Is Box Dye Bad For Your Hair?

Let’s find out whether box dye is really bad for your hair and what you can do about it

Written by Kate Holmsy. Updated on Is Box Dye Bad For Your Hair

Box dye seems to be the simplest way of changing the color of your hair. It is sold in set packages that contain all you need to successfully dye your locks into almost whatever hue you need. But how bad is box dye for your hair? This is the question that bothers many of those who tend to dye their hair regularly.

Today we will try to give you the answer to this question. We will explain why box dyes are considered harmful to one’s hair and why you should consider refusing this kind of hair dye for yourself. Also, you will learn more about the most common problems people face when using box hair dyes.

After you finish reading this article, you will be more knowledgeable about box dyes and the possible effect they may have on your hair.

Why Is Box Dye Bad For Your Hair?

So why box dye is bad for your hair? Well, most of you would probably answer something like “because it contains more harsh chemicals than professional hair dyes from a salon do”. And to a certain point, this would be the correct answer. But only to a certain point. See, its content is not the only issue! But let’s move step by step.


The biggest issue with this kind of hair dye is that box dyes work as if all hair is the same: the same color, the same texture, the same length — but this is not like that. In reality, your hair is a combination of vast differences that determine the type of color you will need to use, from the overall tone and undertones to the strength of the dye itself.

But since box dyes are not supposed to meet the specifics of each person’s hair, this means that when you apply a box dye, you can’t know for sure whether it will work or not. It may turn your hair color way too light, or not light enough, or in the worst case, it can even totally fry your chevelure!

7 Reasons Why Box Dye Might be Your Hair’s Foe

There is another problem that comes along with box dyes. See, none of them is made to adhere to the rules of the hair coloring process. For example, hair dye can’t lift hair color, only bleach can do that. It means that you can’t change your chestnut or black hair color to blonde by just applying a blonde hair dye on top of your existing hue!

And of course, the biggest issue that comes with box dye is how unpredictable it can be. Human hair is so unique and its specific features vary so significantly from one person to another that the “one-size-fits-all” approach to the process of coloring hair just can’t work!

Below, we will explain in detail why you might not want to consider using a box dye on your hair for changing your existing hue.

Why Is Box Dye Bad For Your Hair
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Reasons Why Box Dye Is Bad For Your Hair?

Ok, so we have already figured out that coloring your hair with a box dye might not be the best option even if you have absolutely healthy and very strong hair. However, to help you understand better why exactly this seemingly handy kind of dye should be avoided by all means, read about the most common cons it comes with.


It Can Be Enormously Unpredictable

As we have already mentioned, box dyes can work completely differently from what you expected to get on your hair! Of course, it doesn’t mean that, if you dye your hair with the red dye, you will get pink or purple instead, but…some unexpected colors are very possible!

Hued Horror or Harmless The Box Dye Dilemma

The reason for this unpredictability is the quality of the product itself, which is not very high. But it also has to do with the lack of people’s knowledge about the basic laws of color. People mostly don’t see the difference between color levels, can’t read a color wheel, and can’t even select the right developer! As a result, using a box color at home becomes way more unpredictable.

It Can Be Enormously Unpredictable
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It Is Not Suited For All Hair Types

Another reason that we have slightly touched on above is that box dyes are made homogeneous, meaning that they are not supposed to meet the unique features of each person’s hair from the beginning.

Typically, box dyes are made so that everyone can use them. This is why they usually contain very high levels of ammonia and other chemicals to surely soak your hair with the pigment. Nevertheless, the truth is that not every one’s hair type, condition, or color is the same. So in fact, what you get is havoc on your mane health due to exposure to harsh chemicals!

It Is Not Suited For All Hair Types
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Box Dyes Don’t Provide Your Hair With Dimension

No matter the brand, any box of hair dye contains just one formula. This is why, when you apply it to your whole head, you will get just that — one boring, flat color. And even if you already have some pre-existing color or highlights, it won’t help you much.

In this case, you may only end up with orange roots, red mids, and pink highlights!

This happens because box dyes are not created to result in a dimensional color. Unlike them, most hair stylists will use multiple blends of colors and formulas, as well as strategic placements of those to achieve your gorgeous look and fabulous color.

