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The 15 Best Hair Dyes: Achieve Your Dream Hair Color At Home

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If you’re ready for the gamble of box dye, we have all our picks of the best hair dyes–permanent, semi-permanent, and ranging in color! Though nothing will replace an expert at a salon, quick fixes like covering grays, adding a fresh pop of color, or just simply upkeep are perfect for a box dye brand.

In order to be most successful in your hair journey, we’ve compiled all you need to know about choosing the best at home hair dye. From figuring out your hair type, to quick FAQ’s, and even ingredients to avoid in box dye, we’ve got you covered with all you need to know for choosing the best hair dye!

Our Picks for the Best Hair Dyes

From pigmented and long-lasting to natural glosses, these are the best hair dyes to create whatever look your heart desires from the comfort of your own home. 

Best Overall
Clairol Perfect 10 Nice ‘n Easy Hair Color


  • Very easy to use
  • Colors hair quickly
  • Covers grays
  • Can change color by a few levels


  • Dated packaging

Key Features:

Type: Permanent
Texture: Cream
Ammonia-Free: No
Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No/No

It might not have the trendiest box or the most exciting color range, but this is still the best at-home hair dye we’ve tried when it comes to coverage, consistency, and ease of use. It’s a fast-acting formula that colors the hair in just 10 minutes. Despite working so quickly, it still does a great job of covering grays and transforming the hair. The shorter amount of time that the dye is in contact with your hair means that it’s a little gentler than other formulas while still being able to change the hair color by a few levels.

Overall, it’s a great choice if you want to go darker with your hair, get it lighter just by a level or two, or if you want to change its tone without making it darker or lighter. Buy it at Amazon!

Best Ammonia-Free
Revlon ColorSilk Permanent Hair Color


  • Ammonia-free formula is gentler
  • Budget-friendly
  • Excellent for small changes
  • Long-lasting results


  • Not suitable for big color changes

Key Features:

  • Type: Permanent
  • Texture: Gel-cream
  • Ammonia-Free: Yes
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No/No

This is an unusual yet impressive hair dye, and it’s our top choice for anyone who wants to make a small hair color shift that’ll last. It’s a permanent, ammonia-free formula, which is a rare combination. Instead of ammonia, it contains ethanolamine, which has a similar function of lifting the hair cuticle to allow the color to penetrate. However, it’s a little gentler on the scalp, and it smells much better.

It’s quite budget-friendly, which is another big bonus! It works best if you’re trying to make incremental changes, like going from light brown to dark blonde or just trying to hide your grays. The ash shades in this range are particularly beautiful and work well to hide brassy tones. Order it from Amazon!

Best Foam Dye
John Frieda Precision Foam Color
John Frieda


  • Easy to apply evenly
  • Doesn’t drip or make a mess
  • High coverage formula hides grays


  • Not great for big color changes

Key Features:

  • Type: Permanent
  • Texture: Foam
  • Ammonia-Free: No
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No/No

If you find it difficult to get even coverage with cream dyes, you may like trying this alternative delivery system. This box hair dye has the texture of thick, rich foam, so spreading it through the hair is incredibly easy. It doesn’t drip or make a mess, so it’s one of the more user-friendly options on this list.

The formula itself is permanent and offers a high level of coverage. This means it’s great for hiding grays, although we find that it’s a better choice for smaller shade transformations. If you want to make a big change, you may want to opt for a different permanent dye. Get it on Amazon.

Best Permanent
Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Hair Color Creme


  • Very pigmented formula
  • Nourishing and creamy
  • Transforms hair by multiple shades
  • Excellent reds and browns


  • Not ammonia-free

Key Features:

  • Type: Permanent
  • Texture: Cream
  • Ammonia-Free: No
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes

If you’re looking for a vivid, dramatic color in a permanent formula that won’t overly damage your hair, this is one of our favorites. Despite containing ammonia, this cream dye formula is surprisingly gentle, thanks to its creamy texture and added nourishing oils.

Despite its gentleness, this permanent dye will still transform your hair by a few shades, so you can take it a hint lighter or up to a few shades darker. It also offers excellent gray coverage! We find that the brunette and red shades in this product line are especially stunning. It’s available on Amazon.

