Dating back to the ancient times, hair color has been widely used as one of the human race’s most successful ways of beautification. In the modern world, hair color has become less of a luxury and more of a necessity. The acceptance of this movement has opened many opportunities for us as individuals to express who we are. It allows the middle aged woman to hold on to her younger years. The older gentleman to hide the side effects of his wisdom. The young hipster to sport how cool and artsy they are. All with one simple step. (At least that’s what the box said!)

In one single step, you can have the most fantbulous color! You will be the talk of the town! Men, women, babies, even dogs will covet your new you! Just mix the two bottles, apply as directed, and bam! You just completed your first color success story as a kitchen stylist…. If only coloring hair was that easy!

Developed in the 1950’s by a chemist Lawrence Gelb (creator of the at home color line Clairol), box color has been running wild through the streets on the heads of men and women alike for decades. As the years have passed, many products have hit the shelves stating that you can get salon quality looks in a matter of minutes, in one easy step, all by yourself, from the comfort of your home. I am pretty sure that sounds really appealing to most of us out there (who barely even have the time to sit and drink our double tall, extra soy, no foam, pipping hot lattes.) What the boxes don’t tell you is what happens to your hair after you use their product.

When you go to receive a color service at a salon, usually there is a consultation process, the stylist formulates a color specific to your wants and needs, they use an application technique that allows the color to be more individualized, and they recommend the appropriate at home care to maintain your look. With box color (and other at home methods) none of these steps exist. All box colors are formulated the same way, to cover a wide spectrum of hair. Companies use these “one size fits all” formulas, loaded with harmful ingredients (like metallic dyes) to mass produce the product. Unfortunately, these formulas are always changing.

This is why, sometimes, when you use a box color,  it doesn’t turn out the way you expected it to (even though you have used the same color for years!)  But what about all natural home methods, like henna? All natural does not always mean better. Ever felt like your hair was, dry, brittle, and down right blah after box color (or natural home methods) have grown out for a few weeks,  but then looks shiny and healthy right after using the product? This is why. These products are not meant to penetrate the hair shaft. Like some box colors, these products are meant to coat the hair. A lot of them have ingredients that cause build-up on the hair shaft, preventing vital nutrients to enter the hair shaft and feed the hair.

Life after at home box color… “I have been doing my color at home for years and it just doesn’t look good any more, what do I do now?” This is a hard question to answer. After using box color, its hard to say what the hair will or will not do. Even the most skilled stylist can’t predict the out come after a client has been using at home methods. In same cases, the hair lifts perfectly and the stylist is able to achieve the clients goal look. In other cases, the hair will not lift at all and the only thing to do is to even out the color and to grow the color out.

The most important thing to keep in mind is the integrity of your hair. At home care products are a must to get your hair back into a healthy state. This is a very tricky process that could demand a lot of time, commitment, and money. So, next time you go to color your hair, consider the side effects of box color…Let’s put an end to wild street-running color!

Happy styling!