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To Box Color, or Not to Box Color? Here's Your Answer!

Updated on May 22, 2016

The Pros of Box Color


What are we kidding here? As a professional Cosmetologist, and a person who was once a naive young girl who falsely believed I could achieve beautiful burgundy color with a $3 box of Revlon, I know from experience, there are no pros to box color. I have tried believing the whole "to each his own" thing, but that simply does not apply here. Some would argue that the price of a box of color is a pro because it is considerably cheaper than that of a professional salon color service. While it may appear so on the surface, this is simply not the case. Read on to find out why.

The Cons of Box Color

The aforementioned not-so-pro: Price

While it may appear cheaper to buy a box of color and DIY it at home, there are a few reasons why it is not necessarily cheaper than going to a salon.

First of all ten bucks a box may sound great, but unless you have really thin/fine, super short hair, one box will not be enough. Proper saturation is key to good looking, even color. If you don't use enough product, you will have splotchy spots, usually in the back of the head where it's harder to reach on your own. This will lead to a trip to the salon to fix the issue costing more money.

Secondly, box color almost never comes out exactly the color in the picture on the box. There are many factors that determine the outcome in the end, and most people don't think about this. They just grab the box with the pretty color, dump it on their head, and expect it to be exactly what they see in the picture. Then they end up going to a salon to find out what happened, and spending more money.

Third, the chemicals in box color are different from those in salon color. They are formulated for mass production, and speedy processing. They are highly damaging to the hair. Damage done by a box color is no easy fix, and usually ends up with a client crying in the chair because they have to cut six inches off their hair when they've been trying to grow it out. Deep conditioning treatments will be required to attempt to at least make your hair the shadow of manageable again. Also, corrective color services, trust me you don't want to go there if you don't have to. They can take up to several salon visits and countless hours to get your hair back to something acceptable. You will have weird hair in between visits. It can be embarrassing for some people. Not to mention you might want to bring your life's savings with you. Corrective color is not easy to do. It takes a skilled, talented artist to do it properly, it takes a lot of product, and a lot of time, thus it. is. not. cheap. Do not expect to get your box color fixed for $50-$100. It's just not going to happen.

Bring a Blank Check!


Color Choices

If, for any reason you feel you must decide to box color, your color options will be limited to what you see on the shelf in front of you. They can not be mixed to create different colors. A professional stylist, however, has an arsenal of not only color options at his/her fingertips, but different longevity options as well. He or she can mix and match at their hearts content to create the perfect color formulation to give you exactly the color you desire.

Once it's in there, It's in there!

Box color does not like to turn loose once it's latched on to the cortex of your hair. If you have ever considered going blonde, or are planing to go blonde at any point in the future, far or near, just don't box color! Even the strongest lighteners have difficulty getting box color molecules out. Removing or lightening a box color is a process. One that can require multiple salon visits, an enormous amount of patients, and usually some pretty deep pockets. You must also be prepared for some less that ideal situations. It takes several salon visits, at least two weeks apart, to avoid damaging the hair. You will have "in-between" color, as I call it, between these visit. You may have to rock some yellow or orange hair for a couple of weeks. As I mentioned before, it's gets pricey. Done properly, it will cost several hundred bucks overall. At least $75-$100 on up to $200 per visit depending on you're salon's pricing structure.

Want to Go Platinum?

This article shows the truth about going Platinum. Keep in mind she did not start with box colored hair, so just imagine what would happen if you're hair is full of box color buildup.

Messy, Messy, Messy

Box color makes a mess. There is no way to avoid it. I don't care how neat or tidy you are, you will have stains all over your bathroom, your clothes, and your towels. Box color is runny, it drips everywhere, and it is not easy to clean up. The longer your hair, the messier it gets. Not to mention it gets on your skin and leaves stains, which can not be washed off. They have to wear off. All clothes and towels that come in to contact with the color will be irreparably and permanently stained.


Box color takes a while to apply if you do it right. Holding your arms up behind your head that long starts to hurt after a while. So do your back and feet. You will be sore for a day or so afterwards.

It Doesn't Last...

Oddly enough, even though box color is so stubborn when trying to remove it with lightener, if you're trying to get to stay in, it's just as stubborn. It fades off, quickly. Meaning you have to reapply more often, and you end up with a nasty buildup over time that can only be removed one way; cut it all off!

Just Don't Box Color

In conclusion, I do not recommend using a box color on your hair. It's messy, the color choices are limited, it fades, yet is difficult to remove, it's not really cheaper. So, if you have to option to choose, go to a salon and leave it to the professionals.

Do You Box Color?

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