Understanding Why a Home Dye Kit is Damaging for Your Hair

If you’ve ever stepped foot in a supermarket or drug store and ventured near the beauty isles, you’ve most likely seen countless rows of hair dye boasting bold, brilliant colors. It can be extremely tempting to grab a box for less than $10 and run home to apply it immediately, hoping for the luscious locks like the people on the box display. Unfortunately, home dye kits are not all they are cracked up to be.

Thousands of people apply these at-home dyes each day, attempting to save money by avoiding the salon, but are disappointed when the color turns out wrong—or worse—their hair is completely fried. Hair box dyes are extremely damaging to your hair, and it’s important to understand their effects before it’s too late.

There are a lot of factors that go into creating the perfect color mix for someone’s hair dye, and experts in salons are trained to identify and mix the right kind of formula. At-home box dyes attempt a “one-size-fits-all” approach, complete with a mixture of chemicals that are bound to dry out your hair. Below are some of the biggest dangers of at-home box hair dyes.

Too much developer

Box dyes typically use a high percentage of developer in order for the product to work on as many hair types as possible. Developer is a product that contains ammonia and hydrogen peroxide, which help in the bleaching and toning process of hair color.

Developer opens up your hair cuticles and destroys your natural pigments, allowing color to set in, but it also dries hair out in the process. When high levels of developer are used in box dyes instead of the appropriate amount for your hair, the result can end up being a big, frizzy mess of damaged hair.

Dry, drier, damaged

Using home dye kits repeatedly also sets you up for a world of damage, mainly because you decrease the porosity of your hair each time you coat your locks in chemicals.

Part of this is due to a lack of education about hair and the effects chemicals have on it. If you are unaware of proper coloring techniques, you’re probably going to apply color to the entire strand each time. While this won’t always cause major damage to your scalp, your ends will become drier and drier, potentially even breaking off.


If you opt for a demi- or semi-permanent hair dye instead of a permanent one, you may be saving yourself from some of the harsher chemicals present in permanent dye boxes. However, these products do not last as long as permanent ones do, so if you want to hold onto the color of your locks, you’ll need to re-color them again and again.

In the end, you’ll be applying more chemicals to your hair due to consistent exposure rather than one application of more damaging chemicals, creating the same types of damage.

Saving yourself from at-home box dye disasters

Have you found your hair in a state of distress due to using one too many home dye kits? If so, there’s no need to panic. While the color may be difficult to correct, there are some things you can do to get your hair growing healthily again.

  • Toss the box: If you recently purchased a home dye kit to change or fix your hair color, toss it! Using more damaging chemicals on your hair will only make the damage worse. Call a nearby salon to see what they can do to help and avoid box treatments in the future.
  • Condition: The major reason hair becomes so damaged is because the cuticle has been lifted and the strand is stripped of moisture. Apply hair masks, oils and deep conditioners to restore some moisture into the hair.
  • Get a cut: The ends of your hair are the most likely to be damaged and brittle due to over-exposure to chemicals. Cutting a few inches off the bottom of your hair can trim off those extra-damaged pieces, which will make your head of hair look a little healthier.

Use chemical dyes with caution

Any chemicals put on your hair have the potential to damage them. Repetitive chemical treatments and dyes are harsh on your hair, dry it out and can lead to breakage and hair loss. The difference between at-home box kits and salon-quality products used by professionals, though, is the amount of experience and understanding of the chemical process and the ability to know when your hair has been through enough.

At the end of the day, you should always be cautious when applying chemical dyes to your hair, but if you do, let the professionals handle it so you don’t end up with long locks of brittle, breaking hair.

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