The Main Differences Between Box Dye and Salon Dye

Last Updated on December 18, 2022 by Evelyn Davies

Written by Evelyn Davies

Home hair coloring vs a salon. You’re wondering if box dye is worse than professional dye? And I wanted to do a write-up from a professional hairstylist’s point of view. The study of hair is our profession, and we come across these box dye vs salon questions regularly. Sometimes it can be frustrating to educate.

I thought I would list down a few of our reasons so you can make more educated choices. Box dye vs professional dye is a constant battle we deal with guests in the salon. The short answer to this – is there a difference between store-bought hair dye and salon? Is yes. Check out the guide below for my why’s.

salon hair dying

Box Dye vs Salon Dye Chemically

Cheap color = cheap ingredients. Box dye will not come with the quality in production as a professional salon brand. If you’re cutting costs, it will come with a different kind of cost–quality color.

Metallic salts, PPD, ammonia, peroxide. It’s chemical mayhem! If you want quality, you need to pay for it. Some chemicals will react with each other and even disintegrate your hair, some are suspected carcinogens, some are bad for the environment and the list goes on. It’s the same with products too, want good quality – pay for it. 

1 Box Dye Creates all – Fact or Fiction?

Before and after the chart those box dyes have on the back, you know where it’s blonde, medium, or dark. Weird how we don’t have those swatches in professional hair color ranges, and we just have a color chart.

That is because the box dye before and after is fake news for most buyers. Ever box dyed your hair and it’s not the color on the box? It’s a common occurrence. Using one shade to create similar results on everyone’s hair is obscene. Imagine how strong a box dye is, the aim is to create a very similar shade on different hair colors/types. So, the box dye will be using an unnecessary strength on hair types that do not need it. The box dye will aim to penetrate thick, stubborn, or dark hair types. Which can result in damage/buildup.

Hairdresser washing pink dyed hair

Does Salon Color Last Longer than Box Dye Color?

In short yes. The previously discussed issue of ”one strength fits all” in-box dyes and chemical quality. Salon professional hair color is tailored to your specific needs. There are so many variables in hair color formulation.

Using a strong hair dye can weaken your hair cuticle. This is a protective layer over the internal structure of the hair. Depending on strength color molecules sit in different areas of the hair. That’s why we get temporary, demi, bleach, and permanent color. Once weakened the cuticle will open and if it doesn’t close and seal, you can wave goodbye to long-lasting hair colors.

Bleaching Hair at Home vs Salon

Bleaching your hair at home is not a good idea. Box dye bleaches are going to have the issues we have mentioned in strength and quality but also in bleaching, I feel the professional knowledge and application come into play.

Bleaching, once it’s in, It’s permanent. it’s a very strong hair lightening service and we treat it differently to color because it is a lightener. When a lightener overlaps previously lightened hair repetitively, it weakens and damages hair, resulting in breakage. Box coloring with bleach is just a recipe for damage, and I do not advise it. Go to a professional colorist.

a woman with short pink hair daying and styling her hair in the salon

What is the Difference Between Home Hair Color and a Salon Color Application?

Box dye hair color is missing not only quality and strength options but application skills too. Professional colorists are trained to apply color in the salon correctly for your hair needs.

Classically lightened hair has strands – highlights. Not every client wants full blonde hair. Highlighting your own hair is extremely difficult, even we stylists would struggle to achieve that on ourselves.  Also, coloring hair has particular application methods too, repetitive overlapping can result in the buildup and permanently turn hair black, even when your chosen shade is not black. Ever got bright glow roots from box dye? Can be from scalp heat or build-up.

young woman in the salon with pink colored hair

Is it Really Cheaper to Box Dye Hair?

So, you box dye your hair medium brown, over and over and over. The ends are now black. You have roots and a weird gradient with dark ends… nice. Suppose the professional colorist has to fix it now.

You will need a color correction to even this out and fix it. Adding highlights may be an option to break it up, but you need to remove some of that stubborn depth. Hairstylists will more than likely need to use a solid professional color to do this, or lots of appointments. They are often being expensive. Or you can grow it out over years. That $10 box dye saved you so much money long term. Let alone regular appointments to top up fading color from damaged box-dyed hair.

woman in the saloon checking her short pink hair

Box Dye vs Professional Color

Box dye – cheap – for now. Professional color–guided, predictable, tailored, studied, safer, relaxing, service. I think the pros and cons say it all.

With professional color, you receive after-care advice, consultation of hair goals, guided expectations, a relaxed service for yourself, quality ingredients, realistic ideas, and a tailored hair color to suit your hair needs. When coloring your hair professionally at the salon, you are not only paying for a color, you pay for the whole service. Please don’t mistake our creative job for being easy to do, it takes years of study. This, you cannot buy in a box dye, so please if you can, go to a professional.

a woman with beautifully dyed pink hair in the salon

About the author

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Our writer Evelyn Davies is a traveling hairdresser with lots of hairdressing experience from all over the world. She also writes informative hair care blogs and has extensive knowledge of the industry. Evelyn has experience working as an artistic educator in the UK along with media hairdressing and writing for magazines. She has also owned her own salon for 4 years. On top of that, she now works freelance hairdressing in Amsterdam. Interested in business, the environmental impact of hairdressing, hair-related media, and all things hair. She also loves the outdoors, surfing, hiking, travel, and well-being.

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