TiGi-Hair-ColorAre you wondering how to buy professional hair dye for your own at home use?

Well…you can’t. If you do find some online then it’s not coming from a reliable supplier.

Not only that, but if you’re not a hairstylist then you probably have no idea about what you’re doing.

This isn’t a “tricky” post to hook you onto my website…I wrote this post because the phrase “how to buy professional hair dye” is one of the most searched topics on this blog!

How To Buy Professional Hair Dye

Update: July 2017

I’ve seen a lot of comments from disgruntled readers about the intent of this post. Please read the comment and response below for a brief explanation about who this article is for and why.

Here’s a great reader Q&A about buying professional hair dye:


This article is JUST A TAD BIT biased. I don”t know where you live, but there are many high quality beauty supply stores where you can buy all the products you need without being licensed.

If someone does their due diligence in researching everything they need to know, it’s not rocket science as you’re making it sound.

As others have mentioned, some people can’t leave their homes due to illnesses (physical, or mental), some people simply don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars going into the salon…the list goes on. It’s convenient to be able to do these things in the comfort of your own home for a fraction of what of the cost at a salon.

You can teach yourself anything you want, the internet provides lovely resources to be able to do so.


Here’s my response:

Dear Alex,

Yes, you are right about a few things.

It may not be rocket science, but if you knew the difference between the results you get from an American Board Certified Haircolorist(or Redken Certified, Master Haircolorist, etc.) and a beginner stylist that just finished cosmetology school…imagine the difference in results from someone who is uneducated in cosmetology and chemistry/has no experience in the industry that is coloring their hair for the first time after watching some YouTube videos and reading blog articles online!

I wrote this post because I was getting so many comments and e-mails from people asking me how to buy professional hair color. Most of them think that professional beauty supply stores are open to the public, but they are not.

I wanted to explain to readers why “superior” hair color products require a license to purchase, and that professional hair color is immensely different from what you get at Sally’s Beauty or the basic box of hair color. Also, that most people don’t know how to properly formulate for the best results…that doesn’t mean they can’t educate themselves and try(I have posts that only blog subscribers can access which explain basics of hair color and how to do it yourself to get the best results….as well as color charts, formula substitutions between brands, etc.)

I am very understanding of those that cannot go to the salon for various reasons and I do help them(via the contact page/e-mail because chemical services are specific to each person and it’s difficult to give accurate advice without all of the information). I do the same for guests that are shopping in Ulta Beauty and ask me what they should use because they cannot afford a color service at our salon.



You’re about to ruin your hair…just stop.

I’ll 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 accurate, but it’s less likely to create a disaster than a non-professional trying to figure it all out on their own!

Here are the ONLY ways to buy professional hair dye:

  1. At a beauty supply store. Beauty supply stores are NOT open to the public. You may only buy their products if you have an active cosmetology license.
  2. From a beauty supplier. These are usually mobile and their representatives go to salons to take inventory and/or place orders on a monthly basis. They often have products that cannot be bought at beauty supply stores.

If you’re Googling “how to buy professional hair dye” then ask yourself these questions:

  • Why are you trying to buy a professional product if you are not a professional?
  • Did your Wal-Mart box hair color let you down?
  • Do you think the results will be different if the color is “professional quality”?

If that’s the case then you’ve got it all wrong. The problem is not the product…it’s you. It’s because you’re not a professional.

I know that some people think what we do is easy, but it’s not. There are so many factors that go into creating beautiful hair color.

It doesn’t happen by chance…it happens when a professional haircolorist listens to your needs or wants and uses their knowledge to create the look you desire.

About The Author


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

144 Responses to How to Buy Professional Hair Dye

  1. k says:

    Oh man from reading all these comments I feel really bad for you. Honestly most of these people have had bad experiences with people who might have been aholes first and hair stylists second… and then have turned into aholes themselves. I am not a licensed professional and have been dying my own hair with and without my licensed professional friend for about 10 years and I can confidently say that I am still not a licensed professional and don’t deserve the same respect or access to products that they do. All these rude people are out of their mind and I totally understand where you are coming from. I don’t mid making horrible mistakes on my own hair so I’m gunna keep doing it myself until I find enough money and self confidence to pay a professional to do it for me. Plus you can’t even find Brazilian bond builder second hand and half of the best products aren’t sold in the US. I know I’m not a professional even though I’ve watched a million different famous hair stylists work their magic on the internet. At first I was kind of offended by how this article originally sounded but the more you read you realize that you aren’t being pretentious and all of these aholes are. If you really think that you, a person with a different profession who has spent a maximum of 20 hours coloring your hair, knows more than someone who is a professional who has minimum of 1500 hours, you don’t know how to do simple math and you shouldn’t be playing with professional dyes if you care about your health and hair?

  2. Katerina says:

    Hi Erika! I read through your article and I agree 100% with what you pointed out! However I do have a question. I took the cosmetology apprenticeship program at my highschool which in a nutshell taught us the same techniques/information you would learn at a hair school. I currently am waiting to take my hours towards getting my RedSeal until after i am further along in my univeristy degree but do not wish to loose the skill set i have learnt till that time comes. I have heads at my house to practice cutting and styling on but was wondering if there were any lightners or even colors you might recommend to get close enough results to the ones professional products give? Thank you in advance!!

    • Erika says:


      Every color line is going to be different. What’s important is that you familiarize yourself with one brand while you are learning. Know all of the rules and try to break them/make mistakes. That’s how you learn how to be a great colorist.

      Once you are confident with that color line you will have no problem switching(although you will have to get used to a new one depending on if the level system is different, for example).

      I think that using non-professional products(like color/lightener from Sally’s Beauty) is fine for practice. It’s inexpensive and you’ll learn a lot…quality is not necessary when you’re using a mannequin.

  3. Rene says:

    You actually can buy professional hair color online without a license.
    My friend does my hair and she is self taught, she is also the best stylist I have used from Florida to Maine in all.the moving I’ve done throughout my life. She only does a few heads of hair for personal not professional reasons but no salon owner has ever done for me what she does and she just orders online, she uses pravana & Wella Koleston.

    • Erika says:

      You can buy SOME brands online, but not from industry approved retailers. That’s why it can be hard to find every shade/brand- it is second market.

  4. Brenda says:

    Wow! This might be the most pretentious and absurd post I’ve ever had the displeasure of reading. As if I’m unable to understand color theory myself, unable to blend colors, and unable to apply said mix to my own hair. College educated individuals can’t possibly grasp the technical aspects of hair coloring through their own research and observations? No, a box dye didn’t go wrong for me and YES professional hair colors DO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. You will not obtain the same pigmentation at Sally’s, the ammonia will be through the roof, and your tone/mixing options are limited. However, you already know there is a major difference and aren’t using those products in your salon. Yet, you attempt to chastise anyone attempting to obtain those highly sought after brands at home for their own use? Ugh, honestly….. It’s shameful really.

    • Erika says:

      No, I am not attempting to “chastise” anyone.

      One of the most searched topics on my website is “How to Buy Professional Hair Dye”. I named the article based off top search keywords so that people could more easily find the info stating that you just can’t buy professional hair color without a license. Most people don’t understand that you must have a license to buy actual professional color products used by salons, and unfortunately your only options are products from beauty supply stores and/or second-hand sales on Amazon/Ebay.

      So, rather than letting people waste their time trying to figure out how to obtain these products, I’m telling it like it is.

      If you came here for help with coloring your hair at home because of quarantine…I do have an article about that, and it includes links to some pro hair color products that are available on Amazon(the thing is that all colors are not always available and the age of the product is not guaranteed).

    • Gem says:

      I agree Brenda.

      • Mechial says:

        I call bullshit on this post I’ve watched my hairstylist mix the color and apply it. And me and my daughter do the root touch up just as she does. Also I’ve had beauticians sell me professional perms as well as color and developer. It’s ridiculous that some beauticians charge $80 and $90 dollars for a root touch up every six weeks. And some beauticians don’t even get all the grey roots colored and want that kind of money. Hell no. I will do it my self and just pay for a haircut!

        • Erika says:

          Believe it or not, there are people that pay a stylist to color their hair because they enjoy it. They love going to the salon- having their hair washed and blown out, being pampered, having conversations with their stylist and other clients, etc.

          So, even though you think it’s “bullshit”, that doesn’t mean that there is no value or enjoyment from going to a salon.

          It’s like getting a pedicure or a facial…people can do that themselves, but they don’t because they enjoy the experience and would rather pay someone to do it.

