How to Decode a Dye Box

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to boxed dye. All the shades, brands, and hues are enough to make you accept your natural hair color. Here’s how to decode those boxes and pick the right at-home color for you. 

Check With Your Professional

If you’ve never had success with at-home color, it’s a good idea to check in with your hair Pro before heading to the store. Ask them to give you some guidance on what color level works for you. They’ll probably shout out some brands they like or, in some cases, offer to mix a custom hue just for you.  

Take a Number

Once you’re at the store, take a look at those boxes. They’ll have a two to three digit number on them which connotes the depth of color in the box. The spectrum goes from one (dark black) to twelve (very light blonde). If you see double numbers, that means the concentration of color is doubly strong. 

Semi-Permanent vs. Permanent

Each of these kinds of dye interact with your hair a different way. Your hair is made up of a layer called the cuticle (we talked about it here) which protects the inner layer of your hair shaft. Permanent dye opens the cuticle and changes the way your hair is structured which means the color penetrates deeper and lasts longer. 

Semi-permanent dye goes on top of the cuticle, meaning it’ll only last about 8 washes. 

For these reasons most people opt for permanent color to cover up grey hairs or for a 180-lewk change. People tend to use semi-permanent dye to revitalize existing color or to add gloss or shine.

Lighten Up

Though they look like they have Sasha Fierce on speed dial, the models on dye boxes can be deceiving. Most experts agree that you should choose a shade lighter than you actually want, because dyes tend to be darker IRL than they look in the picture. 

Use these tips to make sure you can dye happy. Don’t forget, your favorite pro are still on StyleSeat and can give you virtual advice even when you’re away from the salon.

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