As you’ll see in this review, there is no right or wrong when it comes to hair dye. Different people want different things—and that’s okay! The main factors most people consider are: the price of the product, how easy it is to apply, and how long the results will last. We’ll go into each of these three factors in detail in this review, plus we’ll touch on some new features you can find in the latest slew of hair dyes, including all-natural and ammonia-free varieties. Take a look at our top picks!
While looking good is important, it shouldn’t make you break the bank. It’s always prudent to work with beauty products that are within your budget. For this reason, L'Oreal Paris is one of the brands that offers affordable luxury. With a motto like “Because You’re Worth It,” it’s no surprise that L’Oreal Paris believes that beauty products such as skin care and hair dyes should be well within your reach.
Each package of the L’Oreal Paris Excellence Crème Hair Dye includes three crèmes that make up the product’s three-step application process. First, you apply the Pre-Color Serum. This Ceramide-infused crème protects dry, brittle ends and protects the hair during the coloring process. Second, you apply the Pro-Keratine Color Crème. This thick, no-drip formula completely encompasses the hair shaft to ensure full, even color.
Finally, you complete the process with the Conditioning Treatment. This collagen-based product conditions the hair deep down and enhances the end result. Voila! Rich, beautiful color! This permanent hair colorant is available in 38 unique shades and comes in various sizes. With this, you have limitless hues to pick from depending on your budget.
Garnier is an American offshoot of L’Oreal, specializing in hair care. In recent years, Garnier has turned its attention to plant-based, natural ingredients that are beneficial to consumers’ wellbeing, smell great, and infuse unmatched moisture and shine into the hair follicle. Its products range from balms and shampoos to deep conditioning treatments and hair dye.
The Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Crème retails at a pocket-friendly price and is available in 50 different permanent shades, ranging from ash blonde (White Chocolate) to intense blue black, and everything in-between. This gives you a pool of choices to pick depending on your taste and preference. Each package comes with a towel and gloves to make your application process a breeze. Better yet, its two-step application process takes less than an hour, thus allowing you to fix your hair within a short time.
This color crème uses a combination of avocado, olive, and shea oils to condition the hair while infusing multi-faceted color from the root to the tip. It’s renowned for its ability to cover stubborn grays and pack in beautiful color in 30 minutes or less. The Nutrisse line, which is also available in a foam formula, defines its shades by level, with level 1 being the blackest black and level 11 being extra-light blonde.
For the best possible results, you should stay within two levels of your natural color. The Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Crème will still work if you want to go for a more-dramatic look, but new growth will be more obvious, which means you’ll need to touch-up the color more frequently. After application, you can expect the color to last up to 8 weeks.
The type of hair dye you choose depends on the color you want and how long you want it to last. Permanent hair dye, for example, will last longer than semi-permanent options, but they’re less forgiving! We reviewed one semi-permanent hair dye and four permanent hair dyes to give you a variety of options to choose from. Most of the brands included in this review offer both semi-permanent and permanent hair dye lines, so if the one we’ve highlighted isn’t right for you, take a look at the brands’ other offerings.
We think the biggest decision-making factor, unsurprisingly, is color. All of the brands we’ve featured in our review offer between 8 and 50 different shades to choose from, ranging from white blonde to blue black and everything in-between. Most of the brands featured offer several blondes, brunettes, reds, and blacks to choose from. Some even offer funky colors, such as pink and blue. Most brands offer similar colors, so if you know you want a chestnut brown color but really like the benefits a specific brand has to offer, you can probably find what you’re looking for.
Many of the latest hair dye innovations emphasize natural ingredients and are ammonia-free. These nature-inspired products don’t use the same harsh chemicals as traditional dyes, but you pay a price in two ways. First, they tend to be more expensive. Second, they don’t have the same ability to lift and process color like traditional hair dye. If you want a color that is similar to your natural color and want to avoid harsh ingredients, one of these options would work well for you.
Coloring your hair can be very drying. If you already have dry, brittle, or processed hair, look for a product that adds moisture—especially if you use a flat iron
, curling iron
, or hair dryer
to style your hair. Hot tools can dry out your hair, making it brittle and prone to breakage. Since dying your hair can worsen these effects, we suggest looking for a hair dye that has fruit or natural oils added, and that includes a deep conditioning treatment for afterwards. Several of the hair dyes we’ve featured contain extra ingredients for added moisture.