    • Shara says:

      I had the same reaction. I was amused by the post because I came here after I just did my own hair with professional colors or the first time ever. I wanted to find a legit way to buy my color instead of having to go to eBay. My salon is still closed. It was a school so I knew what the mix and color was from all the conversations between my stylist and their supervisors. I found my shade on ebay and mixed it myself from YouTube videos. It looks great and I’m so happy. No trouble at all-actually it was a lot of fun. Much better than using the box dyes I felt stuck using during the quarantine. I’m planning on doing my own hair from now on.

  5. Blakley Ryan says:

    I am obviously bitter, and extremely angry with the way that I have been treated over the years by stylists. And every woman I know says they are sick and tired of stylist being so stuck-up and hateful like they are God’s gift to Earth. Your reply to Jamie who commented May 5th was the exact reason stylists are looked down on so much. No one wants to say it to their faces in fear of retaliation to their hair. Your 1500 hours definitely will never make you more worthy of buying any kind of chemicals from hair to chlorine for a pool more than Jamie. There’s got to be at least 200 hours of that 1500 that brainwash you guys into thinking that you are better then the rest of society because you were taught how to make hair look good. While it is good of you to try to help us out when it comes to these matters, your way of doing it was downright despicable. You degrading women that have already been lied to cheated and mistreated by every stylist they have ever paid is another reason why we will continue to do our hair ourselves and keep fighting for those equal rights. I’m going to help you but degrade you at the same time? So you are trying to tell me that in order to be able to do your own hair that you should dedicate 1500 hours to a career that you will never use? If we all dye and bleach and cut our hair just fine now then why would we need these 1500 hours? If we are so much beneath you then why do you care if we are going to mess our hair up in the first place? Is it y’all know one day you’ll have to have good customer relations and get that chip off your shoulder in order to have clients? When it is available to all of us 90% hair stylist will be without a job because they couldn’t appreciate and respect a client if they had to. I get that you guys have people walking in constantly that have destroyed their hair, but that’s why we advocates out here in the real world share as much information and knowledge is possible. We sure products we help educate and we are always ready to learn something new. Do you want to help people, then advised them not to do it themselves and then educate them on what happens when it goes wrong. Insulting and belittling us for not having your license just pushes more people away from professionals. I get your angered because you truly believe that without a license should do their own hair much less have professional products available to them because I’m sure you did work hard to get to where you are but there are plenty of professionals out there that have done the same and are more than willing to help others out without unjustly stereotyping them to be opprobrious because of driving ambition to learn something new

    • Erika says:

      I think you are missing the point. Also, I don’t make the rules- the government does/individual states. So, maybe you should direct your concerns to them if you have a problem with the standards set for licensed professionals and the tools of their trades.

      I’m not going to address everything in your rant because you have not read everything on my website…like the many people that I help every day that are trying to do their own hair(literally thousands over the years). It is people like you who comment with such hate that I don’t feel as compelled to help…I’m sure you understand that.

  6. Carly Choppin says:

    There are so many products that are sold that people don’t know how to use but but anyways. People buy and own products for home improvements projects that can be quite dangerous but they’re perfectly legal to sell. Other beauty products are sold that people may not know how to use perfectly or could be used incorrectly but they’re still sold. Going to hair salons is extremely expensive and most people cannot afford to get their hair colored by professionals whenever they want. The people who color their hair at home are also not expecting perfect results, and expect that they might mess up and so are fine with that eventuality. Furthermore, semi-permanent color rubs off and I’m sick of my dye getting on my sheets and clothes. It’s frankly not fair that companies and professionals should decide for us that we can’t buy professional colors- what we do with our hair isn’t anyone’s problems but our own. Since when do other companies and industries do that?

    • Erika says:

      I understand your points, but unfortunately that’s just the way it is. I wrote this article because I got hundreds e-mails and comments about how to buy professional hair color and many people didn’t understand that it’s simply not sold to the public(except for 2nd hand).

      People get mad at me for writing the truth and the reality of how the beauty industry works, and that’s okay…I guess they need to take it out on someone.

  7. Blakley Ryan says:

    I’ve spent thousands of dollars in salons having my hair colored and bleached by a licensed professionals since the age of 15. I’ve always been a huge believer in they’re fit for the job better than I because they are trained and have somewhat decent amount of experience before stepping out into the field and can only get better with more experience. As a woman my hair is so extremely precious to me that it wasn’t something I was willing to bargain or be cheap with.
    Unfortunately now that I’m almost 30 and can only recall two hair stylists actually doing ONLY what I asked and ALWAYS being HONEST about what was achievable after paying $100-$240 plus a tip for my hair to be a disaster with every new salon visit and it really makes me sad and quite frankly angered. One of them retired after having her child and then YEARS later when I finally found the perfect hair stylist after about a year-and-a-half she decided to stop giving me my olaplex treatments but still charged me for them and swore up and down it was being used she just no longer mixed it in front of me and that I had been doing something wrong, changed my hair care routine, was using too much heat to cause all of the breakage and damage that steadily got worse with every appointment,it had nothing to do with the Bleach,toner or dyes she was using. All of my products came from her?? I’ve always let my hair air dry I do not own a blow dryer. I have beautiful loose curls, 3 maybe four times a year do I even use a straightener. She raised her price dramatically twice on me and when she apologized I told her both times that she deserved it and that I was more than happy to pay it because her talent and services where the best in the business and I’d follow her anywhere she went and pay whatever she asked. I never missed an appointment, and not one time did she miss out on that $25 tip every 4 to 6 weeks. The last appointment she cut 8 1/2in off of my hair and then had the audacity to tell me she thought I trusted her when I was in tears astonished that she would do something so vile and unethical!
    So I finally decided to try it for myself what did I have to lose I’m sure I couldn’t do any worse than what all of these “licensed professionals” had done to me over the years. I researched and then research some more, I learned as much as I could for a couple months, asked as many questions as I could and took as many notes from the licensed hairdressers I knew and then I finally did it! And for the first time in my life I am completely satisfied 100% with my hair, it’s not dried out or fried after I’m done and I get compliments constantly. But the funny part? Everyone wants to know who does my hair now and wants her number! See this great country that we live in we are all consumers, and then there’s that whole free-enterprise thing. Oh yeah and the freedom of speech! So I guess I’ll sit around and listen to licensed professionals” complain about their customers learning to do their hair from YouTube, Google or a friend, because we are at least learning and getting the hair that we want now. It won’t be long and all of these products will be available for the general population whether it be companies deciding to really start making money and selling to everyone or a nice little generic that works just fine for us because it’s cheaper anyways and works just as good. And man do I hope they sell it in a box at Walmart! Let us not forget all of the family members and friends who are “licensed” and happily get us incompetent and low class our Olaplex and Pravana regardless of our status quo during the time being. One of my favorite things now is hearing someone talk about how Olaplex did nothing for them and I am able to share my story and explain to them that it either wasn’t being used, they were only using no.2, the little amount that was applied wasn’t kept on for long enough to even start the bonding process and her hair stylist is the culprit not Olaplex! It’s crazy what that stuff can do for you whenever you actually get a treatment and with the right products, amount and length of time.

  8. Jamie says:

    What if you have a physics and chemistry degree, actively use topics such as thermodynamics, chemical reaction rates, electron transfer mechanisms, concentrations and ratios, oxidation reduction reactions, equilibrium, light wave transmittance and refraction, and other optics physics such as color theory in your daily career, have actively been dyeing your own hair for 15+ years with mostly Demi-permanent vivids that don’t even require developer, and only ever intend on doing your own hair. I respect the cosmetology industry, I’m not trying to say it’s easy, I’m just saying I can definitely dye my own hair, understand how and why dye works the way it does, and should have limited purchasing rights for professional dyes based on my provable qualifications.

    • Erika says:

      Professional hair color products are available for licensed professionals for a reason. You may know a lot about chemistry and the color wheel, but those things relate to hair and hair color in a very different way. Cosmetologists are required to complete an average of 1,500 training hours(varies by state) because so much of what we know comes from learning hands-on, making mistakes and correcting them, etc.

      I’m not saying that there aren’t people who can color their hair, but that doesn’t mean they are worthy of the same access that licensed stylists get-who have gone to school, put the time in, taken state board exams, and earned their right to purchase these products.

  9. Natural Hair Girl says:

    I’ve definitely bought professional Hair Dye before and used it on my own. It worked really well, better than going to most professionals because they don’t know how to tend to my natural 3c, 4a hair. I’ve experienced using different products over the years. Professionals do have certain trainings but you can learn the stuff yourself tbh. It’s just like self-taught mua and licensed mua’s. They are expected to know more but aren’t always best at it. It’s definitely harder to get professional hair dye but there are some websites that sell them. YOU know your hair best. I’ve learned that. As I started to care for my own hair years ago it’s gotten soooo much healthier. Not knocking professionals but ofc they’re going to tell them to go to them. That’s how they make money lol. I’ve went to one professional years ago and she was so surprised and in shock that I dyed, cut, and looked after my own hair. Just make sure you know what you’re doing.