Best for Blondes
L’Oreal Paris Feria Multi-Faceted Shimmering Permanent Hair Color
L’Oreal Paris


  • Lightens the hair dramatically
  • Doesn’t just bleach but colors as well
  • The easiest way to go blonde at home


  • Still damages the hair

Key Features:

  • Type: Permanent/Bleach
  • Texture: Grainy cream
  • Ammonia-Free: No
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No/No

L’Oreal breaks the rules with a box dye that’ll lighten and color your hair at the same time. If you want to go blonde at home, this is the easiest way to go about it. It comes with three different parts that you mix together, including a bleach powder, but the final mixture is an easy-to-spread cream.

The shade Extreme Platinum will lighten the hair by up to 7 levels, which means you can expect to achieve a blonde with it even if you’re a brunette. Just keep in mind that it’s still bleach, so it will likely damage your hair to a certain extent. Additionally, even though you’ll end up with a more complex color than if you were to use traditional bleach, you may still need to tone your hair after dyeing it. You can find it on Amazon.

Best for Silver Hair
L’Oreal Paris Feria Shimmering Permanent Hair Color in Smokey Silver
L’Oreal Paris


  • Permanent option for fashion hair colors
  • Gorgeous silvery and metallic shades
  • Can impact unbleached hair


  • Best results still require bleaching

Key Features:

  • Type: Permanent
  • Texture: Gel-Cream
  • Ammonia-Free: No
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No/No

L’Oreal is one of the only brands making permanent fashion hair colors, and their silvery-gray shade is a dream. This shimmery, cool gray is the perfect shade for someone wanting to try something a little different. Since it’s still a fashion color, keep in mind that it won’t work unless your hair is already very light. That said, since it’s a permanent formula, it’s a little more intense and transformative than your average semi-permanent dye, so if your hair is light, you will probably get great results even without bleaching. Purchase it from Amazon!

Best Gentle Formula
Clairol Natural Instincts


  • Very gentle coloring system for damaged hair
  • A balanced option between permanent and semi-permanent dye
  • Medium coverage blends grays and preserves dimension in the hair


  • Doesn’t alter hair color dramatically

Key Features:

  • Type: Semi-Permanent (but long-lasting)
  • Texture: Cream
  • Ammonia-Free: Yes
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No/No

If you’re avoiding ammonia and other harsh ingredients, this dye from Clairol is a great option. It’s an incredibly popular choice for those with damaged hair who need a gentle product to cover over any mistakes.

This dye sits somewhere between a permanent and semi-permanent dye since it doesn’t drastically alter the hair color, but it usually lasts longer than the average semi-permanent formula. It’s like an even gentler alternative to Revlon ColorSilk, which is also ammonia-free but a touch more intense.

It offers a medium level of coverage, which means that while it won’t totally hide your grays, it’ll tint them. The other benefit to this is that if you have natural tones in your hair, this dye won’t flatten them all, so your hair will still have some natural dimension. It’s sold at Ulta and Amazon.

Best Semi-Permanent
Arctic Fox Semi-Permanent Hair Color
Arctic Fox


  • Excellent option for fashion colors
  • Highly pigmented formula
  • Very gentle and conditioning


  • Won’t make much of a difference in unbleached hair

Key Features:

  • Type: Semi-Permanent
  • Texture: Cream
  • Ammonia-Free: Yes
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes

When it comes to fashion colors, Arctic Fox is one of our favorite brands. They produce semi-permanent hair dye in all kinds of unusual shades, including multiple pinks, blues, and purples.

It’s a color-depositing formula with a lot of pigment. This means that it doesn’t penetrate deeply into the hair, nor can it lighten the hair. If you want a really vivid, dramatic color or just a very light pastel, you’ll have to bleach your hair first. When applied to darker hair, this dye will give a tint rather than a major color change.

Since it’s semi-permanent, it’s incredibly gentle and actually leaves the hair feeling nicely conditioned and smelling beautiful. Shop for it at Ulta or Amazon!

