a lot to learn about judging others and having a closed mind. Hair has been my passion my entire life, and yes I have done color for free. I’ll tone someones coppery blonde just because I know they need it….and because loyal clients deserve to be rewarded. And I’m not the only one…everyone at my salon donates colors and cuts monthly to non-profits that need help raising money. We are doing it for free, the owners of our salon do not pay us for what we choose to give.

      If I told you what I make in the salon you would be shocked…..there are plenty of jobs I could do that are easier, less stressful, and probably pay more. If you had taken the time to get to know me through my blog you would know that I have a second job in real estate so that I can keep hair as a part-time passion. I don’t want to do it because I need to pay a bill or to the point that I burn out. I do it because I enjoy it. I also spend way more money on this blog than it makes. I have spent more than 75% more than the little bit that comes in just to keep it up and running. Now you want to tell me I do it for the money? I don’t have many readers and I can’t spend much time on it but I love to write so I decided to write about what I love. My family probably thinks I’m half crazy for spending money on a blog! lol.

      Whether you are insulting me or someone who is educated in another trade/profession like accountants or auto mechanics….it shows your horrible lack of respect for education and the individual. Did you go to cosmetology school? Doesn’t sound like it so how can you compare it to your experience in fashion school? If you went you would know that it is all about learning techniques and building confidence in what you do. Without that there’s no reason to talk money. Some people love coloring hair and others love to cut. We do it because we love to create and make people feel better than when they walked in the door.

      I do not enjoy having to reply to such comments but I do it because I want all types of opinions to be posted. However, I will not speak lightly about how I feel because there is something wrong in the hearts and minds of those who insult others in any way. I hope that you learn these lessons sooner than later as life will be much harder until you do.

      Always remember to only speak up if you believe in what you say and would say it anywhere to anyone. Those who choose to remain anonymous when expressing such strong opinions are only showing their own cowardliness. It’s like sucker-punching a kid on the playground and running away….all talk but can’t take the heat 🙂

  135. Jenn says:

    I’d also like to add that I am surprised and a little twerked for you about all the people that are saying you are out for everyone’s money and trying to sell them something. How rude.

    • Erika Brown says:

      It’s so refreshing to see someone sticking up for me 🙂 I know some stylists that will overcharge you in a heartbeat….but we are not all like that. Stereotypes are the demise of our society. We are all individuals and should not be categorized by what we do. I leave those comments up because I want others to learn from it and to hopefully open the eyes of those that are so narrow-minded. Thanks for the support!

  136. Jenn says:

    I used to work in a salon (not as a stylist, but as a coordinator) and I am so glad that you brought all these points to the public in a kind and educational manner. I saw SO many people come in that tried to do their own hair and were in tears. Sure, there are the people that end up never having problems, but that’s not the point. Stylists went to school for that trade and they know what mixture will work best for a person’s hair. No, not everyone does a great job and they may have passed their classes on a whim. But overall, a professional is usually the way to go. I wouldn’t want to install an engine or put in electrical outlets in my house on my own, so why would I try to color my hair?

    • Erika Brown says:

      Thank you for your comment! I try to put it like that when I can but not everyone understands. In every medical school someone had to finish last….same goes for cosmetology! There are sub-par “professionals” in every career and it’s just the luck of the draw! Take care!

  137. makayl says:

    Hey, I am no hair professional but I have boxed died my hair for the longest time, years later my hair is still fine. literally my hair is so silky with so much life. I haven’t cut my hair other than tiny trims. I let my cosmo teacher (who apparently has her own salon) touch my hair with “matrix” products, I wanted red underneath my bangs and the rest blonde.. and my hair was fried, to the point where it was stretchy, since she screwed up so bad, she had to cover the bleeding red that was all over the blonde(because she’s not educated enough to realize that the red under neath my bangs goes on before the blonde…) but she did foils, and left on each side, 2 identical 1 inch stripes coming from the exact same spot on my routes. I can’t believe im saying this, but I trusted her again, I was ‘youngish’ and easily pushed around…anyway she dies my whole head bleach blonde, my hair was gone, literally had nothing to it, my hair was as grippy as your car tire… I dont trust any hair dressers, I have never had problems with box die which is why I stick with it, (and Im not saying you arent a great hair dresser because you probably are) but you never know what people are thinking when they do your hair.. again my hair is so silky and nice, never will a hair dresser touch it unless Ive seen their hair work on someone else.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Like I’ve said before it all depends. If you’ve got good hair you may be lucky enough to get by with box color…I have mentioned this before. Just like anything else you haven’t had a problem…until you have a problem one day, lol! Some people never do and that’s great but we’re not all that lucky. The general public may not notice the difference but box color jobs stick out like a sore thumb everywhere I look!