  10. Catherine Fatino says:

    Can I buy Olaplex on eBay or should I call my hairstylist and see if she can sell me some?

  11. Joshua Swinger says:

    I was just wondering can I buy professional stuff online with a license?

  12. Herl says:

    What would you recommend during this time that we are all going through? Coronavirus. I still have to go to work since I work in a financial institution because apparently it’s essential.

    • Erika says:

      It depends on your natural hair, artificial pigment, and how long this is going to last(which no one really knows). Also, are you comfortable with applying your own color/have you tried it before? If you want to go for it then I can help you figure out what to buy and give you some tips- just respond to this comment with your hair details(do you have gray, do you get a single application color or dimensional).

      If you prefer to try and wait to go to the salon there are options, but whether these will be good for you or not depend on your hair and how you normally get it colored(and really only good enough to get you by for a few months). You can use colored hair sprays or powders to cover your regrowth. I have clients that use these in-between visits because they can’t come in as often. Works great, but really all depends on your situation.

      Here are some products that my clients use:
      Style Edit Root Concealer

      Rita Hazan Root Concealer Touch Up Spray

      COLOR WOW Root Cover Up

      • Danielle Henderson says:

        For someone looking to tone their hair, are there good options outside of buying diverted Redken Shades EQ (that would offer the same level of customizability, because I’ve already tried the Kristin Ess glosses, and it’s alright for a clear gloss, but the shade range is very limited).

        I know what shades I would need to buy (I’ve discussed it with my stylist before), know the proper ratios to mix, have all the tools I need, etc (if I could go to school for JUST coloring hair and nothing else, I would have), but I don’t have the license to buy from Cosmoprof/SalonCentric.

        I enjoy the “mad scientist” aspect of color theory and mixing colors, and finding a commercially available tinted gloss seems to be even harder than finding good standard dye (because I can totally wreck my hair with 40Vol from Sally, but can’t get a 7vol demi? womp…)

        Just wanting to live my best, housebound, mad scientist life lol!

        • Erika says:

          There isn’t a whole lot available for the public to buy when it comes to toners. I don’t want to say that there are no options because I’m not 100% sure, but I haven’t seen anything comparable.

          Unfortunately, in this case, diverted product seems like the easiest option. It’s not always bad(and I hate that I’m saying this because diversion is a big issue), but it’s just a chance to take on whether or not the product is authentic, possibly expired, etc.

          Maybe your stylist can order it for you(beauty supply stores are closed in most areas). Also, if you would send me what you normally use via the contact me page…I might be able to help 🙂 .

  13. octavia says:

    Erica as a fellow hair professional , i respect and appreciate your advise . I too agree with what you have said . Its always easy until something goes wrong , and then next thing you know were looking for someone to blame . Stay strong girl .

    • Erika says:

      Thanks so much!

      • Melissa Gray says:

        With the corona virus closing down salons, what’s the best option? I have natural dark brown hair that I get colored at a salon with black. I have white roots. Not all over but quite a bit. I’m 40. I’m going to need to do something very soon. But with salons being closed, what’s my best “survivor” option? Esalon? The Maddison option? Are those better than basic box dye? My hair is healthy. I get root touch up once monthly. I always get deep conditioning treatment and use salon color protective products and don’t over heat my hair. My hair is long and way past shoulders. What can I do?

        • Erika says:


          I’m not sure about Esalon, but I know a little about Madison Reed(it came out when I worked at Ulta Beauty and a lot of the girls tried it). I didn’t like a lot of the results, but I think that was due to the fact that the company sent us a random assortment of the product for employees to try. So they were just choosing from a few colors that were available and going with the best one.

          No matter which product you choose to use- make sure that the color is ONLY applied to the regrowth(scalp to demarcation line). You can lightly “feather” the color through the demarcation line(where the regrowth meets the last color application) if you want to make sure there’s no noticeable difference between the new and old color formulas. You can do this with a medium tooth comb after you’ve applied the color all over or with a color brush(just drag the color down while holding the brush vertically).

          Also, just make sure you choose your color formula/shade carefully. Are you a true black, or more of a very dark brown that has a warmer hue? If you’re not sure maybe you can call your stylist and get the info, but if you don’t have she/he’s phone number you’re welcome to message me here and I’ll help you.

  14. Stephanie Larsen says:

    Yikes. I think what your readers are reacting to is your tone of voice. It’s kind of funny how serious you are about the whole thing. My mom is a certified “blah blah blah”, and she taught me to do my own hair as a 16 year old, and I’m now 40 and still rock at it. And am also good at weaving others hair. So it’s laughable how arrogant you are about your fancy smancy certification. Makes me kind of giggle. Just sayin’

    Maybe step off your high horse for a hot second and explain your point in a kinder and less haughty way and then people will listen instead of be offended. I think you make quite valid points but your pretty harsh about it and a little over the top.

    • Erika says:

      I have articles that are expressed in many tones because some people need to hear it in a different way.

      I talk about how there are exceptions- someone like yourself is probably one of them. You learned from a professional and that makes a difference. I am not claiming that no one can do their own hair, but that the majority of people will not be successful and/or will damage their hair and need professional help.

    • Robin Norton says:

      Like your reality and putting it there.
      I used to color my own hair years ago. Now with the CORONA Virus I need my roots done and then Balham &highlights. Either one or the other.

      I’ve used frost and tip…long time ago. I need to do m roots that are gray…mousey color. I will find a way. If we have patience we can do it. Good for you and thanks for being real.

  15. Ma truth says:

    What a bunch of shit and this article should be removed. It is rude, condescending and attempting to make people believe theyre incapable of achieving salon quality results. My hair has been every color of the rainbow, currently a white silver and ive done it all at home myself and my hair is healthy and long. This is basic chemistry and color theory and common sense. Ive done a better job than my friends stylists to where they now come to me to switch their color, and I dont charge $300! This author is another bitter stylist upset people have figured out how massively overcharged theyve been in salons for years for very easy procedures. Get off of it, snobby bitch. I look better than you and you couldnt so what I do. Your license means squat.

    • Erika says:

      Remove an article from MY own website? That’s funny. You know…I typically do not approve comments that contain bad language, but I made an exception because I don’t want the comment section to be biased(you sure have a lot to say for someone that hides behind a fake username and e-mail address). I’m not going to “stab” you back because I’m a decent person, and clearly you have a lot of maturing to do.

      Maybe you are the one that is bitter because you had a bad salon experience? As I have mentioned before- my goal is to educate others and prevent people from doing further damage to their hair.

    • Jamwheels says:

      Question. Is our diy hair color not turning out because we are not allowed to purchase salon quality hair color without a license or is it because we are not master mind proffesionals like Erika?

      • Erika says:

        You can have success with non-professional products(although some may be more harmful), but if you don’t know what you’re doing there may be a lot of trial and error involved(or worse).

  16. Susan says:

    I literally have dyed my hair since I was 16 and I’m 21 now, NO DAMAGE. my hair is as soft, long and volumed as much as it was before I even bleached it, and I have dark brown hair almost black. You don’t always need a professional

    • Susan says:

      My advice save the money and learn yourself for free!

    • Erika says:

      Like I have mentioned before- it is possible, but the majority of people damage their hair. It all depends on the products used, how it’s applied, existing damage, etc.

      The point of this post is to explain that buying second market professional hair color will not guarantee professional results. Just because you had success does not mean that everyone will.

      • Marina says:

        It all boils down to, are you willing to take the risk of killing your hair off completely because you believe you can do it?

        • Erika says:

          Sometimes, yes! It’s not always that serious though. The worst outcomes could be anything from a result that’s too dark to having to double process for correcting and ruining your hair.

  17. Z says:

    Thanks for the article, Erika!
    I first have to applaud you for taking the time to reply to the comments, I truly believe you have nothing but well intentions to educate non-professionals.
    I am a broke high school kid trying to bleach and colour her own hair. I’m glad that I’m consistently indecisive and paranoid because otherwise I wouldn’t have done hours and hours of research online (and stumble upon your article). I know it would not to the slightest compare to professional training but, fingers crossed, nothing too disastrous would result.
    I would only be coloring the last few inches of my hair, so if I really mess up bad, I can just chop it off without being heartbroken. I’m going to backcomb and bleach then use 2 vibrant cheap direct dyes like Manic Panic or Arctic Fox to make a ombré at the tips (I really like how colourmelts look but can’t commit to the full head).
    I have black hair (and was told it’s fine) so bleaching myself would be pretty dangerous. That was why I was trying to see if I can get my hands on a professional bleach that I’ve heard lifts really well with minimal damage, and some Olaplex. I thought since I didn’t have much to work with it wouldn’t be impossible to handle. I would consider to get bleached professionally once I’m able to support myself, but right now it’s just not really an option.
    Would bleaching over several sessions really be less damaging? It would certainly be easier to control, but I was skeptical combined with the whole back coming situation. Do you have any recommendations for affordable products available in Canada?

