The 10 Best Hair Dyes

Updated June 29, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

10 Best Hair Dyes
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 36 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. We're dye-ing to see how you look once you've applied one of these hair dyes (groan). But seriously, our selection of home hair coloring products will let you add a subtle sheen, a vivid pop, or simply cover up some grays on any head of hair, without the cost of an expensive salon visit. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best hair dye on Amazon.

10. L'Oreal Paris Excellence

All of L'Oreal Paris Excellence's 71 shades use rich colors to give you multidimensional tone, so it won't look like it came out of a box. With its included collagen conditioner, every strand will stay moisturized for weeks, even in dry climates.
  • hides all shades of gray
  • conditions to help color last longer
  • blonde may come out blue
Brand L'Oreal Paris
Model U-HC-3484
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Vidal Sassoon Pro Series

Vidal Sassoon Pro Series kits come in intense shades that give you the chic fashion-forward look you want, without having to go to the salon and pay an arm and a leg. Each color is the perfect blend of high-impact pigments.
  • only takes one application
  • works on extremely dark hair
  • long locks require more than one box
Brand Vidal Sassoon
Model NA
Weight 1.6 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

8. Arctic Fox

Arctic Fox is semi-permanent and made from all vegan ingredients with no animal byproducts. It's a good choice for those who want to go with a punk rock look, as its variety of colors includes options like aquamarine and sunset orange.
  • conditions as it restores vibrancy
  • gentle enough for frequent use
  • brightness of results may vary
Brand Arctic Fox
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

7. Clairol Age Defy Kit

The Clairol Age Defy Kit was specifically designed for those who need to cover their grays in order to look a bit younger. It gives a youthful sheen that appears natural to the eye and to the touch, and is available in a wide variety of unassuming shades.
  • comes with conditioning therapy
  • softens coarse locks
  • produces a strong scent when applied
Brand Clairol
Model NA
Weight 0.6 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

6. Just for Men Shampoo-In

Just for Men Shampoo-In is a natural-looking option that targets grays to help give you a more youthful appearance. It's a non-drip formula that only takes five minutes to work and is designed for use in the shower, so there's no need to interrupt your routine too much.
  • lasts until the gray grows back in
  • contains protein vitamin e and aloe
  • may stain your scalp and forehead
Brand Just for Men
Model 4935
Weight 10.4 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. L'Oreal Paris Couleur Experte

L'Oreal Paris Couleur Experte has a two-step process that takes about 30 minutes to apply and lasts for four to six weeks. Use it to create salon-like highlight effects from your home for a naturally multi-tonal appearance.
  • 13 shades named after desserts
  • includes control-touch applicator
  • difficult to use by yourself
Brand L'Oreal Paris
Model CX
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Pravana ChromaSilk Vivids

For bold hues, look no further than Pravana ChromaSilk Vivids. It comes in ten bright and exciting colors that are sure to impress, plus they can be mixed with conditioner to achieve a lighter pastel shade that's a bit less of a shock to the system.
  • paraben and ammonia free
  • not tested on animals
  • lasts 5 weeks and fades gradually
Brand Pravana
Model Pra-2883
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. John Frieda Foam Colour

Choose from 28 natural shades with John Frieda Foam Colour, which consists of a no-drip lather instead of the messy liquid consistency of its competitors. It also makes it easier to spread deep into your roots and other hard to reach places.
  • doesn't dry up during application
  • real salon-quality results
  • easy to apply by yourself
Brand John Frieda
Model 717226162060
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. Clairol Perfect 10 Kit

For rich color with a glossy finish, use the Clairol Perfect 10 Kit. It is an easy, 10-minute process that anybody can do at home, even if they have never treated their tresses before, plus it's extremely affordable and available in a wide variety of natural hues.
  • lasts up to 60 days
  • provides 100 percent grey coverage
  • includes conditioning gloss
Brand Clairol
Model 10381519022071
Weight 11.2 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. NaturTint Permanent Color

