WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH BOX COLOR?
There are about three things a guest could mention in the salon that makes a stylist cringe: cutting your own hair, unprofessional shampoos/conditioners, and box color. All three of these things sabotage what is possible for the stylist to achieve in the salon, and, therefore, they sabotage the guest's dreams for her hair. I wish I knew exactly what they put in box color because I can feel it in the hair and, it takes hours to remove it, and seriously compromises the hair in the removal process.
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL
There is something subtly disrespectful about lumping everyone into the same category. Not only does it sand down individuality, it also excludes some people altogether. The considerations that go into my process of developing a color formula for my guests are extensive. Many factors serve as variables for the way your color turns out, so education and experience are crucial. When guests come in saying "do exactly like last time", I don't take the request literally. If I did, their hair would not be the same as "last time". Last time was before their last color and before their last 4ish weeks of wear and tear, hormone fluctuation, vacation, diet, etc. Each and every time a guest sits in my chair, I take a fresh approach to what their hair needs that day, "exactly like last time". A box color considers nothing. There's a reason its so cheap.
IT DOESN'T BEHAVE THE SAME AS PROFESSIONAL COLOR
Box color leaves a coating on the hair that you can feel, especially with repeated use. When it's dry, it feels like straw. When it's wet, it feels waxy and tangly. When a stylist tries to lift the color out of the hair, we have to penetrate that coating. Our artificial color removers don't work well, if at all, and our lighteners often destroy the hair before getting that teflon-like coating off. It may be bearable if the color would lift, but it barely budges with repeated lightener applications. It's a long, slow, and expensive process. Virgin hair would lift up to seven levels in a 2-2.5 hour appointment. Professionally darkened hair would lift in 4-6 hours over two-ish processes. Box color would take about 6-8 hours over 3-4 lightener processes. You can imagine the potential for damage. Olaplex and other bond builders are great for reducing damage, but they have their limits, too.
MAKE PEACE WITH RED
For a while anyway. There is no way around the red stage while you're lightening. Hair color consists of the three primary colors: Blue, Red, and Yellow. When you lift color, even just slightly, it takes the blue out. You have red and yellow left. Every lightening process is some variation of red to yellow, including orange and peach. As a stylist, I have to tone you down as much as I can at every stopping point. When you leave my chair, I have to give you something livable without making you feel sad about your hair or dying it dark just to make you ash again. It's a tightrope that every stylist walks, and it's helpful if our guests know what's going on. Patience is the fruit of knowledge.