Why Do Hairdressers Hate Box Dye? Is Box Dye That Bad?

Beautiful African American female with naturally dark brown hair after getting a salon hair color treatment.

It’s no secret that hairdressers can’t stand box dye. Ever wondered why? If so, you’re one of many trying to find out why box dye has gotten such a bad rap among colorists and other hair experts.

We’re here to enlighten you! We’ll start by breaking down three reasons stylists hate at-home coloring kits and answer many of your questions about box dye in general. 

Note: Before we get into why hairdressers hate box dye, it’s important to know that not every box dye kit is created equally. Some varieties are formulated with hair health at the forefront.

Why Do Hairdressers Hate Box Dye?

There are 3 main reasons why hairdressers hate box dye:

  1. Box dye makes the hair vulnerable to damage
  2. Box dye is hard for colorists to remove
  3. Box dye complicates bleaching sessions

Due to these reasons, you might hear a lengthy sigh if you tell your stylist that you colored your hair with box dye. Hairdressers often discourage their clients from using it, and below we’ll take a closer look at three reasons below. 

Young black woman with red and pink hair dyed with semi-permanent dye by a professional hair colorist.

Box Dye Makes the Hair Vulnerable to Damage

One of the top reasons hairdressers hate box dye is that it can be overwhelmingly damaging to the hair. With one whiff of box color, you’ll know the stuff has some pretty strong ingredients.

But what you may not realize is just how harsh and harmful these ingredients can be for your hair. Even dyes that don’t use ammonia compensate for it with other damaging ingredients.

After using box dye, you may notice your hair is more brittle than usual.

Due to the harsh chemicals in box color, the more you color your hair at home, the weaker your hair may become. Then, when you go to a stylist to get your hair re-dyed, your stylist has to be super careful with your damage-prone strands. 

Black girl with a light brown natural color on fine hair with kinky curls covering her whole head.

Box Dye Is Hard for Colorists to Remove

Box dyes contain strong chemicals that may permanently stain your hair strands. Even with professional assistance from your stylist, fading or coloring over stained hair can be difficult. 

Box Dye Complicates Bleaching Sessions

Using a professional bleach treatment on hair that’s been box-colored could result in extreme damage. Even with high-quality salon products, the hair strands may be too dry and discolored to purposefully lighten or color.

Moreover, attempts to bleach such hair might lead to widespread breakage and client complaints. 

Young African lady with big beautiful natural curls with red low lights covering her naturally dark hair.

4 Reasons You May Regret Using Box Dye

Here are a few reasons why most hairdressers warn everyone not to use box dye at home, client or not. 

Box Color Comes Out Flat

It is nearly impossible to get multi-dimensional color with box dye.

Amateur application, blind spots, and harsher-than-necessary ingredients are all to blame for flat results. Truth be told, gorgeous multi-dimensional color is almost always professionally done. 

After getting a hair color treatment at a salon, this lovely African American woman was able to cover her gray hair.

You May Need a Color Correction

Many people require color correction after using box dye. Unfortunately, even with professional help, attaining your desired hair color could become a journey. 

Hairdressers are not magicians – they can’t turn dry patchy color into rich multi-dimensional color overnight. In many cases, you’ll have to wait for the box-dyed hair to grow out to get the results you’re after. 

Unpredictable Results

You never know how your hair will react to one-size-fits-all coloring products. This is why most box dye instructions suggest a patch test before applying the dye to your entire head. Results are much more predictable with a professional dye/colorist. 

Unsightly Hot Roots

Since box dyes are usually progressive, your hair will become darker every time you use them.  The dye builds on existing color instead of transforming it.

Thus, new growth at the roots will naturally have fewer layers of dye and be lighter than the rest of your hair. This is why many end up with hot roots – uneven color with brighter roots and darkened ends.

A young black girl after blending red permanent color with dark brown hair - her previous color.

Salon dye does not produce this result because it doesn’t contain keratin-binding salts. Your hair will not get darker every time your hairdresser applies professional color. 

But if you show up to the salon with numerous layers of at-home dye, it may be very expensive to remedy.

Amateur Results

When coloring at home, you are not only using questionable chemicals, but you’re also probably not a trained hairdresser with years of experience. This combination is very likely to produce disappointing results and damaged hair.

Is Box Dye That Bad?

If you use box color even once, you risk damaging your hair. Here, we’ll look at how box dye can ruin your hair.

  • Cheap ingredients. At-home coloring kits often utilize cheap ingredients for mass production. These often include ammonia, PPDs, peroxide, metallic salts, and more. Some of these can lead to hair damage, hair loss, breathing issues, and even cancer. 
  • Changed hair texture. Thanks to box dye’s harsh chemicals, your hair may become more straw-like and fragile.
  • Risk of allergic reaction. Many ingredients in box dyes are known allergens. Skin redness, swelling, and itching are all possible symptoms of an allergic reaction following a box hair dye session. In extreme cases, you could even experience hair loss.
  • Scalp damage. The aggressive ingredients found in box dyes have the potential to harm your scalp and hair follicles, which can lead to hair loss.
African American female with a curly hair structure taking in the fresh air outdoors.

Is Box Dye Worse Than Salon Dye?

Before customizing your color solutions, your stylist considers your hair type, natural hair color, hair history, texture, and desired results. Box dyes are frequently only available in one strength and don’t consider your unique hair needs. 

Additionally, salons use high-quality ingredients, which are much better than the chemicals found in at-home coloring kits. You often cannot find salon-quality hair coloring products elsewhere as they require a license for purchase.

So, you can safely conclude that box dye is worse than salon dye in most cases. 

Is Box Dye Worse Than Bleach?

Bleach can be mixed up with different strengths, depending on the developer you use. You can use a 10-volume developer for a relatively gentle treatment or go with 40 volume, which will be much harsher.

Box dye, on the other hand, has no customization options and usually comes with a 20-volume developer or higher. This can result in more damage than a tailored bleaching treatment mixed according to your hair’s needs. 

A young lady wearing a copper-color demi-permanent dye on virgin hair with bouncy natural curls.

Should You Disclose Your Box Dye Usage to Your Stylist?

If you’ve used box dye on your hair before, you should tell your stylist. Your stylist needs to know this information to craft the right hair color concoction for your unique hair situation.

If you omit your frequent usage of such dyes, your colorist might use harsher-than-appropriate chemicals on your hair.

Hairdressers have seen it all. An honest survey of your hair habits will point them in the right direction and get you better results.

What to Use Instead of Box Dye

If you’re turned off at the prospect of using box dye, you can use professional-grade hair dye at home. This dye type doesn’t come with pre-picked products and usually doesn’t contain the harsh ingredients that box dye kits do.

Just be aware that you’ll have to mix the dye with your choice of developer based on your desired results and current hair condition.  

A chocolate brown-skinned female with shoulder-length curls with unwanted tones pulling her own hair upward.

Related Articles

Now that you understand why stylists hate box dye, you might want to avoid them all like the plague. And if that’s what you’d like to do, you certainly can.

But it’s important not to put all box dyes in the same boat together. Each manufacturer formulates its dye differently, and everything exists on a spectrum.

Some of the best home hair dyes include Clairol Natural Instincts, Textures & Tones, and Garnier Olia. We hope you enjoyed this article and that it has helped you appreciate the distinctions between box dye and professional hair coloring.

Similar Posts