      Lots of people complain about bad stylists but what did they do to take action as the client? If you don’t feel comfortable after talking it out during the consultation then you have the right to say no thanks and leave. I have seen lots of stylists making mistakes but it doesn’t happen to everyone. How do you think I got good 🙂 ? We all make mistakes along the way and that is what makes us great. The one you need to look out for is the stylist that makes the same mistake year after year and thinks they know it all.

      Think again about the “I don’t trust hairdressers.” statement…..once again there goes the stereotyping. If I could ask one thing of my readers it would be to give each person in life a chance. You could have a child or grandchild that becomes a hairdresser one day….would you look them in the eyes and say, “I don’t trust you because you’re a hairdresser?”. Would you trust a celebrity stylist or Tabitha Coffey, for example? Just a thought….

    • Randy says:

      Cosmetology instructor does not mean colorist. Blonde next to red is NEVER a good idea, unless it’s for stage work. Lastly, I am glad your hair color works for you. The word DIE, is death, the word DYE is related to color “dye load”, for clothes or as color “dye” used to make hair color. You do not DYE hair, you color hair. Box color, while not as good as ours, will still “color” hair. I would guarantee you, it would not pass muster in my salon. Overlapping is always going to occur when doing your own color. I use 10 volume developer (not 20 or more) to cover gray or enhance at same level. You do not. That alone would help save the Integrity of your hair.

      I could go on, but it would not matter. You have had a bad experience with a bad stylist. You chose badly, and you don’t trust the hard working stylists because of that. It’s a shame, you may never know how good you could look.

      • Erika Brown says:

        That’s an interesting thought….people really don’t know how great they can look. I get lots of comments like this… “I used box color and my hair looks great”….yea right! I can’t turn off my box color radar in public! I’m picking them out of crowds by the dozen! Put a box job by a pro job….and anyone would notice the difference!

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  139. Judith says:

    Wow! thank you for the in depth education on the world of hair coloring. the comments are also helpful. My mother is in her 70s and has frizzy, dry, thick, long hair. most likely from getting it straightened (to counter the frizz) and getting monthly highlights (she is totally grey otherwise). Everything she has done is at a salon but I am not sure if there are healthier salon options for someone who needs constant upkeep to avoid the grey. Your article and posts helped me understand that it takes knowledge and perhaps courage to select the correct approach for my mum. We appreciate any advice and thanks in advance.

    Secondly, I am finally at the point where I can not pluck the random grey hairs from my head and have pockets of grey primarily around the side burns and front areas. My hair is brown with hints of blond gold, long, wavy and thick like my mums. Any suggestions on how to pick a stylist that will use the least destructive coloring option for my mum and I. Also, I am clueless as to what to expect in regards to color maintenance and what to insist on as far as salon products.

    Thanks so much!

    • Erika Brown says:

      Thanks for your comment! For a guaranteed excellent colorist you can go to Board certified haircolorists are trained in ways that you would never imagine! If there isn’t one in your area try word-of-mouth references and checking sites like

      How often you will need to color depends on what technique your stylists chooses that best fits your needs. For example, if you don’t have much gray and aren’t worried about solid coverage I may choose do to a high/low light so you don’t have to come in as much. For those who can pay to get it done every 4 weeks that have solid gray I would do an all over color but only if they can commit.

      My favorite color care line is Color Proof but there are several others. Depending on your situation the most important products are shampoo, conditioner, and a heat styler. If you go with something like Color Proof all of their products have UV protection so your styling product could be a straightening cream that protects from heat tools and UV rays. You don’t need a UV spray, frizz cream, and heat protector unless you are just a product junkie! There are lots of ways to customize all of this for each person!