We reviewed various quality hair dyes costing between $10 and $14 per box, with the average price being about $12. If you have short or medium-length hair, then one box should be more than enough. If you have long hair, however, we recommend buying two. This is important because if you don’t have enough hair color to completely cover your hair, you’re going to end up with uneven results… which will mean another trip to the store and redoing the entire process.
The price of hair dye depends on the brand that manufactures it and what unique benefits the product has to offer. All boxes of hair dye usually include, at the bare minimum: a tube of base color, a developing solution, and a conditioner. Whether you choose a cheap hair dye or the most expensive one you can find, you can still expect to find these three products inside the box. Regardless of price, you can also expect the product to meet the brand’s promises.
Generally, we found that all-natural or more health-conscious hair dyes are more expensive than their traditional counterparts. Some factors that may influence price are what alternatives the brand uses to replace harsh ingredients, such as ammonia. Brands that use natural fruit oils or shea may be costlier than some other options.
We would, however, caution against falling for cheap hair colorants. This is because such products are likely to be made with substances that are substandard. Consequently, they may fall short of your expectations, something you don’t want on your hair. Fortunately, we haven’t included such dyes in our review and therefore no cause to worry.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to hair dye. In fact, few things in the world are more personal than hair color. The hair color you choose is completely up to you, and only you can decide what’s right. That being said, there are a few things we think you should look for:
- Contains safe ingredients (i.e. no ammonia)
- Extensive list of shades to choose from
- Easy application process
- Includes conditioning treatment
- Whether it’s semi-permanent or permanent
- Permanent or semi-permanent results, depending on what you want
There are hundreds of different types of hair dye on the market. Let’s take a minute to consider what variations in construction and design you may find.
Construction and Design
Two things that you should keep an eye on while looking at the design of your hair dye are: whether it’s permanent or semi-permanent, and what color it is. Let’s go into some more detail below.
Permanent or Semi-permanent
First and foremost, you need to decide whether you’re looking for permanent or semi-permanent color. Permanent color usually lasts about 8 weeks or 40 washes. Semi-permanent color fades with each wash and will last up to 28 weeks. If you’re new to coloring your hair or are afraid to make a big commitment, semi-permanent color may be perfect for you. On the other hand, a lot of women like to keep maintenance to a minimum. If you’re one of these people, we suggest permanent color. The results will last longer and require much less upkeep.
The next major consideration, obviously, is what color you want. Your end result depends on your natural color and the shade you choose. We’re just going to come out and say what you’re already thinking… hair dye is amazing, but it isn’t magic. Sorry, folks!
This means that you can’t expect any at-home hair dye kit to perform a miracle. If you have ink-black hair, no at-home hair dye is going to turn it bleach blonde in a single process. Unfortunately, the opposite applies, too. If you have bleached or naturally pale hair, it will absorb dark color better, but the base of your hair follicle is going to remain blonde and even the blackest black will begin to fade after several washes.
Now that that’s out of the way, you can still achieve gorgeous salon-quality results with any of the hair dyes featured in this review (and many others out there!). For the best results, you should try to stick within 2 shades of your natural color, either darker or lighter.
Performance and Ease of Use
There are two aspects of hair dye that we need to cover here: the application process and how long your results will last.
Most boxed hair dye kits include a tube of color, a developer, and some type of deep conditioning treatment. Usually, you combine the color and developer and apply it to the hair, either covering the entire head or just the roots, depending on your personal preferences. Let the hair dye sit per the specifications outlined in the instruction manual. This usually takes between 20 and 30 minutes. When time is up, rinse the dye and continue to follow the manufacturer’s directions. The next step is usually to apply the conditioning treatment and let it sit for about 3 minutes before rinsing and styling as usual.
How Long Results Last
Permanent hair color usually lasts up to 8 weeks, or about 40 washes. Semi-permanent color will last up to 28 washes, but may fade more quickly after several washes. Hot water can make your color fade faster, so avoid washing it with hot water if this is a concern for you.
We are 100% confident that any of the five hair dyes featured in this review will give you a beautiful look you can wear with pride. However, if you haven’t yet found your match, there are more hair dye products from each brand; one of them will certainly pique your interest!