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All things London & Natural Hairdressing

Hair Colouring: The Pros and Cons of Box Dye Versus Professional Dye


Brunette with thick and coloured hair

Hair colouring is a popular beauty practice that has been around for decades, enabling individuals to experiment with a myriad of shades and styles. However, with the rise of do-it-yourself box dyes, professional hairdressers and stylists have voiced concerns over their use. This article delves into the world of hair dye, comparing box dyes and professional salon dyes to give you an informed perspective on hair colouring.


Understanding Hair Colouring

Hair colouring involves chemically altering the natural pigments of hair to achieve a desired shade. The method you choose largely depends on your hair goals, whether it's covering grays, enhancing natural colour, or trying a bold new look. However, one must understand the science behind hair colouring and the differences between professional and box dyes to make an informed decision.

Long pink hair

Hair Colouring Process: A Brief Overview

The process of hair colouring primarily involves opening up the hair shaft (the outer layer of the hair strand) to deposit or remove colour. This process is facilitated by a developer, a substance that varies in strength depending on the desired result.

Professional hair colouring comprises of a two-step process: first, the existing colour is stripped off, and then the chosen shade is deposited onto the hair. This ensures that the desired colour is accurately achieved, regardless of the original hair colour.

On the other hand, box dyes often skip the first step, resulting in a colour that is layered atop the existing hair shade. The outcome can be unpredictable as the final colour is influenced by the original hair shade.


Why Hairdressers are Wary of Box Dyes

Professional hairdressers and stylists often express concern over the use of box dyes. The reasons for their apprehension range from potential hair damage to unpredictable results. Here are some reasons why hairdressers urge caution when considering box dyes.


The Damage Factor

Box dyes can make hair more susceptible to damage. They contain harsh chemicals, which, while effective in colouring hair, can compromise the hair's health and integrity. Repeated use of box dyes can lead to brittle, dry, and damaged hair, which can be challenging to restore to its original health.

In contrast, professional hair colouring products are tailored to suit the individual hair type and condition, thus minimising potential damage.


The Removal Challenge

Removing box dye from hair can be a daunting task even for experienced colourists. The chemicals in box dyes can permanently stain hair strands, making it difficult to fade or colour over. This results in a longer, more expensive process if you decide to change your hair colour again.


The Complications with Bleaching

Bleaching hair that has previously been box-coloured can result in significant hair damage. The harsh chemicals in box dyes can leave hair strands too dry and discoloured for effective bleaching, leading to breakage and unsatisfactory results.

Curvy, short red hair


The Risks of Using Box Dye

While box dyes might seem like a convenient and budget-friendly option for hair colouring, they come with their own set of risks. Here are some potential pitfalls of using box dye.


Progressive Dyeing

Box dyes are often progressive dyes, which means each application layers over the previous one. This can lead to a buildup of dye on the hair, resulting in a much darker shade than expected. Over time, the layered dye can affect the hair's health, making it more porous and prone to damage.


One-size-fits-all Approach

Box dyes offer a one-size-fits-all solution, which can be problematic. Since they're not tailored to the individual's hair type, condition, and natural colour, the resulting shade can vary significantly from what is depicted on the box.


Risk of Allergic Reactions

Box dyes contain strong chemicals that can potentially cause allergic reactions. Symptoms can range from mild skin irritation to severe allergic reactions that necessitate medical intervention.


Lack of Depth

Box dyes often result in a flat, one-dimensional colour that lacks depth and vibrancy. In contrast, professional hair colouring can create a multidimensional colour effect that enhances the natural beauty of your hair.

Balayage, lowlights or highlights can only be achieved by professional stylists.



Long blonde highlighted hair

The Case for Professional Hair Colouring

While box dyes might be tempting for their convenience and affordability, professional hair colouring offers several advantages that make it a worthy investment.


Customised Approach

Professional hairdressers tailor the colouring process to suit your individual hair type, condition, and desired result. They can adjust the developer's strength and mix different colours to create a shade that complements your skin tone and enhances your natural beauty.


Quality of Ingredients

Professional hair colouring products are formulated with high-quality ingredients that are gentler on the hair. They may also contain nourishing ingredients that protect and strengthen your hair during the colouring process. This is especially true for salons that use natural and/or organic products.




Predictable Results

With professional hair colouring, you can expect predictable results. Hairdressers use their expertise and knowledge to ensure that the final colour matches your expectations.


Expert Application

Professional hair colouring involves precise application techniques that ensure even colour distribution and minimise damage. Hairdressers are also trained to handle potential complications, such as allergic reactions or unexpected results.

Long, dark blonde hair

The Bottom Line

While box dyes might seem like a convenient solution for hair colouring, they come with potential risks and limitations. In contrast, professional hair colouring offers a personalised, quality experience that can give you the desired results while maintaining the health of your hair.

So, the next time you have an urge to change your hair colour, consider booking an appointment with a professional hairdresser instead of reaching for that box dye. Your hair will thank you!

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