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What It's Like To Try eSalon's Online-Only Hair Color Delivery Service

What It's Like To Try eSalon's Online-Only Hair Color Delivery Service

It's been a while since I've trusted my hair color to my own hands — about a decade, to be exact. As one does during a girls' night hair-dying party, I had bleached the hair above the nape of my neck into a bright white chunk, then went a little wild with the remaining color and gave my bangs a not-so-cute orange stripe. Big mistake: it took a year or so for my super-fried hair to recover. Ten years later and the tables have turned: now I'm trying to cover up (not create) white strands, but I don't have the time or patience to stare at the zillions of options in Target's hair color aisle. Enter eSalon, an online hair color service that takes the stress out of choosing a new shade for your tresses.

How eSalon Works

After completing a short five-step consultation (which asks for your skin tone, eye color, current hair color, hair texture and length, and hair goals), eSalon will show you personalized suggestions based on your preferences. You're also assigned a personal colorist who can help you customize your shade if the online process doesn't get it quite right. In addition, you can choose whether you want color that's permanent (ideal for completely covering gray hairs and takes 30 minutes to process) or demi-permanent (which lasts for about 24 shampoos and only takes about 10 to 20 minutes to process).

If all's good, you can order additional products, including a pro application kit ($20), accessories like protective gloves and towels, and haircare like shampoo, conditioner, hair masks, styling tools, and more ($1 to $20). When that's all done, you simply check out and wait for your custom hair color kit to be delivered directly to your door.

Your personal profile is also saved on eSalon's site, allowing you to view your order history, reorder your hair color, or create another customized shade based on your stats. Other convenient features include the ability to download your color application instructions and view your color evolution.

So what's in the box and how much does it all cost, you ask? In addition to a bespoke color and developer ($10 for your first order, then $20 per auto delivery or $25 for a single delivery), you'll also get packets of stain guard and stain remover, samples of eSalon's color care shampoo and conditioner, and personalized application instructions. There's also a flat shipping fee of $4.95 for each delivery. As seen in the image above, I ordered a few more products to get the most out of my experience. (More on that below.)

My eSalon Experience

As an olive-skinned brunette who's not as adventurous as her twenty-something self, I tend to stick to colors that are on the natural side for my skin tone — so straying away from black and brown can be a challenge. Fortunately, eSalon offers options for those who want to enhance their current hair color without going to the extremes (ahem, like skunk hair).

After filling out my hair profile, I picked Dark Brown (Intense Pearl), which has a violet-red tint. I also ordered the pro hair color application kit (which includes a timer, brush and bowl, and hair clips), a color- and bleach-resistant towel ($12), a protective cape ($8), color care shampoo and conditioner ($15 each), and the Tinted Love color enhancing treatment ($15).

A few days later, my order arrived — and about two months later, I finally carved out some self-pampering time to give myself a new hue.

Applying the color was easier and cleaner than I expected. I covered every inch of my bathroom in the event of a hair dye blowout (past experiences left my sink permanently maroon), and I'm happy to report that my old stained towels haven't collected any new battle scars.

From mixing the color and the developer and prepping my hair to washing out the dye, the entire process took less than hour. Per the directions, I divided my hair into four sections, then applied the color directly from the bottle — which was so surprisingly mess-free that I ended up not even needing to use the brush and bowl that came with the application kit that I got.

Next, I waited the recommended 30 minutes before applying any leftover product from the roots to the end, then added water and lathered my hair for one minute — according to the directions, it's a "professional trade secret to achieving shiny, multi-dimensional color."

Finally, I rinsed my hair thoroughly in the shower and cleansed my locks with shampoo and conditioner. Voila!

Before and After

Now, the moment we've all been waiting for (drumroll, please!): here are photos of my hair pre- and post-eSalon:

My hair before using eSalon.

A few weeks after I colored my hair.

Despite the warm lighting in the after photo, I'd say the image is the best example of how my hair color shines under both the sun and indoor lighting. I like that the red-violet tint is subtle but still noticeable.

The Verdict

The only thing I wish I'd done was that I tried eSalon sooner. I've been wanting to cover up the growing number of white and gray hairs but dreaded having to decipher the many boxes of different shades in the beauty aisle. Ordering a new hair hue without leaving the couch sounds much more appealing, even if the drugstore hair color kits take the same amount of time to apply.

Another thing I loved? eSalon's highly personalized online consultation: from accounting for skin tone and hair texture to showing hair color swatches on a model for comparison, the whole experience was pretty hassle-free.

And while I didn't subscribe to eSalon's auto-delivery service (yet), I like the option of reordering the same hair color formula without even having to pause Netflix.

Have you tried eSalon? Share your experience with us in the comments!

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