      I hope you find a great stylist and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

  140. Scottie Ann says:

    Ok.. So I read your blog and I agree.. I know that box color is not the best for my hair.. And I know professional colorists know what to do a LOT more than I can possibly imagine, such as yourself. My problem comes from years, and I do mean years, of bad colors. I had an amazing stylist who quit after she became pregnant and haven’t been able to get a good color since. I went to one stylist and explained what I wanted, which was fairly easy (I’m sandy blonde hair naturally but like bright blonde with small amounts of golden blonde through out for dimension..) The girl was very nice and spent 3 hours carefully weaving two colors into my hair.. After it was all done, I’d spent $150 for a hair color that looked almost exactly like my natural, just with new cut. Then one time, I had violet red streaks put throughout my hair.. It cost me over $100 dollars and was so terrible that I went to another salon to fix it.. That salon used my hair to it’s newest stylists as an example of what NOT to do, and then fried my hair (which I told them to do what they can, but please don’t fry it). It’s been dreadful. I’ve gone to the low of box dyes because I just can’t let another person kill my hair. I live in a very small community in Idaho, so my stylists options aren’t great. The box that I use is harsher than the normal colors, but I just use one all over blonde color (rather than try to do the golden as well) and make sure to use really good hair care shampoo + products and it seems to be alright. Do you have any suggestions??

    • Erika Brown says:

      I can relate to your dilemma because I am from a small town. There are few stylists and they are usually too busy or too far away for regular new education on techniques. You might be getting an 80’s color…which explains the violet red….I rarely choose violets or reds because they are best only in specific cases. For example, the vioet-red in a dark level makes a beautiful deep mahogany color…but in streaks over lighter hair and you’re asking for a disaster!

      The best advice I can give you is to interview your stylist. I have regular clients that did just that to me. They come in for a consultation but make it clear that I am not touching their hair until they are satisfied with my answers. I even had a lady google what my answers should be! She’s now a favorite of mine and she trusts me to the fullest. She is happy because she researched what she wanted and how to find a colorist that is trained to do just that. Always give the most information that you can and bring a photo or two if you know you have trouble getting your point across. When talking color hues and levels for the first time ask to see a swatch if you’re not sure that you both have the same idea. If you don’t feel good about the conversation…tell your stylist you’d like to think about it….it’s better than taking a chance!

      Here are just a few questions you should be asked during a color consultation:

      1. Are you looking to make any changes-subtle or drastic?
      2. Has your hair been colored or treated with chemicals and if so how long has it been?
      3. How often are you willing to come in for a retouch and are you on a budget or just want great hair no matter the price?
      4. If you have gray are you looking for all-over coverage or just to freshen up and blend the gray?

  141. Elaine says:

    I was at the salon a month ago for my regular cut and colour… the next day my scalp started to burn and itch a lot, my hair felt like straw, and it’s falling out… my mom also complained about the same problem a few months ago, so she switched to box deye, and now she has no problems, her hair is soft and her schalp is not itching and burning. Now I wonder, is it possible to be allergic to salon deye? And how can I prevent this? I don’t know what the problem can be. I went to the hairdresser and she gave me a mint mask, it helped a lot for my hair.

    • Erika Brown says:

      You can be allergic to certain brands of hair color and it can also be because of stylist error. Did you both go to the same salon? Was your color left on for a very long time? It sounds like a reaction and unfortunately it is trial and error. If you don’t know what specific chemical you’re allergic to then you just have to try different salons. Our salon uses Swarzkropf color and we have a line called “Essensity”. It’s ammonia free and one of the most organic lines you can get. Try finding a salon with that line or similar….but beware because not all ammonia free lines have the other safe qualities as essensity does!

      The mint mask is just to sooth your scalp and help your hair as well as provide good customer service because she probably feels horrible about it. It’s the least we can do and all stylists will not offer a free mask. You’re lucky to have someone that cares….that or they are just hoping you will come back or not report them lol.

  142. Christy says:

    I am NOT a cosmetologist, but I am the receiver of quite a few bad salon hairdos.
    Maybe you can help me…
    Yesterday, I went to a salon, and wanted ombre highlights. I was advised not to do it, because it could really damage the ends. We decided on a ‘demi permanent’ dark red instead (I know… way different from the first decision). My hairdresser (who has well over 10 years of experience in a salon) suggested ‘lifting’ my haircolor in what i guess is all over highlights to give it dimension. After she removed the foils, I think she realized there was damage there. It lifted to almost a white. (my natural color is auburn) She decided NOT to put the demi permanent color on top. she explained why but she may as well have been speaking french to me. Needless to say, my naturally curly, baby fine, thick head of long, long hair is a hot mess today. Its damaged enough that half of my hair is curly, the light parts are not. My hair ‘streaks’ are so light, that I look like I am greying. Its super dry, and the $60 worth of products I left the salon with are not helping me.