    • Erika says:

      Thanks! It’s so refreshing to hear from someone that sees the big picture!

      The look you’re going for is a little more difficult to achieve(especially on your own), but at least you seem to have a plan. Is your hair naturally black? If not, then I definitely wouldn’t do it at-home or professionally. The damage that would result from doing this on previously colored hair would be immense, and the process would be difficult!

      You should definitely lighten in stages(you may be able to do it in 2 applications, but it’s hard for me to say without seeing your hair…also depends on the vibrant colors you want). I would use 10 or 20 volume even though 30 would lift more/faster(because of your speed of application lower is better). In the salon I would use 30 volume for something like this(or two mixtures, one of them being 40 volume- but a lot of details to share about why) because I’m fast and familiar with the product and how it processes. People always want to go for the higher level of developer because you see results faster, but the quicker your hair lifts- the more damage you’ll do. That’s why lower and slower is much better.

      Olaplex is great, but remember that it isn’t a miracle product. Some people think that if you use it then your hair won’t get damaged, but that’s not true. It only makes it less damaged.

      I’m not a huge fan of backcombing, but it’s the easier way. The best way is to feather and use foils, but this technique isn’t easy to master. A lot of it comes from experience with coloring and consistency of products…knowing how much product to apply and where. I do think that lightening in sessions with backcombing could be a good thing for you considering you’re going for an ombré look. You won’t be able to perfectly reapply to all of the areas that you lightened the first time, so ideally the lighter areas would blend up into the darker hair.

      I don’t recommend Manic Panic(and can’t speak for the other brand)- I like Pravana Vivids and Joico Color Intensity the best. Here are some links:

      Pravana Vivids
      Joico Color Intensity

      Good luck and let me know if you have more questions!


  18. Marie says:

    I just ran across your post and I want to say that I have been having my hair highlighted since I was 17. I’m now in my mid-30s and wanted to try it for myself. I’m tired of running to a salon to have another person up-keep my hair for me. So, I tried highlighting it myself a few weeks ago and it turned out great! really loved having control over my own hair and it felt so exhilarating foil highlighting it myself. After 20 years of other people fixing my hair, I felt like it came natural as I was completing the task. I loved every minute of it! And, it turned out beautiful!

    • Erika says:

      Good for you! I can tell you that even as a professional hairstylist…I still prefer to have someone else foil my hair(even though I’m very picky). I’ve foiled my hair plenty of times and it takes a while to do it correctly, it’s very difficult to properly foil the crown to the back of the head, it gets harder to see the farther you go back, etc. So, even though you claim to feel “exhilarated” and everything is just awesome…you don’t have me convinced.

  19. Valarie says:

    I taught myself over the course of 5 years, minimum. I’m “better” at color cut and style, than my cousin, whom graduated from cosmology school a few years ago. I would often retake tests she would being home and pass with high grades than she got, just for fun. I don’t do this for a living, I just help out homeless around my town sometimes and friends whom really can’t afford to get things done – for free. I go with her to Salon Centric and the ladies there know what I do, our local shop, along with my cousin, do not mind. Stylists I come across are 99% of the time extremely rude and snotty about what I do. If someone was a “better” elementary teacher than I was, I wouldn’t be a bitch to said person. I would try to better my skills in my own profession.

    • Erika says:

      Everything is circumstantial when it comes to skilled trades, and that can be said for many professions. Just because you are “better” than your cousin does not mean that you can compare yourself to a skilled professional in cosmetology. Perhaps she has trouble test taking, but is excellent with hands-on skills and learning.

      This post is not meant for the likes of you(those that have taken the time to learn before doing), but rather for those that think buying professional haircolor will give them professional results. There is no substitute for experience and a credible education, which is what you get when you go to an American Board Certified Haircolorist(I say this rather than “professional hairstylist” for one reason…just because someone is a hairstylist does not mean they are good).

      It’s difficult in our society not to stereotype people, and whether it is intentional or not, it happens all the time. Not all professional hairstylists are going to stick their nose up at what you do. Maybe it’s how you present the information that brings on such reactions. It’s insulting to insinuate that you are just as good if not better than someone who has dedicated years of their life/spent thousands of dollars on their trade. That doesn’t mean that you are always wrong or they are always right…it’s all circumstantial.

      On what you said about elementary teachers…comparing two people that have both completed the same educational requirements in order to practice is NOT the same as comparing someone who is self-taught to someone who has successfully completely the educational and licensure requirements to practice a trade.

      I think what you’re doing is wonderful and I would never be “rude” or “snotty” towards you for wanting to learn and help others. Just don’t get it twisted…there is a place for professionals in every industry just as there is for amateurs.

  20. Jocelyn L von Klein says:

    I want professional hair dye because the stuff at Sally’s or the box dye is too thin and runny. How do I get the thick stuff without using a powder?

    • Erika says:

      Consistency varies from brand to brand as well as by type. The thickest hair colors are cream colors in a tube mixed with cream developer(make sure the mixing ratio is 1:1).

      There is also a hair color thickener that Redken makes and you can add it to just about any hair color formula. Good luck!

      *Redken Hair Color Thickener

  21. Lars says:

    Wow this was a SUPER b*tchy article.

    • Jamwheels says:

      I’m gonna start a blog and title it DIY LANDSCAPING then when you click on it I will make you feel like a dumbass piece of shit for not calling a proffesional and trying to landscape your own yard!!

      • Erika says:

        That’s kinda funny! But really- I used this title because there were so many people searching “how to buy professional hair dye” on my website…and none of them understood that you can’t without a license.

        Maybe I should change it to “The Reasons Why You Can’t Buy Professional Hair Dye”, but that wouldn’t satisfy anyone either.

  22. Tiffany Lamb says:

    I have been drying my dirty blonde locks red and it costs so much. Wish I could get a home of the salon redkin dye used on my hair. Having four kids makes it hard to spend 100$ every 4 to 6 weeks on color

    • Erika says:

      Do you have grays? Maybe you can try a different color technique that requires fewer touch-ups. My hair is dirty blonde and I do highlights(sometimes lowlights in a dark blonde or very light brown) and I do mine every 3-4 months. It grows out a lot more gracefully than single process color!

  23. Kristi says:

    What about Keratin treatments. I have colored and cut my hair since I can remember, due to costs. However, I am now over 70% gray in my early 50’s and feel its the right time for me to treat myself to having a professional take care of the hair. Its so wonderful and I value the colorists. Gray hair is very tricky. My issue is, I would love to buy the Keratin products to do my own treatment at home. I have had it explained to me and it seems much less invasive than color. $200 for color upkeep on my hair every 4-6 weeks is the max I can afford. Can you suggest a good keratin treatment product that is formaldihyde free that I can get without a lisence? I really wanted to try the Keratin complex. I do not understand why Keratin treatments are so costly.

    • Erika says:

      I wish I could, but honestly I do not know of any such product. Keratin treatment supplies are very expensive, even for a stylist or salon to buy from the distributor. It costs anywhere from $300-$500 for a salon Keratin treatment kit.

      I would suggest shopping around and getting some price quotes from different salons(chain salons are your best bet). It’s not as expensive as it was at first, so you may be able to find someone to do it for about $150 depending on your area.

      Yes, keratin is not as invasive, but that doesn’t solve your problem if you do not want grey hair. You shouldn’t pay more than $100 for a cut and single color(that’s how it is in my area). Some places charge much more, but single color isn’t really specialized so if you’re paying more than that it’s just overpriced.

    • Romina says:

      Listen, I come from latin America, we’ve been using keratin treatments since we were born basically lol. I used to do the treatment on my highschool friends and they would then do it to me. You dont need a professional to do it, you jus need a lot of TIME, patience and someone to help you. Amazon or ebay are your friends on this, I can recommend you a really good brand that I dont think its very popular in the states, but you can get it. The name is SOTFLISS, its the best one I’ve ever used so far, and trust I’ve tried so many….

      • Erika says:

        That may be true, but product availability varies greatly depending on what country you live it. The industry is regulated in the U.S. to prevent non-professionals from chemical burns and other accidents.