NaturTint Permanent Color uses 100% organic ingredients to give you a natural new look, plus it makes your locks feel soft, shiny, and healthy. It doesn't have much of a chemical smell, either, making application all the more pleasant.
  • environmentally friendly
  • gentler than the competition
  • results look impressively authentic
Brand Naturtint
Model 82216
Weight 8.5 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

History Of Hair Dyes

People have been dying hair for nearly as long as we have been a human race. Many archeologists believe that early man may have used plants, insects, and other minerals to paint their hair and bodies. This was most likely done to better camouflage themselves while hunting. There is even recorded evidence of the Egyptians using henna to cover grey hairs as far back as 1500 BCE.

In addition to creating a disguise, there are numerous other reasons people have dyed their hair throughout history. Some cultures have used hair dyes in an attempt to appear fiercer to enemies, others as a means to attract a mate, or appear younger.

There has also been cultural and class significance attributed to specific hair colors throughout history. Depending on the era, particular hair colors have positive and negative connotations. For example, in the 1st century BCE the Guals dyed their hair red as a mark of class. Later on in the Dark Ages, red hair was associated with witchcraft. The arrival of Queen Elizabeth I hailed a change in the perception of redheads once again as her natural auburn hair become a reflection of her royal status and was soon imitated.

In 300 BCE, when hair dying was first introduced to Roman society, hair color was directly related to social status. Poor women dyed their hair black, those of the middle-class blonde, and noble women chose hues of red and auburn. There was even a time when it was decreed by law, that prostitutes must have blonde hair. In the Renaissance era, women favored blonde and golden hair because of its angelic connotations.

Various chemicals and plant elements have been used for hair dying throughout the centuries. Most early hair dyes were obtained from plants and insects, such as Lawsonia inermis, also known as henna, turmeric, and black walnut. Romans used a combination of earth worms, ashes, and black walnut to color hair grey. The first synthetic hair dye was created by the founder of L'Oréal, Eugène Schueller, in 1907. Forty years later in 1947, the first home hair coloring product was released by a German cosmetics firm.

What To Know Before Dying Your Hair

It is important to have realistic expectations for dying your hair. You should also understand your hair type and color prior to the dying process. It is impossible to go from dark brunette to natural, healthy looking blonde hair in one step. On the other hand, it is much easier for a light-haired blonde to attain dark brunette hair in just one or two dying sessions.

For best results, drastic hair color changes should not be achieved in just one attempt. Think of it as a gradual process: when the color change is subtle, perhaps just a few shades off from your natural hair color, you'll avoid a drastic unnatural look. Unless of course, drastic is the end result you're achieving, then all the power to you. Also consider trying on a wig before you pick your color. This will allow you to determine if the new shade is right for you before making a commitment.

Understanding your hair type will make the hair dye process easier. If you have sensitive skin, foam formulas are best because there is less chance of them dripping down and causing irritation. For women with thick, curly hair, using a gel formula is best. It will be easier to evenly distribute throughout, resulting in a more natural looking finish.

Tips For A Great Hair Dye

When picking a hair dye color, it is best to go with a choice that is one to two shades lighter than the color you desire. More than not, hair dyes tend to appear darker than advertised, depending on your natural hair color that is. Also keep in mind your hair length. Realizing your dye supply is dwindling and you've only covered half of your scalp would not be the end of the world, only extremely inconvenient and slightly embarrassing.

Ideally you should also skip shampooing your hair the day before the dye job. This allows your scalp to build up some excess oils which will help protect the skin from chemicals in the dye. It also makes it easier to section off areas of your hair to work with.

Once you are ready to start dying, do a patch test on a small section of your hair that can be cut out if it goes wrong. This will help you determine if the color will come out as you expect it or if it appears too many shades off for your liking. It also gives you a chance to test your scalp for any adverse reactions to the skin dye.

When you apply the dye to your entire head of hair, always start at the roots. They need the most color and the most processing time for the dye to set. Once you have incorporated it into the roots, comb it out through the rest of the hair to distribute it evenly.

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Last updated on June 29, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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