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August 8, 2022

The Truth About Box Dye: Is It Really That Bad?

With so many changing trends and how-to videos out there, hair-color changes are extremely popular. There’s something about changing your hair that makes you feel like a new person, with new opportunities ahead of you! While many people prefer to head to the salon and have a professional take care of them, others choose the DIY route and invest in the alternative: box dye. If you’re thinking about taking your hair color into your own hands, be careful. There are a few things you should know about it and why you might want to opt for a professional approach.

How Box Dyes Work

Box dye is typically available at most drug or beauty supply stores. It is fairly inexpensive when compared to professional services, and will most likely come with instructions on how to apply it. Box color is usually easy to mix and requires almost no measuring. Because it’s made for everyone, the dye itself is highly concentrated so it will work on any hair. This means the formula is the same across the board, and can affect everyone’s hair completely differently.

woman in front of shelf full of box dye

When to Use Box Dye

It’s typically pretty safe to use a box dye if you’re only slightly changing your hair color; i.e. going a shade darker, or covering some gray strands. Try not to use box dye to go lighter, as this requires bleach and bleach is a tricky substance.

Which Box-Dye Should You Use?

There are a couple different kinds of box dye that can affect your hair differently. If you’re new to dying your hair yourself, start with a temporary, semi-permanent color over permanent color. It’s like drawing on a wall with a permanent marker versus a pencil. You can definitely get them both off, but the permanent marker is much harder and requires more steps to remove. It’s better to practice with a pencil first right? 

In addition to that, decide what kind of color you want. Words like “honey” or “gold” describe warm tones. “Ashy” or “beige” are cool tones. “Natural” and “neutral” are right in the middle of the two. Box colors are typically darker than they appear on the box, so pick one color lighter than that for the desired shade and make sure you know the tone you want. 

Know the Risks

woman dying her own hair

Box dye is a “one-size-fits-all” purchase– it’s not tailored to your specific hair color, type, or texture. Professionals spend lots of time mastering the perfect formula for every specific type of hair, and learning how to apply it correctly. Box dyes just can’t give you that. Many DIY-ers don’t saturate their own hair enough or let the dye sit much too long, which can leave them with poor results or even damage their hair. At-home bleaching often leads to the worst results, and therefore requires the most skills. If you choose to go this route, do your research and try a test-strand to see how your hair will react before applying to your entire head.

Don’t Mix with Professional Color

Professional color and box color don’t mix well, and people who dye their hair at home run the risk of overprocessing it. Because box dye has generalized ingredients, there’s no telling how it will react to dye that’s mixed specifically for your hair. If you have any professional color on your head, even if it’s grown out, avoid the box dye completely.

How to Use Box Dye

While we don’t necessarily recommend box dye, we understand that it can be the better option for people. So, if you just have to DIY your hair color, there are a few tips to follow:

box dyes

  • Use old towels and t-shirts. Dye can ruin fabrics.
  • Buy a couple boxes of dye! You will most likely use more than you think, and there’s nothing worse than running out in the middle of dying. If you have extra kits, you can return them!
  • Read ALL of the instructions on the box before starting. Then read them again.
  • Use a mirror or have a reliable friend help you. The back of your head can be hard to dye yourself.
  • Apply GENEROUSLY! It’s hard to oversaturate your hair, but easy to leave your hair splotchy because you didn’t apply enough dye.
  • Work in small sections. It’s harder to miss a spot when you dye small pieces at a time!

Take your time and follow the instructions! But remember, box dye can only do so much so your hair may not look how you pictured, even if you did everything right!

When in Doubt, Go to the Pros

While box dye isn’t the worst thing in the world, most beauty professionals would prefer you stay away. Professional stylists have a vast knowledge of hair color tones, textures, and what products work best. They learn every possible scenario that can make a great hair color, and they learn how to fix hair color that doesn’t go right. Because of this, if you want the best results possible, a professional stylist is your best bet!

If you’re wondering whether or not you can dye your hair yourself, do your research and find a professional that works for you. We know a salon can be more expensive than a box dye, but the prices speak for themselves.

professional dying a woman's hair

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