Best Demi-Permanent
Wella Color Charm Demi Permanent Hair Color


  • Salon results
  • Demi-permanent formula designed to uplift hair
  • Makes hair look more vivid or vibrant
  • Very gentle


  • Activator has to be bought separately

Key Features:

  • Type: Demi-Permanent
  • Texture: Cream
  • Ammonia-Free: Yes
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: No/No

Wella is one of the most popular salon hair color brands, so if you want salon results, you should give them a try. This demi-permanent formula is designed to give the hair a slight uplift, as opposed to a dramatic change. It comes in a range of natural shades to give the hair a slightly more vivid or vibrant color as well as a sheen. It’s phenomenal either to brighten your natural color or to amp up faded salon color.

It’s incredibly gentle, so it’s suitable even for brittle hair. However, it does need to be used in combination with an activator, and it won’t work on its own. Pick it up from Amazon!

Best for Bold Colors
Manic Panic Amplified Semi-Permanent Hair Color
Manic Panic


  • Huge range of unusual colors
  • Mixers and colors that glow under blacklight available
  • Moisturizing and gentle


  • Works best when hair is bleached

Key Features:

  • Type: Semi-Permanent
  • Texture: Cream
  • Ammonia-Free: Yes
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes

Manic Panic is one of the original fashion hair color brands from back in the days when colorful hair was only for punks and self-proclaimed freaks. Nowadays, the brand still has the same punk aesthetic, but the colors themselves have been developed beautifully.

Manic Panic colors come in a huge range, with many shades of green, blue, purple, and more. There are even shades that glow under a black light, and lighter shades that act as toners or as wonderful mixers for creating a custom pastel. 

The dye formula is very moisturizing and gentle, leaving the hair soft and healthy. It’s ammonia- and bleach-free, so for truly vivid results, you’ll have to apply it over pre-lightened hair. Otherwise, all you’ll achieve is a unique tint. Grab it at Ulta or Amazon!

Best Long-Lasting Fashion Color
Punky Colour Semi-Permanent Conditioning Hair Color
Punky Colour


  • Range of vivid semi-permanent colors
  • Heavily pigmented formula
  • Unusually long-lasting for semi-permanent dye


  • Color can bleed for a few days after dyeing

Key Features:

  • Type: Semi-Permanent
  • Texture: Cream
  • Ammonia-Free: Yes
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes

This is another great semi-permanent hair dye for those who like vivid colors. The Punky range is heavily pigmented, so these bold colors can show up even on darker hair (although, as always, you’ll get the best results after you bleach). Even though the formula is semi-permanent, it can last for up to 35 washes, which is unusually long-lasting.

The one drawback with this color is that it tends to bleed quite a bit, so you’ll probably want to sleep with a towel on your pillow for at least a few days after dyeing your hair. Buy it on Amazon or Ulta!

Best Color-Enhancing
dpHUE Gloss+ Semi-permanent Hair Color and Deep Conditioner


  • Two-in-one option
  • Very conditioning to the hair
  • Acts as a gloss to enhance your existing color
  • Can be used for gradually changing hair color


  • None – it’s just a very specific product

Key Features:

  • Type: Gloss
  • Texture: Cream
  • Ammonia-Free: Yes
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes

This two-in-one acts as both a conditioner and a gloss. It’s basically a rich conditioner infused with pigment to add sheen and enhance either natural or already dyed hair. It’s available in a range of natural shades, and there’s also a clear formula that just brightens and revitalizes the hair (and which can also work to thin out other semi-permanent dyes). Because it’s so lightly tinted, it’s also effective for gradual changes, like slowly going from blonde to red or brown. You can get it at SephoraNordstromUlta, or Amazon!

Best Color-Depositing Conditioner
Keracolor Clenditioner


  • Multi-purpose product
  • Tints hair while cleansing and conditioning it
  • Wide range of shades
  • Easy to spread and rinse


  • None

Key Features:

  • Type: Semi-permanent coloring conditioner
  • Texture: Cream
  • Ammonia-Free: Yes
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes

This super moisturizing 3-in-1 is our favorite time-saving hack. It’s a multi-purpose product that dyes, conditions, and cleanses your hair all at once. If you need a color refresh or a tint, using it is as easy as conditioning your hair. You can also use it as you would a regular semi-permanent dye if you’d like a more dramatic change. The shade range is wide and includes both natural and fashion colors.