    What can I do to return my hair to working order? I don’t have another $150 to fix it.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Just from what you’ve said I have no idea why a stylist would do that to your hair. Ombre can be done without damage but it all depends on the condition of your hair before you started. If your hair was almost white it was processed for way too long! That is what we call the “mush” stage. I don’t understand why she would be putting the demi on after highlighting……putting the red on over-processed highlights will probably give you a horrible shade of pink. What was the desired end result? From what you’ve said and what she did it’s hard to tell….you didn’t want lighter hair, you wanted it dark so why put your hair through the trauma of highlighting? Which products did you buy? I can let you know how to use them or if they are even going to help at all. If I were you I would call the salon and request a complimentary deep conditioning treatment. She knows she messed up….and it’s a common courtesy to do what we can for our clients (especially if we made a mistake). In the meantime…no blow-drying or using heat tools!

      • Christy says:

        It was a Paul Mitchell hair spray with a heat protector. Some Awapuhi ginger keratin infused cream rinse and matching bottle of shampoo (and I used them… like I was told… and it didn’t help).
        I think her thought process was adding ‘dimension’ by highlighting and then demi permanent dye over it… it just didn’t go like she imagined.

        I’ve had three haircuts since then… lol. I’ve removed about six inches in length, and now have heavily layered hair… it was all I could do. NOTHING like what I wanted to begin with, and now I load my hair now with product everyday to keep it under control. Lots and lots of products with moraccan oil (or however its spelled). I will admit, I know I’ve caused it further damage because I have to flat iron it… BECAUSE where the hair was so damaged, it no longer curls, and I have curly hair (not as drastic as Nicole Kidman circa the 90’s, but pretty curly), so if I don’t flat iron it or blow it out, it stays all day in a bun on top of my head to hide the tragedy.
        If I don’t straighten, the hair that is still my natural color is its normal curly, and the ‘white’ parts are stick straight and fuzzy. Not. A. Pretty. Sight.

        Thank you so much for your reply, and for educating those of us who have no clue.

        • Erika Brown says:

          Well, first of all I’m so sorry that happened to you! I have no idea why someone would want to do that. I have never highlighted then color over….it’s pointless, time consuming, and damaging! No one knows what “double process” means anymore because it’s so 80’s. I normally do a mini highlight then color in between the foils. Most people hate doing it because it can get messy, you have to be tedious, and bleeding of colors is almost inevitable. I have developed a foiling technique that compliments the curvature of the head while giving beautiful dimension. The way I fold the foil is also important…it prevents bleeding and will not move much when I have to apply color in-between them. Bottom line, a lot of stylists hate it and will try to go around it even though it’s what you need.

          I graduated from Paul Mitchell before the Awapuhi Ginger line came out and never wanted to buy the kit to try it. In the beginning they required the purchase of the entire system (around $150 or more), then you could buy the products singly. No doubt, I was interested…but dang that’s a lot of money when I only wanted the texture spray. You needed a deep conditioner and so much more…if anything could even help.

          I’ll give you a little trick to help with styling because you MUST stop flat ironing it!!!! Please! If not, all of your efforts will be counteracted…what a waste. I have a client that used to do box blonde and finally started coming to me because her hair was fried. I’ve worked hard to gently take her to platinum and she’s using the products…but she’s not chilling out with the heat. Every time I tell her…you’re not going to have great hair until you stop…she admits to flat ironing daily! I asked her to commit to one day a week of no flat ironing…start there lol. She wouldn’t pick a day…and probably won’t….but there goes her hair! Don’t be that girl 🙂 it starts there…..lay off the heat and I promise you it will get better! When I went through somewhat of a similar ordeal I grabbed a chunk of hair, twirled, and bobby pinned it messy in the back. Grab a couple flower pins from forever 21 and pop them in…cute style, who cares if there’s damage! This will help the time pass….I swear, know from experience!

  143. rosemarie jaouen says:

    This is very interesting and glad to learn so much. Thank you for your comments and it sounds like you are a caring person sharing what you know to be true. My question is about the chemicals in all colorings including those in salons. I have had breast cancer and look for natural products now so as to not have to go through any more cancer in the future. I have tried letting the grey grow out but it makes me look so much older but on the other hand I am cautious about putting chemicals onto my scalp. Any suggestions on a healthier way to go. I will eventually go grey but not ready yet. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Is your hair texture different from what it was before? If so the color can also help to tame it down and make it look healthier and shinier (if the right product is used). In my salon we use Schwarzkropf hair color and there is a special ammonia free line called Essensity. This line is organic and free of parabens, artificial fragrances, silicone, etc. You can click on that link if you’d like to read about it. There are other lines out there but this one is of the best. Also, be careful because some stylists may say they are using ammonia free even if they aren’t. Not all salons carry an organic/free form line so don’t hesitate to call and ask questions!

