We Tried Josh Wood’s Home Hair Colour & Here Are Our Honest Thoughts

Jacqueline Kilikita
·9-min read

When celebrity hair colour expert Josh Wood launched his own range of hair products in 2018, it prompted loyal clients everywhere to break up with their colourists. From semi-permanent shades to quick and easy gloss treatments, the products made hair transformations a lot less scary, not to mention affordable.

With hair salons closed until 12th April, plenty of us are taking colour changes into our own hands. Right now, Josh Wood Colour is one of the most googled box dye brands, with searches up by 70%. It makes sense. Having spent years working at fashion week, launching the Josh Wood Atelier in Holland Park and joining Redken as its global colour creative director, it’s safe to say that Josh knows hair colour inside out.

The collection currently consists of permanent box dye hair colour complete with all the equipment, temporary root touch-up pens, semi-permanent colour gloss hair masks, and haircare products such as oils and styling creams. From toffee blonde and rich chocolate brown to highly coveted copper, there are lots of shades to choose from. At £14, the box dyes are a little more expensive than your average high street offering but arguably feel a little more luxe. Choosing the right shade doesn’t mean taking a stab in the dark, either, as Josh Wood’s website offers free video consultations with expert colourists to ensure you won’t regret your DIY job.

So is Josh Wood Colour really worth the hype? Three R29 staffers gave the most popular products a go. Here are the results…

Jacqueline Kilikita, Beauty Editor

I used: Josh Wood Colour Permanent Colour 5.0 + Smoky Brunette Shade Shot, £19, available at Josh Wood Colour.

“Growing out ‘90s chunky highlights means I’ve had to contend with brassy ends. While I love colour depositing masks for neutralising those tones, they fade easily, so I was excited to try a permanent colour. My first port of call was a virtual consultation with an expert hairstylist, a free service which is available through Josh Wood’s website. This took five minutes and saved me from playing a guessing game with the different shades.

At £19, this box dye is more expensive than other high street versions but influencers and editors are touting it as the next best thing to a professional dye job. The actual process was so simple. I decanted all of the creamy products into the bottle, gave it a shake until it turned into a liquid, and applied directly to my hair. The colour took me by surprise as it was olive green! Still, I trusted Josh. I first applied the product on the ends of my hair, rubbing the colour in with my fingers (gloved, of course), then raked it through with a comb. Then I moved on to my roots. Although my hair is shoulder length, I have a lot of it; one box just about covered every strand. If you have long, thick hair, I’d suggest stocking up on two lots.

I’ve not used a box dye on myself in the past because I find the ammonia fumes suffocating but this smelled like a bouquet of flowers and is ammonia-free. It didn’t sting or itch (always carry out a patch test at least 48 hours beforehand) and the colour developed in just 30 minutes. When I showered the dye away, I followed with a hair mask (Sol De Janeiro Triple Brazilian Butter Hair Repair Treatment Mask, £31) and was surprised by how silky soft my hair felt. I rough-dried and straightened my hair and totally fell in love with the rich colour and gloss effect. I looked like I’d just stepped out of a shampoo advert. This is the darkest I’ve been but I love it. In sunlight, there are very subtle nuances of red or chestnut peppered throughout, which make my hair glisten and give it dimension. All in all, I’m sold and I’ll be skipping the salon appointments in future. When box dye is this good, it makes sense, and anything that saves me time and money gets my vote.”

Meg O’Donnell, Art Editor

I used: Josh Wood Colour Copper Gold Gloss, £19, available at Josh Wood Colour.

“I recently made the decision to be a dedicated redhead for life. It’s my favourite hair colour I’ve ever had and I don’t know how I went so long without giving it a go. I had my copper hair refreshed at Taylor Taylor in Shoreditch right before the November lockdown and have been tearfully watching the regrowth over the past few months (roll on 12th April). When I got the opportunity to try Josh Wood’s Copper Gold Gloss, I was super excited. Although I wasn’t expecting a full head of copper tones, I thought a little refresh of colour on the ends might keep me going until I can get my hair professionally seen to. Plus, this product doubles up as a deeply conditioning treatment mask. Divine!

