Is Box Dye a Bigger Threat to your Salon than you Realised?

by akesha / last updated September 18, 2018

box dye or pro colour

Recent research by Mintel reveals that 53% of women are colouring their hair at home. HJ investigates how the industry can respond by showcasing the difference in ingredients, service and the benefits of a professional salon experience.

Cutting edge technology

Fact: Innovations appear in professional products long before they hit the at-home colour market. Hair colour has been around for over 100 years and has seen countless technological advances and iterations. Clients can enjoy plant-based colour and free radical-fighting colourants thanks to intensive groundwork from the research and development teams at the leading colour houses. “Effective plant-based colour such as L’Oréal Professionnel’s Bõtanea was first launched in the professional arena. As have technologies designed to give additional benefits like the molecule Ionene-G, which can be found in L’Oréal Majirel,” explains Steve Shiel, director of scientific and technical-regulatory affairs at L’Oréal UK and Ireland. In fact, Ionene-G was selected from over 200 polymers to help repair and smooth the hair fibre.

Professional products have years of research and development behind them. Wella Professionals new Koleston Perfect with ME+ was seven years in the making with 3,000 formulations tested. The pure balance technology, which is designed to minimise the formulation of free radicals during the colouring process is set to be revolutionary for both clients and professionals. “The technology deactivates impurities like metal in the hair,” says David Sarro, senior director of research and development for professional beauty at Coty. “Free radicals interfere with colour formation during colour development and are a key cause of hair damage. The pure balance technology leads to less damage after colour and a more even and pure colour result.”

This means you can tell your clients with 100% confidence that the professional colour in your salon is made with a higher percentage of concentrated high quality ingredients that are specific to the needs of their hair. Lee Belcher, a Kevin Murphy gold key educator points out that Kevin Murphy Color.Me has a high concentration of conditioning shea butter, honey, fruit extracts and essential oils that can’t be found anywhere on the high street.

If your clients are on the hunt for a more ‘natural’ way of colouring their hair, the professional salon is also the only place where they will find the most cutting-edge formulations. L’Oréal Professionnel’s Bōtanea and Affinage Colour Dynamics are just a few natural-focused ranges. “At Affinage and ASP we use more than 90% naturally derived ingredients in our Infiniti and Colour Dynamics colour ranges and all of the ingredients are obtained from sustainable and renewable sources,” states Nicola Summer, research and development director at Affinage and ASP.

The bespoke journey

Professional colour is bespoke – and never let your clients forget it. “When a client opts for a professional colour they are investing in an advisory service as well. They will get guidance on their hair type, existing colour and any potential limitations that need to be considered before colouring their hair,” explains Kay Brady, national professional partnership services manager UK and Ireland at Schwarzkopf Professional. As a professional you automatically know how to choose the right level of developer for the hair to achieve the desired colour, with tone, hair porosity, previous colour treatments, grey hair and previous chemical treatments taken into consideration. Colourist and salon owner Daniel Galvin sums it up when he says: “When you give clients the perfect hair colour, the first thing people should notice is their eyes, not their hair.”

When clients opt for a professional colour they are investing in an advisory service too.
Kay Brady, national professional partnership services manager UK and Ireland at Schwarzkopf Professional

In direct contrast, a box colour works on a ‘one size fits all’ basis and won’t give any consideration to eye colour or even hair type. Clare Holmes, Revlon Professional’s head of creative and artistic education for the UK and Ireland explains: “In a box colour the standard developer is 12% to ensure it has an effect on every head of hair it is applied to. Box dye is a bit like pot luck – consumers could get the buttery blonde pictured on the box or a horror of fried ends and orange tones.”

The health of the hair

As the peroxide in box dyes is strong enough to provide results in one application, this jeopardises the health of the hair and puts it through unnecessary strain when colouring at home. “The peroxide in box dyes can be very harsh on the hair and scalp. Box colours can irritate the scalp and create an allergy in the long term,” says Becky Wardrop, milk_shake’s UK education manager. In contrast, professional colour does everything in its power to maintain and even improve the health of hair. “Most professional colours are designed to be combined with in-salon bonding products to provide additional hair strength and conditioning benefits,” adds L’Oréal UK’s Steve Shiel.
If money is your client’s prime concern, it is definitely worth mentioning that in the long run, box dye can be more expensive. Lisa Whiteman, Goldwell’s global master and Whiteman Soho salon owner says: “A lot of the clients who choose to colour their hair between salon visits almost always choose the wrong colour. This means I have to do an upgraded service to correct it.” She adds: “As well as ruining the quality of their hair, it’s not cost effective for clients to colour at home.”

As well as ruining the quality of their hair, it’s not cost effective for clients to colour at home.
Lisa Whiteman, Goldwell global master

The artistry

Colour techniques are hot property right now, but the balayage, contouring and babylights that everyone craves are extremely difficult to achieve at home. “Natural looking, multi-tonal colour like balayage is a client favourite, however it is impossible to achieve by just laying one solid colour on hair with an at-home dye,” states Siobhan Jones, Headmasters colour ambassador. Similarly, if a client wants to go to the other end of the spectrum and opt for a vibrant non-natural shade such as blue or green, professional is the only way to go. “Professional colour can be pushed further in terms of achieving transformations from dark to light or dramatic or bold colours, whereas home colour can be restrictive as it’s not designed with a client journey in mind,” confirms Issie Churcher, UK colour ambassador for Alter Ego Italy.

Clients are happy to invest in professional colour when the price breakdown is transparent and they are talked through each step of the process. Heffy Wheeler, HX Hair salon owner and OSMO brand ambassador explains every step of the process to her clients: “If someone chooses a vibrant colour I will make sure they know I am the expert by explaining each step and why I am taking it. I will tell them why I’m lightening their hair, how I’m applying the colour, what toning will do and any additional treatments at the backwash that will benefit the overall outcome. Finally, I recommend what cut will show the new colour off to its best.”

The average box dye on the high street is £7 and the average professional colour service in the UK is £41 (Beautiful Britain report 2017 by Salon Services), which is a significant price difference. For Warren Boodaghians, TIGI’s European technical academy director it’s about giving clients a ‘wow’ experience from the moment they enter the salon and that is a key point of difference. “Offer bespoke customised consultations – adapt your client’s shade to their complexion, eye colour and even lifestyle tribe. It’s important to educate your client on why professional services achieve more flattering results.” Something else to take into consideration when explaining the price disparity to clients is the amount of training a colourist has received. “You have to consider the investment that a stylist or salon has made in their education to become an expert colourist,” says James Davies, Salon Success’s colour educator and Clay Hair Salon owner.

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