Why have a salon colour when you can do it at home from a box?

Hair color Richmond London

Good question! And I’m glad you asked it?

The most obvious advantage of off-the-shelf home colours vs salon service is cost.   Another might be convenience, but I’ll hold that there for a moment and revisit this later.   

Now don’t get me wrong, I see clients who use home colour and achieve acceptable results.  Not all the time, but there is no denying it get results . Not always the one you want, but a result nonetheless 😊.

Putting the cost and result to one side for a moment I wrote this article in an attempt to highlight and for you to consider the possible risks and the cost to your health and wellbeing…   

For me, being someone who has an allergy to hair dye (and most things hairdressing), not forgetting a responsible business owner, some time ago I realised colour manufacturers had not been totally transparent with the risks.  I saw it as my mission to offer a safer path and gain clarity for you when choosing how to colour your hair.  This means in the world of overwhelming information and overload, I can keep it simple, truthful and you are best informed and understand the risks to yourself and your hair and skin when colouring your hair.  Whether that be at home or in the salon.       

You see home colour is made and marketed to the masses, made using cheaper ingredients and clever marketing.  At Sheen we choose organic and natural products and our colour services are  tailored and bespoke to your requirements. Our bespoke colour services  are offered  with less toxins, cleaner and gentler for you with no compromise on results,  

Home colour usually comes with a bottle of colourant and bottle of hydrogen peroxide, gloves and a conditioning treatment and instructions in or on the box.. Oh and let’s not forget the model on the front of the box to show you how you will look. (if you are lucky) 😊 

For our experienced team, when colouring your hair, our  focus and priority is your health and maintaining  the  condition of your hair whilst achieving a fantastic result. Using home colours mean all these have the potential to be at risk over any length of time.  

First, let’s talk PPD/PTD

The ingredients called PPD (Paraphenylenediamine) and PTD (Paratoluenediamine) are the hair colourants which can and do cause allergic reactions whether you only colour your hair once or you have been doing it for 20 years.  Everyone,  at any time potentially can react to any hair colour professional or not.  It is the norm for home colours to have a higher percentage of PPD/PTD in them, especially the darker they are, and we are witnessing more people having reactions to home colours than ever before.  Please note even lighter colours contain ppd/ptd..

We recommend you follow manufacturer’s instructions as we do  and do not skip the skin test 24-48 hours previous to any hair colour.  Read our blog here for more info   https://www.sheensalon.com/blog/why-do-you-need-a-skin-test/ 

Unless your hair colour is a vegetable dye – henna or similar, temporary – colour shampoo or conditioner, spray in, there will be a chemical process using hydrogen peroxide which permanently changes your natural hair colour – even semi or demi permanents.   In the salon we use four different levels to choose for different results, in a box dye you are given one.  Hydrogen peroxide not used at the right level and/ or used incorrectly means you do not achieve the desired result and potentially can damage your hair and skin if you do not follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


I hear this a lot too, “oh it didn’t have any ammonia in it” or “it was ammonia free”  That may be the case, BUT and this is a BIG BUT, it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been replaced with something just as harmful.  Depending on the brand, the ingredients used to replace ammonia are:

  • Ethanolamine (also called monoethanolamine)
  • Cocamide MEA
  • Aminomethyl propanol (AMEA)

Ammonia-free dyes are not as natural as the manufacturers want a buyer to believe. Ammonia substitutes are popular because they don’t release a strong smell during the colouring process, but they are also just chemicals that act the same way as ammonia and potentially harmful.


These are artificial preservatives used in many hair and beauty products to stop it going off and gives it its shelf life. The concern with these chemicals is that scientific studies suggest that parabens can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase cancer risk. They can also cause skin irritation.  

Cosmetics typically contain mixtures of different types of parabens. The most commonly used six types are 

  • methyl-, ethyl-, 
  • propyl-, isopropyl-, 
  • butyl- and isobutylparaben. 
  • The so-called shorter-chain parabens, methyl- and ethyl-, are commonly used in combination, 
  • whereas butylparaben is often used alone. 

Parabens can act like the hormone estrogen in the body and disrupt the normal function of hormone systems affecting male and female reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility and birth outcomes. Parabens can also interfere with the production of hormones. The skin can become sensitized to products containing parabens, which results in irritation and skin conditions. 


These are used in hair care products to temporarily make the hair look and feel nice and are used to mask the real condition of your hair. Their initial benefits are they help to detangle, smooth, add volume and shine.  They act as a barrier to the environment and water helping your colour or style last longer.  Whilst there is no real concern for your health, using products with silicone in which is an artificial chemical compound with plastic, silicone or rubber, overtime they may dull hair colour, build up and be hard to remove, cause a barrier to technical and colour treatments and prevent them working properly,  can cause your hair to become less manageable, become dry and brittle with breakage. It can also build up on your scalp, block follicles and prevent new hair growth causing hair loss.    

