Salon or Box Dye. Which Should You Go For?

If you’re in a rut deciding if you should save some bucks and do a DIY box dye treatment at home or splurge on a hair dye service at a salon, you’ve arrived at the right place. You could be a regular in dyeing hair, or a newbie stepping into new hair color grounds. Here, we break down and compare the two choices for you to make an informed decision to achieve the best colored tresses.

When it comes to dyeing our hair, we mostly think about the hair color we want to achieve before anything else. However, when we have decided to dye our hair, other factors come to play. Read on to find out more about the factors that matter to you to help you decide which method to go for.


Price is one of the main factors that pushes people towards the box dye shelves at the drugstore or supermarket and away from salons. A typical box dye, such as the Liese Blaune Creamy Foam Hair Colour or the L’Oreal Paris Excellence Crème Hair Dye, can be found with prices mostly ranging between $17.90 to $19.90. For hair coloring services, it ranges vastly. There are different kinds of factors that contribute to its price – basic or technical color dyes, short or long hair and highlights or whole head etc. For basic hair coloring services, premium salons can charge more than $300 while others can go as low as $25. However, most hair dye services are in the $100-$200 range.


Generally, for most box and salon dyes, they contain the same main components – ammonia (which swells and opens the hair cuticle to allow dyes to penetrate into the hair, this is also the culprit in giving off the infamous dye odour), hydrogen peroxide (involved in lifting melanin pigments in hair to lighten the hair) and conditioning agents (aims to provide some moisture to the hair).

However, ammonia has been acknowledged as a contributor to dry and rough hair and thus, ammonia-free dye is sometimes used in salons. The difference between box and salon dyes is also the grade of ingredients used. Afterall, you get what you pay for.

Additionally, since box dyes are created to work on anyone’s hair, it may be important to take note that the formula is often stronger and more concentrated to ensure results.


Box dyes are standardly designed to cater to the mass, which means that what works for one person may not work for another. The chances of getting the color that you want is less than having your hair professionally dyed. With salon dye, most hairstylists are also able to advise you on what hair color may suit you, allowing for customization (check out these hair dye ideas).

All hair dyes last differently depending on existing hair conditions as well. This includes the tone of the hair dye and the base (virgin, bleached or previously colored hair) you’re working with. External factors such as exposure to sunlight, frequency of shampoo washes and maintenance should also be considered. Thus, it is hard to judge how long hair dyes last for everyone as a whole.

There are also different kinds of dyes that are meant to last differently. There are semi-permanent, demi-permanent or permanent dyes.


Needless to say, buying a box off the shelves and doing it yourself at home seems like the easiest method to get your hair colored. However, it’s your first time, it would be good to maybe grab a friend to help you. It’s important to reach all your strands and ensure that the dye is applied evenly throughout to achieve a more professional result. Additionally, be sure to line your area with newspapers to avoid staining your furniture.

On the other hand, if that sounds too exhausting, you may prefer booking an appointment at a salon and letting a hairstylist do all the work. It’s good to note that the festive periods between December and February are when salons are busiest. On regular periods, some salons require you to book your appointment weeks in advance as well. Some research or word of mouth may help you find out which salon works best for you if you don’t already have a hair salon that you frequent. Understandably, sitting hours in a chair while waiting for hair dye to sit in may sound daunting to some but bringing along some entertainment may help you enjoy the process more (check out this salon that has in-salon entertainment for customers).

All in all, if you’re going for a more complicated hair color and wouldn’t want to risk having it gone wrong, having your professionally dyed may be the way to go. If you’re more willing to take the risk and you’re doing it for fun, perhaps box dye is good enough for you. Whatever it is, hair color is meant to be fun so don’t forget to let yourself enjoy the process!

Click here to find out more about Goldwell, a top hair dye brand used in salons.