Box Color Eva Longoria

You’ve 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 reading this because we both know I’m right.

This short list was inspired by the hundreds of comments and e-mails that I have received in response to the first post about not using box color.

If you’re still considering it after reading both posts, do yourself a favor and check this out- Should I Box Color My Hair At Home?.  You won’t regret it, but you will definitely regret choosing the box!



1. Your hair won’t really look as good as you think it will.

You can convince yourself that your hair looks fabulous, and if that’s all that matters to you…great.  I’m happy for you and best of luck.  However, you won’t be fooling anyone else.  I can spot a box color in a crowd and so can most people that appreciate amazing haircolor.

Sure, you may get lots of “compliments”.  Are they really complimenting your “gorgeous” at-home haircolor?  Or, are they just being polite?  Most people don’t have the guts to look at you and say, “Gee, your haircolor looks pretty bad…hope you didn’t pay for that!”.  Your friends, family, and co-workers want to be nice to you (hopefully).  They don’t want to hurt your feelings or offend you because ruffling feathers is rude in most situations.

If you get several compliments from COMPLETE strangers…that’s more believable!  It can be awkward to walk up to a stranger and compliment them, but when you have great hair and someone wants to know where you get it done…they will definitely strike up a conversation with you!

2. You ask questions like, “My hair is black and I want it to be bright pink…do I have to bleach it first?”

There are many problems with this scenario, where should I start?

First of all…bleaching your own hair is a horrible idea…especially if you’re trying to do it all-over. Bleach is powerful and must be used with caution. I know that it seems like hairstylists throw it around like conditioner, but we simply know how to use it and when. Some educated hairstylists even make mistakes when lightening hair because they rush or forget to ask the right questions and think through the service they will perform. Either way, bleaching your own hair will turn out a million times worse than you think.

Most of us are stubborn and have to learn from our own mistakes, but for those of you that might read this and take my advice to heart here is something you should never forget:

Bleaching your hair when you don’t have a clue WILL end badly and it IS NOT reversible!  You will SUFFER for months, maybe even a year while trying to get your hair back to normal…if you don’t end up having to cut it all off and start fresh.

The bottom line here is if you don’t know the answer to that question then you definitely should NOT be attempting to color your own hair. OF COURSE you have to lighten it first…and if it’s really dark you will probably have to bleach it to the danger zone. If your hair isn’t breaking off by then…you might get a bright pink-ish color…if you’re lucky.

3. It’s sold at Wal-Mart.

If achieving beautiful haircolor were as easy as picking up a box when you shop for groceries, then EVERYONE would do it!  I’ve never seen the shelves on the box color isle empty…have you?

Box Color on Sale Clearance

Box Color on Clearance! No…please don’t, it’s not that Nice n’ Easy!

I shop at Wal-Mart or Target, but not for beauty products or anything that can alter my hair or body in any way!  What a horrible idea!  L’Oreal and other well known brands have a professional color line, so it’s a little confusing to see it on the superstore shelves.  Those companies started out mainly professional-only and saw opportunities to expand their business, consumer base, etc. to make more money.

How is this possible?  They came up with cheaper versions of what they make for professionals…a.k.a. box color, shampoos, styling products, etc.

How did they do it without losing their professional consumer base?  As a hairstylist, I would be irate if my pro supplies became available to the public (not that anyone would know what to do with it).  They made sure that the product wouldn’t be close to comparable, but would still work enough to get by because they know they are selling to desperate consumers looking for a cheap fix.

4. You can’t find a haircolorist in your area.

This one is very common, believe it or not!  There are tons of people that really want to get their hair colored in the salon, but can’t find the right stylist.  This should never be a reason to turn to the box!

Maybe you’ve had a few bad experiences and you’re weary of trying someone new. Or, you just moved and don’t know which salons have the best reputations.  Don’t suffer or ruin your hair because you don’t have an appointment.  Be patient, ask around, look for reviews online, and book with a stylist you think you will like.

If you are worried…just book a consultation.  It will be short and sweet.  Consultations are usually 10-15 minutes long and you can ask as many questions as you’d like.  This will also give you and your stylist time to get to know each other.  If you don’t feel comfortable after a consultation…don’t book the color appointment.  Even with my credentials I have had several pre-color consultations with people who are now long time clients of mine.  They were making sure that I knew what I was talking about.

For a list of American Board Certified Haircolorists in your area click here.

