What Made Me Change My Mind About eSalon?*

What Made Me Change My Mind About eSalon? | Writing Between Pauses

Back in January 2017, I wrote a post about eSalon* (you can read that original post here). I didn't know it at the time, but that blog post would single-handedly drive most of my traffic for the better part of a year. I'm not joking! It's one of my most popular posts to date. 

My original experience with eSalon was not great. I was left disappointed and, honestly, a little sad about my hair color for a while. To recap, when I originally ordered from eSalon, I selected a color called Intense Pearl: a very dark brown with violet (aka cool) undertones. After I dyed my hair, my hair was dark brown with very bright red undertones. Definitely not what I was looking for, but it also wasn't the worst thing to happen to my hair. I was disappointed, mostly because there was little they could do in terms of formulation to fix it. 

After I wrote that post, I started getting referral credits from eSalon. Despite my not-so-great review, people used my referral link. This left me in a bit of a crunch: do I order more hair dye? Do I try again? 

I decided to go for it. What's the worst that could happen? I chose a plain brown close to my natural color (Chocolate Brown) and ordered. 

That was just about a year ago. I've been dyeing my hair Chocolate Brown every 8-12 weeks ever since. 

Shortly after the original first order, when my hair ended up dark red, I told my friend I would never order from eSalon again. 

Obviously, that wasn't the case. I did order from eSalon again--multiple times, actually. Recently, I started thinking about what made me change my mind. That second order, in April 2017, was made hesitantly, but as time has gone on, my opinion of eSalon has shifted. What made it change? 

And, more importantly, why do I sing the praises of eSalon to nearly every person I know? 

eSalon | Writing Between Pauses

1. Hair Color is Personal

The thing about hair color is that it's so intensely personal. Most people have very strong feelings when it comes to their hair color: they want it to look a very specific way. Some people exclusively have their hair dyed in a salon, because it's what they know. And some people, like me, are more comfortable with box dye. I grew up watching my mom dye her own hair (and my mom has dyed my hair a lot). 

That's the thing about eSalon. I feel like they combine the best of both worlds: the fun of dyeing your hair at home (it really is fun!) and the confidence of having it done in a salon. You can get exactly what you want, with perhaps a little tinkering. 

2. The Quality (& Supplies) Make Dyeing Your Hair an Experience

eSalon 2 | Writing Between Pauses

In my second review of eSalon (you can read that one here), I talk about how I don't think eSalon's quality is much better than a box you can buy at the grocery store. 

I was still feeling pretty wounded by my original experience there. But I'm going to have to eat my words now: the truth is, eSalon's quality is, like I said, better than box dye. That's just a fact: I don't experience the same issues with eSalon as I always did with box dye. It's just a better product. 

But beyond that, what you receive in your kit from eSalon is enough to make you switch! Not only do you receive your color (developer + color), you get a box of gloves (two pairs, one for dyeing and one for the shower, which is so handy; plus, these gloves actually fit your hands, instead of being those huge papery ones) and a box of shampoo, conditioner, stain guard, and stain remover. You don't get all that with a box of dye from the grocery store. 

Everything is just of a higher quality: good gloves that fit well, good shampoo and conditioner, and an amazing stain remover. Dyeing my hair is a relaxing activity that I really enjoy, so I like to make a process of it. I even have a color kit that I bought from eSalon, with a non-skid bowl, hair clips, and a brush. That's how much I enjoy dyeing my hair these days! 

3. Customer Service

My original experience with eSalon is everyone's worst fear, isn't it? You order some hair dye, you dye your hair, and it's... not what you wanted. It's not right! It makes everyone feel a bit panicky, because, as I said, hair color is intensely personal. It's also not something you can hide very much! And if you start where I did (postpartum, with my hair my natural color and very healthy), it can feel like a bit of a punch in the gut. 

eSalon tries to make it right though. I didn't take them up on their original offer to send me a new hair color; I was just too nervous! But they were more than willing to explain themselves regarding my original color and to try and make it right--and that's something anyone can really appreciate. If your color doesn't turn out how you want it to, they do what they can to change it or give you a refund.

Why Should You Try eSalon? 

I know what you're thinking: Michelleyour first experience made you so unhappy. Did you really change your mind or are you just saying this? Nope, I'm not just saying it! I genuinely love ordering from eSalon, look forward to my eSalon box, and really look forward to coloring my hair every two months or so. If you dye your hair frequently, you probably already know how to use box dye; and eSalon is a step above that. 

