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  1. I have done so much research on box hair color vs professional lines. I still haven't got a straight answer so I want to ask a true hair scientist: is the color ingredients in the 'box' the same as the color ingredients in the professional line as say Schwarzkopf or koleston? I understand the difference in the percentage in the developers, that's not my issue. The box color I'm currently using, L'Oreal excellence creme, uses 20 volume which is the minimum needed to color grays which is the reason I color, only the roots. THANK you.

    1. Hello Tiny Dawg,

      I'm looking at one L'Oreal Excellence Creme ingredients and one Schwartzkopf color (not sure if it's the right one) and the ingredients that have the most activity are fairly similar. For the ingredients that do the actual coloring, you need to know what colors are being compared. I would need the 2 ingredient lists side by side to tell you what you want to know.
      Home hair color is made to be easier to use in handling and timing. There are those basic DIY problems nobody can get around - it's harder to see your own hair on your head and you only have 2 hands to do everything with, and home hair color is designed with those in mind. It's also made for a range of hair types, whereas salon colors can be adapted by the stylist doing the coloring to a person's hair or for a particular shade. Not that you can't buy 2 color kits and mix them.
      I don't think the difference is so much in the formula - you can buy a color-at-home formula for any particular ingredient preference (no ammonia, no PPD, etc.), but in the experience of the colorist in how hair color turns out.
      Assuming you know your hair really well and know what you want with color, you should be able to get really good results with a L'Oreal product. For that matter, a really good colorist should also be able to get really good results with a "box color" - whether they like working with it or not. But they might not get a good result until they've used that product enough times to be familiar with it.
      People who color at home can use penetrating oil treatments before the wash before coloring, can mix a product like Neutral Protein Filler into hair color that doesn't contain protein (if your hair does well with protein) and get creative in helping hair stay strong through coloring too, that's something a good colorist will try to do - protect the porous areas of the hair from damage. Those practices help color "take" well and evenly too.
      My point is that a lot of people emphasize ingredients and okay - those do matter to a certain point. But the basic premise is you need an alkaline ingredient to swell the hair, a dye ingredient to add color, an oxidizer to develop, and everything else is in there to try to give a better result so hair doesn't feel awful after coloring, or to prevent damage or weird color effects. It's up to the person doing the coloring to make the magic happen to the best of their ability, given the product they have to work with and the tools and techniques and tricks they know.
      That's not such a straight answer either. But it's very true - good skills, understanding your hair, confidence and creativity matter as much as products and ingredients. Like with cooking, a good cook can make delicious food with simple, basic ingredients.