Hair Colour Wars: Store-bought vs. Salon

Studio 86 compares store-bought hair colour to salon hair colour.

photo by Wicker Paradise

There’s no question that dyeing your own hair at home costs a lot less than doing it at the salon. So why doesn’t everyone do it? What’s the real difference between store-bought hair colour you do at home, and going to the salon to have it done by a professional? Well, there are many more differences than meets the eye–it’s not just about the cost. Let’s break it down:

Hair Dye Formulation

The formulation of the hair dyes you buy at a drugstore and hair dye you find in a salon is not that different–most are made by the same companies. Of course, depending on the store, salon and brand of hair colour, you can find higher quality hair colour products. Specialty salons can also offer special hair colour options, such as formulations that are gentler on your hair and on the environment.

The main difference between DIY and salon colour is that the store-bought products are formulated so they will work on a broad range of natural hair colours, whereas the salon colour is custom blended according to your specific needs. So going with a professional is more likely to produce the exact results you want.

Professional colourists also have access to other ingredients that can be mixed into the colour to both enhance the results and protect the condition of your hair, such as B3 Brazilian Bond Builder (which we now offer with our hair colour services here at Studio 86).

Hair Colouring Technique

Colouring your hair is a specific science and getting the results you want entails knowing how different pigments and tones work together. This is especially the case if you want to make big changes to your hair, like going more than three shades lighter, going red, or going a lot darker.

If you want to make a drastic change to your hair colour, it’s best to seek professional help. Even if you are going with solid colour, a professional colourist can ensure even coverage (including all your stubborn greys).

Variety of Achievable Looks

If you’re colouring your hair at home, the looks you are able to achieve are limited to your capabilities. For someone who is inexperienced, solid colour isn’t too hard to do at home (but there is certainly still room for error). If you want anything more complicated, such as highlights, ombre, or balayage, you are better advised to see the services of a professional to get the best results.

Going to a pro is also a good idea if you want to try any of the new multi-coloured hair trends that are popping up everywhere. A professional stylist can help you get a beautiful and subtle blend of colours without coming out looking like My Litte Pony (unless that’s the look you want).

Damage Prevention

When you colour your hair at home, you’re likely just following the directions on the box and using the flimsy plastic tools that came inside it. On top of that, you can’t exactly see the back of your own head too easily, so the door is wide open for a broad range of DIY hair colour bloopers.

A professional stylist knows how to colour the specific parts of your hair that need it, and spare the ones that don’t, which prevents excessive damage and breakage. This is why home hair colourers often have dry and brittle hair and uneven colour.

The Bottom Line

If you want to colour your hair and look like you just stepped out of the salon, it’s best to get it done at an actual salon! Your hair and your sanity will thank you.

Want to try a new colour for the new season? Book your appointment with a colourist at Studio 86 today!


  1. The Scary Truth About Box Dye | Studio 86 Salon - December 10, 2015

    […] a previous post on the Studio 86 blog, we broke down the major differences between store-bought hair dye and salon hair colouring services. The case is pretty strong against using boxed hair dye! If you’re ready to quit using it, here […]

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