Thinking Outside the Box
Clients often ask us what the difference is between box color at the grocery store and professional color at the salon. There are several major differences that make a difference to your hair.
Below is a summary of what you should know to be able to make an educated decision when it comes to choosing between box and professional color.
What’s the deal with box color?
Unreliable and Undesirable Results
Many things contribute to the end result of your hair color. Application, color formula, hair condition and previous color services are a few of them. Box color is somewhat of a “one size fits all” solution. It doesn’t matter to the box what your hair condition is or what has been done to it in the past, the box includes a specific solution and a specific developer. The box provides the same solution for the client with virgin (never before colored) blonde hair and the client with resistant gray hair. The coloring process is a personal thing and hair color needs to be able to adapt! The canvas you are starting with will affect the end result. To illustrate the color selection process, I have created two formulas.
CURRENT HAIR + BOX COLOR = UNKNOWN RESULTS
CURRENT HAIR + FORMULA CREATED FOR CLIENT = DESIRED RESULT
Because the current condition of your hair affects the outcome of your new color, it is important that the formula created for application be personalized so that you get the results you want, rather than results you don’t want from choosing a box with a picture of something you do want.
For example, if someone, let’s say her name is Sally, has dark brown hair and desires to be a bright Reese Witherspoon blonde, she will not see these results by grabbing a box blonde from the grocery store. Most likely, Sally would end up with light brown hair and very brassy undertones.
The two main reasons for this are:
1. Color cannot lift color- If Sally has any old color on her hair, it must be removed before a lighter color can be applied. Similarly, if you want to lighten a dark wall, it is recommended that you prime the wall before repainting it.
2. Box color can only lighten three to four levels. Hair color is categorized in levels: 1 being the darkest and 10 being the lightest. Taking Sally from a level 2 to a level 9 cannot be done with a box.
Developer and Damage
The developer found in box color will range from 20 to 40 volume because that is what is needed for gray coverage or to change a very dark shade. However, continually coating the hair shaft with a higher volume developer will create damage. Ammonia and peroxide are used in developer to chemically alter the hair by opening up the cuticle and allowing the color to penetrate the hair shaft and permanently change the hair color. Overly processed hair (using a developer too strong or coloring previously colored hair) can lead to permanent damage and breakage.
Cost and Time
When it comes to hair color, like most things, you get what you pay for. If you run into undesired results or end up with damaged hair, it’s time to seek out a professional. The time and money spent on corrective color can be quite a sacrifice. It does not surprise us when a correction takes three to four hours. With damage, a more long term treatment plan is needed. So, when you contemplate color options, it is imperative to decide how important having healthy and beautiful hair is to you. You may end up wanting to ditch the box all together and head straight to the salon.
Stylists are trained in the law of color, chemistry and processing of color. To accurately change the tone and level of your hair, you need a personalized solution. All things hair related come into play, texture, density, porosity, color and length. Even your skin tone and eye color are important in determining what is best for your hair.
As color professionals, we have the ability to highlight, lowlight, ombre, balayage, lighten and darken your hair unlike anything a box color can do. Your haircut is customized, and your color should be too. Not every cut is right for every person. Can you imagine what it would be like if everyone left the salon with the same haircut?
In conclusion, to maintain healthy hair and great color, your best option is to seek a salon professional. We love to get creative and customize your color. It’s our job to give you the look you desire. If cost is an issue, talk to your stylist about different color options. We have color clients whose appointments range from every four weeks to every six months!
Post by Teake!