Purchasing color from your local supermarket or drugstore is so much more affordable than going to a salon, but is it the same, or even similar to what you’d be paying extra for?
Aside from the salon experience -the shampoo, the head massage, the blow-out- there are many differences concerning professional haircolor, and mass haircolor.
First, let’s look at and understand how haircolor works. Professional haircolor has a variety of different developers that make the haircolor take effect. These developers tell how the hair is going to process, and different ones are ideal for different colors as well as different types of hair. Developer lifts the cuticle during the coloring process to help the color molecules get into the center parts of your hair (the cortex), where the pigment (melanin) lies.
- 5 volume is a deposit only developer. It has a lower peroxide content.
- 10 volume is deposit only or up to one level of lift. Depending on the client’s hair (whether it is a virgin application, or if the hair is colored before), this can lift the color slightly while depositing color.
- 20 volume is one to two levels of lift. This is ideal for gray coverage.
- 30 volume is two to three levels of lift.
- 40 volume is up to four levels of lift. This is the strongest developer available and often used in highlighting darker or previously color-treated hair. This has the highest peroxide content of the developers.
So, how does that differ from a box color you purchase at the store?
Everyone’s hair is completely different. Different porosity (how well it retains moisture), different texture, possibly previously color-treated…. With box color, there is one option for developer in each box. Unfortunately, this won’t work for everyone, which is why many people gain different results, even if they’re using the same shade as a friend. There’s no guarantee, because it’s not specially formulated for you.
Professional haircolor can be mixed to achieve a look that’s completely for you; a stylist can mix a couple different shades to achieve the perfect look that will compliment your personal style and skintone, as well as work the most efficiently on your hair type. For example, if you are using an ash-based brown on prelightened hair, you are likely to pick up a lot of ash making the hair appear blue or gray. Ever seen someone with greenish-brown hair? This is what happened.
Another issue with box color is an ingredient called metallic salts. When metallic salts are used, they go through a certain chemical reaction in order to leave a colored “film” on the outside of the hair shaft (cuticle). This metal is not used in professional haircolor. As we all know, different chemicals react with one another, right? The same is true for haircolor. Since these metallic salts will continue to sit on the hair (seeing as they are what deposits the color), it can react with other chemical services. It will be incredibly difficult to highlight the hair without increasing the possibility of damage, and you can forget about getting a perm or relaxer at any time over a metallic salt. The hair will literally begin to dissolve from the chemical reaction. Depending on how fresh it is, the hair can sometimes even smoke. Never, EVER chemically straighten or perform a perm on hair that was colored using a brand that contains metallic salts. To see if your at-home color, if you insist on using one, contains metallic salts look for any ingredient containing “thiosulfate” in it.
Not to mention the smell is horrific.
If going in for a chemical service to a stylist, please be sure that you inform your stylist if you have colored your hair at home, and which brand of at-home color you used. This will let them know how to treat your hair during a chemical service.
When going to a salon, you have different options for the type of hair color you’d like to use, including:
- Permanent haircolor. This is the longest lasting, where you would use the developers mentioned above. These developers lift the cuticle, allowing the color to penetrate the cortex and change the melanin content of your hair. These come in opaque and irridescent colors (irridescent colors add more of a tint to the hair, while still allowing the natural color to shine through).
- Demi-permanent color. Demi-permanent color coats the cuticle as well as some of the molecules entering the cortex. Lasts a long time, but will need to be touched up. Demi-permanent color is excellent for touching up the ends if you are getting your regrowth touched up with permanent color (applying color over color and processing the full time will add more color molecules, making the previous areas more likely to be darker than the freshly colored portion of the hair. Some stylists will also pull through a permanent color for the last 10-15 minutes of processing to refresh your color). This is also excellent if you are testing a new color, and wary of how you are going to feel about it. It’s easier to change than a permanent color if you hate it!
- Semi-permanent color. Shortest lasting available. This is a cuticle stain that tends to stay longest on damaged hair and gives the most even color. Most often used over pre-lightening.
If doing highlights at home, this can be very harsh on the hair. There are a number of different lighteners available for use, many have built in toners to help reduce unwanted undertones. Not to mention, it’s extremely hard to foil your own head, and you will get a much nicer result from foils. I’m an anti-cap highlight hairdresser, not all stylists are like me in that sense, but if I can foil it I won’t use a cap! Even if it takes a little more time, I find it gets closer to the scalp, and looks more natural. With a cap, many people have a hard time getting consistent sized highlights, as well as touching up can be a huge mess when it comes time to do so. If you go to a stylist, you can ensure you get the color you want with the undertone you want, as they can tone the hair for you in order to achieve this look.
Low lights are a similar issue, with self-foiling being a tedeous task, especially if you are planning on getting highlights and lowlights!
Another reason to see your stylist, is that your hair may be different throughout the strand. The ends are often more porous and will retain more color than the midshaft if you aren’t careful. Application is definitely key when it comes to such circumstances, and your stylist is trained and will know how to apply accordingly to achieve an even color.