Box Color (Home Job) vs. Professional Color (Salon Job)

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

It's no secret that professional hairstylists cringe at the thought of anyone coloring their hair at home. Many people who have tried it agree and have a painful story involving home bound quarantine, but if you watch tv you will see commercials that make it look effortless and convenient. They portray the do-it-yourselfers as beautiful women with long, luxurious locks of healthy, gorgeous, dimensional hair! Then, of course, there are the rare breed of people who really do wear it well, with the exception of a few missed spots behind their ears where nobody really sees it anyway. Most women have been cursed with the need or simply the desire to alter their hair color, and few can honestly say they haven't at least considered playing beauty shop in their kitchen or bathroom. Let's break this down and weigh the pros and cons of the home job gamble vs. hiring the professional.


This is probably the #1 consideration for most people. That is because the margin is roughly $100, give or take! The salon job is going to run you just under $100 to $300+. I've never purchased box color myself, but I've heard we're talkin' anywhere from a $2-$20 investment. That, my friends, is what I call a bargain! Unless......things go bad for you at home. Now we're talking at least $50/hour for what could be several hours, correcting your mistake. Corrective color isn't cheap and if you have a colorist who knows what she's doing, you're going to pay out the wazoo. Read the rest of the pros and cons below, then run those numbers again. You may change your mind about what defines a bargain, and remind yourself that safe bargains, like a $9 pair of shoes on a clearance rack, are much more fun to wear than Ronald McDonald-colored hair!


I know....2 hours, give or take, in the salon sounds terrible! It's never any fun to sit and people watch while having at least one professional fuss over you, listen to you talk about yourself, and work her butt off to make you so beautiful! Who could possibly enjoy hiding out from kids, work, and any other responsibility in a safe place like a hair salon? C'mon people, the time commitment is the best part! It's time that your only job is to sit somewhat still under a warm cape, have your scalp massaged by combs and brushes, and enjoy the luxury of someone washing and conditioning your hair with hot water while you do nothing but stare at the ceiling. (Stylists appreciate ceiling staring rather than having you check out the bats in the cave, if you know what I mean!) Come in, sit down, decompress, and enjoy those few minutes a month where it's truly ALL ABOUT YOU! However, if you prefer slinging hair color all over your bathroom walls, unloading the dishwasher while you process, and staining your shower tiles, you will enjoy playing beauty shop in the comfort of home!


So you know exactly what color you desire, but it's so hard to explain your vision to your stylist! So much easier to go to the drugstore, find a picture of a beautiful woman on a box, pick it up, buy it, and go home and make yourself look just like her! If this has ever happened for you, please stand up! We want to know who you are and where you came from!

Let's start at the top here...Pinterest is a girl's best friend when it comes to hair color choices. That said, let's consider that lighting and editing are HUGE factors! So, unless you plan to only view your hair from your rearview mirror on a sunny day, you may not feel your stylist has hit the mark. What a stylist sees in the picture or the verbal description of your desired outcome, is depth and dimension, tone, undertones, and the main thing which you have probably never even thought of.....HAIR TYPE AND TEXTURE! A good colorist will consider your goals, then factor in his or her professional considerations, and the final result will be as close to what you had in your mind as possible. It's on you to maintain the color by keeping your follow up appointments and by using quality, professional hair care products!


Color placement is a real thing. Professional hairstylists spend countless hours learning techniques for applying several different types of hair color and lighteners. Their education begins in cosmetology school, then continues every year in continuing education classes, learning from expert stylists in the salon, and even on social media outlets where stylists share tips and tricks and new techniques. Sure, anybody can tap YouTube or read the directions on the box, but nevertheless, reaching around our own head is the most simple obstacle for the do-it-yourselfers. Hair color contains strong chemicals that are safe for the hair and scalp as long as they are placed properly and all precautions are taken. It is essential to understand how chemicals react to one another, including the chemicals that are already bound to the hair from previous color applications and medications. Playing beauty shop most likely won't result in burning the house down, but hair can easily be fried! If you desire dimension and color variation, the only sure-fire place to achieve that is in the salon.

So the bottom line here is this: value, time management, ability to communicate your desired outcome, and safe and effective application are all important factors to consider when deciding to be a handy man or call in the professional. If budget is the issue, just remember that a $2 box of drugstore hair color can easily turn into a $200 box if a colorist has to be hired to correct your disaster. If time is not on your side and affording yourself some salon time isn't a priority, then call upon your lucky stars to ensure that your box pick is the jackpot choice. Communication is key, but a good professional stylist can help you convey your vision by knowing what questions to ask. When done properly and professionally, your color can be done with a technique that will enhance your style and leave you looking as naturally beautiful as possible!

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