  144. Maria Baricevic says:

    This is interesting. I appreciate your 7 months of study, and love that you have at least two years of color specialist experience. You know what you are doing!! However, I have learned that there are experienced colorists (more than the 7-month training) and their are hair stylists. Usually, not both. Colorists have ongoing trainings and workshops and really focus on their love of color. And, I know that hair stylists have the same. I pay top dollar for color and hair cuts, and my hair still gets fried and the hair cuts are atrocious. I’m tired of getting screwed at expensive salons. Nobody knows how to precision layer. I do not want frayed ends; I do not want a chopping block look to my hair and huge front parts cut out. My long hair is ruined. I have gray, so please color my whole head with highlights. I know they can do it; I see others all of the time. My hair is healthy on the top, and was healthy at the tips, but they are since very dry since my last color where I paid over $200, and it was a partial. Honestly, I am going to buy the professional color myself. What irks me the most, is that I went to older hair stylists who really learned how to cut hair and not do cheats, my hair would look good if left wavy without a blow dry, or blow dried. I think a good cut, is a good cut. It should not require blow drying to look good because I can never get it to look like it does in the salon, because you can not get your hair to look like that. Straight hair is wonderful. You cannot see mistakes as readily because it lays flat. The more seasoned colorists knows that on light brown or dirty blond hair that you DO NOT NEED BLEACH!!!! You can put in color. Lately, hair stylists keep saying that I need bleach, and it is frying my hair. I want rich color, and I know I can get it. Last, I am going to draw a picture of strand by strand layering; you do not cut in blocks. If this continues at salons, I will take the 7-month course, and cut my hair myself, and as a perfectionist in helping others and things of art, I would never ruin someone’s hair. My hair is constantly ruined with horrible hair cuts at top salons, and I do not know why because my hair is actually pretty good. Anyway, thanks for hearing my frustrations, and any recommendations on professional color that I can mix and apply myself would be appreciated. Or, if you are as good as you say you are, do you have an email address, so I can make a consultation appointment with you? I have never asked for a refund on all of the botched jobs on my hair, just so you know. Thank you!

    • Erika Brown says:

      First of all, it takes more than 7 months to become a cosmetologist and it’s insulting that clients think they can just do it themselves. As stylists we don’t really get the credit we deserve because there are so many out there that have no integrity and could care less what happens to your hair. It’s all about finding someone that fits your needs and properly communicating during the consultation. If you find an ABCH stylist you will be pleased because we uphold the highest level of integrity and skills you will come across in our field. Just because you are going to a fancy salon does not mean that the stylist is trained well.

      I know you think you know what you’re talking about when it comes to cutting, but you don’t. We do not cut in “blocks” and there are several different cutting systems out there….it doesn’t mean that one way is any better. It sounds like you’ve just had a lot of bad experiences but that doesn’t mean that “nobody” knows how to cut hair. How can you say that you would never ruin someone’s hair when you haven’t been in our shoes? Cosmetology is an ongoing learning process and mistakes will happen along the way. That’s how people get good, and that applies to a lot of things in life. If you go to school, talk to me a year later….I bet you’ll feel differently because the business of pleasing women isn’t as easy as it looks!

      My specialty color training was all to prepare for the American Board of Certified Haircolorists exam. A lot of people don’t understand that in order to become a certified haircolorist you must already have years of experience. There is less than a 40% pass rate and that’s why we are the best of the best. At the same time experience/years in the salon doesn’t always indicate a great stylist. I met a salon owner/stylist at the exam that was taking it for the 5th time and had owned a salon for 30 + years. As for your color dilemma, if you think you can do it that’s fine. Color isn’t just choosing what you want and putting it on, but that’s another lengthy topic in itself. Professional color is only sold to licensed professionals and Sally’s products are not professional. The reason for this is because the general public has not been trained to use it. Do you know the difference in developers, when they are used, and why? Do you know if your natural undertones are red, orange, yellow, etc.? If you put the wrong tones on top of your hair it won’t be pretty, same goes for any tones that have been previously applied. Maybe that explains why leaving it to a pro colorist is the way to go.

