L: L’Oreal Feria Smokey Pastel Blue box dye. R: One of Sydniiee Oliveira’s pastel dye jobs.
For years now, we’ve been enamored with candy–colored hair, particularly pastel variations. And for those of us who are thrifty and/or experimental, it’s oh-so tempting to try to get to a pastel-friendly icy silver or blonde on your own using a box kit. Which is something we understand, but if you DO go down the box dye route, take note — a meme circulating around the hair colorist social media community strongly warns against this particular line of box dye pastel: L’Oreal Feria Smokey Pastels.
Why L’Oreal Feria’s Smokey Pastels box dye really won’t work
Hair colorist Sydniiee Oliveira, who also does makeup at CaLooks Professional Salon in Visalia, CA, created the PSA above after spotting the Feria Smokey Pastels line in store. When asked why she singled out L’Oreal’s box kits, she explained to HelloGiggles, “I don’t have anything against L’Oreal as a color line per se. They make great professional products, but in my experience the Feria line, in any shade, has had the most extreme negative effects. I made the meme about these specific shades because they are SO popular right now for girls to want these pastel colors that just can’t be achieved from a box. I’m afraid all these young girls that can’t afford to make it into a salon will think this is an easy (cheap) way to get these high maintenance shades, and completely ruin their hair.”
Colorist Christine Silverman, of Beverly Hills’s Ramirez Tran Salon, expanded on the issue with these one-stop-shop pastel promises: “The pastel colors that we use professionally usually don’t have any kind of developer or ammonia in them. It’s a double process — the hair is lifted and then whatever color the client desires is overlaid on top of it, and it’s pretty temporary. Whereas, I looked at the ingredients on that product, and it has ammonia. People going into the store, they might not understand that, if they have dark hair and they put something like that onto it, it’s going to lift it up to kind of an orange-y color. They’re not gonna get the results that they want or that they see on the box.”
As the PSA specifies, the issue isn’t necessarily with what the box dye outright does, but rather what will happen when you try to deviate from or correct box dye results, especially after such an extreme process (for anyone who doesn’t have naturally light blonde hair) to reach pastel-ready lightness. The color correction process, even when done by a colorist who’s aware of a client’s box dye past (to say nothing of those clients who don’t disclose their hair history), can lead to nightmare scenarios.
Fried, discolored, and melting hair: The after-effects of box dye
The worst post-box dye interaction Oliveira’s witnessed included “LITERAL heating of the hair, so hot you can’t even touch the foils, smoking, lots of ‘water’ start[ing] to drip, and eventually melting of the hair itself.” Colorist Mary Assimos, who runs her own studio in Studio City, CA, co-signed this horrific image: “At a different salon I worked at, a client wanted to go from box dye black to blond (the absolute bane of our profession). This stylist was trying to achieve the transformation in a single day and the hair just literally fried off in clumps. Low and behold, the client had dyed her hair black from a box over hair that was previously bleached. So, there was basically bleach under box dye black hell trying to be bleached again! Scary stuff.”
The thing is, even when box dyes of your shade of choice do work for you, users are left at the mercy of cosmetics companies that are free to tweak their non-professional formulas at will. (How many of us have loved and cherished a product for years, only to find out that its newest formulation is absolute trash?) In addition, bleach and dyes react differently on hair depending on a person’s body’s natural changes, as Silverman explained: “Based on what I know about hair color chemistry and how it interacts with the body, graying hair, different medication, hormones, dietary changes, can affect all of that.” Colorists mix and test their own color blends not just for true tone, but also for an individual client’s coloring and hair type; box dyes don’t disclose formula changes, and don’t account for the body’s natural changes.