Thinking of Turning to Box Color? Six Not-So-Sexy Reminders Why You Shouldn’t

Janelle Alexis Flatt

April 13, 2020

Alright ladies, as we go into month two of quarantine, the time has come to talk about box color.  Many hairstylists – even your friends – tell you not to use it. Most have horror stories. (If you do, share in the comments below!)

But why? It is not because it costs less; there’s a reason for that. I’ve seen so many gals posting on neighborhood forums asking about the “new” box color options, or how they can cover greys.

Can you trust those boxes for the same results as your stylist? Here’s the skinny:

1)    Let’s face it: Hairstylists go to school and complete thousands of hours of education, then take a test to get a license.

Woohoo! We FINALLY get a license to create, but what does that entail when it comes to theory? We are artists – essentially the chemists behind your hair color. We learn color theory to the maximum! What are the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors? What do you mix to get a certain color? What the levels systems are, and their underlying pigments.

If you take a brunette and try to lift (or lighten) it to a medium blonde, guess what color you are going to get? It all depends on the levels of peroxide, how that affects hair , and lifting power. So as a novice, it really is a guess what color you will end up with.

Everything from how to, what not to do, where to, and when to is in itself a pretty solid reason to stay away from box color. Don’t agree?

2)    Box color comes in a variety of colors, as you may have seen.

It is usually three different levels: light, medium, and dark. Ummm hello, you can’t really put people’s hair color into three categories. It becomes basically a “one size fits all” scenario, and we all know, one size does NOT fit all.

Then box color co’s add in some contributing colors like “warm honey blonde”. Man, that sounds amazing! Yet when there’s already warmth in your hair to begin with, instead of being that classic, Blake Lively amber blonde, you are going to turn into a golden Carrot Top.

What if you’ve already put on another box color? Or even color from the salon? Ladies and gents: Color doesn’t lift color. This is where knowledge from your colorist comes in. Your pro adds 2-3 different colors per color bowl to get that shiny, perfect dimension without ruining your hair. You won’t get that in one box.

3)    The Box has one type of developer no matter what color; it’s harsh, damaging.

The developer is also 2-3 times stronger than what you would get in professional color. In a salon, your pro has 2-4 different levels of developer to mix with.

Also, box color can only lighten three sometimes four levels. If you know the level systems, that is amazing! If not here is a key example: You want to be a light blonde level 9, but your hair is a dark brown level 4. You just cannot make that happen with a box color.

Or, you might end up with hot roots while the rest of the hair may or may not look normal. Hot roots doesn’t actually mean your roots are the hottest thing on the block. It is a term colorists use when the roots of your hair are noticeably and unintentionally warmer than the rest of your color. The color is usual redder – more like an orange color.

4)    Let’s talk what’s actually in box color – that stuff you’re putting straight on your head.

Some of these ingredients can cause major problems. The main one is para-phenylenediamine or PPD, which allows color to bond to the hair shaft. PPD is one of the main ingredients that most chemists say to stay away from. On the low end of the scale, PPD can cause reactions from skin irritation to more sever contact dermatitis; however, it is highly sensitizing, and studies link it to lupus, non-Hopkins lymphoma, and asthma.

You also have MEA, ammonia, parabens, propylene glycol, persulfates, resorcinol, and metals such as nickel. Resorcinol, is known to be irritating and also interfere with normal hormone production, as do parabens. MEA is damaging to the hair and effaces the cuticle, and propylene glycol can cause dermatitis.

5)    After continuous use of box color, I guarantee your hair will feel like hay.

From what, you ask? There is an increased salt content in box color, mixed with a higher level of developer, couple that with application from root to end. WALA… A HOT MESS.

Yet those frizz-inducing, devilish hair dye boxes try to hide the damage with their conditioner packet. The magic ingredient is a silicone which merely coats the hair, closes the cuticle, and seals color in.. Really, the silicone acts as a mask, just hiding the damage – not actually fixing hair from within the roots. There’s a reason we use shampoos and conditioners that are silicone-free, or use newer Multi-Functional Silicones that attach to a protein or amino acid. A good conditioner will actually penetrate your hair to make it healthier. Look at KEVIN.MURPHY or Living Proof.

PS: Right now all in-stock product is 20%. Call us at 713.780.2412 to place your order.

6)    I’ll leave you with an example.

My sweet daughter wanted to take her hair back to its natural, darker color. I said ok. She was impatient, as all teens are. You can already guess the outcome, right? In the past she had highlights and a basebreak (blending the hair that is not highlighted in between foils to break up darker roots). We did lowlights, but that wasn’t enough. So, we went in with all over color – only I had to use a gold filler then put color on for her hair to not turn green. A year later, “Mom, I want to be blonde again.” Well, this will take a while to get back to blonde in a safe, healthy way. We did full highlights from roots to ends. It still wasn’t blonde enough, so I went through to balayage the darker pieces for more lightness.

After ALL OF THAT, fast forward to COVID-19, she tells me how much she hates her roots. She wants to go dark again. Instead of taking my advice, waiting until I could get her into the salon to do it properly (patience is a virtue), what does she do? She went to a friend’s house to color her hair with Box color. With both a mother and father that are hairstylists, this is practically blasphemy. Well, she learned her lesson; the box left her with gold roots and green ends. Long story short, she and her bestie had no clue what they were doing. Most people don’t.

Color theory is so important. I know it seems so easy. It can be an impulse decision. That’s what their marketing teams are betting on. Even with the new, “transformative” at home color services, there’s still a missing piece: the hair pro to formulate your perfect color. An online hair color chart just doesn’t cut it.

And when the box color isn’t close to “warm golden honey”? Well, those boxes don’t deal with color corrections. Luckily, my daughter doesn’t have to pay the $300 - $500 fee to correct her color. I hope we can snip more color corrections in the bud with our Beauty Boxes!

These Beauty Boxes take it to the next level by formulating your color virtually.

After seeing pictures, your goal hair look, and a quick Facetime consult to get to know previous color experiences, we mix up your personal Beauty Box.

It comes with all the essentials – color, developer, gloves, and a brush. You get salon-quality, professional color at home for $55. Just drive by the salon to pick up your supplies. It’s the perfect pick-me-up, no?

Start by filling out our virtual consultation form at

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