Comparing hair colour from a professional hair salon to a box colour is not generally considered until the at home oops happens. When walking down the aisles of the store and seeing the multitude of brightly coloured styles on the boxes at an affordable price can be very tempting. Boxed hair dye is always sold at a cheaper price and this is a deciding factor for many people.

Unfortunately, those that fall for this ease of convenience for their wallet are also likely to fall prey to an absolute disaster-piece of a hair style when they are done. There are many reasons why you should forego boxed hair colours and visit a professional.

The DIY Trap

First and foremost, hair dye that comes from the local grocery store is full of nasty surprises. Boxed hair dye is cheap for several reasons:

  • Low quality dyes are sold at cheaper prices.
  • There are tons of chemicals and other hair-destroying additives:
    • Ammonia
    • PPDs
    • Nitro dyes
    • Metallic salts

Box dyes are considered to be progressive, but not in the good way. The metallic salts strip the hair, bind to the keratin, and allow a build up of pigment on the hair strand over time that will lead to severely damaged hair.

The Risks

Doing your hair colour alone at home can involve several risks. Even the most careful person can experience mishaps when using boxed hair dye. Some of these risks are that:

  • You can end up dyeing your hair, dyeing your skin, dyeing your clothes, and dyeing your bathroom. Consider yourself lucky if the dye doesn’t leave stains behind after the initial clean up.
  • You will miss. Even the most experienced and patient hair DIY veterans will miss spots or sections towards the back of their head. A professional gets a 360-degree view of the clients head and are trained to look for and treat common spots missed when flying solo.
  • Looking like you have tiger stripes or leopard prints is one of the biggest problems. When hair is not sectioned properly or saturated fully when doing it at home, the hair colours will look choppy and spotted.
  • You could end up with green/orange/ashen/gray hair resulting from an out-of-the-box dye job.
  • Box-dyed formulas are one size-fits all, and this isn’t necessarily true. Box dye only has one pre-measured mixture that can’t be tailored to fit one’s individual hair needs.
  • The results will not look the same as the person on the box. Although it may seem fairly cut and dry, box dyes will not do the job correctly and give you the desired effects that you see on the box. Box dyes will not differentiate between the individual and you will end up with a limp, matte looking finish.
  • Hair can be thin, thick, coarse, light, dark, colour-treated or chemically processed. No two people’s hair is exactly identical. A professional stylist is trained in how to customize the products for the individual client’s hair needs.
  • One of the biggest and most-feared risk is hair damage when bleaching or lightening at home.
    • The milder risks associated with this is having green or orange hair as a result.
    • The more detrimental risks include frizz, extreme damage, and eventually breakage.
    • Sometimes a full disintegration of the hair from follicle to end can occur where the hair will literally just crumble away from the scalp. This is truly terrifying when it happens to someone and is the biggest reason why bleaching or lightening of the hair should be done professionally for the best outcome.

Professionally Speaking

Professionals gauge their client’s hair needs by several factors. These factors will help the stylist decide how to approach a client’s hair colour:

  • Skin tone
  • Eye colour
  • Hair type
  • Current colour level
  • Hair porosity
  • Condition of hair
  • If it has ever been colour-treated before
  • If the client has allergies

Different formulas must be mixed accordingly to provide the right colour and appropriate coverage of hair. Sometimes it can be necessary for four or more formulas. Professional stylists understand how hair colours and levels work. They have the skills to achieve most hair colours and can fix most mistakes.

Professionals Have Higher Quality Products.

Professional hair colour does not contain near as many additives and does not contain metallic salts. Metallic salts are notorious for binding to the keratin in your hair, forever altering the strand and causing (at times) irreparable damage.

Some products will include mending formulas that will improve the quality of your hair after a colour done at the salon. The professionals have taken the time to learn about all the odds and ends of the chemistry of hair colour and the techniques needed to achieve their client’s preferred results.

The Dreaded Colour Correction

Colour correction services are used to lift pigments off of the hair, but if box dyes have been used and used often, it will make this more difficult, if not impossible to revert hair back to its more natural state. Just one application of cheap boxed hair dye can become an extremely expensive fix.

Boxed colours can be easily over-processed at home and this results in a darker than expected colour and damage to the hair. A professional will have to lighten  or change the level of the hair, using colour correction products. They may also need to use hair restoring products because leaving the hair damaged will cause split ends and extreme frizzing.


When considering between boxed and professional colour, it is important to weigh the pros and cons. Box colour is the bane of every hair stylist because colour corrections are more difficult, time consuming, and expensive, than starting from fresh in the professional salon environment. Cheap hair dyes contain additives and chemicals that can cause serious damage to the hair.

It is always best to seek a hair professional when desiring a change of hair colour so it is done correctly with minimal damage. Professionals are able to access high-quality products for their salon’s use and this is why the price tag for the salon is higher. You get what you pay for, so if the cost is what’s keeping you away from the salon, remember that having a dye job go wrong at home can cost even more.