There is a lot of confusion and myths when it comes to coloring your hair with "The Box" versus "The Salon." Most of it comes down to the chemistry and chemicals used in the formulas and the truth behind what color does to your hair. As a cosmetologist, we go through many hours of chemistry to learn about various things like the PH scale, molecular bonds, color dye loads, chemical reactions, and other things that people don't even think of. To me, after I went to school I understood a fact that there is a reason you have to be licensed to color peoples hair. Let me explain:
Box color has come along way in the last couple years. Most companies have reformulated their colors to be conditioning, have more gray coverage, and give you a larger variety in tones. Most of your drugstore box colors range in price from 2$ on up to 25$, the low prices are the main reason women choose a box over a professional. On top of that, we see beautiful celebrities like Drew Berry, Beyonce, Gwen Stefani, and Eva Longoria make at home hair color look so luscious and rich. Do you really think they color their hair at home? Then we go to the store and look at the packaging and photography on the box, instantly assuming that when you apply this color it will look exactly as the picture. What you mix is what you get, note what I said... what you see on the box is not what you get. In box color you will find two bottles with chemicals which you mix together to achieve the end result. Most people don't even know what those chemicals are. Do you know what it is? The main contributing indigents are a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and a dye load. Ammonia opens the hair shaft so that the dye can actually bond with the hair, and ammonia speeds up the reaction of the dye with the hair. Picture your hair-shaft like shingles on a house. The ammonia raises the shingles to allow the color molecules to sit up under the shingles and stay there. The problem with that is once your cuticle is raise your hair is more at risk for breakage because it's open and not sealed tight. With box color you are not in control or told exactly how much ammonia you'll be applying to your hair, which means you can do more damage to your hair then you will ever know.
There are so many factors that go into how professionals color your hair. It's not just a color we go grab from the back, there are many more variables in which we are trained to factor into our custom formula made specifically for your hair. Not only do we factor in the condition of your hair...we also include the elasticity of your hair (ability to stretch, or its strength), its porosity (absorption), level background tone, desired and undesired tones, level system, activator strength, technique, the law of color, contributing pigments, processing requirements, the list goes on and on. I like to explain it this way: When you go to the doctor he/she will prescribe you a regimen or medicine because he or she knows what will work for your body and lead you to your wanted end result or help you with an occurring problem. There is a reason for your doctor...he or she knows what he or she is talking about because the doctor went to school to study medicine, and understands what that medicine will do to you. You wouldn't walk into a pharmacy and look at the list of drugs and say, "That one looks good, I'll try it." Because in all actuality, you have no idea what its for or what it can do. Dealing with chemicals for your hair is the same thing; you don't know what you’re potentially doing to your hair and or body.
Technique with a certain type of color is also another thing that a cosmetologist is trained to learn. Processing a color isn't just applying the color to your hair, it's a technique that requires skill and understanding. A good example is touching up someone's hair that had already been colored, but needs their new-growth colored and existing color refreshed. Did you know that if you were to overlap and deposit permanent color again and again it will damage your hair by contiguously opening your cuticle creating overly processed hair or overly porous hair? You can literally fry your hair off and turn it into what feels like over cooked spaghetti.
Now that I've explained a fraction of The Box VS. The Salon, I hope you can see why I recommend everyone to get their color done by a professional stylist. Now, I understand that if your covering up some gray's and you get a within two shades of your natural color you don't want to spend your time and money at a salon. But if it's anything other than that, I don't recommend at home hair color. Not just because I am a cosmetologist, but because I have used box color on my own hair and had it go very wrong as well as many of my clients have had disastrous results making an appointment for me to fix their blooper. It's true the box price can't be beat but with the confusing colors and the bad stories of blondes gone brassy, browns that didn’t cover grays, and reds that receded after the second shampoo...let us take care of your color so we don't have to correct a color gone wrong which can cost more than you can imagine.