Out of the Box: The Pros and Cons of At-Home Hair Color


Vidal Sassoon Salonist Hair Color, $13.99 at Vidal Sassoon; eSalon Coloring Tools, $20 at eSalon

The right hair color can elevate your appearance and even make a statement (see gray hair). But with professional services costing upward of a couple hundred dollars, going the DIY route may be your best bet. If your roots need a touch-up or you’re looking to conceal stray grays, then it could be in your best interest to try boxed hair color. Still undecided? Here are some pros and cons to take into consideration before making a decision about whether to splurge or save.


  • It’s a Bargain. Price point is the most obvious difference when it comes to at-home hair dye versus a salon treatment. A customized kit from online retailer eSalon goes for $24.95 and drugstore options are in the $8 to $15 range. Either way, the savings are substantial.
  • It’s Convenient. When you’re in the comfort of your home, no appointment is necessary. Plus, the at-home formulas are on the fast side, so waiting time is minimal.
  • It’s Foolproof. Kits made for at-home use are extremely straightforward and easy to use. Not only is the hair dye in tow, but some kits go as far as providing protective gloves and a help hotline. All you really need is a set of hands, a towel and a place to rinse your hair out. 


  • Color Choice Is Limited. When dabbling in any kind of DIY project, it’s important to be realistic and manage expectations accordingly. This means no going platinum, My Little Pony pastel or any sort of drastic change. Otherwise, you’ll end up with disappointing results that will likely require a fix-it trip to the salon and a hefty price tag.
  • It’s Messy. Chances are that you’re at home without the help of an assistant or professional equipment. Make sure that before you begin the process, you have everything you’ll need laid out neatly and within reach — especially paper towels and lots of clips. Keep it neat, ladies. Also, don’t forget to wear a shirt or robe you don’t mind getting stained.
  • Things Can Go Awry. Yes, any situation can take a turn for the worse, but in this case, safety should be of importance. There are chemicals in the dye that affect everyone differently, so the rule of thumb is to read the instructions thoroughly and do a skin test before committing to the process. These tests take 24 to 48 hours, so make sure to take this into account when planning your DIY.

[ Next: How to Color Your Hair at Home Like a Pro ]