I must admit I don’t enjoy the whole box dye experience because I’ve had a few huge errors and I find them mind-numbing to do. It’s the whole separating your hair, generally having to be careful, sitting on the bathroom floor half-naked, waiting for it to do its thing. Not for me. This product, however, took that whole process and made it somewhat enjoyable. That’s partly because it smells so delightful. I was genuinely excited while brushing it through my strands as the consistency is so glossy and feels so nourishing. I was on cloud nine. I also have to add how happy I was to discover a pair of gloves included in the box. I’m so used to trying to make a plastic bag work. Spoiler: it doesn’t.

I kept the product on for a little longer than the box suggested as I really wanted a somewhat drastic change. I then rinsed it out until the water ran clear and followed with a shampoo. One thing I would say is that considering I left it on for a while, I was hoping for a more dramatic colour change on my ends. My overall colour has definitely been revived and a richer rose gold hue has softened the slightly brassy tones I had going. I’m still looking forward to having my hair done professionally, though. I think the aim of this product is to refresh your colour and condition hair, so it ticks those boxes. I’m so happy with how soft and healthy my hair feels. I usually have to add a hair oil through my hair post-shower to keep the frizz at bay but that wasn’t necessary as the mask element has nourished my dry ends. I left my hair to dry naturally as I normally would and I am super happy with the condition and feel of my refreshed locks. I’d love to use this again to treat my hair, not necessarily to change the colour of it though.”

Jessica Morgan, Staff Writer

I used: Josh Wood Colour Miracle System Permanent Colour in 7.0, £14, Icy Shade Shot, £19, Champagne Blonde Gloss, £19, available at Josh Wood Colour.

“I gave myself the big chop during lockdown and shortly after, DIY balayage, as salons were closed. I was really pleased with the results. I’d consider myself a pro when it comes to DIY hair and I’ve been colouring my hair since I was 18 years old so I was excited to try Josh Wood Colour. I had an online consultation with one of their experts to determine which colour kit would be suitable for my hair. It was decided that due to my darker natural hair regrowth, I should use a permanent colour in shade 7.0, a chocolate brown, to subtly lighten my natural hair, then use the semi-permanent Champagne Blonde Gloss on my bleached ends, with the Icy Shade Shot & Miracle Shot to tone.

When the kit arrived, I was slightly intimidated — there was a lot to think about! I read the instructions and decanted the products in the mixing bowl provided. I then used the skin barrier cream to prevent any staining around my edges and applied the permanent colour, Icy Shade Shot & Miracle Shot all over my roots using the tint brush. I let it work its magic for 30 minutes without any of the product touching my ends. Then I rinsed the colour out and towel-dried my hair. I applied the Champagne Blonde Gloss all over my ends and left it to process for 20 minutes. After rinsing, I decided to forgo the provided conditioner and used my Dizziak Deep Conditioner instead, as it’s gentle on my afro hair. My hair felt really silky and clean and I diffused and styled as normal. Once my hair was dry, I could see the results of the colour. My hair looked a lot darker than I’d expected and I had lost the bright golden blonde I had previously, which wasn’t the look I was trying to achieve. While my hair is shinier and softer, I didn’t get the colour I wanted.

Twenty-four hours later, I noticed that my scalp and hairline was red, sore and itchy. I don’t have a sensitive scalp nor have I had an allergic reaction to at-home box dye in the past so I was surprised. [Beauty editor note: it’s incredibly important to carry out an allergy alert test or patch test 48 hours before dyeing your hair.] I’m not entirely sold so I will be heading to the salon as soon as they open. I was disappointed but on this occasion it just didn’t work for me. In future, I will stick to Moroccanoil’s Colour Depositing Mask. It’s kinder to my hair and I prefer the results.”

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