  24. Jade Harris says:

    Hi, I totally get why some products are salon only (because of the damage they may cause) but others not so much. I’ve bought a few direct dyes or demi dyes that require no mixing through my hairdresser just to play around with on my own or refresh my colour. I recently bought the Pravana mood colours through her because they’re only good for a single wash which makes them too impractical for a salon visit (wait list is 6 weeks for my hairdresser). Also, the last time I was in I had an ombre of 2 fashion colours put in which cost me $350 (much bleaching)so she sold me the remainder of the tubes of demi dye to freshen up the colour because my hair is very finicky with holding colour.

    Other things people have managed to burn or make all their hair fall out using department store items. It seems arbitrary to allow a permanent straightening system (which can easily be screwed up even by professionals) on general retail shelves, but not no mix demis or direct dyes. Similarly, why is box dye black, a colour every hair stylist rues because of how hard it is to remove, so readily available? You’d think the products available to general consumers wouldn’t be so hardcore?

    • Erika says:

      Hello! Those are some great points!

      Here are my thoughts on direct dyes and why some products are available for the public to purchase, but others are not….

      Direct Dyes(like Pravana Vivids/Neons/Pastels, Paul Mitchell InkWorks, Redken City Beats, etc.):
      1. Only work on very naturally light or pre-lightened hair(for best results). There are similar products available at Sally’s Beauty Supply, but they are not “name brand” and/or may not be as good of quality as professional brands and/or last as long as professional brands.

      Why some products are available for public purchase and others require a license to purchase…
      1. Some of it is about control and protecting the cosmetology profession/industry.

      2. Liability probably plays a major role in professional products vs. drugstore brands.

      Something people forget about our society…
      I hate to say it, but some things are meant to keep our economy going. Everything ties into it…marketing, availability, purchase requirements, price points, etc. It keeps balance and many industries are similar to cosmetology in this way.

  25. list of professional hair color lines – New Home Decor says:

    […] How to Buy Professional Hair Dye […]

  26. Cm says:

    So my sister is in cosmetology school.. and is too lazy to help me find a good professional hair color remover… she wants me to do research myself… but with so much out their.. I don’t know what best to use…I’ve been platinum blonde for years… like a dumbass I died my hair this dark blue then a red black… eeehh… i hate it!!!I want my blonde back.. but I don’t want to go to bleach first I need to take the black out… Please help me

  27. Ryan says:

    I went to the Carsten institute for Aveda in Manhatten and I also had to continue hours for my license in Florida at Paul Mitchell the School. I also went to the Joe blasco school of cosmetics. I definitely understand why you should be professional to access many of these products from a business stand point and for the integrity of the hair. Could you imagine if one of these non-beauty-educated people decided they wanted a straight or curl perm. and then decided to lighten their hair?! There would be lawsuits. I’ve also seen so many non professionals think that the level of the developer and the lift only applies to lightener and they don’t have any understanding how the developer affects the lift and deposit of a professional color. Unfortunately, I moved to California where you need something like 2,000 hours of school and an apprenticeship to be able to obtain a license, so when I moved here I decided to just go get a college degree since the UC system in the state of California is the number one job provider. I figured getting a degree and going for a career in academia would be beneficial to being successful here. Anyway, I find it really frustrating that I can’t buy professional products to do my own hair, but I understand it.

  28. Marie says:

    I don’t want to do my own coloring. What I would like is to have an idea how much the Redken hair dye costs my stylist at the beauty supply store. I have to have my course gray short hair dyed every three weeks. She does roots once then 3 weeks later, she colors, and does a few highlights in front. I just feel I am literally paying her apartment rent each month. She pays her salon around $150 for her chair rent. Can you just give a general idea how much Redken costs?

    • Lars says:

      A tube of dye costs around $10… she most likely mixes it w other colors and doesnt use the whole bottles. She probably all together spends $10-$15 herself on your dye.

  29. Izzy says:

    Ok. I have scoured the internet and can’t find the answer to this question anywhere: Can my boyfriend buy professional hair color for me with his Massage Therapist License? I know it will get him in the door at CosmoProf but will they let him buy ANYTHING in the store?

  30. GIGI says:

    Many stylists have ruined my hair. Or I pay $250 to not get the results I want. And they tell me it takes multiple processes to go that light. So ya I much rather buy higher end products to do it at home. I don’t buy from Sally because a lot is their products are damaging. I prefer profesional grade bleach and ph bonder. It’s not that hard, some people are passionate and artistic and can actually do their own hair. It takes hours of research, practice, and YouTube videos but some of us non cosmetologist can do better jobs than some licensed cosmetologists. Period. I prefer Ellebangs who teaches us her secrets and Leo has a huge following and clientele. Props to her

    • Shawn T. says:

      AGREED. Every time I’ve gone to a salon and paid $300 for blonde hair (and my hair is short) it comes out ugly or grey (I dont have a single grey hair naturally) and is not what I asked for. I have had much better results with bleach and box dye but sadly it’s so damaging. There are great cosmetology grade organic and natural alternatives out there we cannot get access to.

    • Arabella says:

      100% agree with you, Gigi, right on! I am so sick of paying $150+ to a salon for something I hate. It never comes out right and I end up doing it myself anyway! I have learned a lot from Ellebangs channel as well.

    • S.F. Mimi says:

      I couldn’t agree more! I have been straightening my hair with Rusk Anticurl for many years after realizing that spending thousands of dollars per year on my hair at a salon wasn’t realistic. I follow the instructions to the letter and have great results. I just wish that I could buy new, unopened product direct from the manufacturer instead of taking my chances with what I can find on eBay. Most of that product, I suspect, is left over from bangs straightening by salon stylists. Too bad for me because the product is less effective after it has been opened and exposed to the air. I wish the cosmetology cartel would loosen its grip and make their products more widely available.

  31. Vickie says:

    Chemically professional hair color is similar to the stuff you get in the box at the store with a few exceptions. The stuff in a box comes with the correct developer but you cant choose the developer strength. Also, unless you know a bit about the shade and tone of your hair in relation to the shade and tone you want, you can end up with quite a mess. That being said, once you find the right shade and figure out how strong the developer needs to be, then the process is pretty simple. Its best to do a strand test on your hair BEFORE you commit to a head full of the wrong color.

  32. Jill says:

    Hi Erika – I appreciate your article and your position. I have my hair colored at the salon every 4- 6 weeks but the grey is coming faster than that so I need to touch it up in between visits. Obviously it’s cost prohibitive to come every 3 weeks for a halo touch up which is why I’ve wanted to purchase professional hair color – so I can touch it up myself without having to resort to boxed color. Any advice for those of us in this situation? Thanks!

    • Erika says:

      I have very few clients that come in every 3 weeks…and for those cases I do a partial retouch. Others that come in every 4-6 weeks use a root touch-up spray or volumizing powder to conceal the gray. This is the best way to stretch the life of your hair color service(whether you do it at home or go to a salon).

      Here are a few of my clients’ favorite products for root concealing:

      Style Edit Root Concealer
      Fibolica Tinted Fibers
      Color Wow Root Cover Up
      Rita Hazan Root Concealer

      *The product that’s best for you will depend on your percentage of gray, hair thickness, styling preferences, etc. If you need help with which root concealer will work best for you, please reply to this comment!

      • Jill says:

        Thanks for your reply, Erika! I’m very grey now (about 70%!) and my formula is a bit different as my natural color is medium brown but I color it light copper blonde. My formula is 40g 9.0 and 10g 8.43 and I haven’t found a spray root that doesn’t look obvious 🙂

      • Hayes Chandler says:

        Hi, Erika! I’m 57 yrs old,so I’m pretty sure i am almost all grey now underneath my color.I have thick but fine hair and I wear it a bit above shoulder length, but my stylist cuts it in lots of layers. This way it can look longer, but not get as flat;it’s a little like the”shag”look,but more current!

      • Mel says:

        Color Wow is garbage. Stay away.

  33. Zim says:

    This post is pretty rude and biased. And yes I’m aware it’s old….. I’ve watched a professional do my hair. I will give you that bleaching should be done by them. Theirs a whole process of mixing and the strength of it based on your hair or whatever and they gotta do stuff like tone out other colors naturally in your hair like red however dyeing it looked like the easiest thing ever. She opened a tube, put it on my hair. That was it. I’m fact even went as far as giving me a tube of it so I could re apply it myself.

    “Professional” dye should be available to the public. My hair is faded and I just want to put the color back in but I can’t get it unless this licensed woman goes and gets it for me OR if I go spend 75 + bucks at a salon for someone to literally open a tube and put the gunk in my hair.. I like the vibrant color as opposed to box dye, it also doesn’t trash my hair like box dye does.

