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Is At-Home Hair Coloring For You? Here's What You Need to Consider


At-home hair color or boxed dye is a tricky, risky business. It can work in a pinch and it’s so cost effective, but it has the potential to be so bad. I have dark-brown hair and once accidentally dyed it blue-black from a box that was labeled "darkest brown." So, it’s fair to say that I’m a little scarred from boxed dyes. Now, I’ve sworn off at-home coloring because I’m too picky about my hair, but I’ve seen that work for many of my friends.

With any new beauty adventure, there’s a list of pros and cons, and for boxed hair dye especially knowing there’s a risk you take when you dye your hair at home. If you’re a dark brunette that wants to be an all-over honey blonde tomorrow, you'll likely want to go to a salon instead. But if you just want to go a shade darker, it’s a great option for a fraction of what a salon would charge you.

Let dive into the pros and cons of boxed hair dye!

Pros to consider



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  • If you want to dye your roots a darker shade, or do an all-over color that’s similar to your current hair color, boxed dye is a great option for you. Generally, a boxed formula can lighten your hair up to two shades.

  • A hair gloss is a great way to tone and touch up your hair with a much smaller margin of error than normal dyes. Think blonde or brown shades, or highlighted hair that need a toner and looks dull. I just used this Kristin Ess hair gloss ($14) and it looks like I went to a salon to touch up my color. Plus, it was so easy and almost foolproof.

  • COST! The cost of boxed hair dye is why so many people reach for it. A drugstore-priced box is so much cheaper than salon prices.

  • If you want to dye your hair color like pink or blue, then there are a lot of safe at-home options. I used Manic Panic Amplified color, $17 to dye a part of my hair purple and pink while it was dark brown. The color was vibrant and it lasted almost four months.

  • It's much less time consuming than getting your hair dyed at a salon. Usually, it takes less than an hour. 

Related: What To Know Before You Dye Your Hair 

Cons to consider



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  • There's potential for disaster. That sounds dramatic, but it’s 100 percent true. Dying your hair at home leaves a huge margin for error! The more dramatic of color or change you go for, the more likely it’ll end up as a mistake.

  • If the boxed dye ends poorly, the cost to fix it at a salon can also be very pricey. It’s called a "color correction," and it’s usually one of the most expensive services salons can offer.

  • Dye can ruin your bathroom, if you're not careful. Hair dye stains and it doesn’t come out. 

  • You might temporarily stain your neck, ears and face.

  • There's a chance to pick the wrong shade. This happens a lot because there are so many options and shades at the store. 

  • The overall effectiveness of color range is limited. Sure, the store has tons of color options, but the shade on the box doesn’t mean your hair is going to match. A box can generally dye your hair about two shades lighter. And trying to lighten your hair a few shades with a box can lead to a brassy, oranged, bleach color.

  • Unless someone helps with the dye, you won't be able to see the back or color a hard-to-reach spot. 

  • If you have dyed your hair in the past, it may not take to the boxed hair dye well. What does this exactly mean? Well, if your roots come out a different color because they're virgin hair or you get stripes of color, it's usually not good. 

If you do decide to color your hair at home an extra set of hands is always helpful, and have makeup wipes around to clean any spills. Good luck! 

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