We’ve all done it. Whilst being swayed in the hair products aisle of our local boots, a new hair colour has caught our eye and after much shade deliberation, it’s made its way into our basket. Now, if we take a moment to really think about box colours for a second, the problem with them is glaringly obvious.
I’m blonde, and I walk into Boots and pick a beautiful glossy red. It looks fabulous on the model, so why wouldn’t it look fabulous on me? Dina or Lacey, who are both brunette, can walk into Boots and pick up the exact same shade of red. Yes, the little charts on the back give an indication of what the end result will be on dark or light hair, but have any of you actually had success with those charts? I thought not.
The thing you’ll hear time and time again in Blushbar is that everyone’s hair has a history. Coloured, not coloured, bleached, not bleached, porous, not porous, lighter at the roots or lighter on the ends than the roots, the list can go on and on. The amount of variables you can be dealing with is almost unfathomable for the amateur hair stylist to think about when home dying. Yet, every single one of those things has to be accounted for before we can chemically change the colour of your hair.
It’s easy to forget, your hair colour changing is a chemical reaction of products. For a box colour to act as a “one size fits all” thing, is completely impossible. You have to start questioning the type of chemicals they put in this colour, in order to lift it, or do whatever it is claiming it can do, for every hair type. Think about that for a second.
One person may need one developer, and another may need one not as strong to reach the same outcome, because your hair has a history and will be entirely different in each individual case.
This is why box colours are so bad-because they can’t possibly cater for everyone’s individual hair, so it’s highly likely you’ll end up with properties on your hair that you didn’t need; peroxides used that are much higher than you actually needed. Regardless of whether it reaches a good outcome or not, it will end up drying your hair out over time. And very often, it won’t reach a desired outcome because it couldn’t cater to your specific hair, which just makes it all even worse.
For a qualified stylist to correct a botched box colour attempt, or even just to remove box colour in order to place professional colour, a bleach bath may be involved. Firstly, a lot of people groan because they don’t want bleach on their hair; there’s no denying bleach can have a slightly detrimental effect (Hello Olaplex!). But also, as stylists, we can’t entirely predict how that bleach bath will react on colour that isn’t professionally used, because we don’t know what’s in it. We can’t promise an outcome straight away, or how long it will take to reach a desired outcome, because we don’t know how the bleach will react. We therefore have to tread exceptionally carefully.
The moral of the story is, while you may get an “ok” result, or passable result with box colour, it’s adding to your hair history. This will make good hairdressers tread very carefully around you when it comes to a professional colour job - you’ll certainly need more time in your initial visit and it will be classed as a “colour correction” rather than a straight colouring appointment.
It’s always best to be honest with your hairdresser if you have used a box colour, rather than try and hide it. There are some telltale giveaway signs of box colour that hairdressers will see the moment bleach or colour hits your hair, so honesty is always the best policy.
Whatever you’ve done, you will not be the first, we promise.
Colour options for box coloured/damaged hair
• Bleach Bath to get rid of the box colour as much as possible and start on a clean base.
• Gloss Colour (lasts about 12 washes) this can boost natural colours in a non-harming way. We use Davines Finest Pigments which is 98% natural ingredients.
• Highlights/Low Lights of any kind- these can mask any banding that you have from box colour. It may take a few attempts to get rid of a warm halo of colour entirely, but highlights are great at blurring the line of demarcation.
• Olaplex Treatments - we would suggest using Olaplex if you're using bleach. We recommend Olaplex on any hair, whether healthy or damaged, to stop the bonds in your hair breaking when bleach is used.