    It’s just a simple concept of a corporation monopolizing a product. The product being hair dye.

    • Erika says:

      The biggest difference is the marketing/packaging, price, reputation of product, education, and sometimes quality. The reason why it’s not available to the product is to protect the industry, of course. I definitely feel you on those points!

      The vibrant colors act more like stains, and although the don’t last as long, they are very conditioning! Also…if you stick with the same shade or family of hues…then over time it will last longer!

      I’ve had a lot of good and bad feedback on this article. Back then I was a bit more close-minded than I am now. I sympathize with readers and clients as well as try to help them if they need to color their own hair.

      I just always have to re-iterate to them that my advice does not guarantee the desired outcome. Some people would forget that, then come and blame me for their at-home hair mishaps!

      I was inspired to write this article because I was tired of feeling like a broken record with certain clients…always coming in for a haircut then feeling the need to explain to me about what happened to their hair color, how it sometimes works at home and sometimes doesn’t, etc. I would explain everything, yet they still kept repeating the same mistakes.

      So…this was my “real talk” about the things I’m thinking during those conversations…the things I wish I could say(because I want to be honest and help), but can’t because I would probably get fired for that.

      I appreciate your comment, and thanks for reading!

      • Jenna says:

        I agree that professional dye should be accessible to some, but maybe not all, of non-licensed people. I’ve worked in a salon as reception, and was close friends with a stylist, and I have extremely sensitive skin and have found box dyes actually more reactive with my skin than professional formulas. I’m also not wealthy, over 50% grey, and cannot afford the 2-3 week salon work on my hair these days and my friend is no longer with us. I understand chemical ratios, levels of color, and even know how to weave and foil highlights and lowlights, etc. But I don’t think that the entirety of the public does, and I think many ladies coloring at home are skipping the allergy test and that is one large reason professional color lines have been kept away from laymen that goes a little beyond industry solidarity. No one wants women and men filling the prompt cares with chemical burns because they didn’t understand what they were doing. That said, I’ve also seen professional stylists purchase product from Sally’s and use it on their clients as well, so I’d call that a middle ground between box and professional and the people that work there ARE licensed and can answer questions and help the folks that are less informed make a good decision 🙂

    • Sara says:

      Thank god – someone finally stated what I’ve been thinking for years and what is just straight facts.

      Hairdressing is one of the least skillful “skills” lol out there – actually cosmotologt in general.

      Go ahead ring on the hatred – fact is – it’s licensed simply as a method to control the service industry.
      To also make it a “job”.

      I think being a human with hair and possibly knowledge of mixing ingredients would give anyone the credentials to be a hairdresser.

      Can practice enhance the quality of the work? Absolutely! But don’t try to sell me on “only for professionals”…. because hairdressers … are not professionals.

      …. goooooo ahead … jump all over me.

      I’m by no means taking away from those individuals who have a creative flare and have practiced for many years – as with anything you can get better with practice.

      Rant over

    • No stylist says:

      What in the world is rude about this article? All she did was explain why the general public isn’t able to purchase professional hair dye. She didn’t make the rules, she just answered a question! What’s rude is that you, just like the rest of us googling the same question, we’re looking for some way to sneak in the back door and buy products we’re not licensed to buy, and thought we had found a site to help us, but then got upset when it didn’t and took it out on the author!

  34. No box color for me says:

    NOT TRUE! I am NOT a licenced climatologist or hair stylist and I’ve never taken a course on anything to do with beauty. What I do have is a color cabinet containing ONLY professional products including permanent, temporary and toners. I have colored my own hair for over 25 years and in the last 20 years I have never used a box color.
    To say you can’t buy professional hair color lines, such as Kenra, Schwarzkopf, Redken, Guy Tang #myidentity Or any one you want is rubbish. I have at least 3 shades in all the above lines as well as a few of their bleached or lighteners. I have several varieties of foils, brushes, combs, treatments etc and many other accessories in order for me to continue to look after my own hair in the comfort of my home at a gross fraction of the cost in a salon where I am not given a choice as to what product line they will use on my hair or a guarantee that the Color I want will come close to what I request. I have made a few attempts to find a colorist and every single time I walked out a couple hundred dollars poorer and with a color that was not a whole lot different than when I walked in 6 hours earlier! Nope not going to do it again.

    Everyone has a price. I discovered that by posting an ad in my local buy and sell website I could find a dozen licenced stylists willing to sell me any product available at the local beauty supply store. I even have a couple that will take me shopping in the “off limits to mere mortals” beauty supply store. The fact that almost every product is 50% off what the suggested retail price is enough reason for me to buy all my hair, spa and beauty products there. I don’t purchase any of my everyday products, such as makeup, grooming products, cleansers, lotions, styling products or equipment through regular retail options. I buy only the best products and pay a lot less for them than products sold to the general public.

    I also study a lot of professional websites, videos and guides on how to do anything I want done. I can promise you that I have a better grasp on how to color hair than a lot of these so called stylists. I have watched at least 40 hours of color seminar videos from the best on the business. I know how to mix colors like nobody’s business. I have balayaged, foiled, color melted, ombred and highlighted my hair and have never been disappointed in the results. I take on more color options than I would have dreamed and I’m not afraid to jump into anything because I research the ins and outs so I know what the outcome will be and I care because it’s my hair and I’m not in it to make a quick buck.

    I certainly am not against anyone making money and I understand exactly how profits and overhead works. But I don’t think hair color should be only sold to licenced cosmologists. It is not a medication!!! It is hair Color for heavens sake! If a person wants to do their own color at home then I say; have at her! If they screw it up, they can find a licenced cosmologists to fix it.
    But in todays world with youtube and how to videos, there is zero reason other than stupidity to mess up coloring your hair.

    • Yvette says:

      Fantastic rebuttal! I swear I have been ripped a New one every single time I go to the salon and NEVER leave with the color I requested. I am so sick if this monopoly and thanks for posting. Can you give me some tips on where to purchase color privately.

  35. Julie says:

    I hate everything about this article. Many non professionals are quite capable of using professional products and I’ve seen many terrible professionals that aren’t. I’ve been coloring my own hair done in 16, since I’ve ruined my hair more than once (using boxed kits) but I’ve come a long way since then and have educated myself in the proper use and chemistry of professional hair coloring (no, not from YouTube).
    No I can’t get the same results from pharmacy products because they don’t have the same color range and cannot customize the developer strength based on the lift I want, nor can I get products like Olaplex to protect my strands ect.
    I think it’s ridiculous that I cant purchase these products if I choose to, it’s my hair after all. Instead I have to ask my stylist friend to purchase it for me. I understand that the industry wants to control this to maximize profits, but they should just charge more to non professionals, I wouldn’t mind paying extra (within reason).

  36. nancy says:

    It is ridiculous that a person cannot purchase “professional” hair color without a license. I have had many “reputable” salons ruin my hair. I spent many hours learning the process of hair coloring in its entirety. I receive compliments on my hair and frequently asked where I get my hair done. I even went on the ABCH website and took the sample test to see if I knew my stuff. 36% is a passing grade….I got 65% on my first try. So, please understand, there is more than one way (to achieve the knowledge of hair color) than going to cosmetology school.

  37. Jodie says:

    Well personally for me I’m trying to find out becuase im from the UK, we dont get cosmetology licences you just get a basic certificate stating your level of qualification e.g. NVQ1, NVG2, NVQ3 AND NVQ4, only nvq4s (meaning your qualified to legally teach hair and beauty) or big business owners are able to get licences that get “better” quality products and this is done by sending of yiur certificates to our biggest beauty company for what is basically a member card. We have online retailers linked to professional stores for those below(but either can use it as it’s not a known website for those who don’t do cosmotology), however we don’t have great pigmented dyes at all when it comes to reds, blues, greens, oranges like you can get with lincence nedded products made in the US, all our colours are crazy colour, manic panic or adore *sigh* or our most pigmented reds and purples are l’orel magi-contrast! iv been trying to find away that gets around this since I’m self employed and hate charging so much for colours that last no longer than a few washes before fading and only few weeks before almost completely fading out.

  38. Ana Murillo says:

    Annoying and biased, my hair has been wrecked by so called proffesionals but people wanna say we can’t buy it cause we might screw our hair up like they do lol ok. It seems like superiority complex these people have.

    • Erika says:

      Were they really “professionals”? Unfortunately our industry is flooded with stylists that don’t keep learning and/or have never mastered cosmetology. Go to someone with 7-10 years of experience that is passionate about the services that you want.

      You can find someone by searching keywords and filtering by area on Instagram!