5. Someone on the internet gave you advice or instructions.

Watch out for scammers, stop being stubborn and admit that professionals are the ONLY ones to take haircolor advice from!  There are so many people on the internet that are giving haircolor advice and have NO BACKGROUND in cosmetology!  If you fall for it then you probably deserve the hot mess that’s ahead of you.  Don’t let some greedy stranger take advantage of you….of course they will tell you that it will work and it will be easy!

Please, whatever you do, don’t seek advice from the following:


The cashier lady at Sally’s Beauty Supply

She is working in retail because she obviously doesn’t have any formal training or a license in cosmetology.  I’ve seen plenty of them act like they know what they are talking about and it’s repulsive.  Just a side note…professionals don’t buy haircolor at Sally’s (we buy processing caps, gloves, combs, etc. because they are cheaper).  The store just makes it seem like it’s professional by using some of the same brand names.

Sally's Beauty SupplyThose brands are shameful as they have sold out a mediocre line of their product and are just using “the name” to make money off of people who don’t know any better.  Think of foods at the grocery store…”but it says all-natural”….but, it’s not and that cheap haircolor is on the same level as the box.  Knowing what to do with it is the only thing that will save you….maybe.

Non-professionals on forums or blogs

They are scammers.  Most of them are beauty school drop-outs or they are just trying to sell you really bad hair color products.  So, they give you advice.  They take advantage of the many desperate people that want someone to tell them what to use and how to get that haircolor they desire.

I can promise you that no professional haircolorist is going to give you that kind of advice (unless they have no respect for themselves).  If they do attempt to talk you through performing a color service on yourself….how do they know which nonprofessional products to recommend?  Did that “stylist” gain their experience using Sally’s Beauty Supply haircolor and boxes?  I have to stop there before I overly offend someone, because the rest should be obvious.


It’s great for so many things, but not how to color your own hair. Google can’t tell you what your natural level is, what your natural and artificial undertones are, what your porosity or damage level is, etc. Only a professional haircolorist can do that.

Just Google ItEven if you tried to guess those things…Google can’t tell you which box color you should use!  Seriously! Technology is advanced and ever-changing, but we’re not there and your computer will never replace your stylist!

Here’s a snippet from a readers’ comment in response to 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color:

“People have google these days so you have to be an idiot to botch it.”

Really?  Does that mean “idiots” are using Google to to figure out how to color their own hair?  Or are they winging it? With or without Google….it’s pretty much the same thing. Would I use Google for legal, medical, or other professional advice?  I might look up information out of curiosity or to know more about the topic at hand, but I certainly wouldn’t try to do my lawyers or doctors job.

As the familiar saying goes, “Leave it to the pros!”.

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

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Are you a hairstylist that gets tired of sounding like a broken record?  Do you have those “box color abusers” that come in for a haircut and think it will solve all of their problems?  Do those clients constantly tell you that they choose to box color their hair because it’s just as good?

I’d love to hear your stories!  Please send them to me here or leave a comment below!  Spread the word and educate the world!


About The Author


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

19 Responses to 5 More Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Box Color

  1. Helena says:

    I love your blog! I attended cosmetology school in the 90’s when I was just 15. It was a dual-enrollment thing so I never actually became a stylist but I learned a ton about hair and care. Honestly, even I can’t possibly do anything decent with hair color from Sally’s or from the drugstore. Even with all my training, I attempted to bleach my hair all over one day (don’t ask me why.) Then I realized, I had no toner. Not only was a piss orange and yellow striped, but I had to pay double to a stylist at a salon to “fix” my $12 bleach job. And, think about it. For longer, thick hair you’re going to need at least 2 boxes of bleach or dye. That’s $24 or’ll also need a seriously good toner, that’s another $12…plus a deep conditioning treatment (at best) which is another $10…then you’ll need to buy a friend lunch to get her to help you color the back…before I even add in lunch I’ve spent AROUND THE SAME I’d have spent had I gone to a salon give or take $10 or so. A single process color done professionally will last forever. Once, my Redkin color done at the salon was still in place even after I touched up the roots with the Loreal “root touch up” and that drugstore root touch up had washed out and faded…I had 4″ of root showing but my Redkin color was still there, perfectly, and was still covering all the gray. Go to the professionals, it’s just a time and money saver!

  2. Wylona says:

    I use Manic Panic over unbleached dark hair occasionally for a change and get plenty of compliments from strangers so I’m not going to a professional. *shrug* I see no problem with it in my case because the color isn’t that bright to begin with and when it fades, it pretty much just blends back into my natural color. It lasts longer than a true semi-permanent would but that’s a good thing.

