Why You Should Never, Ever Use Box Dye

When you’re going through a major life change, or you just want to shake things up, you have one of two thoughts:

  1. I should cut off all my hair!
  2. I should dye my hair a completely different colour than it is now!

We trust that you wouldn’t take your kitchen shears into the bathroom to give yourself a bob, so why are you grabbing a box of dye off of a Tesco shelf?

There are plenty of at-home hair treatments that are good for you and don’t require an expensive visit to the salon, and we’ll talk about those later. But dying your hair with box dye is not one of those things.



What’s the Big Issue with Box Dye?

Your hairstylist isn’t trying to get you to swear off box dye because they want you to spend more money in their chair. It’s because box dye is fundamentally different from professional colour.  

And, no offence, but you’re probably not a licensed hair colourist, so you can’t guarantee the results will look like the model on the box.

If you’ve had your colour done at a salon, you know that you tell your stylist what you want when you sit in the chair. Maybe you show them some pictures from a magazine or your Pinterest board. They’ll look at your current colour and your hair’s texture and condition, and then they’ll go to the back of the salon.

When they’re in the back, they aren’t just grabbing a box of dye and putting it into a bowl. Instead, they’ll create a specialised mix for your hair of 2-5 colour tubes while keeping in mind how strong of chemicals your hair can handle.  

For example, if you’re looking to be platinum blonde, the process and mix your stylist will use will be very different if you’re starting with dirty blonde or black hair. 

Box dye is “one size fits all,” so there’s no way to anticipate how your hair will react to the formula in the box. It’s also “one colour fits all,” so unless you have highlights already, your hair will have no dimension at all.

And speaking of the formula in the box, most hair dyes are so cheap because they’re made with low-quality dyes, chemicals, and additives. Many box dyes include ammonia, PPDs, nitro dyes, metallic salts, and henna. Not only are these bad for your hair, but they may even cause an allergic reaction on your skin.

Additionally, box dyes are known as “progressive” dyes, which means that the pigment will layer on top of itself. Every time you use a box dye, your ends will get darker than anticipated, and the roots will be a lighter colour.

This doesn’t happen with salon dyes because they don’t contain ingredients that bond with your hair’s keratin.

If the primary reason you’re considering or holding on to box dye is that it’s cost-effective, take a moment to think what would happen if your hair turns green or orange or purple. And not in a cute way.

If you go to the salon for a colour correction of a botched box dye, it’s going to cost significantly more than it would have if you had just gone to the salon in the first place. Your stylist will have to do a lot of extra work to fix the colour without damaging your hair anymore, and that can easily turn that £10 box of dye into a £300 salon visit.



So What Kind of Treatments Can I Do at Home?

While dying your hair at home with box dye is likely to end in tragedy, there are some processes you can do at home and skip the salon.

If you need to hydrate your hair, you can get a hair mask. If you’re looking to reduce frizz, you can get an ionic hairdryer. If you’re looking for a colour refresh, you can use a high-quality at-home toner like Four Reasons Toning Treatments or IGK’s Mixed Feelings Drops. 

Our favourite salon-quality haircare money saver?

Of course: The Owow smoothing treatment. We’re biased, but for once, you can get an at-home treatment that’s significantly cheaper than the salon price and is made with a formula that’s better for your hair.


So, if you’re looking for a colour change, it’s best to go to the salon. But if you’re looking for silky, smooth hair, your journey begins here.