  145. Erika Brown says:

    It all depends on your hair and what you’re choosing to put on it. Also, “wild colors” are almost always a temporary formula that does not penetrate the cuticle. That’s why they have to be reapplied so often and no damage is evident.

    I often have people say that a colorist “fried” their hair and that’s why they want to do it themselves. I think it’s great that you’re aware it’s the user and not colorists themselves! There are A LOT of stylists out there that will try anything on your hair or claim they know what they’re doing…most of them have little to no knowledge about color chemistry and that’s why damage happens.

    The only absolute way to know that you’re colorist is someone you can count on is by finding an American Board Certified Haircolorist. There are only about 1,500 of us across the nation and everyone has been extensively tested to ensure the following:

    1. We will analyze your personal situation to guarantee that the integrity of your hair isn’t sacrificed because of an incorrect formula.
    2. We will find your hair color category and determine what will look best on you.
    3. Application will always be to exact standards and as close to perfection as humanly possible.
    4. If the porosity level of your hair is too high we will suggest options so that your hair will not be further damaged.

    Those are just a few things that we are trained to do for you. Now, if there isn’t a certified colorist in your area you can start by asking around and doing research on area salons. One thing to be weary of is that a “Master Stylist” is no mandated by any specific standards and there is no certification to determine whether or not a stylist can hold that title. People simply call themselves a master stylist…so certified colorist is the only national title you can count on.

    You can visit the link below to search for a certified haircolorist:

    • Meowcer says:

      This is great! Thank you so much!!!
      After going to that stylist, I did rock a pretty awesome reverse mullet, but I’m not willing to go thought it again.
      Again thanks for the links v

  146. Meowcer says:

    I use boxes for normal color then bottles for wild colors like purple and green. Never ever had a problem by myself, but the 3 times I had it professionally done I ended up cutting most of my hair off because the colorist fried it. It was awful.
    That being said, what kind of stuff do I need to look for in a salon that will let me know the stylist/colorist knows what they’re doing? I wouldn’t mind it being done professionally…

  147. Cyndi Britt says:

    I came across this quite by accident and figured it would be worth the read. I am so glad that I took the time to just that. I have to ask if you mind if I quote you? As a fellow stylist and colorist sometimes finding the right way to describe our intense dislike for “box” color to make people understand is a difficult task. You did it fabulously! Bravo!

    • Erika Brown says:

      I don’t mind at all! Most people just link to the post but you can do it however you like. You’ll love the next post on why not to use box color…ombre edition! lol…yea they have one now!

  148. […] at home it’s at your own risk and that’s a big one !  I explain more about this in 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color, it’s better to know before it’s too late!  If it’s already too late then you […]

  149. Joysabroad says:

    This is really good advice – but I live in China. I don’t trust the Chinese to do my color. What do you suggest if I HAVE to use a box? I’m in America now but I’m worried that if I get my hair professionally done here like I did before China, I’ll get back to China and be lost again. I would rather find a box that suits me in America and keep using that while in China instead of buying their boxes. I’m lost! help! 🙂

    • Erika Brown says:

      Hi! Interestingly enough I have a client that just moved to Japan and is going through the same thing! I feel that a good rule of thumb when you are moving to another country is to think about the culture and their main hair type. If yours is a lot different from where you are going, it’s probably going to be hard to find the perfect stylist…and then there’s the language barrier!

      If I were you I would go to Sally’s and buy a bottle of developer and a few tubes of color. I can help guide you in the right direction and give you some tips on picking something that will be easy to maintain yourself. They carry a version of Wella Color which is one of the best at Sally’s. You’ll want a 9/10 volume developer and choose from the semi-permanent line. Permanent and semi-permanent colors fade almost at the same rate with one main difference: semi-permanent will grow out more gracefully, the demarcation line of color from permanent is 10x more noticeable. Also, permanent color is something that I like to use mainly for covering grays or redheads. If you don’t HAVE to cover something up or you’re not completely changing your shade then semi is the way to go!