  3. Martha says:

    I have been blessed to have only had to have my hair colored once in my 52 years and had it done by a professional who used caramel highlights . Also blessed with natural highlights … That was 2 years ago and have still received compliments as it grew out because now looks kind of ok ombré as has grown in original slightly darker color with lighter colors on bottom. Alas the grey is catching up to me and have function tommorrow sir and have esalon kit with golden mahogany with caramel or should I go to local beauty school and have the girls do it as I am a bit tight on cash for rest of week??? Ps my hair is definitely extraordinary thick and healthy because of the LACK of ANY chemicals I have out on it over all the years Åland no one can convince me otherwise. In fact , didn’t have. Manicure Til I was 49 either

    • Erika says:

      So….about the esalon thing….it’s on my “to do” list of things to blog about, but I haven’t had time to do a nice write up of my research. Rather than telling you the reasons why esalon is just a bad idea…I’m going to give you an alternative option.

      If there is an ULTA BEAUTY near you- book an appointment for anytime of day Monday through Wednesday. We have a color & cut special at Ulta Salon for $60. It’s usually $100, so it’s a great deal! Let the receptionist know that you’re booking your color retouch and would like the Mon-Wed special. We have lots of clients that take advantage of this deal because it is so much more affordable on a monthly basis.

      You can also book an appointment online here!

      Good luck and when I finish my article about esalon hair color I’ll try to remember to reply to this post with the link. If you want to make sure you don’t miss my new posts about at-home hair color, products, etc. then you can subscribe to my blog or newsletter here!

      Thanks for reading!

  4. Martha says:

    I have been blessed to have only had to have my hair colored once in my 52 years and had it done by a professional who used caramel highlights . Also blessed with natural highlights … That was 2 years ago and have still received compliments as it grew out because now looks kind of ok ombré as has grown in original slightly darker color with lighter colors on bottom. Alas the grey is catching up to me and have function tommorrow sir and have esalon kit with golden mahogany with caramel or should I go to local beauty school and have the girls do it as I am a bit tight on cash for rest of week???

  5. Krystal says:

    I’m able to purchase salon quality products at a Cosmetology store near my home. While I love saving the money because salons in my region are extremely expensive, you need to be prepared to learn. It is not as simple as mixing packet 2 into bottle 1. I will admit my hair is not as good as if a professional did it, but I will never go back to boxed hair color because the difference is noticeable; not only with that for my appearance, but the condition of my hair as well. Thank you for the very informational post!

    • Erika says:

      If you’re going to color your hair at home, then that’s the way to do it! As long as you research everything so you won’t do any damage, that’s better than box color even though your application may not be the best.

      Have you read “How to Color Your Hair At Home”? There are some great tips for people like you so you’ll be able to get the best outcome! Just like professional haircolorists….there is always room to improve and keep learning. You may already do all of those things, and if so, I’m impressed!

  6. Sarah Danieal says:

    I have been using box dye since I was 13. That’s the first time my Mom let me dye it. I am now 42 and I have to dye it now. It’s not just fun anymore. My entire life, of box dye, I have strangers compliment me. Maybe I’m just super lucky? Who knows, but it happens all the time. I decided to go to a high dollar professional for the first time a couple months ago because I am tired of dying my hair constantly to hide the grey. She assured me that highlights would do the trick. Well, I’m just not impressed. I still had grey. And I was broke. I haven’t done anything since then because I can’t see just throwing money out the window and not getting what I really want. (No grey , and dying less often than once a week, my hair grows very fast) I have tons of family and friends that are hairdressers, and they all say the same thing. Highlights. But , I really want to go back to my box dye, that’s the only time I was completely happy and had no grey. Maybe someone can give me different advice?

  7. I have always had problems with my hair! I have gone to so many professional hair stylists that have completely ruined the color of my hair. But, I never once turned to the box. I didn’t want to damage my hair anymore than it already was. I just decided to cut it and save my money to go to a real professional. I don’t see how dying my hair myself would have helped! Even if I got the color wrong, I don’t want to deal with the damage it creates!

    • Erika says:

      A very smart move 😉 Disliking your hair is bad enough, but having a bad cut, color, or both…PLUS damage is just the worst! I went through that in high school when I experimented with box color and I had a bad haircut, a perm, and a professional color somewhere in there. When I look back at photos from that time I can’t believe that I didn’t know better!

  8. Brittney says:

    I agree with this to some point but in another way no because I have had box dye turn my hair a beautiful color and some just don’t do anything especially the lighter colors, but I’ve also heard stories of hairsylists messing women hair up, frying it, turning it green, I’ve had my hair professionally done 3x my entire life and see no difference in box dye and professional, cause within 2 weeks of having my hair done at salon, ash blonde, the color has faded and I still have brassiness, not my natural hair does have a red cast tho, and as I said I personally prefer box dye esp if you have light hair and going to a darker color but if your tryna go lighter then u should go to a professional but either way it’s risky business nowadays

    • Erika says:

      You know, saying that there’s “no difference” is VERY insulting to professional haircolorists. Those stories you heard are far more likely to happen with box color.

