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Last updated: October 12, 2017

What Would You Do: The Fight Against Boxed Color

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Is there anything you hate more than boxed color? And when a client of yours is hopelessly devoted to her tried-and-true boxed color, you feel like you can talk until you’re blue in the face about all the reasons boxed color is an unfavorable choice. But it’s still not enough to get your point across and change her mind. One stylist recently grew tired of the fight against boxed color, so she reached out to the BTC community for help.


“How do you explain and get the point across that box color is bad for clients? It seems whatever I tell people they don’t think it’s a good enough reason or they just don’t believe me. And they often say, ‘I’ve never had a problem with it. It works fine for me.’ Any advice from other stylists?”


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What’s So Enticing About Boxed Color?
More times than not, it all boils down to the overall cost because the difference in price between boxed and professional color is a hefty one. “Price is usually the reason for these decisions. If I had a client that used boxed color, I always made sure she knows how to color properly,” says Pamela Vossler.


However, price isn’t the only factor that leads a client to prefer a boxed color over a professional color service. Susan Wolford-Wooten suggests looking at it through the eyes of the consumer. “Time constraints, convenience and a general consensus among at-home color users that there’s really not that much of a difference between a $10 box and $100 color service are the main issues,” notes Susan. “And the color companies are doing their homework. All of their adverts use buzzwords like, ‘anti-fade technology’ and ‘no more brassiness,’ the same verbiage that stylists use.”


Heidi Hudd admits that she used boxed color for years on her own hair and thought, for the most part, it was just fine. But she also understands how pricey professional color can get. “A lot of people can’t afford it and may be getting defensive about using box color. Professional color is a huge financial commitment,” says Heidi. “Lay the foundation for them to change their mind but don’t expect a changed mind until you make them comfortable enough with you to do it.”



To each their own is the phrase Christine Lover says when it comes to boxed color. “Not everyone can afford a salon visit. Yeah, when they start venturing into more complex colors it can end up looking bad, but it’s their choice. You can’t put a client down for coloring their own hair.”


“At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. People spend their money in the way they see fit. Not everyone can afford to come in to the salon every 4 to 5 weeks,” shares Madelaine Clark. “If their hair is compromised, I explain why usually because they pull through every time. They appreciate the information.”


Offer a Comparison to Get Your Point Across
One size fits all. Women everywhere know what that means and very few look at it in a positive light. Why? Because it’s not personal to them, which is why Theresa Dudeck refers to boxed color as exactly that for her clients to compare to. “I usually just tell them a box color is like one size fits most and professional is like custom tailored…With professional color, it will be customized to fit her hair’s specific needs.”



Stacey Fusco has a relatable comparison when it comes to boxed color. “I say to clients, ‘Why would you get your wedding dress altered? To fit you. Same goes for box color. You come to a stylist because we can formulate your color to fit you so you don’t get unfavorable results,'” shares Stacey.


“It’s no different than painting a wall. If you paint a white wall red, then paint a black wall red, both walls are not going to look exactly the same,” says Rachel M. “I tell my customers that when (companies create) box color, they have to try to get the color to look the same on everyone’s hair with that one box, which means stronger chemicals. Not healthy at all for the hair.”


Theresa Akin keeps it real with her clients. When it comes to box color, she simply tells clients, “The color on the box is nothing more than ‘printed ink.’ Is that what you want on your hair?”


If all else fails, bring it back to a universal topic everyone can get behind: food. That’s what Victoria Morriss does. “I say that box color is the ‘hot dogs’ of hair color—hot dogs being made up of the less desirable and lowest quality portions of the pig. Most people get that right away,” she says.


But Sometimes All You Can Do is Educate
Tawni Ruckus says it all boils down to what the client wants, so she doesn’t care if a client prefers boxed color. “I don’t like when stylists feel the need to lecture and belittle their clients. It’s their hair, their budget and their prerogative,” shares Tawni. “All you can do is educate and inform. What people do with that info is up to them.”


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the mentality many clients have, which is why they are devoted to their boxed color. “Truth is, home coloring works just fine for many. Others end up in the chair for correction,” notes Christine Yvonne. “A good stylist will educate as to the pros and cons of home coloring.”


Stephanie Dentato Christian knows for many people, seeing is believing. So she’ll sometimes show clients exactly what goes in to making their specific color formula. “I’ve actually brought clients into our color room to show how in-depth color formulation is,” shares Stephanie. “Then I give them a whole speech. Sometimes you reel them in, sometimes you don’t.”


“I’m a stylist and although I’ve never supported or encouraged a client to use box color, I’ve got to honestly say, I don’t mind it. The color lasts longer; it’s not anything like it was years ago,” says Kristy Carbone-Sebastian.


“This is a hard conversation to have. People who have always colored their hair and haven’t had a problem with it feel no reason to believe us, and that’s OK! You cannot impress those who are not looking to be impressed,” says Candice Budinko. “We are not standing behind a chair to tell people how to spend their money. We are there to educate them on what we know and, from there, let them make whatever decision they choose.”


“Sometimes they learn about boxed color through mistakes and we are there to help them through it, which in turn can give you a client for life,” adds Candice.


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