"Is there really a difference between store box color and professional?" I get asked all the time. "I just can't afford to get my hair done. Can I just go buy a box of color and do it myself?" Of course you can do it yourself. People are doing it all the time. That's why L'Oreal is a 16 billion dollar company. But just because you can doesn't mean you should.
Here's the truth about beauty. When you buy a box color from the store, you buy the dumbed down and over processed procedure of doing your own color. That means if you do it yourself, you are burning your hair. And if you do it too often or too cheaply, you are unnecessarily making it harder to get style, shine, manageability, and so forth from your hair.
Box color starts with a 12% peroxide no matter what color you choose. When you get your hair done at the salon you are normally putting 3% to 6% peroxide on your hair. Professionals only use 12% if we are doing extreme procedures, like taking black hair blonde. Some box color will use a waxy residue to help protect the hair, but this just weighs it down and is a magnet for environmental toxins.
Box color also dumbs down the color, medium brown for example. You put it on your hair, and it might be the wrong tone. Or if it is a European brand, your medium brown looks black. Professional color lines use two systems to determine level of color and then tone. The level is black to blonde 1-12, level one being blue black and twelve being white blonde. We determine your current shade and desired shade, then formulate to keep the hair as healthy as we can. Then there are three tones: warm, cool, and neutral. Taking your skin tone into consideration, we determine which hair tone looks best. If you choose the wrong tone, you will look sickly and clothes and makeup can't fix it.
If you want to be a blonde, and you're a natural brunette, a box color will only get you four shades lighter if have never colored your hair before. For lighter blonde hair, four shades might work but normally results in gold/ orange. If you put blonde on your hair and have colored it before, you will have blonde roots and a dark end. Color will not remove color. And you normally need more than one shade of blonde to make blonde pretty .
Lastly, if you have colored your hair and have not cut it off, you still have color on your hair. Meaning if your box color has faded (and it will), there is still color on it. Be honest with your hair dresser! Box color is so harsh! And if you have colored your hair every month for the last year, your ends have had 12% peroxide on them 12 times. OUCH! You can color your own hair; you just need to know what you are doing.