If you'd like to give eSalon a try, click here to try it out**.

*Disclaimer: a noted by the asterisk (*) in the title of this post, this is a sponsored post from eSalon! However, all thoughts are my own. The double asterisk (**) on links, as always, marks that these are affiliate links; I will receive a small kickback from eSalon if you place an order. This helps me keep Writing Between Pauses running. To read more about my disclosure policy, click here

Beauty Review: eSalon Shampoo & an Update

esalon shampoo review

A few months ago, I wrote a not-entirely-positive review of eSalon. You can read that here

Regardless of my experience, I have gotten a ton (and I mean, a ton) of referral credits because of that blog post. As they piled up, I started to think, “Maybe I should just use these.” 

Ultimately, my issue with eSalon came down to false advertising (don’t say you have violet undertone hair dye if you don’t use blue dye!) instead of a subpar product. eSalon is basically slightly expensive drug store dye; you pay for the extras (that stain guard, baby). I don’t find the quality many different from a box of Garnier Fructis, to be honest. 

That being said, because of all those credits, I’ve ordered a lot from eSalon in the past few months. Like, a lot more than I ever thought I would. Here’s what I’ve ordered. 

1. Hair dye in “chocolate brown” 

To return my hair to my original color (and not the craptastic red shade I’d ended up with the first time), I ordered a hair dye in… dark brown. I sent them a photo of my hair pre-dye incident and they matched it pretty close. My hair is dark, very dark, almost black, but thanks to that red dye, had faded to a weird wishy-washy pale brown. Not cute. It’s back to its original luster now, but like with my past review, even though eSalon says they cover grays for 8 weeks, mine are usually showing by 3-4 weeks. Not ideal, but honestly, not awful. 

2. eSalon’s Heart Lock It Color Care Shampoo and Love Unconditionally Color Care Conditioner

Listen, I really liked the samples of these shampoos I received in my first order, even though the color sucked. So with some credits, I ordered full size bottles. They’re pretty expensive for their size, but they’ve lasted since March, so I guess it’s not the worst. The shampoo and conditioner are bomb and I definitely feel like they’ve helped keep my hair color around longer.

3. Big Love Color Care Volumizing Shampoo

I’m always looking to add volume to my very flat hair, so as my first bottle of Heart Lock It dwindles down, I ordered the volumizing version of their shampoo. I actually love it; it works insanely well. And the bottle matches my bathroom decor so much better. 

4. Get Lifted Root Lift Spray

Because I opted out of the matching volumizing conditioner (since I’m only halfway through my first bottle), I ordered this instead. I love root lifting spray and this one fit the bill because it won’t damage my hair color. I find it works pretty well. Not as good as my tried-and-true John Frieda root lifter… but pretty good. 

If you'd like to try eSalon, you can use my referral link to receive $10 off your first hair color order.

I Tried eSalon & Here's What I Think

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It's been over three (probably closer to four) years since I last dyed my hair. I used to consistently dye my naturally dark brown hair dark red; it was a look that worked for me for a long time. Then, I just stopped; I didn't have the time or money to dedicated to the upkeep. And, in general, I just wasn't interested in doing it long term. 

I first learned about eSalon during one of my favorite podcasts (My Favorite Murder, which I've written about here); it's an at-home, mail order hair dye service. That's really the best way to describe it. I had heard the ad multiple times during My Favorite Murder and finally, I had to take the plunge; it had been so long since I'd dyed my hair and, especially after Forrest was born, I just needed to do something to change my look, if you will. 

The way eSalon works is that you use their website to answer a bunch of questions about your hair: your hair texture, your original color, whether your hair is currently dyed or not, what hair and scalp issues you have, and more. In the end, you get a range of colors to choose from; you pick one, a specialist formulates your color just for you based on everything you've told them, and you get sent it in a box along with instructions and shampoo and conditioner. 

You receive a box that looks like this. It includes the basic hair dye supplies: the dye solution and then a mixer bottle containing an activating ingredient. My kit also came with an application brush, although I ended up not using it. The Perfect Match kit includes a packet of shampoo, a packet of conditioner, a packet of stain shield, and a stain removal wipe, as well as two pairs of gloves.

The worst part of box kits you buy in the store is that they only come with one pair of not very good gloves. The eSalon kit gloves are like medical gloves and two pairs!? So I don't have to rinse off and try to reuse the same pair in the shower?! Genius. 