      • Angie says:


        This is off subject from the post/ other replys. Do you have recommendations for cosmotology schools? When you go to cosmotology school and get your license do you become certified by the American Board of Cosmotology? When you are fresh out of cosmotology school how would you go about getting a quality job at a salon that is going to have premier cosmotologists that will help you learn? It seems like you have to know someone. I have thought about going to cosmotology school but don’t want to get stuck working at hair masters for close to minimum wage. What is your advice?

        • Erika says:

          I went to Paul Mitchell The School and it is by far the best education you can get! They prepare you for your career and have a great program! I knew so much more than others that didn’t go to as good of a school and it was definitely worth the extra money!

      • Leila says:

        Hi Erika,

        You asked someone “were they really professionals?”
        Well, let me tell you my story. I got my hair messed up, to say the least, by a renowned colorist in a high-end salon in Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. She has 20 years experience, and charges $250 + for a base color and highlights. My hair will take at least 2 years to recover from the mess she did (it’s completely fried). The owner has been trying to fix my hair for the past 2 months: I have had two haircuts, 3 Kerastase treatments and a master colorist try to fix the color. Nothing works.
        It will take at least 2 years for my hair to get back to “normal”, and my curls to look healthy again.

        So, yes, some professionals don’t know what they are doing. This is why I would like to find a professional hair dye, and try to do it myself without damaging my hair with drugstores box colors.

        • chancer says:

          Just because a stylist is located in Beverly Hills or caters to celebs means nothing. Maybe the owner was too busy during your visit and not paying enough attention. The lesson would have been to find another stylist not head over to ebay, amazon, or whatever to buy the chemicals and do it yourself.

          BTW a lot of the colors and bleaches sold on the gray market are suspect—old stock passed of as “brand new”. There is no reason why any legitimate seller would offer, for instance, a pro product that costs $25 at Cosmoprof for $25 in ebay with free shipping.

  39. Jen says:

    The fact that you cannot buy high quality hair dye if your not a professional is ridiculous. If I ruin my hair because I cannot mix it properly that’s my fault. You are a hair dresser not a doctor, if I misuse the hair dye I’ll survive. It is obviously just a way to stop people from doing it themselves so hair salons can make money. “Did your Walmart box color let you down” Condescending much?? Obviously a higher quality dye will give better results… if it is just the person then why wouldn’t salons use the stuff from walmart. Should hairdressers have a license to color clients hair… sure. But you should be able to do whatever you’d like to your own hair… if it’s doesn’t work out it’s your fault… then you can go get it fixed at a Salon.

  40. Joan Todd says:

    Thanks for the information. I had my hair professionally colored – green/turquoise/blue at the front and roots. It came out amazing. Now it’s starting to fade, and I’d really like to boost the color a little. However I realize that I can never achieve the same effect because it was a lot of work to get the layers of color. Also, while I was there, the salon did a repair job for someone who had had their hair dyed (blonde)at another salon and hadn’t liked the result (it looked a bit like one of those old peroxide jobs. She left with a gorgeous ash blond color and smooth shining hair. I.E. it may be expensive to get a good color, however it’s twice as expensive if you get a bad color. 🙂

  41. Alex says:

    This article is JUST A TAD BIT biased. I don”t know where you live, but there are many high quality beauty supply stores where you can buy all the products you need without being licensed.

    If someone does their due diligence in researching everything they need to know, it’s not rocket science as you’re making it sound.

    As others have mentioned, some people can’t leave their homes due to illnesses (physical, or mental), some people simply don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars going into the salon…the list goes on. It’s convenient to be able to do these things in the comfort of your own home for a fraction of what of the cost at a salon.

    You can teach yourself anything you want, the internet provides lovely resources to be able to do so.

    • Erika says:

      Yes, you are right about a few things.

      It may not be rocket science, but if you knew the difference between the results you get from an American Board Certified Haircolorist(or Redken Certified, Master Haircolorist, etc.) and a beginner stylist that just finished cosmetology school…imagine the difference in results from someone who is uneducated in cosmetology and chemistry/has no experience in the industry that is coloring their hair for the first time after watching some YouTube videos and reading blog articles online!

      I wrote this post because I was getting so many comments and e-mails from people asking me how to buy professional hair color. Most of them think that professional beauty supply stores are open to the public, but they are not.

      I wanted to explain to readers why “superior” hair color products require a license to purchase, and that professional hair color is immensely different from what you get at Sally’s Beauty or the basic box of hair color. Also, that most people don’t know how to properly formulate for the best results…that doesn’t mean they can’t educate themselves and try(I have posts that only blog subscribers can access which explain basics of hair color and how to do it yourself to get the best results….as well as color charts, formula substitutions between brands, etc.)

      I am very understanding of those that cannot go to the salon for various reasons and I do help them(via the contact page/e-mail because chemical services are specific to each person and it’s difficult to give accurate advice without all of the information). I do the same for guests that are shopping in Ulta Beauty and ask me what they should use because they cannot afford a color service at our salon.

      • Nicole says:

        I just want to be able to buy Professional hair products at a discount really! Not wanting hair color. I have an amazing professional stylist. Just wanting the hair products I love at a discount or be able to buy them being the ones I love don’t sell in the beauty stores. I love Olaplex and so many others but not able to afford salon price.

      • R says:

        But you didn’t explain why you need a license for salon material color at all….Yes, most of the reason people DIY is money, and bad experiences. I always say somebody had to graduate at the bottom of the class to customers who experience those things. My understanding is that the ingredients are superior: better pigment, better conditioning to prevent breakage. Now I work at a Sallys and know their stuff is crap by comparison. Let’s be honest why would a company sell you items labeled “pro” that damages the hair? /money. I agree some people shouldn’t color their own, but why should people have to use crap that damages their hair more at all? Can we talk about that

        • Erika says:

          It’s possible to use any of these products without causing a ton of damage(remember, using ANY chemicals/heat/etc. will cause a little damage…but that’s normal and everyone gets it. What matters is your current damage level, choice of product, proper use, etc.

          *Understanding the hairs’ porosity levels will help to explain all of this.

          And yes…a lot of it is about controlling the market and economy. Everything in our society is and hairstylists are literally the “little guys” when you compare our industry to those with other controlled products like medical, building, etc.

          • Rachelle says:

            I don’t consider the $80 I spend on getting my hair colored every six weeks a “little guy” issue. If I’m at the salon for two hours, and my stylist toggles my appointment with another appointment, she’s making damn good money. I understand that there are costs involved to her, but that still equates to pretty good coin. Also, you can’t compare hair costs with medical costs because one requires eight years of very difficult education and the other is much shorter, start to finish.

  42. Lexi says:

    I have used professional products before and get the colour I want always!!! My hair is treated more gently than any stylist so no, you are incorrect. Using professional products can be used by people who have dyed their hair for more years than I care to say. It’s ridiculous to pay $150 to $500 when I can do it myself , and better. You should say your website is for professionals only so we don’t waste our valuable time

    • Lori says:

      You are right on Lexi.We do not how a use professional hair colorAnd I have done it for years.The several times I have asked a professional to color my hair, In his come out Horribly.I think it’s ridiculous that we cannot buy our ownProfessional hair color and do it ourselves.If I want helpOr if I want services of someone else mixing and applying I would be glad to pay for it.But I don’t.

  43. Carmen says:

    Kind of annoying that the title is misleading. My mom is sick and can’t leave the house, but would love to have her roots done to make her feel better. I am trying to buy her favorite Kevin Murphy color to do her roots for her, and I got so excited when I clicked on this…only to realize it’s total clickbait. I would suggest changing the title so that you don’t waste people’s time.

    • Erika says:

      It’s not “click bait”, it’s the truth. Everyone asks me “how to buy professional hair dye”….but it’s a fact that you can’t without a state-issued license in cosmetology.

      There’s a new product that I just found out about a few weeks ago, and it’s coming it Ulta Beauty! We did a training on it and it’s an actual “professional” box hair color. Of course, I don’t guarantee anything like that because you have to know which one to use. In your case I’d be happy to help you with which shade to use.

      Here’s the link to the pro box color product on Ulta’s website.

      I do understand that everyone can’t get to a salon…so these articles are more for people who can afford professional hair color…but insist that they can do it better themselves.

      Thank you for your comment! I need to add this new option to my article and I wouldn’t have thought about it if you hadn’t said something!

  44. Kat says:

    My only issue with this is that my hair is already bleached, I’m letting the color grow out, but I would like to have fun with it. I want a particular Demi because it is gentler on my hair and would like to keep using it without having to pay for a dye more often than I can afford.