Box Dyes Don’t Provide Your Hair With
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Box Dye May Cost You More After All the Color Corrections

What makes box dyes so attractive is their low price. Typically, one box costs around $ 8-10 which is rather affordable, especially in comparison to a quite pricey salon coloring procedure! However, don’t you be tempted by those ten bucks! In the end, you might have to pay way more.

See, if you ruin your hair color by using a box dye, then later, when you decide to get a proper color, you will have to undergo a color correction procedure in the salon to fix that mess on your head. And unlike a box of cheap dye for 10 bucks, you will have to pay thirty times more to improve your appearance! Yes, a color-correcting procedure costs around $300 in a salon!

Box Dye May Cost You More After All the Color Corrections
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Box Dye Is a Progressive Dye

What does it mean, you may be wondering? See, when you dye your hair the same color repeatedly, each time you use it; the pigment will build up and get darker and darker when you apply the color. What you get in the end is your hair being lighter at the root and much darker at the tips.

Why does it happen?

The metallic salts and henna additives are the most common culprit for this. Each time the hair is colored with a box dye, the tips pick up more of those elements, as well as more color pigment. At the same time, the roots of your hair will only have one layer of pigment. As a result, you will end up with a reverse-ombré.

As you can see now, using a box hair dye might not be the best idea to stick to. And it will be much wiser to head to a salon at once to get your hair properly and professionally colored.

Yes, you will pay more, but try to see it from another perspective: it’s better to pay 300 bucks once and get an ideal hair color than waste time and money on cheap box dye that can ruin your hair health, resulting in a flat and lifeless hue.

Box Dye Is a Progressive Dye
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Which Box Dye Is Right for You?

Although coloring your hair with a box dye is not recommended, sometimes it is the only option for the users, for example, if one can’t afford a pricey visit to a salon. But how to find out which box dye is right for you in this case?

If you are new to dyeing your hair at home, we recommend you choose one of the following types of box hair dyes:

  1. Temporary dye
  2. Semi-permanent dye
  3. Demi-permanent color

Try to use these ones instead of permanent dyes whenever possible. Permanent dyes are trickier to deal with, besides, if you make a mistake when applying it, it will be harder to fix the mess. And if it’s your first time doing this, you might want to start with something simpler and less unpredictable.

Additionally, you need to consider the color you want to get after the dyeing procedure. So you should start thinking about the desired color and tone as soon as possible, preferably before you visit a store. To figure out what color you might need, keep a few simple tips in mind:

  • Colors described as “warm”, “honey”, or “gold” are warm colors
  • Colors described as “ash” or “beige” are cool-toned hair colors
  • “Natural” or “neutral” colors are right in the middle between warm and cool

Also, you should always pick a dye that is one color lighter than you think you should get. That’s because most DIY colors are darker than they seem on the package. So if you want a dark blonde shade, pick a medium blonde hue.

So, now you are more aware of what problems may come along with a box dye. You learned why exactly this kind of dye is considered harmful to one’s hair and why you should avoid using it unless it’s your last resort. Moreover, now you have a detailed explanation of each reason that prevents you from using this product on your mane.

We told you how harmful box dyes can be and what makes them different (not in a good way) from salon dyes. As you now know, it is not only their low price. As you can see now, improper use of a box dye can result not only in unpredictable hair color. You may also end up with all kinds of hair damage from dryness to hair loss and allergic scalp reactions!

So we recommend you think twice before you buy a box of hair dye in a local drug store. It’s wiser to pay more and get a fabulous color on your hair that will look natural rather than spend 10 bucks and get your hair poorly colored with a product stuffed with harsh chemicals.

Which Box Dye Is Right for You
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Frequently Asked Questions

⭐Can box dye cause skin allergies?

Yes, it can, especially if it gets to your bare skin e.g. to your shoulders, neck, face, etc.

⭐Is box hair dye carcinogenic?

No, it’s not. But it does contain harsh chemicals that are bad for your hair.

⭐Can box hair dyes cause hair loss?

Yes, they can, especially if your hair is already weak or damaged, or if you dye it with box dyes regularly.

Written by
Kate worked in "The Fashion Magazine" for four years as a freelance writer and loved to consult and help people with their style. How to create your own style, how to look beautiful, and select trendy colors for your hair - these are just a few of many issues Kate will happily explain in Beezzly Beauty blogs!
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