      Also, people sometimes claim that their hair “got fried” at the salon, when it was already severely damaged. This happens a lot, and even though we advise against highlights or color, those clients literally insist on it(or they say they’ll go somewhere else). They are warned that there could and probably will be more damage than they already have, and they say they don’t care….they just want their haircolor done. Then…they go home and complain all over the internet about it.

      With hair, and many other things, people have to learn for themselves….the hard way. I was stubborn once(in cosmetology school) and I wanted to go back to blonde, but my hair was dark. I didn’t care how, but I wanted it to happen ASAP. I chose one of the advanced students to do it, and my hair has never been so messed up!!! She told me it would be damaged, and I didn’t listen. Thousands of women do this every year, and there’s no way to stop it….box color or professional color.

  9. Katherine says:

    You come off a wee bit rude. I like to play with my color. Always have. Im pretty goodat it. I never knew that as someone who uses box hair dye it so deeply offends professionals when I come in for a cut. Before I had my daughter and moved to a more rural area. I went to the salon and payed about 200$ for a cut blow out and foil. But jeez lady, I have other things I have to spend my money on too now. I see your point how someone with no experience could seriously damage their hair, and yes I agree that the professional dye formulas are going to give a better result. But it’s kinda mean how you say you can spot a box dye a mile away, and how people are just being nice. You should try to put a more positive spin on this if it is meant to be truly helpful. It just comes off like an exasperated, judgmental hair dresser looking down on some women who’s situations you maybe don’t fully understand. God bless

    • Erika says:

      That’s your opinion. I’m not being mean, I’m being honest. The things I write in these articles are exactly what you’ll hear in the break room of a salon. People read my blog because it’s straightforward, no b.s., real advice, etc. There are plenty of blogs you can read that are just so nice…you won’t get the truth. If that’s what you prefer, then I’d be happy to recommend a few.

      This article is one of many that I’ve written in response to the comments from 10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Box Color.(Just a guess, but you probably won’t like it. You should read it if you want to get a more in-depth explanation of box color). There are people that appreciate my directness and others can’t because they are easily offended. Do you think it’s not rude to start your comment with, “You come off a wee bit rude.” Imagine saying that to someone in person….it would probably be awkward. I am not writing these opinions as a direct lash at any one box color user, but people get so offended these days by opinions because they take everything personally.

      There are also people that are ruining their hair and don’t know how it’s happening…this information is for those people, so they can make an educated decision about their hair color. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have healthy hair that is not colored than damaged, brittle, frizzy hair that is colored.

      Lastly, don’t assume that I do or don’t understand someone’s situation. While putting myself through school there were times when I was scrounging for change hoping it would be enough for gas to get to class and back. Those weren’t the only hard times I’ve had, so I do understand what it’s like. I couldn’t spend money on my hair(I just went natural…when times are tight hair is not a priority). That’s why I mention money and other options when it comes to hair services. That’s why I wrote an article about HOW TO CHOOSE A BOX COLOR. That’s why I give people advice about which box colors are best when they tell me that they have no other options.

      • Katherine says:

        I would absolutely start a conversation that way with someone who is so brash. And dare I say, a tad defensive? Anyway. As I said I see your point. you are in my opinion BRASH, but very informative. Clearly you know your way around a salon. If you don’t like it. Disable comments. God bless

        • Erika says:

          It’s my job to educate other about the importance of proper color services, how to properly care for your hair, advice on what to do and what not to do, etc. So, if you call that defensive, that’s fine. I’m sure you’re passionate about something as well.

          I think you’re forgetting that this goes both ways. I get comments of all kinds, but few like yours. To tell me that I should just disable my comment section if I “don’t like” yours is rude as well.

          If I disabled my comments just because some people make negative remarks….then all of the readers that benefit from sharing information or asking for advice in the comment section would lose a very helpful tool.

  10. glitterglueandpaint says:

    Great post, Erika! If they leave it to the pros then they wouldn’t complain so much about their hair. Sally’s is notorious but BS advice. A friend of mine’s daughter wanted to darken her already dark hair and went to Sally’s and the girl sold her level 2 with 40v developer. Need I say more!!!

  11. […]  Still not sure?  Here are 5 More Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Box Color! […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.