What happens if you box dye over highlights? Nothing good, and I’ll tell you why

woman with highlighted hair
It isn’t a good idea to box dye over highlights because these things could happen:

  • Your color may turn completely uneven.
  • Your hair may get too dark. To box dye over your highlights, you can only choose light brown 5 or dark blonde 6. And even after two or three washes, the color difference between the highlights and the rest of your mane would emerge. I’ll tell you why.


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As a colorist, I can’t lie to you.

 Applying box dye over highlights isn’t a good idea. 


It’s like asking your doctor if you can replace an antibiotic with honey candy to cure a lung infection. Obviously, the doctor will tell you it’s not a good idea.

They’ll also tell you to continue with the indicated medical treatment so as not to put your life at risk.


The same applies to the hair issue, only with a few exceptions.

Nowadays, social networks show all kinds of “experts.” The decisions you make from listening to “advice” from unskilled persons can lead you to make a mess of your hair.


Don’t get me wrong. Social media is wonderful to amuse, communicate, travel, and connect with others.


But they can be dangerous when they promote homemade experiments by unknown or inexperienced persons.

So, once again,  it’s not a good idea to box dye your highlights. 

Why? Let’s move on to the first reason.


If you box dye your highlights, your color may become uneven

uneven hair highlights
And to understand why this can happen, let’s go back to when you had your highlights done.


The highlighting technique is achieved by bleaching the hair. The colorist removes color from some strands.

Highlights are hair without melanin. Melanin is lost during bleaching. In case you didn’t know, melanin is a natural pigment that colors hair.

 If you dye your highlights, you add color to them. But dye doesn’t add melanin. 


Therefore, when you wash your hair, your highlights don’t retain the color of the dye, because they have no melanin.

Therefore,  after a few washes, the color of your hair will be uneven, and the highlights will practically reappear usually with strident colors. 


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And I know what you’re thinking.

Why can’t I box-dye my highlights if my friend got her highlights covered with dye at the salon?


What you and your friend don’t know is that  before applying the dye, the professional applied a color filler to the hair. 

What is a color filler?


It’s a technique that consists of filling the hair fiber with color to give it a base and then, apply the dye. This way,   the stylist prevents the color difference between the highlights and the rest of your hair from appearing after washing. 

However, color filling is a professional technique. I don’t recommend you try to do it on your own. You could end up with reddish or orange hair.

Now, let’s move on to the second reason why I don’t advise you to box dye your highlights.


If you a box dye your highlights, you’ll only have two color choices

To lighten your color:  you can only apply a light brown 5 or dark blond 6.


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I don’t recommend you apply very dark colors such as black 1 or dark brown 3.

If you do, the highlights would reappear with red or orange undertones.

So, forget about applying very light or very dark colors. Then, almost all hair colors are excluded from your possible options:

  • Light blonde 8
  • Very light blonde 9
  • Extra light blonde 10
  • Black 1
  • Dark brown 3
  • Brown 4[/your_list]


As you can see, if you have reached very high blonde levels with highlights, you’ll need to apply a very dark dye to your hair to cover them. And if you don't get used to a dramatic color change, you’ll need to bleach your hair again.


Finally, even if you apply dark blonde 6 or light brown 5, you should be prepared for what's coming.

  Washing your hair will always create a slight color difference between the highlights and the rest of your hair. 


After two or three washes, you’ll begin to notice a minimal difference in color between your hair and the highlighted strands.



If you’re tired of highlights or want to get an even hair color, my professional advice is that you go to a salon.

Otherwise, if you box dye your highlights, your hair will be uneven and you’ll always be dealing with different colors in your hair.

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