Is Box Hair Dye Really Bad For Your Hair? We Asked a Pro

Danielle Jackson
·2-min read
Care for women's hair
Care for women's hair

Hair-color changes are extremely common around this time of year, since there's something about fall and winter that encourages people to shift over to dark, matte tones when the weather gets chilly. But while there are tons of people out there who only consult the pros for their basic hair needs, others like to take the DIY route and color their hair using box dye.

If you're thinking about doing the latter, there are a few things you should probably know first. "Box dye is one of those taboo subjects when it comes to color sessions and salon topics," celebrity hairstylist Christin Brown told POPSUGAR. "As colorists, working with someone's hair that has been previously colored with box dye, you tend to steer clear for many reasons."

According to Brown, professional color and box color don't mix well, and people who dye their hair at home run the risk of overprocessing it. "I wouldn't recommend that folks do their own color and especially not with box dye," she said.

At-home hair-dyeing sessions have skyrocketed in the last few months due to safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and with talk of another potential shutdown happening before the year is up, it's easy to see why most folks will end up taking the at-home route. If you truly must dye your hair at home, there are a few things to know. First, Brown recommends you read all of the instructions in the coloring kit carefully, make sure you closely follow said instructions, and don't leave the dye on for any longer than you're supposed to.

Colorist Karissa Schaudt of Chicago's Maxine Salon added that you should also be wary of certain hair-dye ingredients. "In my professional opinion, I would avoid any color that contains ammonia in the developer," she said. Although this is an extremely common ingredient in the hair-dye industry, using it is ultimately a tradeoff; the powerful chemical damages your hair in the process.

After you've dyed your hair, you should follow that with a bonding treatment like Olaplex No. 0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment ($28) to strengthen the hair and protect it from damage.

Alternatively, you could also try a more temporary solution. "Whether you're contemplating highlights or just to cover your roots, a hair wax can be a fun way to try something new or a quick fix for unwanted grays," Brown said. One of her personal recommendations is the Hair Paint Wax Temporary Color ($7), which is made of natural ingredients and easy to wash out.

The takeaway here? While box dye isn't the worst thing in the world, many professional hairstylists would suggest you steer clear of it if you can.