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eSalon vs. Madison Reed: Which Subscription Box is Right for You (and Your Hair)?

eSalon vs. Madison Reed
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Disclosure: The following product(s) may have been sent to Earn Spend Live in exchange for a review. All opinions are the author’s own.

Subscription boxes are great, but it’s hard to know what you’re actually getting until it arrives on your doorstep. And with something as important as hair dye, you can’t afford uncertainty. eSalon and Madison Reed are two of most reliable subscription box services you can get. They’re both high quality, come at a reasonable price, and produce great results.

But which one is right for you? Here’s all you need to know on each and so you can decide which matches your personal style.


eSalon is one of the highest rated custom-color subscription boxes on the market. When you sign up you’ll take a personal survey (like most subscription sites) about your hair type, color, style, length, etc. — but the thing that sets eSalon apart is the extent of their questions. You’ll be asked everything from ethnicity to eye color to make sure their stylists match you with the perfect color.

eSalon vs. Madison Reed

Image via eSalon

Multiple Options

eSalon also offers different hair dye options: permanent or demi-permanent (holds color for about 24 washes). With the demi-permanent package you can play with different colors without having to worry about totally ruining your hair. The sheer amount of colors they can create is commendable as well. With 15,000 pigment variations, they guarantee to provide you with the best color for you.

A Personal Touch

When I first visited eSalon’s website, I got the small business feel because of the team pictures and profiles — and it’s comforting to put a face to the person you’ve placed the care of your hair in. Their informational video also shows their store and how their color is mixes which puts your mind further at ease.

So. Many. Products.

Each month, you’ll receive hair color and developer, shampoo and conditioner, non-latex gloves, an applicator brush, and stain guard and remover. For all that’s included in the package, the $20 price is unmatched. If I were to walk into a salon, I would easily need to spend $50 on just a color — and even then there’s no guarantee I’ll love it. Highlights can cost up to $200; now that’s crazy.

Madison Reed

Madison Reed has both the best quality and the reputation of any custom-color company around. Their website is sleek and easy to use at any age — and their signature purple is a total yes.

The thing that I like about Madison Reed is that you can somewhat test-drive the car before you buy it — meaning anyone can take their questionnaire and find their perfect color without having to fork over any personal information. So say you go through the questions and change your mind or don’t agree with their match, you don’t have to cancel or unsubscribe from anything.

Madison Reed Review: DIY Hair Color That Lasts

One-on-One Service

Another plus of Madison Reed is that they make finding your custom-color a one-on-one process. Aside from the survey, you can call a consultant who will talk with you can help narrow down your options, chat online with a real representative, and even send in a picture of yourself and have a professional pick your personal color.

The Goodies

So what comes in your little purple box? Personalized instructions, cleaning wipes, a conditioning activator, gloves (not non-latex specified), barrier cream, radiant color cream, a protective cap, and shampoo and conditioner. For just $20 a month, this amount of product is unbelievable — and way too good to pass up.

No Harsh Chemicals

Since I’m allergic to basically every food under the sun, I’m always checking labels for ingredients — and yes, even things like shampoo that contain egg breaks me out. So, for the allergen-conscious, Madison Reed is a perfect fit. Once you finished your style questionnaire, you’ll be shown your color match along with a list of things the dye doesn’t include: gluten, ammonia, PPD, and phthalates.

As an added bonus, Madison Reed’s dye formula doesn’t have that dizzying smell because it’s ammonia free — so say goodbye to headaches after a hair dye!

The Verdict

Overall, these two subscription boxes are definitely worth the price (especially if you’re used to paying for salon hair color). And since both eSalon and Madison Reed are $19.95, it boils down to quality and features. Both boxes come with exceptional and personalized customer service and a high degree of quality.

Madison Reed allows you to interact with a real stylist to choose your custom color, which is a total plus — especially being able to chat with professionals. eSalon has a far more detailed questionnaire, however, which allows them to better match your color by taking race, skin tone, and eye color into account.

If you’re looking for an extremely personalized experience, with custom bottles with your name, then eSalon is right for you. They have a color selection that’s unmatched as far as subscription boxes go and the option to upload a picture of yourself for more accurate color selection makes the process that much easier.

But if you’re looking for a box that caters to allergies and one-on-one relationships with their customers, Madison Reed is right for you — it’s my personal pick. But just like each color is unique, so is each person’s experience and requirements for a subscription box. You’re not going to go wrong with either choice, so pick your favorite and color away!

Follow Anna on Instagram: @annamariedepoyster

Last modified on April 2nd, 2020

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