    • Erika says:

      Was your hair highlighted, or was it lightened(bleached) all over? When you say that you’re letting the color grow out…are you talking about the lightened hair? I can help you with what to use, but I need to see what your hair looks like. I use demi-permanent hair color and it’s perfect for you if you don’t want to color your hair too often.

      Please send me a message via the Contact Page and I will respond promptly via e-mail. Just respond to my personal e-mail with your hair photos!

  45. Robin Valentine says:

    Hi! I have a question: I went to beauty school, but never got licensed. I had a friend who got me color and developer from Cosmoprof, but we lost touch. I know how to properly apply and process my color. Doing myself costs about $2 as opposed to $60 and takes so much less time. I don’t want to use store bought color on my hair because it isn’t healthy for my hair. Any advice on how to find my supplies?

  46. Maureen says:

    I am 100% white, started greying when I was 20 years old. I have been getting my colored by an awesome girl. But I need to go every 2 weeks otherwise I have too much grey. I can’t afford it anymore. My stylist gave me the name – Redken Gel 17N 15 Volume… do you know what I can get to replace this color and do it on my own?

    • Erika says:

      Is it Redken Color Gels in 7N? 15 volume doesn’t sound right unless you’re going for a result that is lighter than a level 7. I have clients that need to come in every 3-4 weeks and they use a root cover spray in-between coloring.

      We have a $75 cut & color special at The Salon @ Ulta Beauty that most people get because they have to come in so often. For my clients that need their hair colored a lot I make it more affordable by doing a partial retouch every other time. The partial retouch is $40 and covers all of the areas that show. Some places do it for less, so ask your haircolorist about that!

      If that’s not a route you want to try….I can help you with what to buy….but I would need to know more about your hair, what you want, and so on.

  47. Is there a color brand named “Rainbor”? My mother used a red color by Rainbow years ago and If there is such a thing, I would like to know where her hairdresser can order it.

    • Erika says:

      I haven’t heard of that one, but I did find a website for henna hair color that’s called “rainbow”. Funnily, when you Google ‘rainbow hair color’ you’ll just get tons of pics and posts about rainbow hair color trends. That’s really popular right now, so if you choose to research the brand yourself…the best keywords that I used were ‘rainbow brand hair color’.

      Here’s the link:
      Rainbow Henna Hair Color

      Thanks for reading!

  48. Zara says:

    All so called licensed professionals charge sooooo much money, when i can do the same olaplex or hair dye by myself. So simple. They like to charge. But when you come back and tell them that your color doesn’t stay on the hair and probably you should add more pigment to that, they say its my hair’s fault that color doesn’t stay. All good hairstylists cost hell of a lot, because you pay for their name. But i can do it myself.

    • Erika says:

      They’re not “so-called” licensed professionals if they are actually licensed by the state. They’re professionals….and just because someone has a license doesn’t mean they’re good at what they do.

      Lots of women like to spend money on their hair…some spend it on their nails, clothes, massages, trips, etc. Everyone has something and just because hair isn’t your thing doesn’t mean that ALL hairstylists are liars that charge too much.

      You’re stereotyping a very large group of people that have one thing in common: their profession. Our society is so angry and intolerant…this is why. If one pediatrician charges too much and blames you for not following the at-home instructions….would you say that they’re all the same and you can just “do it yourself”? If one nail technician charges too much and tells you that your nail polish didn’t last because you weren’t properly caring for your hands…would you say that they’re all the same and you can just “do it yourself”? I can keep going with the examples, but I think my point has been made clear.

      You may think you can do it yourself, but don’t insult true professionals.

      • Shelly Smith says:

        Hello Ericka… I completely understand your frustration, and I know that what you do is not at all easy; however, there are people like me who are not able to get to a salon. I live on a reservation and I’m 3 to 4 hours from civilization. My stylist used Davines Mask on my hair FOR YEARS, so I have some knowledge of the product… She kept a log of the color she used because I went from blonde to red. I’m so tired of having 2 inches of grey. Yes, it is not the optimum situation and I would love to jet off to Los Angeles every couple of weeks, but I cannot. What about people like me? Help!

        • Erika says:

          Hi Shelly!

          I understand your situation, the key to getting it right at home is knowing how to properly apply the color….and of course using the right product. I wrote this post because one of the top searches on my blog was “how to buy professional hair dye” and most people didn’t understand that professional color is not sold to the public….you must have a license in cosmetology to shop at the pro beauty supply stores. Professional color can probably be purchased on eBay or other like websites, but you won’t know how old it is or if the product will be available next time.

          So….I can help you choose the safest color products if you answer a few questions for me:

          1. How much grey do you have? About 10%,25%, 50%, etc.
          2. What color is your hair now?
          3. Did you get a single application color or dimensional?

      • Ashtyn says:

        Most salons charge way too much for the service provided. Not all. Maybe the lady can do it herself, don’t insult her by saying she,”may think” she can do it herself.
        I have been cutting and coloring my hair for a long time now. I went to school for it, but the salon atmosphere wasn’t my thing. I can’t deal with the overcharge to customers, nor the plain out disrespect a lot of women show to each other in a salon. Three different salons, always drama around.
        It’s hard for people like me that do their own hair who has had the experience. I will not use box color and Sally’s is just as bad as that. I was using Matrix for about 3 years, and now it’s not available where i use to get it. I do my own and my families hair.

        You can’t assume people that do hair out of home are not experienced. That’s simply YOUR speculation. In no way am I insulting any of the salon cosmetologist, but you shouldn’t with people out of home either.

        • Erika says:

          MOST people who are attempting to color their own hair at home are not experienced. Obviously, someone who went to school would have more knowledge than the general public.

          I wrote this post because so many people were searching “How to Buy Professional Hair Dye” on my website, but they did not understand that you cannot buy professional hair color without a license(and there’s a reason for that). Many people don’t understand that Sally’s does not sell professional products.

          Also, marketing DOES make people THINK that they can do it themselves. They make consumers think that it will be easy…when it’s not always easy.

          So…don’t take it so personally and literally…I color my own hair at home sometimes and it’s pretty obvious that this content doesn’t relate to professionals like myself. Believe it or not, this information has helped many people and saved them from making a huge mistake. It’s all in how you interpret it.

      • m says:

        I came across this thread and found this particular response to be quite humorous… while i agree with you on the fact that hair stylists are professionals, they are in NO way in the same league of a pediatrician (funny). As for the nail tech… umm YA – we can do it ourselves! Your examples are completely offbeat.

        think about what your going to write before putting pen to paper. 🙂

        • Erika says:

          There aren’t many things that you can compare to a licensed cosmetologist. 80% of cosmetologists are in the BOTTOM of our profession….while 20% are excellent and make 80% of the income that our industry brings in every year. Most people don’t know that, so they generalize us and trust few.

          I’m not saying that I’m “in the same league” as a pediatrician, but no matter the profession we should all be treated with respect.

          Maybe you should think about the comments you make, as it says more about you than it does about me. I write posts to help people make better decisions when it comes to their hair, skin care, makeup, etc. I started this blog to let people know how to find a great stylist and how to spot the bottom 20%…preventing them from disastrous experiences(some of which result in hair loss, burns, really bad haircuts, etc.). Image is important to most people and one bad salon visit can kill your confidence the day before an interview or big event, for example. Belittling others with your comments(like telling me that I shouldn’t write freely) because you don’t agree with it isn’t okay.

          Luckily, I have thick skin and I brush it off….but some people are really sensitive and would take what you say to heart. Being nice is hard sometimes, but it’s what the world needs a little more of.

  49. Jessica says:

    I’m looking to buy professional hair dye for myself because I cannot find a professional to understand what I want. I’ve gone several times to break up my roots so my blonde will grow out nicely but no one has been capable of doing it. Once I left with 90’s mom highlights and this last time another one tried to do the same thing but I refused to let her put foils in my hair….so instead she used the same technique as highlights but without putting the foils in. Only 1/4 of my hair had color when all of it should have had color in it. I see professionals (in salons, not teenage girls in their bathrooms) doing it in online tutorials but I can’t find anyone here to do it so I’m doing it on my own. I gave up on professionals. They’re a constant let down.

  50. Noelle says:

    Or maybe the person is getting their hair done by a friend who’s an experienced stylist, but needs to buy the dye… That’s my case, anyway.

    • Erika says:

      If your friend is truly an experienced hairstylist, she/he will be able to buy the hair color you need at your local beauty supply store. Your friend has to be the one to go to the store to buy it because a license is required to enter Salon Centric and Cosmoprof.

      Your friend would already know that, so I’m not so sure how “experienced” that person is…or if they’re really a hairstylist.

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