I hemmed and hawed about when to take the plunge. I've been pretty proud about the fact that my hair is "natural" right now: it's the color I was meant to have. However, family disposition means I am rapidly going gray and so I have pretty substantial grays through my part and bangs. Not a great look for a 28-year-old. 

Sunday night, I went for it--even though I was by myself and I've never dyed long hair on my own. Despite a few challenges (that back, y'all), I felt pretty confident about it and application was really easy. Also, the packet of stain guard is GENIUS; it kept my ears and forehead from getting stained like when I've dyed my hair in the past! 

The color sets for 30 minutes, then my instructions told me to do this thing where I used the leftover hair color and water to lather my hair. Uh, that didn't really work, but it was also freaking MESSY and I was terrified of staining my shower or shower curtain. The shampoo and conditioner from eSalon were amazing and smelled really good; each packet had enough for probably two washes and conditions for hair my length (just above the shoulder) or one for longer or thicker hair. 

I ended up having a TON of extra dye leftover; like almost half the bottle. I don't know if that's normal or not, but it kind of worried me! 

However, I loved my color. Plus, my hair ended up super shiny and pretty looking. Very silky. I couldn't stop touching it. 

The color I selected initially was called Intense Pearl. The thing about my natural hair color is that it is very, very close to black. In pictures, it often looks lighter, but it's really not; it's very, very dark. So when it comes to at home hair color, I don't have a ton of options. Bleaching my hair is something that just will never work--I've gone orange enough times to be able to say with sureness that it's just not ever going to happen, despite my dreams of white blonde hair. 

Intense Pearl was supposed to have mostly violet undertones. However, once I used it, it pretty much just looks like dark brown with red undertones. Which, isn't a big deal! But I'd really been looking forward to those violet undertones! It was a big leap for me and I was very excited about it. However, I don't hate it, so that's fine; I added a note to my eSalon profile for next time, so hopefully I will actually get violet next time. 


I had to update this post to share my experience adding notes to my eSalon profile. I added a note that the dye had turned my hair dark brown with dark, dark red undertones. Not a horrible thing! I don't mind! But's far from the cool, violet hair color I had chosen. It's like going to dye your hair blue and getting red, you know? 

Wednesday morning, I received a note from a colorist saying that, essentially, they cannot provide violet undertones because violet is a combination of blue and red (ok, thanks) and they cannot add more blue, so they could resend a violet kit, but it would just make my hair more red. So I replied asking why they showed that color (Intense Pearl) as a violet undertone if it's not possible to achieve. She replied that they can add violet, but they add violet with red, so the color usually shifts from violet to red overtime. But that's not true--my hair is dark red from the start. 

Which again, that's fine. It's not the worst thing in the world. It is absolutely not what I wanted, but it's not like my hair is totally destroyed. 

They offered to send me another kit. I replied asking, again, why they showed a color on their website, for my hair color, that they knew wouldn't look like the picture. So that's when they called me. 

I got a call from the colorist I'd been speaking to (that's what she said, at least) and she explained, again, that violet is a combination of red and blue. Which, I know what the color wheel looks like. She said, again, that Intense Pearl is supposed to go on with violet undertones and fade to red. But that is categorically not the case for my hair; my hair is dark red. Which, again, one more time, is fine. 

She said it was probably because my hair is so dark so it naturally has red undertones. But I'd selected the darkest brown hair they showed on the website and one of the options was a violet undertone hair color, Intense Pearl. If Intense Pearl can't go onto dark brown hair and show up violet, then why do they show it as an option? Why portray it as a cool toned, violet option if they literally can't do it, as she admitted they couldn't? That's when she told me that they actually cannot increase the violet undertone because they cannot add blue dye to their formulations because they don't have it. What is the point of advertising a violet undertone (a mix of red and blue, in case I hadn't been told that 400 times) if you don't use blue dye!? That's when I got frustrated.

My hair was my natural hair color before hair. It was fine! It was great! I just wanted to cover my gray hair! I just wanted to do something different. But right now, my hair is the same dark red I've been dying my hair since I was 16. If I wanted to dye my hair dark red, trust me, I know the hair dye to buy in the store for $6--not $25. I don't need to go to a salon or a specialist for dark red hair, trust me. I'm just really frustrated that something I wanted to do to spice up my look and feel good has ended up making me look about basically the same as I looked pre-pregnancy. It's not new or special. And it's frustrating to feel lied to and as if they really do not care about the fact that they are falsely including a hair color they admit they cannot achieve.