Top 5 Reasons NOT to Box Color Your Hair

Battle of the Ages: The Box vs. Salon Color…the Ultimate Showdown.

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When DIY attacks, the before and after.

Well it’s not really the ultimate showdown, it’s more of a warning but I had to get your attention somehow.

You’ve seen them on the boxes while strolling through Wal Mart or Target. Eva Longoria beckoning with a luscious caramel, Beyoncé with a honey blonde that is out of this world or Gwen Stefani rocking her signature perfect platinum that is so healthy and shiny, you can almost see your reflection.

We have all seen it, thought about it and for the low, low price of $9.99; we can all have that perfect hair color done in the comfort of our own homes. I know right? Just too good to be true? That is because it is.  Is it possible to get the same color from a box that you do from visiting your stylist? No, not by a long shot.  Sit down in the chair and we can have a chat why box color is not okay and in the long run perhaps seeing a professional will actually end up saving your hard earned dollars and your hair.

My clients have heard me say it time and again, do not attempt any of what you are about to see at home.

I’m not going to lie to you, and this is a little trade secret but box color mishaps is an extremely lucrative part of any hair stylists business but is also the most frustrating. What costs you $9.99 plus tax at the local drug store, and even if you’ve been doing it for years on end, eventually you will end up in my chair paying me to fix it.

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My clients have heard me say it time and again, do not attempt any of what you are about to see at home.

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Back to our lovely ladies, Eva, Queen B and Gwen. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they don’t actually use the color that they are so keen to advertise. Imagine Beyoncé at home with her box of L’Oréal Feria color with the applicator bottle squeezing it all over her head. I honestly think that her stylist Kim Kimble may have a thing or two to say about that. How about Gwen touching up her own roots with the new Ultimate Blondes Collection?

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The paid celebrity endorsement is just one way that the color companies know how to reel you in.

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Here is another secret I am going to let you in on. Professional stylists are just that. I went to Cosmetology School for the better part of a year and have paid well over $15,000 for my initial education and thousands to stay up to date. During that first year, no less than 6 months was spent on color theory, the chemistry behind color and of the hair as well as techniques so my clients do not look like they slapped on a brown football helmet and walked out of my salon ready to win the big game.

I understand the theory behind color, I get the chemistry of it and can tell you what will work and what won’t and why. This is why you come to me.

The big box color companies don’t care about you. You are just another sale to them. There is no love and they certainly don’t care if your hair is damaged because in the end, you could end up trying to correct that color with…you guessed it…more of their color!

Because I seem to be in a generous and giving mood today, I am going to treat you to the

Ultimate Top 5 reasons why DIY can suddenly turn into a DOA.

  1. One size does not fit all. Imagine buying a pair of jeans that stated one size fits all. Tried it, done it and got the muffin top to prove that one. One size does not fit all in jeans or hair color. That box has no idea if your hair is light or dark, been permed or relaxed, previously colored or lightened, whether it is course or fine or anything else that can affect the outcome. Have you ever heard the expression “Only cowards cook on low?” The color companies not only have heard this, they formulate their colors to live it. The box is not a human that can see, touch and sometimes even smell (that is a blog for another time) the hair. I like to think of hair like succulent slow roasted pulled pork. (Umm…food analogies. This is getting good.) Low and slow always wins. When a protein is seared under high heat, such as the formulas in box color, the outer part develops a dry, seared and blackened crust. Hair is roughly 90% protein. When you overcook any protein, it loses moisture, the amino acids and bonds begin to break and the overall structure weakens and breaks off. Sounds like fun doesn’t it?
  2. Your hair will eventually be damaged to the point where you will get the dreaded “chemical haircut.” 9 times out of 10, when box color is applied, it is applied right from root to end over and over and over until the hair simply turns into cotton candy at the ends and breaks off.  You can refer back to reason #1 to see how and why this will happen. We try to keep all those amino acids, peptide and disulfide bonds that are all nicely coexisting in your hair to be healthy and happy.
  3. Hair formulas are like fingerprints. No two are the same and each formula that we create is personalized with love, care and taking into consideration all the factors that will result in the best outcome possible. Hair is a wonderful canvas, it is an art and when you are in the chair, you give the stylist a chance to unleash creativity that Nice and Easy will never be able to match.
  4. There are laws of color that are finite. No matter what we try or how hard we wish, they can be thought of as the 10 Commandments of Hair color. Did you know that color will not lift color? Nice and Easy may tell you otherwise but you are going to have to trust me here. It is one of many laws that no matter how hard we try, just can’t be broken. I know these laws and I study these laws. Break the law, end up in color prison and it’s going to cost a pretty penny to have me come bail you out. I charge a little more than a good mechanic and a little less than a bad lawyer. The going rate is around $100 per hour. I meant it when I said it is very lucrative. If it is so lucrative, then why I am telling you not to try this? Because I care unlike Big Color.
  5. Specialty color is never ok under any circumstances. I don’t care how many You Tube tutorials you have watched or how easy some pseudo celebrity stylist can make it look, the DIY ombre, vivid or balayage hair will only lead to tears and disappointment. I can let you in on another little secret seeing is how I seem to be a sharing type of mood right now, these techniques get introduced to us well before they ever hit the street and it takes the stylist years to perfect a new technique and thousands on the education in order to have you leaving looking and feeling like a million backs. I don’t give a rip if L’Oréal claims that you can achieve dimensional highlights and lowlights in one box, you just can’t. That is why we call it specialty color. We tailor and design each pattern, each piece just for you.
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I am positive that I am going to hear some backlash about this…”But Erin, I’ve been coloring my own hair for years and I have never had a problem…” I am here to tell you, it’s only a matter of time. Box color is a ticking time bomb and you never know where or when it is going to blow up right in your face.

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If you are the box color addict, take a very close look at your hair, eventually you are going to see the regrowth area just a little lighter. Do those ends appear darker than the rest? Does your hair seem to be getting just a little touch on the dry side to you and maybe those ends are not looking so on point anymore. Big color companies don’t give a shit about what you do to your hair. Your stylist does. We have the correct product, the knowledge and the care to put into each and every color that sits in the chair.

So what seems like the best laid plans to save some money in the long run will not only hit you in the back account but also in the integrity and health of your hair. If you still insist that you can look like Eva, Beyoncé or Gwen for less than $20, remember one important piece of advice; do not confuse your Google degree with my Cosmetology degree. Its battle you can’t win.

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Invest in your hair. It is the crown you never take off. ~Unknown

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