  150. […] had quite a bit of conflicting feedback on product posts and especially on 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color.  As a stylist I am trained to educate you on what’s best for your hair.  There are some […]

  151. Erin W says:

    I have been coloring my hair with boxed hair dye for years and have never experienced any of the issues you describe. My hair is not straw like at all. In fact, it is so soft it slips out of most ponytail holders. I have never had a problem with banding or multicolored hair. I have always been told how healthy and shiny my hair is and I always get compliments on my hair. I think it depends on the brand of dye you use. Of course hair stylists will claim their dye is better because they are trying to sell you their products. Chemically, a lot of the box dyes are similar to the dye used in salons. Unless I have an actual reason to switch, I will not go to a salon for my color. After all, my color looks great.

    • Erika Brown says:

      Are you a stylist? If not, how do you know the chemical differences? In my articles I explain the various strengths of developer and how they are to be used on different types of hair. The developer won’t differ much, besides the strengths. The main chemical difference is in the actual color itself. Some people that color their own hair do it with consistency and it can turn out okay, especially if you aren’t using permanent. Each individuals results depend strongly on application, natural level, natural undertones, and how the product you choose will react to them. For example, someone with dark hair going a little lighter may have some issues. Someone with dirty blonde to light brown hair will have the best luck with box color.

      As stylists we do not promote color because we are trying to sell our products. We do not sell our professional color off the shelves. Another great point is that we are not “claiming” the difference because it is a true fact. You can go to for more information on haircolor in the professional industry. We take pride in our work and there are many people out there that appreciate it and wouldn’t have it any other way. I do not try to prove the doctor wrong because I can use home remedies, as a society we should respect professional occupations because they are professionals and experts at what they do.

      • karri says:

        Before I was a hairstylist I used box color. I always got compliments and it was a shiny platinum color. I am a natural level 7 and I used Feria Starlet. Ive been a hairstylist for 10 years and I still remember what I used lol

        Now, in reality, I can go back and look at photos and yes the bottom half of my hair was platinum but I had a root of about a level 9 (for the at home pro’s that means golden blonde) and I actually burned about 4 inches of my hair off one time bc I followed the box instructions of pull it through the last 10 minutes. I in turn had to go to the salon and have the color fixed and a hair cut. I was lucky for many years and then it only took one time to mess me up ( kinda like pregnancy lol).

        knowing what I know now, I knew NOTHING then!

        Keep spreading the knowledge girl!!

        • Erika Brown says:

          As stylists it’s hard to admit that we may have used box color in the past! I also tried it in high school but by the time I went off to college I was over it and did not color again until cosmetology school. I thought I looked good…lol..and maybe it wasn’t so bad…but we can tell! There are few people that it can work for long term(without being noticeably unprofessional) and they are lucky!

          Thanks for the support!

  152. Cass says:

    I’m curious, I understand you dislike box dyes, but what are your thoughts on the dyes bought from places like Sally’s?

    • Erika Brown says:

      The color from Sally’s is basically the generic brand of our color in salons. For example, they have a “Tea Tree” shampoo that is the generic brand of Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Products. I know the difference, but most people don’t. Sally’s even carries “Wella” color, it’s just a different line from the one sold in our Beauty Supply Stores. Some companies want to target both markets, but, the most important thing is that they did not sell themselves out and promote boxes at Wal-Mart!

      When comparing Sally color with box color there are two main points that come to mind. One, the box color ingredients are far more harmful and can change anytime without notice. Two, box color is pre-formulated (making it much stronger) to work on anyone. If you get your color at Sally’s and mix it yourself with the proper developer you’re more likely to get the outcome you desire with little to no damage if it’s done correctly. The higher the number, the more damage, and sometimes a lighter outcome than expected. Don’t take formulation advice from the people who work there, they probably don’t know it that well and they aren’t supposed to give it anyways. A good place to start is do you want demi, semi, or permanent? Do you have gray and how often will you color it? Will you want to change it later or are you just going for a subtle change now?

      If you need help figuring it out you can e-mail me here: Answer those few questions for me and we’ll know what type of color, from there we determine level, tone, and desired look!

  153. ewil1985 says:

    @Marie. I am also a licensed cosmetologist and I can agree with this article 100%. JUST YESTERDAY, one of my clients that I hadn’t seen in a while came in and was telling me that she was pressed for time and had been too busy to come in a and get her color done. She decided to browse the boxes, and actually stood in the store and called the Loreal number on the box to make sure she picked the correct one. Guess what. If she hadn’t made that phone call, she would’ve turned her hair green. She then decided that she in fact DID NOT know hair color, and that it was stupid to take the chance. It does not always revolve around money, as you would like to think, it’s the quality of the color and the integrity of the hair should come first. And by the way… need to put “professionals” in quotations. I paid good money to go learn about my trade and am proud of the accomplishments I have made in my career, and that license that hangs on the wall MAKES me a professional. Great Job on the site updates, Erika, and keep up the good work!

