What is the difference and why is "box color" so BAD?
I'll shed some light on what I know to be true.
One of the main differences in professional, salon color and box color is the size of the color molecules that are being delivered into the hair shaft.
Most box color, or drug store colors contain both oxidative dyes along with direct dyes.
If you know anything about direct dyes, you know that they are preformed dyes and they are larger in size. Direct dyes typically live in and around the cuticle layers and they are difficult to get into the cortex of the hair due to their larger size. They also have a tendency to stain the cuticle layers. What I've found is that the direct dyes that are used in box color are not the same as the direct dyes used in some Demi-permanent colors made for hair. The dyes used in box color are food-color type and are typically positively charged making them almost impossible to remove.
Secondly, most OTC hair color comes in a liquid form requiring a larger color molecule. In order to get it to penetrate the hair shaft, a higher developer is typically used with OTC color...25-30 volume AND these colors are typically much higher in ammonia.
Remember last week I talked about ammonia and peroxide?
Because the color molecules are larger in general, along with the direct dyes, OTC hair colors NEED more ammonia to soften and swell the hair more than professional hair color to get these larger dye molecules into the hair.
This is where the biggest problem is. Most clients who use OTC hair color don't just apply to the roots...they smush it all over.
So, essentially they are using a higher alkalinity product with a stronger developer on hair that DOESN'T need that. Over time, over-ammoniating and using a higher developer will cause the hair to get damaged, lose shine and color will fade quicker and off tone (thanks to those pesky direct dyes).
In the salon, we can use a demi permanent color on the ends that is ammonia free to refresh color and ensure that the hair doesn't get overly damaged.
Essentially, the main reasons why box color is so "bad" is because:
A) Higher ammonia Levels
B) Higher Developer
C) Over-use and coloring the ends each time- AKA user error on the clients end!
Hope this helps clear some things up.
Until next time,