What to use instead of box dye? 3 suggestions from a hairdresser

hair coloring gloves

If you don’t want to use box dye, you have 3 options:

  1. Professional hair dyes
  2. Tone-on-tone
  3. Henna


Any of these three alternatives to box dyes will give you excellent results.

However, as I’ll tell you in a few moments, they have their advantages and disadvantages that you should know to make the best decision for your hair.


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First, let’s clarify that  box dyes are not poison. 

There are options for every taste and every pocket.

However, box dyes don’t achieve the quality of professional hair dyes. Their pigments are generally far from those of other hair dyes.


This is related to their quality. The colors last less time, have less power to cover gray hair,  and, in certain brands, cause the hair fiber to dry out.

However, they are still one of the most popular products in perfumeries and supermarkets.


Now, let’s take a closer look at the options I mentioned above. These will allow you to improve the quality, durability, and covering power of your hair.

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Professional hair dyes

best alternative to box dyes

These are the ones used by professionals in salons.

They are top-quality, high-end hair dyes that have a much wider variety of shades.

Therefore, you have a wide range of possibilities to mix them up.


What do you need to know about professional hair dyes?

  • All brands guarantee excellent gray coverage as long as they aren’t lighter than shade 7 (medium blonde). If they’re lighter, they’ll tone your gray hair as if they were highlights.


There would be no point in spending money on a good brand of hair dye and mixing it with a poor quality peroxide. It’ll ruin the mixture.


Nor is it any good to use another peroxide brand, even if it’s also from a good quality professional brand. Each brand has different consistencies and is set up to activate in its own way, dye and peroxide. 


If the mixture is done with peroxide of another brand, it could go well or wrong. For example, the final result could be lighter or darker. It could also wash out faster because each brand works its dyes and peroxides in a particular way.


  • You won’t find this type of hair dyes in stores or supermarkets.

You’ll need to visit specialized stores in products for professional salons. They’ll always be a little more expensive than the box dyes, and usually, peroxides come per liter.


  • You may have enough product left over for several applications.

If you have leftover peroxide, make sure to close it tightly and store it in a cool place away from sunlight (and children, of course)


If you have leftover dye, you can still use it. However, the following month, when you open the hair dye again, the first part will be oxidized, i.e. darker.

This happens because of the contact with the air over time. Just discard that tiny amount of hair dye (which is just a few millimeters) and everything will be fine.


Tone on tone

dyeing keratin treated hair

This kind of hair dyes is much gentler than traditional ones. It’s intended for people with allergies, people with scalp sensitivities, or people who simply don’t want to damage their hair.


What should you know about tone-on-tone hair dyes?

  • It doesn’t contain ammonia or oxidizing agents.


  • Its ingredients are generally natural and the aim is to enhance each shade.

On the other hand, since it doesn’t contain alkaline agents,  it doesn’t damage the hair fiber during the coloring process. 


  • These hair dyes don’t need peroxides. Instead, they work with developers of 6 to 8 volumes at the most. The aren’t strong enough to create the alkaline field and, therefore  they just tone and enhance the hair color.  


  • Actually, the tone on tone or toner, as it’s also known, isn’t powerful enough to enter the hair fiber when they’re deposited. So, it only offers highlights or shades to the hair instead of changing the base tone.


So, this would be the right choice to enhance the color of your natural hair, or if you have colored hair and want to restore the tone without coloring all your hair again.

This product, just like professional hair dyes, is available almost exclusively from salon suppliers.



natural alternative to box dyes

This natural product is extracted from an Arabic plant. Henna has been used to color hair (and skin) for centuries.


What should you know about henna?

  • It’s sold as clay or powder to be mixed with water. In addition to coloring hair, it strengthens it, defends it from bacteria, fights dandruff, and stops hair loss.


  • Being a natural colorant only mixed with water, the henna settles and covers the hair cuticle.

The texture of the mixture is very clay-like and greenish. It can be left on the hair for a long time (even overnight) and its coloring is gradually washed out.


from black to reddish hair

  • It’s seldom used nowadays, but will probably come back due to the naturist habits related to veganism and vegetarianism.


  • Henna, unlike professional hair dyes, is available in pharmacies or perfumeries.


Anyone can apply a hair dye, but…

So far we have seen what the different alternatives are if you don’t want to use the box dye.


But,  as I always advise you, the best and wisest thing to do is to make an appointment at your salon and leave this task in the hands of your trusted stylist. 


Applying a hair color is an easy process that anyone can do.

But getting the right shade, preserving the quality of your hair, restoring treatments, and leaving your hair the way you want it, can only be done by someone who has studied, specialized, and has enough experience to successfully achieve that result. That someone is your stylist, don’t doubt it.


That’s why I invite you to make an appointment at your usual beauty salon and give yourself that relaxing time while the specialist does his or her job. Dare to do it!

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