  154. Erika Brown says:

    Do you really think that master colorists are “mad” because people can save money and do it themselves? If that’s the case then you might as well be saying everyone that does a trade for a living or a business that provides a service is “mad” that people try to do it themselves. It is the way of the world and I am here to educate my clients and others so they can make their own decisions. If people want box color opposed to professional, it’s their own hair, I don’t have to look at it everyday…they do. And there will always be clients that do pay, we are not mad at the people that don’t.

    I have clients that are ruining their hair and just didn’t know that the products weren’t comparable. They all want to know the pros and cons to coloring at home vs. in the salon and it’s my job to tell them. If cheap and easy is your style, that’s fine, but there are people that appreciate being pampered and knowing that they are well taken care of. They will look amazing when they walk out of the salon and that’s something no box can guarantee, no matter what.

    You could be right, HALF the time it might turn out looking okay, it’s just the luck of the draw. But does it feel okay? No. Does it look like professional color? No. Maybe you don’t know the difference yet, or you may have had a bad experience, which is why you designate professionals in a demeaning way. There are lots of cosmetologists out there that are doing bad color, those stylists are highly uneducated and are probably experimenting on you. That’s why people who pay good money for color choose a Board Certified Haircolorist.

  155. Marie says:

    I do believe you are just mad because people are saving lots of money doing their own hair instead of paying lots more for “professionals” to do it, and that means “professionals” loosing money. Half of the time it looks better after someone does it themselves then when “professionals” do it.

  156. […] it’s simple to prevent.  If your damage is from box color then you probably need to read 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color.  For some of you that isn’t the case, you may just be addicted to your blow dryer and flat […]

  157. […] I feel that in general most people think of box color when trying to save money on their hair.  They think that eliminating regular visits to their stylist is the only way!  The most important thing to remember is that box color is never a good option.  If you’re a believer in box color you may want to check out my post on 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color. […]

  158. […] If you’re thinking about changing your hair color at home….please…don’t!  What a disaster!  All of my advice is based on the proper salon care by a trusted professional.  I know it can be tempting so if you’re still not convinced you may want to read ” 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color“! […]

  159. Chrissy says:

    I’m really glad I’ read this because I’ might have commited one of the really bad sins and tried to fix a color I didn’t like with a box color. I had no idea that the box colors were so damaging and I also didn’t know that hairdressers have to go thru so much to learn their craft. I have a great deal more respect for their respect for them now, not that I didn’t already. I think they’re entirely underappreciated.

    • Erika says:

      I’m glad to hear you learned something from my article! I think that respect is rising, the problem is that there are some hairdressers out there that aren’t keeping the standards high enough. One bad experience can cause a client to not trust anyone! I sometimes have new clients that are very nervous despite my certification(the most intense experience of my life!) because someone has ruined their hair. Some people don’t further their education but they “fudge” through their career. I feel that I want to be doing my best because my client is expecting to be paying for the best! If you still need your hair fixed you can find a certified haircolorist in your area by following the “American Board Certified Haircolorist” link on my “About” page!

      Another important thing to remember is that even a master haircolorist cannot always correct a box color to what you may want! The hours and steps involved are excruciating and it may just cost an arm & a leg!

  160. Hildegarde Maria says:

    After reading your blog post I browsed your website a bit and noticed you aren’t ranking nearly as well in Google as you could be. I possess a handful of blogs myself and I think you should take a look here: You’ll find it’s a very nice tool that can bring you a lot more visitors. Keep up the quality posts

    • Erika says:

      Thanks so much! I’m fairly new to this and I appreciate your feedback! It’s great to hear from people that I don’t even know, I’m used to only hearing from family and friends.

      • Christy says:

        I have used box color for years and I am 55 years old. Light colors have never worked for me, however, my hair is colored dark brown…I go to a high end salon to get my hair cut and my hairdresser and the owner always comment on what great condition my hair is in and what pretty color it is. So, I don’t have a problem with box color. EVERYTIME I try to go blond, whether it be box or professional (I have paid around $300.00 twice at a salon) my hair turns out orange. So, say what you want about box color…I do not have a problem with it vs. “professional” color…
        there is NO difference to my hair

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