If I had a dollar for every-time someone asked me if box hair dye is bad for your hair, I would be rich!
Let's unpack what box dye is and why it can be harmful for your hair.
First of all, what is box dye ?
To me box dye is any permanent colour that you do not receive from a salon. Google says ‘Home hair colour (also known as hair dye or box colour) can be purchased at your local supermarket, chemist, or discount store. ... The dye itself is typically a more concentrated formulation than salon hair colour because the colour has to be strong enough to work on anyone's hair.’
Permanent hair colour generally contains ammonia and must be mixed with a 'developer' or oxidising agent in order to permanently change hair colour. Ammonia is used in permanent hair colour to open the cuticle layer so that the developer and colorants together can penetrate into the cortex of the hair shaft.
Lots of big words I know and it takes years to fully understand the science behind hair colour so let's just address a fews reasons why box dye or colouring your hair at home could go wrong.
- There usually isn’t any indication of the strength of the hydrogen peroxide (developer) that comes with box dye, that’s the runny stuff you mix with the tube. Now this is dangerous for a number of different reasons. If the peroxide is too strong it can severely damage your hair causing dryness or breakage. Different strengths of 'peroxide' do different things so it’s almost impossible to know what you are going to get and almost impossible to select the right box colour.
- Without knowledge of the science behind colouring hair it can be extremely dangerous to experiment with box colour. You have to remember that you are using chemicals that can harm the skin and hair if not used properly. Hydrogen peroxide which comes with 99% of box colours is a chemicalcompound used for many different things and can cause skin irritation and eye irritation if not used appropriately. It can cause burns so severe that hair may not return to that spot. I know it's scary to see but it's a reality that every hairdresser has to face and learn as to not injure their clients. People can also suffer allergic reactions to ingredients that are contained in permanent colour such as p-phenylenediamine also known as PPD. PPD is the most common ingredient that causes allergies. A lot of professional colour brands have made the effort to eliminate it from their colour lines.
- Now on a slightly lighter note if you do not know the colour wheel extremely well or the very strict rules of colouring hair it's very easy for things to take a disastrous turn especially on blonde hair or if you are going from dark to light with permanent colour and not bleach. Let's talk about technique for a second, I don’t know many people who can easily reach the back of their head without missing patches of hair or not dropping colour all the way down their back. You can also run into issues if the hair is not saturated properly causing spotting or banding and a very uneven colour result. which is a wild ride into the world of home hairdressing which will be both extremely funny, scary and slightly educational.
- If you don’t believe me just take a look at Brad Mondo’s youtube channel which is a wild ride into the world of home hairdressing which will be both extremely funny, scary and slightly educational. I’ll also link to some of my favourite box dye and home bleach videos below. Enjoy!
- Lastly box dye doesn't just go away as the box suggests, It’s in there until it grows out and is cut out or is coloured over (but it's still under there). This is because it is a permanent colour change which chemically alters the cortex and cuticle of the hair. It's extremely important to let your hair stylist know if you have coloured your hair at home as box colour can react very differently than salon colour when being bleached or coloured over. You can get uneven results as well as damage and dryness sometimes even breakage. It is also a lot harder to lighten permanent colour and when you do it tends to be a lot warmer than natural hair. This means that you will see a lot more yellow, orange and red, add to that the unknown peroxide that was used with your last home colour and it can be almost impossible to achieve some desired colours. I know it can seem so harmless to just pop in a rich chocolate brown from the supermarket but I promise you that if you want to change your hair in the future it’s going to be a much harder task.
The bottom line is that box dye can be very unpredictable and in my professional opinion more harm than good.
It can lead to numerous disasters and that is something we can all live without. I would never pass judgement on anyone who sits in my chair in the salon and tells me they have box dyed their hair once or for the last 20 years it's all a personal choice and we have all had a go at home hair colour, I would include photos from the years I was home colouring my hair as a teenager but luckily they have all been destroyed lets just say it resulted in a shave head!
I just hope this does help people make more of an informed choice between box dye and visiting a salon. And as they say it’ll cost twice as much to fix a mistake you've made at home than to get it done at a salon in the first place.
So before you pick up that box of colour in the supermarket aisle... just take a moment to think. Is that really a smart move and will it actually look great in the morning?
Author - Jessica Burt is an Artistic Director at Chumba's Windsor Salon.
JESSICA 'STYLE ICON' BURT
Meet Jessica, she is what we refer to as a ‘True Blood’. Born into the Chumba Hair family from her very beginning of her career she has lived a closeted life with the walls of our Hair Asylum. All that has resulted in a freak hairstylist full of Chumba magic hair tricks and is crazy good in her skill sets.
Blessed with a calm that anchors the entire team she is a foundation stone of the Windsor Salon.
When you mix the styling skills and the technical prowess of Colleen Stanford and the magical energy of Chris Gratton you get this - you get Jess the culmination of all of her mentors all wrapped up into one Super Star person.