This is comparable to semi-permanent, color-depositing formulas, like Arctic Fox, but with a texture that spreads through damp hair beautifully and rinses out incredibly easily in the shower. You can buy it from Amazon or Ulta!

Best Color Revival Mask
Christophe Robin Shade Variation Hair Mask
Christophe Robin


  • Deeply nourishing mask formula
  • Lightly tints or brightens hair
  • Help blend grays


  • A little expensive

Key Features:

  • Type: Gloss
  • Texture: Creamy mask
  • Ammonia-Free: Yes
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/Yes

Christophe Robin makes some of our favorite hair masks, and that includes this mask-dye hybrid. This rich, creamy mask conditions and moisturizes the hair deeply while also depositing just a light hint of color. It helps to gloss, tint, or enhance your color, and it works nicely both on natural and dyed hair.

Since it’s a low-coverage formula, it won’t offer any dramatic changes, but it can help blend grays or tint your hair while allowing it to retain its natural depth variation. It’s a little expensive, but all in all, it’s an excellent choice for anyone with dry hair who wants a color refresh. Pick it up at NordstromSephoraDermstore, or Amazon!

Best for Root Touch-Ups
Oribe Airbrush Root Touch-Up Spray


  • Colors roots to hide grays
  • Absorbs excess oil from hair
  • Quick and easy to use


  • Quite pricey
  • Technically not a hair dye

Key Features:

  • Type: Hair Makeup
  • Texture: Powder spray
  • Ammonia-Free: Yes
  • Cruelty-Free/Vegan: Yes/yes

This luxury spray is truly unique. It’s like a hybrid between dry shampoo and hair makeup, helping to absorb excess oil while also coloring the roots to hide gray hair. Though it’s technically not a dye, it might still be helpful for anyone dealing with grown-out grays who’s a little nervous about coloring their own hair.

The spray is heavily pigmented, so it covers grays quickly and easily. The nozzle dispenses the spray very evenly, so it’s very easy to apply. It’ll stay put in your hair until you wash it out, although it might also stain your pillowcase.

The only drawback to it is that it’s quite expensive for a fairly small amount of product, but that’s not too surprising considering Oribe is considered a premium brand. Order it from SephoraNordstrom, or Amazon!

What to Look for in the Best At-Home Hair Dye for You?

Hair dyes range greatly in colors, coverage levels, and even the type of chemical effect they have on the hair. To find the right one for you, it’s important to understand what makes each hair dye unique.

The Main Types of Hair Dyes

It’s important that you understand the different kinds of hair dyes and how each one of them works. With that out of the way, it’ll be easier to explain how to find the right one for you.

Permanent Hair Dye

This is the most long-lasting of the bunch. Permanent hair dye will usually have some ammonia in it, so it’s able to lift and penetrate through the hair cuticle to actually change the color of the hair shaft. The color will retain its full vividness even after dozens of washes. Some fading will eventually occur, but the actual chemical change in your hair will be permanent.

Permanent hair dyes can lighten the hair by a few shades, and they’re a better choice if you want a slightly more dramatic change but without bleaching your hair. Just keep in mind that after you use a permanent dye, any additional changes you make to your hair color will probably be a little unpredictable.

Semi-Permanent Hair Dye

Next, we have semi-permanent hair dye. Another term for it is “color-depositing” dye. Semi-permanent dye doesn’t lift the cuticle or actively change the structure of your hair. It’s usually just a heavily pigmented formula that deposits color over the outer part of the hair shaft. Semi-permanent dyes come in all colors, and they’re especially common in fashion colors (i.e. unusual colors, like vivids or pastels).

Because of that, semi-permanent dyes just tint the hair without making any changes to how dark it is. Depending on where you started, you can expect the color to last around 6-12 washes. These dyes work best over pre-bleached hair, but if you use them on virgin (i.e. undyed) hair, you’ll have a much subtler (and possibly unpredictable) change.

Demi-Permanent Hair Dye

Demi-permanent dye is a slightly less pigmented type of semi-permanent dye. It’s also a color-depositing formula, but it’s usually not going to show up as vividly in the hair, and it also won’t last for as many washes. Expect the color to start to fade with your first 2-3 washes.

