In partnership with eSalon. Two days before boarding an airplane to Europe, I opened the box from eSalon. I was busy wrapping up the school year and preparing for three weeks of jaunting around Spain (I took the picture above in Madrid), Greece, Italy, and France. Nerves are mostly to blame as I knew that if I messed up—I’ve never ever colored my hair myself before—no one would be the wiser with the exception of my husband and daughter. In the end, even they didn’t notice.

I don’t really need to color my hair as grays are few and far between. But I marvel at opportunities we’re able to enjoy because of innovative companies and the internet. I was also positive that if this customized color system actually worked, it would be of great benefit to friends and readers as well as for me personally because the experience is far superior to drugstore products.

In my eSalon review, you’ll learn if the system is right for you.

What Is eSalon?

Hair color before eSalon
My hair color before eSalon

eSalon is the first and ONLY customized mass hair color service available globally (U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and Europe) that is at home hair color with salon style service. With assistance from an expert colorist, clients receive made-to-order color that takes into account color history, percentage of gray, hair texture, and more.

Color is perfectly matched to each client and kept on file so that adjustments can easily be made if desired. And, you can try it almost guilt-free for $22.

How it Works

I first went to to fill out a series of details online and upload a photo. A color choice was generated. However, I opted for a phone consultation with an expert colorist to fine tune what I was looking for.

Basically, I wanted the same hair color I already have, figuring that if I could pull this off myself, I could get a little bit more adventurous the next time. Plus, I was seriously worried about my ability to get hair dye on every strand as my hair is incredibly thick. I chose the semi-permanent option, which disappears within about 20 washes, but eSalon also offers a permanent option.

The colorist went into a bit more detail regarding the process and why she thought I should slightly alter the color generated for me. She thought it was too red and light. My hair is predominantly dark brown with strands of blond and red that are tough to see in a photo. I was worried they couldn’t see the red properly but took her advice.

eSalon hair dye review

Merely a few days later, my eSalon box arrived containing professional-grade hair color and accessories. The only other things you need to provide are a few old towels or a hairdresser cape to protect your clothes.

It’s helpful to have big metal hair clips to keep your hair in place as you work each section. I used chip bag clips because I didn’t have metal clips, and they worked okay, but get the real deal if you plan to color your hair often.

Wind-blown hair in VERY windy Crete about 9 days after eSalon
Wind-blown hair in VERY windy Crete about 9 days after eSalon

Shorter Than Anticipated Process

I waited until my husband took my daughter out of the house on errands for several hours, then I opened my eSalon box and got to work.

I have a TON of hair beyond shoulder length, so I was convinced this was a multi-hour endeavor. In reality, it took about an hour, mostly because I was double and triple-checking instructions. I bet you can get it down to 45 or less after a few go-arounds, and this includes 15 minutes of letting the color set.

The first thing you do is divide your hair into four sections. I wondered if mine should have been closer to eight, given the amount of hair I have, but I followed the directions anyway.

I placed the stain guard around my hairline to prevent staining my skin. I forgot to put it around my neck, but it really didn’t matter. If any gets on your skin, just wet a tissue and dab it off. Plus, none actually stained my skin.

After mixing the color in the provided bottles, I began squirting it into each section, making sure my hair was wet. It never really got soaked to the point of dripping. I didn’t use a brush or anything fancy to run it through my hair, just a pair of provided rubber gloves.

In the meantime, I worried about the following:

  • Would I stain the grout on the shower floor as the color was rinsed?
  • Would I stain my towels if I didn’t manage to rinse completely?
  • Would I stain my Frette sheets (bought in Italy no less) with newly colored hair?
  • Would my husband freak out if any of the above happened? (I would have been in serious trouble.)

Alas, all was fine.

I waited the suggested 15 minutes while the color set, took the leftover color into the shower with me to lather into my hair for a final minute, and rinsed. Apparently, this is the trick to make sure hair dye is distributed evenly. I used the provided Heart Lock It Color Safe Shampoo and Conditioner samples.

I shampooed twice for good measure because my hair is so thick. Though I did wait what felt like longer than needed for the water to run clear into the drain, I did squeeze my hair, and some very, very light brown color bled into my white towel, which I immediately washed, and it was fine… for good measure, use an old towel!

End Result as Promised

A photo in El Retiro Park in Madrid, Spain.
In Madrid three days after my first eSalon experience.

Because I have Japanese hair straightening, I waited for my hair to dry to see the final result. The color was pretty close to my natural color, and I was surprised that even though I’d forgotten to put the stain guard around my neck hairline, I didn’t spy any stains on my skin or scalp.

In the meantime, my daughter and husband came home and noticed nothing.

Overall, I like my color. It is slightly darker without the red highlights I normally have, so I would work with a colorist next time to lighten it slightly and see if I can get my subtle highlights back, if possible. I should have been a bit more vocal about my red streaks to the colorist, so consider it a little bit my fault.

Would I Use eSalon Again?

Totally. No one noticed my hair color was different, so my goal of keeping my same brown shade was definitely achieved. I think I have the hair color where the end goal works with a product like this. It was easy, and you just can’t beat the price for this kind of customized service. (Note that eSalon can’t currently change hair more than two shades lighter than their natural hair color.)

Oh, and have I still mentioned that I colored my hair to my husband and daughter? Nope. They have no idea.

Do you color your hair at home?

See why eSalon is the BEST option for coloring your hair at home.

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. Love the color! This is good to know because I hate how much money it costs to keep it up at the salon! 🙂

  2. What a cool concept! I’m not usually good at this sort of thing but this sounds easy and convenient!

  3. And actually what’s quite amazing about this technology as well is that you can create bespoke products en masse.