Silicones on hair product labels generally end in ‘-cone,’ ‘-conol,’ or ‘-siloxane. And here are  examples that are not water soluble and are difficult to remove but there are lots more.  

  • Amodimethicone
  • Behenoxy dimethicone
  • Bis-Phenylpropyl Dimethicone
  • Dimethicone
  • Pheryl Trimethicone
  • Ceteraryl Methicone
  • Dimethiconol hydroxystearate
  • Polysilicone-18 Cetyl Phosphate
  • Propyl Dimethicone
  • Dimethiconol
  • Amodimethicon
  • Stearyl Dimethicone
  • Stearyl methicone

Colour and Tones

Colour and Tones in home colours tend to be less flattering to skin tones and look artificial, montone and dull. This doesn’t take into account  the best level of colour choice that can be achieved on your natural hair and previously coloured hair with that one bottle colour and peroxide. .  

And lets not forget the science supporting hair colouring and we, the professional,  study and practice hard to master our knowledge and skill. The box colour doesn’t come with that knowledge for you to take into account, not even all the advice on the internet or from your friends and family can offer you bespoke advice for you specific needs or goals. Achieving a good result goes way beyond instructions for mixing and application. What’s missing is the study of science and a tailored consultation and advice in that little box.       


Now this does touch on convenience, and I have the deepest respect for your time as a busy modern woman. Organising and fitting a 2 – 4 hours slot to have your hair done every 3-12 weeks is a commitment.  But if you do it at home it’s the same time.  Yes, we can weigh up the cost of travel/parking vs cleaning your bathroom after, saving your walls/tiles,  towels, clothes, fingernails, children/dog,  But, and having attempted this on several occasions when I have gotten desperate, unless you are Wurzel Gummidge and can remove your head, there is absolutely no way you can apply your colour successfully yourself. .One off and flukes are not taking into account when there is a need for repeated applications required time and time again.  I’ve tried and it is impossible. It maybe ok, but it will not be special and  doesn’t make you feel really good.  And we are not even talking highlights, balayage, foilyage or more advanced techniques,  or the stress of overlap, refreshing previous colour,  missed sections,  timings, removal of colour, running out of colour etc   I truly believe its important to find time for ourselves and do the things that make us feel good   and in our relaxing salon environment we will help  you to do just that, we take all the stress away from start to finish.                          

Results and hair Goals 

This for me is what really seals the reason for deciding how to colour your hair.  You will have a goal, whether it be to cover your greys, be blonder, brighter, younger older, sexier, edgier, or look like your favourite celebrity. It starts with wanting to achieve a goal.  

I once had a sceptical new client in my chair who had previously coloured her hair at home   and she said to me, “I don’t get why I need to pay for you when I can pay £15 for a colour in a box and do it home”?  My reply was this.  “Are you happy with your hair colour from a box?  She replied “no”  I replied “ that’s the reason”.  I don’t want anyone putting up with a bad hair colour, damaged hair, dull unflattering lifeless tones. I guarantee at Sheen you will obtain  the colour you want and would even go as far as to say we will offer you a result you  didn’t know was possible, it is very possible it may well exceed your expectation of what you want.    

Is it time to start putting off putting up with bad hair days and time to start a conversation about what is possible for you?

Colouring your hair safely, with confidence and trust in achieving a great result whilst maintaining the condition of your hair and preserving the longevity of your colour,  AND compliments your lifestyle,  hairstyle, flatters you skin tone and makes you look and feel like a million dollars is worth,  I believe taking the stress out of choosing a  home colour.   There is so much value in having someone else take the stress away.  

And finally Budget

We cannot avoid talking money.  When we first meet, budget is discussed and factored into what you can commit too.  We help you achieve great hair aligned to your affordability.  There is no point going ahead with a colour result if you are unable to keep the maintenance of it.  That’s not how we work.  We want you to have great hair colour all year round and we will advise on the ongoing maintenance time and cost going forward.  There will be no surprises and we will advise what it takes to maintain your goals.  And if your goals are out of reach we will build you a goal most suitable for you. 

We also recommend that if it helps you can buy gift vouchers in between visits or you can deposit an amount monthly on your account towards your next visit. We find ways to help you.  Another option is some clients attend our training days for more cost-effective hair colouring and styles to help support their budget. 

Still need a little help deciding?  Book in for a consultation where we talk though your hair goals, what’s important to you, the benefits of choosing organic and natural over traditional salon colours or home dyes, analyse hair and scalp condition, carry out five simple hair and skin tests, plan your hair journey aligned to your commitment of time and budget.


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