Bleach/Hair Lightening Systems

Finally, it’s also worth mentioning hair bleach, even though it’s technically not a dye. Bleach helps to color the hair by lifting the cuticle and oxidizing the melanin in the hair. It basically strips the color from the hair, leaving it lighter than it was before. Bleaching can be done with a system, like the L’Oreal Feria Multi-Faceted Blondes, or with bleach and developer purchased separately.


Coverage is the question of how pigmented a hair dye is. It’s kind of like with foundation – the higher the coverage, the more the hair dye will hide. This is especially important for those dealing with gray hair!

  • High Coverage: Most permanent hair dyes offer full coverage, along with their ability to lift the hair cuticle and lighten the hair. If you’re dealing with a lot of grays or your hair has persistent undertones, look for permanent dyes that are specifically advertised as having high or full coverage.
  • Medium Coverage: You’ll never see a dye marketed as medium coverage. Instead, it’ll probably be sold as a dye designed to “blend gray hair.” These kinds of dyes are often permanent but ammonia-free, but some semi-permanent dyes can also offer medium coverage.
  • Low Coverage: Low-coverage hair dyes will tint the hair a little, but they’re rarely suitable for gray coverage. These kinds of dyes are usually marketed as “glosses” or as color-refreshing masks, and they’re almost always either demi- or semi-permanent.
What to Look for in the Best At-Home Hair Dye for You?

Your Previous Color

Choosing the best hair dye for your hair color is a huge process. You want to choose a hair color that’ll compliment your skin tone, of course, but it’s just as important to consider your current hair color.

If your hair is dark, for example, you might be able to lighten it by a few shades with a permanent store-bought hair dye. Anything more dramatic than that, however, will probably require that you bleach your hair first. Otherwise, all you’ll achieve is a tint.

If your hair is lighter, you may have more options. Going darker is easier than going lighter, and any colors you apply to your hair will appear more intense. If you do decide you want to go lighter, make sure to choose a dye that lets you know by how many levels it can lighten your hair. If you try semi-permanent shades over naturally light hair, keep in mind that it still won’t show up quite as brightly as it would on bleached hair.

Finally, if your hair has already been dyed, you could probably do a color-refresh quite easily at home. However, if you want to change the color of your dyed hair, it might be difficult and largely depends on the kind of dye you used previously. It’s often a good idea to use a color remover first before attempting to re-color your hair.

Hair Dye Ingredients to Watch out for

Nowadays, there are a lot of concerns about dangerous ingredients in hair dyes. In the past, it was possible to accidentally buy hair dyes with dangerous pigments. Nowadays, most of those ingredients have been banned from consumer goods.

However, for permanent hair dyes to be effective, they still have to include some controversial ingredients that’ll slightly lift the cuticle and allow the pigment to penetrate into the hair. The most common ingredient for this is ammonia, although it can also be somewhat damaging to the hair.

Those with brittle hair often opt for ammonia-free dyes, but even those aren’t totally gentle. Every permanent formula has to include some alkaline ingredient (usually ethanolamine) that’ll force the hair cuticle to swell.

If you need a totally gentle hair dye that’s not likely to cause any damage, it’s best to opt for color-depositing semi-permanent dyes. Just note that they can’t do a lot if your hair is naturally dark since they can only coat the hair. 

How to Choose the Best At-Home Hair Dye for You?

At-Home Hair Dye FAQ

When it comes to using your at-home hair dye, you might still have some questions that we have answered below.

Is Hair Dye Bad for the Hair?

Most permanent hair dyes contain ingredients that can damage the hair. Formulas that make the hair lighter are the most damaging. On the other hand, semi-permanent formulas can often be very nourishing, thanks to added conditioners. In cases where the hair has already been damaged by bleaching, adding pigment with a darker dye can actually be beneficial.

Why Do Hairdressers Hate Box Dye?

It’s a pretty notorious fact that hairdressers hate box dye. The main reason for this is that box hair dye can be a little unpredictable. It can be very difficult for hairstylists to color hair that’s already been dyed at home since they can’t guarantee good results.

It’s also hard to predict how home hair dye will come out when it’s applied to dyed hair, so all in all, it often gives stylists trouble. After the fact, it’s very hard to remove box hair dye, so if you want to change your look, it can be very difficult.

Photos via Ulta, Amazon, Sephora, Instagram