If there is one thing that clients do that continues to make your job as a hairdresser that much harder, it’s box dyeing their hair!

Whether clients aren’t aware of why box dye is so bad, or they just didn’t take the warning seriously, it’s pretty much unavoidable that you will have to deal with it at some point in your professional career.

So, what can you say to talk clients out of colouring their hair themselves? And what can you do about it if they do?

This week’s guide is here to help…

Why do hairdressers hate box dye?

When clients reach for that box of hair dye when out at the shops, they usually don’t realise just how bad it is!

Not only can it compromise hair health and condition, but box dye also often has unpredictable results. This, paired with the fact that those who are untrained don’t have the knowledge when it comes to choosing colours, processing times and application, can lead to the need for a big colour correction job.

So, somewhere down the line, you will probably have to educate some clients on exactly why hairdressers hate box dye so much!

Be prepared with these answers to commonly asked questions…

“Does box dye damage hair?”

Yes! Box dye is not formulated to the same standard as professional hair colour.

Salon hair colour costs more because it is better quality. It doesn’t contain so many harsh ingredients and often works to protect your hair as it colours. In a salon, we can even use bond builders like OLAPLEX to ensure hair stays in best possible condition.

Box dyes often say they contain moisturising ingredients or are ’ammonia-free’. However, even these usually contain PPDs, salts and other chemicals that will damage hair, especially with repeated use.

Related: The Best Treatments for Damaged Hair to Stock in Your Salon

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“Why did my box dye colour not come out the same as the picture?”

Box dyes can be misleading to clients. They often appear to be ‘one size fits all’ when we, as professionals, know that this can never be the case. Hair type, condition and the natural colour or previous colour used can all change the outcome of the dye.

As a trained colourist, you know all about the colour wheel, levels of lightness and different strengths of developers to formulate the perfect colour. So, there will be no nasty yellow, brassy or muddy colours showing through.

Box dyes also typically produce a ‘flat’ colour. So, none of the flattering tones or dimensions that you can create can be replicated. At home ombre, highlighting or balayage kits might seem good, but an untrained hand is unlikely to use the correct placement techniques. And again, the colour will also not be tailored for the client.

Finally, with regular use, the box colour will continue to build up on the ends. As the processed hair becomes more porous, the more it will grab onto colour. The virgin hair from the root, meanwhile, will take the colour differently. This often leads to a ‘reverse ombre’ appearance, with roots lighter than the ends. If the client changes the colour often, they will also start to see a ‘banding’ effect.


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“Can I lighten my hair myself?”

No! Clients often think that a hair bleaching kit is a good way to lift their hair before applying a box dye colour.

This can cause very complicated problems. Often, the hair isn’t lightened high enough to achieve the colour they want. Or, the bleach used is too strong for the hair, leaving it brittle, porous and with a rough texture. As a result, the box dye colour they use next can process in unpredictable ways.

Again, there is also the issue with technique. Bleach application needs to fully saturate the hair and be applied evenly. If it isn’t, clients will end up with patches that take a lot of skill to fix.

Related: Your Essentials for Dealing with ‘Bleached Hair Gone Wrong’

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“Box dye turned my hair orange! Can I fix it myself?”

As we’ve already mentioned above, there are numerous reasons why box dye colour won’t turn out as your client expected.

One of the most common issues is orange and brassy tones. This usually occurs if they didn’t lighten their hair enough, leaving red and orange pigments behind.

Often clients try to fix this issue themselves, but often end up running into more trouble! They might reach for another box dye that further complicates the colour, leading to green or unpleasant muddy toned hair.

Or, they might try to lighten their hair another level with more bleach. If hair has already been coloured multiple times, they can cause irreversible damage.

So, if clients have reached the orange stage, it’s best to get them to seek a colour correction now before it gets worse!

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“Can you remove box dye from hair?”

Box dye can be stripped from hair by using a professional hair colour remover. This can help you as a professional see what has happened below the dye.

However, the change to the hair structure cannot be reversed. The pigments that have been altered by bleach and other chemicals will remain until the hair grows out.

What’s the difference between at home hair colour and salon hair colour?

We’ve already touched on the difference in quality between home hair colour and salon hair colour.

The other biggest difference is that box dyes are packaged with a set colour and developer. In a salon, different colours and developers can be mixed to give the hair exactly what it needs.

This can help protect the condition of the hair, as the stylist has control over the strength of the developer used.


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How do you deal with clients who have used boxed dye in their hair?

One of the main reasons why hairdressers hate box dye is the difficulties that come with colour corrections.

Eventually, many clients who box dye their own hair will come to a salon for a colour service – whether it’s because they need their colour fixing, or just because they now want a professional result.

It might seem straightforward to the untrained eye, but as a colourist you know how carefully you need to tread in this process – you can’t just throw one colour over the top!

In this case, every client is different. The best way to start is to get a full and truthful account of your clients hair history. You need to know exactly what has been applied and when so you can be prepared for what will happen next.

Secondly, you need to be realistic with your client and manage their expectations. The result they are hoping for might not be achievable in one sitting, so make sure they understand the plan you have for them to fix their colour.

Finally, colour corrections take a lot of skill and time. So, don’t undersell yourself. Often, colour corrections are charged by the hour, so give your client your rate and an estimate for how long it will take. Of course, make sure they are happy with how much you are charging before you begin.

Shop online at Salons Direct for all your professional hair colour needs…

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