Going Lighter With Box Color And What To Expect
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Here's What You Need To Know Before Going Lighter With Box Hair Color

You box colored your hair a year or two ago and now you want to be blonde...it's not going to be easy.


You've used it. Stylists despise it. And here's why.

Look, I'll admit it. I've even used box color on myself before. Granted, it was when I was in 7th grade, way before I was a licensed cosmetologist or even thought about being one. I remember I picked up a "Red Auburn" color from Walmart, slapped it on my hair, and then probably updated my MySpace profile picture to show it off.

Fast forward 8 years, I have been a licensed cosmetologist for about three and a half years. I know a lot more about the chemistry that goes on when you change your hair color. I'm always learning more and more with every client that sits in my chair. Which I love!

Box color companies allow for people, licensed or unlicensed, to alter the chemistry of their hair color. To me, this is a recipe for disaster. To be fair, the packaging on box color is promising, so I don't blame anyone for wanting to try it out. I mean, it's my two favorite things: cheap and easy! So I feel like my job is to EDUCATE my clients on what actually goes on in box color, and what you should expect when you've made that appointment with your stylist to start the process to go lighter. You might feel tempted to not tell your stylist that you have box color in your hair, because it will definitely cost more and take more time. However, avoiding to let your stylist your hair history will actually cost you MORE time and money than just telling them from the beginning. A good stylist should have a thorough consultation with you, ask you your hair history, examine your hair condition, etc. That allows your stylist to come up with the best game plan to get you the results you're paying for. If you DON'T let your stylist know what's in your hair, he/she will assume your hair is virgin (never been colored) and formulate a completely different game plan, one to accommodate virgin hair and not hair with box color on it. Which can extremely alter the end result.

I know this from experience! I have had clients forget to mention that their hair has box color in it, which is a disappointment for both of us, because I know I could've given them the results they wanted if I had focused my game plan on the box color rather than being under the impression that their hair is virgin. Instead, they are left with something completely different than I had said would happen during the consultation.

Here's what to expect when you chose to start the process of lightening the box color out of your hair.

Unpredictable results.

Box color is formulated with extremely harsh chemicals and is very high in metallic salts. Which causes (in some cases) an EXTREME chemical reaction with the bleach your stylist is using to lighten your hair. Reactions like the hair literally smoking, fuming, frying, and melting off. Because of this, stylists need to take the slowest, most safe route. On top of that, we don't know if your hair will even budge. In some cases, I've had bleach sitting on my client's hair for over an hour and didn't lift at all (stayed the same color, did not get any blonder). So the results are extremely unpredictable on our end, and we cannot promise anything. This is probably the most crucial thing to understand while you're sitting in your stylist's chair with box color. Have patience.

It's definitely going to take more than one session.

Because stylists have to work carefully to make sure your hair doesn't melt off, the process is going to be slow. I would probably expect two to three sessions with your stylist to get the desired results. If this is something you know you cannot afford or are too impatient for, then I probably wouldn't start the lightening process. Hair is a luxury, and your stylist has every right to charge what they do for their time, labor and product to get you where you want to be. To avoid being blindsided by a price, have a consultation first and make sure you and your stylist are on the same page. If you have questions - DON'T be afraid to ask! I love explaining things to my clients, I like to be as transparent as possible. Like if someone said they didn't have box color on their hair, but after applying the bleach I notice that there actually is (professionals know the difference between lightening colored hair - professional or box - and virgin hair) I would say,

"Hey, so I noticed you have box color in your hair. I can no longer promise the inspiration picture you showed me, but I will do my best to bring you there, and if I don't, we can come up with another plan."


Sometimes, the hair gods are with us and stylists are able to lift box color completely out in one session. More commonly, however, this isn't the case. I know from personal experience that box color generally lifts to warm tones first. An important concept to understand is that in order to achieve blonde, you need to break through all the other underlying pigments first (red and orange). Once you have broken through that, you are left with yellow pigments which can be toned to whatever shade of blonde you want. However as I mentioned before, this can be a very slow process. Your stylist might advise you to a caramel brown for your first session so you don't walk out looking like a clown.

As long as you understand these important concepts before starting your journey to blonde, you'll avoid frustration or disappointment with your stylist. I know that clients tend to be left more confused than on the same page at salons, and I want to start bridging that gap. The more clients know about the process, the less of a headache hair appointments can be.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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