VIDEO: eSalon Custom Formulated Hair Color Review

VIDEO: Our expert stylist tries out eSalon Custom Formulated Hair Color on one of her regular clients to see how it matches up to a professional job. 

I first saw eSalon Custom Formulated Hair Color (Rated 94/100 by Viewpoints reviewers) on TV one morning while I was having my first cup of coffee. I had just finished a series of blogs on at-home boxed hair color, how to choose it and how to use it to improve your results and thought that this product might make an interesting addition. eSalon is an online hair color company that will customize a color formula for you and send it directly to your house for you to apply on yourself. I thought this an intriguing idea and worth further investigating, so I decided to go online and place an order and give it a shot. Here is what I discovered.

Ordering eSalon Custom Formulated Hair Color

First you must go online and fill out a questionnaire about yourself and your hair. You will be asked a series of questions about your skin tone, eye color, hair color and texture, amount of grey, amount of roots, and what color you are trying to achieve. There is a color chart to help you choose the shade you are looking for. They strongly suggest that you send a picture of yourself in good lighting in order for their in-house colorists to have a visual of you in order to help to formulate a flattering shade that will compliment your skin tone. At the end of the questionnaire, you are offered the option to buy some extra accessories such as a timer, mixing bowl, clips and of course their very own shampoo and conditioner, all at additional cost.

eSalon does not offer a highlight option, at least not yet, but sells only single-process formulas.

I skipped the photo segment because I was ordering the color for one of my clients who volunteered for this and offered up her hair to science (brave woman.) I thought the best way to go about reviewing this product would be to use it on someone who I have worked on many times to see how it compares to the professional hair color I normally use in the salon.

The ordering process was pretty easy and took about 10-15 minutes. eSalon wants you as a repeat customer so there is an option to have the product delivered automatically to your door every 4- 8 weeks. You will be charged automatically, but it is also cost effective to do it this way at $20 (plus shipping) each delivery.

A one-time order will cost you $25, with $4.95 in shipping charges. My total cost was $30 for one application. With boxed hair color running an average of $10 a box, and professional color running an average of $60 for a single process, this is right in the middle.

Shipping and Delivery

The thing that surprised me the most was how long it took to receive the product. It took a week for them to formulate it and another 10 days to receive it via UPS. Good thing it wasn’t an emergency, however, the company offers a rush delivery for an additional $2 charge.

A small box was delivered that contained customized instructions with my name inserted into the text, which was a nice touch. The packaging was attractive and my name was on everything, personalizing it. Too bad it wasn’t for me.

eSalon Custom Formulated Hair Color

See what’s in the eSalon Custom Formulated Hair Color box.

The kit contained two pair of high quality latex gloves, an upgrade from boxed color, which gives you plastic gloves that are difficult to keep on. There was a small application brush for use with a bowl of your own if you prefer this method. Personally, I think it’s more difficult to use a brush on yourself than a bottle. If you are going to use a bowl, plastic is a good choice and use it only for this purpose. You don’t want to eat out of it after you have used chemicals, even if you wash it.

There was a smaller box inside that contained a small packet of pre-stain treatment that you apply to the hairline before you put the color on in order to prevent staining, and a packet with after-color stain remover in case the pre-stain doesn’t prevent it entirely. Also in this small box were envelopes with shampoo and conditioner for washing the color out.

There were two bottles, one containing the liquid pigment and the other bottle the 15-volume peroxide/developer. These were mixed together to produce about 5 oz of product ,which was more then enough to cover the ½ inch of roots we were after (about 8 weeks of re-growth since the last touch up). The timer was set for 35 minutes and we waited.

Using eSalon

I was fairly pleased with the end result. The tone was good, however, I usually use 20-volume peroxide on this client and the grey coverage is better. With the 15-volume, I could still make out some grey hairs that were stained, but not covered completely. The company does offer to reformulate for you if you are not happy with the results.

Overall, I think the packaging was charming and the idea is intriguing. The directions were easy to understand and it was very user friendly. They were more forthcoming with the formula than boxed color, which does not tell you the volume of the peroxide or how many ounces or grams are in one application. I definitely think this is an upgrade and the convenience of having it delivered to you is amazing.

If you can’t afford to make it to the salon for professional color, eSalon is a good substitute for at-home boxed hair color.

Rachel Leipzig Rachel Leipzig (30 Posts)

Rachel Leipzig has been styling hair in Chicago for 15 years, after relocating from New York City and opening a salon on Oak Street on Chicago’s Gold Coast. She is currently working at Sho Studio in Chicago. A specialist in makeovers, her television appearances include Oprah, ABC, and FOX. Leipzig’s work has also been featured in Allure, Chicago Social and Today’s Chicago Woman magazines.


  • michelle

    Thanks Rachel – I wanted to let you know that most of our packages arrive within 3-5 business days and it seems that unfortunately the USPS delivered your package late.

    • Jennifer A. Freeman

      @Michelle — Thanks again for commenting. We love to hear from brands and manufacturers.

  • carolfowler1

    Thanks Michelle – We at Viewpoints appreciate your feedback. Here’s a response from Rachel:
    “My goal with the esalon formula was for 100% grey coverage which was one of the questions in the initial questionaire I filled out. The formula could be adjusted for better coverage and redone, however my review was based on the original formula sent from esalon.
    As for the cost, since there is a $4.95 shipping fee, I figured this cost into the total. The product took almost 2 weeks to arrive, but I believe esalon will rush delivery for an additional charge.”

  • michelle

    Thank you so much for the post on eSalon. We are thrilled
    that you had a positive experience overall and would recommend eSalon’s service to your audience. I want to clarify a few things about the product that came to mind when reading your post. Based on a lower amount of gray coverage, our clients may want to start with a lower peroxide volume to decrease the brassiness that most blondes complain about. The client always has the option to increase the peroxide if the gray coverageneeds improvement and we can always add a neutralizer to the formulation from there.

    eSalon’s price point for recurring clients, which represent the majority is $19.95 per color application. So the cost to our clients is actually $5.00 less than the $25.00 mentioned in your review. Thank you for stating that the company offers
    to reformulate for the client if they are not happy with the results, but to
    clarify, we completely reformulate for free if our clients are not 100% happy with their initial color.

    • carolfowler1

      Thanks Michelle – We at Viewpoints appreciate your feedback. Here’s a response from Rachel:
      “My goal with the esalon formula was for 100% grey coverage which was one of the questions in the initial questionaire I filled out. The formula could be adjusted for better coverage and redone, however my review was based on the original formula sent from esalon.
      As for the cost, since there is a $4.95 shipping fee, I figured this cost into the total. The product took almost 2 weeks to arrive, but I believe esalon will rush delivery for an additional charge.”